Full Review: Monolith MM-3 Powered Multimedia Speaker System

Manufacturer & Model
Monoprice Monolith MM-3 Powered Multimedia Speaker System
MSRP
$199
Link
https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=35373&gclid=Cj0KCQjw753rBRCVARIsANe3o479hiks3mA7uwJOxKUSiM0tFRlWwemiHLxVRVPzMxI5BE7Eixoouf8aAggIEALw_wcB
Highlights
Affordably priced, onboard 50 watt Class D amplification, both wired and wireless connectivity, impressively nuanced sound, excellent bass playback, speaker stands included.
Summary
The Monolith MM-3 Speaker System delivers a surprisingly refined sound while offering buyers access to competitive pricing. The system is driven by a 50 watt onboard Class D amplifier and carries both RCA, mini-stereo, and Bluetooth 4.0 aptX connectivity. The overall package is impressive, making the MM-3 Speaker System easy to recommend.
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Monoprice’s advanced lineup of Monolith branded gear has shattered the brand’s low-budget image. Initially launched three years ago, Monolith has earned a solid reputation for delivering affordable enthusiast-grade performance across a range of product categories, including desktop audio. The MM-3 Powered Multimedia Speaker System – featured in this review – marks Monoprice’s first stab at delivering ultra-compact sound under the Monolith banner. And with placement versatility paired with optional wireless connectivity, the MM-3 is an intriguing jack-of-all-trades that carries a curiously notable sonic whip.

The MM-3’s price point ($199) isn’t significantly less than some of the competition but shaves off just enough to keep a nice chunk of change in the pocket. Luckily, saving some cash doesn’t mean settling for sub-standard quality. Far from it, as the MM-3 feels excellent in the hands, boasting a solid presence that matches its strikingly good looks. And as an added benefit, Monoprice has included free speaker stands, making the MM-3 performance-ready right out of the box.


Unboxing and Set Up
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Much like other Monolith products I’ve encountered, the MM-3 ships in competent packaging. My particular review samples arrived double boxed, well-protected, and in mint condition. If you’re curious to see the speaker unboxed, click on the video below.


Contents in the box included two wooden speaker stands, 16 self-stick isolation pads, a thick 80” long four-pin connection cable, a 58” long 3.5mm TRS cable, an external power supply (4.25” x 1.25” x 2”), and a simple User Manual.

Setting up the MM-3 was a rather straight forward process. I applied isolation pads to the bottom side of each speaker and stand, positioned the speakers on either side of my monitor (roughly 2’ apart), connected three cables, and was off and running. The master speaker, which houses the system’s power amp, has an on/off switch on the rear that, when engaged, results in an audible tone and illumination of the speaker’s forward-facing indicator light. The system does not have a standby or auto mode, so it’s up to the user to manually power the speakers (which is easy to do with a blind hand).

Demo tracks for this review were sourced from TIDAL, accessed through a Mac desktop (3.5mm cable) and iPhone X (Bluetooth 4.0). Much like the on/off switch, the speaker’s rear-mounted Bluetooth pairing button is easy to find with the fingers, and the pairing process proved to be familiar and intuitive, guided by tone and light indicators.

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Once deployed, initial impressions of the system were extremely positive. The speakers present with a subtle yet modern appearance thanks to their mysterious-looking drivers, smooth rounded corners, and velvety low-sheen finish. It’s worth noting the MM-3 does not ship with speaker grilles, so if you have young ones with curious fingers, the speaker might not survive long-term. Beyond looks, the included stands sufficiently aim the speakers toward the head. While adjustable stands would ultimately allow for additional fine-tuning, Monoprice’s static stands and isolation pads are perfectly serviceable.

The backside of the system presents a slightly different story than the front. There, associated cables and a moderately sized power supply can result in some unsightly bulk. Of course, cable management solutions are available, but if you’re a stickler for neatness and lack cable management options, take note.


Speaker Design and Specifications
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The MM-3 is an active speaker design that utilizes a master/slave power concept. The master speaker houses a 50 watt Class D amplifier that reserves 2x15 watts for both 3” polypropylene woofers and 2x8 watts for the ¾” silk dome tweeters. That power is pushed to the slave speaker through a 4-pin cable.

The speakers weigh roughly 3 lbs. each and measure 4.3” W x 7.1” T x 5.7” D, so they’re space friendly and easy to manage. As mentioned, overall build quality feels rock-solid in the hands, with both rear-ported MDF cabinets graced by an attractive satin finish. The finish is so perfect that each cabinet appears to be made from molded plastic – alas, they aren't. And, further proving its impressive physical presence, knocking on either cabinet delivers a muted thud.

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Connectivity-wise, Monoprice’s engineers endowed the MM-3 with two wired (stereo RCA and single 3.5mm) and one wireless (Bluetooth 4.0 aptX) input options, making connectivity to a computer, a handheld device, or traditional external player possible. And output isn’t limited to the system’s drivers, as the master speaker also carries a front-mounted 3.5mm headphone jack.

