Monitor Audio Bronze 2 Bookshelf speakers

A towering achievement in every sense, Monitor Audio has just established the most high-priced speaker in its 44-year history. Perhaps inevitably, Platinum PL500 II raises the £15,000 that largely unfathomable question introduced by so many high end loudspeakers before it : how much does ‘the greatest’ actually price? The irony, of course, is that folks who can truly afford ‘the greatest’ might not really care and perhaps as being a bit on the cheap side view £15k. That is uncharted territory for MA. We wish it chance.

Put simply, what goes up will come down. And because, as time passes, all the R&D, design expertise, innovation and material advances down the higher it aims the better to evolve the operation of more affordable fare. Monitor Audio isn’t alone in this, of course, but it is especially great at it. Great care is taken to ensure that the sound of the speakers it makes for the masses have essentially the same sonic signature that was fundamental as the models in its premium ranges. There are a few compromises that are budgetary, naturally.

The one Monitor Audio knows it must ace, although it’s a tough call. It’s why the £279 two way Bronze 2 standmount, started last spring, and never the new 1.8m-tall flagship, is the most critical and important loudspeaker it produces. As with past models in the Bronze range a lot rests on its slim shoulders. It just has to do the business: commercially, conceptually and sonically. Introducing new customers to the brand in among the most fiercely fought with marketplace sectors of all with the hope of hanging as their hi fi horizons widen is the key to success.

In each of its five previous avatars - most recently the now superseded BX2 - the best selling larger of both Bronze standmounts has done a sterling job, presenting standards of build and finish that competitors sweat to fit and, with regard to sound quality, a well judged balancing act capable of readily revealing ongoing upstream advancements while adapting those that are looking to stick with more modest electronics. The claim is that this act that is attractive double is retained by the Bronze 2 but pushes on the ability to do justice to even finer sources - eventually and both delaying the itch to upgrade steering it in towards the next-grade Silver collection and from competing brands.

True to mission, Monitor Audio has lifted elements from older Silver and Gold show tech to make this happen. The box hasn’t transformed considerably, but the drive units have. In line with present Silver collection models, the Bronze 2 now uses a dished cone for its 165mm C-CAM mid/bass driver, which left the preceding dustcap and resulting cone aperture to increase radiating, control and rigidity area. The 25mm gold-dome tweeter, MA’s emblematic alloy driver, appears to be the same, but is changed as well with new geometry and venting that prevents back pressure behind the dome - a measure claimed to reduce distortion, enhance dynamics and reduce mechanical resonance. Updated and additionally revised is the crossover, which uses polypropylene capacitors and air-cored and laminated steel core inductors.

With the magnetically fixed grilles it offers a pleasant symmetry. The standard of finish would do justice into a much more expensive speaker, although dressed in a vinyl wrapping as opposed to wood veneer. Whether you select black oak, walnut, rosemah or white ash, they look classy and convincingly ‘woody’.

Fairly imposing for a standmount, the enclosure is constructed from 18mm-thick MDF with added bracing and, to further enhance rigidity, a ‘bolt-through’ mid/bass driver where the unit is efficiently pulled onto the baffle under tension by an individual bolt with an Allen key head that enters through the back panel. Around the back are two sets of good-engineered binding posts for bi-wiring. With a quoted sensitivity of 90dB/W/m and 8ohm impedance, it should not be difficult to drive to adequate amounts with sub-powerhouse amps, even in larger listening rooms.

I determine to audition the B2 with a few different amps and in the smaller of my listening rooms.

Sound quality

Yes, these Brit boxes really do have ability and, like their Bronze 5 stablemates, look and sound like much more expensive and advanced items.

It may not be large, but the A100 is capable of extracting a huge, dynamically expressive sound from the B2. Soundstaging is open and ordered with a wonderful sense of depth. Timing is on the money, too, even the speediest and many elaborate polyrhythmic drum solos in the Whiplash soundtrack failing to trip up it. The golden dome tweeter has never sounded better. Even during the most fearsome cymbal bashing, it has the knack of working out element that is fine harmonic just but not at the expense of musical context. There there’s flow. Artfully, but nothing about the sound is analytical although you are able to listen into a mixture easily hyped. If anything, tonal balance sits somewhat on the warm side of neutral, which is probably no bad thing if the loudspeakers must be partnered with more brilliant-sounding budget electronics. Bass is powerful enough to have me wondering if the foam interface bungs might be wise even with the loudspeaker procured to Slate Audio and pulled well clear of borders stands.

When a Roksan Caspian M2 incorporated relieves the A100 of its responsibilities, the step up in power and quality is clearly appreciated by the B2 and readily heard. Playing that Loeb track again, the bass guitar seems wholly tauter with more realistic weight and superbly supple and better defined edges that are leading to notes. Indeed, the entire track gets new levels of foil, drive and authority, strengths that transfer just as positively as they do Al Green to Grieg. And, exactly as Monitor Audio claims, the B2 won’t buckle in the company of expensive source and amp electronics. It simply seems better and better .

Ultimately, though, it’s the Bronze 2’s ability to present music with clarity, generosity and finesse allied to an inborn sense of performance that’s so likeable and rare in a speaker that costs under £300.


Monitor Audio has had a very long time and it’s hard to think of another standmount in exactly the same price bracket that gets so much correct. As such, it remains the cream of an excellent buy and the group. The PL500 II may place a new high watermark for the business, but I’d wager that this modestly priced standmount will prove over time to be its proudest achievement.

Monitor Audio Bronze 2 Bookshelf speakers photo