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Dayton Audio & Monoprice Raise the Bar on Budget Tower Speakers

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Affordable Tower Speakers

Affordable Tower Speakers

Summary

  • Product Name: MP-T65RT, MK442T Tower Speakers
  • Manufacturer: Monoprice, Dayton Audio
  • Review Date: April 09, 2019 09:00
  • MSRP: $140/pr - MP-T65RT, $228/pr - MK442T
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!

Monoprice MP-T65RT

  • Woofer:    6.5" polypropylene cone (x2)
  • Tweeter:    4" x 0.76" ribbon
  • Power Handling:    30 watts RMS, 60 watts maximum
  • Frequency Response:    45Hz ~ 20kHz
  • Impedance:    6 ohms
  • Sensitivity:   86db @ 1W/1m
  • Terminals:    Quick connect push terminal
  • Dimensions:    30.0" x 7.6" x 9.3" 
  • Weight:    34.96 lbs. (Pair)

Dayton Audio MK442T

  • Design: 2-way dual 4" transmission line tower speaker
  • Woofer: Dual 4" high excursion driver with a treated paper cone
  • Tweeter: 3/4" soft dome
  • Finish: Black vinyl
  • Power handling: 80 watts RMS/160 watts max
  • Impedance: 4 ohms
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB 1W/1m
  • Crossover: 3 kHz, 2nd order low pass, 3rd order high pass (acoustical slopes)
    Terminals:
    5-way gold plated binding posts
  • Dimensions: 38.1" H x 5.7" W x 9.6" D - Depth includes removable grill

Executive Overview

Dayton Auaffordable towers front view.jpgdio and Monoprice have just released two new tower speakers at price points that will considerably stiffen the competition for entry-level speakers of their type. Both models are based on popular bookshelf speakers in their respective line-ups, so releasing these tower speaker models rounds out their product lines for those in the market for floor-standing speakers. The bookshelf speaker models were given full reviews in Audioholics as well, so we have an idea of what to expect from these new tower speakers.

Monoprice MP-T65RT Towers

MSRP: $139.99/pr | Buy Now

Let’s start with the less expensive of the two: Monoprice’s MP-T65RT, which is priced at an extremely accessible $139.99 for a pair of tower speakers! The MP-T65RT looks to be directly targeting Dayton Audio’s T652-AIR tower speaker as competition with the same price and using a similarly unconventional tweeter. The MP-T65RT is based on the MP-65RT bookshelf speaker that we reviewed early last year. We were astonished that bookshelf speakers priced at $50 per pair could sound as good as the MP-65RT did, despite all the compromises made in its design and construction to achieve that very modest price point. We expect to see similar compromises in the MP-T65RT, and no one could reasonably expect an amazing build quality for tower speakers at $140/pair, but at this pricing, it is more sensible to look for what these speakers are doing right instead of focusing on their shortcomings.

So what is the MP-T65RT dMP-T65RT.jpgoing right? One nifty design decision it has is the arrangement of the woofers in an MTM configuration, where the woofers ‘sandwich’ the tweeter. This ends up doing a few cool things, acoustically-speaking, and we wish more tower speakers would make this design choice- at any price. One thing that an MTM design does is that it places the acoustic center of the speaker smack-dab on the tweeter, so there should be no difference in time arrival from the woofers to tweeters at the listening position. It also makes for a more symmetric and less vertical lobing pattern than what occurs in typical tower speakers, so dispersion on the vertical axis is a lot more predictable. An MTM design also creates greater variation of the pathlength of the woofers from the floor so that low-frequency cancellation from the ‘ground bounce,’ where the floor reflection interferes with the direct acoustic energy of the speaker, is reduced by increasing the distance of the woofers from each other thereby randomizing out interference effects.   

One thing we liked about the MP-65RT was how benevolent the cone breakup of the woofer was. It really needed this quality since it was not using a low-pass filter. Thankfully the MP-T65RT looks to be using the same woofer and planar tweeter as its bookshelf speaker sibling. One opportunity for improvement over the MP-T65RT could have over the MP-65RT is that the additional woofer may bring the bass and mids on the level with the tweeter output. The MP-65RT had rather hot high treble. Thankfully it mostly occurred over 10 kHz which only gave the speaker a somewhat bright quality. Using two woofers gives the MP-T65RT a better chance of giving the high treble more parity with the rest of the frequency range. Another design change which may prove interesting is the decision to go ported on the MP-T65RT as opposed to the sealed MP-65RT. The port looks sizable, so it will be interesting to see what kind of bass that the MP-T65RT can produce. We will be getting in a pair of MP-T65RTs for full review sometime this spring so stay tuned for more on that topic.

Dayton Audio MK442T Tower Speaker

MSRP: $229/pr | Buy Now

While theMK442T.jpg MP-T65RT seems to be targeting Dayton Audio’s T652-AIR, Dayton Audio’s new MK442T almost seems to be doing its own thing. The MK442T is the tower speaker version of the MK402 and MK442 that we also reviewed early last year. It is priced at $228 a pair and uses the same woofers and tweeter seen in the MK402/MK442 models. The big difference is the way low bass is being produced; instead of using a port to generate low frequencies, the MK442T uses a transmission line. A transmission line works by using the acoustic energy generated by the back of the woofer cone and sending that pressure wave down a passage that is a quarter of the wavelength of the woofer’s resonant frequency to an opening that combines it with the acoustic energy generated by the front of the cone. This is different from a port where the backwave pressure of the woofer oscillates a slug of air within the port. Transmission lines are more complex to manufacture but proponents of the design claim that it offers much higher fidelity since the backwave pressure can be controlled to a finer degree and it does not alter the driver’s intrinsic behavior as much as sealed or ported designs. It’s rare to find transmission lines used in mass-produced speakers nowadays and unheard of in low-cost speakers, but Dayton Audio  has decided that the benefits are worth the extra manufacturing costs.

