Product Review (March 2003) - Monsoon Audio
PlanarMedia™ 14 Multi-Media Speaker System

Level 9™ Sound Design Incorporated has recently introduced the Monsoon PlanarMedia 14 Multimedia Speaker system based on their Planar Focus Technology (PFT™) transducer technology. The design has been recognized with the Innovations 2003 Design and Engineering Award in the Audio category from the Consumer Electronics Society (CES2003). What sets this system apart from other conventional multimedia speakers is the unique design of the main satellites. Using PFT™, the PlanarMedia 14 offers unique high quality sound in a reasonably priced 2.1 speaker system. The satellites are made from a heavy metal and not cheap plastic found on most satellite PC speakers. The highly directional design requires precise positioning to get a good image. As a result, high frequencies roll off quickly if the speakers are not directed carefully at the listener. The satellites produce a frequency response of 200 Hz to 20KHz without the subwoofer. Once the subwoofer is added to the system the response goes down to a respectable 35 Hz.

The powered subwoofer utilizes an 8" driver in a bass reflex enclosure with a smooth port opening to minimize any port noise. As mentioned, the design produces deep bass down to 35 Hz with an inherently steep roll off below this frequency. The rear panel on the subwoofer holds all the cable interfaces. The power switch is located next to the non-detachable AC power cord. A miniature DIN connector is used for the wired remote control unit. Two RCA connectors drive the main satellites and a 1/8" stereo jack accepts the line level audio from a sound card or external preamp. The PlanarMedia 14 is said to be capable of producing 200 watts peak power and 100 watts RMS that results in a respectable 103dB peak SPL.

The ergonomically designed wired remote looks cool and is full-featured with a Mute/Power button, Master Volume and Bass Level control. An indicator light above the mute button lets the user know if it's activated. The rubber-coated controls operate smoothly and provide a nice anti-slip feel. We appreciated the eight foot cable provided with the remote which offered flexible placement.

We wanted to try out some new material to exercise this 2.1 system and were drawn to style of Avril Lavigne's new debut CD "Let Go" with its youthful vocals and lyrics. The Canadian-born artist, known for her skater-punk style, has received much attention over the past year. The variety of material ranging from her mellow cuts "I'm with you", to the more aggressive sounds of "Sk8er Boi" all sounded great on the PlanarMedia™ 14 system. Avril's voice was open, fairly transparent and even a bit forward, which few multimedia speaker systems can claim. The acoustic guitar had good transient detail missed with most other systems. What's interesting is the PlanarMedia 14 has so much midrange detail that you will hear the limitations of your sound card. We found ourselves looking for a better source, which is rare when using PC-based speakers. The bass response was clean and tight, blending nicely with the main satellites. The crossover frequency was quite high (200 Hz) due to the inherent design of the planar drivers. Bass localization is a common problem with any multimedia system with the crossover frequency much above 100 Hz and this system was no exception. However, the system worked well and we were very impressed with the performance given the price.

The design of the PlanarMedia™ 14 is certainly unique and so is the sound it creates. The detailed and highly directional speakers impressed us when properly placed. The build quality is great for a system priced at $150. If you are not happy with the sound of your current PC speaker system, we recommend auditioning the PlanarMedia™ 14 speaker system. We found this system rather unique and sonically satisfying.
- Kevin Nakano

Review at a glance

Monsoon Audio PlanarMedia™ 14 Multi-Media Speaker System

Specifications:

Satellites

  • Level 9‘ PFT™100 Series Planar Ribbon Transducers
  • Dipole-radiating thin profile satellites
  • Single Full range planar ribbons cover 200Hz to 20kHz (No crossover required)
  • Dimensions

  • Satellite Dimensions: 7” x 4 3/8” x 3” (178mm x 112mm x 19mm) (HxWxD)
  • Subwoofer Dimensions: 13 1/4” x 10” x 9 1/2” (337mm x 256mm x 242mm) (HxWxD)
  • Amplifier Power

  • Integrated 4 channel BTL Class B Power Amplifier
  • 100 Wrms Total System Power (10% THD)
  • Satellites 2 x 25Wrms
  • Subwoofer 2 x 25Wrms = 50Wrms
  • Headphone Output 75 mW maximum 0.2% THD 16 ohms
  • Crossover

  • Active crossover 200Hz Linkwitz - Riley alignment
  • Subwoofer Driver

  • 8” (200mm) diameter dual voice coil driver
  • High excursion driver
  • Xmax = +/- 1/4” (6 mm)
  • Felted semipress cone
  • Subwoofer Cabinet

  • 0.56 ft3 (15.5 liter) vented cabinet
  • Solid MDF cabinet
  • Tuned to 38Hz
  • Low compression port tube design
  • Controls on Subwoofer Master Power on/off Switch
  • Controls on Control Center

  • Master Volume
  • Bass Volume
  • System Mute (Standby)
  • Power LED
  • Headphone Jack
  • System Frequency Response

  • 35 Hz – 20kHz
  • Maximum Acoustic Output

  • 103 dB peak in a typical desktop environment
  • Inputs

  • 1/8” (3.5mm) stereo jack
  • Power Supply

  • Internal to subwoofer cabinet
  • uL and cuL approved (North America)

    Line Input Voltage

  • 120 VAC (North America)
  • 220-240V (International version only)
  • Weight

  • Subwoofer Weight - 25 lbs (11 kgs)
  • Packaged System Weight - 31 lbs (14 kgs)
  • Company Information
    Level 9 Sound Designs Inc.
    201-11782 Hammersmith Way
    Richmond, BC Canada V7A 5E3
    Tel: 604-504-5286

    Toll Free: 877-722-8346

    Source: Manufacture loan
    MSRP: $149.99

    Warranty: 2 year parts and labor

    URL: www.monsoonaudio.com

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