Test Report: Monitor Audio Bronze BX Speaker System Page 3

The Monitor Audio supporting cast, comprising the BX Center and BXFX surrounds, provided solidly, unspectacularly competent reproduction - with the latter characterization meant in the best way. The center-channel unit made an unusually close match with h the BX2s and, when auditioned on-axis (from the center seating location), created a truly seamless "front stage." For example, an early scene from In Bruges (very much recommended, by the way) shows a couple walking across a stone plaza, and their heel taps followed them without any hint of jumping from speaker to speaker. 

Off-axis, however, the BX Center suffered from one of the response-lobing effects so common among two-way horizontal designs. When listening from 20º or so to either side - about equivalent to the extreme end of the sofa in many real-world home theater spaces - the sound was noticeably changed, losing high-midrange content and thus lending a slight but detectable hollow/ dull cast to most voices. As long as my head stayed reasonably centered (rare, I admit!), though, the BX Center sounded very fine. 

Monitor's surrounds worked about as I'd expect any excellent two-way to - even though the BXFX is billed as a dipole/bipole, and indeed has such a mode switch on its rear panel. But the design combines a single mid/woofer with dual - anking tweeters (crossed over at 2,200 Hz), so any di/bipolar benefits would seem necessarily relegated, largely, to the overtone series. (The purpose of dipole surrounds, at least in the original Home THX construct, is to direct a "null" toward the listening are yielding a disproportionate amount of difficult-to-localize reflected sound in the surround channels' playback and thus better, more lifelike ambience recreation.) In any case, I heard very little anti-phase, dipolar effect - even on pink noise - when it was set to the out-of-phase position. Nonetheless, the BXFXs delivered good surround-hemisphere coverage in either mode (best, I admit, set to bipolar), matched up well with their mates, and never called attention to themselves while discharging their movie-surround duties. 

In Bruges is a very quiet movie (and for quiet menace you won't do better than Ralph Fiennes's Cockney crime lord), so I had no choice but to turn to the classics for some more active testing. The Monitor Audio array turned out to have plenty of reserves for louder fare like Godzilla - and the little BXW10 proved itself a gamer, willingly laying down a surprisingly solid basis for footfalls, crashing buildings, and other assorted mayhem. 

Output much below 35 Hz was decidedly finite, but the sub's efforts were enough to underpin a seriously cinematic impact overall, as the full system sounded unstrained and punchy right up to quite substantial levels. Not up to metered reference level, perhaps, but a good chunk of decibels louder than the overwhelming majority ever listen at. More important, the Monitor woofer did not misbehave, audibly, when pushed.

Monitor Audio's Bronze BX suite may not win anyone's Sexiest Speaker of the Year award, but you know what? Monitor shouldn't care. It should instead be proud to have produced a very well-balanced, highly musical, and attractive layout that delivers honest value and then some. The whole BX layout we tested adds up to just a bit over $1,900, but it holds its own as compared with plenty of systems I've heard that are half again as costly. Value may not be the only thing, but here it's an undeniably good thing.