Pokémon. In the mythical audio kingdom of Hanguk there live many pocket monarchs and their warriors. Amongst those which make the most noise are Allnic, April, A&K, Aurender, Enleum, Hifi Rose, Hifistay, MSD, Santus, Seawave, Simon, SOtM and Waversa. Emillé succumbed to old age. Then in the late era between the Great Silences of original and man-made Nothing there rose a knight called Jun-hyeok Seo. He rules the fi(ef)dom of MonAcoustic. His special power is alumination, his latest champion PlatiMon, a fierce 3-armed warrior of two basserators and one crinkled cutter. So began his elsewhere tale before he magically teleported to Berlin where John’s crammed schedule moved him to a Q3/Q4 duel slot later in the year. To hold you over, the Dark One requested today’s remix for the short version. So let’s poke this mon.
Reframed we can think of Jun’s speakers as South Korea’s answer to Magico, Stenheim, YG and other brands who promote 606 aircraft-grade aluminium for enclosures. At $6.5K/pr including solid stands with four floor spikes and three roller balls, PlatiMon perches between €2K SuperMon Mini and €25K SuperMon Isobaric. I was originally asked to review the latter. Its colossal weight with stands plus 23% Irish VAT on non-EU imports simply proved prohibitively costly to ship in and out of our verdant island. Instead, I reviewed the 4” 2-way Mini and then bought the loaners for my smaller upstairs system. Unlike it and the mega monitor, PlatiMon relinquishes the hidden-behind-the-outer-driver isobaric approach. What you see is what you get: dual German-sourced then modified 5-inch mid/woofers vertically bracketing a deeply inset Dayton AMT for what designer Jun calls a virtual coaxial array. Hence the VC suffix of the full name PlatiMon VC One.
Asymmetrical resonance-attenuation liners and twin rear ports of dissimilar lengths mark each unit left or right — though from the front they look identical. Internally they simply mirror-image. Rear markings designate how we’re meant to use them. Shallow races machined into the stand’s top plate and speaker’s bottom capture roller balls where physical wobble from a deliberate push takes a while to settle. In actual use, of course, we never see speakers shimmy. The mass of their chassis is disproportionately huge versus the max displacement of these drivers. It’s simply a proven approach to managing material resonances. Having the speaker float atop the stand with a mm gap also looks elegant. What I assume was super-fine bead blasting left an elegant and flawless finish on my samples’ clear-anodized skins—black or blue anodized are optional colours—to make their appearance timeless Scandi Sleek, their touch rather luxo. If you wondered what all the Mon is about, it’s shorthand for more natural sound. Formal specs are 48Hz-28kHz, 91dB/4Ω and 17 x 7.5 x 10.6” HxWxD. Your friendly neighbourhood delivery man will ask for help unloading the 33/34kg cartons containing the paired speakers and fully assembled stands.
If your post-unpack experience mirrors mine, you then go supersonic on ultra-specific soundstaging. Hifi lingo refers to distance mapping as layering. That’s a tacit approximation of virtual or actual performer rows whereby some images are closer to us, others behind those. When speakers set up with proper front-wall clearance of a few meters, recordings with good spatial cues can now unpeel very precise distance coordinates seemingly beyond/through the wall. Think of a massive symphony orchestra behind which, coliseum-style, rise multiple rows of choral singers to generate many distinct layers front to back. If our ears can make those out nearly as clearly as our eyes would live, a speaker nails layering. PlatiMon was the sledgehammer on that nail.
The second aspect of soundstaging is left-to-right tracking. Where PlatiMon went the literal extra inches was how specifically it teased out very closely spaced events as occurring in two separate locations rather than sum-clumping them into one. This went beyond even the half-tone distance between a marimba’s closest bars where, if the instrument’s recorded perspective was parallel to the frontal stage edge, the mallets clearly jump left and right by at minimum the width of a bar. Move the marimba diagonal and these line-of-sight jumps shrink. Turn it 90° and the same action now occurs purely in the front/back axis. Suffice to say that PlatiMon aced such 3D mapping of individual sounds popping up clustered but locally individuated with uncommon alacrity. I even heard the sympathetic strings of Jasdeep Deghun Singh’s sitar on his brilliant debut album Anomaly glassily buzzing in clearly separate areas than the main strings which triggered them. That separation power was unusually intense. In my book, it’s probably the chief attraction on the VC One’s scenic tour of aural victories.
