Monitor Audio has consistently impressed me with the quality of their sound at the audio shows. Whether top tier or more modest gear, they have always achieved a high standard of performance that has honored the music and earned spots on my personal wish list. This British company has a proven track record dating back to 1972, and has been on a roll of late, conjuring up a parade of state of the art challengers and high value trickle down offerings that have garnered universal accolades. The newly introduced Studio loudspeaker marks a fairly radical departure from their more traditional bookshelf designs. It stands in its own division and borrows technologically from their top tier Platinum Series with a tantalizing mix of fresh ideas applied to their proven technology. Just how good is the Studio?
The designer has opted for an ambitious D’Appolito configuration, marrying their advanced Heil variation MDP (Micro Pleated Diaphragm) tweeter to a pair of long throw 4 inch mid woofers derived and modified from their uppermost Platinum II line. The woofers utilize Monitor Audio’s proprietary C-CAM and RDT II technologies to achieve exceptionally low distortion. The woofers are clamped rigidly into place onto a curvaceous, die cast metal sub baffle via a bolt through assembly connecting the magnet structure of each driver to the rear panel to increase rigidity. The cabinet, though relatively light, is extremely solid. The design is dual rear ported, using a slotted variation of their HiVe II design, and allows an uncluttered rear panel layout. The connectors get the full premium treatment, with large, rhodium plated terminals from the Platinum line. Crossover components are likewise, high grade. Specifications indicate an efficiency of 86 dB and a nominal 4 ohm load that dips below 3 ohms, so quality amplification possessing a robust power supply will be needed for best advantage.
In the looks department, the Studio gets high marks. The grill-less sculptured face and svelte 340 x 156.2 x 361 mm (133/8 x 61/8 x 143/16“) dimensions echo their premium PL500 II line with a refined aesthetic that screams slick, modern lifestyle décor. The speakers are done in a tasteful satin paint finish, available in white, black or grey, with upscale lower corner logo embellishments. The size allows wide placement versatility, from casual tabletop mount, to more traditional stand mount configuration, depending on your requirements and the seriousness of your audio playback ambitions.
The optional stands included for review were very nicely matched, both in aesthetic execution and build quality. The top plate is laser cut steel, the pillar is extruded aluminum, and the base is die cast aluminum. The provided finish had a matching grey pillar with a satin black top plate and a richly contoured black base. Full white satin is also available. Monitor Audio has opted for a 4 footer arrangement with height adjustable chrome plated spikes. The Studios can be bolted to the stands via 4 threaded holes located on the underside of the speaker, for a more rigid and stable interface. Damping and surface protection is afforded by oversized, rubber spacers on the top plate. The rear of the pillar offers a vertical recess with adjustable plastic restraints, to keep cabling tidy. The spike mount is thoughtfully recessed within an elastomer surround to allow for adjustable placement without spikes for those with hardwood or solid flooring, a nice touch.
My standard monitor arrangement automatically assumes the requirement for additional vibration management and utilizes IsoAcoustics resonance control mounts between the speaker and stand. To create a benchmark reference point, the Monitor Audio speakers and stands were set up as a matched pair, minus the IsoAcoustic enhancement. Electronics was a combo of Tortuga pre/Bel Canto/Wyred components, with Arkana Physical Research cable. A second round of listening sessions added the mounts back into the mix to see if the speakers would see benefits.