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Monsoon's 2.1 PC Speakers Review

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Monsoon PlanarMedia 14 (2.1) speaker review

I recently went on a shopping trip with a buddy to help him find a set of good 2.1 speakers for his computer system. the only prerequisite was that they had to be black. He just upgraded his old beige monster 19" monitor for a 17" black LCD and wanted everything to match, so away we went...we visited Future Shop, Best Buy, Staples Business Depot and finally Radio Shack. most stores had a large selection but for some reason 2.1 speakers generally just didn't measure up to my standards. Most good sounding speakers were only available as multi-speaker set-ups 5.1, 6.1 and even 7.1 (where in hell do you find room for 7 speakers around your computer!!!)

Click to enlarge photo

We listened to all the recommended brands based on reviews (and even some recommended by 'Joe' sales guy.) only the Klipsh grabbed us as an overall contender but we balked at the price of $249.99 so we stopped by Subway for lunch and noticed a Radio Shack nearby and ventured forth. We saw one set that looked interesting so we asked the clerk if we could have a listen. As the clerk fumbled around with the mass of wires and daisy-chain of splitters to try and connect the darn things (honestly the chain was over a foot long I'm surprised anything worked!) My buddy started wandering around and noticed some computer game running and started playing, noticing the sound was to low cranked the volume up.... well both of our mouths fell open at the same time the bass was incredible and the sound of bullets whizzing around had me running over to find out which speakers were attached.

'Monsoon' was written on the very thin Speaker. We stopped the game and popped in a Music Cd to verify that these things did indeed sound as good with music as we had heard with the game. I am not easily impressed but these things were so good that I ended up purchasing a set on the spot (now I just had to explain the purchase to my Wife who is never impressed with my purchases). I'll save myself from trying to describe the sound by letting you read comments from other individuals that I found on the web. My buddy agreed and purchased a set as well, we paid $149.99 (Canadian), after getting them home I looked around to see if anyone else carried them for less and have not found anyone in Canada besides Radio Shack with stock on these speakers! Also the Monsoon website appears to be gone replaced with a coming soon site for 'Monsoon car audio products'. I'm assuming the original manufacturer is gone as I can't find a trace of them anywhere, if this is the case I highly recommend you hit Radio Shack and pick-up any remaining stock before its to late.

Specifications can be found at the end of this article. What follows below are some samples of what others have been saying about Monsoon speakers as you may be able to tell quickly by the reviews they are very much liked and enjoyed by Audio and Computer users alike....

Joe P (3/5/2004)
Keep your Klipsch....or anything else in the Monsoon PlanarMedia 14s price range. You'd be foolish to pass these up! I've heard em' all, and nothing compares to these things. Although very directional, these Monsoons are utterly amazing. The DEEP bass, crisp highs and amazing soundstage these babies pump out will have your lower jaw literally on the ground. Reviews aside, only YOU know what you like. Pick up this set and try em'. You can always return them....but you won't....GUARANTEED! Try this test....connect em' up to your computer. You can play any good quality MP3 but...a broadband connection and AOLs "Radio AOL" digital music is AMAZING! Now close you eyes and sit up close....something else huh?!

Julian (12/29/2003)
I just picked these speakers up at RadioShack(lol) for $99.99(CDN). When monsoon was still making computer speakers i was very much into them, but couldn't afford them so i turned to the more affordable altec lansing atp3's. I had the atp3's for a year now and i m used to their sound and these speakers are far superior. The lows/mids/highs are better. I like the 8' sub, thats a perfect size for me. You can make the sub really boom if u have the bass turned up and just have it flow with the music when its lower. The satellites have very good highs and average mid ranges. They were just a little bit too 'tingy' but i've heard that the mids start to show up more after about 2 days of use. The remote is very handy. The only thing i feel it is lacking is a treble control. I like how the remote can be attached to the base or either or the satellites. I feel that is very handy. Overall for what i payed($99 CDN) for these speakers nothing comes close. These are 100W rms and its not exagerated its a true rating. When these came out they were a little bit too expensive but for what i payed for them they are worth every penny.

