AV Quick Takes: Monolith MTM-100 Powered Speakers & ‘Matter’ Smart Home Standard
The Monoprice Monolith MTM-100 Powered Loudspeakers
Monoprice has been on fire this past year, releasing more new products than we can keep track of. In 2022 alone, the company launched THX certified dual-driver subwoofers, THX certified on-wall LCR speakers, affordable tower speakers, Bluetooth ANC headphones with Dirac Virtuo, multiple 5.1-channel speaker packages, portable bluetooth speakers, and more. The latest addition to the lineup is a pair of powered speakers called the Monoprice Monolith MTM-100 ($499/pair), which promise to provide big and powerful desktop audio for music or gaming. Like the recently-released SVS Prime Wireless Pro Powered Speakers, the Monolith MTM-100 package consists of a powered primary speaker and a passive secondary speaker that connects via an included cable.
At 14 inches tall, the MTM-100s are larger than the average desktop speaker, but that height is needed to accommodate the vertical MTM driver layout. Each speaker sports a pair of 4-inch woofers with a 1.25-inch silk dome tweeter in the center. Each speaker also has a pair of 5.25-inch passive radiators, one on each side panel. This driver arrangement, along with the bigger-than-average cabinets, reportedly pumps out more powerful sound than you would expect from a desktop system, with bass down to a respectable 50Hz. An analog subwoofer output allows for easy sub integration. The primary speaker houses a pair of 50-watt Class D amplifiers and the built-in DAC, along with a stereo analog RCA input, an optical S/PDIF input, a USB input, and a 3.5mm headphone output. The MTM-100s can also receive bluetooth audio with Qualcomm aptX HD support, but they don’t have two-way bluetooth capability, so you can’t use them to send audio to your bluetooth headphones. While some competitors (such as the aforementioned SVS) have more wireless connection and streaming options, the Monoprice Monolith MTM-100 is all about maximum sound for the lowest possible price. Monoprice promises “fantastic dynamics, smooth midrange, (and) punchy bass, combined with holistic imaging usually only found in audiophile grade speakers at a much higher price.” The MTM-100 Powered Desktop Speakers are available at monoprice.com and come with both a 3-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee.
The ‘Matter’ Smart Home Standard
The whole point of smart home products is to make life easier, but competing smart home standards can complicate matters to the extent that you might just give up and walk across the room to push a button or flip a switch, rather than deal with the ever-growing confusion of compatibility issues. Big tech companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon offer their voice assistants as a user-friendly interface, but Google Assistant can’t talk to Alexa or Siri (and vice versa), and in many cases you can only control a device, such as an Apple HomePod or Amazon Echo, using the manufacturer’s own voice assistant. So far, none of these companies has managed to create an ecosystem that includes all the best products in each category. Soon, though, these headaches may be a thing of the past, thanks to the open source interoperability standard known as Matter (formerly called Project CHIP — Connected Home over IP). After years of development, it’s finally here, and many of the tech industry’s biggest names — including the big three listed above — have signed on in an effort to achieve truly seamless integration among all kinds of smart home products. In theory, you should be able to buy any Matter-compliant smart device and control it with whichever platform or voice assistant you choose. You’re not tied to a central Matter app, because there is no such thing. Nor is there a Matter voice assistant. What Matter does have is a truly broad membership of tech companies — more than 550 of them — all willing to adopt and merge various technologies in the name of interoperability. The Matter standard is maintained by the CSA (Connectivity Standards Alliance, formerly the Zigbee Alliance). Because Matter is an open source project, companies can use the recently-released software development kit (SDK) to incorporate their devices into the Matter ecosystem without paying royalties or signing contracts. And because Matter does not represent a single technology, it should be able to improve over time to keep up with evolving technological requirements. Check out this article from Wired for a deep dive into the Matter smart home standard.
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