You will have followed our narrative around the evolution of the Monitor Audio range over the last few years and the new 7G (Seventh Generation) Silver series is the latest instalment.
Monitor Audio have a scale and consistency that makes them stand out amoung the UK based speaker designers. The rate of development and improvement has really stepped up as Monitor Audio’s Plantinum II, Gold, Silver and Bronze series all compete with and cross fertilise each other. Specialist projects such as the ‘Studio’ take things even further.
The Silver series are the essential heart of the Monitor Audio range – above entry level but still affordable. And by being in what’s seen as the most competitive section of the market, you can probably understand why they have undergone so many generational changes.
But why even make a change? It doesn’t seem like that long ago but we reviewed the Silver 6G 300s in 2017. ‘Seated on a couch in front of the speakers, the remarkable coherence of sound between all the drivers becomes much more obvious. Midrange is especially expressive with vocals clear and natural. Sound-staging is as good as with any system I’ve heard. As the system warms up (and we’re still well short of full run in) the sound has gained balance and poise.’
Since then we’ve paired many sets of the Silvers with ever improving systems and they have never left us feeling short changed. But what we did find was that given a choice between the elegance of the 300 and the extra performance afforded by the 500s the larger speaker won out every time.
We were also greatly enamoured by the largest of latest generation of Monitors Audios Gold series, the 300s, which, despite the model number are physically very much the same size. So it only seems fitting to go straight to the top of the new range. We’re glad we did.
If you didn’t know what to look for, the outward differences between Silver 6G and 7G are subtle. The design is just a bit crisper with cleaner lines and there are some new finish options. Throughout the range the various models are dimensionally similar and feature almost identical driver layouts.
But as they say, it’s what’s on the inside that counts and this is were the work has really gone in. All the parts that actually make the music, the drivers and crossovers have been extensively reworked and improved. Monitor Audio’s trade mark metal cone drivers have evolved into what they’ve termed RST-II ie the new generation of Rigid Surface Technology.
There’s a completely new midrange driver, visually smaller than the 6G unit and it’s this that really lifts performance in the three way models. This is a concept we’ve seen proven in the Gold series.
And this brings us to what makes the Monitor Audio Silvers so good – they have a remarkable coherence to their sound sound – a seamless progression from deep base, through the critical midrange and on to a sweet yet extended treble. By using consistent materials and design through all the drivers, the musical performance is treated as a whole, every part is in balance.
From the first listen my reaction was, ‘what’s not to like?’ Straight out of the box you’ll hear a warm and engaging sound. There is often expectation that you have to wait for a speaker to run in to sound good. The 500s get off to a running start and only get better.
What the 7G 500s bring to the party is more of everything – they go lower and have even better control that their earlier generation. And boy do they dig down. With a specified bass response of 27 Hz you’re getting low frequency performance to rival any subwoofer – and it’s stereo, not mono.
The midrange reveals new vocal and instrumental detail – you’ll simply hear stuff that wasn’t there before. It’s a a lively and engaging performance.The redesigned tweeter extends out to 35kHz taking you a good way towards the performance of the folded ribbon tweeters used in the Gold and Platinum ranges but having the advantage of being easier to both drive and match to the midrange. What you might give away in having a dome rather than a ribbon is well compensated for in what I perceive as a more coherent and balanced sound. Ribbons stand out sonically and have a different dispersion pattern so while you get a ‘wow’ factor, it’s also possible that matching them within a speaker system is more difficult.
The new Silver 7Gs also demonstrate a divergence from our other favourite speakers, the Italian Sonus fabers. This leads to some interesting observations, not just about the difference between the design approaches of brands, but also the physical size and construction of speakers.
The Silver 7G 500s are a big speaker by any standards and there are unarguable gains in bass extension and efficiency because of this. Yet the strengths of smaller speakers in terms of sound staging and clarity, especially in the midrange are matched by the enhanced performance of the RST-II drivers. And, although you can’t see it, the redesigned crossover also contributes.
At just over 22kg each the 500s are also solidly built. This greatly reduces cabinet colouration which would otherwise be a problem if the cabinet were cheaper and less well damped and braced.
Simply put, if you want the visceral bass and efficiency that the Silver 7G 500s deliver, there’s no smaller speaker that will suffice. Yet they also deliver levels of subtlety, coherence and detail that rival many similarly priced smaller speakers. These broad capabilities also mean the Monitor Audios can work across more genres of music and deliver more from any upstream electronics.
