Didn't take long, did it? There I was, revelling in the wonder of the dirt-cheap Acoustic Research M1 speaker, and along comes Monitor Audio with the first serious challenger. And it's like the M1 in more ways than you really want it to be. In other words, we're looking at yet another budget beauty which doesn't sing with like-priced electronics...
Unlike the M1, the Monitor Audio Monitor One looks conventional enough to appeal to even the most boring consumer: it's a small box with a grille. No high-tech styling fillips, no outre angles. But this is a Monitor Audf the dirt-chea io product, which means a finish far surpassing the standards of its price-point; you won't quibble about the extra #20 needed for the rosewood veneer. I haven't seen the standard finish, but black is black is black, so you pays your money.
The cabinet, ported at the back, is tiny and solid, constructed from MDF and in no way suggesting cost cutting. Measuring amere 240x160x152mm (HDW), the Monitor One is a little jewel, like a scale model of studio monitor. The cdmpany even fitted decent five-way binding posts instead of the tacky spring clips favoured by so many penny-pinchers.
Underneath the black grille is the secret weapon: a 19mm, one-piece, aluminium/magnesium gold-anodized dome tweeter. This has become the company's trademark, and it's fast, rugged and able to withstand all manner of abuse. Below it is a 100mm long-throw mid/bass driver using an impregnated fibre-pulp cone and special rubber surround on a die-cast chassis.
Bearing in mind that this beauty is smaller than an LS3/5A, I wasn't expecting too much in the weight or dynamics departments. The port does help, of course, but it also closes out an entire subdivision of the market which might have embraced the 'One. Because the port fires out the back, the 'One cannot be used as a bookshelf model in most circumstances. Had the company found a way to port it at the front or even below, it would have made the speaker more universal.
But who am I kidding? This is an audiophile product all the way, one which demands loonie-fringe attention at the expense of the mass-market-type of consumer. In other words, it works best on stands -- hell, it only works on stands -- and it needs the kind of amplifier (like the M1) which isn't what you'd expect to feed into #139's worth of loudspeakers.Read more about the Monitor One on Page 2.