Toting a good looking pair of floorstanders, Paul Rigby reviews the latest iteration of Monitor Audio’s Silver 300 series speakers
Monitor Audio’s Silver 300 speakers are now up to their sixth generation and risk being described as “venerable”. This three-way design spans 1000 x 185 x 300mm and weighs in at a respectable 20kg each with grilles supplied, separately packed, if you need them. I left them off during the review.
Sporting a 90db sensitivity, these floor standing speakers sit on an “outrigger” frame that can be used with our without spikes depending on whether you intend to position these speakers on a wooden or carpeted floor.
Positioning is not particularly strict but the company does recommend a distance of 12” (30 cm) between the speaker and wall. You do receive a selection of foam bungs if you need to position the cabinets closer still or if a smaller room demands it.
The speakers provide two rear ports, HiVe II flow-tuned. These are positioned behind the mid/bass areas of the cabinet. The upper midrange and tweeter cones are physically separated within their own enclosed area.
The signature feature of this line of speakers – and many other Monitor Audio speaker designs – is its C-CAM (Ceramic-Coated Aluminium/Magnesium) development. It’s all very aerospace-derived, doncha know, but the essence of the drivers, which each sport concave dimple patterns, is one of rigidity while retaining a low weight specification.
The drivers themselves consist of two 152mm RST bass driers. Above those is a single 102mm midrange RST driver (with an underhung voice coil), topped by a 25mm Gold Dome tweeter. Bi-Wiring is an option with plates supplied for single-wired connection.
The speakers are available in white, gloss black, black oak, natural oak, rosenut, walnut and, while I’m on the subject of colour, a word about the aesthetics which are neat, tidy, efficient but with a sense of executive styling. I can imagine a greying-templed pin striped-suited chap resting one elbow on the top of these speakers, Financial Times under one arm and pointing in the distance at his profit margin. They have that sort of speaker feel about them.
I began with a vinyl reissue of Gary Numan’s Dance, over 2LPs and a single from that album, She’s Got Claws – the one with the funky fretless bass and the soulful sax.
My first reaction upon listening to this track was to check the price of these speakers because, in general terms, they sound mature, rich in tone and rather more expensive than the sale price.
Properly positioned, the 300s offer a beautifully balanced soundstage, a vanishing stereo image with a 3D tiled effect that positioned vocals over and under and behind the various instruments, providing a sound that was both complex as it was clear. That sense of transparency allowed the ear to easily explore every corner of the soundstage, which was large, impressively structured, big and bold.
There is a light that shines a touch on the mids and bass during high volumes. There’s no brightness here but the upper frequencies can be a touch sprightly, shall we say. That said, this effect also aids the transient performance of the speakers which turn on a nail head, stopping and starting with (the cartoon) Roadrunner-like manoeuvrability.
In bass terms, I was impressed by its mass. That is, bass offered a firm and weighted foundation throughout the track. That’s not to say that it lacked insight, though. Not at all. Lower frequencies were highly informative and articulate with a surprising focus that enabled the ear to track a welcome complexity in this area.
Similarly, within the midrange, I was not only impressed with the precision but also the 300’s ability to separate the subtlety mixed yet essential effects of the song, those sounds that go to form the unheralded yet essential bricks to the overall arrangement but, all too often, vanish during the play of most typical hi-fi chains. The 300s were able to present each on a platter which added to the sheer fun of listening, just to see what the 300s would discover next.
Moving to jazz vocal and A Bucket of Tears from Peggy Lee via the album Extra Special! the slight upper frequency edge to the higher frequencies could be detected again during crescendos but the majority of the performance was one to be enjoyed and savoured with the brass offering a clear and hardened punch with a clear flow to the output from this section.
I was impressed with the open vocal performance that offered a bounce and energy from Lee along with a series of recognisable reverb tails from her performance.
Upright bass can often be hidden in the mix but not here. The ear could easily follow the bass which gave the track a valuable balance and forward momentum while secondary percussion from the bongos, again, often hidden behind more dominant instruments, was given space to perform from the 300s. This generous instrumental separation gave the arrangement a welcome diversity, adding light and shade to the song.
I was trying to sum up these speakers into a snippet, a thought or a soundbite. I suppose I could best describe the Monitor Audio Silver 300 speakers as being designs that make any piece of music an occasion. You almost want to get dressed in your best clothes before you sit down to listen to them. They have a rather grand feel to them – yes – but they also work hard to put on a show. A show of quality, that exudes detail and demands a round of applause when its all over. That’s entertainment? Oh yes.
