To Hans Wetzel,
These [Monitor Audio Bronze 6] speakers I’ve considered buying, but I cannot audition them in my area. Their price recently came down into the mid-$800 range. There are many good options in this upper mid-fi range. There are only a few customer reviews of the Bronze 6 at Amazon and I have no place to audition them in the Tacoma, WA, area. Traveling to Seattle is too much for me (I’m disabled and housebound and do not drive).
Your review provided helpful info, but left me frustrated. First, you test $1000 speakers on amps that cost 2.5 to 4.5 times the speakers’ cost! That is not realistic. If I had an integrated amp that cost $2500, it would be paired with speakers costing at least $2000. Second, you provided no comparisons to speakers at similar price levels ($800 to $1200). Comparing floorstanders to small, expensive bookshelf speakers is at best comparing apples to oranges.
Most of your points are well taken. I agree that reviewing the Monitor’s Bronze 6 with my Hegel Music Systems H360 integrated amp-DAC wasn’t ideal given the sizable price difference, and that comparing a big floorstander to a more expensive two-way bookshelf design isn’t the choice most buyers will be faced with. Totally fair. I do disagree with the common audiophile perception that a system should be “balanced” in terms of cost. Why is that? Cost isn’t necessarily correlated with performance. Moreover, you could make the argument that using a more expensive, higher-performance piece of electronics is actually more beneficial and revealing than using a less accomplished, but similarly priced amp. The more revealing the amp, the better it will highlight a speaker’s strengths and weaknesses, and in my humble opinion that’s the ultimate point of a review.
I’d also point out some harsh realities about being a modern audio reviewer. I write roughly one review a month, and have to be flexible about what products I get in for evaluation so that we can adequately cover the products and price points we target. With only so many review slots and only so many writers on staff -- almost all of whom have day jobs, I might add -- sometimes a product lands with a writer whose system perhaps isn’t a perfect fit on paper. That’s arguably the case with Monitor’s Bronze 6.
The fact remains, however, that I’ve probably had greater loudspeaker exposure over the last couple of years than the majority of professional reviewers out there (and at many different price points, from well less than $1000 per pair up to $30,000 per pair), and so I felt comfortable in being able to fairly evaluate the Bronze 6’s talents. I’m guessing that most buyers would not be cross-shopping the floorstanding Monitor with KEF's LS50 bookshelf loudspeaker, but a pair is what I own, it’s highly regarded among the hi-fi press, and is an incredibly popular model in terms of sales, so a reader such as yourself could potentially listen to both models in the same dealer and hear what I’m hearing. Sure, it would have been better if I had another similarly priced, similarly specced floorstander in-house to compare to the Bronze 6, but if I took that approach with each and every review I wrote, I’d either be very poor from having bought and sold so many products to serve solely as points of comparison, or I’d be imposing on a variety of manufacturers to loan me equipment that I’d be directly comparing to their respective competitors, which I’m not sure they'd be thrilled about.
In an ideal world, we’d have reviewers who specialize in a couple types of products; however, it turns out that reliable, high-quality writers with a passion for hi-fi are terrifically hard to come by. If you see a workable and affordable solution to our dilemma, I’m all ears. I hope that you were able to gain some insight into Monitor’s fantastic loudspeaker from my review. If not, I appreciate the time you took to read my work and to write in about it. . . . Hans Wetzel