Monster Cable Clarity HD Model One

Yes, you're going to need a bigger desk.

If, that is, you consider the new Clarity HD Multimedia Speakers from MonsterCable (yes, the ex$pensive-wire people) to be "desktop audio." I do – they're flanking my 20-inch monitor as I write this, and while it's true that they rather crowd the work-top, they sound sweet enough in doing so that I'm willing to overlook their bulk.

The Clarity HD Model One is Monster's first foray into the serious loudspeaker biz, and it's a notable one. The design is substantial, and technical: two-way, digital-crossover, powered monitors with multiple audio inputs, an iPod/Phone dock set into the right speaker's top (with supplied mini-remote to command both the speakers and the iDevice), and considerable refinement of design.

For example, the Model Ones' tops have nifty inset handles that make grab-and-going a joy – though you won't be going far, since you'll have to plug the right-channel speaker into the wall for power. A thick, multiconductor (DIN) cable links the pair, while around the back of the right-hand unit, in addition to the AC-cord inlet, you'll find mini-phone, RCA jack, and quarter-inch (phone-plug) stereo inputs, all of which are active simultaneously. There's also a slot for a future wireless module, and a +2/0/-2 dB High Filter switch. (A bit surprisingly, there are no digital inputs, USB or otherwise.)

The iPod/Phone dock is elegantly inset just behind the handhold; the system power button and volume wheel are also on the right-hand unit. The Monsters are nicely finished – my pair arrived in glossy racing yellow - and well put together (in China, of course) , with nice touches like grippy, rubberized surfaces for the button and wheel mentioned above, and a red pilot light that glows discreetly from behind the removable, perf-metal screen.

Very nice, but how do they sound?