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Monolith Audition T5 Floor-Standing Speaker Review

by October 20, 2023
Monoprice Audition T5

Monoprice Audition T5

  • Product Name: Monolith Audition T5
  • Manufacturer: Monoprice
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: October 20, 2023 00:00
  • MSRP: $ 500/pair (on sale $230/pair)
  • Buy Now
  • 2.5-way design

1x 20mm silk dome with waveguide and neodymium magnet

1x 5.25" polypropylene cone with NBR surround

2x 5.25" polypropylene cones with NBR surrounds
  • frequency response: 48Hz ~ 20kHz
  • recommended amplifier power: 50 ~ 160 watts
  • sensitivity: 86.9dB (2.83V@1m)
  • Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms
  • Enclosure: Vented MDF cabinet with horizontal shelf bracing
  • Color and Finish: Black PVC
  • Crossover Frequencies:

Low: 220Hz @6dB/octave

Mid: 2.4kHz @12dB/octave

High: 2.4kHz @18dB/octave
  • Dimensions: 6.5"W x 35.4"H x 9.8" "D
  • Weight: 23.4 lbs. (10.6 kg)
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • Very good dynamic range for class
  • Good bass extension for size/price
  • Build quality better than expected
  • Not large or heavy
  • Nice soundstage and imaging abilities

Cons

  • Elevated treble above 3kHz
  • Boosted bass around 100Hz

 

Monoprice has had a variety of great choices for audiophiles on a tight budget as we have seen in past reviews. Our review of their MP-T65RT towers showed them to be highly competent for their incredibly low price, and our review of their Encore T6 Towers showed performance that punched way above their price class. Monoprice has recently launched a loudspeaker line in between these levels of affordability. The Audition series slots in as merely ‘very affordable’ between the ‘bargain basement’ cost of the MP series and merely ‘modestly priced’ cost of the Encore series. In today’s review, we look at the Audition T5 Tower Speakers. Their MSRP is $500 per pair, so not ultra-low cost but still a very low price for a pair of floor-standing speakers- assuming they are well-thought-out designs. While we should expect some compromises from such a low price point, they still have to do some things right, or that $500 would be money better spent elsewhere. Monoprice has shown sensible engineering or lower-cost items before, so that gives us hope that these speakers have qualities to recommend them. But let’s now take a deep dive to see if that is indeed the case…

Packing and Appearance

T5 box  T5 packing

The speakers arrived to me individually boxed and not packed as a pair. Inside the boxes, the speakers were packed in a series of polyethylene foam blocks that held not just on the top and bottom of the boxes but the middle as well. The speakers themselves were wrapped in a cotton drawstring sack to protect them against moisture and scuffs, and the grille was covered in a plastic bag. This is good packing for speakers at this pricing, and it should enable them to survive the rigors of typical parcel shipping.

T5 pair    T5 grilles5

Once unboxed, the Audition T5 Towers present themselves as fairly innocuous and standard-looking towers. They don’t look bad but they don’t look ravishingly beautiful either, not that anyone should expect gorgeous looks at their pricing. At 35” high with a 6.5” width, they are somewhat small tower speakers, and that will help a lot in making them a minor presence in-room. The finish is a fake black oak vinyl that can be seen in many budget loudspeakers and subs. It isn’t bad and is fairly durable and doesn’t show fingerprints easily. The lengthwise edges have a slight rounding, but even that slight rounding goes a long way in making them seem less boxy. The T5 speakers use black metal outriggers for footing, and this does help to make them look more substantial than if they had simple cones for feet like we might expect of low-cost floor-standers.

The grilles hide the drivers completely and reduce the Audition speakers to minimalism, so those who would rather have the speakers go unnoticed have a good option in that regard. The grilles themselves have a slight beveling around the edges so they are not totally flat in appearance. With grilles removed, we see three matte black 5” woofers and a tweeter mounted in a shallow waveguide. They look like a typical driver layout and are not especially noteworthy. The Audition T5 speakers look like pretty standard speakers and are almost generic in appearance. It’s as if someone told an AI image generator to produce an image with the prompt “typical tower speaker.” They look fine and probably a bit better than one would expect given their price.

Design Analysis

T5 tweeter close up

As budget loudspeakers, the Audition T5s are not especially complex, but they do have some noteworthy design features that are worth discussing. As we said in the appearance section, this is not a huge speaker and only has a 35” height, putting the tweeter at a 31.5” height. This is likely at or lower than ear-level for most people’s listening position. However, the design of these tweeters looks like they could be good for a wide vertical angle of dispersion. At 23.4 lbs. (or 10.6kg for the saner parts of the world), it is not a heavyweight speaker, and that makes it very easy to deal with physically.

Let’s start our discussion of the particulars at the top of the frequency band with the tweeter. The tweeter is a 20mm (approx. ⅘” diameter) silk dome mounted in a shallow spherical waveguide. It is driven by a motor using a small neodymium magnet, but most of the assembly is shrouded in plastic, so it's hard to discern any more details about its construction. Most of what will determine its performance wouldn’t be visible to the naked eye anyway. However, with a somewhat small diameter, this tweeter should be capable of high treble frequencies before any break-up or bending modes occur, and the soft silk diaphragm should help to damp any break-up harshness anyway. 

The tweeter is accompanied by three 5.5” woofers in a 2.5-way configuration, so the upper woofer plays all the way up to the crossover frequency of the tweeter in addition to bass frequencies while the lower two woofers are filtered to play bass frequencies only. The advantage of this 2.5-way design is that 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.

T5 woofer close up

Three 5.5” woofers have about the same surface area as an 8” cone, so the T5 should be capable of a fair amount of bass punch. Their cones are made from polypropylene which is a very inexpensive but highly effective material on account of its light weight, stiffness, and intrinsic damping properties. The lower two woofers are low-passed at 220Hz using a 1st-order filter, and the upper woofer is low-passed at 2.4kHz using a 2nd-order filter. The tweeter is high-passed using a 3rd-order filter, but I have to guess that includes the acoustic roll-off since a full 3rd-order electric filter would be a tall order for a speaker at such low pricing. These crossover frequencies seem sensible given the Audition T5’s design, but we will see how well they truly integrate later on in our measurements section.

T5 rearThe enclosure is made from MDF and uses 1/2” thick panels and a ⅝” thick front baffle with two lateral windowpane braces that divide the enclosure by thirds. There is a lot of poly-fill type stuffing in the cabinet; in fact, it is packed with a lot more acoustic damping stuffing than I have seen with any other low to mid-priced tower speakers. The T5 feet are some rubber-coated cones that are mounted on metal outriggers that have to be installed by the user, but that is a simple and easy process. While the enclosure has a tall and narrow proportion, the outriggers give it a stable footing, and they won’t tip over if accidentally brushed up against. What’s also nice is that the rubber coating over the feet means these can be placed on a hard surface without worrying about scratching it. Wire connectivity is done through some simple 5-way binding posts within a terminal cup; it ain’t fancy but it works fine. The Audition T5 is a ported speaker and has a dual-flared rear-mounted port that has a 5 ⅞” depth with a 2 ⅞” diameter. That is a fairly large port for a small tower speaker, and with those port dimensions, I expect that it would produce a good amount of output although not with a super-low tuning frequency.

Altogether, the Audition T5 looks like a reasonably well-engineered budget speaker that could be capable of producing a nice sound despite its low cost. So, let’s find out for ourselves in some real-world listening…

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 the speakers and the listening position. I angled the speakers with a mild toe-in toward the listening position. The listening distance from the speakers was about 9 feet. No room correction equalization was used. Processing was done by a Marantz 7705 and the amplification was done by a Monoprice Monolith 5x200 amplifier.

Music Listening

How could these diminutive tower speakers cope with a full orchestra? To answer that question, I selected “Liszt: Sardanapalo and Mazeppa,” a major classical release in 2019. Franz Liszt never wrote an opera although he started one but abandoned it in the mid-1850s. It was never finished, but musicologist David Trippet had enough material to piece together Liszt’s intentions for the first act and so we get a peek at what might have been in this, the first recorded performance of this work. This opera concerns the last Assyrian king Sardanapalo’s relationship with his favorite concubine, Mirra, and was inspired by the play “Sardanapalus” by Lord Byron. It is performed by the Staatskapelle Weimar, one of the oldest orchestras in the world, founded in 1491, and features Joyce El-Khoury and Airam Hernandez as the lead singers. I streamed this album in a 96kHz/24-bit resolution from Qobuz.

the imaging that the Audtion T5s were throwing was better than anyone would expect given their price.

