- Review Price: £968.85
Like the amazing Apex system, which saw Monitor Audio at its no-holds-barred best, Bronze BX2 AV is another downsized 5.1 system that uses bookshelf speakers for the fronts, making them much easier to squeeze into your room than floorstanders. But if you fancy something a little bigger and more exuberant, then the Bronze BX range also includes a couple of floorstanding fronts, the BX5 and BX6.
The BX2 AV package comprises a pair of BX2s for the front channels, a BX Centre, a pair of BXFX dipole speakers for the rear channels and the BXW-10 active subwoofer. As we’ve come to expect from Monitor Audio, the build quality across the system is exceptional. Each unit is housed in a cabinet so robust and substantial that it could probably survive an explosion, which means you’re getting a lot of speaker for your money. The speakers are elegantly styled in a choice of four gorgeous-to-the-touch vinyl wood finishes, although we reckon the Walnut and Rosemah options are a little dowdy and old-fashioned – Black Oak and Natural Oak are far more contemporary and stylish.
The BX2s come with removable magnetic grilles but look more eye-catching without them. Their exposed drivers look like they mean business, particularly the 166mm bass driver with its off-white colour and surrounding black trim. This new bass driver is fashioned from a C-CAM (Ceramic Coated Aluminium/Magnesium) alloy to provide the required rigidity for fast, responsive detail reproduction, and because the material is light it boasts high efficiency too. Sitting above the bass driver is a new 26mm C-CAM tweeter, which sits in its own chamber with graduated damping to reduce unwanted resonances.
As with the Apex and RX systems, these drivers are fixed to the back of the cabinet using a single rigid bolt, which means they effectively float free of the baffle and don’t transmit vibrations to the cabinet itself, all of which has huge benefits for sound quality. Another technology imported from Monitor Audio’s more expensive speakers include the HiVE II Reflex ports, which use rifled grooves to speed up the flow of air from the cabinet for batter bass response. It’s also worth noting that the BX2s can be bi-wired thanks to their twin sets of gold-plated binding posts.
As for the BX Centre, it shares the BX2’s elegance and heavyweight build quality but this time with twin 140mm C-CAM drivers that flank the 25mm tweeter.
For the rear channels, Monitor Audio has opted for dual-mode speakers with a switch that allows you to select bipole or dipole dispersion, depending on whether they’re placed on the side or rear wall or whether you want a direct or diffuse sound. Each speaker is equipped with a front-facing 140mm C-CAM mid/bass driver, flanked by two 25mm C-CAM tweeters on angled baffles. The grilles are attached using plugs, but in every other respect the construction is on a par with the rest of the system.
Next, we come to Bronze BX’s big daddy, the BXW-10 active subwoofer. It’s equipped with a new 10in C-CAM long-throw driver and a 200W Class-D power amplifier, while on the outside the sturdy build quality, living-room friendly looks and surprisingly diminutive sealed cabinet ooze style and quality without making huge demands on your space.
All of the controls and sockets are confined to the back of the box, and they include an LFE input, left and right RCA line level inputs, a volume dial, a crossover dial (which is bypassed when the LFE input is connected to an AV receiver) and two switches governing phase and power mode (Auto, On, Off).
So it’s clear that the Bronze BX2 AV is a great prospect on paper, but how is it in action? In a word, fantastic. Once you’ve heard it getting stuck into the Monaco Grand Prix scene in ”Iron Man 2”, it simply beggars belief that you can buy this system for under a grand.
We wired them up to our Onkyo TX-SR807 and immediately apparent is the incredible speed and responsiveness of those C-CAM drivers. The scene rattles along at a blistering pace, with every effect relayed with attack and power – it’s utterly compelling. F1 cars zip past the camera with a fierce yet controlled roar, whip effects are sharp and bracing and sliced-up cars clatter to the ground with an electrifying crash.
The soundstage is incredibly spacious, with beautiful interaction between the channels. Effects zip around with breathtaking energy while those rear speakers spray sounds into the room and along the walls with authority and warmth. Faultless tonal matching across every speaker guarantees a remarkably unified soundstage.
It’s all anchored by the sensational BXW-10, which delivers a bass slam so deep and potent that the Chilean miners would have felt it. What’s more it never lags behind or sounds flabby when relaying sudden bangs and thuds, thanks to its tautness and dynamic punch.
Detail retrieval is superb too. ”Iron Man 2’s” quieter moments are few and far between, but when they do happen you can savour subtle sounds like chattering crowds and gentle echoes. Dialogue reproduction is remarkably sophisticated for a so-called entry-level speaker too, almost matching the authority and presence of Monitor Audio’s more expensive centres. That means speech is clear and life-like, coming through clearly no matter how raucous the scene gets.
It’s worth pointing out that Bronze doesn’t quite match the same levels of detail retrieval, power or speech clarity as the Apex or Silver RX, but it runs them both very close, which for the money is not to be sniffed at – and what you need to keep firmly in mind is that the Bronze BX2 AV is a £1k system that sounds almost as good as systems costing twice as much, which makes it a true bargain in our eyes.
Many of the strengths heard in movie playback, such as its rapid bass response, forensic detail reproduction, speech clarity and tonal solidarity, also make its music performance a real joy. There’s a deftness of touch and neutrality to the sound that puts most cheaper speakers to shame, resulting in one of the most natural and refined performances you’re likely to hear in this price class.
Once again, Monitor Audio comes up trumps with a home cinema speaker system that delivers a detailed, powerful and seamlessly integrated sound. But unlike the remarkable Apex system, you don’t have to pay through the nose for this superb performance, which makes the Bronze BX2 AV a real bargain and one of the best speaker systems of 2010.
Score in detail