|Monitor Audio Silver S Full Metal Theater Loudspeaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Thomas Garcia|
|Wednesday, 01 January 2003|
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When considering all the components of any home theater system, very few factors can affect the final outcome as much as the selection of loudspeakers. It is amazing how comparably-priced speakers from different manufacturers, which are competently designed, and have similar technologies, can sound very different from one another. This is why the auditioning of loudspeakers is such an important, and sometimes challenging process. Although recommendations can be a great starting point, it is very important for you to listen and make decisions based upon your own preferences and personal requirements. In addition, when it comes to assembling a balanced, effective and enjoyable home theater speaker system, there's a lot to be said for a consistent design among all the speakers. Although many music enthusiasts have augmented two-channel systems by selecting potentially excellent center and surround speakers from various manufacturers while creating a home theater sound system, the end result is often less than satisfying. A home theater system should do more than simply provide sound coming from various directions. Instead, it should produce a cohesive sound field that surrounds the listener in a solid and stable acoustical environment. In general, this is much easier to achieve when all of the speakers are of similar design specifications, engineering philosophies and sonic characteristics.
One of the more respected companies developing loudspeakers for both two-channel music and complete high-quality home theater sound systems is Monitor Audio of England. During the last three decades, Monitor Audio has earned a reputation for designing and developing loudspeakers of exceptional quality and refinement, offering a wide range of options from two-channel to reference quality multi-channel speaker systems. The Monitor Audio Silver Full Metal Theater system reviewed here consists of Silver S8s for the front main speakers ($1499 a pair), a single Silver S-LCR for the center channel ($599), a pair of Silver FXi Surrounds ($899 per pair) and the FB 210 subwoofer ($999).
The Silver S8 is an attractively proportioned, three-way floor-standing speaker, which displaces a relatively small floor area. Featuring Monitor Audio’s distinctive driver cosmetics, the S8 incorporates a one-inch gold (the color is for cosmetic purposes only) ceramic-coated aluminum magnesium (C-CAM) metal dome tweeter, which covers the upper octaves, extending the speaker response to a claimed 30kHz. Placed below the tweeter is a six-inch C-CAM midrange driver, followed by two six-inch C-CAM bass drivers that handle the lower frequencies. Seen up close, the S8s were smaller than I had expected them to be based on the images I had seen in various publications and websites. Reported dimensions for the Silver S8 are 36.8 inches high by 7.3 inches wide by 9.85 inches deep, with a weight of 46 pounds each. Other features include dual binding posts for bi-wiring or bi-amping if so desired, foam port plugs for tuning the low-frequency response, metal spikes for carpeted surfaces and magnetic shielding to eliminate any interference with conventional tube televisions. Finishes for the main and center channels include matched real wood veneers available in Black Oak, Rosemah (a mahogany with a rosewood stain) and Warm Beech. The overall cosmetics are topnotch, making it easy to attractively meld the Monitor Audio system into a variety of decors.
Serving as the center channel, the Silver S-LCR also uses the same one-inch C-CAM gold dome tweeter, flanked by two six-inch C-CAM drivers. With its relatively diminutive size, 6.9 inches high by 19.7 inches wide by 7.98 inches deep, the S-LCR can be easily placed above or below your main monitor. Similar to the S8s, the S-LCR features dual binding posts and magnetic shielding.
The Silver FXi Surrounds utilize the same C-CAM technology as the rest of Monitor Audio Silver Series loudspeakers. Sonically, the FXi is designed to match any of the Silver Series main speakers. Using two one-inch C-CAM metal dome tweeters and two long-throw five-inch C-CAM woofers, the FXi can be configured to operate in a bipole or dipole mode, depending on your preference and/or placement requirements. Available in black or white only, their triangulated shape measures 9.2 inches tall by 10 inches wide by six inches deep.
Anchoring the Monitor Audio Silver Full Metal system is the FB 210 subwoofer, available in a Black Oak vinyl finish only. The FB 210 employs two 10-inch Silver C-CAM drivers, one front-mounted and the other down-firing, both powered by Monitor Audio’s newly designed 250-watt MOS FET amp. Other features include a built-in continuously variable 40Hz-140Hz crossover, an output level control, and a fully adjustable 0- to 180-degree phase control to align the phase of the subwoofer with your main speakers. Monitor Audio’s published frequency response for this subwoofer is 25Hz-140Hz. Proportions for the FB 210 are 20.1 inches tall, 14.2 inches wide, by 14.2 inches deep, with a weight of 55 pounds. These relatively small dimensions made the FB 210 comparatively easy to place for maximum system integration.
Originally, I positioned the Monitor Audio Silver Metal Theater speakers in the same locations as my current set-up, which placed the front speakers approximately three feet from the back wall and eight feet between the two main speakers. With the subwoofer amplitude balanced to match the main speakers, I experienced a much warmer sound in the mid bass than my previous arrangement. Monitor Audio provides port plugs to seal the rear port and change the bass response of the S8s. Installing the port plug in the lower opening and moving the speakers out into the room an additional foot substantially smoothed out the mid-bass response. In addition, my seating location was moved forward to create a more near-field listening position. Once set up properly, the Monitor Audio Silver Metal Theater system snapped into focus, becoming seamless across the front, blending well with the surrounds, while remaining taunt and powerful through the bass.