This album starts off with “Mazeppa,” a symphonic poem, and becomes quite bombastic right off the bat, but the T5s had no problem with the scale of the sound. The dynamics of the kettle drums combined with the blazing brass did not perturb these budget speakers at all, and they managed a big soundstage reflective of the symphonic hall where the performance was recorded. The tonality was pleasant but certainly not perfect, not that perfection should be expected at this price point. The kettle drums and lower pitches of the double bass had a bit more oomph than what I think is neutral, and the upper strings and female choral elements were a tad bright and had some slight edginess that other, more expensive speakers might have made smoother. Angling the speakers didn’t really take the shine off of the heightened treble, so I just left them with a toe-in toward my listening position. To be sure, the treble wasn’t obnoxiously hot, and the sound was still enjoyable, so I didn’t feel a pressing need to tame the tweeter with equalization. It was a noticeable departure from neutrality but not severe and very forgivable at this price point. Per the soundstage, the orchestra occupied a wide footprint but the T5s could deliver more precise imaging when called for such as passages with individual singers. El-Khoury and Hernandez imaged nicely at the center stage, and the T5s even managed to reflect Hernandez’s slight leftward position to El-Khoury. Baritone Oleksandr Pushniak’s singing was given a particularly rich reproduction, but all the singers sounded fine. In the end, I enjoyed hearing this album on these speakers, and I think most listeners would as well unless they were zeroing in on the tonal imperfections and aren’t able to listen past them. It would require a fairly picky audiophile that would be unable to enjoy such a magnificent performance on these competent budget speakers, but audiophiles demanding perfection will need to spend a hell of a lot more than $500 for that.

Liszt Sardanapalo and Mazeppa     Wrecking Ball

For something with a greater emphasis on a single voice, I listened to Emmylou Harris’ classic “Wrecking Ball,” her Grammy-winning 1995 release that rejected her more traditional Nashville country music past and charted a new and influential course for this iconic singer. Most of the tracks on this album are covers pulled from a diverse array of artists including Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, and Jimi Hendrix, but Harris makes these songs her own with her heartfelt renditions and distinctive performing style. The production is superb, and this album should absolutely shine with any good sound system.

the soundstage set by the Audition T5s was deep and enveloping.

The first thing I noticed about the T5’s reproduction of “Wrecking Ball” was the soundstage. Harris’s voice imaged at the soundstage center with good definition. I have heard better exactitude from more expensive speakers, but the imaging that the T5s were throwing was better than anyone would expect given their price. Acoustic guitars flanked her for many of these tunes, as well as the occasional mandolin and electric guitar, and their positions were quite lucid as well. Again, the bass was a tad hot, and that came through on some of these songs more than others. Bass drums, electric bass, and bass guitar definitely imparted a slight thickness to the low end. Many people would probably like that, but I would have preferred a bit leaner presentation of this particular album. Nonetheless, it still sounded agreeable if not quite to my absolute taste. I do think Harris’s voice was accentuated more by the slightly elevated treble, which sounded fine here since she should be at the forefront anyway. Despite the slight brightness, I didn’t feel that the T5 was especially “spitty” although I did detect some sibilance, particularly around ‘S’ sounds. A more expensive speaker would have had a smoother and more refined treble, but the T5s didn’t acquit themselves poorly here. If I were to set the T5s up in a room for a prolonged period, I would probably give them some equalization by taking down the treble a bit as well as bass below 100Hz or so. However, their sound out of the box is not bad, although it could be improved with a touch of equalization. Many users would end up doing that anyway with auto-EQ functions on their AVR such as Audyssey or YPAO.

Switching gears to something entirely different, I loaded up the album “Atavism” by Yoshimi. This is deeply atmospheric electronic music that sounds like a score for a cyberpunk movie if it were directed by Ingmar Bergmann. The compositions by Yoshimi are thoughtful and engrossing, and they are set in a dark and futuristic milieu. I decided on this album to see what the Audition T5s could do for the expansive soundstages and finely crafted synth sounds created for these tracks. I streamed this 2017 Dream Catalogue release from Qobuz.

