I’m always on the hunt for the next great deal in home audio. Anytime someone promises me I’ll be floored by the performance of a piece of gear, especially for its price, I’m immediately interested. But when I start hearing things like “there’s nothing else like it on the market right now,” well, that’s when the skepticism sets in and I feel like I have no choice but to investigate.
That’s how theand speakers ended up in my testing lab. They are two very different speakers that promise to shatter the price-to-performance barrier. So, do they? Are they the best-kept secret in home audio and home theater? Let’s find out.
The many brands of Monoprice
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I’ve had my eye on Monoprice’s audio gear since it started releasing products under its Monolith sub-brand. This is a popular thing for companies to do when they sell a lot of different kinds of products. Take Anker, for instance. That’s a company that gained some fame by producing great mobile accessories like portable charging batteries and the like. But as Anker decided to get into making and marketing projectors and speakers and earbuds, it developed sub-brands for those products. For instance, Anker’s projectors fall under the Nebula brand, and its audio products fall under its Soundcore brand. And they are good products!
Similarly, Monoprice offers loads of products, from TV wall mounts and HDMI cables to coolers and duffel bags to computer monitors and keyboards. When you sell such an eclectic collection of stuff, I suppose it makes sense to create subbrands. And so Monoprice puts computing stuff under the Dark Matter brand, Outdoor Gear under its Pure Outdoor brand, and audio gear under, you guessed it, the Monolith brand.
Design and specs
This brings us to the Monolith Encore T6 and the monstrous THX-465T, which independently represent some very significant value. Together, they teach a mini master class in speaker design and marketing.
The Encore T6 stands about 40 inches tall, just shy of 14 inches deep, and almost 8 inches wide. It is wrapped in a black faux-wood vinyl veneer, save for the top and bottom caps, which have a gloss black finish that helps to class them up a bit. The horizontally braced MDF cabinets house two 6.5-inch woofers, a 6.5-inch midwoofer (which means it pulls double duty producing midrange and bass), and a 1-inch silk dome tweeter that is set in an eye-catching waveguide — which I personally think looks very cool.
The speaker is ported to the rear, comes with feet and floor spikes if you want to use them, and there are dual sets of five-way binding posts that will allow you to bi-amp or bi-wire if you like, though they come bridged so you can easily just connect one set of speaker wires.
With a nominal impedance of 4 ohms and sensitivity hovering just under 90 decibels, these speakers fall squarely into the middle of the road in terms of power requirements. You don’t need a massively powerful amp to drive them, but they will benefit from more power. I’d just shy away from trying to drive them with a low-wattage tube amp at very high volumes or sound pressure levels.
The Encore T6 retail at Monoprice for $400 each, but you can also , presumably from Monoprice, with free shipping for around $300 each – so between $600 and $800 for a pair depending on where you buy.
The THX-465T is an entirely different monster. It stands 4-foot, 7-inches, is wrapped in a textured black vinyl veneer, and each MDF cabinet houses eight drivers. A 1-inch silk dome tweeter, a 2-inch silk dome midrange, and four 6.5-inch woofers face the front. The Atmos channel up top includes a 5.25- woofer and a 6-inch inch silk dome tweeter.
The THX speakers are ported to the front, as opposed to the rear like the T6. Around the back there are two sets of five-way binding posts, but in this case, the two sets aren’t for bi-wiring or bi-amping like the T6. Instead, the lower set is for the main speaker and the upper set is for the up-firing Atmos speakers. Oh, and these things weigh about 56 pounds each. Each of these speakers runs about $1,000, so you’re looking at $2,000 a pair.
T6 performance: superb imaging
These speakers obviously look different, they are designed to accomplish different tasks, and they have very different price points. But one thing they share in common is that Monoprice has designed and built them to offer performance that exceeds expectations at their respective prices. And they do exactly that. But even in Monoprice’s own value-loaded lineup, the differences between these two speakers are significant. And that just goes to show that you get what you pay for. But it just so happens that with these Monolith speakers, you’ll generally pay less than you will with other brands.
But let’s talk performance. What do you get from the Encore T6 speaker? Foremost, the imaging and soundstage these speakers provide are just ridiculously good. They paint a wide, seamless stage of sound across your room, with instruments and voices very precisely positioned in the space across the front of the room. Vocals, for instance, seem to come from a very specific spot in the center of the room, and it is so convincing that you’d swear there was a third speaker there.
I daresay a subwoofer is totally unnecessary for listening to music.
And that soundstage and imaging are effortless, too. I got it whether I had the speakers set up just right or not. A little toed-in, or perfectly squared off, pulled from the wall a couple of feet or not, it didn’t matter. They just brought the entire room to life, and that sound extends beyond the outer edges of the speakers, too. Not just in-between them.
The tweeter sounds super sweet as well. It’s articulate, nimble, poignant, and powerful. It offers excellent attack — the transients sound awesome — and it is an ace at decay, too. So when a drummer’s stick hits a ride cymbal, everything from the transient click of the stick tip on the metal to the resulting crash sound to the long ringing that comes after it is all very well done.