Sibilant (12/28/2003)
I managed to pick up this set up speakers having never even heard them, purchasing strictly on a vague review from a friend of some Monsoon brand speakers a friend of his had once owned. I got them at my place of business, Circuit City, on an open-box deal with my employee discount, and figured, what the hey, it's a step up from my crappy Altec Lansings that bite in ways unimaginable, and that they would hold me until I could sink some real chip into a decent set of speakers. Since they were floor models, the break-in period was nominal, and they sounded killer from the moment I effortlessly, and without any manual at all, plugged them in. I tossed on something with a little bass, Outkast's track Aquemini... My jaw hit the floor. The bass was thick and punchy, if not entirely crisp, and the definition in the mids and highs knocked my socks. Oh, and by the time I was enjoying the delicate piano rolls on NIN's The Fragile while simultaneously rattling pictures off the walls with the deliciously resonant bass, I had long forgotten about "upgrading" to a better, more expensive set of speakers.

Paul Hoffer (11/27/2003)
Besides a little splash if you play v. loud in a small room, these are far more than adequate speakers. The ribbon technology pays off big time !! I bought the Planar 14's on spec after my labtecs subwoofer took diffidence to my style of abusing systems (can't abuse a system only use it ! Who said that ??) I have driven the 14's hard from day one, no hi-fi style run in, and have been a little more the pleasantly surprised. My hifi speakers are floorstanding Mordaunt Short MSi 25's, MSC centre dialogue and MS 20i pearl rear effect, not bad speakers, v good sound for me. I was really only looking for a replacement setup for my PC, I got more than I bargained for....lucky me!! I only hope they stand the test of time, and that if they do blow up it happens the week before the guarantee runs out, and not the very week after as did my sad sad labtecs. Besides that maybe input better quality interconnects and cabling and in addition more length to the cable. For the price this is very hard to beat in build and sound quality.

Patrick G (9/24/2003)
After a long extrenuating search for a suitable set of computer speakers, I had chiseled my options down to two undoubtedly superior systems: The Altec Lansing 621, or the award winning Logitech Z-680s. The latter of the two however has had a few reports concerning the sub blowing...but thats another story...lets move on. I was shopping around for deoderant when I happen to stumble upon these Monsoon Planar Media 14 2.1 speakers. They were on sale, and so I took a gander at these without hesitation. Basically they were such a darn good deal I thought eh why not. And so the installation was quickly done with, and on with the music... The first two words out of my mouth were "...oh my" In a nutshell, these speakers are an extremely good value. The subwoofer is LOUD, however there is a minor moan in that after its lowest frequency of 35Hz, there is a steep cutoff, meaning it doesnt like those notes below 35Hz. The satellites, apart from looking cool, are extremely crisp, however they are highly directional in that the sound fades enormously if you dont position yourself in front of them. Another minor moan, anyone who wants to listen to good music should position ANY speakers correctly to appreciate the sound. All in all I can say this sound system is extremely powerful, it shakes the walls of the house at half of the max volume, and God knows what happens after that...I havent even tried, and dont plan to...going deaf is not the first thing on my to do list, thanks... So go out and get a pair of these speakers if you want power, quality, and dont really need a 4,5, or 6.1 system. Happy booming.

mkim (9/16/2003)
Quite an amazing set of speakers. I'm using the M-Audio Revo's with it. DVD's actually sound pretty nice, even with only a 2.1 setup. Would recommend this over the Klipsch ProMedia's, even though the Klipsch's bass is slightly tighter.

Roger Ramsey (8/8/2003)
If one is willing to be content with "in-yer-face-but-flat-as-a-board-with-little-soundstage" (Klipsch) or "smooth-but-I-have-rolled-off-highs-because-I- have-no-tweeters" (MegaWorks), then I suppose one could be forgiven for quite comfortably foregoing the mini Martin-Logans that the PM14s essentially are. Break-in on these babies is a minimum of 50 hours (that will cure the thin mids) and as is VERY common with flat panel designs of any size, the benefits of the superb imaging are lost if you move around the room (if that's what you want to do, why on earth are you buying multimedia speakers anyway?). To refer to the PM14s as merely gaming speakers is at best a GROSS misrepresentation of them – they are the best speakers on the market for detailed music that demand a finely drawn soundstage and wide dynamic range. They provide all that and more in the area they are designed to do this in: the area in front of your PC, especially when paired with a quality consumer audio card such as a M-Audio Revolution (Creative Labs wares need not apply).

Stewart White (7/10/2003)
I first heard a pair of first generation Monsoons and I became a fan. When the new ones came out, I bought a pair of PM-9's but I was not satisfied. I switched to the PM-14's and I have been happy ever since. Even in my old CD's, I hear things that I didn't know were there. I applaud and condem the various studio sound technicians because I can now hear the difference. The technology is amazing and the price is very right!

Mysterio (5/27/2003)
They are the best speakers I've ever owned. I own a mid-range Monsoon set, but hey, they beat any of the other speakers tha cost more. The satillite sound is great. Great technology. A good price. If you own a mac you obviously like it high end. These speakers are what us with good taste need and deserve.

Gordon (5/12/2003)
The monsoon series are some of the best speakers I've run into as a reseller. They're great quality of sound, if you want to listen to your music fairly loud, and if you don't want to listen to loud music why are you buying expensive speakers? Rock on...


Monsoon Audio PlanarMedia™ 14 Multi-Media Speaker System

Level 9‘ PFT™100 Series Planar Ribbon Transducers Dipole-radiating thin profile satellites
Single Full range planar ribbons cover 200Hz to 20kHz (No crossover required)
Dimensions 7” x 4 3/8” x 3” (178mm x 112mm x 19mm) (HxWxD)
Subwoofer Dimensions: 13 1/4” x 10” x 9 1/2” (337mm x 256mm x 242mm) (HxWxD)

Amplifier Power
Integrated 4 channel BTL Class B Power Amplifier 100 Wrms Total System Power (10% THD)
Satellites 2 x 25Wrms Subwoofer 1 x 50Wrms
Headphone Output 75 mW maximum 0.2% THD 16 ohms
Crossover Active crossover 200Hz Linkwitz - Riley alignmen

Subwoofer Driver
8” (200mm) diameter dual voice coil driver High excursion driver Xmax = +/- 1/4” (6 mm) Felted semipress cone
Subwoofer Cabinet 0.56 ft3 (15.5 liter) vented cabinet Solid MDF cabinet Tuned to 38Hz Low compression port tube design C
Controls Control Center has Master Volume, Bass Volume and System Mute with a (Standby) Power LED also includes a Headphone Jack
System Frequency Response 35 Hz – 20kHz
Maximum Acoustic Output 103 dB peak in a typical desktop environment
Inputs 1/8” (3.5mm) stereo jack

Power Supply
Internal to subwoofer cabinet uL and cuL approved (North America)
Input Voltage 120 VAC (North America) 220-240V (International version only)
Subwoofer Weight 25 lbs (11 kgs) Packaged System Weight - 31 lbs (14 kgs)
Company Information

Level 9 Sound Designs Inc.
201-11782 Hammersmith Way
Richmond, BC Canada
V7A 5E3 Tel: 604-504-5286
Toll Free: 877-722-8346

Warranty 2 year parts and labor
MSRP $149.99

I guess I don't need to mention I happen to love these speakers and I mourn the loss of another quality Canadian product that lost its place in the market. As with many great products the retail chain is a rough ride trying to balance a quality product against the cut-throat competition as they flood the market with products aimed at the same market segment. Marketing and placement rule and the players such as 'Creative' or 'Logitech' have the ability and funds to get the right product placement as smaller venders struggle to get space on the shelf. This is not to say the products by these companies are bad, in fact many are quite good. they just aren't the ones i'll be bringing home.

I hope this review was helpful

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