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Monoprice Monolith Encore T6 Tower Loudspeaker Review

by April 13, 2022
Monolith T6 Tower Speakers

Monolith T6 Tower Speakers

  • Product Name: Monolith Encore T6
  • Manufacturer: Monoprice
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: April 13, 2022 01:15
  • MSRP: $ 800/pair
  • Buy Now
  • Frequency Response:37Hz ~ 20kHz
  • Drivers:
    Tweeter: 1x 25mm Silk Dome with Waveguide
    Midrange: 1x 6.5" Long Fiber Pulp Cone with NBR Surround
    Bass Drivers: 2x 6.5" Long Fiber Pulp Cone with NBR Surround
  • Enclosure: Vented MDF cabinet with horizontal shelf bracing
  • Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 50 - 300W
  • Crossover:
    Low: 180Hz Low Pass @6dB/octave
    Mid: 1.35kHz Low Pass @12dB/octave
    High: 1.35kHz High Pass @18dB/octave
  • Finish: Black PVC
  • Weight: 49.2 lbs
  • Size: H 40” x W 7.9” x D 13.8”
Monolith Encore T6 Loudspeaker Youtube Discussion

Pros

  • Wide dynamic range
  • Excellent bass extension
  • Good tonality
  • Nice aesthetic flourishes
  • Unexpectedly good packing for cost

Cons

  • Not great for lower-angle listening

 

T6 pair20Monolith Encore T6 Tower Speaker Introduction

At the end of our review for Monoprice’s Monolith HTP-1 processor, we mentioned that Monoprice’s Monolith line has all of the necessary ingredients to build a complete home theater system except for the projector/TV (they do have some well-regarded PC monitors though). It would be a great system and a bargain for what the user is getting, but it still would not have been inexpensive. With inflation taking a big chunk out of most people’s discretionary income, dropping $1,700 on a pair of tower speakers or $1,000 on a pair of stand-mount speakers becomes increasingly too much scratch for many folks. Perhaps, as a response to this, Monoprice has added a more affordable line of speakers in their new Encore series. The Encore speakers are priced to be within reach of a lot more people than Monolith’s THX speakers. In for review today, we have the Encore tower speakers, the T6s, which, at $400 each, costs less than half of Monolith’s THX tower speakers’ pricing.

Shoppers for lower-cost hi-fi loudspeakers are surely wondering how much speaker they can get for such a modest sum, and where do diminishing returns really set in for loudspeaker costs? Let’s now dig in the Encore T6 speakers to try to find some answers…

Packing and Appearance

t6 packing 

The Encore T6s landed at my home in a thick cardboard box and were generously packed in polyethylene foam from nearly top to bottom. Inside the foam, the speakers were covered in a soft cotton drawstring sack to prevent scuffing and to protect against moisture. That all can’t have been cheap, and it’s nice to see such a level of care and protection for this budget speaker that I sometimes don’t even see on much higher-priced items. Monoprice looks to be very aware of how brutal shipping can be and has packed their speakers accordingly.

T6 pair2 T6 pair5

Once unpacked, I was presented with fairly normal-looking tower speakers with some embellishments that wouldn’t be expected for this price range. The veneer was a standard faux black-oak vinyl that is often seen in this class, but the top and bottom of the speaker were capped with some gloss-back end caps. The drivers were all fairly normal-looking and not all that visually remarkable, and they can be hidden with a grille that has a beveled edge. There isn’t a lot to say about the Encore speakers’ appearance; they don’t look bad at all, but they aren’t exciting either. They are innocuous enough that they should be able to blend in just about any normal decor. I would say that they look a tad better than what would be expected for $400 each.  

