Bronze Age

High-performance speakers needn’t cost the earth – Ed Selley listens in on the latest evolution of the popular Monitor Audio Bronze Series

Monitor Audio has been producing the Bronze series, its entry-level full-size speaker range, for some years now. And the latest update takes the line-up from BR to BX status and features a full choice of standmounts, floorstanders and supporting multichannel equipment. Design refinements include single- bolt driver fixings and HiVE reflex ports borrowed from the more expensive ranges. The £500 BX5 tested here, however, is the smaller of two floorstanding models.

It’s a relatively compact 870mm tall with plinth and can be shortened by simply screwing the floor spikes into the bottom of the speaker. Doing this has an effect on the stability, but no real effect on sonic performance.

Finished in the relatively light Natural Oak finish, this is a handsome and well-proportioned loudspeaker. The fit and finish is excellent with smart touches like magnetic grill tabs that give the speaker a flush front. The only slightly discordant note is the plastic Monitor Audio logo on the top, but the overall effect is still excellent for the asking price.

Easy driver

The BX5 has a claimed sensitivity of 90dB/w and an impedance of eight ohms, making it a very easy load for an amp to drive. We obtained excellent results with a 70-watt Electrocompaniet ECI3 and the considerably less powerful Peachtree Audio iDecco (HFC 344). Both amps can drive the BX5 to very high levels, which would suggest that the speaker can be used with pretty much any amp from 25 watts and up.

The speaker is also relatively easy to position. The cabinet is both front and rear ported, but Monitor Audio supply a pair of foam bungs that can be used to reduce flow from the rear port and allow a relatively close placement to a rear wall.

Thrill a minute

Set a little over two metres apart with a slight toe-in and 20 centimetres or so from the wall, the BX5 presents a believable and full soundstage. This presentation is filled with a lively and open feel. Given an upbeat piece of music, the Monitor Audio’s are a thrill a minute to listen to and their timing and pace are extremely enjoyable. Given the relatively small cabinets, the bass response is impressive in both depth and presence and this low end underpins performances and imparts considerable authority. There is aided by the lack of “honking” or colouration from the bass ports.

Given more relaxed music, the BX5 never truly loses its slightly boisterous side, but equally could never be called dull or uninteresting and the assured timing means that even complex pieces stay very cohesive and easy to follow.

Live performances

Tonality with voices and instruments is good, although they can become slightly hard-edged if the BX5 is really pushed. At more usual domestic listening levels, however, the performance is always assured and confident.

Live performances, in particular, give the BX5 the chance to place musicians and the audience accurately in relation to one another and give a real sense of the original performance space. Poor recordings can push the harshness levels, but well-recorded and high-resolution material allows them to demonstrate remarkable insight – considering the price point.

Sound choice

A combination of talents makes the BX5 a sound choice at the asking price. Partnered with a relatively neutral amp of almost any normal output, it is an engaging and entertaining performer – especially if your listening tastes lean towards more up tempo music. Its performance, coupled with its compact size and attractive appearance, mean that this is a very talented and likeable speaker that should be able to slot happily into many different modestly priced hi-fi systems and deliver the goods.

LIKE; Attractive and compact design with a fast engaging design
DISLIKE: Can be a little relentless and forward if wrongly partnered
WE SAY: A well built and extremely accomplished performer that deserves an audition

DETAILS
PRODUCT: Monitor Audio BX5
ORIGIN: UK/China
TYPE: Floorstanding loudspeaker
WEIGHT: 12kg
DIMENSIONS: (WxHxD) 215x868x248mm
FEATURES:
• 2.5-way floorstanding loudspeaker  
• Twin 5.5-inch C-CAM mid-bass drivers
• 1-inch C-CAM tweeter
• HiVE Port technology and single bolt driver mountings
DISTRIBUTOR: Monitor Audio
TELEPHONE: 01268 740580
WEBSITE: monitoraudio.com