Product Review - Monitor Audio
Bronze 3 Speakers - December, 2000
Monitor Audio Bronze 3 Speakers
Floorstanding 2 way speakers
1� gold dome tweeter, 6.5� Metal Matrix Polymer Mid/Bass driver
MFR: 40 Hz - 25 kHz � 3 dB
Sensitivity: 90 dB/W/M
Recommended Amplifier Power: 150 Watts Peak
Size: 33" H x 7 1/2" W x 9" D
Weight: 31 Pounds Each
MSRP: $499/pr USA
Monitor Audio USA, 902 McKay Road, Pickering, Ontario, CANADA L1W 3X8; Phone 905-428-2800; Fax 905-428-0004;
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 2 years ago when
the company was bought out by Dave Collins and some other minority
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 (click
here for our review) and Bronze series. Early next year, he will be
revealing a high end GR series to replace the current Studio line.
The Bronze series was conceived to
be positioned for the entry level market, a first for Monitor Audio. As we
will see, there are some definite trickle down advantages to an established
audio heavyweight coming up with entry level products.
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 (rather than home theater crash, bang, boom). This is an admirable statement, when many manufacturers are trying to position entry level speakers by appealing to those looking to set up a home theater. This includes calling them "designed for home theater", and in one case I know of, even including a switch to toggle between "audio" and "HT" settings.
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.
took me less than an hour to unpack the speakers, screw in the spikes, and set
The review samples were finished
in a light cherry laminate on the sides, top, and bottom. The front and back
were finished in black plastic. You would need to get up close and personal to
realize that the sides are not real wood. Two 1.25� ports sit on the front
baffle a few inches below the woofer. The black cloth grille covers the front
only down to the woofer, leaving the ports and rest of the plastic front
The bottom has four threaded holes
that accommodate the included adjustable spikes. The supplied diagram shows
the holes could also be used to fasten a plinth. The rear of the speaker has
gold-plated 5-way binding posts with plastic caps. This allows for bi-wire and
bi-amp configurations, and the requisite bridge is supplied if only one set of
cables is to be used.
There is a plastic cap on the back
that opens into a cavity at the bottom of the cabinet. This cavity can be
filled with sand or lead shot, supposedly tightening up the bass and providing
more stability. This is an optional feature and can be experimented with,
depending on your needs and preferences (I elected not use this feature during
The Bronze 3s employ a 1�
aluminum-magnesium alloy tweeter, its gold color being a cosmetic
embellishment that I personally find aesthetically appealing. The
tweeter is set in a natural rubber surround that is said to take the "edge" off
the high frequencies (a common complaint with other metal tweeters). This is
where the Bronze tweeter ends its similarity with those found in the other
Monitor Audio lines. The higher end models have more expensive components and better power
2nd order crossover sends signals below 3,200 Hz to the 6.5� woofer. The
woofer material is dubbed as Metal Matrix Polymer, which in simple terms means
it is made of a synthetic material and impregnated with fine grains of aluminum to add
Great attention has been paid to the rigidity of the enclosure. The front baffle is not made of the usual �� MDF that is ubiquitous at this price point. Instead, two 1� boards are glued together, a design feature intended to hold the drivers steadily in place, with an expected benefit of better imaging. The remainder of the box is ��MDF.
The recommended break-in period
for these speakers is about 30 hours. After running it for about 4 days with a
variety of material, I sat down for some serious listening.
The Bronze 3s have excellent resolution in the top end, evidenced by my ability to pick out faint notes and sounds. It was very easy to distinguish instruments no matter how complex the arrangement or music. This accuracy seems to be at a sacrifice of horizontal dispersion which I felt to be limited. Instruments and vocals that should have staged dead center, shifted to the left or right with only a small shift in the listening position.
In spite of the detailed top end,
the speakers were never tiring to listen to, as is often the case with designs
where the treble is gritty. I auditioned the speakers for many an evening,
4 to 6 hours at a time, and it was never a fatiguing experience.
Bass extension seemed to respect
the specifications, with the �3 dB point at 40 Hz. For the size of the
driver and box, the bass was about as deep as one would expect. But the
quality of bass was indeed impressive, with not a hint of boominess, thanks probably in part to the
aluminum grains in the woofer. I would rather a speaker be designed to put out
whatever bass it can as long as it is flat and tight. If you intend to listen
to music only, there is not much you will be missing. For home theater
applications these speakers will benefit from being mated with a good
subwoofer, and in my case, they blending well with my Velodyne F1500R.
The speakers' soundstage was very good. In the critical listening position, I was impressed at how wide
and deep an image was projected. On most well recorded material, instruments
and vocals were placed clear of the speakers. It was often easy to place an
instrument several feet away from where the speakers were sitting.
Regardless of price, these are
very nice sounding speakers. But at this price point, I must award kudos to
Monitor Audio for an awesome speaker. At higher price points, there is more
room to include expensive components and processes, but to put out a good
sounding speaker at a lower price is very difficult. If this is
entry level, I can't wait to see what they will do with their high end GR line.
PSB Image 5T speakers
Velodyne F1500R subwoofer
Bryston 4B and NAD
NAD 917 preamp
Pioneer 414 DVD player
DH labs BL-1 interconnects
Self designed speaker wire
- Arvind Kohli -
� Copyright 2000 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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