From a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, Memphis, Tennessee, is famous around the world as the home of blues and the birthplace of rock ‘n roll.
Home to famous places, such as Beale St., the Gibson guitar factory, and Elvis’ Graceland mansion, the musical history is rich, deep, and abundant. Another historical company in the music business not only calls Memphis home, but it’s the company’s namesake. Founded in Memphis in 1965, Memphis Car Audio has been a leader in the car audio marketplace for decades, and has won “Best Overall” brand from Inside Track for eleven consecutive years.
You don’t reach those sorts of accomplishments by resting on your laurels, and with the introduction of the new VIV “SIXFIVE” Series of products, they continue to show why so many people swear by the brand. For this review, we’ll take a look at the brand new VIV60C component speaker system. The product is so new that the system we got for testing was still a factory prototype set, but by the time you read this, the gear should be in Memphis dealer’s showrooms. The VIV60C system is a two-way, 6.5-inch component system featuring a 37-mm (1.5-inch) silk dome tweeter and a bi-ampable crossover network. This high-end system has a suggested retail price in the U.S. of $629.95.
Features and Construction
Built with a focus on overall sound quality and high output, the VIV60C system’s woofer uses a special high-performance two-layer composite fiber cone. The material was chosen for its very low mass and overall stiffness. Engineers call this stiffness a “high modulus of elasticity,” which is a measurement of a given material’s resistance to deformation when a force is applied. What that means to the rest of us is a stiff cone that does not deform and cause unwanted distortion when we are enjoying our tunes at enthusiastic levels.
The woofer is built around a proprietary cast aluminum SIXFIVE basket, which is home to a two-ohm 30-mm (1.18-inch) copper voice coil, wound on a Kevlar-based former. Suspension for the woofer’s moving mass is handled by a linear-type spider made of Conex. On the top side, suspension duties fall to a NBR (nitrile butyl rubber) surround designed for high excursion capability. Instead of a traditional dustcap, the woofer uses a black anodized aluminum bullet shaped phase plug, designed to reduce phase cancellations between the cone and a traditional dustcap.
Connections to the speaker are made with nice set-screw-type terminals that will accept 12-gauge wire. Cosmetics are classy and subtle, with a distinctive, high-end look and feel. A Memphis badge is built into the mounting flange of the woofer. The woofer will mount in any spot with a minimum of three inches of mounting depth.
The tweeter used in the VIV60C system is an interesting design with a 37-mm silk dome, and a 25-mm voice coil. Magnetic energy is, of course, Neodymium-based, and a threaded housing makes the tweeter easy to mount. The grille is integrated into the housing to prevent accidental damage during installation.
There has been a lot of attention paid to the design of the passive crossover networks supplied with this system. The crossovers are bi-ampable and have user adjustable settings for tweeter shelving, tweeter level, and slope. As the graphs show, all of these adjustments make significant differences in the sound of the system and allow the tuner to set the system up for the best performance in that specific vehicle. The filters use high quality parts, with metal film capacitors and air core inductors. The look of the crossovers is also high-end oriented, with acrylic bases and top covers connected by aluminum stand offs. Terminals are of the nickel-plated, Phillips-screw-type, similar to what you see on a quality amplifier.
As always, my favorite part of reviewing any product is listening to it, and the Memphis SIXFIVE system certainly did not disappoint. I began with the system basically set maximally flat, and as it turned out, I left it that way. The overall sound of the system is quite accurate and smooth, with a warm midrange. High frequencies are smooth and non-sibilant, without harshness or bite, even on tracks with close mic’d brass sections. Sometimes the most telling tracks can be simple acoustical “unplugged” music. I listened to some classical acoustic guitar from Ottmar Liebert and Stanley Myers. The detail and dynamics are excellent, and the guitars had a natural timbre. Was it good enough that I could I tell D’Addario strings from Ernie Ball’s? Well, maybe not, but I could easily tell a Martin from a Takamine, so it’s very good indeed.
Bottom end response has depth and warmth, retaining excellent articulation and good control even at higher volumes. Speakers like this make listening to really good bass players like Geddy Lee, (Rush) Jim Creeggan (Barenaked Ladies) or Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report) that much more special. Clarity and distinct voicing in female and harmony vocals from The Manhattan Transfer and The Eagles were also excellent. One sure sign of a well-engineered speaker system is that it sounds good regardless of the musical genre you play, so I went from classical to country, from rock to rap, and it was all good. After spending a few hours listening, it would seem the design goal of an accurate, yet still exciting sounding speaker system was definitely achieved.
Chart: Frequency Response - Tweeter Levels
Chart: Frequency Response - Tweeter Shelving
With the new SIXFIVE series of components, Memphis Car Audio has done their heritage and indeed there namesake proud. These are speakers that will be well received by anyone who truly loves music, whether you’re playing Elvis, Isaac Hayes, or W.C. Handy. The VIV60Cs will bring out the best in your tunes, and thanks to the adjustability in the system, be able to sound great in pretty much any application. Well-built and worth every nickel. Drop into your local Memphis Car Audio dealer and audition a set for yourself.