If finding a home theater speaker system that disappears into a room is a high priority, experts say the 5.1-channel R.C. Micro 5.1 should be on your short list. The satellites aren't the smallest available, but they're among those that can provide terrific cinematic sound. While the set isn't powerful enough for larger rooms, it provides better sound quality for small spaces than other small-speaker systems in its price range.
Packs a punch for pint-size satellites. If small speakers seem to equal small sound, then the Energy R.C. Micro 5.1 is a welcome exception. While it's not nearly powerful enough for larger rooms, reviewers agree that it provides good sound quality for small spaces. Reviewers say blending among the subwoofer, center-channel speaker and satellites is superb, 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 R.C. Micro 5.1 to fill large rooms with sound, and while the bass sounds good, it can't deliver the deep low end of larger speaker systems. Even so, music and movies sound great, as long you don't crank up the volume to the max.
Compact design blends in with most rooms. The Energy R.C Micro 5.1 is a compact speaker system that does an excellent job of hiding in a room, and its piano-black finish looks sleek and stylish. Its two-way (stereo) satellites aren't the smallest available, but at 4.7 inches tall (by 3.5 inches wide and deep) and weighing about 2 pounds each, they're still a welcome addition to most rooms. Each speaker has a removable black-cloth grill and can be wall mounted via either keyhole slots or threaded ports.
Lacks useful connection options. One of the biggest gripes reviewers have with the Energy R.C. Micro 5.1 is with its connectors. The speakers only accept the skinniest bare speaker wire or pins; CNET says the lack of more flexible, five-way binding posts is disappointing. The center-channel speaker shares the satellites' drivers: a 0.5-inch aluminum dome tweeter and a 2.5-inch aluminum midbass driver. The 240-watt subwoofer -- which includes an 8-inch front-firing driver -- uses a ribbed rubber "rim" around its cone, which Energy says reduces distortion. An LED light glows blue when the sub is turned on.
Decent performer for small spaces. For smaller spaces, the Energy R.C. Micro 5.1 is a value choice for those who want compact speakers that don't sacrifice sound quality. For moderately sized rooms it's so-so; and for larger rooms it's out of the question. If you can put up with a modestly larger-sized system, the Energy Take Classic 5.1 (*Est. $400) is slightly bigger, but it handles moderately sized rooms more easily. If the smallest speakers are a must, the Cambridge Audio Minx S215 (*Est. $800) is smaller still, and it can actually do fine in a moderately sized room, but costs twice as much.
Review Credibility: Excellent Steve Guttenberg praises the sound quality and small size of the Energy R.C. 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 R.C. 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
Review Credibility: Excellent Home Theater magazine says the Energy R.C. 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. 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
Review Credibility: Excellent Editors of Sound + Vision magazine list the best speakers of each type, and the Energy R.C. 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 R.C. 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
Review Credibility: Very Good About 50 owners weigh in with comments on the Energy R.C. Micro 5.1, and most are very 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, As of May 2013