9 Sound Design Incorporated have received much attention with their
Planar Transducer design. The sonic quality and transparency of these
transducers have caught the ears of many audiophiles. The new Monsoon
FPF-1000 loudspeakers are also based on this same Planar Focus Technology
(PFT) transducer technology. Measuring 52" high and 10"
wide, the 3-way bass-reflex design includes one Level 9 PTW-500 tweeter
surrounded by two Level 9 PTR-700 midrange transducers in a D'Appolito
MTM (Midrange-Tweeter-Midrange) configuration. The planar-membrane radiators
are surrounded by neodymium magnets which results in a smooth sounding
radiator. Two 6.5" long throw, magnetically shielded, polypropylene
woofers occupy a 20 liter enclosure and gets down to a respectable 32Hz
at -6dB. The front lower port opening is made from a heavy cast metal
design attributing to much of the weight of the speaker. Each speaker
weighs about 50 pounds and comes with both spiked and rubber tipped feet
allowing for installation on carpeted areas or hardwood floors. The flared
opening is a good design that greatly reduces any port noise. Three-way
bind posts accommodate bi-amping and bi-wiring. Rather than a square or
rectangular back, the FPF-1000's have a smooth rounded look. Having non-parallel
surfaces actually help reduce unwanted reflections and resonances within
the cabinet enclosure. Our review speakers came in matte black, but they
are also available in an attractive Walnut veneer. Matte black perforated
metal grills cover both the midrange and tweeters. The FPF-1000 falls
in the middle of three series of speakers offered by Level 9 Sound
Design in this category. The less expensive FPF-600's are similar, but
only contain one Level 9 PTR-700 midrange and a single 6.5" woofer.
The higher-end FPF-1600's consist of two Level 9 PTW-500 tweeters,
four Level 9 PTR-700 midranges and a pair of 8" woofers.
We currently have our listening environment built around a home theater
system. We actually had enough room beside our reference 100" Stewart
FireHawk filmscreen to place the left and right speakers. Our A/V controller
for this review was the Parasound AVC-2500u mated to an Adcom GFA-5800.
We didn't take advantage of the bi-amping capabilities of the FPF-1000
loudspeakers. We wanted to review these speakers without any subwoofers,
so we disconnected our two M&K MX-350THX subs. Our test CDs and multi-channel
SACDs were played through our Sony DVP-NS900V and DVD-Audio discs were
sourced from our Kenwood KV-5900M. Ultralink Platinum cables were used
throughout the system along with low-gauge Monster Cable speaker wires.
We ran some impedance measurements with our Sencore SP295C Audio Analyzer
before we started the review of these speakers and found some interesting
data. While most speakers have an inherent peak in the impedance near
the low frequencies due to the port resonance and low frequency driver
characteristics, we saw a peak of 24.3 ohms at 26 Hertz and another at
17.1 ohms at 72 Hertz. These two peaks seem to be related to the port
resonance and driver resonance. The third lower peak is where the bass
drivers begin to crossover to the midrange drivers. The FPF-1000 crossover
frequencies are at 400 Hz and 5 KHz. The
crossover design used relatively inexpensive components with no exoteric
capacitors or inductors. The
FPF-1000's actually produced a pretty demanding load to the amplifier
at high frequencies. We saw the impedance drop to a low of 2.5 ohms at
10 KHz with an average of 2.7 ohms above 600 Hertz. The average impedance
we measured across 20 Hz - 20 KHz was 5.43 ohms. We decided to use our
Adcom GFA-5800 amplifier to drive these speakers based on this data.
Some of our test material included the Brazilian Romance DVD-Audio disc
from DTS Entertainment. Track 12 (Ocean Way) had some great acoustic
guitar mixed in with a flute. The transients were detailed and imaging
was impressive for a pair of speakers under $1000. The FPF-1000s have
a unique sound in the midrange and upper frequencies due to the Planar
Focus Technology (PFT) transducers.
While they are not completely transparent, they do have a pleasant character.
Some music had better qualities than others using these speakers and they
worked well in our home theater setting. The
mid-upper sonic character is certainly unique and different from typical
soft dome tweeters we've heard in the past. Depending
on the type of music you listen to, your mileage may vary. Our advice
is to listen to them and then decide if they are a good fit for your system.
Monsoon FPF-1000s performed well for a pair of speakers just under $1000.
Overall, we enjoyed these speakers and found them to be good performers
for the money. We've had these installed in our system for a couple of
months now and their sound has grown on us. Aside from their unique sonic
attributes, we were impressed with the build quality of the cabinet and
drivers. The FPF-1000 woofers use rubber surrounds and large magnet structures
built on a cast frames. They do have some limitations with certain material,
but for the most part they have sonic attributes that are appealing. You
will need to make sure your amplifier has adequate drive capability. This
alone could affect the sound quality you hear.