Price: $499.98 (Pair)
⭐️ ⭐️ ½
Every budget conscious audio hobbyist knows Monoprice sells many audio related products in affordable price. Recently Monoprice start selling amplifiers under Monolith name and this time around they have released Monolith K-BAS (Kinetic Bass Amplification System) bookshelf speakers for just 2 cents under five hundred dollars.
So, What is the main fuss about these speakers if you ask me, Bass response of Monolith K-Bas speakers goes all the way down to 39HZ according to Monoprice marketing and that is very big deal for the size of the speakers and relatively big bookshelf size cabinets, if they can do that in $500 price point without losing any sonic quality from top to bottom of audio spectrum, especially in mid-range, it would be very special.
When I receive an offer for Monolith K-BAS speakers for review, I was very excited and looking forward with somewhat higher expectation because something special is happening base on product information and specification. Packing each Monolith K-BAS in individual box is a little unusual for bookshelf speakers to ship but they came in perfect condition with minimal wear on the the packaging, immediately hook them up in second system to start the break-in process.
After 4 days of continuous break-in, I set up Monolith speakers on 24" B&W metal stands in main system to start evaluation of the speakers, my first track was Diana Krall "The Look of Love" SACD and immediately struck me with tonally rich sound signature with a lot of bottom end response but it was kind of veil in overall musical spectrum, so I let them break-in for one more day before making any judgement.
Quality of the cabinet is solid and doesn't produce any noticeable vibration when playing music at my reference level of 75-80db, very rigid feel to it but I'm not sure if a rectangle front port can help produce better bass response but at least it is front ported design to use them as real bookshelf speakers.
Polypropylene + Mica Cone 5.25" Woofer is mounted on the top with Liquid-Cooled Titanium Dome Tweeter right underneath and rectangle shape port is at the bottom. The drivers looks good to me I don't see any imperfection in any of them, by the way I will not go into any technical detail about K-BAS design because similar ideas has been done in the past, such as H-PAS (Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System) by Atlantic Technology.
On the sixth day of break-in, I started my serious listening section with Monolith K-Bas speakers, first I tried Diana Krall "The Look Of Love" SACD again and it's still sound the same as the first time and move on many other music from heavy metal to symphony, it's been more than 80+hrs and sound quality not inline with other speakers in the price range, it is not a good sign for my taste of music because I like tonally accurate neutral sound with a little bit on warm side but these are way more warmer than I would like and not enough resolution or transparency is there, Highs are okay with good amount of detail and some extension but not enough instrument separation or airy spacious sound that I would love and it can also get edgy with some music.
Mid-range is the weakest point in overall sound, male and female vocals are not as accurate as some of my favorite bookshelf speakers under $500 like Wharfedale Diamond 225, JBL Studio 230 or ELAC B5 speakers etc., When me and my wife tried to watch "The girl on the train" movie with Monoliths in my main two channel system, I had to switch out the speakers in first 15 minutes of the movie because we want to hear the clearer dialogues from the movie. This is not the the speaker for anyone who love pure, musical and clean mid-range. Overall sound stage is good but stereo image and depth is not as great as I was expecting when listening to music.
Finally, Bass performance is not bad but no where near world beating in terms of performance and quality, especially with $500 price tag. It's just bottom heavy speakers with lack of definition, one of my test track song from Bela Fleck & The Flecktones "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo" bass lines were sounded almost like just one note is playing, another test track form Bozzio Levin Steven "Black Light Syndrome" album "Duende" rolling bass lines has no apparent definition nor musical, basically it's squeezed out bass performance by using special cabinet design to produce lower end acoustic energy from small drivers. It can be done better than Monolith with active crossover or equalizers.
Not a bad speakers to use them with bright sounding room or equipments but there are some sonic limitation to produce good quality sound. I did not know how $500 price is worth in terms of sound quality. I can use ELAC B5 and Pioneer SW8-MK2 subwoofer to produce better sound and bass performance yet save some money to buy more music.
Conclusion, a layer of veil from top to bottom of the sound is very noticeable in my system and it's almost muddy and muffle sound signature is very apparent, these Monolith K-BAS speakers will be fair at $250/pair in my opinion, especially for the people who loves bass heavy music. It's more V shape sound than many other speakers I've heard. To whomever looking for good quality bookshelf speakers, there are many choices from from Wharfedale, ELAC, JBL and Q Acoustics.
As far as my rating goes it's all base on price, actual performance evaluation of the speakers and many listening hours with my reference music in two different system.
Pros: Interesting Concept.
Cons: High Price, Sound Quality.
Highs:⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Mid-Range: ⭐️ ⭐️ ½
Bass: ⭐️ ⭐️ ½
Sound Stage:⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Price: ⭐️ ⭐️ ½
YouTube Sound Demo.
Speakers: KEF R300, KEF LS50.
Analog: Denon DP47F w/DL-301mk2.
Digital: Marantz UD-7007 SACD/HiRes Player.
Pre & Power Amp: Parasound Halo P5 & Halo A21.
Cables: AudioQuest Gibraltar 72 DBS, King Cobra, Big Sur & Diamondback XLR & RCA Cables.
Power: PS Audio Detect Power Center, PerfectWave AC-12 & Oyaide BlackMamba-∑ AC Cables.
20Amp AC line.