I've gushed plenty about the Monster ClarityHD throughout this site, namely how amazing it sounds despite the ultra-small size. It was only natural, then, to do a complete review.
Bluetooth speakers hold a lot of promise, at least at the consumer end of things. While hardened audiophiles and speaker snobs will obviously turn up their noses and pooh-path the rather small sound, for the average consumer, these tiny speakers make a lot of sense. I've already made my affinity for small Bluetooth speakers like the Monster Clarity and the Soundmatters fox v2 quite clear on this site. With their small size, low cost, and wire-free performance, whats not to like?
Monster ClarityHD Review: Design
From a purely aesthetic perspective, the Monster ClarityHD wouldn't win any design competitions. The plain, black/silver box has hardly any of the more radical design cues that characterize the small Bluetooth speaker market. The speaker looks somewhat better in silver than black, but it remains a bland looking speaker all the same.
What really stands out, though, is the size: the cube shaped speaker measures 6x6x6 inches and weighs a mere 1lb small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The micro in the name is truly well deserved, and this small size makes the rather bland design seem a bit inconsequential.
The right side of the speaker features a trio of buttons for the speaker phone, volume control, and track control. The back features a USB charging port, an AUX-in port, and an on-off button. All these buttons are as basic as they come with little in the way of design flair.
Design Rating: 7.4/10
Pros: Extremely compact design, low weight.
Cons: Bland looks.
Monster ClarityHD Review: Features
The Monster Clarity HD works with any device with Bluetooth 2.0. This includes virtually every tablet, every smartphone, and any Bluetooth enabled phone, MP3 player, and laptop/desktop. Hooking up the speaker with a Bluetooth device was seamless and took only a few seconds. We used it with an Android based smartphone, an iPhone, an iPad, as well as a last generation iPod Touch, and it worked extremely well with all these devices.
The Monster Clarity can also double up as a speaker phone. While I've never really been much of a fan of speaker phones in general (other than for conferencing purposes), the Monster ClarityHD worked quite seamlessly with my phone. However, most people I called up using the speaker phone had issues hearing my voice. In any case, I wouldn't recommend the Monster Clarity for use as a speaker phone alone; there are far better stand-alone models on the market for that purpose.
Charging the speaker is easy via a USB port. It can also run for up to 5 hours via a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. In actual tests, we could squeeze around 4.5 hours of playtime on a full recharge.
The Bluetooth has a range of 33 feet. An AUX-in port allows you to hook up the speaker to any non-Bluetooth enabled device as well.
Features Rating: 8.0/10
Pros: Quick and easy setup. Decent battery life.
Cons: Doesn't works very well as a speaker phone.
Monster ClarityHD Review: Sound
This is where the Monster ClarityHD comes into its own. The sound quality is, simply put, outstanding and obliterates any and all reservations sprung up by the bland design and ordinary features list. For such a small package, the Monster Clarity delivers a truly extraordinary performance, delivering thumping bass and clear, crisp mid to high tones.
The speaker is powered by two 35mm full range drivers. A Monster Passive Radiator Subwoofer takes care of the low frequencies.
We tested the speaker with a variety of tracks. This includes, but isn't limited to, the new Radiohead album, The King of Limbs (Lotus Flower is challenging song for small speakers), Kanye Wests My Twisted Dark Fantasy, Jay-Zs Blueprint 3, and an assortment of individual songs such as Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, James Browns Night Train, a cache of Jeff Beck instrumentals, a small playlist of David Guetta tracks, and even some Indian Classical sitar thrown in for good measure.
The speaker's performance was incredible in most parts, average in others, and rarely disappointing. The bass was loud and strong in rap as well as rock, and the high tones in Radiohead's songs were clear and crisp. Despite the small size, the speaker could give a $200 system a run for its money.
Sound Rating: 9.1/10
Pros: Excellent sound throughout. Surprisingly solid bass.
Cons: Sound can be thin at times. Volume is very loud, though this was expected in a speaker of this size.