Product: Moukey Model 20-1 - bookshelf loudspeakers
Manufacturer: Moukey - China
Approx. price: 90-110€ depending on special offers
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Reviewed: November, 2022
After having tested three loudspeakers under 50€ (with a clear winner, the Lonpoo LP42) and after the review of the rather disappointing Wiibo String 15 loudspeakers (±80€) I was eager to find better alternatives. A quick search on the web, supported by many positive reviews on Amazon and YouTube, I decided to test these Moukey M20-1 bookshelf loudspeakers. The price tag is the same (50-100€/pair) and so is the layout: two-way in a bass reflex enclosure, with a front firing port.
Moukey is, apparently, a Chinese firm which also sells directly, via their Facebook page and their own Amazon store. Their production line includes passive and active loudspeakers, PA and pro gear, keyboards, mics and several other components. The official website, instead, seems hacked or inactive.
The Model 20-1 is a nicely-crafted, small two-way bookshelf loudspeaker, with a front firing reflex port, equipped with a 13cm woofer and a 1" silk dome tweeter. The crossover is the usual minimal one, just a cap and a resistor on the tweeter, plus a PTC protection (XF040 thermistor). The woofer is left unfiltered, as usual. The cap seems a good quality, though unbranded, MKP (metallized polypropylene) component. The cabinet is extremely well made, and uses thick MDF panels, with a small amount of absorbing lining. The binding posts are of good quality as well, and might accept spades, bare wire and bananas. The front-firing reflex port is perfectly aligned with the baffle and has nicely smooth edges. The speakers can also be wall-mounted, via a rear bracket. A multi-language, complete owner's manual is included, as well. The tech specs, quite surprisingly, are realistic, no bold claims.
These speakers can be found for 80-100€/pair, more or less, shipping included.
First things first: at least, the claimed tech specs have a close relationship with reality! The 81 dB sensitivity datum is realistic, and so are the frequency response and the power handling figures. This is a relief, since low-priced loudspeakers often claim unrealistic specs.
Before I start, just one remark: the speakers have a symmetrical layout, in the sense that there's a RIGHT speaker and a LEFT speaker (the difference being the position of the reflex port). You might play them inverted, in certain situations the different effect of room reflections and interactions might improve the performance. Feel free to experiment.
Despite the fact these speakers look as designed by someone who knows - every relevant aspect seems to be taken care of - the sound is not what I expected it to be. Yes, this loudspeaker is much better than the questionable Wiibo String 15, but its performance is a strange mix of good and not_so_good things, despite the rave reviews you might have read/heard somewhere else on the Web.
Let's start with the good news: the sound is quite lively and punchy, though the depth of the bass might be better, considering the size of the cabinet and the 5" long-throw woofer. Bass articulation is good as well, and so is the dynamic performance. The sturdy and compact cabinet certainly plays a role here. When compared directly against the Wiibo String 15, these Moukey shine, because the performance is livelier and much more natural. Overall, the Moukey's put the Wiibo into shame in each and every aspect, so you might consider them excellent loudspeakers for the money. And they are, but there's at least competitor that does better!
Unfortunately, I still have a pair of Lonpoo LP42's ready for a direct comparison and...not all that glitters is gold! In a direct comparison, the Moukey sound globally worse, the soundscape is much smaller, the bass range less extended and, what's worse, the mid-high range exhibits a rather strange colouration that makes certain voices and instruments sound unnatural. It seems there's a peak of distortion around 3-4 kHz that might be a tweeter's fault or the effect of the interaction between woofer and tweeter emission (remember that the woofer is left unfiltered). Or, maybe, that PTC has some kind of effect on the sound of the tweeter. Indeed, when the going gets rough, the PTC increases its internal resistance to protect the tweeter from overload and, hence, the tweeter emission gets attenuated. This certainly has an effect when playing highly dynamic musical programs at high listening levels.
Moreover, there's a kind of ringing at certain frequencies (mid-high range), similar to clipping, but it occours even at low listening levels. Perhaps it is a resonance of the tweeter membrane or the mid-woofer membrane break-up: it is hard to detect where the fault is, but it is clearly audible. This is particularly evident when playing large-scale choral works with female voices (e.g. Cantate Domino).
Two words about treble extension: the high range isn't extended up to its higher limit, and this causes a certain lack of higher harmonics. Actually, the claimed frequency response is 60-15kHz, which is a bit bizarre, considering that even cheap tweeters can reproduce 20 kHz with ease. Perhaps this tweeter has a slowly decreasing emission even before the 15 kHz limit. In any case, the harmonic content isn't on a par with that of the Lonpoo LP42's. The difference in this area is noticeable and makes the sound poorer.
This review proves, once again, that Amazon buyers' opinions must be taken with a grain of salt: consider that the 70% of reviews of these speakers are rated 5 stars! A bit too optimistic, in my opinion. Moreover, I find rather disappointing that some reviewer suggests to add a resistor to attenuate the tweeter, without checking that a resistor is already there (and it's a big one). Unscrewing 4 bolts isn't difficult to do, and allows you to have a look at the filter! This is something that any reviewer should do. Let's start with the basics, guys.
Though nicely crafted, with care and the use of good quality components, these speakers didn't impress me. Some aspects of their sound are good, others are rather disappointing. For sure, they can't beat the Lonpoo LP42, that are still here waiting for real contenders to come ;-)
If you have no experience with modern low-priced loudspeakers, you might be surprised by their sound, since years ago this kind of performance was simply unattainable for this silly money, but things are getting better quickly, and competitors are doing their homework.
© Copyright 2022 Lucio Cadeddu - email@example.com - www.tnt-audio.com