Monitor Audio MA100 Gold MkII Loudspeaker System (Jan. 1994)

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Monitor Audio is a well-known manufacturer of high-quality loudspeakers based in Cambridge. England. Among its several lines of loudspeaker systems is the Gold series, featuring Monitor’s proprietary Gold Dome tweeter. It’s called that because the tweeter dome is formed of an aluminum/magnesium alloy that is gold- anodized, a process said to increase its rigidity and extend its linear frequency range beyond audibility.

The MA700 Gold Mk II is a small, two-way system, using a 1-inch Gold Dome tweeter paired with a 6½-inch woofer operating in a vented enclosure. The woofer cone is formed from a polypropylene material, and the molded rubber surround and concave dust cover contribute to the rigidity of the voice coil, which is wound on an aluminum former. The tweeter’s voice coil, like the woofer’s, has a nitrile rubber surround and is cooled and damped by magnetic fluid in its gap.

The crossover, at 3.1 kHz, is a minimalist design with 6-dB-per-octave slopes. Monitor points out that such a simple crossover is practical because the tweeter and woofer were specifically designed to work together. The high- and low-frequency sections of the crossover network are electrically separated, enabling biwired or bi-amplified operation.

The MA700 Gold MkII’s cabinet, with a volume of about 11 liters, is made of ¾-inch MDF (medium-density-fiberboard) panels and internally damped with padding and acoustic foam. The drivers are bolted onto the panel and recessed to minimize edge diffractions. The woofer port is on the rear panel. A removable black cloth grille covers the entire front of the speaker. Since the speaker panel is finished to match the rest of the cabinet, removing the grille exposes a handsome front, with a gold tweeter grille and dome and a well-finished woofer.

Monitor Audio prides itself on superior cabinet finishes, which in the case of the MA700 Gold MkII takes the form of matched black-ash (standard) or rosewood (premium) veneers finished by hand. Other finishes are also available.

The frequency response of the Monitor Audio MA700 Gold MkII is specified as 45 Hz to 30 kHz ± 3 dB. Its nominal impedance is 8 ohms, and the sensitivity is rated at 89 dB sound- pressure level (SPL) at 1 meter with a 2.83-volt input.

Monitor recommends placing these speakers on stands, such as its own MS24’s, which feature rugged steel construction and hollow central columns that can be filled with sand. Our test speakers were supplied with the MS24 stands, which we used, al though we chose not to fill them with sand since each stand already weighs 15 pounds by itself.

The averaged room response of the two speakers was impressively flat over most of the audio range. It varied only ±2 dB from 400 Hz to 20 kHz. The close-miked woofer and port response sloped down smoothly by about 9dB from 100 Hz to about 2 kHz (readings above that frequency were not valid). The output below 100 Hz dropped at 12dB per octave. Combining this measurement with the room curve produced a composite response varying ± 4dB from 45 Hz to 20 kHz. The quasi-anechoic MLS measurements showed a response at 1 meter that varied only ± 2 dB from 300 Hz to 20 kHz, and the tweeter dispersion was excellent, with the output at 45 degrees off-axis falling off by 5dB at 10 kHz and by only 8 dB at 20 kHz. Group delay (phase linearity) was a relatively constant 500 microseconds from 3 to 20 kHz (the tweeter range), rising to 1.1 milliseconds at 50 Hz.

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DIMENSIONS: 8½” W, 13¾” H x 10” D

FINISH: BLACK-ASH; ROSEWOOD; OTHER VENEER

PRICE: BLACK ASH, $999 A PAIR; ROSEWOOD. $1,199 A PAIR

MANUFACTURER: Monitor Audio USA, DEPT. SR. P Box 1355. BUFFALO. NY 14205

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The system’s minimum impedance was 7.5 ohms at 60 and 200 Hz, with peaks of 23.5 ohms at 28Hz, 20 ohms at 95Hz, and 29 ohms at 2.2 kHz. At 88 dB, its sensitivity was close to the rated value. The woofer distortion at a 3.5-volt drive level (equivalent to a 90- dB SPL) was between 0.3 and 0.7 percent from 2 kHz to 100Hz, rising to 1.5 percent at 60 Hz, 3 percent at 39 Hz, and 4.5 percent at 30 Hz.

The speaker was able to absorb the maximum output of our driving amplifier (roughly 400 to 700 watts) during single-cycle tone bursts at 1 and 10 kHz. At 100 Hz, the woofer cone reached the limits of its suspension travel with an input of 190 watts.

As our measurements clearly indicate, the Monitor MA700 Gold MkII is a very high-quality speaker indeed. While it cannot defy the laws of physics and match the low-bass output of many larger speakers, this mighty midget can deliver a useful amount of clean 35- to 40-Hz fundamental, with out the accompaniment of much obvious distortion. In that respect, its sound belies its size.

There is more to good sound than low bass, however. The MA700 Gold MkII was well balanced musically, never calling attention to itself through an audible lack or excess of any part of the audio spectrum. As our measurements show, this speaker has an exceptionally flat and wide-range response, combined with above-average dispersion at high frequencies. Its stereo imaging was excellent (not surprising given those characteristics).

We encountered only one sour note (figuratively speaking) in our testing and use of these speakers. Their input connectors, recessed into the back of the cabinet, are sturdy gold-plated binding posts. But their wide spacing prevents the use of dual banana plugs (single plugs are okay), and the hole in each post that would accept a stripped wire end is already partially filled with the heavy jumper wire that connects it to a corresponding post leading to the other driver (there are separate inputs for woofer and tweeter). We found it nearly impossible to make a tight, secure connection to stripped wires because of the presence of these jumpers. Single banana plugs would certainly be our preferred solution, even though this is discouraged in the manufacturer’s instructions.

To be sure, the good qualities of this little giant have their price—it costs considerably more than some other speakers that also deliver excellent performance and that might go a bit lower in the bass. Nevertheless, there are many listening situations where a small but high-quality speaker is called for, and here the MA700 Gold MkII has few peers in its price class.

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From: Stereo Review (Jan. 1994) JULIAN HIRSCH--HIRSCH-HOUCK LABORATORIES

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