Monoprice Encore B6 Bookshelf Speaker Review

  • Monday, Dec 6, 2021
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Foreword / YouTube Video Review

These speakers were sent to me by Monoprice directly. Monoprice has not seen this review yet and has had no say in what I publish.

The review on this website is a brief overview and summary of the objective performance of this speaker. It is not intended to be a deep dive. Moreso, this is information for those who prefer “just the facts” and prefer to have the data without the filler. The video below has more discussion.

< coming soon >





Information and Photos

Some specs from the manufacturer:

The Monolith™ Encore series of speakers brings astounding audio performance to any room! Featuring a silk dome tweeter with distinctive tweeter waveguide, powerful woofers, and ultra‑sturdy cabinets, the Encore series delivers affordable, high performance audio. Immersive, room filling sound, an accurate midrange, and crisp, natural highs ensure an exciting and pleasurable listening experience!

  • Color and Finish: Black PVC
  • Woofer: 1x 6.5” Long Fiber Pulp Cone with NBR Surround
  • Tweeter: 1x 25mm Silk Dome with Waveguide
  • Enclosure: Vented MDF cabinet with horizontal shelf bracing
  • Frequency Response: 49Hz ~ 20kHz
  • Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 85.0dB (2.83V@1m)
  • Crossover: Low: 1.2kHz @12dB/octave
  • Crossover: High: 1.2kHz @18dB/octave
  • Inputs: 5‑way binding posts
  • Dimensions: 15.7” x 7.9” x 9.9” (400 x 201 x 251 mm)
  • Weight: 15.4 lbs. (7.0 kg)

Price is approximately $179 USD each, making a pair cost about $360 USD.

If you are interested in purchasing this speaker, please consider using the following affiliate link which earns me a small commission at no additional cost to you: Buy from Monoprice

Check out this gloss top (and bottom, not pictured). This is unexpected for this price range. specs

Grille and back. specs





CTA-2034 (SPINORAMA) and Accompanying Data

All data collected using Klippel’s Near-Field Scanner. The Near-Field-Scanner 3D (NFS) offers a fully automated acoustic measurement of direct sound radiated from the source under test. The radiated sound is determined in any desired distance and angle in the 3D space outside the scanning surface. Directivity, sound power, SPL response and many more key figures are obtained for any kind of loudspeaker and audio system in near field applications (e.g. studio monitors, mobile devices) as well as far field applications (e.g. professional audio systems). Utilizing a minimum of measurement points, a comprehensive data set is generated containing the loudspeaker’s high resolution, free field sound radiation in the near and far field. For a detailed explanation of how the NFS works and the science behind it, please watch the below discussion with designer Christian Bellmann:




The reference plane in this test is between the midwoofer and waveguide as most waveguided designs are designed with this as the vertical listening axis. The data tends to back this assumption up as this is the most linear response, vertically speaking. The speaker was measured with the grille off, in ported configuration unless otherwise noted.

Measurements are provided in a format in accordance with the Standard Method of Measurement for In-Home Loudspeakers (ANSI/CTA-2034-A R-2020). For more information, please see this link.

CTA-2034 / SPINORAMA:

The On-axis Frequency Response (0°) is the universal starting point and in many situations it is a fair representation of the first sound to arrive at a listener’s ears.

The Listening Window is a spatial average of the nine amplitude responses in the ±10º vertical and ±30º horizontal angular range. This encompasses those listeners who sit within a typical home theater audience, as well as those who disregard the normal rules when listening alone.

The Early Reflections curve is an estimate of all single-bounce, first-reflections, in a typical listening room.

Sound Power represents all of the sounds arriving at the listening position after any number of reflections from any direction. It is the weighted rms average of all 70 measurements, with individual measurements weighted according to the portion of the spherical surface that they represent.

Sound Power Directivity Index (SPDI): In this standard the SPDI is defined as the difference between the listening window curve and the sound power curve.

Early Reflections Directivity Index (EPDI): is defined as the difference between the listening window curve and the early reflections curve. In small rooms, early reflections figure prominently in what is measured and heard in the room so this curve may provide insights into potential sound quality.

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Early Reflections Breakout:

Floor bounce: average of 20º, 30º, 40º down

Ceiling bounce: average of 40º, 50º, 60º up

Front wall bounce: average of 0º, ± 10º, ± 20º, ± 30º horizontal

Side wall bounces: average of ± 40º, ± 50º, ± 60º, ± 70º, ± 80º horizontal

Rear wall bounces: average of 180º, ± 90º horizontal

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Estimated In-Room Response:

In theory, with complete 360-degree anechoic data on a loudspeaker and sufficient acoustical and geometrical data on the listening room and its layout it would be possible to estimate with good precision what would be measured by an omnidirectional microphone located in the listening area of that room. By making some simplifying assumptions about the listening space, the data set described above permits a usefully accurate preview of how a given loudspeaker might perform in a typical domestic listening room. Obviously, there are no guarantees, because individual rooms can be acoustically aberrant. Sometimes rooms are excessively reflective (“live”) as happens in certain hot, humid climates, with certain styles of interior décor and in under-furnished rooms. Sometimes rooms are excessively “dead” as in other styles of décor and in some custom home theaters where acoustical treatment has been used excessively. This form of post processing is offered only as an estimate of what might happen in a domestic living space with carpet on the floor and a “normal” amount of seating, drapes and cabinetry.

For these limited circumstances it has been found that a usefully accurate Predicted In-Room (PIR) amplitude response, also known as a “room curve” is obtained by a weighted average consisting of 12 % listening window, 44 % early reflections and 44 % sound power. At very high frequencies errors can creep in because of excessive absorption, microphone directivity, and room geometry. These discrepancies are not considered to be of great importance.

