“Like part of the fam­ily”

FOR Ex­pres­sive and fun; flex­i­ble with po­si­tion­ing AGAINST Noth­ing of note at this price

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

If you’ve al­ready cast an eye over our re­view of the Mon­i­tor Au­dio Sil­ver 200s, our as­sess­ment of the Sil­ver 200 AV12S prob­a­bly won’t come as a sur­prise. Ef­fec­tively, it’s pretty much the same sto­ry­line with a few ex­tra char­ac­ters.

The Sil­ver 200s, the small­est of three pairs of floor­stand­ing speak­ers in this sixth gen­er­a­tion of Mon­i­tor Au­dio’s long-run­ning Sil­ver se­ries, are again the head­line act in this sur­round pack­age.

We re­cently cooed over their speed, ex­pres­sion and sense of fun as a stereo pair, and their de­sign­ers’ ef­forts to have matched that char­ac­ter in the rest of the range im­me­di­ately whets our ap­petite to hear them per­form­ing as a part of a fam­ily.

But de­spite the 200 ap­pear­ing in the ti­tle of this pack­age, the floor­standers’ stage is shared with three equally tal­ented pro­tag­o­nists – the Sil­ver C150 cen­tre speaker, Sil­ver FX sur­round speak­ers and Sil­ver W 12 sub­woofer.

Modern liv­ing

The whole range has been de­signed for what Mon­i­tor Au­dio de­scribes as ‘modern liv­ing’. This means not only more diminu­tive chas­sis, but also that the com­pany’s en­gi­neers have worked to tune the speak­ers to en­sure min­i­mal vari­ance in per­for­mance, re­gard­less of po­si­tion­ing.

Dur­ing our test­ing pe­riod with the Sil­ver 200s, we find that rings im­pres­sively true. They thrive most when placed around 50cm from our back wall, but with only mar­ginal dis­crep­an­cies when al­most flush to it, or out in the room. These dif­fer­ences per­haps be­come a mat­ter of per­sonal taste when it comes to ex­tra bass weight or a faster, more sharply timed de­liv­ery.

The com­pany also used the Na­tional Phys­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory’s pre­ci­sion laser scan­ner when cre­at­ing the cab­i­nets, to iden­tify res­o­nances and then help po­si­tion in­ter­nal brac­ings more ac­cu­rately, en­sur­ing rigid­ity and min­imis­ing any coloura­tions.

Re­duced tur­bu­lence

But the first changes you’re likely to recog­nise in these new speak­ers, the Sil­ver W 12 aside, are re­flected aes­thet­i­cally in the re­cal­cu­lated form of Mon­i­tor Au­dio’s iconic gold-dome tweeter and C CAM (ce­ram­ic­coated alu­minium/mag­ne­sium) driv­ers.

The 25mm tweeter – one ei­ther side of a mid/bass driver on the an­gled fas­cia of the Sil­ver FX, and one each on the Sil­ver 200 and Sil­ver C150 – has been fine-tuned for clearer, smoother and dis­tor­tion-free high fre­quen­cies, and set be­hind a new grille.

The larger driv­ers have been re­designed too, aided by a DCF cou­pling mech­a­nism be­tween voice­coil and cone, which has trick­led down from the com­pany’s flag­ship Plat­inum II Se­ries and aims to lower dis­tor­tion and fa­cil­i­tate a cleaner sound at the top end of the unit's re­sponse. The Sil­ver 200 and Sil­ver C150 each have two 13cm C CAM driv­ers in a 2.5-way con­fig­u­ra­tion, while the Sil­ver FXS have a 15cm driver in a two-way cross­over.

While the cab­i­nets of their coun­ter­parts are sealed, the Sil­ver 200s also ben­e­fit from a pair of rear-fir­ing Hive II re­flex ports, which use a straight-ri­fled de­sign to re­duce tur­bu­lence – ef­fec­tively mov­ing air in and out more swiftly for more pow­er­ful bass re­sponse.

