Turning Silver into Gold
December 3rd, 2009 -- by Chris Martens
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced surround speaker systems)
- Transparency and Focus: 10
- Imaging and Soundstaging: 10
- Tonal Balance: 9
- Dynamics: 9
- Bass Extension: 9
- Bass Pitch Definition: 8
- Bass Dynamics: 9
- Value: 10
Silver RX speaker system technical highlights:
- All models share 1-inch C-CAM gold metal dome tweeters that are virtually identical to the tweeters used in Monitor’s more costly Gold-series speakers. Note: according to Monitor Audio, C-CAM is "an alloy of aluminum and magnesium on which a thin coating fo ceramic is deposited."
- All models share 6-inch aluminum RST bass or mid-bass drivers. The RST feature creates a distinctive, computer-modeled, “dimpled” cone surface said to “reduce cone break up and provide purer, more natural mid-range clarity.”
- Bass and mid-bass drivers feature vented, rigid, non-magnetic cast chassis said to “keep the driver cool as well as reduce internal pressure, resulting in the ability to play louder and cleaner.”
- Ported models feature the turbulence-reducing HiVe II port system, said to reduce port noise and “chuffing” sounds in the presence of high-amplitude bass transients.
- As a means of providing both an extremely stable driver mounting platform and of improving cabinet rigidity, Silver RX drivers are fastened in place by beefy tension rods that pass all the way through to the back sides of the speaker cabinets to reduce “excessive vibration from the driver and cabinet together, giving lower colouration across the entire frequency spectrum.”
- Floorstanding models feature strong and handsome floor plinths with beautifully made floor spike/floor pad hardware that makes the speakers a joy to install.
- The Silver RX-FX surround speaker can be wall-mounted and features switch selectable bipole/dipole modes of operation.
Silver RXW-12 technical highlights:
- Features a 12-inch C-CAM subwoofer driver with “triple suspension and 3-inch long throw voice coil.”
- 1-inch (25mm) thick MDF cabinet walls with heavy internal bracing.
- 500-watt Class D amplifier.
- Offers two pushbutton-selectable EQ curves. The EQ1 curve is optimized for maximally flat frequency response and “the best overall transient response and power output.” With the EQ1 curve selected, frequency rolloff “starts at 27 Hz.” The EQ2 curve provides what many manufacturers would call a “Movie” mode that provides “an additional boost of 4dB … at 21 Hz to give impact essential for action movies.”
More so than most mid-priced speaker systems I’ve sampled, Monitor Audio’s Silver RX system is capable of sounding like a much higher-end (and higher-priced) system than it really is.
Part of the system’s inherent goodness revolves around its exceedingly accurate and neutral tonal balance. As is often the case with genuinely neutral transducers, I could see how some listeners might interpret the Silver RX system as sounding slightly bright and lean, but this is an illusion. It’s just that the Monitor Audios are among those “what’s on the recording is what you get” speakers that refuse to inject any artificial warmth or colorations of their own. Interestingly, should you happen to try an automated room/speaker EQ system with the Silver RX system, you may discover—as I did—that there really isn’t much work for the EQ system to do (except way down in the low bass region where most speaker systems’ in-room response curves exhibit a few peaks or troughs that judicious touches of EQ can help smooth out).
But accurate tonal balance is only part of the story, because the Silver RX also offers excellent transient speed and astonishingly high levels of resolution and detail. Put these factors together and you’ve got a system that can really dig down deep into good recordings to retrieve layer upon layer of musical or cinematic detail that most systems at this price would either soften or miss altogether. To be perfectly frank, though, this highly revealing quality can sometimes represent a double-edged sword. When fed great material and driven by high-quality source components and electronics the Silver RX system can sound breathtakingly good. But, when fed so-so program material or driven by mediocre components, the system will dutifully report whatever sonic quirks and foibles it encounters—sometimes to its own detriment. This is a roundabout way of saying that while the Silver RX system is extremely revealing, it is also not terribly forgiving—a point to bear in mind for those of you who, down deep, might not enjoy a speaker system that’s capable, in a literal sense, of conveying “too much information.”