Never mind comparing SoundFrame with other flatpanel speakers – these bad boys put many floorstanders to shame. Their sound quality is sensational, and leaves you wondering how they’re able to imbue movies with such an amazing sense of depth and authority given the slimness of the cabinets.
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The SF1s and SF2s boast power in spades and achieve an awe-inspiring sense of scale with action sequences. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than chapter 12 of Hellboy II and the epic battle between Hellboy and the Forest God – effects thunder around the room with frenetic energy and shedloads of power, tinkling glass sounds just like real tinkling glass, while bangs and explosions are thick and hearty. It’s mesmerising stuff.
But what’s most impressive is how smooth it all sounds. Effects glide around the soundstage like butter on a hot knife, high frequencies never grate (even the screech as the Elemental flings a car at a helicopter) and there’s a general fluidity and sophistication to the sound that justifies the relatively high price tag.
Also impressive is the sense of cohesion across the whole system. Each speaker is perfectly matched to the others, and even the Radius 370HD sub – the nominal black sheep of this family – seems tailor made for the SoundFrame speakers, lending tight, intense yet beautifully integrated bass.
Add to that the rich and distinctive voice reproduction, insightful detail and silky music playback and you’ve got a real winner on your hands, better even than the KEF T205 system we reviewed earlier this year. It goes to show that you don’t have to compromise on sound quality just because you want a chic, discreet speaker system.
Monitor Audio’s SoundFrame series is not only innovative and stylish but also a wonderful performer, delivering a logic-defying sense of scale and power that puts many full-sized speakers to shame. The range of grille options is a great idea, bringing with it a sense of fun, while build quality is superb. Yes as a 5.1 system it adds up to quite a hefty sum, but if you want a system that blends seamlessly with your décor then SoundFrame is money well spent.