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Lifewire / Emily Isaacs
Great value for the price
Modern, minimalist design
Secure mounting options available
Great for immersive sound in small to medium-sized spaces
Spring-loaded binding posts on speakers won’t accept banana plugs
Not great for music-only listening
No mounting hardware included
Requires an AV receiver
Back with a facelift, the new and improved Monoprice HT-35 is a compact home theater system that offers great, immersive 5.1-channel surround sound and, better yet, it won’t break the budget.
A premium surround sound system is no light matter to consider adding to your home, and the Monoprice HT-35 premium 5.1-channel home theater system is the perfect entry-level system for audiophiles on a budget. Filling small and medium-sized rooms with surround sound, this compact 5.1-channel home theater system proves size really doesn’t matter. Better yet, its satellite speakers are inconspicuous enough to blend in on an end table or tucked away on a shelf, so the home theater experience never overtakes your home.
Instead of having audio coming directly from the television or soundbar, the hallmark of the 5.1-channel home theater is that four satellite speakers are combined with a center speaker and a subwoofer to create an immersive sound experience. This allows you to bring the joy of a robust sound system from the theater into your home—and it’s a game-changer for movie nights and the weekend binge.
Monoprice, known for developing quality speakers at an affordable price, has taken their beloved but clunky 33309 5.1-channel home theater system and revitalized it with the new HT-35. The result is a system with great overall performance in a sleeker, more modern design as compared to its blockish counterpart—a much needed facelift.
Monoprice, known for developing quality speakers at an affordable price, has taken their beloved but clunky 33309 5.1-channel home theater system and revitalized it with the new HT-35.
The Monoprice HT-35 is meant to be versatile, thanks in large part to its compact design, so there are a few considerations you’ll want to bear in mind when looking at adding this to your home. Will you place the satellite speakers on a bookshelf or an end table? Would you prefer to mount them to a wall or on a floor stand? They do have universal connections, but no mounting hardware is included, so if you’re interested in these options you’ll want to pick up any extra pieces in advance.
The Monoprice HT-35 arrives in a large package containing four satellite speakers, one center channel speaker, one user manual, and one subwoofer alongside a 2 RCA male to 2 RCA male audio cable.
The setup process is fairly simple, and definitely DIY worthy, only taking about two hours from start to finish (including wiring through our crawl space). Mainly, you’ll be connecting the different speakers and calibrating the audio. It’s quite detailed in the user manual for those interested in taking the time to learn, although a handyman is equally capable of setting this up if you prefer. There are a few key hitches you’ll want to consider before you get started:
First and foremost, the Monoprice HT-35 will require an AV receiver with a maximum output of 100 watts. This acts like the hub of the home theater. It processes signals from devices such as a cable box, Blu-ray player, or Nintendo Switch, and disperses them where they need to go. Whether it’s the audio signal to the speakers or the video from your Nintendo Switch to your television’s display—everything filters through the AV receiver. For my purposes, I used the Yamaha RX-V385, a user-friendly and entry-level AV receiver.
The second consideration is how you’ll make the connection to the speakers. Since the Monoprice HT-35 is not a wireless system, you will need to use speaker wire to bridge the connection between the AV receiver, the four satellite speakers, and the center speaker. The Monoprice HT-35 accepts wire between 10 AWG and 18 AWG. For my purposes, I used a 100-foot package of 16 AWG and it was more than enough for the project. Don’t forget a pair of wire cutters—you’ll need them to trim the plastic wire from the tips so that you can feed the bare wires into the speakers’ spring-loaded binding posts. Unfortunately, they do not accept banana plugs.
Once the connections are wired, the calibration process will depend on the AV receiver you’ve purchased, but many AV receivers are able to automatically calibrate the audio levels with an included acoustic optimizer—effectively a fancy microphone that emits a series of tones to check the balance of sound. Once complete, do be aware that the Monoprice HT-35 has a warm-up period of 50-80 hours before you’re able to use it at maximum volumes, otherwise you may encounter distortion and damage your system if the speakers aren’t allowed to flex and soften during this time.
Do be aware that the Monoprice HT-35 has a warm-up period of 50-80 hours before you’re able to use it at maximum volumes, otherwise you may encounter distortion and damage your system if the speakers aren’t allowed to flex and soften during this time.
While compact home theater systems aren’t generally known for their great sound quality, Monoprice has doubled-down on their compact design. Yet, the HT-35 still combines crisp dialogue from the center speaker, smooth-sounding mids and highs from the satellite speakers, and low frequencies from the subwoofer. I was surprised by how much bass it emits for its size. And, for a small sound system, it can really crank up the volume—especially on movies.
The HT-35 still combines crisp dialogue from the center speaker, smooth-sounding midtones and highs from the satellite speakers, and low frequencies from the subwoofer.
Unfortunately, the Monoprice HT-35 doesn’t quite have the boom and shake of larger, more robust home theater systems. It’s a noticeable impact if you’re looking to place it in a larger room. Overall, however, each speaker component compliments the whole, making the Monoprice HT-35 an excellent home theater option for small and medium-sized spaces.
An additional drawback to the speakers is that they don’t perform as well for streaming music as they do for the movies and TV. If you’re a music junkie who values depth of sound and can afford to splurge for a more robust home theater system, then it’s well worth it. For the average user, however, the Monoprice HT-35 is more than sufficient thanks to its good overall performance.
A 5.1-channel home theater system ranges drastically in its setup cost, thanks to a wide range of products and needs. Speakers alone can range in cost from $150-$1,000+. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to spend $500 or more on the entire home theater system, especially once you include the cost of the speaker system, the AV receiver, and any needed tools or parts.
With an MSRP of $220, the Monoprice HT-35 is a fairly simple model with good quality sound that sits comfortably at the front of the curve. Since you’ll also need to pick up an AV receiver to operate it, you should also plan to spend an additional $150 or more on this extra piece. Still, considering the combined price of these parts and the quality of the HT-35 speakers, it’s a great deal.
With a fairly simple setup process and a low price point for the curve, it’s easy to see why the Monoprice HT-35 is appealing. After a short afternoon of work, you can sit down and enjoy a great entry-level 5.1-channel surround sound system. It’s compact, easy to use, and it can blend into the background of a room thanks to its compact design. While it’s great for filling small to medium-sized rooms with immersive sound, unfortunately, it’s a bit lackluster with larger spaces. It’s also not the greatest system if you’re a music junkie who values depth of sound.
If price isn’t an object, however, and you want a system with a bit more bang for your buck, the Bose Acoustimass 10 series is a fierce contender. Bose, known for creating some of the highest quality audio products today, has knocked it out of the park again. With satellite speakers that also measure an impressive 7.5 inches, and a much sleeker, modern design than the Monoprice HT-35, it’s equally compact and capable of emitting powerful bass, crisp dialogue, and accurate highs without distortion.
The price point is significantly higher, however, coming in at a whopping $1,000 (see on Amazon)—and, like the Monoprice HT-35, it doesn't include an AV receiver. If you want the best 5.1 channel surround sound system for the price, the Bose is the clear winner, but if you’re looking to get your toes wet with your first home theater system without breaking the bank, the Monoprice HT-35 is a great choice.
A solid 5.1 channel surround sound speaker on a budget.
A 5.1 channel surround sound system is a massive leap in quality from the out-of-the-box audio that comes with most televisions today, and the Monoprice HT-35 Premium 5.1-channel home theater system doesn’t disappoint for the price. While it does have some drawbacks, such as not arriving with an AV receiver or its lackluster ability to fill large rooms with deep, rich surround sound, it’s an excellent choice for first-time home theater users, the weekend binger, or even the movie buff.