And they’re handsome. Our first set came in a dark stand pair matched walnut finish – it’s a appreciably darker than the previous walnut and the new trim that surrounds both the midrange and tweeter is a lot nicer than just exposed drivers. The feet are tidier too. As with all Monitor Audio speakers, special foam port plugs are included and these can be especially useful would you have to placed the speakers very close to a wall.
We can make a direct comparison with the Sonus faber Lumina III floor standing speaker which sells for exactly the same price. The Italian approach is for a much slimmer more compact aesthetic matched to a sound with a very definite character described as the ‘voice of Sonus faber’. There’s a more organic mid-range emphasis. The Monitor Audio approach is more extended and larger in scale with more consistency across the entire frequency range. Each speaker involves you but in different ways. And you’ll certainly not have any difficulty in hearing these differences for yourself.
If you want a speaker with the ability to both caress your ears at lower volumes with subtlety but also to be able to literally take you apart with front row volume levels the Silver 500 &Gs will be an easy choice. The high efficiency means you don’t need a huge or expensive amplifier to do this but conversely if you want to really go to town the larger voice coils in the new range will allow the pairing with some seriously powerful amplifiers.
It should also come as no surprise that these speakers are already gaining great reviews – so while I’ve tried to give a quick run down of why I think you’ll like them , there are plenty of other recommendations out there…
‘This speaker makes far more of an impact than does its entry-level brethren – its sound is bigger, bolder and more mature, and it has the ability to disappear from your mind when listening to music. With the right material, it engineers a wide, deep and seamless soundstage. The 50-litre cabinet and dual woofers delivers authentic, room-filling bass that melds with an evocative midband performance. It’s a knockout.
The 500 7G’s sound is large scale, full-range and peppered with detail, and it seems to expend no effort at all when asked to play loud. Audition at your peril, because once you’ve heard a pair, you’ll want to buy them!
A modern speaker deserves a modern amplifier. From our own range, we think the NuPrime Omnia A-300SE is great place to start. Like the Monitor Audio’s it’s a real multi-tasker, able to take on not just all genres in an even handed way but also working across formats with streaming services and wifi built in. There’s plenty of power there too with 150 watts a channel to really get the 500’s moving.
But there’s no reason not to partner the 500s with an existing amplifier – they are really easy to drive and we’re sure you’ll suddenly gain a new appreciation of what your existing system is capable of.
How far we’ve come. Sometimes a longer term perspective is good. For many years we championed New Zealand made products and there was often good reason for this. One of the standout models were the Image Revelation loudspeakers and I wrote a reasonably effusive review on the Mk2 version of these back in 2007. This model is very similar to the Monitor Audio Silver 500 7Gs in size, driver configuration and basic specification and sold for NZ$6500. How do the new Monitor Audios stack up, especially given they cost a lot less?
The comparison is sobering – the Monitor Audios are better in every respect – finish, technology, absolute sound quality and especially value. There is a lot to unpack here and as much as we hate to say it, time has moved on and Monitor Audio clearly show the benefits of continual improvement through the generations of the Silver series and the massive economies of scale they bring to bear regardless of the cost of importation. Yet much of what we wrote 14 years ago about the Images applies to the Monitor Audio Silver 500s today. The benefits of a larger speaker remain yet downside issues have been ameliorated by improvements made. And most importantly for you, the value-for-money equation has moved dramatically in your favour.
The new Monitor Audio Silver 500 7G speakers really are the complete package – they do everything very well and given the size of most modern television screens, being big is hardly an issue. In fact the Silvers turn it into an advantage. Unlike a small speaker they just make it all sound so easy and can absolutely fly when you want them to. Yet the 700’s also deliver a surprisingly light touch at low volumes with impressive midrange detail and balance.
Monitor Audio Silver 500 7G – dark walnut, ash, white and black finishes in stock NZ$4000 the pair including GST and delivery.
Silver 300 7G – a slim but still substantial 3 way floor standing design. $3400
Silver 200 7G – compact 2 way floor stander with two bass divers – MA’s most popular model in the Silver range. $2600
Silver 100 7G – generously proportioned shelf or stand mount 2 way speaker system $1700
Silver 50 7G – small but seriously good 2 way. $1300