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Monitor Audio GR-10 Bookshelf Speaker Review

by November 29, 2001
Monitor Audio GR-10

Monitor Audio GR-10

  • Product Name: GR-10
  • Manufacturer: Monitor Audio
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: November 29, 2001 08:00
  • MSRP: $ 1495/pair

Model: GR-10

Retail: $1495.00/pr
Available in Black Ash,
Natural Cherry, Rose Mahogany

Size:   14.75" H x 8.75" W x 11.5" D
20 lbs. each


Monitor Audio GR-10 Introduction

Since 1972 Monitor Audio have been at the forefront of loudspeaker technology, perfecting the implementation of C-CAM metal alloy drivers. MA is renowned for exemplary speaker cabinet construction and finish and are used as a bench mark by many other manufacturers. Entering the 21st Century, Monitor Audio offers speakers to suit every pocket which integrate seamlessly with both Hi-Fi and AV systems. No longer is it necessary to have separate systems for each application, as such Monitor Audio has removed the need for compromise.

According to Monitor Audio, the Gold Reference Series brings new advanced drive unit technology to the market and implements it with the highest standards of engineering and build currently possible. Top quality hi-fi and cinema systems have a new gold standard. Gold Reference Series has recalibrated performance-per-dollar value, too.

When David Solomon phoned me with excitement and stated "You have to hear the latest loudspeaker creations from the Monitor Audio Engineering team known as the Gold series°", I said, what the heck, send me something nice in a pair of bookshelfs. Enter the GR-10's. These neat little speakers are a 2 way bookshelf system featuring RST (Rigid Surface Technology) C-CAM midbass woofers with fixed solid aluminum phase plug. They are offered in three handsome real wood veneers with a retail price of $1495.00/pr.

From the moment I unboxed these beauties I knew they meant business. They had the unusually good build quality, look and feel from their predecessor Studio Series with a more up to date look sported by the dimpled cone and silver phase plug on the woofer. The cabinets passed my knuckle test with a nice deadened thud, raising my confidence that these speakers not only had a beautiful appearance, but great build quality to boot. Now all they had to do is match my sound quality expectations for my fulfillment of the receipt for a winning product.


The set-up of these speakers was quite easy as they required a relatively small footprint of occupancy, and were lightweight enough for me to move them around the room for optimal performance.

GR-10 Hero

I placed these little gems on the Plateau stands I used to evaluate the 61-SE Signature speakers from RBH Sound. After proper placement for my listening position was achieved, I removed the grills and metal screens on the tweeters. This is a must if you desire the ultimate tweeter performance. However, mind your children and pets as the speakers are virtually unprotected against their curiosities and whims once you perform this mod. The sheer beauty of the drivers and silver surroundings made my heart thump in anticipation to fire them up. I couldn't resist the urge to touch the silver phase plug on the woofer. Ouch! Those phase plugs are sharp, if you so desire a touch, do so with great care. I was taken by the construction quality of the drivers and couldn't help but wonder how much lighter the cones were compared to previous generations as a result of the dimpled reinforced surfaces. After a few more minutes of gawking, I decided it was time to take my seat and begin listening.

Monitor Audio GR-10 Listening Tests

My 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.

Steely Dan 2againstI 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.

Monitor Audio GR-10 Build Quality & Conclusion

As usual, I could not resist dissecting these speakers to find out what makes them tick. I had to search for a special hexagon screwdriver in my garage to remove the screws from the woofers and tweeters. I suppose Monitor Audio choose to make this chore a little more difficult than normal to prevent people like me from what I was doing. In any event, I took great care in removing the drivers, and I don't recommend trying this at home.

GR-10 Woofer  GR-10 Tweeter

Monitor Audio GR-10 Woofer (left pic) & Tweeter (Right Pic)

GR-10 CabinetI was quite taken by the build quality of the midbass RST C-Cam driver. It incorporated a heavy powerful motor structure and extremely rigid non ferrous metallic basket. The cone material employed was perhaps the most rigid I have ever seen remaining extremely stiff while I gently pressed the edge of the cone from the back of the driver with my finger. Most cones of lesser design flex considerably when I apply this test.

The signature Gold Dome tweeter appeared to be very similar to the one used in the Studio series, although David informed me that some tweaking has been done to enhance performance further.

The cross-over network is of a more sophisticated design that I am used to seeing from Monitor Audio. It is not just a conventional LC network. Some shelving circuits and attenuation pads have been added to better blend the drivers. All components are of high quality of course (IE. Air Core inductors, Metallized Polyester Capacitors, etc)

Monitor Audio used high quality silver speaker wire to connect the drivers and cross-overs. This is just another example that they paid very close attention to detail with this design.



GR-10 PairMonitor Audio offers a very impressive package with the new GR-10 bookshelf speakers. I have had extensive listening experience with other Monitor Audio products for over a decade and feel that these are their best sounding and most visually appealing series. Monitor Audio has managed to create an excellent sounding, finely crafted, and relatively affordable bookshelf speaker system that rivals many of their more costly competitors solutions. My only minor gripe is mostly a cosmetic one. I wish they would have rounded off the corners of the cabinets as I feel it would have made these speakers even more visually pleasing and possibly added a tad bit better imaging of the tweeters by reducing lateral baffle surface area and reducing tweeter diffraction. In any event, the GR-10's are a must audition if a small, attractive and high performance bookshelf speaker system is what you are after. They are an excellent successor to their flagship discontinued Studio Series and should provide countless years of musical enjoyment to even the most critical listeners.

For more information, Visit:  Monitor Audio USA

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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