LSK M4 Mk2 Mini Monitor Speaker Kit
The Loudspeaker Kit, or 'LSK', have been providing DIY kit solutions to music lovers for many years now. In fact, StereoNET's own publisher was privy to the prototypes before LSK even had a name over a decade ago. The business has since changed hands a few times over the years, and 2014 has seen a complete revamp of the website, the products and a solid step forward in the design of the kits themselves.
LSK branded speaker and acoustic treatment kits are made right here in Australia. LSK says they prefer to use Australian suppliers wherever possible; "Not only do we prefer to support local industry, we also believe that Aussies do it better." No argument from us on that one.
It’s been a while since I actually built speakers from scratch. These days I just struggle to find the time. My old AAD bookshelf monitors were a score ten years ago, a $450 clearance special at JB HiFi. They served me well until I started upgrading other components of my system, and I just wanted something a bit more lively and revealing.
So when I was approached to review the latest offering from Melbourne based LSK, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see just how easy these kits are to assemble.
In order to improve on the original M4, a number of revisions were made. According to LSK, "The port was shifted away from the tweeter to provide a smoother top end. The new drivers and crossover are the secret to a major step up in sound. This is a dramatic improvement. The previous drivers were very low cost and being built to a price, the crossover consisted of a cap to protect the tweeter and a resistor to pad down its level to match the mid. This is the minimum crossover to make a listenable speaker, but a more substantial crossover will nearly always improve the sound."
While the original M4 was LSK's best seller, some known issues relating to cone breakup became the catalyst for the revamp, and the improved crossover now resolves this, while only marginally raising the original retail price. "The new crossover is more substantial and results in a dramatically improved midrange performance."
Instead of opting for drivers from the likes of Vifa, Scanspeak, Seas and others, LSK developed and have had produced their own design speaker, in large quantities. This keeps the price down, and is a long term investment by LSK.
The new Mini Monitor Kit from LSK is supplied with all necessary components, including pre-cut MDF panels, drivers and revamped crossovers.
The only parts not included in the kit are glue and a few basic tools required to complete the assembly. You'll still need to consider how you will 'finish' the monitors too (ie. paint, veneer etc.), but that will come later.
The easy to follow instructions say you can assemble the pre-cut boxes in either of two ways; using clamps to hold the pieces together (recommended for painted finish), or just placing a heavy object on top, for those who would rather apply some wood veneer as a finish. I hadn’t decided which way I’d go at this point, so I tried one of each.
Once the glue was applied I found the pieces fit together really well, and with the help of a friend, we managed to get the two boxes together neatly and in no time at all. Ensure good coverage of the glue on the joints, but be sure not to use too much. It gets messy real quick, and if intending to paint the finished boxes, it will require further preparation of the surfaces. Either way, the outcome was quite acceptable, and in this case no further treatment was required. Obviously the result of accurate design and CNC cutting processes, the close-fitting pieces come together neatly with only a hint of the joins visible.
Now the boxes were assembled, it was time to add the components. First was the crossover and rear terminal connector. This was a bit tricky, as the crimp lugs supplied to go onto the rear terminals did not bite on, and needed to be squashed a bit (or soldered) to make them stay in place.
Next, the stuffing is put inside the box, and the port is fitted snugly into the front of the box. The drivers were quite a good fit in the recessed holes, and thanks to the foam backing on the speakers’ mounting flanges, there were no leaks. This is crucial.
After some drying time it was time for a listen. Thanks to quick drying MDF glue, even just after one hour since assembly I was pleasantly surprised with the sound. Considering the very small size of these speakers, the bass is full, extending down to around 40Hz, and the highs quite clear and detailed. Dire Straits’ Private Investigations has a mix of smooth mid range, shattering highs and deep punchy bass, all of which appeared in correct proportion.
There was a slight bump in the low end frequencies, but otherwise these speakers really do the music justice. I found the woofers faltered a little at high volume, but we must keep in mind the physical limitations of a small monitor speaker. There isn't enough woofer excursion to fill a large room, but for a bedroom/study or small flat, these would certainly be adequate.
As more hours were clocked up on the M4 Mk2, they really started to settle in. The bass extension was even lower and the highs were becoming a lot smoother. The midrange, not shy at all, is dynamically alive and balances the overall sound very nicely.
Over the course of a week, the M4 Mk2 continue to improve. If you’re in the market for some really small speakers, don’t mind a bit of DIY, and want a good natural sound then this kit is really hard to beat, sounding better than some much more expensive products. From just $379 (excluding grills) the M4 Mk2 are certainly good value and will be hard to beat in this price point.
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