Monitor Audio Silver 8 Speaker Review
Every speaker has a silver lining
What is the Monitor Audio Silver 8?
We've already reviewed Monitor Audio's Silver range of speakers as part of a multi-channel package.In that particular configuration, the front left and right duties were handled by the Silver 6 floor-standing speaker. That particular speaker used a 2.5 way system configuration but now it's the turn of the equally as impressive Silver 8. This big floor-standing speaker uses a new three-way design that has been optimised for greater accuracy over a critical frequency band to deliver superb mid-range focus and precision, along with an extended bass response.Since the rest of the multi-channel package has already been covered in Ed's review, we will be using the Silver 8 in a purely stereo configuration. However, the combination of a 4" mid-range driver and two 6.5" bass drivers, along with a taller, shallower cabinet and improved damping, promises greater room position flexibility. The higher sensitivity and impedance should also make the Silver 8 easier to drive, thus creating room-filling dynamics. Let's find out...
Silver 8 Design and ConnectionsThe Silver 8 uses a cabinet made of 20mm MDF throughout and in conjunction with a bolt-through driver bracing, employs an additional radial and cross-bracing for high rigidity and low coloration. Each bolt acts as a rigid brace, but also removes the need for conventional driver fixings as well, effectively decoupling the driver and front baffle. The absence of conventional driver fixings contributes to a cleaner more elegant appearance – especially in tandem with Silver’s ‘invisible’ magnetic grille location. Whether or not you want to use the grilles, they attach seamlessly thanks to these magnets. The Silver 8 is available in a choice of premium quality real wood Rosenut, Walnut, Natural Oak, and Black Oak veneers, together with high-gloss black and white finishes. The non-gloss models retail for around £1,250, whilst the high-gloss versions cost a bit more at £1,375.
The build quality is excellent and the lacquered white finish is very attractive, although it costs more.
The Silver 8 uses dimpled RST (Rigid Surface Technology) C-CAM (Ceramic Coated Aluminium Magnesium) cones which, unlike conventional cones that incorporate a centre aperture for the voice-coil, instead take the form of a continuous uninterrupted radiating dish which provides greater strength and area. The voice coil sits beneath and is coupled to a larger motor by an innovative, more efficient drive assembly. In addition, the Silver 8 features a newly developed 4” mid-range driver operating in its own damped and optimised enclosure to provide accurate mid-range frequencies. It features a short voice coil ‘under-hung’ in relation to the magnetic gap to ensure that the coil remains inside the gap at all times for significantly reduced modulation and extremely low distortion.
When it comes to distortion from air compression at the back of a tweeter dome, Monitor Audio feel they have eliminated this on the Silver 8s through the use of a new 25mm C-CAM tweeter design. This vents internally around the outside of the magnet system into a large rear-loading chamber, producing much lower resonance and better overall damping. In addition, the frequency response from the new tweeter is more accurate at lower frequencies, thus creating a smoother more natural handover with the mid/bass driver. Meanwhile high frequency extension has been improved and breakup reduced by improvements in cone geometry and the drive mechanism.
Monitor Audio’s HiVe port technology is also incorporated into the Silver 8, this uses a straight rifled design to accelerate airflow and reduce turbulence for clean powerful bass and superior transient response. Polypropylene film capacitors, air core and laminated steel core inductors have been utilised in the crossovers to maintain the best possible signal integrity. This means that the Silver 8 should offer higher sensitivity, reduced distortion and higher impedance, ensuring a wider choice of partnering equipment.
At the bottom rear of the speakers you'll find the terminal panel, which has been positioned at floor level for easier cable connection. The terminals themselves feel suitably solid and, as you would expect, the Silver 8 also has the option to be bi-wired or bi-amped along with jumpers. The speaker cabinet (including the grille and terminals) measures 1000 x 185 x 335mm and weighs in at 23.33kg. The Silver 8 sits on a hefty plinth and includes adjustable spiked feet and, overall, the build quality is excellent and the finish is very attractive. Perhaps what is most impressive is the lack of visible screws or other fixtures, giving the Silver 8 a clean and elegant appearance.
The larger Silver 8 delivers a superior mid-range when compared to the smaller model reviewed previously.
