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Monoprice Premium 5.1-Ch. Home Theater System with Subwoofer
Audio/Video Reviews

Monoprice Premium 5.1-Ch. Home Theater System with Subwoofer

This kit might not be the most attractive, but a superb value is what you’re getting with these budget home theater speakers.

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Affordable home theater speaker systems have been a dream, a rule companies like Monoprice managed to dispel with their initial debut of the previous 9774 speaker set. At the time its performance and value were exceptional, or it could have been if it wasn’t for the legal controversy between Energy Take (a subsidiary of Klipsch) and the inevitable discontinuation of said model.

However, we’re here to discuss what Monoprice has replaced and returned anew with the 10565 Premium Home Theater System which continues where the 9774 left off. It’s all about providing the most immersive 5.1 channel sound for even the tightest budgets, with just enough cosmetics alterations and acoustic tweaks to match the unbelievable price of $249.

In the case of styling, this is probably the only arguable criticism I have against the 10565 system. The generic fiberboard charcoal finish will probably come off as low-rent to those expecting gloss or veneer since each satellite, center, and subwoofer incorporates the hard matte but fingerprint-resistant construction; as a result there’s a somewhat hollow feel that understandably fits the look and cost of the unit itself.

But these aesthetic knocks are fleeting at best because each compact speaker (satellite and center) comes equipped with a rear-firing Bass Reflex design in a 3” midrange driver and ¾” aluminum dome tweeter, with sensitivity measured at 88dB. Around back there’s a screw hole for mounting and spring loaded AWG-type terminals that weighs 2.9lbs (the center speaker is heavier by 0.1lbs). The powered subwoofer on the other hand is a 200 watt box with a downward 8” driver with a basic assortment of speaker terminals and inputs along separate variable volume and Low-Pass filter knobs, and a phase control switch for frequency switching.

For those unfamiliar with the setup of any multichannel surround system there’s going be a lot of running wires but that’s not really unusual. The only thing people should do (aside from the master volume) is adjust the subwoofer’s main low-pass filter, as Monoprice advises 110Hz crossover for first time use (you can adjust the range between 40Hz to 150Hz). For our tests we initially stuck to the recommended setting but because our Pioneer VSX-1123-K receiver’s nearest crossover range was 100Hz we simply nudged the dial with no traceable irregularities. As far as placement is concerned, keeping the sub near the front speakers will get you the most satisfying balance of sound; just keep everything within 4ft and you should do fine.

Beyond my initial impressions it quickly became apparent why Monoprice speakers have earned so much esteem, in fact I was astounded by the 10565’s fidelity. For films and games like The Dark Knight Rises, A good Day to Die Hard, and Grand Theft Auto V where rifle fire and effect compliment heroic soundtracks, the sub had no problem bringing out as much bass as possible. And to our ears the 10565 handled the most climatic scenes with amazing potency.

Subwoofer clarity is second priority for the 10565 however, and this was most apparent with dramas like Memoirs of a Geisha and music from Stanley Jordan and Jill Scott. Fortunately the speaker performance is what really helps carry a lot of that acoustic weight, with an unusually larger emphasis on front vocals instead of an expected flatter sound. It definitely is a compromise but the immediate tradeoff is noticeably rich definition and treble closer to the mid-range, no matter the source material with sound output being effortless and never straining the satellites. Overall, they performance is much more balance than you’d think.

Monoprice has crafted a fantastic home theater system, and to untrained ears the 10565 could be considered a fair contender among other 5.1 speakers that cost twice as much. But another distinct advantage that novices should be aware of is the potential to upgrade into a more robust surround setup on the cheap; because you’re only spending $249 (MSRP) buying an additional pair of Monoprice HT speakers (known as the 10800 for only $79.99) won’t break the bank if a quick 7.1 or 9.1ch setup is in your future. If that’s your goal then there are very few competing alternatives, aside from the reputable Energy Take Classic 5.1 ($399), Pioneer SP-PK22BS ($450), or even Monoprice’s own entry-level but less engaging 8247 Home Theater System ($89).

For a long time a good speaker system below $300 was unheard of but Monoprice accomplished with the 10565 Premium Home Theater System, it checks all the necessary marks without the technical compromises you’d expect at this price. Admittedly, this kit might not be the most attractive and the limited warranty isn’t the longest nor most comforting, but a superb value is what you’re getting with these compact budget speakers. This is definitely an Editors’ Choice pick if cheap and strong performance for your living room or quintessential man-cave is an absolute priority.

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About the Author: Herman Exum