One of the toughest things to do when buying speakers is picking between two good choices. You have to weigh your options between the various strengths of speakers which reviewers always hold in high esteem. It is therefore key to understand the differences between them so that you make an informed decision.
Both the Pioneer BS22 speakers and the Micca MB42X are commonly chosen as the first speakers for a new audio enthusiast. They are both speakers which are well regarded and get lots of praise from enthusiasts.
I said of the Micca MB42X:
I found these speakers enjoyable to listen to when I tested them. They did a nice job with music and voices. They seem to have been designed to handle the typical movie soundtrack and dialog quite well. It shows a real synergy between the marketing and engineering teams in my opinion. A speaker that costs $90 can only do so much. By focusing on a specific problem: making the speaker sound as good as possible on a typical TV show or non-action film soundtrack, they deliver a speaker which is quite good for most of the population and use cases. This isn’t going to be the centerpiece of an exquisite music listening setup, no $90 pair of speakers would be, and the designers didn’t try to make it for that role, to their credit.
And of the Pioneer BS22’s:
I’ve spent dozens of hours listening to this speakers. These speakers work great for both movies and music. The sound is a little bright (treble boost) directly in front of the speaker, which is in some circles considered a good thing for movies. This comes from the way actual movie theater speakers are constructed, especially the ones used by sound editors. Movie theater speakers tend to be bright straight on as well.
My impressions when listening to these speakers are that the Pioneer BS22’s are clearly better. This is one upgrade you’ll notice. The clear reproduction will be your first step into the world of great audio. You’ll want to hear more, even better speakers in the future, and you won’t be able to go back to lesser sound experiences.
The Micca MB42X however, is smaller and cheaper, and there’s really something to be said for that. Not being as good as the Pioneers is hardly surprising given those differences. The speaker really is an achievement in budget-conscious engineering.
We can take a deeper look by examining the frequency responses of each speaker. To quote myself:
The first measurement we look at is the classic Bode Plot. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, allow me to explain briefly, or just skip to my TL;DR below.
What we hear is sound is the variation in sound pressure in the air. The number of times in a second the sound pressure goes from high to low is called the “frequency” of the sound. Each note on a musical scale has its own special frequency. When a speaker is asked to play a particular note at a particular volume, it creates a slightly (and sometimes not so slightly) different volume for each tone. To create a Bode plot, you play the each note at the same volume from the speaker and record how loud it is on the microphone.
An important aside is that when doing measurements, the Bode plot (as well as others) are influenced by the room the speakers are in. I use special modern techniques of computer-aided measurement which enables me to isolate the speakers. This means my measurements are only useful above 200 Hz. Below that, the effects of the room cannot be reliably separated from the effects of the speaker.
The TL;DR of the past two paragraphs is: in a perfect world, the graph below would be a straight horizontal line and deviations from a straight line help to explain some of the imperfections of the speaker.
The frequency response below shows the main differences in the sound of these two speakers. The Pioneer BS22 has a stronger low end and a flatter response. This should be expected of a larger, more expensive speaker. It speaks to the quality of the Micca MB42X it holds up as well as it does. That said, neither speaker has anything especially wrong with it. Either one is a good choice.
The similarities between the speaker responses might arise from the fact that there are significant similarities in their construction. Both speakers have 4.5″ woofers made of Kevlar. The Pioneer BS22 and Micca MB42X both use dome tweeters. They are made out of MDF. Both have good crossovers. Finally, they both have a rear facing port. Similarities like this lead to roughly similar sounds from the speakers.
Having fully compared the speakers, I say that a Pioneer BS22 feels like up upgraded versions of the Micca MB42X, rather than a completely different model. Both give you similar sound, but you’ll notice the difference. The Pioneer offers more bass and cleaner midrange, but an average person might not notice these difference at low volume in the background.
If you add a subwoofer to the mix, you will find their performance is closer to each other. I personally would recommend getting a subwoofer like this one regardless of which speaker you buy.
My recommendation then is to choose based on size. If you need the compactness, the Micca MB42X will serve you well. If you have space, the Pioneer BS22 is a great upgrade over the Micca and you’ll appreciate the improvement.