“We’ll try to snag a pair of Silver 100 7G standmounts to see how they compare”
So concluded our recent shootout (here) between the Monitor Audio Silver 50 7G standmounts & Bronze 200 floorstanders. Both around £600, they sounded very similar; refined and expansive, if not the last word in bass depth. Great for smaller rooms, those wanting a fuller-range sound might be left wanting. Sure, you can add a subwoofer. It would need to be good though, as much as doubling the total cost, and it would add complexity. Might it be better to spend more on the main speakers instead?
Say £200 more for the next model up in the Monitor Audio range, the Silver 100 7G (hereinafter Silver 100). Darko reviewed it and concluded ‘no subwoofer required’ (his Limited Edition model is sonically the same as the standard one). That sounded ideal, and so was born this review. Monitor Audio provided a pair of Silver 100, allowing me to get up close and personal with them for 4-5 weeks.
The Silver 100 7G is a medium-sized 2-way standmount. Breaking that down; 7G for 7th generation, meaning Monitor Audio has had plenty of time to refine the speaker. Medium-sized because much bigger standmounts can be had. Even if the Silver 100 felt quite large in my (small-ish) lounge. And 2-way as the Silver 100 has two drive units.
The first is a 1″ C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter with Uniform Dispersion (UD) Waveguide II. It’s the same as in the Silver 50 7G, which bodes well. The mid/bass driver is an 8” C-CAM unity driver with Rigid Surface Technology II (the dimples on the cone). Two high-quality pairs of terminals on the rear allow for bi-wiring (remember that?!)
Sensitivity is quoted as 87.5dB, which is average for a standmount. Combined with a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms (minimum 4.9) they shouldn’t be too difficult to drive. A 40W Marantz PM6006 amplifier certainly had no problems. On bass the Silver 100 is specified as -6dB at 35Hz, which translates as ‘pretty damned low’ for a standmount. Heck, some good subwoofers don’t go that low (REL TZero III for example). Specs don’t always carry over to real-world listening, but maybe Darko was onto something.
Five finishes are available; Satin White, Black Oak, Natural Walnut, Ash and the High Gloss Black of the review pair. Which looked just stunning, I kept on wanting to stroke them (don’t, they’re fingerprint magnets). Build quality is up to the same high standard; in short, bragging rights are in order.
Grills are provided. The Silver 100 sounds quite a bit better with them off, but some will prefer the look with them on (I did). No problem, being magnetic they’re easy to flip off whilst listening, and back on when finished.
The Silver 100 is ported – there’s a hole going into the speaker’s body – to help bass reach lower. It’s a common approach, but having the port on the rear means the wall influences the sound more. Position the speaker too close to the wall and the sound becomes muddied, the soundstage more 2-D than 3-D. Too far out though and it loses body.
So it’s a balancing act. I spent more time than normal optimising the Silver 100 because it’s good enough to show up small changes. 45cm from the back of speaker to the wall worked best for me in my room. Yours may well be different, it’s worth experimenting quite a bit.
Most listening was done with the Silver 100 driven by a Marantz PM6006 amplifier (£380), fronted by a WiiM Mini streamer with upgraded power supply (£140).
And what a system. The clean, open gestalt of the Silver 50 was still there. Detail aplenty, performers placed precisely in the large, deep soundstage. Now there was body to the sound though. Taut bass that surprised with the depths it could reach, and a midrange that had filled out. Everything still firm, in heavyweight boxer terms an Anthony Joshua, not a Tyson Fury. Rich, warm or fat are not words that came to mind. Boy did the system convey both the thrust and the nuance of music though.
Take Pearl Jam’s “Present Tense” (from No Code). Eddie Vedder centre stage, Mike McCready to the left, each clearly positioned, the subtle shifts in both guitar and voice conveyed well. As things got going the dynamic swings were tracked by the Silver 100. It remained composed through the loud sections too, the contributions of all still clear. And the tension in the music was palpable, an emotional response normally the preserve of much dearer systems.