MONITOR AUDIO SILVER 300 SPEAKERS
Tel: 01268 740580
GOOD: aesthetics, value for money, transient performance, epic soundstage, bass complexity, midrange insight
BAD: slight stridency at high volumes
[Don’t forget to check out my new Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]
Origin Live Sovereign turntable
Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm
Transfiguration Proteus cartridge
Icon PS3 phono amplifier
Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp
Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers
Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade
Vertex AQ & Tellurium Q cable
Blue Horizon Professional Rack System
Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components
All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner
Gokcen12th April 2018 at 2:22 pm
Thank you very much for the review.
I auditioned the Gold 200 recently with the ribbon twitters, i still can’t the brightness of the sound out of my head (sometimes in a good way sometimes in a bad way – kind of torn in between)
Do you have any reviews coming up for the monitor audio gold 200? or already opinion on them? maybe point me to a good, fair few reviews? I might miss some 🙂
Thank you in advance!
Paul Rigby12th April 2018 at 2:50 pm
Hi Gokcen – thanks for your note. I wouldn’t like to refer you to third party reviews just yet because I’ve yet to hear those speakers and would be afraid of giving you any incorrect references. I’m in conversation with MA now so I’ll see what I can do.
Gokcen12th April 2018 at 3:44 pm
looking forward to have your review here then.
@MA give him a pair please 🙂
Paul Rigby12th April 2018 at 4:06 pm
Old Audiophile13th March 2020 at 5:40 pm
I’ve heard these and a pair of Aerial Acoustics 6T recently. Unfortunately, in different shops or sound rooms, a week apart and on different components. So, it’s very difficult, indeed, to judge on echoic memory. However, the Aerial seem to have a distinct advantage, in my view, which wouldn’t be surprising since they are approximately $4,400.00 more in US dollars. Have you heard the Aerial 6T? If so, your thoughts? Worth the additional cash outlay?
Paul Rigby14th March 2020 at 3:27 pm
Thanks for the question and, as you say, it would be rather unfair to compare two sets of speakers with such a price disparity. You’re really talking chalk and cheese here and I would fully expect the 6T speakers to sound better. If they did not, I would be asking the company why! I must admit that I have yet to hear the 6T speakers but, if you like the 6Ts and you have the cash then I think you know the answer to that one. 🙂
Apostolos30th May 2022 at 12:51 am
Thank you for another great review.
I am currently an owner of a pair of Kef Q350s driven by an Audiolab 6000A. I am moving soon to a bigger place, and I am considering upgrading my speakers to a pair of floorstanders, as I have been missing some body in lower frequencies even in my current place. I’ve come across some good deals on 6g Monitor Audio Silver, and I’m considering getting a pair.
How would you compare the Silver 300s to the Kef Q350s? I’m expecting to find the bass I miss, but what about the mids and treble? Also, how did you like them playing on lower volumes? I find my Q350s weak on the treble and, mainly, the bass on lower volumes, and I would like my next speakers not to suffer in that area at the same level. Finally, have you heard the Monitor Audio Silver 500? How did you find them compared to the 300s? Which would fit better in a ~25 sqm living room for a listener who loves bass?
Amp-wise, I hope my Audiolab will be doing OK at least temporarily. The 90 dB sensitivity is a good sign, but I am a bit concerned about the impedance, which falls down to 3.5 ohms. If required, upgrading my Audiolab would be my next step, although I’m not planning to do so for a few months.
Thank you in advance for your time.
Paul Rigby3rd June 2022 at 4:30 pm
I’m afraid I haven’t tested the KEFs (although after a causal listen, I know they sound pretty balanced) but I was pretty happy with the higher frequencies from the 300s. I go into specifics in the review itself. Noreen that slight accentuation at high volumes. Please grab a demo if you can.
The 500s are bigger, bolder, meatier. The upper frequencies are similar to the 300s.
The 6000A should be able to handle the 300s fine.
Apostolos6th August 2022 at 12:39 am
I hope you are well.
A couple of days after my message, I proceeded with getting a pair of MA Silver 300 6g, and I am delighted with them. The pairing with the Audiolab 6000a has gone well, with just one concern, which is the reason why I’m here again: The speakers sound great at low listening volumes. I also noticed that they sound louder than the KEF Q350s at the same volume set on the amp (e.g. -50). I guess that the higher sensitivity makes the difference in this area.
