The Silver 300 7G is the seventh generation of Monitor Audio’s popular and affordably priced Silver Series. It’s a three-way, four driver, bass-reflex design with dual ports exiting from the enclosure’s back panel. The handsome, columnar midsize tops out at about 42″ tall. At 7″ the front baffle is just wide enough to accommodate the dual 6″ bass drivers, while at the same time narrow enough to reduce cabinet diffraction. The bulk of the Silver 300’s internal volume is derived from its substantial 12″ depth—a form factor that doesn’t impose itself on the room. In fact, my review pair, finished in natural walnut, blended in almost invisibly against my dark wood floors and furnishings. The speakers are so attractive and unobtrusive that I can even see them being welcomed into homes by partners who aren’t really predisposed to liking any loudspeaker that isn’t named Alexa.
Compared with its predecessors, there have been exterior refinements to the driver trim-rings and to the mid- and bass-driver surrounds. But the real changes are on the inside.
The 25mm C-Cam gold-dome tweeter harbors a new magnet structure and rear chamber, and a newly modeled waveguide for improved and more uniform dispersion The midrange is a 3″ C-Cam (ceramic-coated aluminum/magnesium) cone with Rigid Surface Technology II (RST II) for extra clarity. Originally developed for aerospace use years ago, RST II employs a new aluminum alloy with a more rigid profile and a hexagonal dimpled structure for added tensile cone strength, which yields higher power handling and lower distortion. In addition, the RST II drivers feature a new Damped Concentric Mode (DCM) technology, in which the cone and surround geometry are optimized to dampen resonance and reduce distortion. The new 3″ midrange has wider bandwidth than its predecessor, resulting in improved directivity and a smoother transition to the tweeter.
Handling low frequencies are two 6″ C-Cam bass drivers with RST II. The crossover has been further refined, with transition points set at 750Hz and 2.8kHz. The rear-firing ports are positioned at two heights. They output a lot of energy, so handy foam port plugs are provided to help resolve placement issues (i.e., situations where positioning nearer a back wall is a necessity). The plugs will reduce the bass energy that smaller rooms often exaggerate, and smooth bass response into the room.
Because of the Silver 300’s small footprint, stabilizing the cabinet is critical, so outrigger-style footers are bundled with each pair; a choice of spikes for carpets or rubber feet for hard floors is included. Two sets of speaker terminals allow easy hookup for the popular bi-wire option. Room- and décor-friendly finishes include satin white, high-gloss black, plus real wood veneers in black oak, walnut, and ash.
In sonic performance Silver 300 was an easy, amiable speaker to settle in with. It had an inviting personality that was warmly energetic, but seriously propulsive when it needed to be. Its romantic-leaning signature was designed to charm the listener, and tap emotions—the opposite of the dry, chalkboard, clinical designs that engage the head rather than the heart. Dynamically, the performance of the Silver 300 was definitively three-way, as in, “This baby doesn’t hold back!” Whereas two-way loudspeakers tend to withhold dynamic energy from the mids on down, the Silver 300 unleashed the full measure of lower-bass output—the full-throated attack of a baritone sax, the decay of kettle drums, the rush of dark wood resonances as the bow crosses the low E string of Edgar Meyer’s double bass.
The Silver 300’s tonal balance was even, never drawing unwelcome attention to a particular octave. The midrange was full and ripe—a sound that was confirmed by one of my SACD references, The Manhattan Jazz Quintet’s cover of “Autumn Leaves,” where the piano/standup bass duet issued forth with warm, mellow, articulate beauty.
Inter-driver coherence was very good. Thanks to the use of the same cone material across the range of drivers, the Silver 300 is better able to maintain a consistent voice across the frequency spectrum. Speaking of voice, this Monitor Audio conveyed a strong amount of vocal presence on Norah Jones’ “Come Away with Me,” and on the soothing Allison Krauss lullaby “Slumber My Darling.”
Transients played out as naturalistic—assertive but not strident. Transient attack was quick, though not lightning fast. Stewart Copeland’s highly syncopated, high-pitch stick-work during “Murder By Numbers” by The Police should electrify the senses. Here, while very good, the Silver 300 backed off slightly, rounding some of the more pointed edges of Copeland’s assault.
Bass response was solid, easily dipping into the 40Hz range with gusto, and in some instances, perceptibly lower. The low end was tuneful, specific, and capable of meeting the demands of symphonic music. It could also produce much of the midbass dynamism that is critical to popular music and rock. At its lower limit, I perceived a swift roll-off of energy, but the dual-port setup was never intrusive or lacking in speed. It was controlled and didn’t lose its composure even in the face of kickdrum triplets. Actual pitch and impact moderated as the volume increased, but the Silver 300 never grew sloppy or ill-defined. True, it couldn’t quite summon the full resonant bloom of a section of double basses or the immediacy and explosiveness of a rock kickdrum (for that you should probably look to the Silver 500 with dual 8″ woofers).
In terms of soundstage, I turn mostly to classical material recorded in large acoustic venues. The Silver 300’s performance was dimensional in the way it portrayed the depth of a venue, but I concluded that it didn’t bring forth the full orchestral layering and individuation of players on a stage. Imaging was very good. I especially appreciated the outlines of Harry Connick, Jr.’s vocal as he harmonized with Branford Marsalis’ tenor sax—that fine balance between playing together but standing apart. But Silver 300 isn’t aiming to pinpoint musicians in its sights as bass-restricted compacts might do. Allow me to clarify: If a loudspeaker is limited to 50–60Hz, it will always sound a shred more precise and appear to be quicker on transients. But when deep bass, let’s say 40Hz and below, is added, it introduces a range of heretofore hidden information that fleshes out and harmonically rebalances the performance, even to the point of partially masking upper-octave details. There are more than a few tried and true audiophiles who would prefer to do without full-range performance for just that reason. They’re hooked on the detail, the assumed “transparency,” even if it comes at the expense of shaving off an octave or so. I know. I was one of them, and still am on occasion.
