At the rear of the cabinet there are a couple of Monitor Audio’s carefully rifled HiVE II bass reflex ports – one is quite near the top of the cabinet, the other quite near the bottom. The lower port is positioned just above the gold-plated biwirable speaker binding posts, which join the crossover via oxygen-free silver-plated copper cable.
Each speaker stands on four individual ‘outrigger’ spiked feet. They’re a nice colour-match for the cabinet and they do their job admirably, but they add a little to the 22 x 30cm footprint of the cabinet itself. Nevertheless, if you take colour, finish and dimensions into account, the Bronze 200 are among the most unassuming and easy-to-position floorstanders around. And there are foam bungs for the reflex ports in the packaging, too, in case you’re tempted to push the Monitor Audios up hard against a rear wall.
Behind the magnetically attached grilles, the Bronze 200s feature a 25mm C-CAM gold dome tweeter and a couple of 140mm C-CAM mid-bass drivers. Monitor Audio has been convinced of the efficacy of ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium as a driver material for almost thirty years now – it will happily rhapsodise about the material’s lightness/rigidity ratio. Here the mid/bass drivers are in a continuous profile arrangement – and while I don’t for a moment doubt the rigorous engineering principles behind this, it also adds to the rather tastefully understated aesthetic of the speaker as a whole.
The gold dome tweeter has been a Monitor Audio favourite even longer – it was first introduced all the way back in 1986. It too is an aluminium/magnesium alloy coated in ceramic, which is then gold-anodised for ideal stiffness and damping – the company reckons the first order of breakup is beyond 35kHz and up into dog-whistle territory. Here the tweeter is sitting behind the company’s Uniform Dispersion Waveguide – it’s a hexagonal arrangement, broadly speaking, acoustically transparent and visually quite dramatic.
Monitor Audio is claiming a frequency response of 35Hz to 30kHz, which – on paper, at least – looks quite a big ask of two very modestly proportioned mid/bass drivers. Crossover frequencies are an unremarkable 700Hz and an interestingly low 2.4kHz.
As far as performance goes, it’s important to a) keep price uppermost in your mind and b) not partner the Bronze 200 with anything wildly inappropriate. Therefore b) is taken care of by all the critical listening being conducted using Marantz’s evergreen PM6006 stereo integrated amplifier as the engine. Sources extend to Rega’s Planar 1 turntable (with Planar 2 tonearm, admittedly), a venerable (for which read ‘elderly’) Arcam CD73 disc player and an AudioQuest Beetle Bluetooth DAC for use with both Android and iOS smartphones. The connection between Marantz and Monitor Audio is made using QED XT25 speaker cable.
And because a) is equally important, the suggestion of tonal warmth and absolutely bog-standard level of detail retrieval when listening to a 180g vinyl reissue of Pink Floyd’s Meddle [Pink Floyd Records] needs to be put firmly into context. The Bronze 200 may err on the side of caution, but they’re nevertheless an engaging and musically adept listen.
Certainly they’re not short of bite or attack at the top of the frequency range, that hint of heat notwithstanding. The combination of gold dome tweeter and Uniform Dispersion Waveguide serves up a wide, yet properly focused, top end – and it has the body and substance to prevent the treble attack becoming wearing.
The story is pretty similar in the midrange. The tonal balance is skewed, slightly but definitely, towards the warmer side of neutral – but, if anything, it rather suits the overall sound of Fearless in general and David Gilmour’s vocal in particular. This heat doesn’t translate to a lack of rigour, either – the Bronze 200 demonstrate good control of the midrange, particularly where attack and decay are concerned. And there’s plenty of dynamic variation on show when the band begins to politely force the issue as the song reaches its Anfield Kop conclusion.
Switching to a CD copy of Life Without Buildings’ Any Other City [Tugboat] allows the Monitor Audio to demonstrate an equally authoritative way with the lowest frequencies (as well as confirming the claim for a 35Hz frequency response as optimistic in the extreme). The repetitious, locked-groove attack of New Town is given proper propulsion by the speakers’ ability to snap into and out of bass sounds with real positivity – rhythmic expression is, as a result, very decent. There’s worthwhile texture to low-end sounds, too.
The soundstage the Bronze 200 describe is hardly what you’d call ‘expansive’ but it’s cogently laid out and never sounds crowded. And while they’re not quite from the ‘whisper to a scream’ school of dynamic potency, they breathe deeply enough to make the peaks and troughs of a recording plain. And it’s a trait that lends itself to more modest listening environments – these speakers do what they do without demanding a huge amount of space in which to do it.