First ‘Tuned by THX’ home theater speakers need no A/V receivers — or wires

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THX has become synonymous with top-notch cinema sound in commercial theaters. However, the George Lucas-founded company (now owned by gaming giant Razer) has been increasingly focused on helping consumers get a better quality of audio (and video) at home. To this end, it has created a new technical service called Tuned by THX, which gives audio companies the opportunity to have their products custom-tuned by the sound experts at THX. While it doesn’t guarantee that the speakers and audio components will knock your socks off, it’s THX’s way of saying that it has adjusted the characteristics of these components to deliver what is (in THX’s opinion) the best sound that these components are capable of.

In automotive terms, it’s like taking your car to a Formula 1 mechanic for a tune-up. They won’t be able to magically turn your Fiesta into a Ferrari, but they’ll still be able to coax more performance out of it than it had when it left the factory. With a Tuned by THX audio component, the difference can be very noticeable.

The first product to receive the Tuned by THX treatment is the new $899 Monaco 5.1 Wireless Home Theater speaker system from Platin Audio. From the outside, it looks like a lot of other 5.1 systems. It’s got a left and right set of bookshelf-sized front speakers, a center channel, two surround speakers, and a low-profile, 100-watt subwoofer. But in addition to having its acoustics fine-tuned by the audio mechanics at THX,  the Monaco belongs to a new breed of home theater speakers. Each speaker is wireless, needing only a wall plug for power, and the entire system can be installed and connected to a TV in minutes without the need for speaker cables or even an A/V receiver.

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It achieves this through the use of WiSA wireless technology. WiSA is an emerging standard for making home theater speakers wireless without giving up any of the quality or immediacy associated with traditional wired setups. For WiSA to work, you need WiSA-capable speakers and a WiSA transmitter. The Monaco 5.1 system gives you both, but there’s a bit of a caveat.

The USB WiSA transmitter that ships with the Monaco is designed to work only with TVs that are WiSA-Ready. At the moment, only 2019 LG OLED and NanoCell TVs are WiSA-ready. Software pre-loaded on the LG TVs gives users the ability to control the settings for the Monaco speakers on-screen, using their existing remote control.

If you want to use the Monaco system with a non-WiSA-Ready TV, it’s possible, but you’ll need to buy a full-fledged WiSA-capable control center like this $400 model from Klipsch.

We haven’t had a chance to test the Platin Monaco system and we’ve never reviewed a Platin product before, so we can’t attest to its sound quality. However, WiSA systems have impressed us in the past, so at the very least, this should deliver better 5.1 surround sound than an equivalently priced soundbar, with a set-up that’s almost as easy (as long as you own a 2019 LG TV).

If the idea of a fully wireless home theater system appeals, but you want to go higher-end with your gear, Klipsch also recently launched a WiSA-certified version of its Reference home theater speakers.

You can buy the Monaco 5.1 Wireless Home Theater speaker system from Amazon.com starting on November 14, however it may be worth waiting a few weeks to see if it goes on sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

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