A fi­nal word on the de­sign of those Sil­ver FX sur­round speak­ers: their semi­hexag­o­nal de­sign and eas­ily switch­able dipole/bipole modes is a real touch for those un­able to place them over the shoul­ders of their lis­ten­ing po­si­tion. In­stead you can wall-mount and still achieve a wrap-around sound­field that would be unattain­able us­ing more tra­di­tional stand­moun­ters.

False start

And then there’s the Sil­ver W 12 sub­woofer, which faces us with a 30cm ver­sion of the dished C CAM cone, though bereft of the dim­ples adorn­ing those driv­ers on the rest of the range. It’s driven by a 500W Class-d am­pli­fier and a black an­odised 75mm voice coil that Mon­i­tor Au­dio says pro­vides higher power han­dling and low dis­tor­tion. It also of­fers three EQ set­tings – Mu­sic, Movie and Im­pact – and a top-mounted con­trol panel to dial in eas­ily more or less low fre­quency heft with­out scrolling through the set­tings via your amp.

The only caveat here would be for those with their hearts set on the high-gloss black ve­neer – it will set you back an ex­tra £290. But so pleas­ing are Mon­i­tor Au­dio’s five al­ter­na­tives – black oak, wal­nut, rosenut, nat­u­ral oak and satin white – that we can’t see many po­ten­tial suit­ors be­ing alarmed.

We be­gin our test­ing with a false start. Hav­ing be­come ac­cus­tomed to the Sil­ver 200s’ full-bod­ied, ex­pres­sive sound, it was clear that, even af­ter a cou­ple of nights’ run­ning in, the rest of the pack­age wasn’t keep­ing pace. There was none of the warmth or dy­namic range, and tre­ble fre­quen­cies didn’t ring with that fa­mil­iar clar­ity.

It isn’t un­usual for speak­ers to take up to 100 hours to re­ally hit their stride, so if you’ve got the Sil­ver 200 AV12 pack­age home and are ini­tially unim­pressed, we’d sim­ply ad­vise a lit­tle pa­tience. The pay-off is huge – give these speak­ers a lit­tle ex­tra time to pre­pare, and it’s as if they’ve breathed a sigh of re­lief, com­posed them­selves and lost the first night nerves.

Sud­denly, the crashes, bangs and wal­lops of The Lego Bat­man Movie are thrown at us, as if phys­i­cally trav­el­ling around the room with in­cred­i­ble co­he­sion as each speaker com­ple­ments the others. We give the sub a lit­tle ex­tra room to rum­ble than our ini­tial set-up per­mit­ted, and it sets the foun­da­tion for a per­for­mance of con­crete so­lid­ity.

But even as we add to those low fre­quen­cies, it does noth­ing to de­tract from the pace we ad­mired when test­ing the Sil­ver 200s on their own. As a whole, the pack­age times with mil­i­tary pre­ci­sion, driv­ing ac­tion scenes with re­lent­less mo­men­tum and de­liv­er­ing quips with the com­par­a­tive sharp­ness of their wit.

Dead­pan de­liv­er­ies

But a sur­round pack­age lives or dies by its cen­tre speaker, which car­ries the bur­den of the work. The ex­tra hours of run­ning in make all the dif­fer­ence: there are in­flec­tions in dead­pan de­liv­er­ies, ur­gency in mo­ments of panic and mu­si­cal­ity in the sound­track.

Rarely are we so fully be­hind a speaker pack­age for its work both in stereo and in sur­round sound, but with these Mon­i­tor Au­dio Sil­vers you truly are achiev­ing both for the price of one.

And our ad­mi­ra­tion fails to dwin­dle as we shift to a DVD of Ra­dio­head’s King Of

Limbs: Live From The Base­ment. Even through an AV amp, there is that same mu­si­cal qual­ity and sense of en­ergy when it comes to han­dling mu­sic that makes it dif­fi­cult to choose whether to watch a film or put on a record.

We said this would be a sim­i­lar sto­ry­line as with our Sil­ver 200 re­view, and it is. But if we end up tread­ing the same ground with Mon­i­tor Au­dio’s next gen­er­a­tion of Sil­ver speak­ers, we won’t be dis­ap­pointed at all.

The Sil­ver 200s are the head­line act in the sur­round sound pack­age

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