Design Analysis

T6 tweeterThe Encore T6 speakers don’t break the mold of traditional loudspeaker design. Instead, they stick with some fairly tried and true principles. The most noteworthy aspects about them, in my opinion, are the waveguide and the crossover design. Regarding the crossover, the Encore T6 speakers are a 2.5-way design which means that at least one of the midwoofers is not just dedicated to midrange duties but also covers the bass driver band as well. The advantage of this 2.5-way design is low-frequency headroom is increased with the additional woofer. Another advantage of a 2.5-way speaker is the gain in efficiency in low frequencies that can help compensate for baffle step loss. Baffle step loss is the loss of forward-traveling acoustic energy where the lower frequencies radiate out omnidirectionally instead of in front of the speaker. That means that if lower frequencies are emitted out at the same overall energy level as the rest of the range, the speaker might sound thin because much of that energy is not traveling toward the listener but rather in every other direction. By allowing the midrange drivers to tackle low-frequencies as well as mids, it can help to compensate for that loss and give the speaker a fuller sound without resorting to tapering down upper-frequency sensitivity in the crossover circuit.

The other interesting aspect of the Encore’s design is the waveguide. The geometry of the waveguide is very important in any speaker that uses them. Poor geometry can cause all kinds of problems that defeat the purpose of using a waveguide in the first place, but good geometry can bring major benefits to the loudspeaker. Some of the problems that can occur are diffraction from the waveguide surface as well as poor directivity control. Diffraction occurs when sound pressure waves reflect off the surfaces of the waveguide and intersect with the direct sound being emitted from the tweeter, which can cause a comb-filtering effect that can be perceived as distortion. Poor directivity control is when sound emitted at off-axis angles has a badly uneven acoustic output. The purpose of a waveguide is to evenly control the dispersion the driver’s output across a wide frequency range as well as raise the acoustic impedance against the driver. For the purposes of waveguides, acoustic impedance can be thought of as the amount of pressure against the driver as it moves in the air. Higher acoustical impedances enable the driver to perform with much greater efficiency.  

The Encore speakers look to be using a spherical waveguide. In theory, such a shape should do well at not only loading the tweeter but also having a smooth expansion of the acoustic wavefront that itself expands out as a sphere. The waveguide is loading a 1” silk dome tweeter. Somehow this tweeter can manage a crossover frequency of 1.35kHz which is extremely low, especially for a dome tweeter. While the horn-loading of a tweeter can help it manage lower crossover frequencies by raising its acoustic impedance, 1.35kHz is still unusually low for such a design. One advantage of such a low crossover frequency is that it can provide better directivity matching with the woofer. Normally, 1” dome tweeters cannot have a perfect directivity match with a 6.5” woofer since the tweeters can’t play to low enough frequencies to match a point where the woofer hasn’t significantly narrowed its dispersion. In such cases, when the tweeter takes over, there is a “bloom” of dispersion where the tweeter radiates sound at a much wider angle than the top of the woofer’s frequency band. That is not optimum. Ideally, you’d like to keep the sound consistent at all angles, but the Encore T6’s waveguide should be able to blend in the tweeter much better with the woofer.

T6 woofer  T6 rear

Underneath the tweeter, the Encore T6 uses three identical 6.5” bass/midrange drivers. As was mentioned in our discussion of 2.5-way speaker design, the uppermost driver plays all the way up to the tweeter’s band, while the two lower drivers only play up to 180Hz. This is a good low-pass point for a 2.5-way design for these drivers since that is around where they would become fully omnidirectional. Dual 5-way binding posts allow for bi-amping ability, but that seems like an extraneous feature for a $400 loudspeaker. Few people shopping in this price range would be looking for that feature or would have the extra amps laying around to make it work properly. Monoprice would have been better off just saving the few pennies it took to implement this feature and just have used a single binding post set.  

The enclosure is a lot more substantial than what would be expected from a $400 speaker. It is an MDF construction using ¾” thick paneling on all sides and has two windowpane braces that divide the cabinet into three sections. On the lower rear panel, there is an 11” long port with a 3 ½” diameter. That is a seriously large port and, given its proportions, ought to be capable of some real output at deep frequencies. The feet are mounted on an outrigger system that must be assembled when the speakers are unpacked. Users have the option of going with some spiked feet with some floor discs or just rubber feet. The style of feet should depend on the surface that the speakers will rest on, where spiked feet would be better on carpet but rubber will be better for hard surfaces.

