Monoprice MBS-650 Speaker Review

Monoprice MBS-650

With the rise of digital music players and smartphones, earbuds and Bluetooth devices have become a dominant force in the audio marketplace. But what about good, old-fashioned speakers that you can plug into your uncle's hand-me-down receiver from 1974? And how will you amplify that hip new turntable? As digital audio accessories and high-end audiophile equipment continue to gain buzz, it can be hard to find quality analog audio equipment that won't blow up your used vinyl budget. In this article, we will take a close look at one such pair of speakers—the Monoprice MBS-650.

We'll break down the features, price, and performance of the MBS-650 and compare them with a selection of other speakers in the same class. The speakers in this review are all considered bookshelf type speakers. We found a wide variety of performance features and aesthetics across the different prices but ultimately found that a little bit of money can go a long way when you're hunting for a set of low-end analog speakers in 2019.

Comparison Table 

What is the Monoprice MBS-650?

The Monoprice MBS-650 speakers are a traditional bookshelf style speaker system. Unlike higher-tech speakers that use wireless technology like Bluetooth, these speakers connect directly to an audio source like a receiver or amplifier using traditional audio cables. They sit on the lowest end of the price spectrum for this type of speaker, but provide excellent quality sound in a relatively small footprint.

Product Specs

While these speakers probably won't win any awards for their aesthetic, they pack a lot of audio power into a relatively small footprint. Sitting at 11.9 x 8.1 x 6.4 in / 302 x 206 x 163 mm and weighing in at just over seven pounds, the MBS-650 will neither dominate your bookshelf nor tear your anchors out of the wall. The speakers include a 6.5-inch poly cone woofer and 0.5-inch poly dome tweeter and cables snap into the rear panel with traditional red and black spring clips.

These speakers boast highly competitive audio quality compared with others in the ultra-budget category and even square up with some higher-priced competitors. They have a fairly balanced frequency response with a slight push between the 1kHz and 2kHz range. The MBS-650 also shows a subtle energy increase between 3.5 and 5kHz. From a listening standpoint, this amounts to a smoother treble response than Dayton Audio B652, which is the most immediate competitor to this speaker. With a bass port on the back panel, we found that these speakers sounded best when placed at least six inches from a wall when mounted on a shelf or media stand.

How it Compares

We picked a couple of similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

Sound Appeal 6.5-Inch Bookshelf Speakers
  • Designed to impress: The appeal of these bookshelf speakers extends to appearance and performance. High-quality...
  • Stands apart: These capable, audiophile grade speakers will not break your budget but will exceed your expectations....
  • Specs: Impedance: 8 Ohms. Power Handling: 80 Watts RMS. Frequency Response: 45Hz to 22kHz.
  • Ease of Use
  • Assembly Time
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

2 out of 5 Stars

Monoprice covers these speakers with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Super low price
  • Competitive sound quality with more expensive speakers
  • Reasonably small and light size
  • Smooth high end response for extended listening

Cons

  • Boring aesthetic design
  • Spring clips could allow cable to release unexpectedly
  • Some audio distortion with high volume
  • Lower quality speaker components than some competitors
Klipsch R-15PM Powered Monitor - Black (Pair)
  • The R-15PM powered monitors deliver room-filling sound without taking up much space
  • 1 x pair of RCA phono level inputs with switch for Phono/Line input versatility (Phono Pre-amp with ground screw...
  • 1 x USB digital audio from a PC or Mac single RCA line level output for connection to sub.

The Klipsch R-15M represents the higher end of the speakers in this range. The "M" in the name stands for "monitor" and these speakers compete with monitor speakers used in professional applications by audio engineers and film editors. They boast premium features like a 90x90 Tractrix horn for improved high-end response, a spun copper speaker horn, LTS tweeter for decreased distortion and a rear-firing port to help balance low-end response. The copper speakers could add a nice visual flair to a living room bookshelf or media center and provide a much higher-end look than any other speakers in this review. Klipsch backs these and all their passive speakers with a five-year limited warranty.

The R-15M are the best sounding speakers in this bunch, with a balanced and transparent frequency response from 62Hz to 24kHz. These speakers have a slight increase in lower end frequencies but are generally crisp and clean throughout and could even stand in for pro studio monitors in a pinch. The Tractrix horn helps create a wide sweet spot likely to keep music and films sounding great in rooms of various shapes and sizes. The R-15 is a similarly sized offering in the lower tier of home speakers but is definitely a higher-end product for those with a higher budget.

  • Ease of Use
  • Assembly Time
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

5 out of 5 Stars

Klipsch covers all of their passive speakers with a five-year limited warranty against any manufacturing defects.

