Monitor Audio Bronze 200
Design - 90%
Movies performance - 90%
Music performance - 90%
Inputs and Features - 94%
Price / Quality - 92%
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In the home theater arena there are many respectful brands with some of them managing to keep a consistent streak of releases over the years. One such company is no other than Monitor Audio, the British manufacturer that has been in the field for more than 4 decades and has created speakers that cover all price ranges and all budgets. We have reviewed a couple of their speakers before, the Gold 200 and Silver 200 to be more precise, and left us with very good impressions. Today we will go one step lower and in our Monitor Audio Bronze 200 review we will be looking at the smallest floorstander in the Bronze series.
Monitor Audio has made an excellent job at distinguish their various lineups with the Platinum and Gold series taking the upper ranks, the Silver series belonging in the middle-tier space and the Monitor lineup being at the lower end. This left the Bronze series be somewhere between the Silver and Monitor lineups as you cannot exactly call these either middle-tier or low end models and thus covering a certain gap between the two that surely many will appreciate as it gives more options in that specific price range.
The Bronze 200 we will be looking today belongs to the 6th generation of the Bronze family and Monitor Audio went ahead and made certain changes compared to the previous Bronze 5 speakers. The Bronze 6G series come with certain proprietary technologies that were designed by Monitor Audio including a C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter with UD Waveguide, specially designed C-CAM mid-bass drivers and a cabinet with Dual HiVe II ports to compliment a very high quality finish.
The Bronze 200 may belong on the lower end of the price ladder but it certainly doesn’t look like that and we are here to determine if it performs equally good as it looks and as Monitor Audio standards have got us used to.
Design, Inputs and Features
With the Bronze 200 being the smaller of the two floorstanders in the series it certainly has a very slimlike footprint making it ideal from those looking for a set of speakers but are extremely limited by space. Measuring 3513/16 x 9 x 1115/16” (909 x 229 x 304 mm) including the outrigger feet and spikes and with a weight of 24 lb 8 oz (12.8 kg) they could not be easier to handle around.
And while their footprint certainly helps for tight spaces the placement of the air ports at the back does not as the more close you put them to a wall the greater the effect it will have to their sound output compared to speakers that use front air ports for example.
The Bronze series may not directly aim for premium quality but nevertheless Monitor Audio has really impressed us with the cabinet quality and design. Featuring a stiff cabinet construction with crisp edges and corners give the Bronze 200 a clean and modern look while its rigid 15 mm MDF cabinet and 21 mm front baffle, optimally placed braces throughout the construction and single bolt through driver technology give the speakers the necessary strength, rigidity and reduction of unwanted vibrations through the cabinet walls.
The fresh cabinet designs have clean and simple lines and are available in a choice of four contemporary finishes with a sleek contrasting satin painted baffle. The acoustically transparent hexagonal pattern grille is certainly unique and give style to the overall look. Monitor Audio has certainly found a design that although doesn’t have any fancy characteristics it gives great pleasure looking at it and this means a lot. The dual color variations feature vinyl cabinets with satin front baffles and the available colors are White (White vinyl with light grey front baffle), Walnut (Walnut wood vinyl with satin dark grey front baffle), Urban Grey (Grey wood vinyl with light grey front baffle) and Black (Black vinyl with dark grey front baffle).
Keeping in line with its overall look the Bronze 200 is using sleek, audio transparent, cloth-covered magnetic grilles that have rounded top and bottom and cover both the C-CAM drivers along with the top placed tweeter. The lower end of the grille stops just under the lower mid-range driver leaving the rest of the front baffle exposed. We like that the grilles are magnetic as having special secure holes would definitely destroy an otherwise excellent design. At the bottom end of the front face a 3D metal brand plate gives the logo a more premium feel.
At the back of the speakers we find the bolt-through driver fixings in between the dual HiVe II ports that provide improved transient response and tighter bass, due to smoother air-flow. We have seen this HiVe II technology before in some of the other Monitor Audio speakers and these has the ability to move air in and out much quicker than a conventional port, because of its straight rifled design, resulting in fast powerful bass. At the bottom, as per usual, we get some high quality terminals.
The speakers are using some high quality out-rigger feet that are attached to the bottom of the cabinet with two screws, one main screw and one locking screw, while Monitor Audio provides both spikes, which are surprisingly sharp and best suited for carpets, and rubber feet depending on the floor you are going to place them. Overall the out-rigger feet may not be anything special design wise but the ones provided by Monitor Audio are better than some cheaper offerings while they feel sturdy enough for this kind of speakers.
