Review of the Monitor Audio RS 6 with the Marantz SR 12

I like these brands and make no attempts to hide this fact. I had been searching for a new HT based setup, trying to keep an open mind, yet remembering my Bronze and Marantz system that gave a wonderful account of itself.

An ensuing saga comes to a temporary halt. My search for a HT based system came to a fortuitous point thanks to a incidental purchase from a brother in the forum. We had been communicating about his system and he came to point where he felt he wanted a musical system and was willing to flog off his MA RS system.

This aided my decision process about choosing my speakers and solved my own dilemma about selecting either the GS or RS series from Monitor Audio. I had been considering that for HT, plus the fact that I may not be able to discern the extra expense of paying for the GS setup and I actually believe the main components which underpin the HT experience are the subwoofer and the centre speaker. If these are competent, the left and rights plus the rears will fall into place. Obviously a decent amp which can drive the selected speaker system will help and the appropriate application of DSP and surround effects plus a good source playing a well mastered disc will complete the HT experience and room treatment will transform the home into a proper Lido.

But enough about how this set came into my possession. The system now consisted of

a Pioneer DV 545 and a Panasonic EX85 as the source (both will be weaker than a proper CD transport);

Marantz SR 12 S1 (7.1 channel THX Ultra II receiver) putting out 110 true watts per channel into 8ohms (more into 6 or 4);

Monitor Audio RS series HT plus a SVS PB 12plus.

The listening area is a 7by 10m room but with the speakers sited such that they are almost a metre from the rear walls and far from the side walls. No port plugs were used. They were toed in such that the speaker face points directly at the listening position. The hotspot was about 3m from each speaker in a 60degree angle.

Ancillary connections consisted of Audioquest interconnects, QED XT300 tube wires (chosen for their neutral sound with no silver in them)

For more information on the amp, it is an ancient amp by current standards with no auto-setup, HDMI and a full review can be found in issue 255 of Hi Fi Choice (thanks Patrick at KEC for lending the issue), a German magazine, plus Home Cinema Choice.

My impression of the SVS subwoofer is found in the SVS section:

Suffice to say, it represents a wonderful package of extension, tightness and slam with the main issue being that WAF is miserable (it weighs and resembles a washing machine)

Reviews of the Panasonic DVD Hard disk recorder are also readily found online at Whxx Lo Fi and Home Cinema Choice.

Onto the speakers, a previous impression can be found within this thread:

Many other mags including hi fi choice, Whxx Lo Fi etc carry reviews.

This initial review is with the stereo pair of floorstanders. Visually the RS6 has high showroom appeal, with real wood veneers and a certain elegance only bested by speakers in a different price range, such as the GS series. At the listening position the tweeters are just about at my ear level or slightly lower. There is a plinth for the floor-standers and the speakers can be bi-wired. Build quality for a set of made in China speakers is very good. You get a feeling of high value for money.

I began with stereo, and as the speakers had been in use previously there was no run-in period. Using a single run of the QED XT 300 tube, the initial impression was pretty impressive, with a serious wall of bass hitting you. The Monitor Audio RS series is about fun, in a roller coaster fashion, and it is hardly subtle. The speakers make their presence felt, and the soundstage is forward, with a definite emphasis in the mid-bass region. In a more confined space the bass can dominate an become unruly or muddy. Give them enough space to breath and they will reward you with a extension and slam that you may not miss a subwoofer even for movies. However there is a definite emphasis of bass around the 60Hz region, which may account for a slam element which helps them become popular with HT or dance music. This can be disconcerting to those desiring a flatter response curve. There is not much output to note under 40 Hz or so.

The treble has been noted in various quarters to be on the bright side of neutral, hence partnering this speaker is essential. Get it wrong and you will suffer a grating sound. A warmer amp will definitely help.

A point to note is that if you audition this speaker in the showroom, it is driven by tubes, or Primare amps and the room is pretty insulated, so the treble is pretty much tamed and in fact the speaker may sound a lot more subdued than it really is. If your room is very much ‘alive’ it may pay dividends to do some room treatment at crucial reflection points. Get some help from experienced brothers here.

Stereophile gave this speaker a resounding recommendation (perhaps too sterling) and some other magazines also gushed effusively about it. I like the sound, but it is definitely not the last word in sound quality. Neither is it the most neutral speaker in the world.

With my Panasonic, there was a hardness to it with the treble poorly held in rein and it would be quite fatiguing for music in the long term. For HT, this was very exciting and gave a ride by the seat of your pants kind of experience, despite enhancing the HT fun.

Swopping over to my warmer and I reckon better sounding Pioneer, I got more information retrieval without the hardness, and the ride whilst still exciting, became something I can listen to for hours, without my ears bleeding. Imaging was also more accurate and stable, with a deeper soundstage and individual instruments could be discern more easily.

