Taken from the company’s high-end series of speakers, Paul Rigby tackles these relatively compact floor-standing designs
Described as a compact floorstander, the Gold 200 is a three-way design featuring two 165mm RDT II bass drivers beneath a 64mm C-CAM mid-range driver plus a MPD high-frequency transducer module, backed up by dual rear-firing HiVe II ports.
Let’s dive into that lot with a bit more detail. The MPD tweeter sits right at the top of the speaker. It uses a low-mass pleated diaphragm with a surface area eight times larger than that of a traditional dome tweeter.
The RDT bass drivers – also known as Rigid Diaphragm Technology (2nd Generation, for the meticulous amongst you) – is a composite ‘sandwich’ made from a thin low mass skin, bonded to a honeycomb Nomex core. It uses C-CAM for the front skin, while the rear skin is made from a woven carbon fibre material.
The C-CAM midrange driver – or Ceramic-Coated Aluminium/Magnesium – is a light and rigid affair that, reportedly, resists twisting and bending stress.
And the ports, known as HiVe II? They are designed to accelerate air flow and reduce turbulence. They use a straight, rifled design.
I wanted to see where the Gold 200s lie in sonic terms. I wanted to see just what you get for the cash and how and why they improve upon cheaper floor standers or, of course, if they even do that. Then I wanted to see how they fared against my electrostatics.
In short, rather just ‘do a review’, which is a bit too easy, I wanted to place these speakers in some sort of sonic context. Which is why I drafted in a pair of Q Acoustic 3050i speakers alongside Monitor Audio’s own Silver 300s and my Quad 57s as a set of chalk’n’cheese options. I like and recommend all of these speakers but I wanted to see how they related to each other in sonic and value terms. So any criticism noted below is only in relation to the more expensive Gold 200s.
To begin, I compared the 200s with the much cheaper Q Acoustic speakers of around £700 (ish). They may offer similar dimensions with a similar build quality but what, if anything else, does the Gold 200 have to offer?
Best suited to amplifiers ranging from 80–200W, the 4 Ohm Monitor Audio speakers include a 88db sensitivity, span 950 x 195 x 330.6mm and weigh almost 22kg each.
The speakers arrive in a dark walnut, satin white, piano ebony and piano gloss black.
I began with Peggy Lee’s Raindrops album and the track Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head. Here, Lee was backed by a full orchestra.
Comparing the Gold 200s to the 3050i speakers, the Gold 200 speakers sounded much more in control of the host of information on offer here. That control started from the lead vocal to the percussion and bass. Hence, the reverb – well old fashioned ‘echo’ in this time period – was more focused and precise from the Gold 200s. The 3050i couldn’t quite corral the upper frequencies which tended to diffuse like a cloud while the bass frequencies were there but lacked depth. The frame of the music, the soundstage itself was also there from the 3050i speakers but the Gold 200 speakers provided more substance. Percussive rimshots were tight and accurate, flute provided more breath and air while treble output was both fragile yet mature in tone. That control and focus plus the enhanced tonal realism illustrated why you would pay more for the Gold 200s.
So what about Monitor Audio’s own lower cost Silver 300s? The latter are more expensive than the 3050i speakers at £1,250, give or take. How do the Silver 300s cope with the Gold 200s?
The Silver 300s provide more focus but the Gold 200 still takes that on a-pace. The Silver 300s add control but the Gold 200s provide further, enhanced abilities. The Silver 300s offer finesse in terms of detail but the Gold 200s add delicacy over and above the Silver 300s.
The Silver 300s are a half-way house between the 3050i speaker and the Gold 200s. The latter add solidity, a maturing in the midrange while increasing the dynamic range and integrating bass impact into the mix without allowing it to dominate.
Both the 3050i speakers and Silver 300s do a great job in their price points and are highly recommended in those slots. What the Gold 200 speakers do is to introduce a sense of order. What do I mean by that? Well, compared to the Gold 200 speakers, the other designs almost feature a water colour effect on the background strings and lead vocal which, in relative terms, swamp and blur out a lot of the inherent detail.
Imagine looking into beamed car headlights. You don’t see the detail around them because of the power of those lights. The Gold 200 speakers reduce that blurring to enable the finer details to suddenly click into place. The ear says, ‘Hang on, what’s this then?’ Suddenly, your ears are alerted to more information which enriches the soundstage.
That soundstage from the Gold 200s can be accused of being relatively narrow, that’s true (at least in the traditional tweeter-pointed-at-the-ear position) but I wonder if the enhanced focus makes that effect more pronounced. I would experiment with off-setting the tweeter so it runs past the outside of the ear not right at them, to avoid beaming at high volumes for some users, this will also increase the soundstage width.
I then wanted to see how the Gold 200s would cope with lots of high-energy, low frequency information. Playing the title track from Thin Lizzy’s LP, Chinatown, I was bowled over by the low-end grunt from the band. The bass guitar combined with the bass drum provided a true ‘big end’.
In this price point, the Gold 200s provide a low frequency grunt direct and live from Hades itself. There is such confidence in the bass regions that I could almost imagine the Gold 200s smirking, while they threw a broadside of focused, tight yet organic bass at me. The bass never swamped the high-end information. Treble-infused cymbals were clearly open while the soundstage remained spacious. Playing rock music like this, the Gold 200s transferred the mood from the studious and almost analytical in their dissection of information to plain ol’fun!
And that’s what they have over the similarly priced Quad 57s, of course, that grunt and drive. Deep bass and the movement of physical air is something the Quads are not proficient at while the Gold 200s lift each drum type on a stand and tell you the minor difference between each one over a full spectrum of sound.
Want a big, bold, impressive bass machine and an informative, transparent speaker exuding clarity and delicacy? Want all of that from a relatively compact chassis? One that’s even smaller than Monitor Audio’s own Silver 300s? You got it in the Gold 200s and then some.
MONITOR AUDIO GOLD 200 SPEAKERS
Price: £2,900 per pair
Tel: 01268 740580
GOOD: focus, precision, controlled yet strong bass, low noise
BAD: nothing at the price
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