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The sonic scale was really big. Interestingly, a similar size of the instruments was shown by the far smaller Dynaudio DM 2/6 while neither the Xavian nor KEF were as convincing. And, the Monitor Audio could do even more. Its larger mid/woofer showed its mettle over the smaller ones of the competition. Finally Physics paid back. The RX2 better differentiated between disc dynamics and recording techniques. When switching to the XRCD disc Quiet Kenny by Kenny Dorham, it was obvious how this technology produces a much warmer sound. The London disc issued on HQCD wasn’t worse, mind you. The XRCD was simple warmer and silkier.

Only after I’d spun Nat King Cole’s After Midnight did I fully appreciate how this speaker’s resolution is above average. My copy of this disc is nothing special, no premium Japanese pressing or equivalent. But I am not buying any other (perhaps I’ll splurge on vinyl some day). That's because this standard version has such a splendid sound already. I attribute that in equal parts to Michael Cuscuna’s remastering brilliance and the Super Bit Mapping technology. This slightly forgotten technique for converting 24-bit recorded word length to 16-bit Redbook was one of Sony’s finest developments. Due to proper shaping of quantization noise, it allows 16-bit material to dynamically approach 20 bits without any decoder. The loudspeakers showed this off nicely and we applauded the Sony engineers responsible (whoever they were).

Again, Monitor Audio’s Silver Rx2 very astutely differentiated between recordings. When those were slightly shrill, they were shown accordingly like my recent Dance Mania addition by Paco Puente. That’s a 1958 hot mambo album recorded in Living Stereo and now remastered in 24-bit K2. It’s explosively dynamic but also bright. This warrants a short discussion because it defines how this speaker will be perceived in the audio salon. There is no rounded over treble, no warmed-up midrange. Description by negation perhaps isn’t the most flattering but at times the most apt. The upshot here is the large amount of information from the upper midrange and midrange. I defined it as non-warm and non-round in the negative because it cannot be called bright or sharp. But on poorer recordings, that’s how it will be perceived. In error I think.

Because I hadn’t reviewed another speaker from this series yet, I reread Krzysztof’s opinion on their RX6 model in our pages. He felt that they could approach sounding too lit up. I had crossed paths with Monitor Audio at many shows and exhibits and thought I knew where his problem was. That’s why I added a comment on tube amps to his review. Now I understood him better. It wasn’t really about adding any valve warmth.

The RX2 is simply so resolved and linear that if room issues dry out the midrange or absorb too much bass, this speaker will sound too bright and light. I think that would not be the speaker per se but ancillary and room interaction issues. I confirmed this with the extraordinary Leben CS-660P tube amp and a budget Music Hall CD 25.2. Yes, this valve amp sounded fantastic but, scaled back, cheaper transistor amps were equally compelling. Machines like the iTube FatMan, Xindak A06 and V10, Carat A57 should all partner well. Source selection will be critical too. I tried the Lithuanian Black Stork turntable with Q3 tonearm. Its characteristic quality is a wholesale lack of sharpness or brightness. And that’s exactly how it sounded over the Monitors. Within their budget’s limitations, these speakers passed on the key traits of the turntable. One could of course also deliberately pick warmer digital sources like Xindak’s CD06 or the Audionemesis DC-1 and obtain very good results.

The RX2 performs in a very linear, mechanically subtracted way that casts large virtual sources with good dynamics. The frequency extremes are fully developed and reproduced without any veiling. That demands appropriate ancillaries. Other manufacturers soften the treble either because their tweeter isn’t good enough or because the tonal balance would shift up due to lacking counter bass. The Monitor Audios have an emphasis in the 600 and 800Hz but one adjusts to and lives with it. The lower bass isn’t as taut as the sealed Xavian’s but this is a bass-reflex system after all. Experiment with wall proximity and perhaps plug the ports with the supplied foam inserts. These speakers won’t perform the same in each room and certain electronics won’t be appropriate. But with the modest RX2 I discovered performance elements of real progress rather than flashy trickery. I found that very satisfying.

Description: The Monitor Audio RX2 is a largish two-way bass-reflex monitor. The tweeter is a 25mm gold-anodized C-CAM unit with mesh cover and claimed 45kHz extension. The mid/woofer is a beefy 200mm C-CAM RST equivalent with chrome-plated plastic dust cup imitating a phase corrector set into a high-pressure cast synthetic basket with a large magnet. C-CAM refers to ceramic-coated aluminum magnesium. Those diaphragms use an aluminum/magnesium alloy core coated with a thin ceramic layer on either side. This improves rigidity and damps parasitic vibrations. RST is short hand for rigid surface technology and describes the golf-ball dimpled surface profile. This mid/woofer also eliminates the usually marring frontal driver bolts and couples to the rear baffle instead with a long bolt. The tweeter loads into a shallow wave guide to linearizes the transition to the mid/woofer.

Nice but modest biwire terminals sit on a rigid plastic plate and metal jumpers are provided inside the speaker’s polystyrene packing. Upgrading to cable bridges from Chord or Wireworld might be a good idea. The crossover mounts to the binding posts from the inside and consists of polypropylene capacitors, an treble air coil and a solid-core coil on the mid/woofer. The rear port carries the HiVe II high velocity acronym to indicate anti-turbulence ridges and carries over from the Platinum Series. Included foam plugs allow for tuning of the bass alignment. The enclosure panels use thick MDF and natural wood veneer is thicker than standard.  The inside runs a horizontal and vertical stiffener and the whole is damped with spongy layers. Available finishes include black Oak, natural Oak, Walnut, Rosenut and high-gloss black or white. Black grills are standard.

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