What it is: From the British firm Monitor Audio, the Silver RX1 is a small, stand-mount, two-way, bookshelf monitor speaker that incorporates most if not all of the advanced technologies that have made the critically acclaimed and award-winning Silver RX product family so famous.
As Playback reviewer Tom Martin noted in his review of the RX1,
“The Monitor Audio Silver Series RX1 loudspeakers come across like many in the seemingly endless parade of unassuming, though attractive, small box loudspeakers on the market. Because of this, the RX1s do almost nothing to prepare you for the sonic excellence that awaits you once they are installed.”
For those of you not yet up to speed on Monitor Audio, it helps to know that the firm has been a pioneer and major proponent of using light, stiff, responsive metal alloys for loudspeaker diaphragms. But with its Silver RX speaker, the firm also took quantum leap forward in using highly advanced, FEA (Finite Element Analysis) tools to help design and fine-tune its speakers.
FEA tools, per se, aren’t really new, but where Monitor deserves special credit is in figuring out that box-stock, off-the-shelf design tools don’t always do a great job of yielding speakers that sound the way software models suggest that they will. Accordingly, the Monitor Audio team has developed extensive proprietary modifications that give their FEA tools much better predictive power, and that help Monitor’s loudspeakers sound not just a little but a lot better than ever before. Monitor brought these powerful new technologies to bear in a big way in the Silver RX models—the RX1 included.
What the Draw? In a nutshell, the RX1 delivers a very sophisticated high-end sound that belies its modest price. Granted, the RX1 does not (and of course cannot) defy the laws of physics, but within the inherent limitations of its physical size it manages to sound both larger and more expensive than it actually is. That’s the draw.
The basis of the RX1’s excellence is grounded in its superb, low-distortion reproduction of the midrange of the music, which reviewer Tom Martin termed “exemplary.” In particular, Tom praised the RX1 not only for its resolving power but also for its remarkable smoothness, which Tom felt was as good as if not superior to that of loudspeakers way up in the near-$5k/pair range. The result is a speaker that sounds extremely clear, and that offers high resolution, yet without an edge, which is a wonderful combination of virtues.
Bass is taut and well defined, but not deeply extended in an absolute sense (for near full-range bass extension, try the RX1’s big brother, the floorstanding RX8). Still, the RX1’s bass reaches down extremely low by desktop audio standards, making it nearly ideal for that application.
Imaging, and especially lateral imaging, is also one the speaker’s strengths, as it does a terrify job of helping to get the sound “off the box”—something some small speakers, such as the RX1, do much better than others.
At the end of the day, the RX1 is a beautifully made, $675/pair speaker that sounds as if it could cost more, meaning you get a big taste of serious high-end sound quality for your money.
Hint: Check out Monitor Audio’s real-wood veneer finish options for the Silver RX family; they’re beautiful and help add to the “looks-more-costly-than-it-is” vibe.
To read the full review: http://www.avguide.com/review/psb-image-b4-speakers-and-subseries-1-subwoofer-playback-37
What it is: The Image B4 is the brainchild of PSB founder Paul Barton, and is a very compact two-way bookshelf speaker. The SubSeries 1, in turn, is the compact, self-powered subwoofer that Barton recommends for use with the B4.
In person, Paul Barton turns out to be one of the humblest men you could ever hope to meet, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is acknowledged both by friends and competitors alike as a genius when it comes to designing affordably-priced, high-performance speakers. In one-on-one conversations with Barton, I’ve learned that one of things he finds most satisfying is finding ways to give his lower-priced speaker families (such as his Image-series speakers) sound qualities similar to those found in his more expensive modes (such as his top-of-the-line Synchrony-series or upper-tier Imagine series speakers).