I plumbed the depths next, rolling out the bass stalwarts (Bliss On Mushrooms, Saint Saens 3, Interstellar and others). The Silver 100 dug really deep, the grumbling bass of the Saint Saens (Munch version, 6’ in) readily apparent. Many speakers can’t even manage a semblance of it. “Bliss on Mushrooms” was outrageously good. Yes a good subwoofer takes it to the next level, but the heft the Silver 100 delivered was awesome for its size. And again, importantly, it maintained its poise throughout, the twists and turns of the complex mix taken in the speaker’s stride. That’s the sign of a well-sorted speaker.
As I played more tracks the word ‘realism’ kept appearing in my notes. The Monitor Audios really brought the musicians into the lounge, their palpability striking. The Silver 100 also presented a big sound, the combination of a large soundstage and very creditable bass.
No, the Monitor Audios aren’t perfect. Their precision is a key strength, but also a potential weakness if you partner them with the wrong equipment. The ‘lighter’ sounding Marantz amplifier kept things out of the clinical camp, but only just. Even then the Silver 100 can sound ever so slightly dry (they’re not kind to poor recordings). A little added sugar wouldn’t have gone amiss.
The big league
To which end I hooked the Monitor Audios up to a £6,500 Prima Luna amplifier (EVO 300 Hybrid) to see what difference it made. It’s obviously not a real-world combination. The Silver 100 upped their game in response though, sounding perfectly comfortable in exalted company. Greater refinement, a slightly sweeter sound and bass that went even lower. And the Prima Luna – through the Silver 100 – delivered its trademark leap in realism that sold it to me in the first place.
As my Darko review of JBL’s £999 L52 standmount shows – I compared them to the Silver 100 – the Monitor Audios relish better quality amplifiers driving them (in that case a £1,400 Gold Note PA-10). If you can stretch to the Silver 100, pairing them with a lower cost amplifier to start with if necessary (eBay?) they should weather future amplifier upgrades with ease. Making them a lower cost option in the long term.
With the Prima Luna in situ there were times I forgot I was listening to £750 speakers, not my (£2,400) Graham LS6. Rose tinted glasses? Time to find out – back came the Grahams for comparison.
They sounded better (somewhat to my relief). More palpable, greater detail, deeper bass (impressive given the LS6 are the same size as the Silver 100). Tonally the Grahams were slightly richer too. On Pearl Jam’s “Present Tense”, the heavy reverb on McCready’s guitar was airier, the decay seemingly longer. The wall of sound on Porcupine Tree’s “Blackest Eyes” (In Absentia) was more impactful, heftier, but also revealed the instruments within it comprising the sonic maelstrom. Beady Belle’s “When My Anger Starts To Cry” (Cewbeagappic) was awash with detail at the start, giving more insight than the Silver 100.
So no, the Monitor Audios weren’t David to the Graham’s Goliath. They got much closer than you’d expect though, demonstrating the law of diminishing returns is alive and kicking. And returning to the Silver 100 was a pleasure not a disappointment.
It should be clear by now that I liked the Silver 100. A lot. They look fabulous, are well built and have a big, authoritative sound that majors on clarity and precision, but that also delivers nuance well.
They’re a quantum leap over the Silver 50, well worth the extra money. If you can’t beg / steal / borrow the extra £200 required then maybe compromise elsewhere in your system to afford them. Which, as noted, may well be cheaper in the long term as you upgrade around them.
And for a HiFi Starter system you could do a lot worse than the WiiM / Marantz / Monitor Audio setup used in this review. It feels like it’s in something of a sweet spot – hardly small beer at £1,200 or so but still well within our £2,000 nominal limit. I for one could genuinely live with it.
Overall the Monitor Audio Silver 100 7G is an unqualified success, with a sound that gives more than a hint of major league HiFi. Bravo!