Monitor Audio Bronze 2 speakers – tough to beat
MONITOR AUDIO BRONZE 2 standmount loudspeakers
+ Well-balanced with good extension at both ends of the spectrum; handles loud passages or complex pieces comfortably; a modern and dynamic speaker that excels at detail retrieval and possess an abundance of PRAT.
– The bland finish on the review units.
MY experience with Monitor Audio, albeit mostly limited to the 1990s phase of the British speaker manufacturer’s existence, has been a pleasant one. It wasn’t just the speakers – Mo Iqbal, who founded the company in 1972, was quite a character and marketing man; I had met him several times and was given a tour of the Essex facilities once, back in the early 1990s.
Much has changed since then, along with the company’s ownership (when Mo retired, I hope he is well, wherever he is) and trends, but Monitor Audio was already ahead in the game back then, opting for metal-dome tweeters and drivers in their mid and higher level models. Mo was a great propagator of metal, and his legacy remains across the range of speakers today.
The Bronze 2 reviewed here is the latest in the Bronze line – I had the BX2 some years ago and was impressed with its sonic capabilities, although I found the bass to be limited. This is rectified on the Bronze 2, a two-way front-ported (using HiVe II technology) design that features the company’s proprietary 25mm C-CAM gold dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch “concave-dished” C-CAM cone bass driver, finished in matte grey.
Frequency response is quoted at 42Hz-30kHz, sensitivity at 90dB and nominal impedance at 8 ohms, with 100 watts power-handling capability and an SPL of 113dBA for a pair. Two pairs of wiring terminals are provided, for bi-wiring or bi-amp purposes.
Each cabinet, made of 18mm rigid MDF, measures 350 x 185 x 255mm (h/w/d) and weighs 5.3kg. Magnetic grilles are provided for easy mounting. A premium quality vinyl veneer is provided, available in Black Oak, White Ash, Walnut or Rosemah finish.
The speakers were placed on 24-inch wooden stands sited about five feet apart, with my listening spot about six feet away; the rear wall is just under four feet away, the shortest distance available in my room.
Initially, I let the speakers fire straight ahead, but as they settled in and I spent more time listening, I gradually toed them in slightly although never directly aimed at my seat. This is how I finally preferred the sound.
I opted to run single wire runs, never having been particularly convinced of the need to bi-wire at this price level.
Like many modern speakers, the Bronze 2s are capable of resolving a great amount of detail – and they do the job sans the sin of addition. Even a casual listener will admit that these are very clean, dynamic and able speakers, holding very little back, whatever the genre of music passing through them.
I don’t do downloads, but many of my CDs have been transferred to the Sony, and of course, there’s Spotify when I want to listen to stuff I don’t possess. So, my diet ranges from MP3 resolution to Red Book most of the time. And with these, the Bronze 2s showed no difficulty in digging in and revealing the quality and character of the recording.
After a few days of running them in, the Bronze 2s began to reveal more of their capabilities. They’re able to handle dynamics and transient detail with great finesse, seldom lacking control, whether with the orchestral splendour of classical music or the raw energy of rock recordings.
These speakers do bass pretty well, going as deep as their design and physical limitations allow, and if they need to operate in a smaller room than mine, I have no doubt they will fill the space with fine sound.
In my room, they commanded attention for the size-to-stage ratio, sounding wide and expansive, without losing focus. The mids and highs were clear and articulate, and of course dependent on the recording; these areas can lean a bit to the cool side, especially in newer material. But slip a CD version of Dire Straits’ eponymous debut album, an analogue recording, and the presentation via the Bronze 2s was impressive… the electric guitar can, during Mark Knopfler’s lead breaks, almost pierce the eardrum as it does via most other good systems I’ve heard them in… it does take the listener right into the studio with the band.
Play more complex recordings, and the Bronze 2s show they’re well equipped to reveal layers of the mix and individual instruments, without losing sight of the overall piece – in short, they had a good grasp on everything I threw at them. Vocals were rendered very well, and of course, this is what will sit well with the audiophile segment.
THE LAST WORD
There is much competition, yes. From my experience, the Elac Debut range (now the Debut 2.0) punches above its class, falling short only in the looks department, while Dali’s models at this level tend to allow for a more cosy experience, against the Bronze 2’s almost edge-of-seat approach.
Then again, it’s all a matter of preference, and you certainly cannot expect everything you want for the price. If you’re the market for speakers that can swing and rock when called upon to, and that also have the finesse to handle more delicate recordings, you could do much worse than the Bronze 2. I’m convinced.
Sources: Ayon CD-1s CD player, Sony HAP-Z1ES hard disk player / Amps: Accuphase E-470, Cyrus ONE HD / Speakers: Magneplanar MG1.7i / Interconnect, cables, power cords: Duelund, Monitor Audio/Polk Audio “Cobra”, Paul Speltz Anti-Cable, Nordost Red Dawn / Power accessories: Frank Acoustics Power Bank, AVIA balanced Powertrans