As some of you have read, I've written some reviews here in the past. Before I begin, I'll give you a little background on myself -
I'm only in my 20s. There - I said it. I know most people on this board are middle-aged or higher, so I would be what you would call fresh blood. HOWEVER, I am an avid audiophile. Since my earliest years I remember sitting on my father's lap listening to Harry Belefonte on his Wilson-Benesch turntable. I was mesmerized. Since then, he gave me a base knowledge of audio until about 16 where I compiled my first system consisting of Jamo speakers and an Adcom integrated. Like most of you, I've been attempting to build a perfect system ever since! (Also, I write reviews as a hobby, but one day would love to do so professionally!) I even scored a profession in the high-end audio world.
Anyways, flash forward 10 or so years and over 2 dozen systems later. We arrive at the Monitor Audio Gold GX series.
Associated equipment used -
Emotiva XPA-5 amplifier
Anthem MRX-300 Receiver (For ARC, because it's so god darn good)
Marantz SA-15S1 SACD player
Monster HDP1800 Surge
GIK Acoustics Tri-Traps
GIK Acoustics 242 Absorption panels
GIK Acoustics 244 Monster Bass TrapIntroduction
I've always been a Paradigm and B&W nut, so this is a turn for me. I had first learned of Monitor Audio when my father purchased a pair of their Studio 50s from a dealer that was liquidating stock. These guys were their top of the line, made in England, and featured their propriety metal driver technology they are oh-so famous for. They had truly incredible depth and imaging. One of the only speakers I could say that was truly 3-dimensional. Ever since this time I was a fan of MA.
Moving forward in time however, I never purchased Monitor Audios of my own. I went through Paradigm Studio and signature setups, B&W Diamond and CM setups, Focal Chorus and Electra, Kef XQ and Reference, Energy Vertias, and on and on and on. Never MA though. Not sure why, but I finally decided to add them to my lineup.
I was passing through a town an hour north of me one day with my father and we stopped by the local audio shop. In the back was a bunch of MA speakers crammed in a little room. Out of this mish mash of equipment was a pair of GX200s in the awesome Bubinga finish. My eyes were drawn right to them as were my ears. I'll spare you my time at the shop, but just know it was more than a positive experience.
I ended up purchasing a pair of GX300s, GX350C, and a pair of GX50s. After about a week or so, I received them. I won't bore you with the specs of the speakers, because chances are you already know them.
My initial impressions were that the boxes were pretty ugly and plain (But then again, who cares!). So, I carefully unpacked them for my initial setup.
I attached the mediocre metal stands to the 300s, set the center on my TV stand, and then affixed my GX50s to my speaker stands in the rear. It was go time.
After very careful placement and a lot of trial and error I ended up with a good formula. 8 feet apart, a decent toe in, and 2 and 1/2 feet from both the rear and sidewalls for the 300s. My seating position is 8 foot away too. An equilateral triangle!! I measured everything down to the 1/4 of an inch, so I'm pretty confident it's accurate.
The tweeters ideally should be at ear level, but they are slightly above. No biggie.Build Quality
Monitor Audio has been known to build beautiful speakers that happen to sound good. These are no exception. The wood veneer is LIGHTYEARS above their RX line veneer. Instead of an uneven, rough feeling veneer, the GX series feature a beautiful and smooth veneer that is sure to impress. Couple this with VERY high quality drivers, binding posts, and an overall exceptional build and you have one heck of a speaker. Tolerances are tight, imperfections are hard to find, and the woofers feel very rigid. The only thing I am NOT a fan of is the two-piece plinth.
The GX comes in either Bubinga, Piano black/white, Walnut, or for an additional fee Ebony gloss. I chose the Bubinga because I believed it was the most beautiful finish of the bunch.The Good Stuff!
I will preface by saying all music I listen to I listen in 2 channel. No surrounds or center. Ever.
The first thing I listen to when firing up a new system is play "Allison Krauss - A Hundred Miles or More" on the Marantz player. The first track "You're Just a Country Boy" is one of the sweetest sounding songs I've ever heard. The GX300s re-played this recording with incredible reproduction. Allison's voice never sounded so smooth and see through. The piano riff in the beginning never was dispersed this well on any of my former systems. If you close your eyes and listen well enough, you can hear her strike the Piano keys from left to right. This is the first speaker that accurately portrays this.
The GX300s played this song near picturesque, with the rest of the album being merely excellent. The mids were completely uncolored and three-dimensional, and the highs were absolutely incredible. Never have I heard a speaker project highs so smooth and life-like at the same time. Bass was accurate and tight, but a bit boomy before ARC did it's work. The integration between the crossover network was done superbly, because the speaker projects music as a whole, instead of parts (Highs, mids, lows).
The next album I inserted was Diana Krall's "The Book of Love". 'S Wonderful happens to be one of my favorite songs, and it's one I've heard on over 25 high-end systems. Most of the time a speaker either accentuates the drum symbols "too much", or leaves them too recessed. To my suprise, the GX 300s did it just right. Not too much, not too little. It felt so real I wanted to reach my hand out and pat her on the back (Well, maybe not just the back...
). Stereo imaging is also very good. It's another speaker that fools you into thinking the artist is singing through the center channel. This isn't particularly difficult to do. What surprises me however, is that it sounds as if the band is playing across the front of my room. Generally, I hear voices coming from the center, and then I hear instruments coming from where the speaker is placed. In this case, I could hear instruments from all over the front stage. The GX300s do an exceptional job in unraveling the information in the CD and placing the musicians in the front of my room.
Most reviewers who listen to these forget to tell you about how awesome the mids are. They are so uncolored yet so precise and detailed. Again, nothing over the top, and nothing too laid back. John Mayer's unplugged sessions never sounded so good. "Neon" rang through my room as if Johnny himself was plucking away on a stool in the front of my room.
These speakers in music anyways never sound "ferocious". They never attack you. Some people who are into overly bright and punchy speakers may not like this, but I don't mind. Playing two or three Zeppelin CDs sounded accurate, but never in your face. If your a high-octane rock n' roller you may not want these British speakers.
Movie wise they sail through all my tests. The center never sounded boxy or compressed, and the surrounds did their job just fine. Here, they can sound authoritative if need be. They play very, very loud and never lose their composure.Conclusion (For you page skippers)
The Monitor Audio GX series gets a 9.6 in my book. The refinement, build quality, and sound quality is unmatched at this price level. They easily sound better than my Paradigm S6s did, and are worlds and worlds beyond the Studios. The GX300s combine dripping smooth upper end range with uncolored and precision mids, and they top it off with accurate bass.
If smooth, crystal clear life-like sound with a spacious soundstage is what you are after - go for these and don't look back. The quality is just unreal for this price.
However, if you like a harder rocking speaker you may want to look at Klipsch's Palladium or Reference line.
Audiophiles and music lovers, enjoy.