Monkey Banana Turbo6 and Turbo10s

Jun 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Bobby Frasier

Affordable Monitors and Sub Bring High-End Sound


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Monkey Banana monitor

Break-in time was minimal. Out of the box, the speakers seemed a bit bright (but not harsh), but after only few hours of running all styles of music through the boxes, they mellowed slightly. The integration of the tweeter and woofer is to be commended; they complement each other nicely, with a smooth transition between the drivers and no sense of separate location, as some speakers exhibit—meaning, a sense of “the highs are coming from here, and the lows and midrange from another point source.” I found myself leaving these speakers on and really enjoying the sound.

Vocals are represented as articulate and accurate. All the breathiness was there, sounding much like my reference speakers, which cost three times as much. The upper end of electronic synthesizer patches on electronica tracks was smooth, with no sense of brassiness. The little 6-inchers really hold up well when pushed—plenty of punch when listening to beat-driven dance music. The snap of the kick was there, as well as the tonal body. When listening to complex opera and orchestral productions, the little boxes did tend to lose a bit of the depth, clarity and soundstage, particularly at higher SPLs. On certain songs, some midrange ambient guitar parts receded into the background and became slightly masked when overwhelmed by crowed sonic production.

The biggest difference, sonically, was with Norwegian death metal. There was a noticeable shift in timbre in the guitars, but I have to say, I find this same trait in every speaker I test. The distorted timbre of the guitar seems be “the telling,” as it were, in how a speaker represents the midrange; there was much less variation with these speakers, at various SPLs, than with other, more expensive boxes I have reviewed. As we all know, there are going to be variations in speakers, and every single one will sound different. I was quite impressed with the accuracy presented by these transducers. But brought to tears during the “1812 Overture” by 6-inch boxes? I’d love to hear the Turbo8s.

The next round of testing involved the Turbo10s. This little sub certainly brings an added dimension and life to the setup. I set the crossover frequency relatively low (approximately 55 Hz), and the tonal qualities of the bass guitar were not only felt coming off the subwoofer, but with Turbo6’s no longer fighting to reproduce the lower octave, the speakers, and thereby instrumentation, sounded more open and accurate. I’d say yes, get the subwoofer if your production style and room demands it. Being rear-ported, it demands accurate placement within your room, not to mention the time-alignment necessary to obtain a seamless transition.

I was equally impressed when using the digital inputs. I sent an S/PDIF signal out of my Alesis Masterlink into the subwoofer, then, using the bass management system, sent the S/PDIF signal to one Turbo6, then Thru to the next speaker. Imaging was virtually identical, and the clarity of the signal was exceptional. Monkey Banana uses Cirrus Logic CS8416 D/A converters between the digital input and the amplifiers’ analog inputs.

Monkey Banana. If you can get your client to look past the unusual moniker, these speakers are definitely worthy of your consideration, especially taking into account the reasonable price, build quality and sonic integrity. By fine-tuning proven designs, Monkey Banana may well be a formidable contender in a jungle of low-cost speakers coming out of China. Give them a listen.

Bobby Frasier is an engineer, musician, educator and lover of all things Beatles.


Company: Monkey Banana

Product: Turbo6 and Turbo10s

Price: $499 and $999, respectively


Pros: Smooth tweeter response. Digital input. Punchy sound with detailed reproduction. Wide sweet spot.

Cons: No VESA mounts on back, turn on/off transients. Subwoofer is pricey. Currently limited distribution.


Don’t forget to monitor your mixes at different levels. Take some time to get to know your speakers at 20 or 30dB down from where you usually mix. Sure, crank ’em up every now and then, but take notice how the elements of the mix change at different SPLs. And then, there’s always the old “listen off-axis” test. You can really tell what’s going on in the mix from different parts of the room. Take music you know and listen to it from the side. Then see how your mix translates in this position. You can learn a lot by listening at different levels and from different positions.

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