Heavier bass kicks in the second track demonstrated that the T5s could really thump well above their price point.

Yoshimi immediately drops the listener into his world with a track filled with distorted bells, staccato beeps, and industrial noises, and the Audition T5 speakers helped to make this plunge into another world a vibrant and vivid descent. The second track surrounded the listener in a dystopian ambiance, and the soundstage set by the T5s was deep and enveloping. Synth noises shifted positions over a wide swath of the front stage of my room, and the imaging given to these sounds was detailed and pictorial. Bass extension was deeper than I expected from these slight towers, and they seemed to catch the full sound of the album. A subwoofer might have supplied a bit deeper bass for some of these tracks, but I didn’t miss any deeper bass than what was being supplied by the T5s. Yoshimi uses some very particular and unusual sounds in many of these tracks, and the T5s gave these sounds a texture and tangibility that added a sense of realism to the production. Of note is track 8, “Old River,” where a low bass drone underlies wavering choral sounds that give way to highly distorted lead synth and a host of mechanized bells and electronic atmospherics. Synths sounds flow from left to right in a fluid manner that the T5s made easy to follow. “Atavism” is full of interesting sounds and sonic environments, and it all sounded great on the Audition speakers. I don’t think a more expensive speaker would have been able to bring a lot more to the table on this intriguing album.

Atavism   Halflife

With three 5.5” woofers and a wide-diameter port, I thought that the Audition T5s might be capable of some substantial bass output, and to test this theory, I fired up “Halflife” by EPROM. This artist has popped up a couple of times in past reviews as trials for subwoofers, but would his music be asking too much of these modestly sized, low-cost, floor-standing speakers? Especially at the loud levels demanded by this hard-hitting music? Released in 2013, “Halflife” is EPROM’s 2nd album following the brilliant 2012 release “Metahuman.” While many of the tracks here have a heavy-duty sound, they are a lot more than just the repetitive loops of dance floor music. These compositions have inventive arrangements and use the conventions of EBM and dubstep and a template for music that is far more considered and artful than is the norm for those genres. 

The first track opens with a bass-heavy metallic swirling synth that the T5s gave a massive sound. Heavier bass kicks in the second track demonstrated that the T5s could really thump well above their price point. The buzzing bass lines of each of these tracks were given a physical dimension by these speakers. I thought the Audition T5s might have been capable of significant bass power, but the sound these made on “Halflife” went above my expectations. To be sure, I was able to reach their limits where I could hear audible distortion, but this was at very loud levels, likely well above where most people would drive them, especially since most people will not be pairing these speakers with a 200 to 300-watt amplifier. I would say that for anyone looking for a budget floor-standing speaker for a system that won’t have a subwoofer, the Audition T5 speakers are a great choice. I should have guessed as much since these are essentially smaller and less expensive versions of the Monoprice Encore T6s which were total over-achievers in the bass department. I should also say though that I wish the hats, claps, and cymbals had a little less zing in treble. Some of the higher-pitched percussion could get a bit sharp on the T5s. The dynamic range of the Audition T5s exhibited on this album was very impressive, and I think few other home audio loudspeakers in this price range could stay as clean at such loud levels. I think it would be interesting to compare similarly priced speakers from JBL, Klipsch, and Polk to see if they could approach the dynamic range and bass capability shown by the Audition T5 speakers. If they can, then consumers would be lucky to have such well-designed speakers at such an affordable cost.

Movie Watching

One movie that I had an interest in seeing was the 2022 comedy “Amsterdam,” and I figured that a new movie with a big budget and an all-star cast would be a good opportunity for the Audition T5 to show what it can do with a contemporary movie sound mix. The plot concerns three unusual friends who witness a murder in New York City in 1933. When one of them is framed for the murder, their investigation to clear his name uncovers a vast and deadly conspiracy. “Amsterdam” looked like an entertaining movie as well as a good test of speech intelligibility since the story seems largely dialogue driven.

