Vibe Monolith/Omicron 5.1 surround setup review

We play audio baseball with a set of classy tapered towers and a spherical woofer

Vibe Monolith 5.1 surround setup
Vibe's Monolith and Omicron combination catches the eyes. And refuses to let them go

TechRadar Verdict

Surprisingly beefy sound proves that there's more to these speakers than meets the eye


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    Startling potency

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    Very handsome looking baseball bat-shaped speakers


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    The subwoofer could be bigger, or do with a mate in any Monolith system

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The Omicron was the first ever fully spherical subwoofer, and we were very impressed with way back when. Back then, it came literally as a ball, with a round ring-shaped stand on feet. You rested the sub in it and aimed it how you wished.

Nowadays, Omicron looks like a Pokémon and stands on three stumpy excrescences. And now, Little Fatty has gone shiny, acquired some friends and has gone up in the world as a result.

Not just a pretty face

Having drooled over the photoshoot, you'll no doubt be wanting to know how well the system works. The answer is startlingly well.

I had a pair of the cast resin Monolith Threes (which look bloody gorgeous in a baseball bat kind of way), which were scary to unpack. I wouldn't actually use the supplied white gloves – my advice is to just take off your jewellery, handle with moisturised hands, and polish them up afterwards. These are weighty items.

The audition system also came with a stumpy pair of Monolith One rears, with rubbery cups to stand them endways, and a centre speaker, the Monolith Two, that came with two rubber rests. All the cabinets feature the same Kevlar midbass driver and silk dome tweeters and all are arrayed in the classic way – D'Appolito for the L/C/R and a simple two-way configuration for the rears. Of all the speakers, only the centre box is sealed rather than ported.

Monolith speakers and omicron subwoofer

DESIGN CLASSIC: Vibe has perfected the 'futuristic Stonghenge' look

I unleashed the Blu-ray edition of Push and the Vibes loved it. The film is great fun and a real slice of expert sound design. With empty space used as brilliantly as kicking new music and genuinely creative sound effects, the contrast is huge.

The movie features 'Bleeders' who have a sonic psychic attack mode. The idea is, it should make you wither, and you do, to an extent. (While possible, Hollywood is not allowed to actually hurt you with pro sound systems in theatres. Shame...).

One Bleeder attack sees glass and fish tanks shattering in waves about the POV, and the rears are given a savage battering. Elsewhere, scenes in the streets of Hong Kong offer rich textures of realism and the Monoliths, although obviously not a hi-fi item, had ability way past what you might have thought, to look at them.

I have heard a plethora of 4in driver-based systems and while they all seem to specify well enough, most have yawning holes in the scale of their midbass and upper treble department. They simply seem unable to move or excite the air enough. But the Monoliths are different, as the boxes that house the 4in drivers are luxury accommodation, acoustically speaking. They are posh and sexily-shaped but as flexible and bendy as carved granite.

Monolith speakers

PACKING A PUNCH: Vibe's Monolith speakers pack a real punch behind their fancy facade

Poke a finger up the holes in the back of the Monolith One or Three and you'll feel a softly gas-flowed curve, as their port tubes are bent inside. The port is longer than the box size seems to want to allow. Movement of air to allow reproduction of bass is meat and drink to the Vibe's designer and the result he came up with works. Married to 'known good' tweeter technology all round with no compromises on driver quality as you get to the smaller models, and you have the result here.

Two things I dislike, though, are that while the Monolith Three gets super sexy high-end speaker wire terminals, the One and Two both get lowest common denominator parts. As a reviewer I care more than I should about this as, once fitted, you'll not look at them again, and I'm certain they are electrically sound, but overall it still seems a pity.

The other thing is that the old Omicron subwoofer had an exterior amp and was deliciously mad-looking as a result. The new one is far cuter but more sensible, with an 8in driver and mere 70W amplification. On the other hand, the Monolith Three floorstanders can rock. So when Push gets going and multiple gunplay and psychic thingies are all zoinging about, the Omicron sub was found to be wanting. It neither goes deep or loud enough to keep up.

The sub may be great for music but scary, deep bass and explosions aren't its forté. This is a shame as I know that Vibe the brand can literally hurt you with its bass (check out the Vibe Bass Tunnel on the brand's website, which uses 40 x 15in subs!). Personally speaking, I want to see a 12in beast with serious Class D amplification and a return to the older style of exterior amp...

The Monolith One and Two are cute and can make great systems of their own – where they will be perfect for the Omicron – but the Monolith Threes are just so cool. You get the plinths, with two double-ended male banana plug shafts and a bolt per speaker.

The speakers' passive crossover bits are in a case in the plinth, where the WBT-style connection plugs sit. The tapering towers connect one positive each for tops and lows, and earth through the bolt. You connect the slightly asymmetrical banana plug shafts up, slide into place, and tighten the Allen bolt.

Stood next to the black chassis of my Panasonic plasma, they looked like they were born for it – dead sexy from every angle. You can mount the others on different sorts of wall brackets, too.

More bass please!

What we have here is a very good-looking designer system with real muscle and detail-resolution ability. It's ideal if you want a high-octane surround system. But it could be improved further. I'd want a Vibe subwoofer other than the Omicron myself, or maybe two.

Or better yet, a mad great statement of a fifteen inch Omigodicron with 'Space' metal cone woofer driver and a stupidly big amp for £1,000. Then you'd be talking!

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