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Monoprice Encore B6 Bookshelf Review (by Erin)

sweetchaos

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Link to @hardisj review

They are US$360/pair.

DSC02703.jpeg


CEA2034 -- Monoprice Encore B6.png


Monoprice Encore B6 Horizontal Contour Plot (Normalized).png



Monoprice Encore B6 Vertical Contour Plot (Normalized).png

Monoprice Encore B6_Compression.png



Monoprice Encore B6 Harmonic Distortion (86dB @ 1m).png



Monoprice Encore B6 Harmonic Distortion (96dB @ 1m).png

Erin's conclusion:
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.

Discuss!
 
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alex-z

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Monoprice loses points just for their own advertising.


They are using a substantial amount of smoothing in their frequency response graph, which makes the mid-range and upper treble look much better.

Port design seems sloppy. Lots of compression, and a compromised F3 point for the low F10 point. Maybe they wanted the sealed response curve but the woofer wasn't suitable.
 

hardisj

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@sweetchaos is a ninja. I’m convinced.

FWIW, I’ve got the towers and center for review.

I am also re-running the measurement on the B6 but with the reference plane at the tweeter axis. As I stated in my review:
“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.”

Though, if I find the tweeter axis does yield a better result then I’ll update the review with that information instead.
 

hardisj

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Also, FWIW, I emailed Hobie @ Monoprice last night to tell him my review was up so he could check it out. This is what I said and I stand by:

I am curious what you think about my final conclusions regarding performance vs looks vs price. I think this is a good compromise between all three and I find it kind of refreshing to be honest to see a speaker that doesn't look like total junk. We know the performance can be better but I don't know that you'd have been able to do it without driving the cost up a good bit more.

And since most here won’t go to my page to look, here is a picture of the gloss top. This isn't something you expect from a $170 speaker which I think is a welcome change to the budget market.

And to be clear, I am not saying I would take a speaker that performs like garbage as long as it is pretty. I am saying that I think the overall performance of this speaker is fair (preference score = 4.4, IIRC), it sounds pretty good, looks nice (to me) and is only $360/pair. When you talk about "compromise", I think this speaker is probably one of the better ones at making a compromise in all facets to make it a well-rounded option for someone on a budget.

1638894968768.jpeg
 
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hardisj

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Oh, and for context, here’s my conclusion:

  • 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, high output listening or home theater 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 nice 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.
 
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joentell

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@hardisj MEASUREMENTS??? I just use my ears! Am I in the wrong place?

I'm just thinking that a lot of people will see that 9khz on-axis dip and think it's a garbage speaker when I don't believe it is. Looking at the Estimated In-Room Response, it seems that on-axis was purposely sacrificed for off-axis response as some designers do.

I maybe listening to a lot of 9khz content today to see what happens.
 
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hardisj

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I'm just thinking that a lot of people will see that 9khz on-axis dip and think it's a garbage speaker when I don't believe it is. Looking at the Estimates In-Room Response, it seems that on-axis was purposely sacrificed for off-axis response as some designers do.

I maybe listening to a lot of 9khz content today to see what happens.

It's not so much that. You do have the typical waveguide cancellation when directly on-axis. This occurs (as you noted before) in practically every waveguided design. The severity changes depending on where the reference axis is (above/below the waveguide vs on-axis). This is also why many manufacturers of waveguide designs (from typical dome tweeter in a waveguide to coaxial designs) recommend the user listen off-axis; typically 10 degrees is the norm.

Also consider the 1/20-th octave resolution here ain't doing no favors to these very high-Q peaks and dips. If you set the smoothing to even 1/6-th octave they smooth right out. I think it might even be more worthwhile to load the on-axis response into REW and apply the psychoacoustic smoothing to see what happens.

So, yes, I agree that this is an example where the measurements can sure make a mountain out of a molehill. I hear it from manufacturers of these designs a lot and I understand where they are coming from. This is inherent to these designs and a necessary evil, it seems. It would be interesting to have someone such as Jack Oclee-Brown, Andrew Jones, Charles Sprinkle, etc... folks who are known for their great designs of speakers like this to provide some commentary here. Maybe that's something I can try to pursue on the side and put together some replies so we (as a community) can put some rationale to the measurements' importance at these high frequencies when the deviation is a known quantity. Alternatively, maybe @René - Acculution.com could shed some light on this topic?
 

joentell

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It's not so much that. You do have the typical waveguide cancellation when directly on-axis. This occurs (as you noted before) in practically every waveguided design. The severity changes depending on where the reference axis is (above/below the waveguide vs on-axis). This is also why many manufacturers of waveguide designs (from typical dome tweeter in a waveguide to coaxial designs) recommend the user listen off-axis; typically 10 degrees is the norm.

