Review Price £2,795.00
Manufacturer: Monitor Audio
The 6AV12 is a 5.1 speaker package from Monitor Audio’s newly-updated Silver series, including a pair of Silver 6 floorstanders at the front (£1,000), the Silver Centre (£375), a pair of Silver FX surround speakers (£500) and the Silver W12 subwoofer (£1,000).
Monitor Audio has combined these particular speakers to deliver the best-possible surround experience, but as they’re available separately you can mix and match them with the other four new models in the range. These include two standmount speakers – Silver 1 and 2 (£500 and £650 per pair respectively) – plus two step-up floorstanders, Silver 8 and 10 (£1,250 and £1,500 per pair respectively).
As you can see, this is not a system for budget buyers. But anyone with this sort of money to spend will be pleased to hear that the speakers incorporate technology filtered down from the more expensive Platinum and Gold ranges, alongside other driver innovations.
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These are the sort of speakers that smack you round the chops the moment you pull them from the box. Not only do they look stunning in their High Gloss White finish, but they’re also ridiculously solid and hefty. You’re getting a lot of speaker for your money. Yes you’d expect this level of opulence for just under £3k, but that doesn’t make our astonishment any less valid.
The striking Silver 6 floorstanders are the centrepiece of the system. Despite standing 885mm tall, they don’t seem bulky or imposing, a feeing enhanced by their clean, uncluttered front panels – all you can see are the light grey magnetic grilles. Pull these off and you’ll expose the driver array – 6in bass and mid/bass drivers and 1in gold-dome tweeters – whose thick rubber surrounds juxtapose stylishly with the white finish.
The Silver 6s come with a plinth that screws onto the bottom (you can leave it off if space is tight) as well as screw-on feet with spikes for placement on a carpet. For hard floors simply remove the spikes and rest them on the polymer pads.
We should mention here that the prices at the top of the review are for the Rosenut, Walnut, Natural Oak and Black Oak real wood finishes, but there is a premium for the High Gloss Black and White versions – add £100 for Silver 6 and W12, £50 for Silver FX and £38 for Silver Centre.
Most 5.1 packages draft in conventional standmount speakers for the rear channels but Silver FX is a dedicated home cinema affair. By flicking a switch on the back, you can choose between bipole and dipole operation, both of which offer a more enveloping sound than traditional monopole speakers.
FX looks gorgeous too. Its distinctive bipole/dipole design, with a front-facing mid/bass driver, tweeters on the angled side panels and a flat backside, is made for wall-mounting – there are brackets fixed to the back. Again, build quality is exceptionally good and the high-gloss finish is dreamy.
While not as bulky as the DALI Zensor Vokal, the Silver Centre commands a significant chunk of space under your TV. But the glossy finish and heavy cabinet, which tips the scales at 9.6kg, exudes luxury and it looks great with the grille removed.
Finally, like all the other speakers the new W12 subwoofer is astonishingly attractive and well-made. It’s a slightly elongated cube (340 x 340 x 380mm) with a small panel of controls conveniently placed on top. The busy back panel houses crossover, power mode and phase controls, a 12V trigger, stereo RCA in/out and LFE in/out.
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Like any speaker package worth its salt, Silver employs the same drivers across the entire system to ensure tonal consistency. The mid/bass cones are made from Monitor Audio’s C-CAM (ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium) material and use Rigid Surface Technology, a pattern of dimples on the cone’s surface that improves rigidity – much in the same way that origami can strengthen light materials like paper with small folds – as well as displacing standing waves.
The new tweeter is a 1in gold dome C-CAM affair that eliminates distortion from air compression at the back of the dome by venting it into a large rear-loading chamber.
The 2.5-way Silver 6 uses a 6in bass driver and 6in mid/bass driver, while the Centre uses two 6in mid/bass drivers with a tweeter in between. Additionally, Silver 6 employs Monitor Audio’s HiVe II port to accelerate air flow and improve bass and transient response.
The drivers are attached to the cabinet using single bolt-through fixings, which act as a rigid brace that helps reduce resonance and colouration. The 20mm MDF cabinets also feature radial and cross bracing to further improve rigidity.
Silver FX can be used in bipole or dipole modes. Bipolar mode is best for this 5.1 setup, particularly if you’re placing the speakers behind the listening position. Because the tweeters and mid/bass unit are in phase, they push sound all around the room and create more of a 360-degree stage.