I was continually surprised at how potent these smaller tower speakers could sound in low frequencies.

“Amsterdam” was an odd but delightful movie, and the T5s proved to be a good vehicle with which to experience it. As a dialogue-driven movie, it was important that the speakers convey the spoken word with clarity, and that is what the T5s did. I never struggled to understand what was being said, although it should be mentioned that the dialogue delivery for this film was quite mannered, much like the performances. While the individual characters who inhabit this movie are endearing and original creations, they often seemed to be talking past each other rather than conversing. This must have been a stylistic choice on behalf of the director, but it probably made speech easier to understand than in a typical film. Again, I didn’t miss the use of a subwoofer; in fact, I would say that the speakers make Christian Bale’s voiceovers a tad bassier than they were intended and gave him a nearly baritone intonation. Other than the extra bass, I didn’t notice the extra treble that I had heard previously on music content, although that might have been due to the fact that I was engrossed in the movie, but at least the treble lift wasn’t enough to make me realize it was there for this film. Daniel Pemberton’s orchestral/jazz score sounded great with the speakers, and I don’t know how a guy who cranks out so many film scores each year can maintain such a high quality of artistry. I enjoyed “Amsterdam” on the Audition T5s, and I think that buyers on a budget will be pretty happy with what they can do for a traditional Hollywood production like this one.

Amsterdam     Night Teeth

Another movie that I watched with the Audition T5s is the 2021 Netflix horror film “Night Teeth.” In this movie, a college student with a part-time night gig as a chauffeur picks up two strange women who have a series of stops for partying across Los Angeles over the course of a night. However, as the night progresses, he finds that these women’s agenda is much darker and more dangerous than anything he could have imagined. I hadn’t seen it yet, but the premise was irresistible, and the sound mix promised to be a lot of fun.

“Night Teeth” turned out to be a slight but fun slice of vampire mayhem, and the T5 speakers gave this film a fine presentation. The sound mix was populated by a slew of R&B and hip-hop tunes, but the music was mostly comprised of electronic music from Italian composer Drum & Lace. The music score was the most prominent sonic element of this film, and the T5s gave it a lively reproduction. The bass had punch, and I was continually surprised at how potent these smaller tower speakers could sound in low frequencies. Again, dialogue intelligibility was never a problem, and all spoken lines were crystal clear. Action scenes were not lacking in dynamics, although I didn’t watch this movie at an extremely high volume level. The dynamic range of the speakers is impressive for their size and price, but they would have their limits. Again, their dynamics would be more than enough for most people’s living room systems, but they would be out of their depth as dedicated home theater speakers. The T5s were a good match for this brisk and energetic film, and those looking for inexpensive and not-huge speakers for watching films at spirited volume levels have a great choice here.

Monoprice Monolith Audition T5 Measurements & Conclusion

T5 outdoor testing2

The Monoprice Audition T5 speakers were measured in free-air at a height of 7.5 feet at a 2-meter distance from the microphone, with the microphone raised to be level with and aimed at the tweeter center. The measurements were gated at 8 milliseconds. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 400 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 200 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/24 octave resolution.

T5 3D Waterfall Response2

T5 2D Waterfall Response2

The above graphs depict the Audition T5’s direct-axis and horizontal dispersion out to a 90-degree angle in five-degree increments. Information on how to interpret these graphs can be read in our article, Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part II. One immediately noticeable aspect of this graph that correlates to my listening experience was the elevated treble. Nearly the entire treble range is two to three dB hot with respect to lower ranges. This makes for a bright loudspeaker, of course. Outside of the hot tweeter, there isn’t much to complain about. The midrange is a tad rocky, but one cannot expect perfection at this pricing, and I didn’t notice any problems with the midrange in my own listening. We can see an on-axis dip between 13kHz to 14kHz, but that is too high in frequency to be a tonal concern, and if anything, it might help to take a bit of the edge off the treble anyway. It doesn’t carry over to off-axis frequencies which leads me to believe it is due to a waveguide reflection cancellation. I noted in my listening that although this speaker was bright, I didn’t think it was especially sibilant, and the reason may be that the entire treble range is elevated instead of just the 4kHz to 8kHz range. We do see the most excess energy in that range, especially above 6kHz, and this may be what I heard as an over-emphasis on ‘S’ sounds. Overall, what we have here is a bright speaker but not a scorchingly hot one. It doesn’t sound awful, but padding the tweeter an additional two to three dB would have made it better, to my ears at least.