However, I have noticed the opposite in higher volumes. At levels where the Q350s were playing loud with no distortion, the MAs seem to play significantly lower. E.g. -20 with the MAs sounds similar (if not a bit lower) to -30 with the KEFs. Do you believe that the 6000a might be running out of juice, being unable to provide enough current? Initially, I considered this could just be my impression, probably because of the MAs’ more “controlled” sound, but I am pretty confident this is not the case.
Thank you in advance for your answer. Cheers.
Paul Rigby9th August 2022 at 9:34 am
I think you’re spot on in your analysis, Apostolos. If you check out the specs for both speakers, the KEFs need a 15W+ amp to run well but the Monitor Audios really need a 80W+ amplifier which means the 6000A may struggle at high volumes. The latter’s sensitivity, as you note, allows play at low volumes to sound great but I think the 6000A runs out of puff at higher volumes.
Apostolos3rd October 2022 at 11:58 am
I hope you are well.
Almost two months past my last comment here, I believe I understand my above concern better after plenty of listening and some tests.
I still love the sound of the Monitor Audio Silver 300 6g + Audiolab 6000a combo, but this is not the case when I play louder. The sound becomes thinner and a bit fatiguing. This behaviour, in total, feels like a combination of my amp being unable to feed the speakers’ woofers with enough current, their character (this might be the stridency you describe in your review), and the acoustics of my room due to excess reflections.
Regarding my room’s acoustics, I cannot do much (e.g. adding panels to the walls) because I’m renting this place, and I am not planning to stay here for a very long time. Adding a rug helped, but I cannot do much with the reflections between the parallel walls behind the speakers and my listening position. I experimented a lot with my speakers’ positioning ending up having them a few degrees towed out, which reduced the reflections and the listening fatigue at higher volumes. At the same time, a slight decrease in detail focus wasn’t a significant issue, and I took it as a fair tradeoff.
During this period, I also tested a couple of amps in my room. I started with a Roksan Attessa streaming, which brought me mixed feelings. It was even better at low volumes, but I found it overwhelming when playing louder. Although the bass uncovered the MA’s missed mass and authority, the listening fatigue was more significant, with the sound getting a bit too open and detailed. I also noticed issues, like underlying noise on the right channel and a bit of hiss on the left. This was proved a known issue of the amp acknowledged by Roksan. On the other hand, I loved its phono stage. It did great with my Pro-Ject 1 XPression UKX with the gain set to mid. I decided not to go for this amp.
Then I tested a NAD C388 with the bluOS module. I found it a bit of the opposite compared to Roksan. The sound was dull and flat at low volumes (it did worse than my Audiolab), with soulless treble and less enjoyable bass. On the contrary, I loved its sound at higher levels, where its headroom was obvious. It brought transparent, loud, detailed, open, and well-balanced sound, while the listening fatigue was significantly less. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked its phono stage. Even the Audiolab’s phono stage sounds better with my turntable.
Although my room acoustics won’t improve, for now, I still consider upgrading my amp to get the most from my speakers. I thought an amp with room correction could help, but I don’t know if it would do much with reflections. Arcam SA30 intrigues me, but I’ve read about plenty of software issues that make me hesitant. Do you have an opinion on room correction? Does it worth a try? If I leave room correction aside, I am considering the Marantz 40n and the Rotel RA-1952 mkII. The Marantz has an in-built streamer (at least welcome), while the Rotel would bring plenty of headroom for my current speakers and pretty much any speakers I may get in the future. What do you think about these?
Thank you for your help, and the time you spend reading my (long) thoughts.
Paul Rigby3rd October 2022 at 12:32 pm
Have you seen this Guide? You can take it all with you too if/when you move 🙂 : https://theaudiophileman.com/damping/
Apostolos3rd October 2022 at 1:09 pm
I hadn’t seen your guide on room damping, but I have already done pretty much the same: added a rug, heavy_ish curtains with plenty of folds, a Kallax shelving unit on one wall, a large canvas poster on another, and large_ish light shades. Unfortunately, I still get the reverb effect you are describing. I blame the bare walls, which happen to be the most “crucial”: the one right behind my listening spot and the one behind the speakers. I am still trying to find something for them that will do the job while not looking ugly and getting my missus’ approval. As you know, the last part might get tricky… In the meantime, I understand that towing the speakers out helped because it slightly reduced the direct reflections in my listening position.