Charles Thomson on the Monitor Audio Studio loudspeaker
In this blog post, we talk to Charles Thomson, known by many in New Zealand Hi-Fi circles after his lifetime in the audio industry and faithful patronage of the Wellington music scene.
Having recently had the need to retire his beloved Quad ESL speakers and years of being a "panel" speaker devotee, Charles talks to us about the move to the remarkable little Monitor Audio Studio loudspeaker.
AUDIO SPEAKERS LARGE AND SMALL
1982 was the year I first experienced a panel loudspeaker in the family home. We had a large lounge, with a high ceiling and here was something that really looked the part. At 6 feet tall, nearly 2 feet wide and standing 3 feet out from the rear they were impressive.
Unfortunately, the initial reaction (as was the case in many households throughout the world) was not shared by the lady in my life. However, we both came to appreciate the degree of realism displayed by these speakers.
For the next 32 years panel speakers have become part of our lives with Quad electrostatics being listened to for 18 of them.
For Quad lovers, myself included, the company was sold and the new owners have not been able to provide servicing for their product in this part of the world. Obviously, the time had come to re-evaluate our listening requirements and a more conventional floor stander was the only option.
Seeking advice from both Denco Audio, the ex-importers of Quad and Mike Thomson of Soundline Audio saw my wife and self considering a pair of Monitor Audio "Studio" speakers. Personally, I was facing a real challenge to even unpack them upon their arrival. The boxes were so small.
However, unpacking and assembly was duly completed and one had to admire the quality and construction of the units.
BUT they were so small. The inner me was struggling to accept that these speakers could possibly provide a sound that would be acceptable in terms of filling a large room. Fortunately, my years of reviewing audio equipment many years ago, reminded me of the times I told myself not to prejudge a product. Listen first.
One of things Mike Thomson did insist upon was that the Monitors needed approximately 90 hours of run-in time before serious listening. How right he was. Without this advice, I may not have taken the "Monitors" seriously. I would certainly not have waited this length of time.
Fast forward 60 hours. Jazz quartet playing and all of a sudden I was aware of the piano well to the left of the sound stage, a double bass on the right and drums and trumpet center.
During the following week everything continued to fall into place. Bass performance improved markedly.
Mid-range, particularly vocal has become exceptional. An amplified guitar the likes I have not heard before.
Treble started to integrate seamlessly, the product of a very well designed transducer, the design of which is amazing. This "MPD, Micro Pleated Diaphragm" as it is known, is well worth looking up on Monitor Audio's web site.
Needless to say, you will realize I am relaxed and enjoying the "Studios" and peace reigns. I freely admit our lounge has never looked more attractive and relaxing. Instead of me trying to sell the benefits of large speakers, we are both talking music.
- Charles Thomson Feb 2020
Update from Charles, March 2020
"Having spent nearly 3 months now with these speakers, I thought I knew all about them. How mistaken I was.
One afternoon I had time to listen to Saint-Saens "Organ Concerto" Symphony No 3. Recorded in the world's 5th largest Cathedral, Liverpool, the massive organ pipes have plenty of room to display their power. The first movement of this work is relatively peaceful, very quiet in fact. This is followed by slow increases in volume which eventually reach a very high level and you suddenly realize this performance is coming from a much smaller speaker than it's predecessor.
All this and I did not touch the volume control once, Now that is dynamic range."