Monoprice Monolith THX-365T 5.1.4 Speaker System Review Page 2

Because they meet the THX specification, which only requires them to operate from around 80 Hz up, all three Monolith THX speaker models can crank out loud, undistorted sound with ease. The bass heavy lifting, meanwhile, gets handed over to the subwoofer by design. Monoprice makes six different THX certified subwoofers, and besides the obvious budget factor, the choice of which to use will depend on the size of your room and what type of listening you do most. A ported sub will deliver more output for a given woofer size, but a sealed model typically offers better control for more tuneful bass. Within each of these two categories, Monoprice offers subs with 10-inch, 12-inch and 15-inch drivers. Based on my 14 x 17 x 9-foot room and my preference for music listening over attempting to faithfully recreate an earthquake, I decided to go with the sealed 12-inch M12-S ($800) model. At over 65 pounds, this 500-watt sub is quite the beast, and includes some pretty high-end features such as XLR balanced connections and an infinitely variable phase control. While its extended EQ setting is spec'd to provide useful output down to around 18 Hz, I used it mostly in the THX setting, which rolls off anything below 20 Hz to provide more output.


My room's flat unobstructed ceiling makes it just about perfect for an Atmos setup that uses speakers with upward-firing drivers. To get a bit more reach from the ceiling bounce, I pulled the 365T mini towers a bit further into the room than normal, ending up about three feet from the front wall and seven feet apart. The 365C center channel was also pulled out so it was the same distance from the listening position as the mini towers, while the 265B surround speakers were located on tall stands against the side walls and slightly behind the listening position. I placed the M12-S subwoofer in the room's front left corner with its Bass Extension set to THX Mode and its infinitely variable phase control tweaked to provide maximum output at the crossover point.

While I don't expect many will buy these speakers specifically to play music, most people expect their home theater rig to be pretty good at that as well. Starting off with a simple mono recording, Buddy Holly's "Everyday," Buddy's voice was smooth and full, while the percussion—really just someone slapping their knees with their hands—sounded natural and clear. On some systems, this song's celesta solo can be a bit too forward- sounding, but it rang out clearly without grating on the 365Ts. The THX speaker specification requires very flat frequency response, and while that seems like it should be a good thing, it can also emphasize any ringing or driver anomalies. But Monoprice, perhaps by using soft dome drivers for both the midrange and tweeter, has managed to combine an upfront and dynamic presentation with a sense of ease that makes its THX speakers not at all fatiguing to listen with over the long haul.


"The Race" from the Swiss band Yello is the type of tune you really want to crank up, and with the sounds of doors slamming and cars racing between the speakers, it can test your amp's dynamic capabilities. With a specified 89.5 dB sensitivity and 4-ohm impedance, the 365T isn't the easiest speaker around to drive, but my Denon AVR-X8500H receiver allowed me to turn the wick up on "The Race" to lease- breaking levels with no discernable distortion. The thrumming bass on this track couldn't tell me much about the capabilities of the M12-S subwoofer, so I put on one of my favorite bass torture tracks, Keith Richards' "Words of Wonder," and reveled in Charley Drayton's deep, plunging reggae-style bass lines. I obviously dialed in the sub's positioning and crossover setup just right, because every note sounded clear and tight. The chop of Keith's guitar and the crack of Steve Jordan's snare drum had the same velvet-gloved punch I had heard on the Buddy Holly track, making it comfortable to play at loud levels.

To get the full immersive Atmos experience, I played a Blu-ray of the rather bleak Suspiria remake, starring Tilda Swinton. This isn't a big action blockbuster, but it does have an atmospheric soundtrack that shifts with each scene. In the outdoors shots, the sound of falling rain envelops the listener, making you feel like you're literally outside in a rainstorm. The Atmos section of the Monolith speakers can cover a pretty wide range, and the tonal match between them and the main speakers is about as good as I've ever heard. These capabilities let the system really open up, and in a scene from Suspiria where you hear the voices inside Swinton's character's head, the presentation was truly three-dimensional.


As you might expect given its identical drivers and enclosure volume, the sonic performance of the 365C center channel is essentially indistinguishable from the 365T mini towers. The midrange and tweeter plate are rotated so that the drivers remain vertically aligned, an arrangement that provides excellent off-axis response, with the speaker sounding the same whether you're seated in the dead center or way off to one side. Dialogue also has

the same lively and upfront, yet smooth delivery as the mini towers, making it easy to follow dialogue even when it's buried pretty deep in a noisy mix. Suspiria has several points where sound effects spin around the room, and there was never any sense of discontinuity as the sound panned between the various Monolith speakers.


For a little more dynamic action, I fired up the opening scene from Incredibles 2 where the Underminer is causing chaos in Municiberg. As Mr. Incredible fights the Underminer, each punch and crash jumped from the speakers, but with the same smooth leading edge I had noticed with music tracks. Playing this soundtrack loud was never a problem, although the deep rumbling bass could get a bit overwhelming at points.

Most speakers make compromises to accommodate a wide range of customer types and tastes, but these new Monolith THX models are clearly aimed at a very specific audience. I'm not sure who designed them for Monoprice, but that person is clearly a big home theater enthusiast. At the same time, they made some smart decisions that allow the system to sound great with music, too. The build quality of the speakers in this THX-365T-based system is excellent, and, as you would expect from Monoprice, the value is superb. Enthusiastically recommended.