Monsoon PlanarMedia 9
Price: $99.00 US
It has been a few years since I purchased my Monsoon MM1000 three-piece speaker system. In all that time, I have been more than happy with them. In fact, I always use them as the benchmark of good speakers. When I listen to other speakers, I always ask myself “are they better sounding than my Monsoon’s”. Happily, after two-plus years, the answer is still a resounding no.
Then along comes a new pair of speakers from the same company. The Monsoon PlanarMedia 9’s (hereby referred to as PM9’s) are a pair of $99 speakers, very similar to my own MM1000, though $100 cheaper in price. How do they stack up with the more expensive, though older, speakers? Let’s put them to the test!
The PM9’s are a three-piece speaker system, consisting of two desktop flat-panel speakers as well as a subwoofer that sits on the floor. Aesthetically speaking, they are very nice looking speakers. The silver desktop speakers are set at a slight angle, so that the speakers face upwards rather than straight out. The speaker grills are metal, and each desktop speaker is actually quite weighty. This is good, as they will not tip over easily, nor accidentally moved out of your preferred listening location.
The six-inch black subwoofer produces a great deal of base, and unlike some cheap multi-media subwoofers, this speaker is heavy! One really nice thing about the speaker package is that it uses as regular power cord, rather than one with a heavy and hot “brick” plug many other speakers use, including my MM1000’s. All the power converter hardware is located in the subwoofer.
The quality of sound is the most important aspect of any speaker. As an audiophile, I am always on the lookout for great sounding speakers. While the PM9’s can’t compare with a quality home speaker system, they do blow most of the other multimedia speaker systems away in this price range. While I would place them lower in overall sound quality than my MM1000 or the Harman Kardon SoundStick with the iSub, they do beat the paints off most of the speakers I hear connected to most of my friends’ computers. I mean, these things rock!
At lower volume, the base sounds very good. All audio controls are done via whatever software you are using, such as iTunes. While there is a base, volume, and mute button on the remote, there are no treble controls on the speakers themselves. Many people may not like this omission. I personally do because not all music and sound are reproduced optimally with a set control. The remote also sports a headphone jack, which when used kills the sound coming from the speakers. This is great, no more reaching behind your Mac just to plug in headphones!
Speaking of the remote, it is not wireless. Not a big deal, really, but it sure would be nice to be able to have one less cord cluttering my desk. The remote, however, ships with a very nice metal stand. (Does anyone make a wireless remote control for newer Macintosh computers? Input welcome!)
Sound comes from a mini-jack, meaning if you have an computer without an audio-out mini-plug jack, you will have to purchase an adapter to go from mini-plug to USB, such as the iMate. While USB sounds just as good as speakers connected via a mini-plug, I hate wasting a USB port just for a set of speakers. Thankfully, all of Apple’s newest computers once again support the mini-plug audio port.
Sound quality, while very good, tends to get muddy with louder music at higher volume. You do have to turn the PM9’s up VERY loud to detect much distortion, but there are times when I want to listen to my MP3’s while in another room, and the PM9’s were not as able as my MM1000’s.
I really enjoyed my time with this speaker system. It looks classy, not cheap. The sound is, for the most part, very good. They do not have the high-end audio quality as more expensive offerings, but for sub-$100, these are about the best of the bunch out there.
19W Subwoofer x 2 19W satellites total power.
System Frequency Response: 40 Hz Ð 20kHz
Maximum Acoustic Output: 101 dB
Controls on Remote: Master Volume, Base Volume, LED indicator, and Headphone Jack.
Weight: Satellite 1.75 lbs. Subwoofer 16 lbs.
Good speakers for a great price. (Look to Amazon.com, where I found these speakers for $86.99 US, a great price!)
MacMice Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Due mostly for quality at this price point. If comparing to MM1000, rating would be closer to 3 out of 5)