Monitor Audio Monitor 7 loudspeaker Review System

Sidebar 2: Review System

The pair of speaker was positioned for the best sound (with only one pair of loudspeakers in the listening room at a time). Source components consisted of a Revox A77 to play my own and others' 15ips master tapes, a Linn Sondek/Ekos/Troika setup sitting on a Sound Organisation table to play LPs, and Kinergetics KCD-40 and Meridian 206 CD players. Amplification consisted of a Mark Levinson No.25/No.26 preamplifier combination driving a pair of Mark Levinson No.20.5 monoblocks via 15' lengths of AudioQuest LiveWire Lapis balanced interconnect. Speaker cable was 5' lengths of AudioQuest Clear Hyperlitz. I certainly don't regard the rest of my system as being typical of that with which these speakers will be used, but it certainly should enable me to get the best sound from the speakers under test.

I carried out comparisons with the Cambridge Soundworks Ambiance my vintage pair of Rogers LS3/5as (see Stereophile passim), and the pair of Celestion 3s that I favorably reviewed last October. (The Celestions have since risen in price to the princely sum of $269/pair—still a great buy, in my opinion.) The Rogers give of their best in free space; the Celestions need to be against the wall.

At the conclusion of the review period, I took delivery of the ridiculously expensive tubed D/A converter from Stax. A review will appear next month, but suffice it to say that this gave some of the most musical sounds I have experienced from digital replay. Using it with the Monitor 7s and Cambridge Ambiances floored me, as superficially there was only little subjective indication that the speakers were budget-priced. Yes, quantity was missing, but not nearly as much quality as I might have expected from all my previous auditioning of these minis. From my experience of multi-thousand-dollar speaker systems, I have to say that using a $13,000 CD front-end with $230/pair loudspeakers makes a lot more musical sense than driving Infinity IRS Betas with a $230 CD player. "The speakers make the sound so that is where you need to concentrate your resources," goes the conventional wisdom—give me a break from all this conventional wisdom!—John Atkinson

Monitor Audio Ltd.
US distributor: Kevro International Inc.
902 McKay Road, Suite 4
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3X8, Canada
(905) 428-2800