Given the size and driver array of the Encore T6 speakers, I would expect it to be capable of some pretty serious dynamic range as well as good dispersion control at off-axis angles. Physically speaking, it’s an impressive amount of speaker for $400 each, but how does it fare in practice? Let’s give them a listen to find out…

Listening Sessions

In my 24’ by 13’ (approximately) listening room, I set up the speakers with a few feet of stand-off distances between the back wall and sidewall and equal distance between speakers and listening position. I angled the speakers to face the listening position initially but experimented with other angles to examine differences in soundstage that could be had. The listening distance from the speakers was about 8 feet. Amplification was handled by a Pioneer SC-55. No room correction equalization or subwoofers was used.

Music Listening

loredanaFor something simple with an emphasis on a solitary human voice, I found a delightful album in “Loredana” by Emilia Martensson, a Swedish-born singer based in the UK who straddles the line between jazz and folk music. “Loredana” is a thoughtful and emotional tribute to Emilia’s mother of the album’s title. Emilia is backed by her band, but the sound is very uncluttered, and her ethereal voice is the foremost element in these tracks. Emilia may have one of the loveliest voices in contemporary music, so her albums stand as a good test of a sound system’s ability to reproduce that natural beauty. The production quality is first-rate, so the only bottleneck to realizing the potential of this music is a subpar sound system.   

Listening to Emilia’s voice on the Encore T6s sounded like she was in the room with me.

With my initial toe-in with the T6s facing me directly, Emilia’s voice had a dead center image. However, it occurred to me that the controlled directivity the T6’s waveguides should produce would have a significant change in the soundstage depending on the angle. Specifically, the speaker design should make it a great candidate for time-intensity trading. Could these speakers keep a center image across a wider seating position with an aggressive toe-in? After trying an aggressive toe-in to see how wide of a listening area that could still yield a center image, the effect only somewhat worked, and I have heard other speakers pull off time-intensity trading better (a good discussion of time-intensity trading can be seen in this Audioholics Youtube Livestream). Imaging seemed to become slightly more focused with an aggressive toe-in, but at the cost of a wider soundstage. Aiming the speakers with only a slight toe-in so that their aim intersected further back from my listening position did seem to broaden the soundstage a bit, but perhaps at the cost of some imaging precision. Aside from soundstage matters, Emilia’s voice sounded natural and unified, and at points, it sounded as though she were in the room with me. Instruments sounded tonally balanced as well, and nothing sounded off or abnormal. Bass was strong, and I doubt that subwoofers would have offered a better bass experience beyond what these speakers could do for this album. Altogether, these speakers recreated the sound of this album at a shockingly good level when considering the speakers’ pricing.

saint saens symphoniesOne brand new release that I found streaming on hi-res on Qobuz was “Saint-Saens: Complete Symphonies” from Warner Classics. This is released on the centenary of Camille Saint-Saens’ death which occurred in December of 1921. As the title indicates, this recording covers all of Saint-Saens’ five symphonies which were written between 1850 and 1886 (the first written when he was just 15). They are performed by the Orchestre National de France with acclaimed organist Oliver Latry joining in for Saint-Saens’ famous No.3 “Organ Symphony.” The production on this gorgeous album is top shelf, as would be expected from a major label and a major orchestra, and there is a large difference in dynamics from diminuendos to crescendos. This album is a great test of the dynamic range in an acoustic recording for a sound system.

The dynamic range of the Encore T6 speakers was surprisingly good.

