Test Report: Monitor Audio Gold GX Speaker System Page 2

Setup

I began my setup by placing the GX200 towers at either side of my TV stand about 3 feet forward from the back wall and angling them slightly at the listening position. The GXC 150 center channel slid handily into my stand’s middle shelf. I eventually opted to angle it slightly upward using a set of rubber feet — an effort that improved dialogue focus.

Installing the GX-FX surrounds on shelves slightly above ear level at the rear of my listening room proved the optimal configuration. Following Monitor’s instructions for such a setup, I flicked the front-panel switch on either GX-FX to its monopole setting. The GXW-15 subwoofer went in my room’s right front corner. After configuring my processor for a 60-Hz crossover for the front towers, and the standard THX setting for the center and surrounds, I then ran the LEO setup and stored the results.

Performance

Starting in stereo, I selected the bypass mode on my processor to send a full-range signal to either tower with no subwoofer output. On “Rhymes of an Hour” from Mazzy Star’s Among My Swan, Hope Sandoval’s vocals sounded warm, reverb-soaked, and slightly larger than life — as they should be. The towers tracked the song’s subtle dynamics as it swelled in volume, with each newly introduced instrument layer (tambourine, violin, etc.) sounding spatially distinct within the mix. My first impression — one that continued throughout my time with the Gold GX system — was of outstanding definition and clarity in the highs, and a soundstage that extended well beyond the towers’ physical locations.

The GX200 also has a fairly extended low end. On the CD Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, its reproduction of Holland’s acoustic bass on “Moon River” easily seemed to dip into the subwoofer range. When I introduced the GXW-15, however, the lowest plucked bass notes took on greater authority — the towers’ bass sounded truncated in comparison.

With the GXW-15 sub’s level properly dialed in, bass sounded tight and well controlled. I didn’t feel a need to enable the LEO room-correction feature, but eventually did so to check out what it could bring. With LEO on, bass had decent depth, but it also seemed somewhat tame compared with LEO off.

The Gold GX system’s crisp, finely layered presentation proved an especially good match for surround music. When listening to the high-rez 5.1 DVD-Audio mix of King Crimson’s Discipline, I found that the excellent tonal match between the front channels and GXFX surrounds made songs like “Matte Kudasai” sound wonderfully seamless. It was like being immersed in a pool of dense, ambient guitar and bass.

Indulging further in surround, I played a multichannel SACD of Roxy Music’s Avalon. “The Space Between” gave the system a serious workout. Drums and bass sounded clean and dynamic — I could clearly feel the wallop of kick drum in my chest. This is an adventurous surround mix, to say the least, and the Monitor Golds managed to convey the dense spatial swirl of percussion instruments, keyboards, and background vocals while maintaining excellent clarity on guitars and Bryan Ferry’s front-and-center vocals.

If a system can sound that good on multichannel music, movie soundtracks should be a cakewalk, and that was the case with the Gold GX. In the scene from Chapter 7 of Inception where the (dream) team jacks a cab and kidnaps Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), rain really sounded as if it was pouring down in dense sheets from the front of my room. During the chase that ensues, sound-effects pans as the cars swirled and spun out had a convincingly full, near-360° trajectory. The GXW-15 sub was hardly a wallflower during this sequence. When a freight train slams into the cab mid-chase, the resulting impact was bone-rattling.

The GXC 150’s spot-on tonal match with the towers resulted in excellent front-stage clarity. I did notice a slight loss of crispness when sitting 30° off-axis, but that was only during comparisons on dialogue with my Blu-ray player set on A/B repeat.

 

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