If you want discrete speakers to go with your brand new flatscreenyou’d probably start by measuring speaker cables and prepping a utility knife for your drywall. Soundbars with rear surround speakers and wireless subwoofers make installing a complete system a little easier, but they do not offer the same fidelity you get from separate speakers for separate purposes.
For years, we’ve been promised cable-free audio through a technology called WiSAwhich allows you to sync powered speakers to many modern TVs without the hassle of a dedicated receiver or running speaker cables throughout your room.
The new Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 system uses WiSA, and is as easy to set up and use as most soundbars. However, it has sound that can compete with larger discrete systems. That’s why it’s my new favorite wireless option for small rooms.
The Monaco comes with four small speakers for left, right, and surrounds, as well as one center speaker with dual drivers to act as your middle channel. You also get a thin subwoofer that you can easily hide under the couch — a nice touch for those without a ton of space.
There’s nothing particularly special about the design of the speakers themselves. Each speaker has a label to tell you which is which, and a power cable on the back. Otherwise, the black, rounded rectangles look pretty much like the kind of speaker that a toddler might draw with a black pen on a napkin.
That’s sort of the point: These wireless speakers are meant to be hidden in plain sight, so that you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies without staring at anything other than the screen.
The speakers all connect to a puck-like WiSA controller that plugs into the HDMI ARC or optical cable on your TV. It’s a really simple system that works well. Just make sure you have power outlets near each speaker for the 6-foot power cables to reach, or else buy an extension cord (or several).
5.1 speaker systems mean you get a center channel for voices; left and right front channels for music and side effects; and two rear speakers for background noises, plus a subwoofer for booms. You don’t, however, get the height channels of Dolby Atmos or DTS: X, which require speakers to bounce sound off the ceiling (or ceiling speakers that aim downwards).
Is it a huge deal that this expensive system does not do Atmos? Not to me. Most of the audio that’s being streamed through my TV is 5.1, most of the time. Though modern streaming shows and movies often use Dolby Atmos, it’s typically not as noticeable when streaming content as it is via full-bitrate audio you’ll get from 4K Blu-ray.
If you’re planning on using this system mostly for streaming (as most of us are these days), 5.1 is fine, as evidenced by the staggeringly good sound of this Platin audio system.