Speaker & amp demo notes. Monitor Audio Silver and Focal Aria

JJHook

Standard Member
Hello. I've had a trip out to my local hifi store today for speaker demonstrations.
The two amps tested were the Cambridge Audio Azur 851a and the Marantz 7000n. The speakers tested were Monitor Audio Silver 200 & 300 and the Focal Aria 926.
The source used was an Arcam CDS50 and the music used was a mix CD of mainly metal and rock from Led Zeppelin through 80s Metallica to more modern productions.
Other speakers I wanted to try but were not available are B&W 603, Focal Chora 826, and something from the latest Acoustic Energy batch, but nevertheless some questions were answered in this demo.
First up (On the Cambridge) Focal Aria 926. These are quite large but sounded excellent. Detailed, seperated, well controlled, large accurate soundstage and a pleasant smooth and detailed treble. Good punchy and well controlled bass and a beautiful weight and tone throughout. No negatives noted! These are probably the best speakers I've listened to for metal
Next up MA silver 200. These are a good looking speaker and well made with a size which is much smaller than the Focal and probably more suitable to many living spaces. In terms of the sound, they aren't for me. Maybe with a warmer amp they would be more suited. While the bass wasn't much less than the Focals, the mids and highs were harsh and unlistenable with my music. For example Cymbal crashes suffered from a lack of sustain and smoothness. Even with Led Zeppelin's 'Since I've been loving you' which is not really a rock track, the harshness took over. I've heard this on a previous demo with a Roksan amp and a Cambridge Audio 80. Switching to Silver 300s. These were much nicer to listen to than the 200s. There was still a tad of harshness but the upper mids and highs were much smoother, well spaced with good detail and a good open soundstage. The bass was detailed and well controlled.
Switching back to the Focals confirmed the Focals position as clear winners in this test but highlighted to me still further the attractive air, detail and tone in their presentation.
There isn't much more to report with the Marantz 7000n.The comments above all stand the same although the Marantz had a very slightly drier sound only a little less fluid and open than the Cambridge but only very slightly to my ears.
 

Lotusj oey

Active Member
Great summary and reflects the exact experience I had with the Silver 300 and Aria 926. I also auditioned the opticon 6s and 936s all powered by an Arcam SA30. I found the Dali to be more relaxed than both MA and Focal but it also felt like some detail was lost in the top end and the openess of the Focals just drew me right in. The only drawback on the 926 for me was how low they go. Some electronic music I listen to didn't quite sound as strong as I am used to which is why I tried the 936s but they are absolutely massive and didn't actually extened that much further. I ended up with the 926s and have integrated a sub to lift the bottom end. Had them for a month now and they just get better with every listen.
 

JJHook

Standard Member
It's great to know my findings were similar to others, thank you.
I didn't test the Aria 936 as they are enormous as you mentioned. The size of the 926s may be pushing it with my local hifi enforcement officer, never mind the 936s!
Did you listen to the Focal Chora 826s by any chance as a comparison?
 

Lotusj oey

Active Member
Haha. Yep. That was pretty much the same for me. I figured it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission and my wife has actually admitted to me how good they sound so I think managed to win her over. Luckily she also preffered the look of them to the others I auditioned.

I'm afraid I didn't audition the choras. Seems like a good excuse to get another audition set up though.
 

JJHook

Standard Member
Yes it is! I'm looking to test the Chora 826.
I might loan some speakers mid size between the Oberon 5 I have now and what might end up being some significantly larger speakers, just to lay the foundation for the potentially horrifying size difference haha.
 

Prog

Novice Member
Hi, I have a pair of focal 926 and looking for a decent amp to match them! I’m going down the streaming rout so have to take that into consideration, any views peeps ?
 

