What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 21 Jul 2010, 10:00am

Monitor Audio Apex

Tested at £2400
100100
5

Big movie sound combines with fine musical performance for a grin-inducing package

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For

  • Large-scale sound
  • no-nonsense looks
  • good integration
  • plenty of punch

Against

  • Pricey
  • subwoofer lacks the last word in agility

Originally released in 2010, the Monitor Audio Apex package is a previous Award winner, picking up gongs for two years running thanks to its powerful, articulate sound. And that sound is as strong now as it ever was.

The third package on test here is also a previous Award winner. Originally released in 2010, it picked up gongs for two years running thanks to its powerful, articulate sound.
And that sound is as strong now as it ever was. Set to work delivering the jaw-dropping train-wreck sequence at the beginning of Super 8, the system delivers each crash, thud and scream of tearing metal with a ferocity and enthusiasm that could well have new visitors to your living room wondering where you’ve hidden the big speakers.
Big cabinets make for a big sound
Music, likewise, is treated with an even hand, if not the last word in sensitivity. The DVD of Pearl Jam’s Immagine in Cornice – Live in Italy fairly motors along, with the Apex doing a great job of placing instruments on the stage around you in space. The extra cabinet volume that the Apex enjoys over its rivals here makes a lot of difference, of course; physically bigger cabinets means a bigger sound. But the overall impression is one of big standmounters rather than bijou style speakers.
But for all that oomph, the Monitor Audio package still does a nice line in detail and articulacy. Dialogue is clear, and while the satellites don’t have the high-frequency finesse or fluidity of the Dalis, they’re an eminently easy listen. 
They keep the surround-sound field tightly controlled, although it’s perhaps not as cohesive as it might be, with quite abrupt transmissions front to back. Integration is solid across the frequency range, although we felt that the AW-12 subwoofer, as with the Dali, was the weak link in an otherwise strong chain. 
There’s nothing wrong with it, per se – it delivers solid low-frequencies with plenty of punch and speed, and sits well with the satellites. It just doesn’t have the agility of the excellent PV1D. 
This manifests itself in a slightly sluggish sound at times, especially with the quick-fire rat-tat-tat of a machine gun or bass-drum. It’s far from a disappointment, but if you can try the system with the B&W sub, do so… 
Our list of plus points doesn’t end with the overall sound, either. The Apex package is superbly put together. There’s a variety of options mounting, whether on a wall, existing stands or using Monitor Audio’s dedicated ones, with their integrated cable-management (£125 each). You should be able to fit the package into any domestic setting.
Superb all-round satellites
It’s a luxurious proposition, this system. Of course, it doesn’t come cheap – especially if you bring the optional speaker stands to the party – but its sonic character and build do elevate it above the competition. It’s well worth every one of it’s five stars, too, and while it has the best all-round satellite speakers here, it’s only that slightly pear-shaped bass performance which could hold it back from overall victory in this test.

Set to work delivering the jaw-dropping train-wreck sequence at the beginning of Super 8, the system delivers each crash, thud and scream of tearing metal with a ferocity and enthusiasm that could well have new visitors to your living room wondering where you’ve hidden the big speakers.

Music, likewise, is treated with an even hand, if not the last word in sensitivity. 

The DVD of Pearl Jam’s Immagine in Cornice – Live in Italy fairly motors along, with the Apex doing a great job of placing instruments on the stage around you in space. 

Bigger cabinets, bigger sound
The extra cabinet volume that the Apex enjoys over its rivals makes a lot of difference, of course; physically bigger cabinets means a bigger sound. 

But the overall impression is one of big standmounters rather than bijou style speakers.

But for all that oomph, the Monitor Audio package still does a nice line in detail and articulacy. 

Dialogue is clear, and while the satellites don’t have the high-frequency finesse or fluidity of some rivals, they’re an eminently easy listen. 

They keep the surround-sound field tightly controlled, although it’s perhaps not as cohesive as it might be, with quite abrupt transmissions front to back.

Subwoofer is the weak link
Integration is solid across the frequency range, although we felt that the AW-12 subwoofer was the weak link in an otherwise strong chain. 

There’s nothing wrong with it, per se – it delivers solid low-frequencies with plenty of punch and speed, and sits well with the satellites. 

It just doesn’t have the agility of the excellent B&W PV1D

This manifests itself in a slightly sluggish sound at times, especially with the quick-fire rat-tat-tat of a machine gun or bass-drum. 

It’s far from a disappointment, but if you can try the system with the B&W sub, do so…

Our list of plus points doesn’t end with the overall sound, either. The Apex package is superbly put together. 

There’s a variety of options mounting, whether on a wall, existing stands or using Monitor Audio’s dedicated ones, with their integrated cable-management (£125 each). You should be able to fit the package into any domestic setting.

Verdict
It’s a luxurious proposition, this system. Of course, it doesn’t come cheap – especially if you bring the optional speaker stands to the party – but its sonic character and build do elevate it above the competition. 

It’s well worth every one of its five stars, too, and while it has the best all-round satellite speakers of its similarly priced peers, it’s only that slightly pear-shaped bass performance which holds it back.

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