Monitor Audio Silver Series 500 Loudspeakers (6th Generation)
the past few years Monitor Audio’s R&D team has obviously been drinking some creative Kool-Aid with all the innovations we have been seeing from this company that hails from the U.K. No doubt, product updates and new products are great for marketing but with Monitor Audio, their latest products appear to consistently be based on solid performance enhancements.
Two years ago I had the chance to review Monitor Audio’s, then new, Gold 300 loudspeaker, a brilliant update to their previous GX series. Sometime after that I reviewed Monitor Audio’s CP-IW460X inwall loudspeaker, which benefited greatly Monitor Audio’s R&D on their Gold Series. Most recently, NOVO Magazine reviewed the company’s Platinum Series II 300 loudspeaker, a ground-up re-design that has received much acclaim from press and consumers. With such continual advancement and innovation, the new Silver 6G Series benefits greatly from trickle-down technologies. For this review, I received the Silver 500 ($2,500 US / pair); top-dog in the new Silver 6G Series, a world first review opportunity.
DESIGN & FEATURES
One significant advantage larger audio product manufacturers like Monitor Audio have is the ability to invest substantial resources on R&D since results can benefit numerous products / product lines; the new Silver 6G Series is no exception. Monitor Audio has leveraged much of their learnings from their new Gold and Platinum II in the new Silver 6G. Extensive research and FEA modelling and their DCF coupling mechanism, a direct trickle down from Platinum II, delivers greater driving force with reduced distortion. An all-new teardrop shaped mid/HF module brings the tweeter and midrange acoustic centres closer for more precise and consistent imaging on/off axis. The 25mm C-CAM tweeter is a groundup re-design, which delivers the smoothest and lowest high-frequency distortion ever for the Silver Series. Monitor Audio’s National Physical Laboratory research, including laser measurement, has aided the elimination of undesirable cabinet resonance nodes; while an optimized crossover network maximizes signal transfer with zero distortion and a benign 8 Ohm impedance. Ports are now on the rear, based on new HiVe II technology, for smoother airflow, improved transient response and tighter bass. The new Silver Series now has greater consistency across the line for a true ‘family sound’, according to Monitor Audio. The models within the Silver 6G Series now follow the naming convention of its Gold and Platinum II Series brethren – the Silver 1 is now the Silver 50 and so on. Available finishes remain the same apart from a new Satin White that replaces the former High Gloss White. There are two new centre speakers (Silver C150 & C350) and the
new Silver 50 and 200 models are now more compact.
The Silver 500 loudspeaker is the largest floorstanding model within the new Silver Series. It is a 3-way, 4 driver, bass-reflex configuration with an all-new 1” C-CAM tweeter, and specially developed 4” mid and dual 8” bass drivers. It has a frequency response of 30 Hz – 35 kHz (-6db); 90 db/1W/1m sensitivity; 8 Ohms nominal impendence and; 250 watt (RMS) power handling. Weight is just over 50 lbs.
The Sliver 500 loudspeakers I received had a Rosenut wood veneer and were wonderfully finished, as expected from Monitor Audio. From the drivers, to the tear-drop shaped mid/tweeter module, down to the out-rigger feet and the dual 5-way binding posts, all was of high quality and impressive for a speaker in its price range.
For the evaluation, I used the Silver 500 with my Bryston BP-26 preamp and 4B3 amplifier, Moon by Simaudio 280D DAC/ player, Rega Apollo CD player and VPI Scout 1.1 turntable. Cabling was primarily Nordost (Heimdall 2 / Tyr 2) with some Zavfino interconnects/power cords. The Silver 500 was also used with a Rega Elex-R integrated with satisfying results. For comparison purposes, I used my Audio Physic Scorpio 25 Plus loudspeakers. I thought I’d include a couple tracks from the repertoire I used in my evaluation of the Monitor Audio Gold 300 loudspeaker. First up, Yes, Please! by Fourplay and the track “A Little Fourplay”. From the first few notes it’s clear that this track has great bass and conveys strong rhythm, which is why it’s one of my go-to tracks for testing audio gear. Much like my experience with the Gold 300, the sonic character that jumped to the forefront with the Silver 500 was its dynamic prowess. The presentation had a somewhat overt flavor, though not offensively so but to the contrary, it was simply exhilarating. Bass was wonderfully taught and noticeably punchier and more dynamic than my resident Scorpio 25 Plus loudspeakers, most noticeably from lower through to moderate volume. The Silver 500 produced bass that was cadenced with no overhang and well-articulated. Fun? Oh yeah, and then some. When it comes to bass, the Silver 500 is a terrific player, ticking all the essential boxes not only at its price point but at multiples of its price. As much as the bass was excellent, I also took note of how well the Silver 500 handled female vocals on this track, not only was the voice delivered clearly but there was a lifelike warmth and smoothness to it as well as delightful presence.
On to “Sweet Jane”, from the Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Sessions. Here the Silver 500 showed its ability to convey Margot Timmins sultry and gentle voice in a lifelike manner, with detail and fleshly warmth, yet absent of any undesirable emphasis on sibilants. The instrumentation was well sorted out within a well-sized soundstage, having depth, breadth and layering. Taps of the ride cymbal rang out with pristine clarity and authentic metallic timbre. There was no treble dryness or harshness to distract from enjoyment of the music. It soon became evident how well integrated the midrange and high frequencies were, a consistency that carried right down through to the low frequencies. Focusing on the bass region, the opening kick drum strikes were produced with considerable weight, pulsing through my room with tactile feel as much as sound, the dynamics evident at moderate and even low volumes. Turning up the volume resulted in bass that remained well-controlled yet shuddered within the confines of my 13’ x 19’ room. The Silver 500 can surely rock, while at the same time being well mannered and finessed.
Next up was vocals by Keb Mo, and the song “Am I Wrong”, from Lee Ritenour’s album 6 String Theory. Keb’s voice hailed up-front and clear, with that smooth throaty character that makes him so satisfying to listen to. The Silver 500 flatters great vocal recordings, combining delicacy and smoothness with captivating musical vibrancy. Paying attention to the driving bass guitar, I heard all the body, grunt and texture I’ve come to expect from the track. Body and colour, combined with realistic energy was how the Silver 500 conjured up the harmonica - no thinness or shrillness to speak of, demonstrating high quality of the tweeter and crossover. From memory, I would say that this 6th generation Silver Series is a clear step up in sophistication and performance from any previous generation. Heck, you might even want to call them ‘Gold’.
Improving on something that is already very good is not an easy task but Monitor Audio has done just that with the Silver 6G Series. The Silver 500 is a true all-rounder, able to coax generous detail from recordings, while consistently sounding musical and possessing tremendous dynamic ability. It’s a speaker that is happy to go from playing chamber music and classical, onto jazz, pop and rock, as well as even punk or heavy metal. At its price point, the Silver 6G Series is likely the sweet spot in the Monitor Audio loudspeaker line-up; a speaker to please the audiophile, music lover and even those that party-hardy.