At first sight
These speakers are particularly impressive in a home theater setup. The Monolith Audition T5 tower and B5 bookshelf speakers also make excellent stereo pairs.
There are no speakers in the Monolith Audition product line that have enhanced drivers for Dolby Atmos or DTS:XI setups. The mid-range drivers and woofers are the same components (they just have different crossover points) Each speaker must be wired to an A / V receiver or amplifier
For the price of a high-end soundbar, you can have a home theater system that delivers a truly immersive and reliable listening experience—provided you can live without Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Price at time of review
As reviewed: Two Audition B5 bookshelf speakers, $124.99 each; two Audition T5 tower speakers: $249.99 each; an Audition C5 center speaker: $159.99. Total cost $909.95
Today’s best prices: Monoprice Monolith Audition B5
Single Price $124.99
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Monoprice, known for its value-based pricing model, continues its move into high-end audio with its new line of Monolith Audition loudspeakers, which offer incredible value and work equally well in stereo pairs for the listening to critical music or as part of a surround system in a home theater.
Monolith Audition loudspeakers are available in bookshelf, center channel and floor tower configurations. We’ve been impressed with other products in Monoprice’s Monolith line, including turntables, headphones, subwoofers, and home theater amplifiers, and found nothing to disappoint here.
We reviewed the Monolith Audition Series 5 (B5 library, T5 towerAND C5 center), evaluating bookshelf and tower models as stereo pairs as well as including them in a complete home theater setup with a Denon AVR-S660H A/V receiver (those speakers worked equally well in both setups).
Monoprice has once again defied expectations with a series of loudspeakers that perform far beyond its price point.
Each speaker features internally braced MDF cabinets covered in a black PVC wood grain finish. Monolith also offers a slightly smaller and less expensive Audition 4 series. Add one from the company Monolith subwoofer (or any other quality sub, for that matter) and you can create your own 5.1 home theater setup with your favorite A/V amplifier or receiver (Monoprice also has its own line of amplifiers and a more limited collection of receivers).
Monolith Audition T5 tower speaker
The Monoprice Monolith Audition T5 tower speakers ($249.99 each) measure 35.4 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches (HxWxD) and weigh 23.4 pounds. There is a single 20mm silk cloth dome tweeter with a neodymium waveguide and magnet, a 1 x 5.25 inch polypropylene cone with a NBR (Nitrile Butadiene Rubber) surround midwoofer and two woofers that share the same characteristics as the midwoofer. The speaker enclosure has a rear bass port near the bottom. Monolith claims the frequency response of the speaker is 48Hz ~ 20kHz and the sensitivity is 86.9dB (2.83V @ 1m). The T5 tower loudspeaker has a nominal impedance of 4 ohms and 5-way binding posts.
After setting up the T5 as a stereo pair with my home audio system, I admit I didn’t check my notes and spent a few days listening to it under the mistaken impression they cost $500 Everything is fine instead of $500 a pair. There’s a significant amount of bass performance from these speakers, and I was ready to wow them at $1,000. Monoprice has once again defied expectations with a product that performs at a level far above its price point.
Monolith Audition B5 bookshelf speaker
The Monoprice Monolith Audition B5 bookshelf speakers retail for $124.99 each. They are designed to be used as a stereo pair in an audio system or as left and right surround speakers in a home theater setup.
The B5 measures 13.6 x 6.3 x 7.1 inches (HxWxD) and weighs 7.3 pounds. It has the same 20mm silk dome tweeter and 5.25-inch polypropylene woofer used in the Audition T5 tower speaker. It also has a rear-facing bass port. The frequency response is 61Hz ~ 20kHz and the sensitivity is 84.3dB (2.83V at 1m). Like the floorstanding model, this bookshelf model has a nominal impedance of 4 ohms and features 5-way binding posts.
I tested the Audition B5 with Monoprice 32 inch Monolith Cherry Speaker Stands, which have adjustable top plates. The stands cost $79.99 a pair and were easy to assemble, with an adjustable spike option on the base and screws on the top plate for proper alignment. Monoprice also offers wall mount brackets for its bookshelf speakers.
