Product Review (July 2003) - Monsoon Audio
FPF-1000 Planar Focus Technology (PFT™) Speaker System

Level 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.

The 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.
- Kevin Nakano

Review System

Display: Toshiba - TDP-MT8U High-Definition DLP™ Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100-inch Luxus Deluxe FireHawk ScreenWall
Scaler: Focus Enhancements CenterStage CS-2 Scaler
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: RCA DTC100 HDTV/DSS Satellite Receiver
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: Monster Cable M Series M500DVI DVI-D Cable
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator

Review at a glance

Monsoon Audio - FPF-1000 PFT™ Speaker System


System: 3-way
Tweeters: 1 x Level 9™ PTW-500 Planar Magnetic Transducer
Mid-Range: 2 x Level 9™ PTR-700 Planar Magnetic Transducer
Woofers: 2 x 6.5" long throw polypropylene cone, magnetically shielded, non-resonant frame
Cabinet Configuration: Bass Reflex, low compression port
Cabinet Volume: 20L
Input Terminal: 3 way binding post, bi-ampable/biwireable
Cabinet Finish: Black
Blade Finish: Walnut Veneer or Black
Grill Finish: Matte black perforated metal
Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 88 dB
Frequency Range: -6 dB at 32 Hz and 20 kHz
Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohms
Crossover Frequencies: 400 Hz and 5 kHz
Recommended Amp Power: 30W ­ 250W
Dimensions: 52"H x 10"W x 12.5"D
Weight: 50 pounds each

Company Information
Level 9™ Sound Designs Inc.
11782 Hammersmith Way, Suite 201
Richmond, BC Canada V7A 5E3
Tel: 604-504-5286
Toll Free: 877-722-8346

Source: Manufacture loan
MSRP: $999.99

Warranty: 2 year parts and labor


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