Monitor Audio GR-10 Listening Tests
initial listening sessions began with my modest Harman
Kardon electronics. I believe the majority of people
who will be using these speakers will be powering them
with a receiver. Thus, I wanted to verify that they
could be driven well by a Receiver and still achieve
commendable musical performance.
I realized I had a set of world class speakers on my hands as their sound instantly captivated me. Without proper break in, these speakers sounded very open and articulate with plenty of clean dynamics, and extended frequency response. I was overwhelmed by their endless dynamics and balanced tonal nature, which is not typically found in a bookshelf 2-way system. The tonal qualities of these babies reminded me of a diapplito driver topology by their sense of fullness in the midrange. I tested several CD's that I am intimately familiar with such as "Two Against Nature" from Steely Dan and Pat Metheny's / John Scofield's "I Can See Your House From Here". These CD's are high quality recordings and represent the pinnacle of 16 bit CD audio sound. I could almost discern the distinct sound from the vintage hand wound pick-ups in Walter Beckers Roger Sadawski guitar. The cymbals and high hats from the Metheny / Scofield CD produced on the GR-10's seduced me with the amount of depth and detail that very few speakers that I have listened to, could deliver. The imaging was about as good as I have heard, giving the illusion that I wasn't actually listening to speakers, but a real life performance. In fact, as I closed my eyes, the speakers seemed to disappear putting me in touch with the music without distraction. Vocals were slightly forward sounding, but remained very articulate and clear. I actually heard Harry Connick breathing between verses and the decay of his voice at the end of the track "Heavenly" from the CD "We are in Love".
I was impressed by the overall sound of these speakers given their little break in time and the modest equipment I was using in conjunction with them. I decided to step it up by connecting these gems to my Aragon gear. The Aragon amps pushed the GR-10's to their limits while still remaining musical and undistorted. The extra power gave their tweeters a welcomed bite, yielding even more detail and crispness in the music. The tonal nature of these speakers was quite balanced with adequate bass response down to about 60 Hz. In order to take full advantage of what these speakers offer, however, I highly recommend crossing them over between 60-80 Hz and coupling them with a very musical sub. I speak from experience as I allowed my wonderful RBH Signature 1010-SEP handle the lows while the GR-10's pumped out the rest. The midbass blend between the GR-10's and the RBH subwoofer was so convincing that I bet if you blindfolded all but the most serious audiophiles, they would be hard pressed to differentiate it as a three-piece system as opposed to a pair of high quality full range tower speaker system. Since I am in a gambling mood, I venture to say it would be challenge for an audiophile to find me a pair of full range tower speakers that will image as well as the GR-10's.
In the subwoofer / satellite configuration I previously recommended, I was able to achieve clean SPL levels over 100 dB in a reasonably large living room (15' X 15') with vaulted ceilings. This is about the threshold of loudness that I wish to endure during listening for any extended periods of time. If you value your hearing and continued musical enjoyment, I am sure you would agree?
I did not test these speakers for Dolby Digital / DTS surround configurations, as I did not have access to a complete 5.1 channel GR series Monitor Audio rig. However, you may rest assured that if the remainder of the GR series shares the tonal characteristics and sound quality virtues of the GR-10's, the system with perform very admirably for the challenge.