The midrange also is impressive, with instruments and voices coming through with striking realism and almost uncongested. But by and large, the midrange comes across as very well executed.
Then there’s the bass, which is prodigious. Shockingly so. I daresay a subwoofer is totally unnecessary for listening to music. These speakers offer solid bass and even some sub-bass. It’s shocking, really. In my testing lab, they get down to 45Hz with authority. You could add a sub for home theater, but for a music system, it’s not necessary.
Overall, they’re pretty tremendous. But there’s one thing I have to talk about, and it’s the only thing that prevents me from saying this is the budget audiophile darling of the year. And I bring it up in that context because, for most folks, these speakers are simply going to knock you out. But for really picky listeners? Here’s the deal:
These speakers’ cabinets do reveal themselves. There is this — I’ll call it a thump. It’s sort of a boxed-in resonance in the mid-bass that’s ever-present when listening to any music with any real bass or kick drum. It gives the speaker kind of a mid-’70s vibe. Some might just call it warm and rich, but really, it’s a bit more than just warmth or richness. And I think all that would be needed to eliminate it would be more bracing and a bit more acoustic stuffing. A more rigid cabinet, basically.
Or, you could strip them of some of their bass prowess. But I think that would be the wrong move.
No, the only thing that would make these speakers better is if Monoprice added to the cost of making them, thereby adding to the price at retail. And I can see why the company didn’t choose to do that. For most folks, these speakers are going to be extremely satisfying and probably blow them away for the price they pay.
But what do they compete against? At first, I felt like there wasn’t much like the Encore T6 on the market, but there are a few options. The Polk ES60, PSB Alpha T20, Klipsch RP-280F, and Paradigm SE3000F all come in around the same price per pair, and all offer very good sound for the price. I think the real threat here is the Klipsch RP-280F, though, which combines two 8-inch drivers with a horn-loaded tweeter for a sound that offers a lot of punch and dynamics, plus an impressive soundstage that can rival the Encore T6. I’ve not heard the Polk ES60 myself, but they are similarly equipped, and I think should be considered in the same price-to-performance category.
The 465-T does more for those looking to outfit a home theater space.
But now let’s compare the Encore T6 to the much larger, more robust, and better-built THX-465T. No doubt the 465T is a more capable speaker — it offers more authoritative bass, and just exudes more presence than the smaller T6. The 465-T also does more for those looking to outfit a home theater space since it offers integrated Dolby Atmos speakers.
Take everything I said about the Encore T6 and apply it here, but with a slightly more transparent midrange, better-controlled bass, and oddly, a more laid-back treble. I keep wanting a little more clarity and sparkle from the top end. It’s almost like there’s a veil over the speaker, even though I always listen with the grilles removed.
On the whole, they are definitely a step up. They’re more refined speaker and there’s not a ton of competition for them there right now. The is a formidable Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker, and it actually costs a bit less. It’s also very pretty if you ask me. So I’d have to consider that one. Other than that, I’d look to Klipsch, but outside of the , which I’ve reviewed and love very much, but are more expensive, most other Klipsch Dolby Atmos towers, like the R-605FA, are out of stock or on closeout right now. So, the THX-465T is one of the precious few options of this integrated-Atmos type right now.
Less is more
But here’s the thing. As I switched between this massive THX-certified speaker and the more conservative Encore T6, what I was really struck by was just how close the T6 got to this much bigger, more expensive speaker. I mean, shockingly close. Within Monoprice’s own Monolith line, I have to start questioning the law of diminishing returns. Is this THX 465-T better? Yes. Is it more capable? Yes. Is it $600 more per speaker or $1,200 more per pair better?
For most folks, I think no. I’d probably buy the T6 and place Dolby Atmos add-on speakers atop them to fulfill my Atmos height effect needs.
Look, the THX-465T has its place — an elaborate home theater where top-notch performance is in demand but budget is a real concern. The THX-465T delivers for that customer, perhaps better than most.
But for folks who want all the sound they can get — really big, convincing, high-quality sound — for a manageable price? The Encore T6 are just a smarter choice. And I think more people fall into that camp. And that forces me to look harder at the Encore T6. I can see how some folks are blown away by what this speaker is doing.
In the end, I think Monoprice has some pretty solid speakers on offer across its Monolith brand. There are bookshelf versions of both of these speakers, by the way, which I can only imagine offer incredible value given they will offer most of the performance for even less. The Encore B6 bookshelf and 365T are well worth a look at half the price or less than the towers.
But from a bigger-picture perspective, I think think this is another lesson in the law of diminishing returns for hi-fi, because even when looking across the lineup of one brand that has made an entire business out of providing high-value, high-performance audio products that punch well above their price, it is still possible to spend a lot more, but not necessarily get a ton more. All of this to say that I think we’ve witnessed a bit of a turn in the home audio industry. As so many people have transitioned to wireless speakers and soundbar systems, more conventional loudspeakers have to offer more for less to compete. And if that is the new bar, then Monoprice is pretty much setting it.