Monoprice MM-5R - Ribbon Candy for the Ears
Ribbon Candy is unique and has always intrigued me. From the way it is made to the taste it produces. Ribbon Candy starts off as warm and flat but ends up being a crinkled, hard candy that has just about any flavors you want to mix together. How does this make any connection to an audio speaker?
Disclaimer: I purchased the Monoprice MM-5R with my own funds brand new/open box off Monoprice.com. I haven't been influenced, paid or sponsored by anyone to do this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Second Disclaimer: I have very little experience with speakers and a very limited usage for speakers; I am a headphone and IEM user 84.61% of the time, give or take a few % points on any given day.
Monoprice Premium Select 8" 200 Watt Sub Woofer: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=14567
Fluid Audio DS8 speaker stands:
Woofer Driver: 5.25" polypropylene cone
Tweeter Driver: 2.6" AMT ribbon
Amplifier: Dual Class AB
Woofer Amplifier Output Power: 2x 65 watts
Tweeter Amplifier Output Power: 2x 35 watts
Frequency Response: 42Hz ~ 22kHz
Unboxing: Huge box, lots of packing foam, that's it.
The Monoprice MM-5R are of a wood design that looks fairly standard. They only come in a matte black color scheme. Please note that there is no indication on the speakers as too which one is left or right, that I could find, so I put the powered speaker on the right side. The powered speaker houses all of the electronics, inputs and outputs. On the front of the powered speaker you will find a headphone output and a volume control knob that also doubles as the power switch and input selector. The backside of the powered speaker has a lot of stuff on it, including a sub woofer output and RCA inputs, see picture for more information. There is a slotted bass port at the top of the back side of both speakers. The woofers on the front are large at 5.25" and the ribbon tweeter is half that size at 2.6". The entire speaker dimension is of moderate size at 10.9" x 7.3" x 9.4". I find that the speakers are the perfect size for my desk but may be too large for some smaller desks. Monoprice does include matching angled speaker stands. I couldn't get the speakers to sit at the proper height for my preferences so I use Fluid Audio stands instead, see link above. I really enjoy the look of the Monoprice MM-5R and the Fluid Audio DS8 stands on the desk.
Now I am no expert when it comes to speakers and placement. I have experimented a lot over the last several months that I have had the Monoprice MM-5R on my desk. The previous set of speakers, Kanto Yumi, that I had on my desk were basically a set and enjoy pair; didn't seem effected much by the placement other then they did have to be positioned evenly. The Monoprice MM-5R are way pickier when it comes to placement and angle position. A few general guidelines that I have learned over the last few years with speakers are that the tweeters should be about ear level, the port should have room to breath and the angle should be intersecting at or close to your listening chair. I have no idea if any of those are accurate in the ears of a professional but to my amateur ears this setup sounds good. I also have a Monoprice Premium Select 8"subwoofer that is under my desk.
I have the Monoprice MM-5R set as follows:
Width apart: 36"
Depth from normal seating position: 36"
Bass port depth from wall: 6"
Please keep in mind that my "speaker" experience is mostly with sound bars and Bluetooth speakers. The only other powered speaker setup I have owned is the Kanto Yumi. So I am very limited in the speaker world. Also, the Monoprice Premium Select 8" subwoofer adds a bit of thump to the setup's bottom end. I do own three passive speaker pairs; Sony SSCS5, Wharfedale D310 and Martin Logan Motion 15. Here are some of my thoughts on the Monoprice MM-5R sound signature and presentation.
The Monoprice MM-5R treble is precise, intense and revealing. The treble is some of the best I have heard whether it be in an IEM, headphone or speaker in regards to how much it reveals. The precision of the treble is like a surgeon in a life or death emergency. It cuts through in exactly the right place, has intensity that leaves its mark with authority and reveals all for your ears to diagnosis. The treble is well controlled and extends far. The tone is accurate and true. There is no doubt that I am hearing the intensions of the studio. But with that comes what I believe that the studio may not want me to hear, the flaws. The MM-5R is so revealing that at times music will just sound terrible; harsh, sharp and hot. But when the music is well recorded and mastered properly the MM-5R will bless your ears with a top-end experience that just wows your senses.
