Noel Lee, founder of Monster Products, discovered that in 1977 different speaker wires produce varying degrees of performance. Being a drummer and an engineer, Noel understood that cables had to be given the same attention as any other system component. From this discovery, Lee developed a high-performance speaker cable, and names it “Monster” for its power, registers the name “Monster Cable” and creates both a company and an industry. Since that time Monster has continued to evolve their product lineup to meet consumers needs. In the 1990’s the growth of home theater systems were all the rage and around 2006 wired speakers were on the outs and headphones were the new hot item. Monster partnered with Beats to produce some of the best headphones the market has seen. They have continued to expand their horizons and today we are here to dive in to one of their newest products; The Monster SoundStage High Definition Wireless Home Music System.
The SoundStage Home Music System is a multi-room wireless audio system which gives you more ways to connect to your music, including both Bluetooth and WiFi. SoundStage can stream most streaming services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Napster, doubleTwist and many more. What makes this system impressive is it does all of this without a bridge or gateway that other wireless speaker systems require. The speakers are designed to give you a room-filling Pure Monster Sound that takes wireless HiFi to a whole new level with more clarity, greater dynamics, higher definition, and punchy bass. It all can be controlled with your iOS device or Android phone or tablet. The technology, design, and specifications all seem great on paper, but how did the Soundstage system perform? Here’s what we discovered…
Many people often dream of having their own personal home sound system with room filling sound, but the cost is prohibitive. Not only do you have to buy the speakers, receivers, etc, you also have to do construction around your house . What Monster is doing with the SoundStage is truly impressive. For starters you decide how many speakers you want to purchase. The SoundStage product lineup features three different option, the S1, S2, and S3. You can purchase one speaker or you can purchase up to ten speakers. All the speakers can connect to each other with no gateway or bridge. Unlike other wireless HiFi systems, this one is totally untethered. If you have multiple speakers you are able to group together in any combination you would like so you can get your desired musical experience. One great added bonus of this system is that if you move from your house, you don’t have to leave your system behind, just unplug it and take it with you.
- Smallest speaker of the bunch and is ideal for smaller rooms.
- Length – 11.50”
- Height – 4.875”
- Depth – 3.50”
- ¼-20 Speaker Mount for wall mounting
- Touch controls on top of unit
- Price: $229.95
- The middle child of the group is ideal for mid-sized rooms, especially the bedroom or kitchen
- Length – 12.75”
- Height – 6.75”
- Depth – 4.00”
- Metallic gloss reflective top piece
- Integrated front facing handle
- Touch controls embedded into inset handle area
- Rear-firing woofer
- Price: $299.95
- The largest of the group and should be the centerpiece of any living room
- Length – 16.00”
- Height – 7.5”
- Depth – 4.00”
- Stitched leather top
- Integrated front-facing handle
- Touch controls embedded into inset handle area
- Rear-firing woofer
- Price: 399.95
The outside of the all the speakers have a similar look and are very aesthetically pleasing. Monster wanted to eliminate those boxy multi-room speakers that are eyesores. SoundStage is easy on the eyes, with a small footprint for easy stash-ability. Architectural details include leather trim, the soft glow of LED, and a curved blade design that can fit seamlessly with any decor.
All three of the SoundStage speakers feature both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, which allows you listen to the all the streaming music you love despite technology. The whole concept revolves around freedom and convenience with premium sound quality. In addition to connecting via Bluetooth and Wifi, you can connect through a 3.5mm mini jack for any source, fiber optic digital for TV, and micro USB for easy software updates are all included. All of this can be controlled through the Monster SoundStage app which we will discuss in detail later.