Lotusj oey

Active Member
The best thing you can really do is make a short list of options that incorporate your requirements and get them auditioned. Not sure what your budget is but I run my 926 with an Arcam SA30 and roll off to my sub at 50hz. The SA30 is an exceptional sounding amp and does have streaming capabilities but I already had a bluesound node 2i and the interface for that is hands down the best I have used so I continue to do so. Dirac which is incorporated into the SA30 is extremely good but in order to get the best out of it you really need to purchase something like the umik 1 because the microphone supplied by Arcam is horrific. So I would deffo put consider the SA30 for your shortlist. I know the lyndorf 1120 gets extremely good feedback on this forum and has room perfect and streaming capabilities but I haven't heard one so can't comment on how it compares.
 

Call me Candy

Distinguished Member
Hi, I have a pair of focal 926 and looking for a decent amp to match them! I’m going down the streaming rout so have to take that into consideration, any views peeps ?
I used to have the Focal 926s wonderful speakers. I auditioned with a Roksan Blak which just didn't sound right. The fella in the shop suggested it's little bro the Caspian which was a superb match & I purchased it. This amp is analogue only but I added a Node 2i & is a great streamer.
I ended up selling the Focals purely because of their size & replaced with Spendor A7s which are even better😁
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
Hello. I've had a trip out to my local hifi store today for speaker demonstrations.
The two amps tested were the Cambridge Audio Azur 851a and the Marantz 7000n. The speakers tested were Monitor Audio Silver 200 & 300 and the Focal Aria 926.
The source used was an Arcam CDS50 and the music used was a mix CD of mainly metal and rock from Led Zeppelin through 80s Metallica to more modern productions.
Other speakers I wanted to try but were not available are B&W 603, Focal Chora 826, and something from the latest Acoustic Energy batch, but nevertheless some questions were answered in this demo.
First up (On the Cambridge) Focal Aria 926. These are quite large but sounded excellent. Detailed, seperated, well controlled, large accurate soundstage and a pleasant smooth and detailed treble. Good punchy and well controlled bass and a beautiful weight and tone throughout. No negatives noted! These are probably the best speakers I've listened to for metal
Next up MA silver 200. These are a good looking speaker and well made with a size which is much smaller than the Focal and probably more suitable to many living spaces. In terms of the sound, they aren't for me. Maybe with a warmer amp they would be more suited. While the bass wasn't much less than the Focals, the mids and highs were harsh and unlistenable with my music. For example Cymbal crashes suffered from a lack of sustain and smoothness. Even with Led Zeppelin's 'Since I've been loving you' which is not really a rock track, the harshness took over. I've heard this on a previous demo with a Roksan amp and a Cambridge Audio 80. Switching to Silver 300s. These were much nicer to listen to than the 200s. There was still a tad of harshness but the upper mids and highs were much smoother, well spaced with good detail and a good open soundstage. The bass was detailed and well controlled.
Switching back to the Focals confirmed the Focals position as clear winners in this test but highlighted to me still further the attractive air, detail and tone in their presentation.
There isn't much more to report with the Marantz 7000n.The comments above all stand the same although the Marantz had a very slightly drier sound only a little less fluid and open than the Cambridge but only very slightly to my ears.

Great reviews here.
I've actually got the Silver 300's but I use mostly for a AV set-up. I have these with am Arcam AVR to improve 2 channel.
I only demoed these against the Kef Q and R range.
I really wanted to listen to the Focals but the wife really didn't like the look and loved the white MA's.
I've been tempted myself to add the SA but also have the Bluesound Node 2i, so maybe the SA20 would be a better choice
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Monitor Audio are strange creatures. One of the few speakers I know of which keep improving every day. Streamed some Drum and Bass today.
Excellent bass response!

Focal I know nothing about them. Aren’t they supposed to be bright, or is it Triangle?
 

Call me Candy

Distinguished Member
One thing they are most certainly not are bright. They provide a quite stunning soundstage with plenty of detail & warmth. The bass is not in your face & not mushy, but nicely controlled.
They also look gorgeous in the black.
 

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