MONITOR AUDIO BRONZE 100 standmount loudspeakers
+ Well-balanced across frequencies; punchy and dynamic, dollops of bass; easy to drive.
– Large cabinets require stands; needs space to sound best; speaker terminals not suited for banana plugs.
LAUNCHED in April this year, the Monitor Audio Bronze range, now called 6G, has been revamped with all-new technologies and up-to-date looks. The hi-fi/home theatre range comprises eight models – two bookshelf (50/100), two floorstanding (200/500), a centre-channel (C150), a subwoofer (W10), surround speakers and new Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers.
This is my inaugural introduction to the Monitor Audio sound and it is via the Bronze 100 – the larger standmount speaker and the step up from the Bronze 50. Measuring 376 x 231 x 325mm (h/w/d) and weighing 7.8kg, these speakers are large, in fact, too large for my 11 feet x 12 feet listening space – something which I will come back to later.
Given the large dimensions, the Bronze 100 did not blend subtly with the home furnishing – suffice to say, it did not receive the stamp of approval from the missus. But aesthetics aside, it’s how the Bronze 100 sounds that matters.
The Bronze 100 is a two-way rear ported design (using the HiVe II port system) fitted with a 25mm C-CAM gold dome tweeter upgraded with the new Uniform Dispersion (UD) waveguide and an eight-inch C-CAM mid-bass driver with updated cone geometries and Damped Concentric Mode (DCM) technology.
Monitor Audio says these improvements allow the speaker to have a deeper, fuller sound while retaining a clean, precise presentation. The acoustically transparent hexagonal dispersion pattern on the tweeter cover is also featured on the company’s higher range Silver and Gold Series loudspeakers, creating a family look.
Frequency response is quoted at 37Hz-30kHz, sensitivity at 88dB and nominal impedance at 8 ohms, with 100 watts power-handling capability and an SPL of 110dBA per pair.
Build quality, fit and finish of the review unit were good and on par with loudspeakers in this price range. Four finishes are available – White, Walnut, Urban Grey and Black (review unit) – and each comes with a sleek contrasting baffle and matching cloth-covered magnetic grille.
I found the two-tone dark grey baffle with black vinyl wrap cabinet a nice touch as most offerings around this price point tend to be limited. The magnetic speaker grills are elegantly designed to complement the overall aesthetics, and yet easily removable – something I wish more manufacturers would consider doing.
Around the rear are a pair of gold-plated bi-wire terminals while internal cabling is made up of Pureflow silver-plated oxygen-free copper. There is also nut just above the speaker terminals. Monito Audio’s website states that it is a bracing nut of their own design which links to the front baffle and creates a firm internal brace. Included with the speakers is a hex key, which can be used to tighten the nut over time should it become loose.
The speakers were placed on 26-inch stands about five feet apart and about two feet from the rear wall. The speakers were slightly toed in to my listening spot, which was about five feet away. I ran single wire runs as my Rega Elex amp is not bi-wireable.
My speaker cables are terminated with banana plugs but the Bronze 100 speaker terminals left me a little stumped as the banana plugs would only fit a third of the way into the terminals.
This did not provide a secure connection, so I had to resort to removing the banana plugs and use bare wire instead. Apart from bare wire, speaker cables terminated with spades would fare better when wiring up the Bronze 100.
All listening was streamed via Tidal Hifi using Toslink from a Samsung TV into the Chord Mojo DAC, then into the Rega Elex over a 3.5mm to RCA cable.
Fresh out of the box, the Bronze 100 sounded mellow but with a smooth treble presentation. As the speakers were brand new, I ran the pair in for about two weeks before doing any critical listening.
Of late, my playlist seemed to be made up with the likes of vocal acoustic material, but I did put the Bronze 100 through its paces with some pop, contemporary jazz as well as R&B.
You’ll be pleased to know that these speakers are all-rounders that work well with a wide mix of musical tastes. The Elex-R was at ease driving them and I reckon any well-designed amp putting out 50 watts and above will get good mileage out of these speakers.
Given the large dimensions, the Bronze 100 cabinet has a large internal volume, thus producing a big sound. The Rega Elex-R’s volume dial hovered between the 8-9 o’clock mark for the most part of the review and what came out was room filing. And with the volume turned down for late night listening, they still remained tuneful, clear and detailed.
These speakers have a clean presentation and I particularly enjoyed my time with them on acoustic material. Luke Sittal Singh’s (Live at the Union Chapel) Nearly Morning and Nothing Stays The Same were rendered beautifully, the speakers dishing out scale in terms of width and depth. Singh’s vocals are solidly fleshed out in the centre with clear placement of instruments in the foreground. There’s plenty of detail served up so much so I could hear the strain in Singh’s voice as well as the reverberation of the venue.
I could even pick out the camera clicks on Manhattan by Sara Bareilles (Live at the Variety Playhouse Atlanta GA). There was just so much wholeness and solidity to Bareilles’ vocals. And to my ears – the piano she played on sounded an octave lower.
But the highlight for me was the speaker’s ability in integrating the high, mid and low frequency spectrums – there was just a sense of rightness in the way the Bronze 100 strings everything together.
On Lee Ritenour’s Goin’ On To Detroit, the jazz guitar maestro’s riffs and licks were rendered with texture and underpinned by a lovely mix of percussions, toms, hi-hats and tuneful bass. Moving onto upbeat tunes like Sinead Harnett’s Stickin’ and Gregory Porter’s Holding On showcased the deftness of these speaker’s capabilities in the bass department.
Bass heads will be pleased at what the Bronze 100 can muster. There is dollops of bass at hand – not the flabby kind – but the deep, tuneful kind that underpins the mid-bass and provides body to the music that is being played. From memory, I do not recall hearing this level of integration and scale from the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 nor the Dali Oberon 3, both of which I reviewed a while back.
So, what’s lacking? Ultimately, it would be transparency and engagement. The Bronze 100 is a great performer but falls short of luring me into the deeper aspects of a recording. Tracks are less resolving compared with my KEF LS50. One caveat with these speakers is the need for space. When I start to turn up the volume to around 10 o’clock, the Bronze 100s became too strident and hard on the ears, which leads me to suspect that these large standmounts need decent breathing space around them to sound their best. Now this was something I could not attempt given the size limitations of my listening space.
THE LAST WORD
The Monitor Audio Bronze 100s are very capable modern speakers that excel beyond their price point. But how well these speakers perform will depend on application (hi-fi or home theatre) and partnering gear. And not forgetting available space – I think it’s a must for these speakers. If you already checked these boxes, I’d recommend giving these speakers an audition. I reckon you’ll be quite happy with what the Bronze 100 has to offer.
Sources – Lenovo Yoga 3-14 Ultrabook, Foobar2000 (Ver 1.5.5), mConnect Player Lite (Ver 3.2.7), Tidal HiFi/Master, Samsung TV UA49MU6100, Chord Mojo DAC/headamp; Headphones – Grado SR80e; Amplification – Rega Elex; Speakers – KEF LS50; Isolation – IsoAcoustics Aperta, Orea Bronze; Speaker cables and interconnects – AudioQuest Rocket 11, Supra Bi-Line 3.5mm to RCA, Supra ZAC Toslink, Supra Cat 8 network cables; Speaker stands – KEF Performance stands.