A com­pact so­lu­tion

Ex­cel­lent build and fin­ish; com­pact; good level of de­tail Sound lacks verve and a de­gree of author­ity

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

We don’t envy the Sil­ver 50s’ task. As the en­try point in Mon­i­tor Au­dio’s hugely tal­ented mid-priced Sil­ver range, they have no short­age of over-achiev­ing si­b­lings. We've re­viewed the bulk of the Sil­vers and have al­ways come away im­pressed with their com­bi­na­tion of build, per­for­mance and value. The 50s, de­spite a few slight mis­giv­ings, don’t let the fam­ily down.

While the two-way rear-ported stand­mounter recipe is hardly novel, Mon­i­tor Au­dio has honed it to a high level in these speak­ers. For starters, these are su­perbly built and fin­ished.

The brand has long had the rep­u­ta­tion for turn­ing out classy speak­ers and the Sil­ver 50s just re­in­force that mes­sage with their solid, lux­u­ri­ous feel. We love the cleanly styled front baf­fle with its lack of drive-unit mount­ing bolts and the ob­vi­ous at­ten­tion to de­tail when it comes to the dis­tinc­tive tweeter grille.

Per­fect match

There are six fin­ish op­tions – black oak, wal­nut, rosenut, nat­u­ral oak, gloss black and satin white – so these speak­ers look right at home in most en­vi­ron­ments. It helps that they’re small, stand­ing just 27cm high, and sound com­fort­able close to (but not right up against) a rear wall. De­spite their ac­com­mo­dat­ing na­ture, we would still avoid room cor­ners and give them a sturdy sup­port, ide­ally stands, to sit on.

Tak­ing care in sys­tem match­ing is im­por­tant too. On pa­per, these don’t seem un­usu­ally hard to drive – sen­si­tiv­ity is 87db/w/m and nom­i­nal im­ped­ance quoted at 8 ohms – but a min­i­mum im­ped­ance of 4.1 ohms sug­gests an am­pli­fier with a bit of grunt would be a ben­e­fit. We get good re­sults from Rega’s Brio am­pli­fier as well as our ref­er­ence Ga­mut D3i/d200i pre/power.

Mon­i­tor Au­dio has a long tra­di­tion of us­ing metal drive units, so it's no sur­prise to find them used here. The tweeter is the lat­est ver­sion of the com­pany’s dis­tinc­tive 25mm ‘gold’ dome de­sign and is part­nered with a dim­pled 13cm mid/bass with a ce­ramic-coated al­loy cone.

Those ex­pect­ing the Sil­ver 100s on the cheap are in for a dis­ap­point­ment. Though the two prod­ucts share much when it comes to de­sign and tech­nol­ogy – the £650 100s use a 20cm mid/bass and a larger cab­i­net – the smaller speak­ers don’t de­liver

“Mon­i­tor Au­dio has a rep­u­ta­tion for turn­ing out classy speak­ers and the Sil­ver 50s re­in­force that mes­sage”

the same author­ity, dy­namic ex­pres­sion or sense of fun as their si­b­lings.

But they do have the same sense of seam­less in­te­gra­tion be­tween the driv­ers and a well-pro­jected midrange that oozes clar­ity. Play the likes of Bon Iver’s 22, A Mil­lion and these stand­moun­ters sound at home, dig­ging up plenty of de­tail and de­liv­er­ing it in a com­posed and or­gan­ised way. Pleas­ingly, they sound in con­trol even when the mu­sic moves up a gear.

Off the walls

Ton­ally, things are even, though the speak­ers’ small stature con­trib­utes to low notes that never have enough of a sense of weight or body to give the over­all pre­sen­ta­tion real author­ity. Plac­ing them close to a back wall helps in this re­spect, but doesn’t fix the is­sue. The sim­i­larly sized, though not as class­ily built, Dy­nau­dio Emit 10s man­age this dif­fi­cult feat.

Dy­nam­ics are pleas­ing, though, with the speak­ers ren­der­ing large shifts with con­vic­tion. For speak­ers so com­pact, these Mon­i­tor Au­dios pack a solid punch, par­tic­u­larly through the midrange. Those pesky Dy­nau­dios have more in the way of verve and rhyth­mic drive, but there’s still enough of both to make the Mon­i­tor Au­dios an en­joy­able lis­ten.

We move to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the 50s’ lovely sound­stag­ing comes to the fore. The imag­ing is pre­cise, nicely lay­ered and sta­ble, and the sound projects well clear of the speaker cab­i­nets. It’s worth play­ing around with the po­si­tion­ing to max­imise the Sil­ver’s abil­i­ties. In our test room, we an­gle them in slightly to­wards the lis­ten­ing po­si­tion to firm things up.

We think of the Sil­ver 50s as a ‘so­lu­tion’ speaker – classier and more ac­com­mo­dat­ing than the oth­er­wise ter­rific Dy­nau­dios and able to fit in places where larger ri­vals such as the Award-win­ning KEF Q350s can’t. The Sil­ver 50s may not be the best sound­ing boxes we’ve heard at this price, but they could be ex­actly the speak­ers you need.

These com­pact speak­ers look at home in most en­vi­ron­ments

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