In dipole mode, the rear-firing tweeter is out of phase with the other tweeter and mid/bass driver – one pulling while the other pushes – which makes it harder to tell where the sound is coming from. That’s why dipole mode is better suited to a 7.1 system where two pairs of FX speakers are used as rear and surround speakers, enveloping you in a seamless rear soundstage.
The subwoofer’s spec is superb. Inside the sealed enclosure, a 500W Class D amplifier powers an ultra long throw, front-firing 12” driver with a concave ‘dished’ C-CAM cone. There are three EQ settings to experiment with – Movies, Music and Impact.
It’s also the first sub we’ve tested with built-in room correction. Automatic Position Correction (APC) optimises bass performance for your room using the supplied microphone and test tones, taking readings from three positions and correcting frequency response accordingly. It’s easy to carry out and we were impressed with the results.
We’re already big fans of Monitor Audio’s sound and Silver 6AV12 does nothing to diminish our admiration. It delivers a powerful yet highly polished performance with movies, easily hitting the level of quality you’d expect for the money.
A run through of Iron Man 3 on Blu-ray tells you everything you need to know. Whether it’s tackling the big action set pieces or teasing out the atmosphere and detail of a talky scene, the Silver system does everything with the utmost composure and confidence.
What impressed us most is how easily you can lose yourself in the movie, and there are two reasons for that. Firstly, the bipole speakers’ wide dispersion creates a wonderfully immersive, gap-free rear soundfield. That allows effects to glide seamlessly between the rear channels and along the sides of the room to join up with the front speakers.
Obviously movie soundtracks require a certain amount of directionality, and when called for FX demonstrates decent accuracy (particularly in bipole mode), but the overriding aim is to envelop you in sound.
So when Tony Stark’s home is blown to smithereens, Silver puts you right in there with him. Pieces of the Iron Man suit whizz past your ears, debris scatters from every angle and the staccato thud of helicopter blades constantly whirls around you. It’s one of the most convincing 360-degree soundstages we’ve heard.
The other reason for Silver’s brilliant surround performance is its tonal consistency across the entire system. Effects sound the same no matter which speaker they emanate from.
The tone in question is palatable, with just enough bite to excite but stopping well short of brightness. Some listeners might find it a little safe but to our ears it’s just about right.
It’s also a remarkably detailed sound – during the above scene, the rustle of falling debris and shattering glass are astonishingly clear and precise, plus you can pick out the faintest nuances in speech.
A fast transient response means you hear the leading edge of midrange and high-frequency effects, making them sound crisp and snappy.
Silver Centre does everything required of it – voices are articulated with depth and detail, plus it merges beautifully with the Silver 6s to place dialogue bang in the middle of the screen.
The icing on the cake is the subwoofer’s superb performance, injecting rich bass into the room and fusing seamlessly with every speaker. It’s powerful, agile and responsive, but not boomy. Configured correctly – a task made easier by APC – you get broad, omnidirectional waves of bass, which also help immerse you in the sound.
Two-channel music reveals Silver’s qualities even more clearly. It’s expressive and detailed, with superb imaging across the front.
George Benson’s Breezin’ on CD sounds fabulous – his mesmerising guitar solos are placed right in the middle of the front speakers, exactly where they should be.
The C-CAM cones pick out the leading edge of Phil Upchurch’s bass notes too, while the agile sub lends depth without ever lagging behind. Snares are punchy and percussion really sparkles. We’re sold.
If you have three grand to splash on a speaker system, Silver 6AV12 makes a convincing case for your cash. It’s beautifully made and super-stylish, looking every bit the high-end system.
Its movie performance is spellbinding too, thanks largely to dedicated home cinema rears that generate a seamless, immersive 360-degree soundstage – backed up by impeccable detail, powerful bass and clear dialogue reproduction. It’s even better with music.
We would say, however, that the choice of bipole/dipole rear speakers won’t suit those who like a more directional approach to surround sound. And while Silver is an exciting listen, other systems at this price might lend even more passion and drive to movie playback.
But none of this nit-picking stops Silver 6AV12 being anything other than a fantastic speaker system.
Yet another top-drawer speaker system from Monitor Audio, offering deeply immersive, insightful sound from beautifully made cabinets.
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