T5 Polar Map2 

The above polar map shows the same information in the preceding graphs but depicts it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, polar maps use color to portray amplitude, and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s dispersion behavior more easily. More information about interpreting this graph can be read in our article: Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part II.

The first thing to note is the wide angle of dispersion of the tweeter relative to the woofer. We can see where the tweeter kicks in by its broader dispersion above 2.5kHz. If the tweeter had been toned down a bit, we might have had better directivity matching, at least at the crossover point. Outside of the directivity mismatch between the tweeter and midwoofer, we do some waist banding just above 1kHz, although it is fairly mild, and I don’t think it would impart much coloration to the sound unless the listener was at a 50-degree angle with respect to the speaker for some reason. The overall breadth of acoustic energy coming from the speaker looks to occur within a 50-degree angle. Within that angle, the response looks to be roughly consistent, so these speakers have a fairly wide dispersion on the whole, meaning they will retain similar tonality over a wide listening area. The tweeter does start to beam a bit above 15kHz, but that is too high in frequency to matter for most listeners, and it still holds a +/-20-degree spread which is more than what many dome tweeters can manage at such high frequencies.

T5 Vertical Response Differences 

The above graph is a sampling of some of the vertical angle responses at and around the on-axis angle. The tweeter center of the Audition T5 has a 31.5” height. That is relatively low compared to the tweeter height of most tower speakers, but the T5s are somewhat short in height. Unfortunately, this puts the tweeter below the ears of many listening positions, and that angle is where the treble is most pronounced. At tweeter height and below it does bring the treble level down with respect to lower frequencies, but this is at a rather low altitude. Users could ameliorate this by tipping the speaker up by a few degrees from placing something underneath the front feet, although that is not a solution I would resort to if it caused any stability issues. I tried listening at midwoofer height by placing the towers on 10” blocks that elevated the midwoofer to my ear height. Listening at tweeter or midwoofer height doesn’t tame the tweeter by much, but it seems to give the speakers a slightly fuller sound, perhaps by filling in the upper midrange/lower treble more relative to the levels above 4kHz. For those seeking to tame the treble, a much better solution would be to just equalize it.

T5 Low Frequency Response 

The above graph shows the Audition T5’s low-frequency response captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground at a 2-meter distance in a wide-open area). Earlier in my listening sessions, I complained of the somewhat thick bass, and I would attribute it to the hump centered around 90Hz to 100Hz. It isn’t severe, but it is certainly audible. Again, this would be easy to EQ, so this characteristic would not be difficult to change- if the user wished to. As I said before, a lot of people enjoy elevated bass, and if they used a room correction program like Audyssey, the EQ curve that would be applied might not even be preferable to many people, at least in low frequencies. Low-frequency extension is good for a smaller tower speaker. In my own room, which does not get much low-frequency room gain, I had a strong response down to 40Hz- not bad considering the size of these speakers.

T5 impedance 

The above graph shows the electrical behavior of the Audition T5. Monoprice specifies it to be nominal 4 ohms, and that is about right. The impedance does dip down to 3 ohms for some critical regions: not ideal for a budget speaker, but the reality is that most AVRs will handle this speaker fine. At least the phase angle doesn’t seem very steep in these bands. At high volumes for long periods, cheaper amps might get hot but not likely to the point of auto-shutdown for most users. If you are running the system hard for a prolonged period with a cheap AVR, it’s possible that it could trip thermal limits of the AVR. I measured sensitivity at 88.1dB (2.83Vrms @ 1m) which is about 1dB higher than Monoprice’s spec. That is around what one would expect for a speaker like this, and it should be OK in achieving loud volumes without needing a ton of power.

