Having been awarded five stars in a First Test back in 2010 and been on the end of another five star review in a Group Test, its safe to say Monitor Audio's pint-sized Silver RX1s have made an impression on us.
However, no product can rest on its laurels, and with the recent emergence of the Q Acoustics Concept 20s and Acoustic Energy 301s, the RX1s must abandon their life of leisure in our stockroom and fight their corner.
Monitor Audio Silver RX1 review: design
The Monitor Audio Silver RX1s exhibit some excellent build-quality. The edges are smoothly rounded and the drivers are flush to the cabinet. Their MDF walls, coated with lovely real wood veneer, are lovely to touch. The complement of drivers (25mm gold dome tweeter and 15cm mid/bass driver, the latter having dimples for extra rigidity) manages to look discreet and purposeful.
Around the back are biwire terminals and a bass reflex port that's ribbed in a push for accelerated airflow and reduced turbulence.
Monitor Audio Silver RX1 review: performance
The sound is spacious and instruments have plenty of room to breathe. The soundstage is surprisingly wide for a speaker of this size. In fact, these Monitor Audios do many things well for their size.
The bass is weighty and authoritative without being overdone. The midrange is rich, there’s a good amount of texture and the drivers are well integrated. Notes are delicate yet confident, and there’s a good amount of energy.
They also demonstrate impressive control: play the XX’s Islands and the stop-start structure of the song is precision. The RX1s’ have a very polished presentation, which is their overriding characteristic. They’re immaculate, like a smart pair of ballroom shoes.
But this means they’re less suitable for more rugged terrain. Switch to something messier, like Of Monsters and Men’s Mountain Sound, and the RX1s begin to strain a little. From the midrange downwards, things feel a little reined-in. Refinement, never in question here, takes precedent over excitement.
If you choose to biwire them, things get better. The performance is livelier, with greater dynamic reach and a slightly greater sense of ease. Still, the RX1s need the kind of sparkle that elevates a product from admirable to magical and truly desirable.
System matching is another important factor. The lack of verve and slightly stodgy bass performance means the RX1s need articulate, light-footed partnering equipment to sound their best.
Compared to the Acoustic Energy 301s, available for the same price, the Monitor Audios’ traits become more apparent. They have many advantages, but an easy-going nature and a real sense of fun is not one of them.
Monitor Audio Silver RX1 review: verdict
We still really like the Monitor Audio Silver RX1s. They’re a good-looking, well-made pair of speakers, and their level of refinement is nothing short of impressive. But we can’t get past the fact that a more flexible rival can be had for a similar price