The metal tweeter also seems to need some warming up, with a sweeter sound after using it for half an hour or more, although this could be ear conditioning.

I reckon a warmer or neutral source, perhaps along the lines of the SACD 7001 from Marantz, or a NAD CD player will help bring the best out of the system. I look forward to trying it with the new DV 7001 Marantz DVD player which get most of the innards of the well regards DV 9600.

So how should I describe the RS 6? If it was a person, she would be energetic, sporty, dynamic, colourful and exciting, with nary a dull moment. She would be beautiful and shapely, tall and slim with a vivacious personality to match her looks.She would also be capable of telling the truth, the whole truth and reveal most of the message, from the highs to the lows. She needs room to breathe, and does not like being hemmed in. give her her space and the songs she sings will be seared permanently into your memory. And at the end of it all, you will still feel she’s the one :)

Actually as I continued to listen and run-in, I found the MA tends to get sweeter in the treble.

Matching the source will be important, I reckon either the DV 7001, or a neutral to warm source will help. Each time you start listening, it takes a few minutes to half an hour to really sound right.

I ran through a well recorded pop CD (Emil Chau) and there was so much detail and the sound was much sweeter with my Pioneer that I will explore a new source soon.

The bass is prominent so I worry for bros running this in a confined space. It defintely needs to breathe with about 1m behind it. That why the entire frequency can be appreciated and the bass doesn't swamp the rest of the mesage.

I got my TV, hooked up the speakers and the HD DVD player and finally use the RS1 as rears.

Did a spot of calibration and we are off!

Many movies have room shuddering bass, and much gut busting blasts in their scenes, but how about listening to the rears in a quiet movie.

A good rear tends to surround you in a whole envelop of sound and I didn't get much better effects tonight than the o;d movie "Hunt for Red October"

The experience seems surreal, you feel like you are in the water, first in front of the sub, then hear it coming and finally end up behind the sub. The scenes were there is singing is another good workout for the surrounds and the RS 1 is more than up to the task.

There is good range and they will happily go loud for you.

In fact they are excellant as front channel speakers, and with a good sub, they are more than adequate, especially in a smaller room. Occasionally they prove too directional, since my room is rather small I think mounting them higher up is better. I might still for dipoles as my next upgrade..

Feeling in the mood for underwater programs, I also try out my U 571 and again the quieter scenes are marvellous for showing off the rear channels. As direct radiating speakers, the RS 1 needs some care in placement, so I recommend you try them in the proposed position before attaching them to the wall or shelf or rack permanently.

I find that biwiring is still a point of prolonged discussion, but a short set of Xindak Jumpers seems to do the trick well, and the whole lot of Xindak equipment was well worth it, albeit at HKG prices.

I had to use the RS 6 in a much smaller room than my hall when I shifted to my sound room, but with the help of blackout sound absorbing curtains, the bass is better tamed.

Now that the pairing of the MA and the Marantz has been running for a while, I can say that this is a good partnership, complementing each other well.

The same caveat applies for those thinking of using the RS 6 in a small space, and it is best used with the 'large' settings for speakers, letting the sub take over after 80Hz

My next tweak is to find a dedicated socket for the amp seperate from the other items to see if this improves the sound.

Even as I stare enviously at the new amps with the auto-setup, new HDMI versions (mine has zilch), the warm smooth sound of the SR 12 tells me its ok and I enjoy sitting in the hi fi room typing my essays ans reports.

Some additional notes, avoid listening front on to the RS, toe in and be a little higher than the tweeter for less treble energy.

Give the speakers space or have lots of room treatment. A decent set of cables, nothing too exotic or exhorbitant will help and avoid silver ones.

Use the spikes, especially on a wooden floor to tighten the bass.

A carpet does wonders too, and having a few posters about with padding also helps stray bass notes.

Friends have pm - ed me asking if this speaker is neutral, it isn't, with a nice meaty bass, and a rather shiny treble, which can give plenty of detail but can potentially jar with treble proud sources. My previous Dynaudios and KEF Reference series were kinder on the ears, giving a more neutral sound.

However the word is exciting, which is nicely tempered by the warmer sonic signature of the Marantz to give a detailed yet more smooth sound. Room setup, without the aid of modern auto-setup and eq takes a lot longer and after about 3-4 months, I am getting more satisfied with my system.

There is good steering in movies, with effects running seamlessly from the front to the back in panning effects, ambient moments are effortless created, but when sounds need to be pinpoint, you can easily locate the source. On the other hand, the pairing can create a good envelop of sound that allows you to forget its not the local cinema, but a small room of modest proportions. Actually the close distance between the front pair and the rear surrounds lends more to the the small jump from front to back, and there is no gap in the panning.

I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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