Saturday, April 10, 2010

Profile: Monsoon MH-505 5.1 surround sound speakers

For my first profile I will be starting with my very own set of speakers, Monsoon's multimedia flagship model, the fantastic MH-505's.


Thanks to the wonders of the Internet Archive, we are able to go back and pull some of the specs and media points on the MH-505's. Here they are:


The MH-505 is a six-piece, full surround 120 Wmax (85 W RMS) system incorporating a newly-developed high-powered bandpass subwoofer and revolutionary PFT™ Planar Focus Technology. By offering directional control, extremely fast transient response, and very low distortion, the MH-505 sets a bold new price-performance benchmark for surround sound systems.

This 5.1 Surround Sound System ensures that you'll never experience DVDs, 3D gaming, or Internet audio the same way again, as Monsoon delivers the clear highs and booming "front row center" sound of home theater, right at your computer. Comes with four high-performance flat panel satellite speakers with revolutionary PFT™ Planar Focus Technology, one center channel satellite speaker, an integrated bandpass subwoofer, one surround-sound control module, one AC adapter and connection cables. Optional high-quality metal floor stands available separately.

Just U.S. $179.99. Three ways to order:

For use with 5.1 Channel Soundcards (Backwards Compatible for users with 4 Channel Soundcards).


MH-505 System Specifications:

  • Front L-R, rear L-R satellites: 3 x 5-inch dipole-radiating PFT™ high frequency transducer*; 2.5-inch cone driver, midrange, — 0.30 liter sealed
  • Center channel satellite: 2.5-inch full range cone driver, 0.30 liter sealed
  • Amplifier power: 120 Wmax**, 85 Wrms
  • Crossover: Active, third order at 200 Hz; Passive, second order at 1500 Hz
  • Subwoofer drive unit: 5.25 inch cone driver, Xmax = ± 5mm
  • Subwoofer cabinet: 6.75 liter bandpass, tuned to 110 Hz; 9.50" H x 7.25" W x 10.88" D
  • Controls on subwoofer: None
  • Controls on surround-sound control module: Master volume, bass volume, fader control, headphone jack, mute and system status indicator
  • System frequency response: 50 Hz -
    20 kHz (in workstation environment)
  • Maximum SPL at 0.5 meters: 105 dB using EIA 426B noise
Amazing that so much sound could be bought for so little money. My own set was on sale for $150.00 US when I bought them. What a deal!

Of course, the key to this system was not the (admittedly underpowered) sub-woofer, but the absolutely fantastic PFT speakers that made up the right and left front and rear channels. These speakers are capable of such utterly perfect audio imagery that they rival speakers that cost as much as 10 times more. the MH-505's are truly the ultimate "audiophile" multimedia 5.1 surround sound system.

At the time of release, these speakers were given thorough reviews by most of the major online review sites of the day. Many of these reviews are still up and available today. Here are a few links:

IGN Review

Macworld review

Extreme tech review *** This is a particularly good review that even includes cross-section graphics of the Flat Panel speakers. I highly recommend this review.***

Of course, like all of the Monsoon multimedia systems, the Achilles Heel of the MH-505's is that horrific sub-woofer. Specifically, the circuit board and the utterly cheap components that it is made of. The speaker cone itself is actually quite good. However it is driven by a totally inadequate control system.

Sadly, due to the rather murky way in which Monsoon perished there is little evidence available to tell us exactly why such a poor control board was paired with such fantastic speakers. Most of the people I have spoken to simply pin it on cost control.

Essentially, to hit that fantastic price point something had to be sacrificed. Since the Flat panel speakers, being the centerpiece of the system, couldn't be cut, something else had to give. That was (apparently) the control system embedded into the sub-woofer.

The primary failure point of these control systems was the connection to the "control pot". The 9 pin DIN connectors that were used were of such inferior quality that they often developed shorts within a year or two of ownership. Alternately, problems would develop elsewhere on the board itself, causing low-frequency buzzing and humming in the sub-woofer. (My own sub-woofer suffered this fate.)

