|Monster THX Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Thursday, 01 June 2006|
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The mighty Monster Cable is diversifying. The company that successfully taught mainstream consumers the value of high-performance cables is now taking extraordinarily measures, like buying naming rights to sports stadiums, to teach consumers that they now sell home automation products, cables (of course) and, believe it or not, loudspeakers. Head Monster Noel Lee knows exactly how competitive the loudspeaker business is and, armed with 20 years of trendsetting industry experience, he is not holding back. Consumers should be excited.
The Monster speaker line consists of a tower speaker, two monitors, a dipole surround and two different subwoofers. The system I reviewed was comprised of the Monster THX Select Tower 200s for the front left and right speakers, a Monster THX Select Monitor 200 in center position, Monster THX Select Dipole Surround Sound Speaker 100 in the rear and two Monster THX Select Subwoofer 200s on the LFE channel. The speakers are priced at $800 for each tower, $600 for each monitor, $800 per pair of dipoles and $1,200 for each subwoofer.
The Tower 200 has a three-way design with three seven-inch Kevlar drivers and a one-inch silk dome tweeter. The speaker itself is approximately 47 inches tall by 10 inches wide and 11 inches deep (without grilles). The front and back walls of the speaker are parallel to each other. However, with the back only four inches wide, it gives the side walls a slight curvature, minimizing the total number of parallel surfaces and thereby reducing standing waves within the cabinet. The speakers appear triangular when viewed from above and with their rear grilles in place. The rear grille is V-shaped and carries the curved side walls back to a point. These grilles also hide the bi-wireable five-way binding posts for a neat appearance. Speaking of appearances, my review samples were finished in a rich cherry veneer; piano gloss black is also available. The bottoms of the speakers also have threaded inserts to accept the included spikes. Behind the front grilles are two yellow seven-inch Kevlar drivers at the top of the cabinet above the first port, and another seven-inch Kevlar driver below the second port on the bottom. On top of the cabinet is a slightly domed protrusion covered with a rubber-like material, upon which a tweeter enclosure rests, similar to many B&W products. While crossover specifications are not provided, one of the seven-inch drivers is utilized as a midrange driver, the other two as woofers providing the speaker with a claimed response of 60Hz – 20kHz at 90 dB sensitivity. Lastly, the Monster THX Select Tower 200s, like all speakers in the Monster THX line, are THX Select certified (if you couldn’t guess from their names) and are magnetically shielded.
The Monster THX Select Monitor 200 is similar to the Tower, but it is a two-way design with two seven-inch drivers flanking the tweeter. The monitors are rated at 63 Hz – 20kHz at 92 dB sensitivity. Like the Tower speakers, the Monitors are bi-wireable and have threaded connections for spikes. However, the Monitors can also be mounted on top of powered bass units and connect electrically to the bass units through the spike inserts to form one cohesive speaker unit.
Next in the system are the Monster THX Select Dipole Surround Sound Speaker 100s (try saying that five times fast) in the surround position. These speakers are designed to mount on the wall next to the primary listening position. The back of the cabinets feature mounting holes and the speakers come with clear installation instructions. Like the other speakers described above, the Dipoles are biwireable and utilize a seven-inch Kevlar woofer and a one-inch silk dome tweeter. When viewed from the front, the center of the speaker is covered by black grille cloth with a tweeter to each side, firing to the front and rear. Under the grille cloth is the woofer and a single port firing perpendicular to the side walls. The dipoles have a frequency response of 80 Hz to 20 kHz and a sensitivity rating of 87 dB.
Rounding out the system are two Monster THX Select Subwoofer 200s. These subwoofers look like a larger version of the dipoles (absent the tweeters) and sit on a gloss black pedestal base. Behind the grille is a single forward-firing 12-inch driver over a pair of front-mounted ports. The subwoofer is powered by an internal 200-watt amplifier and has line and speaker level inputs and outputs, an adjustable crossover and volume controls. The back panel also features an IEC power connector, status light, a two-position phase switch and a THX selector switch. The THX selector switch features Subwoofer, THX 1, 2 and 4 settings. In the subwoofer position, the volume and crossover controls are active; in the THX settings, they are bypassed. The total number of subwoofers in your system will determine whether to choose the 1, 2 or 4 position. Lastly, Monster includes one of their beefy high-end power cables to complete the package.
Setting up the Monster THX select speakers was fairly simple. I placed the Towers to each side of my 96-inch screen and about three feet out from the front wall. The Monitor was placed horizontally under the screen in the center position. All three front speakers were connected with Monster Cable Z series speaker cables. The dipoles were placed to the side of my listening position and the subwoofers were placed upon the front wall, inside the main speakers. I used a Velodyne SMS-1 for the crossover, level control and equalization of the subwoofers.
I did some listening with Monster’s MPA 5150 (review coming) providing the power, but used my reference Krell Theater Amplifier Standard for critical listening so I could concentrate on the speakers. I try not to change out more than one component at a time, so that I can identify what is causing the changes in what I am hearing.