Monitor Ups the Platinum Ante

Monitor Audio has now moved to its second-generation Platinum series loudspeakers, which Monitor presents as "most accurate and beautiful loudspeakers" the company has ever made. Shown was the top-of-the-line, towering PL500 II ($28,995/pair), whose front baffles are hand-upholstered in the same Ingleston leather used in many luxury British brands.

The PL500 II has an MPD (micro-pleated diaphragm) tweeter based on AMT technology, with increased pleats and reduced length to improve sound. It also boasts dual 4" midrange units. Drivers are RDT II (Rigid Diaphragm Technology 2nd Generation), which seems to be a composite-sandwich structure made from ultra-thin, low-mass skins bonded to a honeycomb Nomex core material. To get more specific, the speaker uses a front layer (skin) of C-CAM (ceramic coated aluminum magnesium) that owes its existence to aerospace research—I'm told the material is also used in racing car driver uniforms—with a back skin of woven carbon-fiber. The company claims it's the "lowest distortion cone technology" in its history. (Their speaker catalog, BTW, is a thing of beauty.)

The speakers, along with Simaudio Moon electronics and Claris balanced cable, depicted the strings in Ivan Fischer's Mahler 9 with great clarity and emotional delicacy, but bass was muddy. All in all, the sound seemed toned down, perhaps due to all the drapery in the room. The drapery was also probably the cause of the surprising narrow soundstage.