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Time for a word-association test. I say coffee; you say tea. I say sky; you say cloud. I say computer speakers; you say...tinny? If so, it's time to change your tune. Sonigistix has released the Monsoon MM-1000 Amplified Multimedia Speaker Systema satellite-subwoofer speaker combination that may alter your expectations of how computer speakers should look and sound.
As soon as you unpack the box, you'll notice that the two satellite speakers are a scant half-inch deep. These speakers are based on planar magnetic technology, a designtypically found in high-end stereo speakersthat doesn't require traditional speaker cones and deep enclosures.
Planar magnetic speakers have a tough time creating low bass frequencies, which is where the Monsoon's subwoofer comes in. This four-slot, toaster-size black box sits under your desk, and its 5.25-inch speaker produces enough bottom-end sound to satisfy music lovers and gamers alike. You can adjust the bass with a knob on the front of the subwoofer. Regrettably, there's no way to change the left-right balance of the satellite speakers and there's no on/off button.
In addition to the bass control, the subwoofer's front end features a volume control and a bass-boost button. The back of the subwoofer sports two miniplug stereo inputs, connectors for the satellites' bare-wire leads, and an input for the lightweight remote control.
Good design is nice, but the proof of a speaker's worth is the sound it produces. Because of their small size and inexpensive components, most computer speakers are a collection of compromisescertain frequencies are artificially boosted or cut to make the speakers sound lively or to produce thumping low frequencies.
From this listener's point of view, such is not the case with the Monsoon speakers. They deliver well-balanced, transparent audio and have more in common with a good pair of home-stereo speakers than with typical computer speakers. High frequencies are readily apparent without being shrill, middle frequencies lack the boxiness found in most computer speakers, and the low end is rich but not thumpy. The sound will also please gamers. There's a nice sense of separationimportant when you need an audio clue to tell you where the next intergalactic cootie lurksand the subwoofer offers enough oomph to enhance the effect of any game's exotic weaponry.
If you can afford the $229 price tag, get these speakers. They are glorious.
RATING: PROS: Wonderful sound; cool flat-panel design. CONS: A little expensive; no on/off switch. COMPANY: Sonigistix (501/372-0366, http://www.monsoonpower.com ). COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $229.
April 1999 page: 60