Classical music typically has a very different soundstage than other genres since the venues in which this music is played are so large and the musicians are so spread out that you don’t usually get precise imaging. Rather, the soundstage induces more a sense of acoustical environment. This being the case, I again experimented with toe-in to see the effects that would have on this music which had a very typical symphonic hall sound. An aggressive toe-in seemed to shrink the width of the orchestra and created a feeling as though I were seated at a distant back row. The orchestra was a more concentrated group of players with this speaker positioning. Switching to a very mild toe-in with the speakers having hardly any inward angling at all, it broadened the orchestra and made it seem like I was seated at a much closer proximity to the orchestra. Either speaker angle sounded good, and what would be better is entirely a matter of individual preference. The good news about these speakers is that they give you that choice more so than other speakers thanks to the attention paid to controlled directivity. The dynamic range of the speakers was surprisingly good, and the T6s had no trouble with the livelier passages where bass drums, organ, and brass are blazing at full force. There is nothing in this recording that subwoofers would have contributed beyond what the T6s could do. The signature sounds of the instruments were authentic, and the speakers didn’t seem to be imparting any sound of their own. A classical music lover on a budget has a great choice in the Encore T6s, and even those who aren’t on a budget are sure to appreciate the sound that these speakers can produce.

Another new release that is well-deserving of attention of great sound systems everywhere is Jonsi’s “Obsidian.” This album is a solo release from Jonsi who is better known as a member of the group Sigur Ros. It was meant as a sound accompaniment for an art installation exhibit of his in New York, but it is so emotionally vibrant and self-complete that it sounds like so much more than a mere soundtrack. The sound is mostly sweeping synth pads with occasional vocals from Jonsi, but the electronic tapestries that he weaves form an intricate soundstage that deserves some serious audio equipment to fully reproduce.  While many of the pieces are largely ambient in nature, there is a nearly symphonic structure here that gives them a narrative quality. This drop-dead gorgeous album is a revelation, and I like it even more than Sigur Ros’s albums, not that I thought anything Sigur Ros did was bad at all.

obsidian  In praise of darkness

The T6 speakers were able to project the expansive soundstage that is integral to this recording. Sounds emanated from the entire width of the front of my room and seemingly well outside the boundaries of the speakers’ placement. The last part of track 6, “Cypriol,” had some wild panning effects that ably demonstrated the T6s ability to reproduce extreme soundstages. Nonetheless, imaging for many of the lead sounds was still well-defined. Bass sounds also had good definition whether it be electronic bass lines, percussion, ambient drone, or low-frequency atmospherics. Bass sounds were sharp and unconfused. The same is true for the rest of the range, and while the album is largely ambient with lots of sweeping synths, the T6s maintained a lucid soundscape of individual instruments instead of an ambiguous blend of electronic pads. I played the album at a healthy volume level, and I never thought the T6s were challenged by the drive level. I think these speakers could handle a fairly sizable room for music like this despite their modest cost. By the end of the album, I had no complaints about the T6s performance, regardless of their low cost. They reproduced this album beautifully by any measure.  

The Encore T6 expansive soundstage emanated from the entire width of the front of my room and outside boundaries of the speakers.

For something that could indicate the low-frequency extension of the Encore T6 speakers, I threw on an album called “In Praise of Darkness” by Shades. This is nearly avant-garde dubstep that doesn’t pay much heed to the tropes of the genre but rather uses genre elements to craft something new and nearly experimental. As dubstep music, the bass is heavy and plentiful, the sound is grimy and often compressed to full-scale, and the attitude is belligerent and crass; in other words, this is finer music for the more discerning audiophile.