Whatever Monitor Audio does in their design department is really top notch. The Bronze series may not belong in the upper categories of HiFi equipment but they still radiate a sense of premium quality. Cabinet construction and quality is really high which is surprising considering the price range we are and for this we need to applaud the designers for their achievement.
But it’s not only how the speakers look but how they perform that is even more important and Monitor Audio has never disappointed us in terms of the components they use inside their cabinets either for their more premium lineups or their most cost friendly ones. As such the Bronze series is utilizing certain technologies we saw in some of their other speakers before.
The Bronze 200 is basically a 2.5-way design with a single high frequency tweeter sitting at the very top along with two C-CAM mid-bass drivers being placed beneath it. Let’s see these in a bit more detail now.
Monitor Audio has been using a single 25 mm C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter with UD Waveguide in the Bronze 200. Basically this is an evolution of their Gold Tweeter design which is formed from a ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium alloy, gold anodized to a specific thickness for ideal stiffness and damping characteristics. The curved profile of the waveguide has been optimized with the help of Finite Element Analysis in order to give benefits such as a controlled directivity pattern and increased radiation efficiency.
The tweeter has a more controlled off-axis dispersion pattern which allows for greater listener positioning flexibility as the tonal balance won’t change significantly when moving away from the central listening ‘hotspot’. The depth of the waveguide means that the tweeter voice coil is located deeper within the cabinet and is more in line with the mid-bass drivers.
A better sense of timing will be perceived because the wave fronts from the tweeter and drivers will reach the listener simultaneously. And lastly the increased radiation efficiency provided by the waveguide allows the crossover frequency to be decreased which can help to widen the directivity around the crossover region by redistributing some energy to the tweeter.
As for the mid-range drivers we find a duo of 5.5″ C-CAM mid-bass drivers that use Damped Concentric Mode (DCM) technology. Conventional cones are liable to flex or twist in operation, producing a significant level of audible distortion. C-CAM cones have a much higher resistance to bending stress and therefore exhibit much greater fidelity over their entire operating range.
Also Finite Element Analysis has been used to optimize the geometry where the driver cone and surround overlap with the intention of decreasing the amplitude and decay of the first concentric mode of the diaphragm, producing a more accurate time response from the speaker.
But Monitor Audio did not only stop there as the speakers feature premium grade, bespoke polyester film and electrolytic capacitors, air-core and low-loss laminated steel-core inductors for maximum signal transfer and reduced distortion. Also pureflow silver-plated oxygen-free copper internal cabling ensures the highest quality current transfer through the signal chain.
The 25 mm C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter along with the dual 5.5″ C-CAM mid-bass drivers allow for a frequency response of 35 Hz – 30 kHz (in room), 8 ohm of nominal impedance, 88 dB (2.83V@1m) of sensitivity, a maximum SPL of 112 dBA while the crossovers have been set at 700 Hz for the low/mid and 2.4 kHz for the mid/high. Monitor Audio suggests an amplifier/av receiver in the 40 – 120W range.
The Bronze 200 are using custom-made, high quality gold plated terminals that are positioned exactly under the lower HiVe II port. With the kind of ports Monitor Audio used you can either bi-wire or bi-amp the Bronze 200 depending on the kind of connection you prefer. Their design allows for different kind of connecting plugs like spades or banana plugs or even bare wires if you prefer that. Bi-wiring the speakers may, in certain situations, improve sound but this depends on other factors also like the rest of your audio equipment but it’s always good to have this option.
Their relatively small footprint and light weight made unpacking rather easy. Assembly of the out-rigger feet was very easy as everything needed is included. You attach the four feet by using two screws for each leg and in case you need to straight them up by using a spirit level you can adjust each foot separately. For the hard floor of our testing room we used the included rubber feet although hard spikes were in the package if you need to place these on carpet.
The Monitor Audio Bronze 200 manual provide very thorough instructions on how to position the speakers but we should point out that these although are universally accepted each room has its own acoustics so its always good to experiment with speaker positions until you are satisfied with the results. As for proximity to the walls always remember that the further you place them the lower the overall bass but increased definition you get.
In our case we have some fixed positions that we place our floorstanders for both our movie testing and our music auditions. The speakers are placed at a distance of about 9 feet from each other while we left about 3 feet of breathing space between them and the back wall. Now if you are going to toe-in them or not depends entirely how you feel they sound but in our case we did toe-in them slightly towards our listening position in order to get better sound imaging.
