Monsoon MM-700 Flat Panel Speakersby Mike Andrawes on December 26, 1999 8:39 PM EST
The technology behind the Monsoon speakers isn't anything new, but Monsoon/Sonigistix just claim that they are the first to use mass production techniques to bring it to market at an affordable price. The concept is actually very different from the path chosen by Benwin/NXT. This time, it's called Planar Focus and sound is generated as a thin mylar membrane vibrates in a special enclosure. Instead of aiming for an enlarged sweet spot and room filling sound from small speakers, like the Benwin/NXT setup, Planar Focus is designed to produce very directional sound.
The reasoning behind this step is that such directional sound will minimize reflections from the desktop, monitor, and anything else providing optimal sound for 3D sound from two speakers, such as Aureal's A3D. At the same time, sound will, theoretically, be extremely crisp and powerful - crisp due to the lack of reflections and powerful due to increased efficiency since a heavy cone need not be moved. Instead of a large sweet spot, the goal is for a very fixed one that should be fine for a single computer user with the speakers correctly positioned. Trying to use Planar Focus to produce music for a room full of people just won't work very well.
One of the biggest problems in generating 3D positional audio from two speakers is cross talk from the speakers where your left ear hears what's coming from the right speaker and vice versa. Clearly such a directional speaker will help prevent this to a degree, and of course 3D sound algorithms attempt to do the same.
This category is the one in which the MM-700's really hold an advantage over the older MM-1000's. The issues we had with the remote volume control puck on that older model are no longer present. That means the mute button actually mutes the system completely now and unexpected volume changes are not present either. The puck is now the only volume control available in the system. In fact, the puck is integral to the systems function as you connect the puck between your computer and the sub.
Monsoon has also added a power switch to the back of the sub so it can be shut off completely if desired. Then they said goodbye to the external AC adapter by integrating it into the subwoofer enclosure. Also gone are the bass boost button and bass level controls, replaced by a simple woofer volume control on the back of the sub.
The satellites are still hooked up to push button terminals on the sub via standard speaker wire that is permanently attached to the satellites. The removable satellite stands offer some interesting mounting options, including the aforementioned kit from Monsoon for connection with an NEC flat panel display.