Freelance Contributor, TechHiveMar 7, 2023 3:00 am PST
Image: James Barber/Foundry
At a glance
No wires (other than power cords)
Rock-solid playback with zero lag
Truly immersive sound from six discrete speakers
Each speaker still requires its own power cord
Less impressive for stereo music playback
No DTS:X support
The Platin Audio Monaco 5.1.2 wireless speaker system offers true immersive surround sound—including Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos music—with almost no fuss. It’s a great option for users who stream their home entertainment.
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide
The Platin Audio Monaco 5.1.2 wireless speaker system uses the WiSA standard to deliver eight channels of audio, and it includes a pair of front speakers with up-firing drivers to produce Dolby Atmos soundtracks. It sounds great, and it makes for a straightforward and surprisingly painless way to introduce true surround sound to your home theater—even if that’s just your living room.
The Monaco 5.1.2 system is price-competitive with high-end soundbar and subwoofer pairings, but its array of small speakers—discrete front (with up-firing drivers); center; rear surrounds; and a subwoofer—delivers even better performance. This system delivers actual surround sound, instead of the mere suggestion of immersion you’ll get from a soundbar’s digital signal processing.
Wireless, however, doesn’t meant truly wireless. WiSA support enables Platin Audio to ditch the speaker cables, but each of the system’s six speakers has its own amplifier and requires a power cord. Still, that’s a much less invasive setup than running speaker wires everywhere in your home theater.
The brain of this home audio system is the WiSA SoundSend, a 4.5-inch diameter puck that plugs into your television’s eARC HDMI port (and into an electrical socket via its power cord). Think of WiSA as a more powerful alternative to Bluetooth. The hardware and software standard was developed by a consortium of home theater manufacturers—the acronym stands for Wireless Speaker & Audio Association—and it’s been around almost as long as Bluetooth.
Since it’s a dedicated wireless network, WiSA avoids the bandwidth and latency limitations that can afflict audio transmitted over Wi-Fi. WiSA delivers audio with up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution, and it supports all the important Dolby formats.
The Monaco 5.2.2 system’s two front speaker units, with up-firing Atmos drivers, measure 9.72 x 4.3 x 5.5 inches (HxWxD) each. The rear surrounds measure 6.7 x 4.3 x 5.5 inches each, and the two-way center channel speaker measures 4.3 x 10.2 x 5.5 inches. At 5.3 x 15 x 12.2 inches, the system’s low-profile subwoofer will fit underneath most couches, and in that location during my review, it gave low-frequency effects a kick that many larger subs can’t match.
The production units of this system ship with magnetic grilles covering their drivers, but the grilles weren’t yet available when I received my review, so the photos I shot show the naked version of the system. I liked the look so much that I’d leave the grilles off if I did have them.
Setting up the Monaco 5.1.2 system
The basic setup could not be easier. Each of the front and rear speakers is labeled as to where it belongs in the array. Front left, front right, surround left, and surround right are clearly indicated on each speaker, and the system will automatically send the proper sound to each unit. If you swap the placement of the speakers, the audio will follow, so putting each speaker in the right place is important.
The next step is to connect the WiSA SoundSend puck into your TV, and then plug the puck and each of the speakers into power outlets. Monaco gives you the option of using an optical cable to connect your TV, but you’ll want to use an HDMI cable to get the full Dolby Atmos experience (the system also supports Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+, and Dolby Digital).
The final step is to download the WiSA SoundSend app for iOS or Android and perform a bit of tuning to maximize your experience, but the system is otherwise up and running at this point.
Using the WiSA SoundSend app
Launch the SoundSend app and connect to your system. Make sure you’re getting the full Dolby Atmos experience by going to the Advanced Settings panel and confirm that the Speaker Config is set to Speakers 5.1.2. Then select the Channel Check panel to confirm that all of your speakers are connected to the system. You can also move the speaker icons on this panel to match their actual locations in your room.
The Audio Settings panel gives you the opportunity to tweak the EQ of the bass, treble, and midrange. You can also adjust the audio timing in the unlikely scenario you experience dialog sync issues. A Speaker Trim panel allows you to adjust the relative volume of each speaker to your taste.
That’s it. Users who want things to be organized and simple will find this system easy to set up and easy to use. Volume should be controlled by your television remote if you’re using the eARC HDMI connection; from there, the system should just disappear into your home theater experience.
Listening to the Monaco 5.1.2 speaker system
Platin Audio is catering to users who stream their digital entertainment, versus the crowd that’s amassed large libraries of physical media. As such, this system is limited to the Dolby formats the streaming industry has embraced. And that’s how I tested this system over the past few weeks: I streamed movies, TV shows, and sports. I’ll highlight my experiences with the 2022 Korean War movie Devotion, a film with excellent surround-audio cues in its aerial warfare scenes.
These speakers might be small, but they work in concert to conjure a compelling surround experience. As airplanes flew in formation during the battle scenes over North Korea, there was always an excellent sense of sound placement in the room. Devotion is a movie I saw a couple of times in theaters, and the audio for my home viewing experience was more immersive than it was in at least one of those venues.
I expect that the Monaco 5.1.2 system will perform best in a room with flat 8- or 9-foot ceilings. The up-firing drivers generate some volume, but I doubt they’re powerful enough to create the full Atmos experience in a room with cathedral ceilings; in fact, Dolby itself recommends against setting up an Atmos audio system in such conditions.
If you use your home theater setup to stream music from Spotify, Apple Music, or another service, you’ll likely be less impressed with the Monaco 5.1.2 system’s small front speakers. Most high-end soundbars now do a better job of presenting the stereo imaging in which most music was recorded and mixed.
Apple Music tracks mixed for Dolby Atmos sounded better than stereo tracks, but that surround-sound music experience works better for me on headphones than on any speaker setup I’ve encountered to date.
As I’ve already mentioned, the WiSA connection is rock solid. I’ve also tested the outstanding Sony HT-A9 surround-sound audio system, which is entirely dependent on the performance of your home Wi-Fi setup. While I still occasionally suffered from buffering issues with the video source, the Monaco system never had any dropouts during my testing.
I prefer the sound of Sony’s system overall, but adding a subwoofer to it lifts its price tag at least $800 higher than Platin Audio’s Monaco 5.1.2. The Platin system, on the other hand, is easier to set up and is much easier to use.
Bottom line on the Platin Audio Monaco 5.1.2
The Platin Audio Monaco 5.1.2 speaker system is a powerful alternative to soundbars that use DSP to provide the illusion of true surround sound. Many of those systems sound great, and TechHive has reviewed many outstanding soundbars. But no single speaker can outperform a full array of physical speakers encircling your listening position.
Thanks to WiSA, the Monaco 5.1.2 can accomplish that goal with minimal cable clutter. If you stream movies and want a great immersive audio experience to go with them, this could be your best option.