The speakers can be bi-wired or bi-amped but we went for a simple wiring solution for our testing. Monitor Audio suggests 50-70 hours of initial break-in but we would suggest a 100 hour break-in period in order to be sure they have reached their peak performance. If your speakers are new and they don’t sound exactly as you expected give them some time to flex as this is the case with most new ones.
In all our movie tests we always use a simple 4.0 channels setup with only the two front channels taken by the Bronze 200 while also used a pair of surround speakers to get some basic over-the-shoulder activity. We are not using either a center speaker, subwoofer or Atmos speakers in order to determine how the front channels can cover for these omissions. As we always point out in our reviews, based on our observations, if you have a fully functional surround system results will be even better than what we observe. On the other hand for our music tests we switch to a pure 2.0 channels stereo setup as this is the type of preference for most music purists.
For this review we decided to try out an old favorite of ours so we popped the 4K UHD version of Jurassic Park in our Panasonic UHD player and chose a few selected scenes to test out.
Jurassic Pak may slightly show its age but still remains one of the best, if not the best in the whole franchise. The UHD version features an amazing DTS:X mix and although we were not expecting to get the full treatment with our half baked surround system we had high hopes from the Bronze speakers.
Now, Jurassic Park is a film that relies a lot of ambient atmosphere and environmental sound effects in order to create a more immersive atmosphere so lets talk about the front soundstage first. What made an impression on us was how much detail was coming out of these small floorstanders. The Bronze 200 are not shy of details and the sound stage in front of us suddenly became full of very subtle sounds that made the experience even more exciting. In the jungle you could hear all these tiny sounds that will make you believe you are there like bugs and insects flying around while tropical birds sound so clear and with so much resolution.
But details was only a part of the Bronze 200 strength as the other was the width of the sound stage which was bigger than we expected from such small floorstanders. For their footprint the 200s can really give you a grander sense of scale. The jungle felt huge and deep without loosing focus on the foreground while extension on both sides of our listening area was really good even if not the best we have seen in this category.
As for panning effects these were rendered with precision and we didn’t notice any noticeable lag or delay. As we didn’t have a center speaker the two front channels did a very good job at delivering dialogue that was distinct and clear and would stay at the center at all times. We felt that the dialogue was missing some focus but it was not something major and it certainly didn’t bother us much. Either it was some dialogue driven moment or all out action the Bronze 200s performed admirably in this regard.
Focusing a little on the mid-range we found the speakers pretty balanced with good cohesion and without prioritizing any frequency in particular. Everything came together nicely as if the speakers knew their limitations and gave exactly what they could without falling short of their capabilities. Many of the dinosaur sounds were rendered amazingly with a very raw and natural texture to them making them feel real and alive. The film is not extreme on the high end but whenever it was needed the 200s did a very good job while John Williams’ totally flooring orchestrated music was delivered with finesse and mastery.
On the lower end you may think that the 5.5″ drivers are not capable enough to give a satisfactory bass performance but in our ears they did sound amazing. Yes of course, they cannot compare to the power, authority and punch of a dedicated subwoofer but for their size we were pleasantly surprised by how deep they could go without making the bass feel uninspiring or flat. You will get the usual shake of the T-Rex footing or when he wreaks havoc on the Jurassic Park Explorers but if you expect to feel the punching in your chest from its roar you will definitely need a subwoofer for that.
For our second testing we went ahead with Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in its Blu-ray format. All Lord of the Rings films come with amazing DTS-HD Master Audio tracks which are the best this aging format has to offer. For the Two Towers there are a few scenes we have selected to go with like the obvious siege of Helm’s Deep, the last march of the Ents and a few more dialogue driven moments.
With the Siege of Helm’s Deep the 200s were able to render very faithfully the grand scale of the set with very realistic extension and depth which are very important when you have such large set pieces. We particularly liked that when a moment asked for more focused attention the speakers would follow accordingly before going back to their wider performance.
Again panning effects were very nicely rendered as the arrows were falling like rain the moment the Uruk Hai began their attack on the Keep. This is a particularly busy scene but the dialogue never felt underwhelmed by all the mayhem happening around. It had good focus on the center and stayed clear of the rest of the action even if it was not the absolute best we could get. With shields and swords clashing, screams and shouting all dialogue was easily distinguishable with no overlap over the rest of the sound effects.