Monoprice rates the speaker’s performance down to 55 Hz. According to my own cursory in-room measurements using REW and a UMIK-1 microphone (speaker positioned on my desk, 1 meter from mic), the output was able to hit down to factory specs. Please keep in mind, this kind of assessment might produce different results in your own space. However, I’m reasonably confident my impressions and cursory evaluation will hold true for most small room environments.


Playback
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I spent nearly a week feeding the MM-3 system reams of familiar content and it proved to be a fun and confident performer for nearfield stereo playback. The system is capable of throwing a detailed stereo image etched with texture and clarity. “Welcome to the Party” (Dipolo, Zahvia Ward, French Montana, Lil Pump) via Bluetooth immediately challenged the MM-3’s low-end competency. Resulting bass was taut and full of depth, planting low frequencies firmly in the center of the soundstage while filling the air with a blooming vibrancy you’d expect to hear from much larger speakers. And highs were silky smooth, possessing a neutrality that didn’t hint at fatigue.

A similar lively experience was found with BORNS’ “Seeing Stars,” which threw an impressive musical canvas. Most intriguing was the laid back nature of the song’s sharper points, which were kept palatable and in-check. And for another bass-laden affair, I reached for Robyn’s thumping “Dancing on My Own,” which hammered away with dynamic channel separation.

The MM-3 has an operational presence that can entertain for long periods without wearing down your ears.

For lighter fare, I dug into one my favorite demo albums: Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me. Smoothness was immediately apparent as Jones’ smoky voice took a position several feet behind my monitor, with all of its eloquent subtleties revealed. “Don’t Know Why” flowed to impressive heights, sounding as soft and refined as I hoped it would. And “Feelin’ the Same Way” allowed the MM-3 to strut its bass prowess, with the song’s bass guitar sounding defined and delicately structured.

Come Away with Me was a great proving ground for the MM-3, providing my ears with endless hours of enjoyment. Quite honestly, it was difficult to place the speaker’s full-spectrum sound with its relatively diminutive physical nature. Time and time again, the speaker hit all the right notes as I hopped between favorite albums, whether it was Very Best of The Samples, The Human Condition, or Syro, the MM-3s put on a great show. And when pushed (dynamic peaks hitting near 100 dB) the speaker didn’t seem to flinch. That said, its bass capabilities become clipped when volume levels are pushed to uncomfortably high levels (e.g., 110dB).

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For a bit of headphone testing, I grabbed my reference OPPO PM-3 headphones. Any hiss or noisefloor was inaudible until the speaker’s volume control was turned to max, and even then it was very subtle. Overall sound quality seemed to be good with plenty of pep; no complaints here.

The MM-3 threw such an impressively wide soundstage on my desktop, I decided to challenge it with media system duties in a 14’ x 18’ room. With the speakers delicately balanced on slightly large IsoAcoustics Aperta stands, I positioned the speakers on a media console that resides beneath a 65” TV. The MM-3 certainly eclipsed my “larger room” expectations, standing pat as I challenged it with some familiar tracks. Bass was palpable and present as the speakers reached composed – and completely reasonable – peak levels of 85dB. It was a full-range sound experience.

A high note was the playback of a favorite album – Bleachers’ MTV Unplugged – which hung tall and wide across the resulting soundstage. While the system doesn’t compare to the sheer output capabilities of true bookshelf speakers, it can certainly be deployed as a dedicated stereo setup within a space-constrained media system or on a small bookshelf.

Conclusion
Monoprice’s Monolith MM-3 Powered Multimedia Speaker System is a solid option for enthusiasts looking to kick a desktop or small space area into audio overdrive. For a mere $199, the system delivers everything you need to enjoy a refined audio experience, even when sourcing tunes via Bluetooth. And while the MM-3 minimizes overall physical impact with its relatively small size, it delivers sonics that bloom to life for hours of fatigue-free listening. The system’s biggest drawback is extra bulk thanks to an external power supply and connection cables, but this sort of unpleasantry is possible to manage.

Overall, the Monolith MM-3 Powered Multimedia Speaker System gets two thumbs up and a confident stamp of approval.

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  • MM-3 Powered Multimedia Speaker System
  • Woofer Driver: 3" polypropylene cone
  • Tweeter Driver: 3/4" silk dome
  • Amplifier Type: Class D
  • Woofer Amplifier Power: 2x 15 watts
  • Tweeter Amplifier Power: 2x 8 watts
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz ~ 22kHz
  • Inputs: 1x 3.5mm TRS, 1x stereo RCA, 1x Bluetooth®
  • Output: 1x 3.5mm TRS headphone
  • Bluetooth® Version: 4.0
  • Audio Codec: Qualcomm® aptX™
  • Digital Signal Processor: SigmaDSP®
  • Input Power: 24 VDC, 2.5A
  • AC Adapter Input Power: 100 ~ 240 VAC, 50/60 Hz
  • Dimensions (each): 4.3" x 7.1" x 5.7" (110 x 180 x 145 mm)
  • Weight (each): 3.1 lbs. (1.4kg)
 
Last edited:

Allen Rumbaugh

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Nice review Todd.
 

Todd Anderson

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:T Great speakers!
 
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