Monitor Audio Bronze 200 Surround Speaker System Review Page 2

Still, there just wasn't much satisfaction to be had from the range below 100Hz in my room—and a lack of bass-treble balance will always contribute to an impression of brightness. To improve the pre-subwoofer situation with the 200s, some form of equalization was clearly needed. Room EQ such as the Denon AVR's Audyssey processing is the one most accessible to listeners, but I went a different route, employing the Denon's Graphic Equalizer. Since attempting this by ear is hit-and-miss, I employed measurements taken at the main listening position with the Parts Express Omnimic system. I used the Denon's 63Hz, 125Hz, and 250Hz graphic EQ adjustments, and apart from an occasional preference for a +1dB setting on the treble control (barely audible or measurable) frequencies above around 300Hz were left untouched.

The result was consistent. While the bass was still far from room-energizing, it was far better balanced-sounding. The whump (sorry for the technobabble) of a firmly struck bass drum had satisfying weight. Organ filled the room, suggesting more to its lower ranks than were actually present since the system's equalized response dropped off dramatically below 50Hz. But listeners unfamiliar with what a bass drum or organ can do at full throttle would likely find little or nothing missing, and the cuts I made in the 125Hz and 250Hz bands opened up the soundstage just enough to eliminate a modest upper bass fatness also characteristic of my room.


But we're talking about a home theater package here, which means you're likely to be using one or more subwoofers. Knowing full well that a single 10-inch sub wouldn't cut it in my room, I requested a pair of W10s, and to further increase my chance of success, I positioned them side-by-side in what proved to be an effective location. Placing two subs together sacrifices the benefit of dissimilar locations, which can optimize the bass for more than one seating position, in exchange for up to a 6dB gain advantage. The latter can be a significant help in getting the best results from two small subs.

I set both W10s in their Movie DSP mode and selected just above 80Hz on each of their low-pass filters, which have no pass-through setting. The filter frequency chosen on the Denon was also 80Hz. (Using two low-pass filters in tandem isn't usually recommended, but it worked here, both by ear and by measurement.)

It was immediately obvious that the W10s had some serious bass DNA, even though these diminutive boxes are only specified to roughly 30Hz (-3dB at 33Hz and -10dB at 28Hz). Unfortunately, both of the subs rattled rudely when hit with significant deep bass, so I put about 30 pounds of weight on top of each W10 and that silenced them. I later found that moving the subs to a carpeted area stopped the rattling. But the wood floor area in the room was the best location for performance (my floor is a mixture of wood and carpet over a cement slab), so the weights remained.


I won't claim that two W10s were able to fully compete with the pair of SVS subwoofers—three times their size and weight—that preceded them in my room, but they did give it all they had. And what they had was very convincing. The Monitor Audio subs eagerly filled out the bottom end of the Bronze 200s, missing little apart from the last ounce of impact that giant woofers can generate. There isn't much music below 30Hz apart from electronic and organ tracks, but even though the W10s were clearly not delivering the full monty with such material, it was easy to forget their limitations.

The system was now cooking on music. Its top end, now properly balanced with substantial bass, sang with rich detail that never (on a good recording) turned excessive. Listening to singer Jennifer Warnes' "The Hunter," the bass line was a bit overdone, but reducing the W10 subs' level by 1-2dB eliminated that issue. Her warm voice came across beautifully, and it was accurately positioned between the left and right speakers and with no obvious colorations. The same was true of Loreena McKennett's soprano vocals on her Nights from the Alhambra concert set. And for male vocal recordings you can't do much better than The King's Singers. Their album Good Vibrations covers songs from Paul Simon, Phil Collins, and others. As heard on the Monitor Audios, the rich acapella vocals, including soloists and the full group, were hard to resist.

Jean Guillou's organ transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition (Dorian Recordings) has long been one of my go-to tests for organ deep bass, and the Bronze 200s and W10 subs handled it with ease. Even with their effective limit of around 30Hz, which might merely amuse serious organ enthusiasts, the W10s were nonetheless convincing on this recording. On totally different music, Dead Can Dance's In Concert was just as impressive, from the hard-hitting drums to the concert venue's enveloping ambience, which was fully rendered on the Bronze speakers even played back in 2.1 stereo.


Movies Performance
All of the movies referenced here were on Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The reason I often use Oblivion when evaluating a home theater setup is that I'm so intimately familiar with it that I know what to expect from every scene, and I wasn't disappointed by what I heard on the Monitor Audio Bronze system. The musical crescendo over the opening title was as much of a stunner as it always is. And as Jack fired up his bubble-copter, and later as he circled the ruined stadium just before landing, the performance of the two small Bronze subwoofers was gripping. The sound wasn't quite as subterranean as what I've heard from larger and far pricier subwoofers, but I never felt anything vital was missing.

My room isn't totally simpatico with Dolby Atmos Enabled speakers designed primarily to reflect sound off the ceiling. That's because ceiling is far from flat, though it is symmetrical front to back and side to side. In these opening scenes, the presence of the Bronze AMS speakers was mainly heard as a change in tone and placement of Jack's voice over Rebeca's intercom, and later when Jack's copter circles the stadium. One thing that a reflective-type speaker like the Bronze AMS does particularly well is create an enhanced sense of spaciousness, even if their contribution isn't always obvious among the flood of other elements in a soundtrack.

Blade Runner 2049 may well have the most impressive soundtrack I've heard in the past few years. I was initially fearful that the impact of the bass in the movie's opening, and the powerful bass accompanying the eye-shot a bit later, might present too big of a challenge for the W10 subs. But even played at a higher level than most listeners are likely to use, the soundtrack was consistently involving, and I heard no sense of strain.

One thing I did notice with Blade Runner was that the center channel sounded a bit bright. But since I was already using the Denon's Graphic Equalizer, I went into the equalizer's center channel adjustments and dropped the 4kHz and 8kHz bands by 1.5dB, which helped. All two-way center speakers I've tested have unavoidable off-axis issues, which is why I strongly prefer 3-way centers. The 2-way Bronze C150 was no exception here, but while its timbre did change somewhat when heard from an off-center seat, only a critical listener would likely notice it.


For me, the way music is used in a film is more important than the sound effects—I love a good brass fanfare dropped in at just the right time. The soundtrack of Avengers: Infinity War is solid, if not quite as drop-dead stunning as the two mentioned above, but when played loud, the film's highlight is the music and effects accompanying Thor's entrance in the climactic battle with Thanos' minions after the re-forging of Thor's hammer. It's also the most dramatic entrance in any of the Marvel films (probably why Thor was turned into Fat Thor in Avenger's Endgame—cast jealously perhaps?).

For music of a different sort, in a very different film, I turned to Sing. While this animated musical is hardly a classic, it's still a lot of fun, with singing that ranges from strikingly good to hilarious. (When director Dexter Fletcher heard actor Taron Egerton as the young gorilla Johnny in Sing he immediately cast him as Elton John in Rocketman.) The final concert serves as a thoroughly entertaining musical finale, and also gave the AMS Atmos speakers something to work with as a helicopter circled overhead. All good stuff, and the Bronze system didn't miss a beat.

Being intimately familiar with the sound of my Monitor Audio Silver 10s, together with a pair of large SVS subwoofers, in my large room, perhaps the best complement I can give this Bronze 200-based system when using those same subs is it sounded shockingly close to my Silver 10s at roughly one-third the price. And when I swapped in Monitor Audio's own Bronze W10 subwoofers, they did a very convincing job filling out the system's bottom end—just be sure to install them on a carpet!

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