Vocals are natural and alive on the Monoprice MM-5R. Instruments surround the vocalist and it sounds cohesive and balanced. The MM-5R does a good job with clarity without going clinical. There is a realistic aura in the mids in vocals and instruments. The MM-5R has weight and density in the mids that doesn't come through often with headphones and IEM. They hit with intensity and then dissipate as the weight and density takes them away allowing for another intense hit. The Monoprice MM-5R tone is accurate and true.
If there is one minor gripe that I have with the Monoprice MM-5R it is the bass. This doesn't mean that I am not a fan of the bass but I think it could be better. Sub bass is rolled off and very lackluster. Most of the presence comes from the mid and upper bass. Sub bass rolls off significantly around 80 hz and doesn't exist much at all and will distort very easily on bassier tracks. In the mid and upper bass there is plenty to enjoy. The details that the mid and upper bass produce is satisfying as you can enjoy all the various kicks, thumps and rolls that are present. The separation of instruments is good and the clarity is adequate. The tone of the bass is accurate and true but the weight and density is a bit on the light side. Introducing the Monoprice Premium Select 8" sub woofer helps the bass out in a mighty way.
With the sub woofer crossover set to come in around 100hz and volume set at 40% helps the bass get a bump in weight and density and that sub bass heft that was missing. You get the sensation that the bass is produced from the MM5R instead of the sub woofer. All of a sudden you can play those bass heavy tracks and not get distortion and the music feels awake and energetic. There is a small rumble and a presence while still maintaining control and revealing details.
I have already hinted several times about the detail and resolution of the Monoprice MM-5R so this will be brief. The amount of details that the MM-5R retrieve throughout is incredible; there is a lot to digest. The resolution of all those details are crazy good but that has pros and cons. The pro is that you can use the MM-5R for a critical listening moment and the con is you can use the MM-5R for a critical listening moment. The revealing nature of the detail resolution can be overwhelming, especially on poor recordings.
I have mentioned several times about the Monoprice MM-5R tone and timbre so this will be brief as well. I find that the tone is accurate and true; there is a life like aura to the MM-5R. But the timbre, especially in the treble, has a slight metallic twinge. I find that the metallic timbre is revealed most often on poor recordings.
Speakers just have a way with soundstage and imaging that headphones and IEM can't replicate. The Monoprice MM-5R doesn't disappoint when it comes to the imaging. Details, vocals, instruments and all the such are all presented in a realistic scene for your ears to dissect. You can follow along as a drummer goes to town on his kit or as a vocalist walks from one side of the stage to the other. Movements are tracked with precision and permanent, stationary sounds are easily located. There is good depth and layering that will envelope you and present in way that makes you feel like you are watching from the front rows. You can sense a difference between venue sizes and live and studio recordings.
Now this is where things become very different but similar. Until I experienced passive speakers in my own surroundings I didn't really understand the difference. I can totally off my rocker, wouldn't be the first time I was told that, but I believe that passive speakers sound better.
Versus the Kanto Yumi the MM-5R is better in all regards except for timbre. The Yumi just doesn't have the technical chops to hang with the MM-5R. The MM-5R are a big leap from the Yumi.
Comparing to the Sony SSCS5 the MM-5R has competition in treble but is bested slightly with timbre and extension.
The Wharfedale D310 to MM-5R comparison reveals that the MM-5R has competition in tone and timbre and sweetness of sound, with the D310 rising as the champion by a slight marging.
Martin Logan Motion 15 is a refined and defined version of the MM-5R. It really is no competition as the Motion 15 bests the MM-5R in all categories with ease.
Over the past few years I have experienced speakers in a limited capacity and have enjoyed the journey so far BUT I know that there is a lot more to experience. For a desktop setup that doesn't require much setup or space the Monoprice MM-5R are a solid option and price.
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Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality
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Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage, layering and placement
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Pain of Salvation “Stress” - bass and percussion balance
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Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics
Hans Zimmer: “2049” - sub bass extension
Cher: “Believe” - sibilance
Stanley Clarke - “Passenger 57 main title” - percussion, bass, separation and placement
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - “The Pine of the Appian Way” - soundstage, imaging, separation, dynamic range
Houston Person - “You are my Sunshine” - tone and timbre
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