Monitor Audio Silver 1 Bookshelf speakers

Just a little fuller than many competitions, it is almost as if the Silver 1 has been working out in the gym and power eating at the same time - because it includes a bigger mid/bass unit than you might expect, given its height, and that is.

Fitting a 150mm driver where you'd usually expect something smaller confers an awareness of power and ease to the Silver 1 that many competitors lack.

Matching this is a new CCAM gold magnesium alloy dome tweeter using a damped rear chamber and dome venting. This crosses over from the mid/woofer driver at 3kHz. Both units are bolted to the cupboard, and split two ways using a crossover with silver plated OFC wiring and polypropylene film capacitors. There's just one bass port on the rear, along with bi -wiring posts.

Sound quality

Here is a tiny loudspeaker that sounds rather bigger than you could expect. New Atlantic's I Understand seems incredibly sharp and punchy; bass is tight and has very little awareness of any overhang. The notes from the bass synthesiser begin and stop incredibly certainly, giving a feel that is pulsating and powerful. The group seems thorough and clean, the Silver 1s throwing out tons of information in the innards of the combination. You wouldn't call it but it's surely well defined and explicit, and this extends to the treble.

Along with giving a tighter, tauter bass than you may expect from a budget speaker, of being little, the other benefit is the stereo imaging. The sound comes from something close to some single-point source, letting it fire out into the room to paint large, bold, three-dimensional stereo pictures. This is partly because mid/bass unit and the tweeter are found close together on the front baffle.

This makes for a wonderfully grand rendition of Isaac Hayes Shaft Original Soundtrack. The recorded acoustic sounds absolutely cavernous, in all three measurements. Inside this, instruments are located with great preciseness thinking about the speaker's price; it's not that far off, although it does not give you electrostatic amounts of picture location admittedly.

One of the big issues with little loudspeakers is dynamic compression -they're physically unable to change enough atmosphere to track dynamic changes that are instrumental precisely. Happily, this little carton proves not worse than most. This is likely down to the larger drive unit, plus the cupboard that is very inflexible.

It certainly makes for an adequate performance in this respect; for instance, the firecracker that is frantic drum work on the Red Barchetta of Rush is kept together brilliantly. As the song builds into a crescendo, the speakers are extremely adroit at communicating the little micro dynamics of the cymbals, for example, and keep becoming louder without distorting or compressing the music. Ultimately at high levels there is a little softening of peaks that are dynamic, but it is far less intrusive than some other similarly priced competitors.

The Silver 1 doesn't obviously excel at any one special aspect of the musical performance, instead choosing to relax into the music and let the listener appreciate it without attracting attention to itself. It is astonishingly convincing with large-scale classical orchestral music, like a Deutsche Grammophon pressing of Beethoven's Symphony No.6 (Berlin Philharmonic, Karajan) simply so long as you 'tune out' the lack of low bass. It's a wide soundstage, and it drops back manner behind rear wall. Transparency and its astonishing clarity provides a clear window on the musical universe without seeming bright or forward.


Overall it is a little box that is superb and the finishes that are beautiful just add extra icing to the cake.

Monitor Audio Silver 1 Bookshelf speakers photo