The B5 speakers are an even more impressive stereo pair than the towers. If you’re looking for a smaller pair of speakers to pair with an amplifier in an office or den, these offer impressive detail and a surprising amount of bass for their size.
Monolith Audition C5 center channel speaker
The $159.99 Audition C5 center channel speaker measures 7.1 x 18.7 x 6.3 inches (HxWxD) and weighs 10.8 pounds. That 7-inch height spec will make anyone considering placing this speaker in front of a TV set on a cabinet think twice, as it could block the bottom of the TV’s screen. If your TV requires direct line of sight for the remote to operate, you may have a problem. There are also no built-in mounting points on the speaker enclosure, so you may need to find a creative solution if you have a wall-mounted TV.
The C5 center speaker has the same tweeter and midrange (two of the latter) as the Audition 5 series tower and bookshelf speakers, but its nominal frequency response is 73Hz ~ 20kHz (due to different crossover settings ) and its sensitivity is 86.7 dB (2.83 V at 1 m). Like the other speakers in the family, it has a nominal impedance of 4 ohms and is fitted with 5-way binding posts.
Monolith Audition speakers are strictly wired
As mentioned above, I tested the Monolith Audition 5 series speakers in a home theater setup docked with the excellent Denon AVR-S660H receiver. That receiver supports the Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 codecs used by Blu-ray discs, but doesn’t offer Dolby Atmos or DTS:X processing. Since none of the speakers in this roundup have powerful drivers, the receiver’s limitation in this regard doesn’t come into play. I also used a Monolith by Monoprice M-10 V2 10-inch THX Certified 500 Watt Subwoofer ($649.99) after first testing the speakers without it. It’s a huge submarine, the biggest I’ve ever used.
Most soundbar and subwoofer pairings on the market tout their wireless setup, as do more and more surround sound systems. Installing this Monolith Audition 5 Series system culminated in a thicket of speaker wires criss-crossing my home theater space. There are definite benefits to a wired setup, but you’ll need to run speaker wires under carpets for the surround speakers, tape them to the floor, or ideally run plenum wires through walls (or drop them down inside your walls from the ceiling).
Using cables to connect speakers to an amplifier or receiver is a tried-and-true way to get a rock-solid audio connection. Once everything is connected, there will never be a problem with a Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or other type of radio connection. Those speaker wires will run for decades until you decide to cut the ends off to expose fresh (non-oxidized) bare wire. There are benefits to the old ways, even if convenience isn’t one of them.
Watch movies with Monoprice Monolith Audition 5 Series speakers
While there’s a lot of heat for Dolby Atmos in the home theater world, not everyone has the kind of ceiling conducive to that format. Some readers might think that a 5.1 system like the one we’re discussing here might be obsolete. They would be wrong.
Watch a 4K stream of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (with a Dolby Atmos mix) via iTunes was spectacular, especially when compared to nearly every soundbar with Dolby Atmos DSP I’ve tried. The best soundbars do a great job of creating an Atmos effect, but they’re nowhere near as immersive as the experience of having rear speakers wired as part of the system.
My Denon receiver translated the Atmos stream into an excellent 5.1 mix and the sense of movement and object placement through the speakers was outstanding. Many surround systems skimp on the actual speaker quality, so it’s a bit of a shock to hear such good speakers employed in a home theater system.
Should you invest in Monoprice Monolith Audition 5 Series speakers?
If you’re just looking for stereo playback, a pair of Monolith Audition T5 floorstanding speakers for $500 or a pair of B5 bookshelf speakers for $250 are excellent and affordable choices. The B5 speakers are particularly good value, but both the B5 and T5 offer amazing detail for the money. For under $2,000, you can buy five Monolith Audition speakers, a subwoofer, and a high-performance A/V receiver that will deliver far better sound than almost any soundbar. You’ll have to commit to having speaker wires in your space and find a way to keep them from getting underfoot, but it’ll be worth it for anyone not committed to having a low-profile or wireless setup.