Founded in 1990 by Sandy Gross, Don Givogue and Ed Blais, Definitive Technology developed a winning formula by combining technical prowess and versatility, aggressive pricing, superlative PR, and lean and mean operations to rise to the top of the upper mid-fi loudspeaker world in relatively little time. Later on, Definitive would expand its offerings in both pricing directions, and add a layer of sheen to its brand in competing with the absolute kings of the loudspeaker hill. In late 2004, Directed Technologies, the world's largest vehicle-security and remote-start company and owner of the Viper, Clifford, Orion, a/d/s, Precision Power, and Python brands (among others), bought Definitive as its entry into home audio and home theater.
Part of its ProCinema series, which contains small, ergonomically friendly models and complete systems designed for stereo, multi-channel music and home theater applications, the individually-sold ProMonitor 800 can be wall-mounted, shelf mounted or used on floor-stands. It utilizes Definitive's exclusive BDSS (Balanced Double Surround System) technology in its single 4 � inch bass/midrange driver, and couples it to a 4 � inch passive radiator firing upward. BDSS utilizes custom waveguides, voice coils, die-cast baskets, and magnets for improved linearity, stability, and power handling. The upward-firing passive radiator allows for increased space behind the active driver without increasing the size of the enclosure, improving the midrange and bass. The ProMonitor 800 employs a 1 inch aluminum dome tweeter.
The ProMonitor 800 allows for multiple placement options. It offers a pre-molded tri-lobed base for shelf mounting, a built-in keyhole mount, optional pivot mounts (ProMount 80), and optional floor stands (ProStand 600/800). It also comes in Gloss Black or Gloss White finishes. Fit and finish was typical of Definitive products: excellent. Smooth seams, shiny surfaces, nice hardware, attractive logo placements all indicate top notch production.
Reviewed here strictly within a two-channel music system and driven by a variety of power sources including high and mid-level receivers and a very high-end amplifier, the ProMonitor 800 delivered excellent sonic performance with each one. At 89dB efficiency and an 8 ohm impedance, the ProMonitor 800 presents a fairly easy load to drive, but the mid-level receiver did struggle a bit to get it performing optimally, and the speaker did perform noticeably better with better quality power. The ProMonitor 800 threw a deep, wide soundstage with very good imaging. The highs had an appealing crispness and a smooth blend into the midrange, which had some typical very low level coloration but an overall very good and natural level of detail and fluidity within the presentation. For a small speaker, the ProMonitor 800 offered surprisingly deep and tight bass, but its real strength showed in its blend into the lower midrange. Combined with the excellent mid to high blend, I found the ProMonitor 800 to offer a very even-handed and listenable sonic signature. Speakers like this cause you to start reaching for other CDs to hear how they sound. The ProMonitor 800 seemed to excel with electronic music, although its classical, vocal, and jazz performance also earned good marks. With its ability to maintain an even-handed sonic approach even at higher volumes, rock and metal material seemed easier to enjoy than with other bookshelf models that tend to show their flaws when things get ramped up a bit. Of course, this quality also helps on large scale classical material, but I found myself listening to more modern electronic music with these speakers.
As with any small speaker, the ProMonitor 800 had limits, especially at low frequencies, but the real challenge for small speakers is how they move beyond physical limits and present a well-rounded, enjoyable sonic experience. This speaker's ability to run smooth through the high and low midrange makes its flaws merely ones of omission, rather than commission. You can add a subwoofer for more bass, no doubt, but the ProMonitor 800 fully presents the quality of the bass, giving it an advantage most other bookshelf speakers don't enjoy: the ability to stand on its own. The ProMonitor 800 does that in spades, and therefore earns very high sonic marks, especially considering its low price ($145.00 each MSRP).
While I did most of my listening with the speakers on stands, I did mount them on a wall and found the sound to suffer very little. Probably due to the upward firing passive radiator, and lack of the typical rear or front firing port, the ProMonitor 800 still delivered excellent midrange and bass response and overall coherence and listenability.
• The ProMonitor800 provides excellent top-to-bottom sonic performance.
• The ProMonitor 800 offers a superb midrange that blends very well into the high and low frequencies.
• The ProMonitor 800 performs well with a variety of music material, although it excels with rock and electronic music.
• The ProMonitor's top-firing passive radiator improves placement options, and allows for excellent sonic performance even when mounted against a wall.
• The ProMonitor 800 offers excellent fit and finish, and a variety of mounting options.
• The ProMonitor 800 has a matching center channel, a variety of matching powered subwoofers, and doubles as a rear and side speaker.
• The ProMonitor 800 had some midrange coloration typical of lower priced bookshelf loudspeakers.
• The ProMonitor 800 didn't present classical or jazz material quite as well as rock and electronic music.
• The ProMonitor 800 is not incredibly efficient, and needs a good quality receiver or amplifier to perform optimally.
• The ProMonitor 800's gloss black finish can be a bit hard to keep clean.
The ProMonitor 800 offers a world-class blend of consistent, listenable sonic performance, appealing aesthetics, and clever ergonomics, all for a very affordable price. And considering its ability to expand into a multi-channel and home theater system, the ProMonitor 800 should stand atop anyone's audition list when in the market for high quality compact loudspeakers. Once again, Definitive has refined the price-performance standard in affordable loudspeakers.