If you want discreet speakers to go with your new flat screen, you’ll probably start by measuring the speaker cords and preparing a knife for your chalk panel. Sound bars with rear surround speakers and wireless subwoofers make it possible to install a complete system in little easier, but they don’t offer the same fidelity that you get from separate speakers for different purposes.
For years, we’ve been promised wireless audio using a technology called WiSA, which lets you sync speakers powered by many modern TVs without the hassle of a dedicated receiver or running speaker cables all over your room.
The new Monaco 5.1 Platinum Audio system uses WiSA and is as easy to set up and use as most soundbars. However, it has a sound that can compete with larger discrete systems. That’s why it’s my new favorite wireless option for small rooms.
The Monaco includes four small speakers for left, right and surround, as well as a center speaker with dual controllers to act as the middle channel. You also get a slim subwoofer that you can easily hide under the couch, a nice touch for those who don’t have a lot of space.
There is nothing particularly special about the design of the speakers themselves. Each speaker has a label to tell you which one is which and a power cord on the back. Otherwise, the black, rounded rectangles look very similar to the kind of speaker a little child could draw with a black pen on a napkin.
Here’s the thing: These wireless speakers are meant to be hidden from view, so you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies without looking at anything other than the screen.
All speakers are connected to a disk-like WiSA controller that connects to the HDMI ARC optical cable or TV. It is a very simple system that works well. Just make sure you have power outlets near each speaker so that the 6-foot power cords can reach, or buy an extension cord (or several).
5.1 speaker systems mean you get a central channel for voices; left and right front channels for music and side effects; and two rear speakers for background noise, plus a subwoofer for booms. However, you do not get Dolby Atmos or DTS: X pitch channels, which require speakers to bounce off the sound from the ceiling (or the ceiling speakers pointing down).
Is it a big problem that this expensive system doesn’t make Atmos? Not me. Most of the audio being played through my TV is 5.1, most of the time. While modern playback programs and movies often use Dolby Atmos, you usually don’t notice as much when playing content as through full-bit-bit audio that you get from 4K Blu-ray.
If you plan to use this system primarily for real-time streaming (like most of us these days), 5.1 is fine, as evidenced by the surprisingly good sound of this Platinum audio system.