- Review Price: £575.00
Piecing together a speaker system individually can be a tricky business at the best of times. Finding ones that look good, suit the size of your room and meet your budget is hard enough, but then getting the right tonal match across all the speakers and making sure they perform well with your disc player and amp can be a complete nightmare, especially with so many models on the market.
It’s the sort of challenge that ardent audiophiles relish, but most punters would rather buy their 5.1 system in one fell swoop and get on with the business of watching movies. Thankfully there are plenty of packages on the market that make it possible, bringing you home cinema surround sound without the hassle. Monitor Audio’s Vector is one of them.
Positioned at the ‘affordable’ end of the company’s speaker spectrum, this compact sub/sat package comes in a single box and is the ideal option for people who want good performance but don’t have a lot of space to play with. The speakers can also be bought separately should you wish to mix and match.
An affordable, one-box system it may be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to compromise on sound quality. With a pedigree like Monitor Audio’s, you expect a high level of performance no matter the price point, and indeed the technology inside them is inspired by the company’s Radius HD range, which is a reassuring sign given how much we loved this system when we tested it earlier this year.
So what’s in the box? First up, you get four V10 satellites, which sport classy high-gloss lacquer-coated baffles and an soft touch rubberised black skin around the sides, which not only makes them appealing to look at but also to touch. If black’s not your bag the speakers are available in high-gloss white lacquer and walnut wood grain effect finishes.
Although not as slinky or solid as the step-up Radius 45HD speakers, the V10s’ build quality is substantial and their compact shape (just 23.5cm tall) means they can be positioned in your living room with minimal disruption. Each V10 can be mounted on the wall using the single-point fixing on the back.
On the inside, the V10 features a 4in MMPII (Metal Matrix Polymer) bass driver and a 1in gold C-CAM (Ceramic-Coated Aluminium Magnesium) dome tweeter that delivers a frequency range from 65Hz up to well over 30kHz. The front baffles and drivers are fixed in place by a single through-bolt to ensure cabinet rigidity and keep ugly screws from ruining the stylish look.
The V20 centre speaker is similarly constructed, sharing the same drivers and therefore the same tonal characteristics, but it has slightly extended bass response for dialogue reproduction and is positioned horizontally (although you can use it vertically if you wish).
The supplied subwoofer is the VW-8, which is incredibly compact (measuring 320 x 280 x 280 mm) and comes equipped with a 100W class A-B amplifier and a 8in long throw MMPII woofer. It’s the rarest of things – a sub that you’ll want out on show rather than tucked away in a corner, due to its sparkly black finish, curved corners and all-round cuteness. But it’s also rigidly constructed – you can’t see any joins, so it feels like one solid chunk of MDF perched on rubber feet.
There’s also plenty of stuff to tweak on the sub’s rear panel, including dials to adjust the volume and crossover frequency (between 45Hz and 150Hz) and switches for phase control and On/Off/Auto selection (the latter turns the sub on when it detects a signal). You’ll also find RCA line inputs.
If you’re looking for a little more oomph for a larger room, then you can upgrade to the RadiusHD 370 sub, which costs around £500 and comes in black/white lacquer and walnut finishes. The VW-8 can also be purchased separately and used to accompany other speaker systems.
Putting the Vector system to work with Children of Men on Blu-ray, it demonstrates its formidable talents with a remarkable reproduction of the movie’s climactic battle scenes. The system is well integrated and surprisingly expansive, which gives this tense scene a convincing sense of scale.
It also picks out a respectable amount of detail, missing none of the distant voices and ambience fluttering around the soundstage, while the scene is punctuated by fast, forthright gunshots and hearty explosions.
We also find the Vector system on top form with Hellboy 2’s DTS HD Master Audio track. Hellboy’s battle with the Elemental – one of our favourite test scenes of recent times – is reproduced with admirable power and control, plus the wide reach of the surround channels opens up the soundstage in precisely the way this scene demands. This is the sort of depth and insight you expect from a more expensive system.
The V20 conveys dialogue with pleasing clarity, handling the movie’s array of madcap voices with a natural, life-like tone. But perhaps the star of the show is the VW-8 – this powerful yet agile sub underpins the action with deep, muscular bass which merges beautifully with the lower end of the V10’s register.
Vector also turns its hand to music with equal conviction. Dirty Harry by Gorillaz on CD sounds tight and crisp, its infectious funk groove propelled along by the speakers’ solid bass and impeccable sense of rhythm.
As impressed as we are by the Vector’s sound quality, it’s up against some stiff competition and we reckon you get a smidgeon more finesse from the KEF KHT2005.3 system. Also the Vector sounded a little bright when we first started playing CDs, most noticeable in the squeaky hi-hats in Gorillaz Last Living Souls. It subsides after prolonged listening but you’re still left with a slight over-emphasis on treble that occasionally pushes sharp high-frequencies over the edge at loud volumes.
The Monitor Audio Vector system is a magnificent performer and a great system all round, boasting stylish looks, solid build quality and best of all, a great price. The ideal choice if you’re strapped for space and/or cash.
Score in detail