We don’t envy the Silver 50s’ task. They’re the entry point in Monitor Audio’s hugely talented mid-priced Silver range and have no shortage of over-achieving siblings.
We have reviewed the bulk of the Silver series and have always come away impressed by their combination of build quality, performance and value. The 50s, despite a few slight shortcomings, don’t let the family down.
While a two-way rear-ported standmounter recipe is hardly novel, Monitor Audio has honed it to a high level in these speakers. For starters, they are superbly built and finished.
The brand has long had a reputation for turning out classy speakers, and the Silver 50s just reinforce that message. The feel is solid and luxurious.
We love the cleanly styled front baffle with its lack of drive-unit mounting bolts, and the obvious attention to detail when it comes to the distinctive tweeter grille.
MORE: How to build the perfect speaker
There are six finish options – black oak, walnut, rosenut, natural oak, gloss black or satin white – so these speakers can look right at home in most environments.
That they’re small helps - they stand just 27cm high, and sound comfortable close to (but not right up against) a rear wall.
Despite their accommodating nature, we would still avoid room corners and give them sturdy support, ideally dedicated stands, to sit on.
Taking care in system matching is important too. On paper, these don’t seem unusually hard to drive – sensitivity is 87dB/W/m and nominal impedance quoted at 8ohms – but a minimum impedance of 4.1 ohms suggests an amp with a decent bit of grunt will work best. We get good results from Rega’s Brio amplifier as well as our reference Gamut D3i/D200i pre/power.
Monitor Audio has used metal drive units for what seems a long time now, so it comes as no surprise to find them used here. The tweeter is the latest version of the company’s distinctive 25mm ‘gold’ dome design, and is partnered with a dimpled 13cm mid/bass with a ceramic-coated alloy cone.
MORE: How to build the perfect hi-fi system
Those expecting a pair of Silver 100s on the cheap are in for a disappointment.
Though the two products share much when it comes to design and technology – the £650 100s use a 20cm mid/bass and a larger cabinet – the smaller speakers don’t deliver the same authority, dynamic expression or sense of fun of their siblings.
But they do have the same seamless integration between the drivers, and a well-projected midrange that oozes clarity.
MORE: How to buy speakers and set them up for the best sound
Play the likes of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million and these standmounters sound right at home - they dig up plenty of detail and deliver it in a composed and organised way. Pleasingly, they sound in control even when the music moves up a gear.
Tonally, things are even. But the speakers’ small stature contributes to low notes without enough of a sense of weight or body to give the overall presentation real authority.
MORE: Best speaker deals - hi-fi, Bluetooth, wireless
A close-to-a-back-wall placement helps in this respect, but doesn’t entirely fix the issue. The similarly sized (though not quite as classily built) Dynaudio Emit 10s are more adept in this respect.
There’s pleasing dynamics though, with the speakers rendering large shifts with conviction. For something so compact these Monitor Audio know how to attack a tune, particularly through the midrange.
Though those Dynaudios have more in the way of verve and rhythmic drive, but there’s still enough of both to make the Monitor Audios an enjoyable listen.
We move to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the 50s' lovely staging and focus comes to the fore. The imaging is precise, nicely layered and stable, and the sound projects well clear of the speaker cabinets.
It’s worth playing around with positioning to maximise the Silvers' ability in this area. In our test room we angle them in slightly towards the listening position, which helps to firm the image up.
MORE: Best hi-fi speakers 2018
We can't helping thinking of the Silver 50 as a ‘solution’ speaker. Classier and more accommodating than the otherwise terrific Dynaudios, and able to fit into places larger price rivals (such as the award-winning KEF Q350s) can’t, for some listeners they'll be ideal.
They may not be absolutely the best-sounding boxes we’ve heard at this kind of money - that doesn't mean they can be ignored.
See all our Monitor Audio reviews