Pros

  • Extremely high quality audio
  • Modern aesthetic with copper speaker
  • Five year warranty against manufacturing defects

Cons

  • Heavier than competitors at 10.3 lbs
  • Higher shipping costs due to the heavier weight
Polk Audio T15 100 Watt Home Theater Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) -...
  • GET SUPERIOR HOME THEATER EXPERIENCE WITH IMMERSIVE SURROUND SOUND Featuring (1) 0.75 inches tweeter & (1) 5.25 inches...
  • Use these wall mountable book shelf speakers as FRONT, LEFT RIGHT SETUP, SURROUNDS OR AS REAR SPEAKERS and get...
  • CREATE A FULL FLEDGED 5.1 HOME THEATER SETUP with the complete range of T series speakers from Polk with two T50 Tower...

Polk Audio's T15 bookshelf speakers are a mid-level home audio speaker in the same class as the Monoprice MBS-650 and the Klipsch R-15M. The speakers use a 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter, 5.25-inch composite drive and front-firing bass ports to produce impressive sound quality. They are based on Polk's Monitor Series speakers and use the proprietary Dynamic Balance system housed in a sleek, wood-look MDF cabinet. They also serve as the middleweight of their class at 8.25lbs. Polk covers these speakers with a five-year warranty on both the speakers and the cabinet.

These speakers boast a slightly broader frequency range than the MBS-652, spanning from 60Hz-24kHz. For mid-priced speaker in this category, they produce good quality sound with bright high and open mids. Like the Monoprice speakers, we found that the T15's are best placed at a reasonable distance from a wall due to their rear-mounted bass port. These speakers will handle a maximum of 100 watts at 8 ohms.

  • Ease of Use
  • Assembly Time
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

5 out of 5 Stars

Polk Audio cover the cabinet and speakers independently with separate five-year limited warranties.

Pros

  • Expandable with other pieces from Polk's line
  • Classic look will fit many styles of rooms
  • Long warranty against defects

Cons

  • Forward facing bass ports could create muddy low-end in some rooms
  • Polk's proprietary attenuations could bother pickier listeners
  • MDF cabinet could sacrifice resonance
Dayton Audio B652 6-1/2-Inch 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker Pair
  • Small size, profound performance
  • Black ebony pica vinyl cabinet finish
  • Removable grill

Dayton Audio's B652 speakers have become a cult favorite in the "garage speaker" class for their low cost and comparatively high audio quality. They are likely the inspiration for the Monoprice MBS-650 and boast a similarly spartan aesthetic design. Their speakers use a 6-1/2-Inch polypropylene cone woofer and a 5/8-Inch polycarbonate ferrofluid cooled dome tweeter. They are the smallest speakers of the group, measuring out at 6.4 x 7.1 x 11.8 in, but come in the heaviest at 11.3 pounds. 

Compared with the Monoprice speakers, the Dayton Audio B652's have a wider range of frequency peaks and valleys when measured in decibels. This is most noticeable in the lower frequencies with the Dayton having a -3 dB point of 77 Hz while the Monoprice sits at 106 Hz. The Dayton speakers also dip less prominently around the 2kHz mark, falling only to about 0 dB where the Monoprice's fall to around -1 dB. Overall this creates a fuller bass response and better overall clarity than the Monoprice speakers but sacrifices quality in the upper frequencies. These speakers peak out at around 20,000 kHz and manage 40 watts RMS/75 watts max at 6 ohms.

  • Ease of Use
  • Assembly Time
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

5 out of 5 Stars

Dayton's B652 also use a simple spring clip design for rear cable mounting.

Pros

  • High-quality audio for low price
  • Short stature will take up less space
  • Growing reputation amongst audiophiles as a top choice for low-end speakers

Cons

  • Heaviest weight in class
  • Plain styling
  • High end frequencies can become shrill at high volume

Conclusion

Monoprice has built a reputation for selling good quality audio and visual cable at very low prices. In recent years they've proven that this model can work for other branded products like electronics, accessories and even musical instruments. The Monoprice MBS-650 speakers are a perfect fit for the company and provide exactly what they've become known for—no frills, solid quality and super low cost.

In a one-on-one shootout with the Dayton Audio B652, we found that these speakers handle high frequencies better but sacrifice some low and overall clarity. For us, however, that's an acceptable tradeoff as harsh and brittle highs are often the Achilles heel of low-end speakers. The main sticking point we found with these speakers is their aesthetic. While bookshelf speakers are ultimately a functional item, they can sit for years in a living space so it's best if they suit your style. If your style is "super plain" then these might just be your aesthetic dream.

Despite their visual shortcomings, the MBS-650 sounds excellent for the low cost. Given their good quality and low price we rate these speakers a four out of possible five. With very similar looks, comparable cost and slightly improved performance, we feel that they have a slight edge over their most direct competitors. These speakers won't offer either the visual flair or the higher-end audio features of a speaker like the Klipsch R-15M, but for about a quarter of the price, they compete shockingly well. The MBS-650 could be the perfect choice to crank some tunes in the basement gym or over the garage work bench.

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