The versatility of the SoundStage system is what impressed us the most. We currently have the S3 box connected through fiber optic to the TV, a 3.5 mm connection to our cable box, and have the ability to connect through our phones or Ipad through bluetooth or simply over the WiFi at any point; that versatility is just impressive. You can group and connect all the speakers through WiFi and stream simultaneously to all speakers. However, if you are watching TV and are connected though the digital or analog inputs you cannot push that sound out to all the speakers. For example, if you have friends over watching the big football game and you want to have the sound go through all speakers that cannot currently happen. Monster is working on a software upgrade to make this feature possible in the future but right now it is disappointing miss on the system. There is no way to change the settings on the speakers to change input methods from the app nor does it come with a separate remote so everything has to be done manually on the speaker itself.
Upon pulling your speaker(s) out of the box you will need to download the Monster SoundStage App. Once you plug-in the speaker the app will guide you through how you can set up. The easiest way we found is if your wireless modem has the WPS option for connectivity. Within a few seconds you can be connected and the speaker will go through a software upgrade. If you do not have WPS connection you connect through your phone and then have a few extra steps. Overall, the setup was fairly easy assuming everything goes well. The first speaker connected easily but following the same process for the second speaker, the WPS connection was not connecting to the speaker and it took a few times. We had a similar issue with the third speaker but got it up and running in a few minutes. If you bought 3 speakers you should have your system up and running in 30-60 minutes, which is pretty impressive for a whole home audio system. No install, no wires, way less hassle.
The Monster SoundStage app must be downloaded to get setup and going but how often you use it will depend on your preferences. For example, if you are a heavy Spotify user they have built an interface to the SoundStage system and you can control your song choices and volume through the Spotify interface. If you want to play your downloaded music on your phone you can do that all from the app.
You will go into the app to group which speakers you want to play together. Grouping and un-grouping speakers is extremely simple. On a few occasions sound would not play on a new grouping and a simple re-launch of the app fixed the issue. A flaw of the app is that sound can only be controlled through the SoundStage app or an app that has interfaced with SoundStage, like Spotify. This means if you lock your phone and try to turn the volume up or down using the volume buttons on the side of your phone it won’t work. You have to unlock your phone and be in the app to change. This was a little bit annoying and a time waster but this is currently under review by the developers to look at potential fixes.
We saved arguably the best for the last because so far the SoundStage has some great features and incredible versatility, but if it doesn’t offer premium quality sound then what is the point? Well, have no fear as these speakers are downright impressive. Monster is a company that touts their quality and they were determined to have the speakers provide clarity, greater dynamics, higher definition, and more punch from all your streaming music. These Wi-Fi / Bluetooth speakers sound as if you had a top of the line custom-built system running through your house. Monster likes to define it as taking the system beyond wireless HiFi, this is high-definition wireless.
When you have one speaker by itself the sound quality is very good regardless of which one. Obviously the S3 is the most impressive in terms of individual sound quality but the fun part is when you get all the speakers working together. We tested the system in a 3 story town home and a tried a variety of configurations. One of the impressive things we found was that when we grouped all speakers together we never found a connectivity issue when streaming on WiFi. No matter how far we put the speakers away from each other and the modem they never broke connection. When we had one speaker on each level you could really experience an all-encompassing sound that fills up the whole house. Very rich and crisp sounds billowing out of the speaker and you can hear the nuances of every guitar string being strung, making you feel as if you were next to the artist as they played.
The speakers range in price from $249-$399. Given the quality of each speaker and what you are looking for, each of these speakers offers great value on its own merits. However, you cannot have just one. We tested three speakers which is a good amount and gives you a total home audio system for under $1000. The versatility and sound quality of the system will really make that investment worth it. While three speakers was great for testing purposes we got extremely excited with the thought of adding one to every room of the house and luckily Monster realized that temptation might exist and allows for up to 10 speakers at one time. There are a couple of flaws that we would like to see resolved, but from the sounds of it Monster seems to be aware of it and working on upgrades for them in the near future. Overall this is an impressive system that is only going to keep improving, which is a very scary and exciting thought.
- Great room-filling quality sound
- Speakers work well together with no connectivity issues
- Setup is easy and you will up and running in no time
- Can't push sound out from the TV out to the other speakers
- Sound has to be controlled from the app and not from a locked screen
- No ability to change inputs from the app, has to be done on the speaker