Bringing up the rear of the list of abbreviations, and positioned at the rear of the Gold 200 cabinet, are a couple of HiVe II bass reflex ports. Monitor Audio has been using this straight-rifled port design for well over a decade, pointing to its speed of air-movement and transient response as justification.
Of course, it’s important to have some reassuring and undramatic numbers to balance out all the heady abbreviations. So the Gold 200s have a nominal impedance of 4ohms, a claimed frequency response of 35Hz to 50kHz, and sensitivity of 88dB/w/m. All perfectly sensible.
At almost exactly a metre tall when standing on its four outrigger feet with spikes attached, a little over 28cm wide and just shy of 39cm deep, each Gold 200 is a manageable size for any medium-to-reasonably-large size room, even if at 22kg each they aren’t the easiest for one person to unpack and install.
The cabinets themselves feature very agreeably curved corners, extremely smooth finishes and a curious ‘soft-touch top trim’ – this is presumably designed to appeal to those for whom a leather-topped writing desk is the pinnacle of interior decor sophistication. The grilles covering the drivers are, naturally enough, held in place magnetically – so there are no unsightly protuberances or recesses spoiling the look of the front baffle.
Painstaking and time-consuming experimentation suggests the Gold 200s are happiest when positioned at least 40cm from a rear surface, and gently angled in towards the listener’s seated position. So that’s where they stand throughout, driven mostly by Naim’s venerable NAP100 power amplifier. AVI’s even-more-venerable Laboratory Series Integrated gets a look-in too.
It’s immediately apparent the Gold 200s don’t require much in the way of heat in order to make their case as a faithful, elegantly judged listen. Smog’s Dongs of Sevotion (Drag City) is a recording which hides its emotions in the finest details – on a system more concerned with the broad strokes, it’s an album that can sound matter-of-fact and jaded. But the Monitor Audios see through its reticence and understatement, attending to every detail in a manner both casual and fanatical.
The leading edge of Bill Callahan’s guitar sounds are loaded with information, not only of the G&L ASAT Classic Thinline itself but of string condition, finger moisture, plectrum weight… and the Gold 200s do this without sounding over-analytical or prissy. The swing and dynamism of the playing sounds as natural as it ever does, but there’s a fuller description here than is available from less judicious loudspeakers. Callahan is an elegantly accomplished technician, but he’s not a show-off. It’s a mind- and skill-set the Monitor Audios understand entirely.
This torrential level of communication is maintained throughout the frequency range, from the textured and disciplined low frequencies to the smoothly shining top end. Kick drum sounds are as much to do with the connection of beater on skin as with the sound of the resulting impact, and the details of bass guitars extend much further than the simple fact of air movement. The Gold 200s are ever-alert to the minutiae, and integrate all the information in a believable and unfussy way.