If finding a home theater speaker system that disappears into a room is a high priority, experts say the 5.1-channel Energy RC-Micro 5.1 should be on your short list. At 4.7 inches tall (by 3.5 inches wide and deep), the satellites aren't the absolutely smallest available, but they are among the smallest that can provide terrific cinematic sound. All the elements -- subwoofer, center-channel speaker and satellites -- are designed to mesh perfectly, providing better low-midranges and more full-bodied sound than other small-speaker systems.
Not all the traps of small speakers are completely avoided, however. It's unrealistic to expect the RC-Micro 5.1 to fill a big room with sound, and the bass, while good, won't deliver the punch of larger-speaker systems. Other alternatives in this price range include the Klipsch HD Theater 500 (*Est. $500) . While it's also best in small rooms, sound quality is top-shelf and few home theater speakers can create as convincing a surround-sound field.
The Energy RC-Micro 5.1 has received some reviewer attention. The best reviews are at CNET and Home Theater magazine, which offer detailed, testing-backed reports. The brief coverage at Sound + Vision magazine includes a roundup of best speakers. User feedback isn't extensive, but a few comments are posted at Amazon.com.
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Steve Guttenberg raves about the sound quality and small size of the Energy RC-Micro 5.1. He has a few quibbles, however, saying the small speakers sound best if not driven to the highest volumes. Yet most major pitfalls of small speakers are avoided, he says, and the RC-Micro 5.1 sounds "equally accomplished" with movies and music.
Review: Energy RC-Micro 5.1, Steve Guttenberg, Nov. 11, 2008
2. Home Theater Magazine
Home Theater magazine says the Energy RC-Micro 5.1 is "about as small as very good-sounding speakers ever get." Noted negatives include bass that lacks the "slam" of a giant subwoofer and highs that aren't quite as high as some other full-bodied home theater speakers can deliver. Yet Mark Fleischmann says: "This speaker package does a lot of things so well that you'll probably never notice what's missing unless you spend a lot of time in listening rooms demoing high-end speaker systems that sell for a lot more than this one."
Review: Energy RC-Micro Speaker System, Mark Fleischmann, Nov. 17, 2008
3. Sound & Vision Magazine
This article names the author's selections as the best speakers of each type and the Energy RC-Micro 5.1 gets the nod as the smallest compact home theater speaker system. Daniel Kumin calls the satellites "almost comically small" and says the subwoofer isn't much bigger, but the RC-Micro 5.1 "delivers enough extension and oomph to give an honest impersonation of cinema sound." He advises buying larger home theater speakers if you can, but if you can't, "this system stands a world apart from the typical department-store home-theater-in-a-box."
Review: Top Speakers in Every Class, Daniel Kumin, Nov. 5, 2008
About 25 owners weigh in with comments here that are uniformly positive. Bass isn't "window shattering" and the speakers are recommended more for those who don't watch movies or listen to movies at "deafening levels," but sound quality is said to be excellent.
Review: Energy RC-Micro 5.1 Surround Speaker System, Contributors to Amazon.com