The T6 speakers were not perturbed by the high volume setting I used. As I said before, these are budget speakers that could handle a good-sized room, which is surely a rarity. They may not be able to hit THX reference levels in a large room, but they would doubtless be able to fill them with vibrant sound to the satisfaction of most people. SPL extremists will want something with compression drivers, large AMT tweeters, or line arrays, but normal humans will be perfectly happy with the dynamic range on tap with the T6 speakers, and those super-wide dynamic range speakers are going to cost a heck of a lot more than the T6s. The T6s proved to be very capable in bass too. Subwoofers might have augmented the very lowest notes a bit more than what these speakers were capable of, but they were able to proficiently convey 90% of the low-frequency content on “In Praise of Darkness” with aplomb. If you are looking for some low-cost towers so you can get by without a sub, these would be an outstanding choice, even for bass-heavy electronic music such as this album. The bass hit me in the chest with kick drums and it could also churn my stomach with deep-digging basslines. Again, imaging was terrific on tracks that called for it, such as Killa P’s rap in track 6, “Alarma.”  Anyone looking for some fun should visit “In Praise of Darkness” on a bass-competent sound system, and I am happy to report that the Encore T6 speakers offer just that.

Movies

dialogue was always perfectly intelligible, sound effects were reproduced with gusto...

To see what the Encore T6 speakers could do for a big-budget Hollywood production, I watched “The Suicide Squad.” The word ‘The’ is imperative because this movie is altogether different from the critically derided (but commercially successful) 2016 version simply titled “Suicide Squad.” “The Suicide Squad” is not a reboot nor is it a sequel, and I am not sure of its relationship to the prior film, but I suppose that hardly matters; it must stand on its own either way. With large-scale action scenes, absurd and over-the-top characters, and the best sound engineering that money can buy, “The Suicide Squad” should be a good demonstration of a sound system’s capacity to reproduce a typical effects-heavy motion picture.

Suicide Squad“The Suicide Squad” turned out to be a fun way to spend two hours, and the Encore T6 speakers turned out to be a great vehicle by which to listen to it. While it was a very effects-heavy film, the most prominent aspect of the sound mix had to be the music. Being a James Gunn movie, the sound mix was littered with an eclectic mix of music pulled from sources as varied as Johnny Cash, The Pixies, hip hop, Louis Prima, and others. John Murphy’s original score was also a fusion of traditional orchestral music and rock elements, and the Encore T6s had no problem coping with both the blaring music tracks as well as the diegetic sounds of the movie. The dialogue was always perfectly intelligible, and I never had a problem understanding what was being said. The effects sounds were reproduced with gusto, and the various crashes, gunshots, and explosions were violently relayed. The T6s topped out my own desire for wide dynamics, and that was only with a 120watt RMS x2 channel amplifier. There was more headroom left in the tank, but I didn’t need it. Low-frequency reproduction was lively, and mid-bass frequencies conveyed a nice amount of punch. The T6’s deep bass performance was competent, although it wasn’t equal to that of a beefy sub. However, it was better than any loudspeaker at this price point has any right to be. “The Suicide Squad” was better than I anticipated, and I am glad I watched it on loudspeakers as good as the T6s.

autopsy of jane doeOne movie that I watched with the Encore T6 speakers was “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” on the streaming service Shudder. In this 2016 release, a coroner and his assistant conduct an autopsy of an unidentified girl who was apparently the victim of some kind of bizarre torture. Little do they know she is much more than an anonymous corpse and that just because she has no pulse does not mean she is entirely gone. Modern horror movies can often have lively and imaginative sound mixes, and I could not resist such a sensational premise, so I set out to see how this ghoulish scenario unfolded using the T6 speakers.

While an autopsy is sure to be a gruesome sight to those who do not routinely deal with corpses, much of the horror of “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” came from sound cues. Menacing noises emanating from around the laboratory, distressingly timed thunder cracks, malfunctioning radios, and a tense score from Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans make for a buffet of audio scares, and the Encore T6s rendered it all with zeal. The effects sound of the autopsy process was also given a sickeningly detailed representation by the T6s that was a good match for the macabre visuals. Bensi and Jurriaans’ music score was a simple but effective orchestral work that was energetically rendered to maximize the suspense. As with the on-screen drama, the sound mix gradually builds from vaguely creepy to sheer terror over the course of the autopsy, and a lot of the experience would be lost on a compromised sound system. The T6s delivered a full experience, and again I was impressed by their bass output, particularly with the thunderstorm sounds. “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” isn’t for everyone, but those who would enjoy it should see it with speakers as good as the Encore T6s.    

