Monitor Audio R90HD12 review

This surround package from Monitor Audio, is, like so many of its products, a simply styled but supremely capable system Tested at £1675.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Capable and easy on the eye, this package deserves to turn heads that desire punch and power


  • +

    Smart, compatible styling

  • +

    solid build

  • +

    lively, punchy sound

  • +

    good bass depth


  • -

    Could border on bright with lively electronics

  • -

    B&W sounds similar, but ultimately better

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Monitor Audio has been an ultra-dependable brand when it comes to home cinema speaker systems in recent memory, consistently turning out easy on the eye, expertly finished performers.

So, we have high hopes as we unbox this kit. This system comprises four R90HD satellites and an R180 centre channel; these are married to Monitor Audio's new RXW-12 subwoofer.

While these are certainly most conventional-looking speakers, they are also flexible and unobtrusive, their generic appearance helping them melt in to any background. They're well made, too, feeling rock solid
and built to last.

Sonically, this system is an energetic, exciting affair.

Listening to the explosive action of one of the more eagerly anticipated Blu-ray releases in recent times, Saving Private Ryan, the 'HD12 relays the necessary speed and power as planes and bullets fly around the soundstage, even if a little more scale and space can be had elsewhere. Treble frequencies certainly err on the lively side.

Plenty to please the ears
At the other end of the tonal spectrum we find plenty to please our ears and, indeed, flap our trousers. The 12in driver shifts plenty of air to create powerful but punchy bass to underpin the most explosive action.

Subwoofers are crucial in surround sound systems, and the RXW-12 adds the necessary body and weight while remaining well integrated, even if it could sometimes be a little quicker on its toes.

While the new subwoofer adds scale and depth over the Award-winning 'HD10 package's performance, it also costs an extra £400 – and is, crucially, £100 more than the B&W MT-30 package.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we think the style and design of this system is simple yet effective, and thankfully it's backed up by sterling surround sound.

Unfortunately some of its peers have the edge, and that's why it's missing that final star.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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