MBQUART NH1-116B Review

Great low-end speakers, but lacking in audio quality and loudness.

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

The MBQUART NH1-116B speakers look aggressive and the low-end certainly sound aggressive, but the power handling and comparative loudness are disappointing.


  • +

    The lows received an A for quality.


  • -

    The power handling is below average.

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The MBQUART NH1-116B speakers are beastly looking. Compared to other boat speakers, this 6.5-inch speaker looks and feels like a cannon, which is likely why the low frequencies performed so well in our tests. However, the size makes them more difficult to install. In addition, the power-handling specifications aren't impressive, especially considering the size and sturdiness of this speaker's design. Sadly, we don't test marine speakers any more, after the TTR team boat sank after hitting an otter, but we do have the best smart speakers in one handy guide.

In my audio quality tests, I recorded the NH1-166B playing a 20Hz to 20kHz sine tone on a loop for five minutes. I created this tone because it was spanned the human range of hearing and it also isolates the performance to the frequency as it transitions from low to highs, which makes it easier to evaluate the various frequency ranges. Then I used frequency analyzing software to create the average frequency signature of the recordings, which I could compare to the original and grade appropriately.

In this test, the MBQUART NH1-116B received a B grade overall. It performed best in the low frequencies, which received an A. Only the Clarion CMQ1622RL received a higher grade. This isn't surprising considering the cannon shape of the woofer. The surface area is bigger and deeper than other marine speakers by a significant margin, which means it can move more air. However, the midrange received a B and the highs received a B-, leading to an unbalanced sound overall. Even when listening to a wide range of music on these speakers, the low-end was dominating the mixes, which some people might prefer. That said, the high frequencies weren't as grating as similarly graded speakers (the JBL MS6520 and Rockford Fosgate RM1652). Rather, the highs were diminished to the point of losing presence.

The MBQUART NH1-116B has a sensitivity rating of 92 dB, which is above average. However, it certainly wasn't average in my comparative loudness test, where it received a C grade for being the second-quietest speaker. In this test, I measured the volume of each speaker when connected to the same speaker, ensuring they each had the same power output. With a sensitivity rating of 91-dB, I expected it to be among the loudest, but only the Kicker KM654cw was less efficient at converting power to volume.

Another disappointment with the MBQUART NH1-116B is the continuous and peak power handling. For a speaker that's built like a cannon, I expected it to be capable of handling more power, but the continuous power handling is just 75 RMS watts and the peak power handling is 150 watts. Both are subpar, which means the speaker can't handle as much power as other marine speakers. This can be a critical issue when you consider how boat speakers must compete with an open environment, boat engines, water and wind, which means they are driven harder than car speakers. You need a speaker that's both efficient and capable of handling a lot of power.

As mentioned several times, this speaker is built like a cannon. The grille is molded to the frame and flares down to the titanium tweeter like a blunderbuss shotgun. The frame feels like it's made of cast iron, though I'm not sure what the material is, encased in polypropylene. MBQUART doesn't specify whether it's marine certified, but they do say that it's water, UV and salt-fog tested. It certainly feels like it can handle the elements.

The MBQUART NH1-116B performed good, but not great in the audio performance tests. It's bottom-heavy, with the bass being the best aspect of the performance, but the midrange and highs are diminished. The power-handling specifications are disappointingly below average for such a sturdy speaker. Even the above-average sensitivity rating failed to impress in the comparative loudness test. If you like your speakers to look aggressive, then the NH1-116B is one of the best options.

Jeph Preece

Jeph is a freelance writer who specializes in automotive subjects, like car stereos, and tech. With a Masters degree in Fiction from San Diego State University, he has written extensively for Top Ten Reviews on subjects ranging from car speakers and Bluetooth devices, all the way through to online file storage and backup software.