Monitor Audio Studio 20 loudspeaker Sam Tellig April 1992

Sam Tellig wrote about the Studio 20 in April 1992 (Vol.15 No.4):

My friend Howie never got his hands on the Monitor Audio Studio 20s—I had them in and out too fast. I knew they were not for me—too pricey. Or for Hyperfy either—not enough bass, don't play loud enough.

If the Studio 20s sold for roughly the same price as the Celestion SL700SEs—$3299/pair, including mandatory, dedicated stands—I'd have no trouble recommending them. At $4499/pair in standard wood finishes (gorgeous), or $5399/pair in piano black, I think they're overpriced—even though these speakers do sport sexy, expensively engineered metal-cone woofers.

I'll leave out the technical description, which in any case has been covered in RH's full review in Vol.14 No.12. In fact, Bob Harley reviewed the same pair I had—I had them first and found the speakers hard to come to terms with.

First, the detail. Do you want all this detail? Do you want so much detail that you hear every fault in a recording? Do you want so much detail that it might be hard to hear the music? You be the judge. If you're a detail freak, these may be the speakers for you. They're up there in Wilson WATT and Avalon Ascent territory when it comes to detail...and, it might be argued, the Studio 20s are priced accordingly. If you buy these speakers, be prepared to spend a lot of time getting the rest of your system right. A cable freak could have a ball with these! (Incidentally, a great amp with these speakers is said to be the Valve Amplification Company PA90 monoblocks. I didn't have a pair at the time I had these speakers. Most of my listening was on a Krell KSA-150.)

Detailed, delicate. But I found the dynamics somewhat restricted. I could not get these speakers to play super-loud. And occasionally I do like to drive hard—very hard. If it's Mahler, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, I like the sound loud. I like it so loud that only a live performance can satisfy.

Deep bass? I didn't hear much. And I felt that these floorstanding speakers needed extra height—they sounded to me like stand-situated speakers whose stands were too short. The sound in my room was too close to the floor. I tried tilting the speakers upward a little by adjusting the spikes. Not much difference. Perhaps I didn't have the speakers far back enough in the room—but I'd optimized them for imaging, and closer to the wall was not so good.

Still, the resolution of these speakers is extraordinary.—Sam Tellig

Monitor Audio Ltd.
North American distributor: Kevro International Inc.,
McKay Road, Pickering, Ontario L1W 3X8
(416) 428-2800

DavidMA's picture

Interesting. $4500 in 1992 is equivalent to about $9500 today. So over time, as Monitor Audio has become more sophisticated, and its products evolved from two-way to three-way, 4-driver products (such is the case with Silver/Gold/Platinum floor-standing models), the relative price has fallen. I did not see in the article where the Studio 20s were manufactured. I assume that for a relatively high price like that, these were produced locally rather than in Asia. Seemingly, Monitor's move of production to Asia allows for us to consume the subsequent evolution of their products at a lower price. I own a pair of Platinum PL-300s, and they are quite good - even when compared with speakers on the other side of $50k. So I agree with many reviewers who typically conclude that Monitor Audio (especially the Silver series) is one of the great values in high-end audio. They seem to be a greater value as time progresses.