Directly related then allied to goosed SPL was a sense of unwavering clarity. Presumably being able to maintain it at get-up levels was down to Jun’s thick aluminium panels and internal liners. Every speaker has a happy zone. It’s where internal pressures from driver rear emissions play nice with their enclosure’s ability to withstand them sans protest. Prime the pump beyond and protest begins to translate as muddiness. It’s like a silty creek clouding up when our crossing it stirs up sediment; then settles afterward. In the same manner, speakers clear up as we lower playback levels back into their happy zone. In this game, ubiquitous medium-density fibreboard aka MDF aka sawdust set in glue protests far sooner than more rigid constructions. I’m sure that heedless headbangers could find PlatiMon’s limits if they pushed hard enough. At levels that I could stomach if even just for short durations, I heard no evidence of clarity shutting down. Its mountain-creek clarity didn’t budge. It held across the bandwidth so didn’t blur down low either. It also broadened useful dynamic range. The speaker peaked louder without a reactive cabinet countermanding that scaling.
As it happens, many listeners call the action of protesting enclosures warmth. They enjoy and want its minor blur or fuzz around/between sounds. When a PlatiMon type strips out cobwebs, they call it cool, even cold. Regardless of where along this axis we personally set up shop, it’s fair to say that this aluminator box doesn’t do extra woody or sonorous. Bolting on a deliberately chunky warmish amp like our class A Pass Labs XA-30.8 won’t change that. It will certainly change the overtone weighting to become 2nd-harmonic dominant. It just won’t simultaneously incur the subtle lens shake of box talk. In that sense, PlatiMon acts like a tripod bolted to concrete. Its lens can’t move to inject any soft-focus blur as was common with classic cinema’s close-ups on female leads.
However, Jun’s speaker also showed how refusal to go soft needn’t equate to bareness of threads to call for class A pigment fill. I could run a passive-magnetic Pál Nagy icOn 4Pro autoformer volume control into a class A/B Crayon CFA-1.2 with Meanwell switching power supply and not find myself feeling too thin, pale or white. We simply acknowledge that PlatiMon’s soft-cone mid/woofers surround a folded air-motion transformer. Like most of their kind, it’s dynamically more effusive than classic 1” silk-dome tweeters. That gives the right material extra vigour, sparks, illumination, even cutting power. As my original review put it, it would wake up kiffed-out bathrobe dude in slippers. Unlike the +10-year old hard ceramic Accuton drivers in my 51⁄4” transmission-line 2-way Albedo Audio Aptica, PlatiMon’s soft membranes don’t play it harmonically thin. Even my downstairs 2.5MHz Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos required no active preamp intercession to run as usual directly off a DAC with analog volume control.
Whilst the sound did belong to the Crispianity religion to mirror the appearance, it did so in a perfectly amenable sense. I lacked or wanted for naught except for the first octave. Having a dual 15-inch subwoofer on hand plus a proper active analog crossover to high-pass PlatiMon at 80Hz, that was easily fixed. It’s only big-room listeners into electronica’s synth beats working the final octave below most acoustic instruments—and who additionally know what in-room 25Hz sounds like and which tracks contain it—that’ll want their own subwoofer. Our upstairs €1’390 Dynaudio 18S with dual 91⁄2” force-cancelling sealed woofers could do that business without excessive expense. Dansk plug. Served.
The well-damped drier gestalt of electronica dovetails perfectly with PlatiMon’s virtues. That plays counterpoint to the wet reverb-injected farfield concert-hall perspective which classical listeners might favor or be used to. In that sense, MonAcoustic’s middle monitor is a thoroughly modern specimen. It should be on your shopping shortlist if you’ve eyed Stenheim’s $11.8K Alumine 2 but would rather spend half. I’d have loved to keep it around on an extended loan. Already owning more speakers than can play at any one time in four systems, that was pure greed; never mind that as journeymen, these samples were on tour duty so just temporary guests. For those into final takeaways, think superlative soundstaging, ultra-separated imaging, unperturbed clarity against rising SPL and a well-damped slightly dry demeanour that successfully walks the tightrope between textural leanness and extreme transparency.
I’m curious to learn what John’s take will be when his schedule clears. Until then, could this give you something to look forward to? If so, Remix Mission accomplished!
Further information: Mon Acoustic