Review: Monitor Audio Gold 300 Loudspeakers
These floorstanding speakers offer state-of-the-art performance and a luxurious look and feel. The hairs on the back of John Pickford’s neck are suitably impressed.
Back in issue 22, I tested Monitor Audio’s sleek and compact Studio loudspeakers with their smart bespoke stands. Now I have before me the much larger floorstanding Gold 300, which heads up the company’s Gold range, incorporating most of the technology found in the the flagship Platinum II series.
Monitor Audio has been at the forefront of metal speaker cone technology for several decades and the RDT II transducers employed in the Gold 300 represent the pinnacle of their achievements. A true three-way design, each speaker has dual 8″ bass drivers operating from 30Hz up to 650Hz before crossing over to a 2.5″ midrange driver.
Taking over from the midrange driver at 3kHz is MA’s Micro Pleated Diaphragm (MPD) transducer, a low-mass design with a surface area eight times greater than conventional dome drivers. It works by speedily squeezing the pleats, rather like a turbo-charged concertina, producing a lightning-fast yet smooth response up to 50kHz.
As a bass reflex design, the Gold 300s feature dual rear-firing bass ports to reinforce the low-end response. Internal cabling is silver plated OFC copper and the cabinet features gold-plated bi-wire terminals. At the base of the cabinet are heavy-duty outrigger feet, which come with both spikes and rubber feet to suit carpet or hard flooring. These can be adjusted to ensure the speakers are both level and stable.
The large cabinet (approx. 41″x13″x16″ HWD including outrigger feet and spikes) is well braced and solidly constructed. The knuckle wrap test on the side of the cabinet reveals no unwanted resonance and it’s beautifully finished, too. My review sample has a highly polished Piano Gloss Black finish, while the range is also available in Piano Ebony, Satin White and Dark Walnut. A soft leather top-panel trim adds to the luxurious look and feel of the speaker.
Natural and Unforced
Positioned well clear of rear and side walls (MA recommend 12″-18″), first impressions are entirely positive, mainly because the Gold 300s don’t try to impress with musical fireworks. There’s no hype in the treble to emphasise detail, nor is there a mid-bass hump adding flesh to bass-shy recordings.
What you get reflects what is on the recording, so you hear all the filigree detail without it being spotlit and the low-end response delivers the recording’s bass content accurately.
Describing the speakers’ performance in general terms is redundant; they are neither bright nor warm, fast nor relaxed. They do not offer a seat-of-your-pants listening experience and they won’t flatter poor recordings. Rather, they express the music in a completely natural, unforced way. When replaying full-range recordings they do so with great poise and authority, yet feed them something more intimate and they perform with a delicacy and finesse only the very best monitoring systems can manage. Dynamic expression is first class, performing brilliantly at modest levels yet able to play loud without sounding hard or compressed.
The full gamut of the Gold 300s’ capabilities is demonstrated with a play through of Scott Walker’s masterpiece Scott 4 (Philips 1969). Opening track The Seventh Seal is an epic, proto-gothic piece complete with ominous tubular
bells and monastic chanting, which the speakers deliver with grandeur; a wonderfully grandiose experience. Later, I have a ‘hairs on the back of my neck’ experience listening to the achingly poignant Boy Child, while the rumbling bassline of The Old Man’s Back Again is deep yet gnarly, just as it should be.
Monitor Audio’s new fifth-generation Gold 300s are a true audiophile experience. Most loudspeakers are compromised in some way and few manage to perform to a true reference standard, however the Gold 300s deliver with all the weight and authority of my Tannoys with their huge 15″ drivers, yet also reveal all the high-resolution insight and delicacy of my Quad Electrostatics.
A large room is needed to hear them at their best, though with a high sensitivity of 90dB, they don’t demand huge kilowatt power amplifiers to sing. Quality rather than quantity is key in this respect and valve amplifiers delivering 40 watts and above will drive them superbly; solid-state users should find 100w-200w (MA’s recommendation) sufficient.
Fed with a first-class vinyl front end, the new Monitor Audio Gold 300s offer state-of-the-art performance. They are truly majestic loudspeakers.