Athena Technologies, well known for making affordable speakers that provide some of the best bang for the buck in the speaker industry, has done it again. Call them the little-big speakers, also known as the Micra 6. These little guys are certainly small in size, but don’t be fooled.

Attractive lifestyle looks together with their compact size, give the Micra 6 speakers that sought-after appearance by the increasing number of flat panel television owners. At the same time, the speakers provide enough punch to surprise many listeners. At a suggested retail price of $700 (Canadian), the Micra 6 package presents an ideal building block for an affordable home theater.

As the name implies, the Micra 6 package consists of six speakers: four identical satellites, a center channel, and a subwoofer.

The MS satellites feature a 2-way bass reflex design with magnetic shielding. The sound comes from a 3-1/2″ woofer and a 1/2″ tweeter. The 3-1/2″ woofer features a large 9 oz magnet structure and a rubber surround for high power handling and high excursion. The tweeter is based on Athena’s Teteron tweeter from the Audition and SCT series. A port hole just below the woofer allows for added bass response and low bass extension. Each satellite has a frequency response of 100 Hz to 20 kHz and measures a mere 7″ tall by 4.5″ wide by 4.5″ deep. The MS satellites feel quite heavy at 2.6 lbs each.

The MC center channel features two of the same 3-1/2″ woofers and the same 1/2″ tweeter, as in the satellites. Of course it is also magnetically shielded, features dual port holes, and is just slightly larger than the satellite speakers – 4.5″ tall by 11.2” wide by 4.5″ deep. It has the same frequency response of 100 Hz to 20 kHz as the satellites.

The four satellite speakers as well as the center channel come in a high tech silver finish and naturally complement today’s television sets. Each speaker has a built-in bracket that can be used to attach it to a matching Athena stand or used for mounting it on the wall or ceiling. The adjustable brackets allow the speakers to rotate 180 degrees, so you can point each speaker toward the listening position. The mounting bracket also works very well for placement on top of conventional televisions, since it can be used to hold the speaker up in the proper position. Speaker wires for the satellites and the center channel are included in the set (subwoofer cable not included) and connect to the speakers via spring clip terminals.

The down-firing 8″ M225 subwoofer tops off the Micra 6 speaker package. It’s a bass reflex design that’s front vented with a custom tuned crossover to provide seamless transition between the sub and the satellites. The subwoofer is incredibly easy to set up, since it doesn’t have any other controls than the on/off switch and the volume knob. Simply plug in your cable and adjust the bass level. On the visual side, the sub enclosure comes in a black finish with a matching silver plate in the front. The volume knob, large flared port and power light are also located in the front. Four silver cone toes raise the sub almost 2″ off the ground. The power for the sub comes from a 75 watt (225 peak) MOSFET class-AB amplifier. The injection-molded cone is a long-throw design, driven by a 20 ounce magnet. The MDF constructed cabinet features mostly straight lines, with the top corners slightly curved. The M225 has a frequency response of 30-100 Hz. A gold-plated RCA input and high-level spring-clip inputs allow the sub to be connected to virtually any type of receiver. The compact cabinet measures 16.7″ tall by 9.4″ wide by 14.2″ deep.

The supplied manual is straight to the point and very easy to follow. It features detailed speaker placement, connection and wall installation diagrams. Even if this is your first time setting up a home theater, you can’t go wrong.

I connected the speakers to our Onkyo TX-SR701 A/V receiver and played music and DVDs through a Pioneer DV-563A universal player. After enough time for the speakers tor break in, I began my listening tests.

One of my favorite movies to use during sound tests is the Animatrix DVD. It’s a great DVD featuring nine short animated films that can really put a set of speakers to the test. From slow, quiet passages to explosive, loud scenes the Animatrix has it all. In the Final Flight of the Osiris film, the Micra 6 reproduced the sounds of swords weaving through the air as well as the clang of the swords coming together with awesome detail. The sounds of the Osiris’ guns firing at sentinels filled the room with bullets flying from speaker to speaker. Deep bass notes in much of the film’s soundtrack allowed the M225 subwoofer to reproduce those frequencies, and it did so surprisingly well. In fact, I had to remove a newly installed clock from the wall because it began to rattle.

The opening scenes of Kill Bill Volume 1, when Uma Thurman engages in a fight with an old friend, gave the Micra 6 a good test by filling the room with sounds of fighting, breaking furniture and shattering glass. The transitions between the satellites and the subwoofer were indeed seamless, with a good mixture of high and low frequencies in this scene. The following scenes were much quieter and the speakers reproduced the dialogue with great detail and accuracy.

Watching a few more passages from movies like Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Underworld and Matrix Revolutions, I was more than impressed with the little speakers big performance so I moved on to listening to some music CDs.

Norah Jones’ successful Feels Like Home album seemed to strike some right notes, although I did have to adjust the subwoofer level at this point. The beautiful lyrics and music were reproduced by the Micra 6 effortlessly. Songs like “Feels Like Home” and “What Am I to You” filled my listening space, and once again the speakers proved they meant business.

The Micra 6 may have the good looks and compact size of many home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) packages, but listen to them for yourself and you’ll quickly hear that no HTIB can compare to these little guys. From movies to music, the speakers always sounded much bigger than they look. At a price point of $700, the Micra 6 rise above most speakers in this range. It’s an affordable speaker system, that doesn’t sound afforable until you hear the price. They are guaranteed to surprise many with the big sound from such small speakers.

Manufacturer:Athena Technologies

System Price: $700 (Canadian)

MS Satellites
power handling: 100 watts
impedance: 8 ohms
frequency response: 100 Hz – 20 kHz
sensitivity: 89 db / 1 watt / 1 meter
dimensions (HxWxD): 7” x 4.5” x 4.5”

MC Center Channel
power handling: 100 watts
impedance: 8 ohms
frequency response: 100 Hz – 20 kHz
sensitivity: 89 db / 1 watt / 1 meter
dimensions (HxWxD): 4.5“ x 11.2“ x 4.5“

M225 Subwoofer
amplifier (MOSFET AB class): 75 watts (225 watts peak)
frequency response: 30 – 100 Hz
crossover: pre tuned to match MS satellites
dimensions (HxWxD): 16.7” x 9.4” x 14.2”

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