Microlab Solo1C Speakers - Conclusion
With the adjustment to the bass level made and the speakers positioned to face us a little over a metre apart from each other, we were genuinely surprised by the high-quality and detail of the sound. Fine nuances were easy to hear in everything from a Richie Blackmore guitar solo to ambient soundscapes by Ulver. It's easy to position yourself in the broad sweet spot and let the music wrap around you and once you have, it's just as easy to forget that you're listening to a pair of £51 speakers. We were particularly pleased with the directionality of the sound on tracks which phase from one speaker to another. This also means that the speakers work better than most stereo sets for directional sound in gaming.
Click to enlarge - A small remote controls many of the Solo1C's features
However, it's worth noting that the Solo 1c speakers definitely sound their best towards the upper limit of their volume. At a mid-volume - rated 30 out of a maximum 60 - the speakers were incredibly quiet when connected to the line output of our PC and a great deal of mid-range detail, including vocals and guitars, was lost. However, there's no trace of distortion or brittleness at the highest volumes, so you can happily ignore the overly wide volume range and use speakers at volumes between 40 and 60.
Click to enlarge
We also have reservations about the remote control. While most speakers stick with the tradition of keeping the controls on the back of the satellite that contains the amp, Microlab has opted to just put a volume knob on the speaker itself and put everything else on a fiddly little plastic remote control that looks as though it belongs with a cheap iPod dock. It's clearly laid out, with buttons to switch between the speakers' two sets of phono inputs, mute and individually adjust the bass, treble and volume levels. However, its small size means that it’s just asking to be lost, and without it, you can't adjust most of the speakers' settings.
Although we had a couple of niggles with the Microlab Solo1C's excessive bass at default settings, as well as irrational volume ratings and an inordinately easy-to-lose remote control, the Solo 1C speakers are frankly brilliant for the price. Their clear, powerful sound lends itself to every genre we listened to. They look stylish and are generally a bargain at less than £60 too. Bookshelf speakers? We'd be proud to have these sat on our desktop any day.