Review: Monkey Banana Gibbon 5
By Sam McNiece
Marsh industries | List Price: AUD 429.99 (pair)
The market for affordable and quality studio monitors is a densely populated space right now, with each brand apparently having an entry-level option for the budding sound engineer / musician. Now get Monkey Banana into the equation, with their Gibbon line of monitors hitting that price point and mark of quality.
The Germany-based audio brand was established in 2004, making studio monitors for their own studios until they finally released them to the world in 2010. Of their full line of speakers, the Gibbon series is their entry level monitor, with 4, 5 and 8 inch versions plus a 10 inch subwoofer.
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The Gibbon 5 features a 5.25 “polypropylene diaphragm woofer and a 1” silk dome tweeter powered by 45W and 35W of power respectively, thanks to class A / B amplifiers. The unit has a rear facing bass port and is available in red and black color options. The monitors have a curved front panel with a Monkey Banana logo that lights up when turned on.
The speakers are capable of reproducing frequencies from 48Hz to 22kHz, which is important for a monitor in this price range. The crossover point between the high and low frequency loudspeakers is set at 3 kHz with a signal to noise ratio of 90 dB. There are three input options here, XLR, 1/4 inch, and RCA, for routing flexibility that’s pretty standard for this price range of monitors.
The input impedance on the Gibbons is interesting, as the unbalanced impedance is 10 kOhm while the balanced impedance is 20 kOhm. This is a great addition to monitors as it allows unbalanced connections (from phones for example) to require less phew to move the speakers, while simultaneously allowing professional audio equipment to pass through the device without blowing them up to maximum settings (or close to maximum settings depending on the product).
Pair this with the balanced +4dBu and unbalanced -10dBV input sensitivity, and you won’t have to adjust their volume between devices. Unlike some other monitors, plugging in an XLR won’t prevent the RCA jack from transmitting audio, which could be useful if you want to have a wired connection and a Bluetooth adapter plugged in simultaneously.
There are three buttons on the back of the device to adjust the volume and frequency response of low and high frequencies. The high shelf starts at 10 kHz in a range 6 dB above and below the default setting. The low shelf acts in the same range but below 100Hz. The Gibbons do not have a high pass filter, but if you plan to pair them with one of the Monkey Banana Gibbon 10 “subwoofers, they do have a crossover. integrated.
One of the cool features of these monitors is that they have an auto-shut-off power saving mode aptly named “Jungle Protection” which kicks in after 12 minutes of inactivity. I set them up for a few days during testing and found that I could leave them on overnight and when ready, come back and start playing music with ease. This makes them a great monitor to set up anytime, even in home listening environments, as you don’t have to worry about their power consumption if you leave them on.
During testing, I found the center image to be fairly defined, providing a good lens for listening to audio. Due to the rear-facing bass port, the Gibbons can pack enough oomph into the low end, which is ideal for such a small box. This would suit electronic music producers looking for a bit more low end in a small space where maybe seven or eight inch monitors would be too big for the room.
It should be noted that due to the rear bass port, it is recommended that you place these monitors away from walls by at least the diameter of the port (in this case around 5cm) but ideally longer to make sure you don’t not hear the reflected sound like a lot. In testing, clarity was improved by moving them 30cm away from the back wall as opposed to the recommended minimum distance of 5cm.
Using a sine wave generator, the Monkey Banana Gibbons became audible at 35Hz, which is lower than advertised, but it wasn’t until 80Hz that the signal reached its full capacity. . I would say there is something under the hood that removes low frequencies (i.e. a high pass filter) on these monitors, which overall is good for longevity and not not bring out a lot of muddy bass – which is enough enough already.
The mid-to-high frequency response is quite advanced on the Gibbons, providing a pretty decent picture of what’s going on. The high frequency response with flat EQ settings was great during low volume playback, but once launched I found that I had to lower the high frequency plateau as it was a bit too much for my liking. Even at these louder playback levels, the highs were reasonably crisp and usable if you like to listen / monitor at high volumes.
Tested with a vocal track exhibiting excess sibilance, it was extremely present, which can be very useful when used as a second reference monitor in a professional studio to verify the translation on all devices.
Overall, the Monkey Banana Gibbon 5s are a decent monitor and do a good job for the price range. Having multiple inputs accessible without having to unplug another is ideal for home users who want to use them with multiple devices paired with the auto-off feature.
As studio monitors, they also get by, with solid bass and crisp highs to deliver great performance for their low price. The Gibbon 5s are solid overall and, thanks to their EQ tablets, can be tailored to your room and listening preferences, which will suit a wide range of users.
Discover Gibbon speakers through their Australian distributor Swamp Industries.