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Manufacturer: Monsoon
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: Minijack Audio Port

Monsoon PlanarMedia 9
August 8, 2002 | Greg Gant

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As you may or may not know, Monsoon is one of the leading companies producing flat/thin speakers. The Planarmedia series are among their latest offerings, consisting of ribbon-driven satellites for speakers (which are roughly an inch thick) and a traditional subwoofer. Off the shelf, Monsoon is here to wow the eyes, ears and pockets with the Planarmedia 9 at $99.

The Planarmedia 7 and 9 sets are similar, so a great deal of this review is concerned with comparing the two.

The Planarmedia 9s come with two satellite speakers, a subwoofer and what they call a "Versatile Control Center" (which is a hand-held volume control). Both the Planarmedia 7 and 9s use the same satellites, which are 4 3/8” wide, 7” tall, and 3/4” deep. The VCC unit sports a slightly noisy headphone jack.

The 9s are a step up in power over the 7s, more than doubling the power to each speaker, 19 Watts per satellite and 2x19 Watt sub for a combined wattage of 76w. The sub sports a dual coil 6 1/2” cone driver in a low compression flared port box tuned to 55 Hz.The extra power boosts the max acoustic output to 101 db and larger sub allows deeper bass for a 40hz-20khz. Also the 9s come with a master on/off switch on the sub. The 9s come in weighing 17.75 lbs, a total 11.6 heavier all thanks to the larger subwoofer.

Reinventing the Wheel?
Before considering these speakers, it’s important to understand the philosophy behind Monsoon's products. Their principal belief is that midrange and treble can be more accurately reproduced with ribbon transducers rather than traditional magnet-driven cones. Monsoon claims that the frequency response is much quicker, thus creating clearer, crisper sound than a traditional driver.

The transducer literally sits suspended between strips of magnets. Sound is created when the magnetic field causes the ribbon to vibrate. Since the speaker itself only requires a metallic sheet between two sets of magnets, the casing can be kept to an absolute minimum. In turn, the lack of casing can create a more spacious sound.

Another advantage is that the speakers can produce dipolar sound with one speaker driver (or transducer) rather than multiple drivers (drivers placed on the front and back of the speaker box). According to Monsoon, this design allows the speaker to radiate sound in a figure of eight pattern out the front and rear of the speakers and give pinpoint stereo separation while still providing great imaging. There are less errant sound wave reflections than a standard bipole. Traditional bipoles will radiate sound in a hemispherical pattern front and rear which will cause more muddying of the stereo separation because there are many more reflections of the sound waves. This is good for surround speaker applications (rears).


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