When the Uruk Hai breached the wall the huge explosion had good weight and pumping sound that really put us into the action. It didn’t send us the usual blast wave that a subwoofer would but this was to be expected. But nevertheless the speakers went deep enough to make the explosion menacing and impressive. And in general we would call the low end satisfying even if not overall amazing. Sarumans’ army felt fearsome and deadly and the Uruk Hai battle screams could give you nightmares.
Treebeards’ voice had a very rough sound to it as it should with the 200s never showing any trouble at faithfully reproducing its audio signature. When the Ents march on Isengard the totally flooring orchestrated music gave the scene the necessary grand scale and epic proportions while the 200s were glad to bind everything together nice and tight.
In terms of surround audio the Bronze 200s were very easy on our surrounds as sounds would travel across our room with good precision and shifting and we didn’t feel like the performance lost anything by using speakers from another brand.
Closing this part of our test we would say that the Bronze 200 performed admirably with the films we tried out. They never complained or fell short of what they were asked and will always give you their best across all kind of movie material. Great work Monitor Audio.
Next we switched to a 2.0 channels audio setup by using only the two front speakers as this is our usual setup when listening to music. As always we have a selection of FLAC music tracks that we stream through the USB of our AV receiver for the best quality possible.
We liked the details that these were able to render and for their size and class we would say they fared better than expected. Definition was pretty high and this resulted in more accurate rendering of each sound source. The speaker may not try to overall excite you but they don’t need to as their output is already up high creating a very exciting performance that will make you to want more.
Stereo imaging was good enough although we felt like it was a step down from what we had heard in some of the higher Monitor Audio releases but you cannot say that this bothered us a bit. Musical instruments could easily be identified in space making the immersion higher and the sound stage more alive. Various panning effects were spot on and accurate with both 200s working in harmony in making our ears sing in excitement. Also while we did sense sound stretching further across the room the floorstanders didn’t have the ability of some other speakers we had seen to expand in all three axis as much as we would like. But this was a small stumble in the wider picture.
The higher frequencies we playful, exciting and with enough energy without being overall tiring or bothersome. The Gold Tweeter that Monitor Audio has been using for many years now is a proven technology and once again shows its qualities.
But the 200s proved also to be good with bass which is necessary to give the required weight to any performance. The speakers could go pretty deep for only having 5.5″ drivers and the Hive II ports gave the speakers the necessary air flow to enhance the lower registers. Trying a few bass demanding songs proved how coherent these speakers were as we never sensed the bass to loose control, feel muffled or boomy. Again not the most flooring performance and the 200s certainly lack in overall lower end power but what they can give, they give in spades and never disappoint.
If you are a music lover but this is your first entry in the HiFi arena the Bronze 200 is an excellent choice especially if you have a relatively small room. In such a case the speakers will shine and give you an excellent performance for their class that surpasses many other speakers of the same or equal price.
Monitor Audio never fails to impress us with their releases. With their 6th generation of the Bronze series the British manufacturer went on and made many changes to one of their most favorite series and the end result justify their hard work. The Bronze series 6G is an amazing entry level HiFi speaker series and the Bronze 200 can be ideal for anyone that have a small room but ask for something more than a cheap speaker.
The Bronze lineup and the Bronze 200 in particular have an amazing design even if they are not the most luxurious or premium of designs. Monitor Audio has nailed it with its dual color combination that makes them look unique and pleasant to the eye. The technologies that are included in them are the usual Monitor Audio affair with their proprietary C-CAM drivers and Gold Dome tweeter along with the newly designed transparent hexagonal dispersion pattern.
Performance wise the Bronze 200s are as good as you would expect them. Good work in the mid-range, very energetic highs without being bothering or tiresome and very controlled lower end that never feels uninspiring or flat. Sound imaging was very good and you would never loose track of anything happening around you.
On the downsides we would say that looking at the general picture we didn’t feel disappointed with something in particular. The speakers are destined for a specific group of consumers and for them the Bronze 200 can do great. The bass could have a bit more punch while sound didn’t extend as much as we would like but this has also to do with the size of the cabinets. The speakers would fit better for small rooms where space is rather limited and they wouldn’t be able to perform the same in a wide open area. But other than that we cannot find anything else wrong to be honest with you.
We need to close our review so what we can say is that the speakers can easily be described as an excellent choice for those that look for a pair of good quality, entry level HiFi floorstanders but don’t want to go overboard with budget and also space is an extremely limiting factor. In that case the Monitor Audio Bronze 200 will do great, they can fit almost anywhere, look amazing and perform even better. As such we cannot but give them our highest recommendation.
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