Monitor Audio Platinum Series Home Theater Speaker System Page 2

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Big speakers like the PL300 always seem to demand some fussing with to get them to sound their best. The bass output of the tower is astounding, but with great power comes great responsibility. A pair of these speakers can easily overwhelm you with their bumptious bottom end. Pulling them out about 2 or 3 feet from the wall behind them will tame and tighten the low notes. You also might need to adjust the distance of your listening seat from the PL300s. With woofers this muscular, you don't want to be in a spot where the bass waves sum to create a peak in the response.

None of this will trouble the PL100 owner. Just place the speaker on its dedicated stand (or any other sturdy 24-inch support) and turn it toward you, and it should sound great, whether used in the rear or up front.

Ribbon drivers spread sound broadly in the horizontal plane, but they create a narrow beam of sound in the vertical plane. If the ribbon isn't pointed right at the level of your ears, treble response will be diminished. The tweeters in the PL300 and PL100 are already at ear level, but the PL350C center speaker will probably need to be aimed upward. Fortunately, Monitor's dedicated stand makes it easy to tilt the speaker to the proper angle.

MUSIC PERFORMANCE

The PL300 instantly impressed me with its robust, vivid sound. The ribbon tweeters whispered sweet somethings in my ears, producing such an enveloping sound with stereo music that I had to get up to make sure the surround speakers weren't playing. The treble was exceptionally clear. I especially loved hearing the work of acoustic-stringed-instrument polymath Bob Brozman through this speaker - "Afro Mada" from his Lumière in particular. Whether he was playing a National resonator guitar, a ukulele, or a Bolivian charango, every little detail came through with lifelike clarity.

Standard pop fare - even that throwaway stuff we've inflicted on the world - sounded marvelous on the PL300, with its 4-inch midrange delivering the neutral, uncolored vocal sound I crave. On albums like Madonna's Ray of Light and the Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me, the bass was intense and powerful, as if the speaker had an amplified 15-inch woofer built in. I can't imagine that many listeners will feel the need for a subwoofer.

Unlike commonly used fabric-dome tweeters, the ribbons weren't forgiving of sloppy work on the recording end. The treble on about 95% of the music I listened to did sound ideal through the PL300, but excessively bright or edgy recordings will only sound more so with this speaker.

To my surprise, when I replaced the PL300s with the PL100s in the front left and right channels, I enjoyed the resulting tonal quality even more. Except in the bass, the PL100 does everything the PL300 does, even though the smaller speaker's 6 1/2-inch woofer was surely tougher to mate with that ribbon tweeter than the tower's 4-inch midrange was. Of course, the PL100 can't even approach the PL300's bass capabilities; anything below about 50 Hz makes the PL100's rear port huff and puff. Still, I found that speaker's sound full enough to satisfy me for most of my music listening.

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