Test Report: Monitor Audio Bronze BX Speaker System Page 2

I began listening as always with 2-channel music, running the Bronze BX2s full-range. And the longer I listened, the more impressed I became by their unforced musicality and easy, natural dynamics. Livingston Taylor's take on Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely?" from the CD Ink (Chesky) is much beloved of speaker designers (and reviewers) for its spectacularly lifelike vocal recording, and for the whistling intro - a much sterner test of the speaker-making (and microphone/recording) craft than you might guess. The Monitor Audios aced it, with whistling that was even and bright without ever leaning toward the shrill on any one note (an excellent indication of smoothness in the top octaves of tweeter response), and with intact baritone breathiness that never tilted over to rasp or fizz. In terms of vocal honesty and of midrange texture and detail, the Bronze BX2s sounded far, far more expensive than $500-ish per pair.

Monitor specs the Bronze BX2 as reaching down to 42 Hz (although without specifying any rolloff parameters like "-6 dB"), but in my setup at least this seemed a bit optimistic. There was ample bass for satisfying listening on typical pop and most jazz or classical, but in direct comparison with similar-size two-ways that I know to extend, smoothly, to 50 Hz (-6 dB), they were audibly less "there' in that band, while sounding distinctly heftier and even a shade thuddier in the middle-bass regions - say, 60 to 150 Hz. For example, on my Sheffield Drum Album CD (long out of print), Jim Keltner's kick drum sounded looser and more ringing (as well as less deep) via the BX2. However, the cymbals and snare work were gloriously clean, transparent, defined, and quick - all the adjectives that spring to mind when the overtone structure of high-frequency sounds is presented to the ear intact and in due proportion.

Monitor supplied a pair of foam "bungs" to damp the BX2 front-firing ports in case of bass excess or boom. I didn't really experience either, but placing the bungs definitely did reduce a slight tendency to overact on certain frequencies a bit, and I left them in place for most of my listening. Moving the speakers a bit closer to the wall helped somewhat, too. Nevertheless, calling in a subwoofer strike seemed the obvious solution, and indeed the trio meshed up easily and well.

With the BXW10 in the picture, low-frequency response was clearly extended - perhaps not by a full, unattenuated octave but by enough to transform the system on full-range recordings. The faint looseness or "tubbiness" was gone, and demanding material such as Ray Charles's big-band "Heaven Help Us All" from the impressive, well-recorded Genius Loves Company (via an 88/24 HDTracks download) took on a decidedly more naturalistic, less "hi-fi" tenor. The BX2's vocal range continued to delight me with its unfailingly honest, uncolored renditions of the full variety of voices on this duets compilation, demonstrating accurate, uncolored response right across the midrange. And the treble demands were met effortlessly: Horn attacks and drum transients sounded uniformly excellent.