Conclusion

T5 pair7Before bringing this review to a close, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under evaluation, and, as usual, I will start with the weaknesses since I am the kind of person who prefers the bad news first. The Audition T5 does have its shortcomings, but no tower speaker at its pricing will be without compromises. Anyone who has read this review up to this point will not be surprised that the greatest shortcoming of the T5 is the heightened treble response. This definitely gives it a crisp character that some people will enjoy, but for me, at least during music, it had a habit of reminding me that I was listening to these particular speakers instead of disappearing behind the recording. I didn’t really notice this quality when watching movies, so if these speakers are only going to be used for that purpose, they will probably be fine out of the box. The tonality here was never a problem for dialogue intelligibility. As I said before, I have heard worse, and the tweeter wasn’t so hot as to be a serious nuisance, but I would have preferred a more balanced treble sound. I don’t think it would have added a major increase to the manufacturing cost to implement that as well, perhaps as little as the addition of a couple of extra resistors in the crossover circuit. The equalization to tame the tweeter is simple; just apply a shelf filter to the speaker to take down the response by 3dB or so above 3kHz or adjust to taste.

I also thought the bass was a tad thick, and it gave some sounds a bit more boom than was natural sounding. Again, this can be EQ’d easily, and I would start with perhaps a cut at 95Hz with a Q of 1.5 and a level of 3dB. Of course, auto-EQ programs such as Audyssey can also be used to iron out the response to conform to a target curve that may sound more natural. As I said before, the bass boost wasn’t severe, and I think many people would enjoy this character, so users may not want to change this aspect at all.

T5 outdoorsOutside of those two criticisms, I don’t have any other real complaints, so then let’s discuss the strengths of the Audition T5 speakers. I would say their strongest point is their sheer dynamic range, especially in bass. This speaker can punch surprisingly hard given its size and pricing. If you are looking for speakers that bring movies to life without eating up a lot of floor space or budget, the T5s are a great choice, especially for those who must forego a subwoofer. While they won’t quite match the extension or output of a subwoofer, their own bass ability is unexpectedly good, and many users will be very happy with the sound they can produce in the low frequencies.

Another aspect of the T5s that I liked was their imaging ability and soundstage. They could cast a wide soundstage yet still image with a fair level of definition. This is a trick that I am used to with more expensive speakers, but this $500 pair manage to pull it off quite well.

The packing and build quality is also unexpectedly good for the cost. While these are budget speakers, they feel better than the thin plywood enclosures that we sometimes see in low-cost speakers. They have multiple windowpane braces and lots of acoustic stuffing. They even have metal outriggers instead of just some plastic feet screwed on the bottom of the enclosure, which is what I would have expected to see at this price point.

Alternatives to the Audition Monolith T5

Monolith badge close upIn the end, I think the Audition T5s are fine for the price. In truth, I do not have a lot of other experience with floor-standing speakers in the $500 price range, but I would assume the ones from JBL, Klipsch, and Polk are competent designs. Are they as good? Maybe, but one advantage that the Audition speakers would have against them is that Monoprice frequently puts the Audition series on very aggressive discounts. At the moment, the Audition T5s can be had for $230 per pair, and they are a lot of speaker for that pricing. One floor-standing loudspeaker that deserves mention here is the Dayton Audio MK-442T that we reviewed back in 2019. They cost considerably less, and they have a warmer and much smoother tonal character. They also have surprisingly good low-frequency extension for small tower speakers. However, the Audition T5s are in another class in terms of dynamic range, but if you don’t normally listen at loud levels, the MK-442Ts may well make for a better fit especially if you are on a very tight budget.

On top of all of this, I think the most compelling alternative may come from Monoprice itself, in the form of the Encore T5. Its MSRP is $160 more per pair, but I think it will have an even greater dynamic range, and if the Encore T6s are anything to go by, a much more balanced sound. Much like the Audition series, Monoprice frequently has major discounts on them, and at the time of this writing, a pair of Encore T5s are currently out of stock. If budget suffices and there is product availability, it's a complete no-brainer to go with the Encores over the Audition speakers. The calculation may be different if the Audition were on sale and the Encores were not. But if both are on sale or both are priced at MSRP, in my opinion, it is worth the additional cost to go for the Encores. They are a significantly better speaker for not a lot more money. In this instance however, the Audition T5 is one helluva deal on sale for $230/pair if you're looking for a good starter set of speakers or for an auxiliary system in a guest room or college dorm.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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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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