Although I have Cambridge Towers in my home system (driven by a Jolida 102B tube integrated amplifier), I love Energy speakers, and have positively reviewed several different models here in the past.
Recommend this product?
A couple of months ago, I was cruising through Good Guys (my local electronics supermarket), hoping to hear Energy's latest, when I discovered that Good Guys had added Monitor Audio speakers to their line. They still have Energy as well, but have dumped Polk.
In any case, I thought I'd give some Monitor Audio speakers a listen and compare them with my favorites. The Monitor Audio Silver 10s were the coolest looking in the room, so that's what I listened to. Some comparably priced Energys (I forget the model number, but it may have been 2.2s) were there for comparison.
The Monitor Audio Silver 10s are expensive tower speakers, retailing for $2000/pair. They are fairly large, and quite attractive. Each tower is about 40" tall, 8" wide, and 10" deep. Weight is about 50 pounds per speaker. Available finishes include beech, black oak, natural oak, and rosemah (whatever that is). The ones I listened to had a natural wood finish that looked really nice--not sure which one it was.
The drivers in the Silver 10s are as follows: two 7" woofers, a 6" midrange driver, and a small tweeter. The enclosure is ported. Binding posts are of the high quality gold plated variety. Frequency response is said to be 32 hz to 30 khz /- 3db. Sensitivity is rated at 91 db (comparable to my Cambridge Towers). Nominal impedance is 6 ohms.
Enough numbers. How did these speakers sound? Absolutely wonderful! We played rock, jazz and classical through them, and the sound was always excellent. Bass was tight and deep, the midrange was smooth and natural, and the highs sounded extended and non-fatiguing. Imaging was also outstanding: the soundstage was both wide and deep, and instruments were clearly placed across the stage.
These are NOT dipolar or bipolar speakers (sound comes only from the front), so there is not the slightly exaggerated sense of space you get with speakers like Maggies, some Mirages, or my own Cambridge Soundworks Towers. But the soundstage is still quite large, and instruments are more accurately located within that soundstage than is generally the case with front-and-back radiating speakers.
When I compared the Monitor Audio Silver 10s with comparably price Energys, I found myself slightly preferring the Monitor Audio speakers. They sounded a tad clearer and more refined. Both threw an excellent soundstage, had deep and tight bass, and non-fatiguing highs. The overall character of the sound was also slightly different, but in ways I can't put into words. Here's the link to my review of the Energy 2.2s, which are in the same price range (once stands are factored in) as the Monitor Audio Silver 10s.
Because the Monitor Audio Silver 10 Towers are relatively sensitive, they might work well with low power tube amplifiers, which I think provide some of the most natural sound available these days. As mentioned, I am currently using a Jolida 102B (about 20 watts per channel) to drive my Cambridge Towers. The Towers's rated sensitivity is either 90 or 92 db (I've seen both figures in Cambridge Soundworks's literature), about the same as the Silver 10's (rated at 91 db). My maximum volume level is slightly reduced, relative to when I'm using my old B&K ST-202 (more than 100 watts per channel), but not by much. And the sound is so much more fluid and natural, it's worth the loss of a few db of maximum volume. If you need a bit more power, and want tube magic, check out Jolida's higher power amplifiers, as well as amplifiers from conrad johnson and VTL.
Aesthetically, the Silver 10s are really nice: a bit more conservative looking than Energy's speakers. You can find a good picture (and complete specs for) of the Silver 10s at the Monitor Audio website:
If you're looking for high quality speakers in the $2000 price range, I'd recommend listening to both Monitor Audio's and Energy's offerings. I think I like both better than Thiel's (too bright) and Vandersteen's (never opened up for me--I used to own 2Cis) speakers in this price range. Other speakers worth listening to at the $2000 price point? Check out Triangle, Joseph Audio, and Magnepan, as well.
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Amount Paid (US$): 2000