With the growing number of big screens (remember when 42″ was a “big” screen?) and the new “Plus” streaming channels like Disney and Apple stepping up, I can’t ignore the reality that more loudspeakers in this range are likely to be engaged in double-duty. So, the question arises, “Does Silver do home theater?” Boy, does it ever. It’s a big ask for a two-channel system, but Monitor Audio is not a novice in the multichannel realm. The company has been producing cinema systems for years—everything from surround speakers to center channels to subwoofers. including optional Dolby Atmos add-ons. But the keys that the Silver 300 brings to movies are the dynamics and midbass punch that help launch effects and cleanly articulate dialogue. As for special effects, like the deep subterranean sound signature of the 300-meter sandworms in the film Dune, well, suffice to say Silver 300 created a seismic sense of dark foreboding that held my attention.
I kept waiting for Silver 300 to show an unpleasant side to its sonic personality, but really it was only mildly subtractive in a couple areas. The positives outweighed the negatives by a wide margin. On an absolute basis, I’d ask for a hint more treble air and openness and improved image focus. At irresponsibly loud levels, a hint of glare seeped into the treble. Though it’s a transparent speaker, there was still a hint of residual veiling over reference recordings like Shelby Lynn’s “Just A Little Lovin’” and Dave Brubeck’s immortal “Take Five.” But then again, if you’re willing to open your wallet, that’s why Monitor Audio offers Gold and Platinum series loudspeakers.
Postscript: As I was finalizing this review, I was also writing about my impressions of the Beatles 50th Anniversary release of Let It Be. In preparing for the review, I pulled out Let It Be compact discs, an original vinyl U.S. pressing, a Mobile Fidelity analog remastered version from the fabled Box Set of 1982, plus the more recent 2014 digital remastering from Apple released as The Beatles in Stereo box set. What I didn’t expect, especially at its modest price, was that Silver 300 would prove to be an exceptional tool for critical analysis of recordings. Like a good pro-monitor speaker, it allowed me to chart the different choices engineers had made for voice balancing and reverb over the years. The MoFi, for example, placed McCartney and Lennon deeper in the mix, while the Giles Martin remixes presented them as strongly focused images and further isolated them from the band. Hard right and left panning was reduced on the new mixes, as well. Ringo’s kick and McCartney’s brilliant bass playing received more emphasis. Interestingly, Apple’s 2014 stereo remastered box set tended to split the tonal/imaging differences between these periods. In retrospect, it was a sonic harbinger of things to come from Apple.
The Monitor Audio Silver 300 sets a very high standard for a modestly priced floorstander. It’s just flat-out likeable, with a level of energy that gets toes tapping and fingers snapping. And with its stylish good looks, it can easily slip into a den or living room, without a design overhaul. Loudspeakers face a tough road in the highly competitive $2–3k category, but the Monitor Audio has more than enough game and ranks with the best I’ve heard in this range. Are you an enthusiast and economical? Silver 300 7G means you won’t have to choose. A great effort by Monitor Audio.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Three-way, bass-reflex loudspeaker
Drivers: 1″ dome tweeter, 3″ midrange, 6″ woofer (x2)
Frequency response: 31Hz–35kHz (–6dB)
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms (4 ohms minimum)
Dimensions (including outrigger feet and spikes): 10.75″ x 41.2″ x 15.25″
Weight: 43 lbs.
KEVRO INTERNATIONAL (North American distributor)
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By Neil Gader
My love of music largely predates my enthusiasm for audio. I grew up Los Angeles in a house where music was constantly playing on the stereo (Altecs, if you’re interested). It ranged from my mom listening to hit Broadway musicals to my sister’s early Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Beatles, and Stones LPs, and dad’s constant companions, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. With the British Invasion, I immediately picked up a guitar and took piano lessons and have been playing ever since. Following graduation from UCLA I became a writing member of the Lehman Engel’s BMI Musical Theater Workshops in New York–working in advertising to pay the bills. I’ve co-written bunches of songs, some published, some recorded. In 1995 I co-produced an award-winning short fiction movie that did well on the international film-festival circuit. I was introduced to Harry Pearson in the early 70s by a mutual friend. At that time Harry was still working full-time for Long Island’s Newsday even as he was writing Issue 1 of TAS during his off hours. We struck up a decades-long friendship that ultimately turned into a writing gig that has proved both stimulating and rewarding. In terms of music reproduction, I find myself listening more than ever for the “little” things. Low-level resolving power, dynamic gradients, shadings, timbral color and contrasts. Listening to a lot of vocals and solo piano has always helped me recalibrate and nail down what I’m hearing. Tonal neutrality and presence are important to me but small deviations are not disqualifying. But I am quite sensitive to treble over-reach, and find dry, hyper-detailed systems intriguing but inauthentic compared with the concert-going experience. For me, true musicality conveys the cozy warmth of a room with a fireplace not the icy cold of an igloo. Currently I split my time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Studio City, California with my wife Judi Dickerson, an acting, voice, and dialect coach, along with border collies Ivy and Alfie.More articles from this editor
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