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Monitor Audio Silver RS review

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Our Verdict

A high value system capable of painting soundtracks on a large scale

For

  • A great all-rounder

    Suitable for music and film soundtracks

Against

  • FX surrounds are weak compared to the other speakers

One of Britain's best-known specialist loudspeaker brands, Monitor Audio was among the first to introduce some key technologies, most famously the metal dome tweeter - the distant ancestor of the very model used in this system.

The Silver RS range is strictly mainstream in its appeal. The technology is contemporary, if not cutting-edge.

Setting the RS range apart from its rivals, the finishes are real wood veneer, and are of good quality. The styling of the driver surrounds is on the brash side; leaving the front baffle covers in place helps, but there is a small but significant loss of transparency and clarity when the tweeters are obscured.

The speaker that sets the tone for this system is the RS6, the main left/right, which is the smaller of two floor-standing models in the range. It is a two-way design, which means it has a tweeter, a mid-range unit that also covers the bass, and a similar driver which is limited to the bass only.

This is a simple and popular way of increasing the cone's radiating area devoted to the lowest frequencies - where larger generally means better - while using a smaller, lighter and more responsive engine for the mid-range, where these qualities are needed most.

Other models in this system include the RS-LCR, a D'Appolito design with two mid/ bass units flanking the tweeter. The rear effects speaker is a wall-hugger with a single bass driver and two tweeters, which can be switched between bipole and dipole radiation patters.

Last but not least, the subwoofer is an extremely heavy sealed-enclosure design, equipped with a 30cm driver and a 500W amplifier Class D amplifier.

All loudspeakers - or speaker systems - have a degree of technical merit (or otherwise). But loudspeakers can be judged by other than standards of absolute literal accuracy. Loudspeakers have character. Perhaps this shouldn't be, but in reality every part of the audio chain has its own foibles, and so do the engineers entrusted with the task of recording the source material in the first place. So literal, absolute neutrality, is not always what is required.

And so it is here. This is one of those cases where likeability comes ahead of technical proficiency. Not that there is much wrong with the package technically. In most respects the Silver RS6 package is very capable, but there are some identifiable colourations and 'boxy' type effects, and the treble can sound a little sharp at times.

The tonal balances, overall, are fairly neutral, with a mild rising response trend into the treble. The basic RS6 floor-stander gives the system a firmly grounded bass, however, and the subwoofer is a star, thanks mainly to its very solid construction and sealed (unvented) construction, which means a very tight and tuneful bass, and the very muscular motor system.

There have been no short cuts here, and with the ability to tune the bass to suit personal tastes, the overall low frequency balance can be adjusted to match your system and room with greater transparency than usual at this price level.

Bold and vital

What sets this package apart from some of its main competitors, however, is its sheer listenability. There is a boldness and vitality about the sound that suggests some very well-informed listening went into the design process.

It can also be driven to high volume levels without strain or obvious change in sonic character, and this remains the case even with relatively low power amplifiers, thanks to the higher-than-average sensitivity, and the superior current pulling-power associated with the 6 Ohm nominal impedance.

This might cause some under-endowed amplifiers to run a little hot or even trigger the output protection circuits, though this didn't happen on test.

Auditioned with The Thin Red Line, the results were often exciting, particularly in the raw edge-of-the-seat battle scenes, with explicit image steering, and the way the muscular stuff combined with the excellent (and well-recorded) musical score.

Similarly, the slo-mo titles sequence from Apocalypse Now reproduced with tremendous stomach-churning stature and drive, and essentially free of the rather boxy, resonant quality of some competing systems.

This is a system that can also respond positively to the touchy-feely musical numbers in Moulin Rouge, while Pleasantville, which relies on natural speech placement and intelligibility, is helped here by the RS LCR centre speaker's bold tonality and good integration with the RS6.

The surround RS FX switchable directivity helps the system adapt to the size and shape of the listening room, but it is a better home cinema speaker than in a multichannel music playing role, where it fails to integrate fully with the other speakers, and can sound more coloured, presumably because the tweeter is well off the listening axis.

But it is possible to specify the system with RS1 direct radiating rear speakers, which is like a reduced size RS6 physically, and almost certainly sonically too.

Overall, and despite some minor imperfections, this is a high value system capable of painting soundtracks on a large scale, even in large rooms, and with relatively modestly power amplification in charge. Physical presentation is on the loud side too, but the plain dark detachable covers will come to the rescue here.