At CEDIA 2009, one of my most enjoyable booth visits involved a meeting with Monitor Audio Technical Director Dean Hartley to discuss his firm’s new Silver RX line of loudspeakers. Monitor Audio, as you may know, names most of its product families after precious metals, starting with Bronze range and progressing upwards in price and performance through the Silver, Gold, and Platinum ranges. By tradition, and as a matter of savvy pricing, the Silver models are essentially Monitor’s “bread and butter” product line.
In the past, I have reviewed (and also have overseen writers who have reviewed) Monitor’s previous-generation Silver models and have come away with generally favorable yet also somewhat mixed reactions. On one hand, the old Silver models undeniably offered a lot of value for money, especially for listeners who enjoyed a full-bodied and highly dynamic sound—albeit with occasional sonic rough spots in a few places. On the other hand, I couldn’t quite escape the sense that the old Silver speaker represented a sonic case of “so close yet so far.” In my mind’s eye, I pictured the old Silver models as needing just a few clicks worth of added refinement and smoothness in order to make the leap up from “pretty good for the money” to a much higher standard.
Interestingly, that’s not too far off from the way Hartley and his team would themselves have assessed the old Silver line, so that their mission profile in designing the new Silver RX range was to add those desired touches of refinement, etc., while preserving the down-to-earth prices for which the Silver family is known. To this end, Hartley and company sought first to create better computer-aided design tools. Hartley explained that he and his team members have been working with FEA (finite element analysis) design software for several years now, but that initial results, while helpful to a degree, were ultimately disappointing in the sense that there remained a divergence between what the computers said would sound good vs. what actually sounded good. Tackling this problem head-on, Hartley and his team worked to troubleshoot, modify, and revise their FEA design software with an eye toward pulling together computer-driven speaker design models that tracked much more closely with perceived speaker performance in the real world. According to Hartley, the team has made very significant amounts of progress in this area over the last two years, and the new Silver RX speakers are the first models to benefit from Monitor’s now substantially improved FEA design tools.
Accordingly, the new Silver RX designs have found affordable ways to incorporate several technologies previously seen only in Monitor’s more expensive Gold-series models. Among those technologies are:
In short, the new Silver RX models promise near Gold-series levels of performance, but at a much lower and therefore more accessible prices. Our test system consists of the following: