Monitor Audio GX 300 review
I have been using MA speakers ever since I got the Bronze 2 (that’s the second series) bookshelf and centre speakers.
I lugged them with me to Sydney and in my flat, they generated a whole bunch of bass which amazed my friends who came over. Partner with my Marantz SR 18 EX AV receiver, they sounded wonderful and they found a new home in my friend’s place, displacing his Thiels for home theatre.
It also cement a long partnership I had with the Silver RS and then the Gold series with my Marantz SR 12 S1, which I have written extensively about.
So when the day came and I sold off my MA GS speakers, it was only natural that I would audition their replacements, the GX series.
Things have moved on, and the new GX series have now got a new cabinet, and more interestingly, a ribbon tweeter. Now contrary to some views, it is not the same ribbon tweeter used in the Platinum series, but it’s adapted from that series.
Links and specs:
· New C-CAM transducer design providing extension to a class-leading 60kHz
· Dedicated mid-range and tweeter enclosure
· Pureflow Silver internal cabling
· Selected premium quality wood veneers or high gloss piano finishes
· Metal mesh grille design to give low diffraction, resulting in improved off-axis dispersion.
· Invisible magnetic grille fixing provides clean visual styling when used with the grille off.
· Curved cabinet profile for increased rigidity and reduced internal standing waves.
· Large radius cabinet edges provide low diffraction and smoother overall frequency response.
There is plenty to like about them, from the wonderful cabinet work, which is actually superior to many far more expensive speakers. With 11 layers of lacquer, the piano gloss finish is a sight to behold indeed and if not for anything else, buyers will get this simply because it looks like a really expensive piece of furniture.
I had the honor and pleasure of being invited over by a friend on a forum to listen to the top of the GX series, and they were installed in the living room of his home.
CD player: Cayin CDT-17a
Pre amp: Emotiva UMC-1 (running on direct mode)
Power amp: Marantz 7055
Speaker: Monitor Audio GX300
Interconnect: DIY Hisago Cable
Speaker Cable: Chord Carnival SilverScreen (Single)
I would hasten to suggest that I immediately felt the GX 200 was a better choice for his living room, which would not be more than 4m wide and 2.5m deep.
In fact I was concerned about phase coherence, and also of boominess, and even though he had inserted bungs into the speaker port, I was concerned about how the bass would be like in such a small space.
Having gotten used to the MA GS, which leans towards the bright side of neutral, I was a little worried about how they will sound, so I ask the owner to use a solid state amp (Marantz power amps driving his Denon) instead of his tubes. However his CD player was also a tube (Cayin), and this could have an influence on the sound.
The audition turned out to be rather pleasant, as the key was the SCALE. I had used a GS 10 bookshelf for a couple of years and it was refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable to listen to the full scale soundfield of the MA GX 300.
The soundscape was about 1.5-2m behind the plane of the speakers, and the imaging was very stable and clear.
Now perhaps it was the tube CD player, or the Marantz power amp, but there was no hint of brightness at all, and you could play some very etchy violins, or listen to the piercing voice of a lady singer, but essentially, the treble was detailed and yet controlled.
This in turn was matched by a decent mid and that bass. The bass didn’t shake the room like a subwoofer, and we were playing it at moderate volumes in a small flat. But it was almost palpable, and I think the bass helped to round off the treble too and make the entire presentation a smooth to neutral one.
I had also heard the GR 60 not long ago in Sydney in a friend’s home up in the Pennant Hills, and that beast had bass.
Now having heard the 804D on the same day, just an hour before the MA GX 300, it made for an interesting comparison.
There is a price gap equivalent to the price of another GX 300 between them, and the partnering equipment and listening room was certainly not the same, but the sonic characteristics were quite different.
The B&W 804D had loads of detail. The imaging and detail was amazing. It was significantly superior to the GX 300 in this respect but the key was that you needed to get the right gear to partner the 804D. Get it wrong and you could get a rather jarring experience.
The GX 300 lost out on details but it had a full range sonic experience that the 804D could not match. It dug deeper, and with this, it allowed the whole experience to sound wholesome. Furthermore, it was a bit more forgiving of electronics, and you will probably be using this with much less costly partnering gear.
So here are two speakers representing two different price points. One came from a superior range, and demanded you use better components to go with it. That meant that you will have to cough up money not only for the speakers, but also for better partnering equipment to make full use of these speakers.
On the other the GX 300 was aimed at a different level. For the price of the B&W, you can get the GX 300, plus the partnering centre and components with change.
This also meant you could have a very decent sound for a lot less money.
However the GX 300 needs room to breath and control that bass. In this respect the B&W 804D was more room friendly. But if you have the room, and could bring the GX 300 further into the room to allow this rear ported speaker some room to breath, it will reward you with amazing scale and still sufficient detail, whilst not embarrassing those pop cds. You don’t need to restrict yourself to only playing “audiophile” material with the GX 300. Even plebian low bitrate pop CDs can sound half decent and if you combine this speaker with the centre speaker and surround, you can be impressed with what you can get.
Now in earlier models the MA was much more value for money, but ever since the pound dropped in value, and we found no corresponding drop in prices, MA has losts it’s lead as value speakers, and you will find their prices almost as marked up as the B&W ones locally.
Ultimately, a long audition is needed to see what suits, and for smaller rooms the GX 200 may be a better choice. A pair of these gorgeous floorstanders will enhance most HT rooms, and will be a good upgrade for those coming from more budget setups.
I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.