Monitor Audio Silver 8 SetupThe Silver 8s were connected to an Anthem MRX710 and Oppo BDP93 combination with additional media supplied by an Apple TV, including both Netflix and iTunes. Music testing was carried out using the BDP93 as a CD, SACD and DVD-A player, as well as both the Oppo and the Apple TV acting as streamers for lossless and high resolution audio files.
Monitor Audio Silver 8 Video Review
Monitor Audio Silver 8 Sound QualityWhilst that's certainly an impressive amount of technology in the Silver 8 speakers, the real question is what do they sound like? Well straight off the bat the Silver 8s impressed with an open sound that was both spacious and warm. We ran the speakers in for a while before any critical listening and, once we had, the quality of these speakers really began to shine through. The design delivers a richly detailed mid-range that retains a wonderful sense of clarity and precise imaging. Clearly all Monitor Audio's hard work at improving the mid-range performance has paid off and the Silver 8 is superior in this respect to its smaller brother, the Silver 6.
However it wasn't just the mid-range that impressed and the gold domed tweeter also played its part, resulting in some well rendered higher frequencies that meshed perfectly with the lovely mid-range performance. The addition of two 6.5 drivers meant that the Silver 8 could also produce some excellent bass extension with an effective crossover that resulted in a well balanced sound that complimented the wide open delivery and broad sweet spot. The sensitivity of the speakers also meant that they remained responsive, with a lively and genuinely enjoyable performance. The Silver 8 also proved quite flexible when it came to positioning them in the room, although we still wouldn't place them too close to a wall. However, given a little space the Silver 8s can really open up with a big room-filling sound.
We have a range of music that we use for testing, all of which is intended to reveal any weaknesses in a speaker's performance and the Silver 8s came through with great aplomb. The combination of acoustic guitar and female vocals in Rickie Lee Jones' Hi-Lili Hi-Lo can sound brittle and shrill on lesser speakers but the Silver 8s handled the higher frequencies well, whilst the big drivers gave the double bass plenty of presence within the mix. We use Limehouse Blues by Arne Domnerus as a test of the speaker's ability to create a three dimensional sound field and place instruments within that space, whilst The Gates of Dafos by Mickey Hart is an excellent percussion piece that the speakers handled with speed and agility.
All these tests showed that the Silver 8 were capable of delivering a detailed stereo image with a wide dynamic range and real control, resulting in a focused soundstage that was able to distinguish individual instruments well. This was especially apparent on orchestral pieces, where the Silver 8s were able to handle the complex arrangements effectively, retaining a cohesive structure to the overall sound. We enjoyed the performance of the Silver 8s so much that we found ourselves dipping extensively into our back catalogue and in particular Hendra by Ben Watt. The combination of melancholy vocals, acoustic guitar and some marvellous electric guitar from both Bernard Butler and David Gilmour sounded wonderful on the Silver 8s.
The Silver 8 proved very flexible in terms of positioning and delivered a well defined stereo image.
- Exciting yet refined sound
- Good bass extension
- Lovely build and finish
- Flexible positioning
- Lacquer finish at a premium
Monitor Audio Silver 8 Speaker ReviewThe Monitor Audio Silver 8 is a great floor standing speaker that serves as a testament to the kind of high quality sound that can be achieved for a relatively modest outlay. We're not saying that £1,250 is cheap but when you consider the level of build quality, finish and performance that you get, the Silver 8 starts to look very attractive. Whether you feel the lacquered finish is worth an additional £125 is debatable but there's no denying they look fantastic.
The performance was excellent, with the speakers delivering an open and warm soundstage that retained both detail and clarity. The positioning and localisation of instruments within the stereo imaging was also impressive and the mid-range was well served by the design, as was the low-end thanks to two 6.5" drivers. As a result the Silver 8s produced a sound that was rich and refined but also had plenty of range, meaning they can handle just about anything from female vocals to bass heavy rock to a full orchestra.
If you're in the market for a set of floorstanding speakers in the £1,000-1,500 price range, the Monitor Audio Silver 8s should certainly be on your short list. Their combination of looks, build quality and performance make them great value and you definitely won't be disappointed with their versatility and refinement. Highly Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,250.00
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.