Provides: High resolution digital playback voiced for today’s digital music
Developer: Monster Technology International, Ltd.
Minimum Requirements: iPhone/iPod with speaker dock or any audio device with 1/8″ mini or TRS 1/4″ output
Monster’s Clarity HD Model One had me thinking back to party night at church camp in my younger years, and the sound system that was required to fill an outdoor pavilion with the music of Styx, Duran Duran or Tommy James and the Shondells, depending upon the era. Those speakers were towers, and there were stacks of LPs or CDs in milk crates surrounding them. Not fun to lug around.
The relatively tiny Clarity HD Model One may have been able to out-power those rigs, and all from a tiny little iPod.
The Clarity HD Model One’s strongest feature is the fact its “voiced for high resolution playback of digital audiofiles,” as the website states. Monster says this allows the system to reproduce all genres of music with amazing fidelity. They aren’t lying. No matter what style of music I put through these—whether listening to classical in my office or the Talking Heads while moving into and setting up our new location—the speakers sounded great and filled the room(s) well. Crossover is handled entirely in the digital domain, so there’s no signal degradation as music passes from low to high volume and from deep bass to high trebles.
This is important, because you know the Clarity HD Model One is going to sound good when you want it to fill the room. But when you need it turned down (and you will—way down—because it doesn’t take much for these to get too loud), your audio is as clear as it is when allowed to work towards full power. The twin 6.5″ woofers and 1″ silk dome tweeters have active crossovers and are bi-amplified with digital amps, offering great balance no matter what the volume. But if you’re finding the highs to be too bright, you can adjust that with the high frequency level dial (+2db to natural to -2db).
The Clarity HD has some other great features, too. First, it’s easily transported. Each 16 x 9 x 6.25 inch speaker includes a handle at the top, making it simple to carry the system around. Once you’ve got them where you want them, connect the two speakers with the included 8-pin DIN passover cable, plug them in, turn them on and you’re set.
You can mount an iPod or iPhone at the top of the active (right) speaker, which can be controlled via the iDevice’s controls or with the included remote control (as expected, it charges the device when plugged in). You can also connect other external devices via 1/8″ mini jack input, RCA composite audio input, or left/right TRS 1/4″ balanced input. There’s even a port for an AAC and apt-x compliant Bluetooth adapter for wireless streaming to the monitor, although the adapter is not included, and I don’t even see that it’s available yet.
The last thing to discuss is the finish. The design is a bit sparse, but we’ll call it modern. Available only in glossy red or yellow, the monitors draw attention to themselves; something to consider if you plan to use them in your home or office. They’re also quite tall, but their triangular design really doesn’t have as much of a footprint as you’d think. I’ve seen much smaller speakers take up more shelf space simply because of their design.
And then, there’s the price. At $750, you’re paying a premium for the Monster name. It’s a premium the company has earned, so it’s not unjustified, but if that’s pushing your budget, you can likely find similar performance for $100 to $200 less if you take the time to shop around.
I just wish I could take these back in time to those party night dances at Camp Piedmont. It would’ve been nice to have a system this powerful and clear that didn’t require its own pickup truck to haul around.
Buy the Monster Clarity HD Model One