Monitor Audio Shadow On-Wall Speakers and RXW12 Subwoofer

The dirty little secret about on-wall speakers is that many aren’t tuned for on-wall use. Most come with a foot that allows them to be used atop a table or stand. When I’ve asked speaker designers whether they optimize these speakers for on-wall or freestanding use, every one either compromised the tuning so that the speaker would work for both, or simply voiced the speaker for freestanding use.

Monitor Audio’s Shadow 60 is the first of the two?or three dozen on-wall speakers I’ve reviewed that?is designed solely for on-wall use. No foot or stand ?is included — if you want to use this speaker, you’ll have to screw it to the wall. Thus, one would expect Monitor Audio to design and voice the Shadow 60 with the speaker attached to a wall or at least to some big smooth surface. And one would expect better sound because of it.

That’s exciting only for audio geeks, though. Design geeks will be drawn to the Shadow 60’s extruded aluminum cabinet and unusual, boxy look. The coolest part of the design is the mounting, which requires no bracket and is totally concealed. To mount the speaker, just remove a magnetically attached cover at each end, pop the grille off, and drive screws through two mounting holes underneath. It’s probably the easiest and cleanest on-wall installation I’ve encountered. Interior designers will rave. Installers... well, more on that in a minute.

Mounted in that aluminum enclosure are a 1-inch C-CAM (ceramic composite) tweeter; two specially slimmed, 4-inch flat-cone woofers; and two 4-inch passive radiators to reinforce the bass. The Shadow 60 is sized for use with 50-inch-plus TVs. The Shadow 50, which has the same driver complement, is designed for use with smaller sets. There’s also a Shadow Centre, essentially a Shadow 60 turned on its side. The Shadow Centre isn’t solely for on-wall use, though; it includes a couple of little feet so it can sit on a TV stand.

The baby of the line, the Shadow 25, also comes with a foot that lets it stand up. Thus, it works on-wall or as a cool-looking, skinny speaker you can place on a stand or desktop. It has the same tweeter, one of the Shadow 50’s woofers, and no passive radiator.

Of course, these slim speakers put out no more bass than a decent iPod dock, so Monitor Audio included an RXW12 subwoofer for my review system. I reviewed the RXW12 back in the summer of 2010. It’s a compact, 12-inch sub with a built-in 500-watt amplifier.