Monitor Audio’s latest compact 5.1 system uses small-scale speakers to deliver a large-scale sound. Build from the ground up, the MASS satellites and subwoofer sport a distinctive new design that allows them to blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
So if you want powerful, refined home cinema sound but you dislike clutter, then MASS could be just the ticket. At £800 it’s not the most affordable compact system around but it’s not unreasonable either, and hopefully Monitor Audio’s sonic prowess will make it worth splashing out a bit more. Let’s find out…
The system comprises four identical MASS 10 satellites, a horizontally-aligned MASS Centre and the MASS W200 active subwoofer. The satellites are simply gorgeous, with curves and a black cloth finish all the way round, contrasted beautifully at either end by an aluminium cap. The bottom one of these can be removed, revealing a pair of binding posts – screw your cables in place, pop the cap back on and all you can see is the cable emerging tidily from a hole in the back. That makes it a little trickier than usual to thread the speaker cables because the posts are low down in the recess.
Each satellite stands 224mm high, which is perfect for perching on shelves or furniture. Their build quality is superb, each one boasting a hefty, robust cabinet fashioned from damped moulded polymer with internal ribbing. It doesn’t sound hollow when you tap it, unlike some cheaper compact speakers. The curved sides aren’t just for show, they have a practical use too, helping to eliminate standing waves that can affect audio performance.
Thanks to a screw fixing on the back, you can mount the satellites on the wall using optional wall brackets. Alternatively Monitor Audio sells dedicated MASS stands (£125 a pair) with a clever cable management system – the stands are pre-wired with rods that plug into the speaker posts, so you only have to connect the wires at the bottom.
The centre speaker shares the solid build quality and gorgeous looks as the other satellites. It lies sideways on a soft rubber puck that absorbs vibration and allows the speaker to tilt. It looks stunning sat in front of our TV thanks to the glinting silver strips either side of the black cloth.
The centre can also be wall-mounted using the single point fixing on the back and again hides the binding posts under the aluminium cap – although having the cable poking out at one end looks a little awkward and unsymmetrical
Although it’s disproportionately large, the MASS W200 subwoofer’s styling matches the sats perfectly, looking like a fatter version. Similarly, black cloth extends all the way round the curved sides, while a matt finish adorns the top and on the back you’ll find a panel of sockets, including LFE in, stereo RCA in, a 3.5mm 12V trigger jack and some dials for setting the volume and crossover frequency.
As you’d expect, MASS takes advantage of Monitor Audio’s celebrated C-CAM (ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium alloy) cone technology and its light, rigid properties.
Inside the two-way MASS 10 sats, you’ll find a 4in C-CAM mid-bass driver, which is tie bolt fixed to the back of the cabinet. This not only reduces colouration but also contributes to the rigidity of the cabinet and means there are no fixings at the front. It’s joined by a 1in tweeter with a new low-profile design to help it sing within the relatively small cabinet. On the back is a Hive reflex port to optimise airflow.
The MASS Centre uses the same 4in C-CAM cone and 1in tweeter, while the subwoofer is endowed with not one but two drivers. Inside this ‘powder keg for bass’ (their words, not ours) are a side-firing 10in long-throw C-CAM bass driver and a 10in passive Auxiliary Bass Radiator (ABR). The active driver is backed by a dual-stack magnet system, while the juice is provided by a 220W DSP-controlled Class D amplifier.
On the back of the sub, you’ll find three switches, one to flip the phase by 180°, another to select the auto power mode and a third to choose between three bass modes – Movie (a flat response down to 35Hz), Music (2dB lower than Movie but dips down to 30Hz) and Impact ( 3dB louder than movie mode but goes down to 40Hz).