Product Review - Monitor Audio GR10 Bookshelf Speakers - February, 2002
Drivers: One 1" Dome Tweeter, One 6 1/2" Mid-Bass Driver
MFR: 40 Hz - 30 kHz ± 3 dB
Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
Efficiency: 88 dB/W/M
Power Handling: 100 Watts RMS, 300 Watts Peak
Size: 14 3/4" H x 8 3/4" W x 11 1/2" D
Weight: 20 Pounds Each
MSRP: $1,495/Pair; Available in Black Ash, Natural Cherry, Rose Mahogany
Very few products in this industry have a long life. Before you know it, a new line is replacing the model you just purchased. Sometimes, it seems like audio manufacturers hire their marketing talent from the auto industry, because they can’t seem to justify their existence unless everything changes annually, even if just in name.
The Studio series from Monitor Audio has been one of the glaring exceptions to this trend, with 14 years running. But last year, it was replaced by their new GR line, and I just had to find out why. So I called up David Solomon and requested the stand-mounted model in the new lineup.
Monitor Audio has been in the business of designing speakers in Cambridge, England since 1972. It was founded by Mo Iqbal who designed of all their products up until about 3 years ago when the company was bought out by Dave Collins and some other interests. Collins brought in a new designer, Dean Hartley, the founder and designer of Keswick Audio. Dean has certainly kept himself busy since joining Monitor Audio, introducing the well received Silver series and Bronze series. The latest offering from this team is the GR (Gold Reference) series, intended as a replacement for their long running Studio series.
In June, 2000, they consolidated manufacturing into a single large facility in Rayleigh, England from three separate ones in Cambridge. The three factories had been split between driver manufacture, cabinet making, and assembly functions. It does not take an industrial engineer to see why being under one roof would improve operations and costs. Perhaps that is why the MSRP of the GR10 is now $1,495 compared to the $1,795 when it was launched.
The design of the drivers got the benefits of the anechoic chamber at Monitor’s facilities. The finished product evolved as a result of A/B tests performed with models from the competition. The priority for these and all their speakers is the ability to accurately reproduce music first, and be able to handle the dynamic needs of home theater.
The GR series offers two floor-standers, one monitor (the GR10), one center channel, and one rear effects model. All four models use the same 1” C-CAM gold dome tweeter and 6.5” RST/C-CAM driver for the mid-range and bass, with slight variations between models. When used for midrange, the driver also includes a solid aluminum phase plug. More on the proprietary names and technologies in the Design section below.
Using similar drivers for several models is a very savvy and cost-effective approach. It obviously costs less to design, produce, inventory, and quality control two drivers than it does for three or more drivers. It also allows for a common tonality between the models, which is very important when using these speakers in a home theater setup. By Monitor Audio using only two drivers for their entire GR line, you not only save a bundle of money, but you are free to mix and match between models in a surround sound setup. A more subtle source of savings is realized by offering only four models in the line. Remember, you can pay a lot more for the same product if the manufacturer is frivolous with the money invested in the design, production, and distribution. So, it is very important to look at the spending habits of the manufacturer when evaluating the value of the products.
The Studio series had been in production for 14 years, which is several lifetimes in this industry. While time itself is not a valid reason to renew a line of products, you would hope that the manufacturer has come up with some improvements. The GR series has several such improvements that I will discuss below, but amazingly it also has a lower sticker prices. If you take into account inflation, this is an surprising, and welcome, accomplishment. I would conclude that the folks in Rayleigh might be up to sorcery. Merlin came from somewhere over there, didn't he?
My listening room is 16’ by 16’ by 8’. For casual listening, the speakers were placed so that there were 70” between the tweeters, and 128” from the tweeters to the listening position. For critical listening sessions, all three points were about 70” from each other, and well away from room boundaries.
Burn-in is recommended at 50 hours, and I ran it for a couple of weeks before I even did any serious listening. Height is recommended at or above ear level, with a slight toe-in, say 8 to 10 degrees. David Solomon of Monitor Audio USA does prefer bi-wiring to a single run and bi-amping even more. However, all my listening was done with a single run. As with any speaker, keep them away from side walls and at least two feet from the rear walls. However, the GR10 comes supplied with foam plugs that can be used for placement near the rear walls. According to David, the foam plugs reduce the bass extension by 5 Hz.
The review sample was finished in a Rose Mahogany wood veneer. Other finishes available are Natural Cherry and Black Ash. As a hard-nosed reviewer, I should focus on performance and not aesthetics, but in this case I must succumb and mention that the GR series is not as attractive as the Rosewood Piano finish on the Studio Series. Actually, I have never seen any company finish a speaker like the Studio Series were, but let’s get back to more sensible matters.
The rear of the speakers are furnished with two sets of five-way binding posts to allow for bi-wire/bi-amp configurations. Although I have never explored this option myself, I, along with several respected designers, feel that it is not important to bi-wire or bi-amp. The only exception I would entertain would be bi-amping after an active or digital crossover, but that topic is beyond the scope of this review.
The ultra-cool looking drivers will have you tossed between keeping the grille on or off. You pick, because I never did make up my mind the entire time I had them. With a face area measuring almost 9” by 15”, these are the biggest monitors I have yet reviewed.
Click HERE to go to Part 2 - Design & Sound
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