But the satellite speakers, those wonderful, wonderful PFT speakers. They are like gold. If you have a set, hold onto them!

The MH-505's appear to have been the last set of speakers designed by Sonigistics before they were bought out by Level 9 sound, and then eventually by Eastech. Once bought out, no more 5.1 systems were designed, (Although the 4.1 surround MM-2000's were released later at a much higher price point.) and the design and marketing focus shifted to the Automotive sound department.

So raise a toast to the great swan song of Monsoon Multimedia, the glorious MH-505 5.1 surround sound speaker system.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Monsoon licensed their technology from Eminent Technology... While Monsoon may be gone, Eminent Technology still exists, and they make 2 channel and 4 channel multimedia speakers... the "LFT-11"...

it requires an external amp, and if you want 5.1 surround you'll need your own center channel... but it's higher quality than Monsoon...

Seth said...

Thanks for creating this page. I am the somewhat proud owner of a set of these speakers. I say 'somewhat' because of the crappy amp board powering this set. I had all sorts of scratching noises coming from my speakers. After opening and spraying the control puck pots with contact cleaner, I realized that the problem was coming from inside the sub box. So, I ordered up a replacement 9-pin connector and opened up the sub box. After soldering on the new part, it still didn't do the trick, so I ordered replacement amp chips, diodes, and cleaned ALL contacts. Apparently I screwed something up because now I have a classic Jacob's Ladder sound (climbing electrical arc) and one of the amplifier IC's gets very hot. I don't suppose anyone knows where to get a replacement board? I'm using a Dell sub to power everything nowadays, but it's worse than the original. Other than that, this was a fantastic set when new and they still beat the sound of any other satellites I've heard for the PC.

BigRick said...

I have that scratching noise as well. It comes and goes. I've had the speakers since 2004. Oh how I love thee. I wonder if I could find control module will it stop with all the scratching?de

AJ said...

I have these since 2004 and they are still very good. They produce very good detail and bass, although the volume knob is causes some distortion when adjusting it, rest all is still awesome. I am wondering if I can hook the PFTs separately with an AVR and replace the sub with something big. I need some tech. specs on the PFTs.

Funny story: I bought these when I was in Grad school from a student for $20.. yes $20. And when I moved I had to leave them behind, since I was taking so much stuff with me, thinking I will ship these later. It cost me $150 to ship these! But I still have them .. for 7 yrs now and still impressed.

Anonymous said...

I have some Monsoon MH 500's that I really need new cables for....the one w/ the yellow & green plugs and "vol puck".....looked everywhere!!! any ideas

Andy
Tarpon00@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Ok...so I just cut out the Puck from the line.....since it swas messed up. Took it out all together.
I connected the reds together , connected the whites together and connected the "bare" wires together.....basically just took out vol control all together. I will just use computer vol control. But.....I have no sound now? nothin? Shouldn't that work? PLEASE HELP!!!

Anonymous said...

I am selling my set on EBay

http://www.ebay.com/itm/110861938331

Ragsman said...

Hey i have a set of these Monsoon MH-505 5.1 i got them new in 2001 at a comp usa store in tn for 179.99 and i have never had a problem with them knock on wood and its 2012 now and 5 new computer builds later...Love them very much great gaming,music and movie speakers and i also still have the box they came in and all the paper work to...

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just got the whole 5.1 system at a sale, but it didn't have the audio input cables (the ones from the computer to the subwoofer, the front/ rear/center and subwoofer cables)
any thoughts or information as to the type of cables and where I could get them would be much appreciated. Even if someone could post a picture of the cables, then I would know what to get.

Thank you

jowdjbrown said...

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet Archive, we are able to go back and pull some of the specs and media points on the MH-505's. Here they are:ikinci el amplifikatör