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Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) photoconductor structures show promise in making real-time laser speckle monitoring useful for high-speed applications, such as acoustic and ultrasonic surface vibration detection. For small detection areas below 103 ??m2 and at low optical intensities, the internal gain mechanism of these mesa structures can provide better SNR ratios than similarly sized photodiodes while still operating in the megahertz regime. Small-area detectors, in turn, improve the sensitivity of speckle monitoring systems, suggesting that these simply constructed SOI photoconducting mesas are a good choice of detector element for high-speed speckle monitoring applications.