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First Look: Monoprice 9774: A discount clone of our favorite speakers

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First Look: Monoprice 9774: A discount clone of our favorite speakers

3:04 /

Monoprice's 9774 speakers are virtually identical to the Energy's Take Classic 5.1 speakers, except they're nearly $150 cheaper. That makes them the best home audio value we've ever seen.

Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET and we're taking a look at one of the most intriguing products I've seen in a long time, the Monoprice 9774. Now, Monoprice is best known for selling cheap HDMI cables but the company has started to make more traditional consumer electronics at pretty incredible prices. What makes the 9774 so interesting is one; it's a 5.1 speaker system, selling for just under $250; and two, it's almost identical to our longtime favorite budget speaker system, the Energy Take Classic 5.1, which costs nearly $150 more. And I'm not exaggerating when I say they're identical. If you put the two speakers next to each other, the resemblance is striking, with the finish and design looking almost exactly the same. The satellite and center channel speakers have the same .75-inch tweeter and 3-inch driver, and around back, the binding posts are the same too. The only real difference is the logo and the speaker grills where the Energy has rounded edges and the Monoprice grill is more square. Now, side-by-side, the Energy subwoofer looks taller but that's only because the plastic feet on the bottom are bigger. The actual sub is the same size and they both have the same 8-inch down-firing subwoofer. The base port on the Energy looks bigger too, but that's only because of the shape of the surrounding plastic, the port itself is the same size. You can even see the back panel controls are laid out in the same pattern. And these speakers don't just look similar; they both offer the same outstanding sound quality that's really exceptional considering their compact size. We had the Monoprice and Energy speakers set up side-by-side in the same room and while it's always hard to say that any two products sound exactly identical, these were as close as you can get. The Monoprice speakers sounded truly fantastic with movies and they held their own with music too, which is tough for speakers this small. The next best value is the Pioneer SP-PK52FS system, which does sound considerably better but it costs over $600 and it's a much larger system. Really, my only hesitation with the Monoprice 9774 system is more of an ethical one. There's no denying these speakers feel like counterfeit versions of the Energy Speakers and I definitely have some reservations about recommending a product that at least feels like it ripped off the design and engineering work of another company. However, there's also been no formal complaint from Energy or their parent company, Klipsch, even though it's been two months since I made them aware of the Monoprice speakers. So, maybe they're on the up and up. The bottom line is that at the moment, the Monoprice 9774 is the best home audio value on the market, which is why it earned out Editor's Choice Award. Whether you feel right buying them is a decision you'll have to make. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Monoprice 9774.

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