Monitor Audio Gold 5.1 Page 2

Almost time for some seismic Hollywood action, but first the subwoofer throws up user interaction, with some level of complexity. A supplied microphone plugs into the front-panel to initiate automatic room correction; much deeper tweaking ('an abundance of features and adjustments it just wouldn't be possible to have all on the subwoofer itself') is possible via MA's SubConnect software, although this requires the use of a PC and wasn't employed here. A rotary dial on the W12's top panel, or the supplied remote, also offer quick access to a quartet of (configurable) user presets: Flat, Music, Movie and Impact.

Sting Like A Bee
It's sunny outside and with the Gold W12 positioned dead centre beneath my projector screen, preset EQ set to Movie and the Blu-ray of Bumblebee at hand, it feels only right to see what the MA combo makes of a gloriously full-on, old-school vibe Transformers soundtrack.

How about transforms it? Having seen the film first in the cinema and then choice chapters on a couple of other review products, the word I least expected to find in my notes was 'subtle' but it's the sense of nuance and finesse this Monitor Audio array brings to proceedings that's so surprising and, to be honest, so satisfying.

It opens up the dynamic repertoire of the soundtrack, exposing low-level details, textures and spatial cues missed by lesser speaker systems. And the reason that matters is, when it's firing on all cylinders at the other end of the dynamic scale, this 5.1 combo is truly and (very) deeply awesome.

Naturally, Bumblebee being a film that invests so materially in colliding heavy metal, big explosions and multi-directional gunfire, moving air is a key requirement and here the teamwork between the Gold 300s' estimable low-frequency chops and the Gold W12 sub's still more visceral LFE contribution is sonic dynamite. When dear old (young?) Bumblebee and his evil metallic adversaries hit the deck, as they do repeatedly but especially in Chapter 19, the crunching chaos, fisticuffs and body slams send shockwaves juddering and rippling through the room, prompting childish 'do it again, do it again' refrains from the stalls. Which they do. The surprisingly lengthy talky bits are expertly handled, too, with rock-solid location, steering, clarity and intelligibility. And this dialogue trick is repeated even in the midst of Decepticon-instigated mayhem.


On to softer but vastly more suspenseful fare with A Quiet Place (Blu-ray) where blind Earth-invading aliens do their hunting with the kind of aural acuity that would put any self-respecting audiophile to shame. Characters have to keep shtum for almost the entire duration of the film if they're to avoid a nasty end. So is there anything for the Gold speakers to do? Plenty, as it turns out – albeit with the emphasis on deftness rather than detonation.

Here, again, it's the way the Monitor Audios deal with detail and micro-dynamics that's so compelling and, in this case, ramps up the tension to almost unbearable levels. The subtlest of Foley effects creep in from the extremes of a very three-dimensional soundscape, best realised for this movie with the Gold FX surround speakers set to dipole mode. Even quivery breathing acquires an almost palpable presence.

And it's not whisper-quiet throughout. When the hungry aliens start to close in, the soundtrack kicks up a couple of gears, Monitor Audio's mighty woofer rolls its shoulders for some heavy lifting and, combined with a few well-timed Hitchcock-esque screen shocks, the whole experience becomes startlingly visceral.

I suggested at the beginning that music replay would be very much another string to this MA Gold combo's bow and so it transpires. The extension, purity and speed of the brand's MPD tweeters brings openness, clarity, fine detail and harmonic structure to the party, melding with a midband that's beautifully voiced and exquisitely clean. There's vanishingly low colouration and cabinet contribution. So when Mavis Staples sings Changes, the opening track from her fab We Get By album (CD), it isn't just the dark timbre and deeply felt expression in her voice that's so arresting but the sense of a physical presence. Meanwhile, the twin tower speakers have the bass extension and nuance to make two-channel listening a full-range event. Marvellous stuff.

Match Point
It's rare to find a 5.1 speaker system that combines slam and subtlety quite as skilfully as this one (not to mention wrapping it up in gorgeous enclosures). It's a distinctly high-end presentation, and one that serves your Blu-ray blockbusters and music collection well. I can imagine that, for some enthusiasts, this fifth-generation Gold package, while a long way from inexpensive, could offer the optimal performance/price ratio.

HCC Verdict

Monitor Audio Gold 5.1

Price:  £8,900

We say: Monitor Audio offers surround sound speaker packages to suit just about every pocket and they're all crowd-pleasers – but this fifth-gen Gold system truly is a class act.

Overall: 5/5


Monitor Audio Gold 300
Drive units: 1 x MPD tweeter; 2 x 8in RST II bass drivers; 1 x 2.5in C-CAM midrange driver
Enclosure: Twin HiVe II rear-ported
Frequency response (CLAIMED): 30Hz-50kHz
Sensitivity (CLAIMED): 90dB
Power handling (CLAIMED): 250W
Dimensions: 240(w) x 1000(h) x 361(d)mm
Weight: 30.6kg

Monitor Audio Gold C250
Drive units: 1 x MPD tweeter; 1 x 2.5in C-CAM midrange driver; 2 x 6.5in RST II bass drivers
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency response (CLAIMED): 40Hz-50kHz
Sensitivity (CLAIMED): 88dB
Power handling (CLAIMED): 200W
Dimensions: 537(w) x 205(h) x 331(d)mm
Weight: 14.5kg

Monitor Audio Gold FX
Drive units: 2 x MPD tweeters; 2 x 4in C-CAM midbass drivers
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency response (CLAIMED): 60Hz-50kHz
Sensitivity (CLAIMED): 86dB
Power handling (CLAIMED): 100W
Dimensions: 342(w) x 270(h) x 160(d)mm
Weight: 6.2kg

Gold W12 (subwoofer)
Drive units: 1 x 12in front-firing C-CAM bass driver; 2 x 8in auxiliary bass radiators
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency response (CLAIMED): 20Hz-150Hz
Onboard power (CLAIMED): 600W Class D Hypex
Remote control: Yes
Dimensions: 410(w) x 445(h) x 434(d)mm
Weight: 27kg

Flat/Music/Movie/Impact EQ settings; Night Mode; Automatic Position Correction (APC) room EQ; LED control panel; phase control; balanced XLR LFE input, phono LFE input; stereo phono input; balanced XLR LFE output; phono LFE output; stereo phono output; 12V trigger

Monitor Audio