The transmission line design is an interesting choice to make for the MK series since one of the foibles of the MK series was that the port could overload pretty easily at higher drive levels. A transmission line looks like a great way to rectify that shortcoming. 81IvtWKHwRL._SL1500_.jpgAnother shortcoming of the MK series that we found was that the treble was voiced quite hot, especially on the MK402, and the MK442T looks like it could change that by using two woofers, which, like MP-T65RT, could more easily put the woofer output on an equal level with the tweeter output.

The MK442T looks like a great budget choice for those who want a slim, affordable tower speaker that has good bass extension for its size which is very much like what the MK402 tries to accomplish for bookshelf speakers.  One thing we should emphasize is the value proposition of the MK442T; this is a $228 tower speaker pair using high-quality components. Very good, high-excursion 4” woofers and ¾” tweeter, a 6-element crossover, and a transmission line cabinet design. What’s more is that the transmission line cabinet helps reinforce the side-walls of the cabinet so the enclosure should be extraordinarily inert for a tower speaker in this price range. The caveat is that, give its specs, it isn’t the go-to speaker for dynamic range extremes, but it will likely be able to get loud enough for most users, and it should retain a high level of sound quality while doing so. 

MKSX4 views.jpg   MKSX4 driver arrangement.jpg

295-415_HR_0.jpgWhile discussing the Dayton Audio MK44T, it’s worth mentioning another new product from the MK family: the MKSX4 passive subwoofer. This subwoofer uses the same woofers used in the MK speakers, the TCP115 4” midbass woofer. It arranges them in an opposed square formation which will cancel out any rocking motion from the driver’s excursion, so it should be a very inert enclosure. The small diameter of the drivers allows the MKSX4 to be a very narrow subwoofer so it could fit in spaces that many other subs would not.  It is a ported subwoofer with dual slot ports on the back panel. It looks like a great solution where space is at a premium such as around desktop PC systems. It could also be used to beef up near-field punch while staying hidden by placing it behind a sofa or underneath seating where space allows. While the MKSX4 is a passive sub and will need outboard amplification, it only costs $108 each, so a couple of these and a two-channel amp doesn’t have to cost more than a few hundred dollars but still would be able to inject a fun dose of extra thump into your theater on movie night.

Conclusion

We like what we've been seeing from Monoprice and Dayton Audio. Both companies continue to prove they are serious about reaching audiophiles on a budget with innovative designs that only a decade ago simply weren't possible to manufacturer at these price points. We suspect these brands are giving pause to many of the ID Speaker manufacturers that have enjoyed online sales dominance for so many years. This is reminiscent to us using a car analogy of how Hyundia was once considered the bottom of the barrel in car brands decades ago to now being able to go toe-to-toe with brands like Mercedes, Audi and BMW with their Genesis lineup. Imagine if one day Monoprice and Dayton Audio expand their product budgets to compete with the premium audio brands? Watch out Revel, Paradigm, SVS and Klipsch as that day may be coming sooner than you think. 

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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:

ryanosaur posts on April 11, 2019 17:38
67-79, post: 1310518, member: 86434
a ribbon tweeter seem a good thing, i hope i listen someday and monoprice market a lot of ribbon speakers at low prices. anyone can buy a pair online just for fun and if your not satisfied it doesn' matter as you pay few.
Not all ribbons are created equal, i'm afraid. The great ones are amazing, and the others… just depends. Martin Logan Motion speakers sounded very nice, for example, but not better than Raal tweeters. There are many others that may or may not match up.
67-79 posts on April 11, 2019 17:25
a ribbon tweeter seem a good thing, i hope i listen someday and monoprice market a lot of ribbon speakers at low prices. anyone can buy a pair online just for fun and if your not satisfied it doesn' matter as you pay few.
|\/4n posts on April 11, 2019 16:11
“Watch out Revel, Paradigm, SVS and Klipsch as that day may be coming sooner than you think.”

This day has come. I own two subs: one $699.99 from SVS - SB-2000 and another $499.99 from MP - Monolith by Monoprice 10" THX Select Certified. SVS is 12'' sealed; Monolith is 10'' ported design. Both subs are 500W RMS.
So I had a good chance to compare these subs head to head. In my opinion, Monolith's sub is much, much better performance and value than SVS SB-2000. Don't get me wrong - SB-2000 is great sub, but Monolith 10'' THX Select is simply amazing.
Trell posts on April 10, 2019 03:09
Danzilla31, post: 1310227, member: 85700
I like the look of those Monoprice Towers what size of woofer do they use?

6.5" according to the Preview linked to in the first post
Danzilla31 posts on April 09, 2019 22:07
shadyJ, post: 1310165, member: 20472
Dayton Audio and Monoprice have just released two new tower speakers at price points that will considerably stiffen the competition for entry-level speakers of their type. Both models are based on popular bookshelf speakers in their respective line-ups, so releasing these tower speaker models rounds out their product lines for those in the market for floor-standing speakers. The bookshelf speaker models were given full reviews in Audioholics as well, so we have an idea of what to expect from these new tower speakers. The Monoprice MP-T65RTs can be had for an $140 for a pair shipped, and the Dayton MK-442Ts can be had for $230. This is great news for audiophiles whose ears are bigger than their wallet: good sound can be had without breaking the bank!

READ: Dayton MK-442T and Monoprice MP-T65RT Preview
I like the look of those Monoprice Towers what size of woofer do they use?
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