 

About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Danzilla31 posts on May 30, 2022 11:55
PENG, post: 1559561, member: 6097
If you limit the range to <300 Hz, MRC will have no effects anyway because it is at around 2 kHz.
Given that your speaker appears to have been designed to have the MRC very close at Audyssey's targeted 1 kHz, you may want to do another profile to have MRC on and limit the range to >2 kHz, say 3 kHz and then you can compare if you prefer MRC on or not. The thing is, if you like the vocal sound of those towers with Audyssey off then you may prefer it with Audyssey on but MRC enabled. You won't know for sure before you tried both.

By the way, it looks like you bass in that room is very smooth but flat. With the App, you can experiment with some sort of the so called “Harman curve” too.
I did several runs. I liked Audyssey best with midrange compensation off and the freq cut off at 300 hz. I listened to many different runs with Audyssey I'm going to post a thread Audyssey Editor App for dummies. Kindoff help a new guy learn just the simple things where to purchase step by step how to operate it stuff like that for new guys to the hobby

It did a wonderful job of taming that bass but I need to put in as you say a house curve. I need a better tablet or screen tho its hard to tweak the overall response with your phone unless I'm missing something

The bass is so flat in part thanks to Audyssey eqing the response but also having 4 points of bass in the room those encore towers really have some serious bass and extension.

Also these encores handle eq very well they are room friendly and take very well to tweaking to taste
Out-Of-Phase posts on May 30, 2022 09:50
Thank you Danzilla for your response. I am waiting for the T6 Tower's to go on sale again.
PENG posts on May 30, 2022 08:17
Danzilla31, post: 1559463, member: 85700
Oh yeah! I figured that out. Sounds a lot better as well. Like I said my favorite setting was room eq set to 300hz midrange compensation off.

If you limit the range to <300 Hz, MRC will have no effects anyway because it is at around 2 kHz.
Given that your speaker appears to have been designed to have the MRC very close at Audyssey's targeted 2 kHz, you may want to do another profile to have MRC on and limit the range to >2 kHz, say 3 kHz and then you can compare if you prefer MRC on or not. The thing is, if you like the vocal sound of those towers with Audyssey off then you may prefer it with Audyssey on but MRC enabled. You won't know for sure before you tried both.

By the way, it looks like you bass in that room is very smooth but flat. With the App, you can experiment with some sort of the so called “Harman curve” too.
Danzilla31 posts on May 29, 2022 16:12
Out-Of-Phase, post: 1558276, member: 84342
What specifically is it about the 590's that makes them sonically superior?
Hey I'm sorry I didn't catch this question. I think what makes the 590's better is they can do everything the encore can do and do it more. The 590's dynamics are better. They image as well Soundstage as well. They dont extend on the bass quiet as deep but they have a lot off it. They are more efficient at 92db that makes them very easy to drive. They can go louder before distorting. Treble is more detailed but still smooth like the Encores. They have a great waveguide like the encore does so good directivity makes them room friendly.

But in my room size I didn't need that. The Monolith are great for the price. Perfect for my room I had my screen in my bedroom all the way up to the ceiling and I still couldn't quiet fit the 590's underneath. The 590's are big big friggin speakers. Also you either love the 590's look or you hate them. I loved them others might not.
Danzilla31 posts on May 29, 2022 11:19
500Homeruns, post: 1559447, member: 98135
Somebody smarter than I am with Audyssey may have to confirm this, but I am pretty sure if you toggle off the Midrange Compensation button, it will take care of that dip at 2000k.
Oh yeah! I figured that out. Sounds a lot better as well. Like I said my favorite setting was room eq set to 300hz midrange compensation off.
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