A few months ago, Matt Moskovciak and Steve Guttenberg reviewed the Monoprice 9774, finding them to be incredibly similar to the Energy Take Classic. Too similar.
Now, we've got a new set of Monoprice speakers. How different are they (if at all?).
First up, as you might have read in the review, they look a little different. In the above image, too, you can see some subtle changes have been made. The new Monoprice speakers are a little larger, and while the drivers are similar, they're definitely different.
Let's start with the obvious, move to the less obvious, and finish with the "proof's in the puddin' tastin'" at the end (in other words, skip to the "Measurements" section if you want the short version).
I didn't have the Energys on hand, but since the old Monoprices were almost identical, and I did have those, this is 99.99 percent comparable with the Energys.
Though this is mostly obvious just by looking at the above photo, if we get up really close we can see that the drivers are certainly similar, but slightly different. The dust cap (center part) of the woofer is the most visible difference there, while the phase plug on the tweeter is smaller on the new Monoprice. The port on the back is also in a different location, though this likely matters little.
Perhaps most amusingly, the reference to the "Energy Subwoofer" in the owner's manual has been removed.
As I discussed in the original tear-down, a speaker's crossover has a ton to do with how the speakers sound. The crossovers on the 9774 and Take Classic speakers were virtually identical (not a surprise). When I first removed the crossover on the new speakers I thought "Ah-ha! Gotcha!" It looked exactly like I remembered the old Monoprice/Energy looking.
But putting them side by side revealed a potentially significant difference: one of the resistors was missing. Crossovers are typically made up of some combo of capacitors, resistors, and inductors. Removing one of these components will affect the entire speaker's performance.
Pulling apart the rest of the speaker, I was able to compare the drivers themselves. Interestingly, the model numbers on the tweeters and woofers are the same between the 9774 and the 10565. It's possible the drivers intended for this system just have those model numbers, since the woofer at least is visibly different. Or, that's just what that driver looks like now (a running change is not unheard of).
As he did with the Energy vs. Monoprice face-off, Brent Butterworth measured the new speakers. For the full story, check out his post titled "Monoprice 10565 Speaker System Measurements" (he explains everything there, too).
The short version, visible on the right, is that the new speakers are definitely different. There's a bit of a midrange push, or as Brent says, "This roughly two-octave-wide boost should be clearly audible, and should have the effect of making voices more pronounced but also giving the speakers a somewhat brighter sound." They also don't have quite the same treble response, so they might not seem quite as "open" sounding.
So if the only differences are the missing resistors, and the largely cosmetic differences in the drivers, it's very interesting to see how much an effect those little changes have on the end result.
Are these a big deal? Does it mean one is "better" than the other? Hard to say when you bring price into it. Or as Matt and Steve put it: "The Monoprice 10565 is a fantastic bargain in the same league as the Energy Take Classic speakers, but it falls just short of earning the Editors' Choice. It's a close call, but ultimately we think most buyers will prefer the Energy's more stylish design and the comfort of the longer warranty over the somewhat better sonics."
We'll never know the details of the settlement between Energy and Monoprice. Seeing as it never went to court, it's safe to assume it was something like, "Here, take this briefcase of money."
The result, however, is that Monoprice (or more accurately, Monoprice's ODM), redesigned (OK, designed) these speakers. The performance, as Matt and Steve found, is still fantastic for the money. Will you like the slightly more neutral sound of the Energy speakers versus the Monoprice? That's up to you. To me it seems this kerfuffle has led to two excellent inexpensive speaker systems. That's a win for everyone, no?
Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he's written on topics like HDMI cables, LED LCD vs. plasma, active versus passive 3D, and more. Still have a question? Send him an e-mail! He won't tell you what TV to buy, but he might use your letter in a future article. You can also send him a message on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff or Google+.