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