What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 27 Apr 2006, 11:00am

Monitor Audio GS20

Tested at £1700
80100
4

There’s no doubting the GS20s’ abilities, but their controlled nature won’t please everyone

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For

  • Clean, clear and informative sound
  • even-handed presentation
  • superb build quality

Against

  • Lack the exuberance of the best at this price level

We find these speakers perplexing. Part of the Gold Signature series, the GS20s are one of the most detailed, clearest and controlled-sounding floorstanders we've come across. Play something like Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat and the GS20s will unravel layer upon layer of fine detail without difficulty. Their tonal balance is even-handed and there's none of the dreaded harshness from which metal drive units have historically suffered.

Like all Monitor Audio speakers the GS20s are superbly made, and the quality of veneer on our review sample is gorgeous. Neither are they fussy about positioning: out into the room with a hint of toe-in works well. It goes without saying that a top-class system is essential.

Add agility and plenty of low-end power into the mix and you have a pair of floorstanders with enough talent to impress anyone. Take a good long listen and like us you'll have no doubt that Monitor Audio spent an inordinately long time polishing away any rough edges – which is the problem.

A touch too polite?
In trying so hard to make the perfect speaker Monitor Audio got rid of some good bits in the process. These towers are informative, but don't deliver dynamics with the verve of similarly priced alternatives: it's not a volume issue, as the GS20s go as loud as you like, but more to do with an underlying politeness.

Neither do they have the rhythmic grip to make the most of Prince's rather good 3121 set. It's a case of control over exuberance, and if that's your bag, then we can't recommend these too highly.

They're impressive speakers, yes, but not all-conquering all-rounders.

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