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Horizontal Frequency Response (0° to ±90°): specs

Vertical Frequency Response (0° to ±40°): specs

Horizontal Contour Plot (not normalized): specs

Horizontal Contour Plot (normalized): specs

Vertical Contour Plot (not normalized): specs

Vertical Contour Plot (normalized): specs

“Globe” Plots

Horizontal Polar (Globe) Plot:
This represents the sound field at 2 meters - above 200Hz - per the legend in the upper left. specs


Vertical Polar (Globe) Plot:
This represents the sound field at 2 meters - above 200Hz - per the legend in the upper left. specs





Additional Measurements


On-Axis Response Linearity

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Impedance Magnitude and Phase + Equivalent Peak Dissipation Resistance (EPDR)


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Near-Field Response

Nearfield response of individual drive units: specs




Harmonic Distortion

Harmonic Distortion at 86dB @ 1m: specs

Harmonic Distortion at 96dB @ 1m: specs




Dynamic Range (Instantaneous Compression Test)

The below graphic indicates just how much SPL is lost (compression) or gained (enhancement; usually due to distortion) when the speaker is played at higher output volumes instantly via a 2.7 second logarithmic sine sweep referenced to 76dB at 1 meter. The signals are played consecutively without any additional stimulus applied. Then normalized against the 76dB result.

The tests are conducted in this fashion:

  1. 76dB at 1 meter (baseline; black)
  2. 86dB at 1 meter (red)
  3. 96dB at 1 meter (blue)
  4. 102dB at 1 meter (purple)

The purpose of this test is to illustrate how much (if at all) the output changes as a speaker’s components temperature increases (i.e., voice coils, crossover components) instantaneously.

specs




Long Term Compression Tests

The below graphics indicate how much SPL is lost or gained in the long-term as a speaker plays at the same output level for 2 minutes, in intervals. Each graphic represents a different SPL: 86dB and 96dB both at 1 meter.

The purpose of this test is to illustrate how much (if at all) the output changes as a speaker’s components temperature increases (i.e., voice coils, crossover components).

The tests are conducted in this fashion:

  1. “Cold” logarithmic sine sweep (no stimulus applied beforehand)
  2. Multitone stimulus played at desired SPL/distance for 2 minutes; intended to represent music signal
  3. Interim logarithmic sine sweep (no stimulus applied beforehand) (Red in graphic)
  4. Multitone stimulus played at desired SPL/distance for 2 minutes; intended to represent music signal
  5. Final logarithmic sine sweep (no stimulus applied beforehand) (Blue in graphic)

The red and blue lines represent changes in the output compared to the initial “cold” test.

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Grille Effect (On-Axis)

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Parting / Random Thoughts

If you want to see the music I use for evaluating speakers subjectively, see my Spotify playlist.

I always listen to speakers before I measure them. This ensures I am not swayed by the measurements before I listen.

  • The bass is pretty darn nice. In my case, the speakers were away from the walls about 3 feet and while there wasn’t a lot of low bass, the midbass had a nice ‘attack’ to it. I attribute some of this to the mild bump at 100Hz but also to the extended port tuning that puts the F3 point at about 68Hz with an F10 at about 37Hz. Placement near a wall will help this but since you have a port here, you’ll need to be careful. It might be worth you taking the time to try stuffing a rag in the port and putting the speaker a bit closer to the wall (say, like you might a surround speaker in a home theater) and see if you like the response.
  • While the distortion profile is respectable, I still recommend treating these as you would a similar sized bookshelf speaker by crossing them over to a subwoofer. The typical electrical filter on AVRs of 80Hz would be a reasonable place to start here.
  • Listening on-axis is not recommended here. I recommend turning the speakers off-axis. How much is up to you but I think 10° is sufficient. The reason for this is to tame some of the on-axis peak/dip caused by the waveguide/baffle symmetry. Though, to be honest, a lot of the peaks/dips in the high frequency area aren’t as troubling as the data might indicate. Hearing these kinds of things is something that should be tested blindly but simply from the perspective of knowing it’s going to be there; it might be prudent to at least play with this aiming.
  • I use my music app and applied a single band of EQ at 4kHz (-3dB, Q = 3) and found the speaker to be much more pleasant. When toggling the EQ on/off it was pretty evident that the 3-4kHz peak shown in the Estimated In-Room response was causing a bit of ‘edge’ that I wasn’t fond of.
  • Vertical positioning should be between the waveguide and midwoofer, though, interestingly, the data indicates that the response is rather neutral at +30° (but not so much at +10° or +20°.)
  • Horizontal radiation in my listening session was nice. Not super wide, but it seemed to be reasonably even in the room with respect to the on-axis response vs what was reflected and how that impacts the overall timbre of the sound. Though, as expected, the waveguide does narrow the response in the higher frequencies, it isn’t extreme and yields a horizontal radiation pattern of about ±50° from 800Hz to 10kHz. The radiation is about ±75° from 300Hz to 800Hz and below this it is going omnidirectional.

While the data isn’t perfect, the attributes of this speaker relative to its price make it an option worth considering. From sound quality to looks, it’s a little of everything at a relatively low price. You get decent response and you get a nice looking speaker with the typical black veneer on the sides but the added gloss top and bottom that take it from a “plain” speaker to one that might fool your friends and/or significant other … heck, maybe even yourself, into thinking you spent a couple hundred bucks more than you did.

As stated in the Foreword, this written review is purposely a cliff’s notes version. For more details about the performance (objectively and subjectively) please watch the YouTube video.



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