The Silver RX system handles both large and small-scale dynamic contrasts in a very lively and expressive way—something you’ll appreciate when, say, a movie soundtrack presents whispered, low-level dialog and then abruptly transitions to introduce louder sounds (such as explosions or gunfire). While the Silver RX system cannot play at ridiculously loud levels the way certain big-bucks blockbuster surround systems can, it more than holds its own versus competitors within (or near) its own price class. In contrast to systems that have a subdued, comfortable, “polite” sound, the Silver RX system instead comes across as offering high levels of refinement and detail served up with a real spirit of energy and gusto—a complementary combination of virtues indeed.
I identified only three small sonic caveats with this system. First, because even the tallest models in the Silver RX series (the RX8 floorstanders tested here) are comparatively short in stature, the system tends to cast sonic images and soundstages that fall slightly below ear-level. Second, the accuracy and transient speed of Monitor’s metal dome tweeter comes at a price; namely, a tendency for the tweeter to sound just slightly hard-edged or “pingy” on high-energy, high-frequency transients (though this may be a case where the tweeter is simply reporting flaws already present in recordings or upstream electronics). Either way, these occasional (and thankfully, infrequent) treble discontinuities can distract the listener, leading to a momentary disruption in the Silver RX’s ordinarily excellent imaging. Finally, the bass output of the Silver RX system can, at times, sound ever so slightly under-damped. To address this issue, however, Monitor thoughtfully provides sets of foam rubber port plugs (for the RX8s) so that users can fine-tune the speakers’ bass characteristics where necessary.
Earlier on, I mentioned how well the Silver RX system could handle sudden dynamic shifts in movie soundtracks and the specific example I had in mind was drawn from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The film, set in occupied France during WWII, begins when French dairy farmer Perrier LaPadite receives a surprise visit from the notorious SS Col. Hans Landa. In the stillness of LaPadite’s farmhouse kitchen, Landa (known to the French as the “Jew Hunter”) quietly—and with a certain believable and yet snake-like malevolent charm—questions LaPadite about his former Jewish neighbors. Then, at the penultimate moment, when LaPadite thinks he might just get away with the “crime” of hiding Jews beneath his floorboards, Landa springs the question he has come to ask all along: “You are harboring enemies of the state, aren’t you?” Realizing that Landa’s men are about to search his home for the fugitives, LaPadite’s eyes well up with tears as he softly, haltingly replies, “Yes.”
What makes this scene click, and underscores Landa’s deceptive and purely evil nature, is the pristine clarity with which the Silver RX system reproduces the subtlest nuances of the conversation between the two men, while also capturing the innocent quietude of the humble kitchen. The scene seems so peaceful and the conversation so civil (even genteel), yet it is full of latent peril—peril that you can hear and feel as Landa weaves a conversational noose, as it were, and then abruptly pulls it tight around LaPadite’s neck. The true nature of the exchange, however, is revealed as Landa asks LaPadite—in English, so that the Jews hiding below the floor won’t understand what is happening—to point out exactly where his neighbors are hiding beneath the kitchen. As soon as Landa has his answer, a loud, angular, and distressed string passage unfolds in the soundtrack. Then, the peace of the kitchen is shattered as Landa guides his men to unleash an ear-splittingly loud volley of machine gun fire through the indicated locations on the floorboards. As the massacre proceeds, a huge, menacing orchestral theme swells in the background.
The scene is incredibly disturbing, and shocking to both our minds and emotions. And part of its power is made possible by the prowess of the Silver RX system—driven by the system’s remarkable ability to shift gears from subtlety and nuance to explosive dynamic power in the blink of an eye. We want to believe the oily charm in Landa’s voice—as does LaPadite—but we cannot, and perhaps for this reason are even more scandalized and offended when the true sound of his cold, destructive power erupts and assaults our ears. A fine speaker system can take the inherent emotional power of such a scene and amplify it, which is precisely what the Silver RX system did in this case.