Also consider the 1/20-th octave resolution here ain't doing no favors to these very high-Q peaks and dips. If you set the smoothing to even 1/6-th octave they smooth right out. I think it might even be more worthwhile to load the on-axis response into REW and apply the psychoacoustic smoothing to see what happens.

So, yes, I agree that this is an example where the measurements can sure make a mountain out of a molehill. I hear it from manufacturers of these designs a lot and I understand where they are coming from. This is inherent to these designs and a necessary evil, it seems. It would be interesting to have someone such as Jack Oclee-Brown, Andrew Jones, Charles Sprinkle, etc... folks who are known for their great designs of speakers like this to provide some commentary here. Maybe that's something I can try to pursue on the side and put together some replies so we (as a community) can put some rationale to the measurements' importance at these high frequencies when the deviation is a known quantity. Alternatively, maybe @René - Acculution.com could shed some light on this topic?
So I don't have to listen to too many 9khz test tones and pink noise, which I will do anyway, do you have any tracks you recommend that maybe highlight the 9khz dip. I'm gonna run through my normal tracks using one the Encores and another speaker that doesn't have that same dip and I'll see if I can find something. I'll post if I do.
 

gmoney

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The great thing about Monoprice stuff is that it's $360 a pair now but will without a doubt be $250-280 a pair during some sale in the near future.
 

joentell

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The great thing about Monoprice stuff is that it's $360 a pair now but will without a doubt be $250-280 a pair during some sale in the near future.
What's your definition of near future? Black Friday and Cyber Monday just passed. I hope you're right, because I was planning on buying some more as height speakers to match my ear-level speakers. I don't think they will because I assume their margins are already lower than most in the industry. Maybe b-stock.
 

joentell

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Funny. I'm playing pink noise between 8khz-10khz, and it sounds like the noise you'd expect from a bunch of crickets at night if you want an idea of what that range sounds like.
 
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joentell

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Ok, it's really difficult to listen for what's missing, so I had to play the Encore B6 with another speaker that I know doesn't have a dip in that region, the Polk R200. I can kind of hear a difference in clarity on this track with lots of percussion instruments: O-Zone Percussion Group: Bamba (La) (O-Zone Percussion Group). I could hear a bit of a dip in those frequencies, but still tough for me to notice even when I'm looking for it. I guess if you listen to a lot of stuff like this, maybe consider other speakers. Listening off-axis helps by dropping all the high frequencies slightly, but that 8-9khz drops off slower, making the dip less pronounced. You might prefer this anyway if you want a more neutral response, as the frequencies above 2khz are slightly elevated.
 

q3cpma

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Very good! Distortion was a bit worrying with 1% of H3 at 86 dB, but it stays the same at 96, so no problem (especially with both pair gain and boundary gain). The thing at 10 kHz (some resonance or soft tweeter early breakup, seeing the compression result) is of small consequence on music material.
 

q3cpma

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It's not so much that. You do have the typical waveguide cancellation when directly on-axis. This occurs (as you noted before) in practically every waveguided design. The severity changes depending on where the reference axis is (above/below the waveguide vs on-axis).
This isn't diffraction, otherwise the LW/on-axis difference would be greater.

EDIT: or maybe it is, it shows in the raw contours, but my point still stands. And the short term compression test having a fit at that exact point points to something else (breakup/resonance possibly from the horn itself).
 
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joentell

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This isn't diffraction, otherwise the LW/on-axis difference would be greater.

EDIT: or maybe it is, it shows in the raw contours, but my point still stands. And the short term compression test having a fit at that exact point points to something else (breakup/resonance possibly from the horn itself).
I think diffraction from the waveguide when the mic is placed directly on-axis to the tweeter. Simply blocking the center point with your thumb makes the dip flatten out. Moving the mic slightly off-axis greatly reduces the severity of the dip.
 
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