Monitor Audio is a revered name in audio circles but if you’re yet to sample its wares then this newly-buffed Silver series is a superb starting place. Sandwiched between the Gold and Bronze ranges, it marks the point where you start getting a proper high-end performance without having to remortgage.
Using the acclaimed Silver RX series as its blueprint, this mid-market range includes eight new designs combining new innovations and features from the Platinum and Gold series that have been updated and refined.
The range includes three floorstanders – Silver 6, 8 and 10 (£1,000, £1,250 and £1,500 per pair respectively); two standmounts, Silver 1 and 2 (£500 and £650); the Silver Centre (£375); Silver FX surrounds (£500) and the Silver W12 subwoofer (£1,000).
Just as it did with the RX series, Monitor Audio has bundled these new Silver speakers into a sub-£3K supergroup (6AV12). The line-up includes a pair of Silver 6 floorstanders as the front men, Silver Centre on vocals, Silver FX as backing singers and the W12 sub on bass. All the speakers use the same drivers to ensure tonal consistency, a vital part of the listening experience.
They come in a choice of Rosenut, Walnut, Natural Oak and Black Oak real wood veneers, and premium High Gloss Black and White finishes (as used here), which take the overall price to £3,160.
Chiselled, robust and gleaming white, the Silver 6 floorstander is a sonic Adonis. This handsome, beautifully-made speaker’s elegance and heft make it worth every penny of the asking price, and at 885mm tall it’s not too imposing either.
In the box is a thick plinth that screws onto the bottom and finishes off the look nicely, but you don’t have to use it. There are substantial polymer pad feet for hard floors with detachable spikes for carpets. On the back are two sets of bi-wireable binding posts.
Monitor Audio’s C-CAM (ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium alloy) cones lurk behind the grilles – one 6in bass, one 6in mid/bass. But unlike the previous Silver RX, which featured a centre aperture for the voice coil, these take the form of a continuous dish with nothing in the middle – the voice coil is found behind and coupled to a more efficient drive assembly. Monitor Audio claims this makes the cone stronger and gives it a greater radiating area than the previous design.
For the rear channels, Monitor Audio signals its home cinema intentions with a pair of bipole/dipole speakers, each with a forward-facing 6in driver and twin side-mounted tweeters. A switch on the back lets you choose between the two modes. You can, therefore, change the performance to suit your setup. Bipole – which keeps the mid/bass driver and tweeters all in phase – is better suited to a 5.1 arrangement where the speakers are placed behind the listening position, creating a wide soundstage while retaining a sense of directionality. In dipole mode the mid/bass driver and one tweeter are out of phase with the other tweeter – one pushes, the other pulls – creating a more wraparound rear image. If you’re using two pairs of FX in a 7.1 setup, this is the mode to use.
The W12 subwoofer, like the centre channel, is somewhat on the large side, but is attractive. The spec includes a 500W DSP-controlled amplifier and a 12in front-firing long-throw driver, plus three EQ modes – Movie, Music and Impact. Helpfully the volume and EQ controls are placed on top so you don’t have to keep climbing over it to access the back panel.
But the pièce de résistance is the built-in Automatic Position Correction (APC), which optimises bass performance for its position in the room by tweaking the frequency response. Rather rare on a woofer, it’s easy to use – just plug in the supplied mic, hit a couple of buttons and the test tones begin. After running the system I was very happy with the results, as bass seemed tighter and less boomy.
After playing a range of songs I discovered – somewhat unsurprisingly given the company’s hi-fi leanings – that Silver is first and foremost a very musical system. Articulate, detailed and sensitive to the dynamic requirements of the music, it’s a spine-tingling listen – the sleazy atmospherics of the 5.1-channel SACD of Roxy Music’s Avalon is brilliantly captured, with the system lavishing the title track with detail. There's a silky sparkle to the hi-hats and synths, as well as a lingering spacey reverb on Bryan Ferry’s vocals.
Another vital component is its terrific transient response up and down the frequency spectrum. Not only do snare drums sound thick and punchy, you can hear the crisp leading edge as the drumstick hits the skin. It’s also evident in the live bassline of George Benson’s jazz-funk classic Breezin’ – I could hear the bass player’s fingers plucking the strings, while the sub’s natural agility keeps the groove ‘in the pocket’. Stereo imaging is superb too – voices and guitar solos sit in the middle of the front speakers, while other instruments are organised around them.
With movies the 6AV12 is an efficient handler of multichannel action, but its musicality and refinement prevent it from getting really brutal. Yes, it’s engaging and exciting, but too laid back to outmuscle some of the belligerent movie beasts from rival brands. Playing big, noisy action films with these is like asking Kiri Te Kanawa to perform Firestarter by The Prodigy – she’d give it a bloody good go, but her tone is too elegant to nail Keith Flint’s grunt and aggression.
However, the most important job of any speaker system is to completely immerse you in the movie without jolting you back to reality, and these speakers achieve this as well as any system I’ve heard at the price. A major part of that is the wonderful integration across the entire package. Identical drivers in every speaker ensure an even tone, while the incredibly wide dispersion of the FX surrounds creates a seamless, enveloping soundstage, with effects coming at you from every angle. It links up with the front stage too, allowing audio to pass fluidly from front to back.
Skip to the nerve-shredding finale of Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men and the Silvers do a masterful job as Theo lumbers his way through the Bexhill refugee camp. Those enveloping rears keep the scene’s tense, eerie atmosphere hanging around you throughout, sporadically peppered with snappy transients and big bass hits. The FX models ping scary-sounding bullets across the back stage, while tanks lumber into view with a deep mechanical growl and the superb W12 sub shudders your chest with well-controlled explosions. Astonishing stuff.
The 6AV12 array is therefore a highly impressive system offering top-drawer performance, elegant looks and stunning build quality. Monitor Audio’s refined, responsive sound works wonders for music, and with movies it delivers one of the most natural and immersive soundstages I’ve heard. It’s not the most gung-ho lineup around but those who prize beauty over brawn will love the 6AV12 to bits.
Highs: Stunning design and build quality; immersive, gap-free soundstage; meticulous detail; tightly integrated bass
Lows: Lacks the potency of some systems; refined sound better suited to music; gloss options cost more
Silver 6 floorstanders
Drive units: 1 x 6in RST C-CAM bass driver; 1 x 6in RST C-CAM mid/bass driver; 1 x 1in C-CAM gold dome tweeter
Enclosure: Dual-chamber bass reflex with twin HiVe II port system
Frequency response: 35Hz-35kHz
Power handling: 150W
Dimensions: 185(w) x 885(h) x 240(d)mm
Drive units: 2 x 6in RST C-CAM mid/bass drivers; 1 x 1in C-CAM gold dome tweeter
Frequency response: 45Hz-35kHz
Power handling: 150W
Dimensions: 500(w) x 185(h) x 200(d)mm
Silver FX bipole/dipole rears
Drive units: 1 x 6in RST C-CAM mid/bass driver; 2 x 1in C-CAM gold dome tweeters
Frequency response: 60Hz-35kHz
Power handling: 85W
Dimensions: 311(w) x 250(h) x 130(d)mm
Silver W12 subwoofer
Drive units: 1 x 12in C-CAM driver with 3in long-throw voice coil
Low Frequency response: 20Hz
On board power: 500W
Remote control: No (but controls are top-mounted)
Dimensions: 340(w) x 340(h) x 380(d)mm
Connections: Stereo phono input and output; LFE input and output
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