Way back in the mists of home cinema history, when Dolby Pro-Logic's centre channel was a marvellous thing and LaserDisc, in analogue, was the best AV source around, I got my chance as an AV reviewer. This was because traditional hi-fi dudes spurned multichannel, and I was involved in another field of audio that loved lots of speakers.
The traditional hi-fi writers were thought to have very different values to the multichannel hounds and to this day it remains the case. For stereophiles really are looking for slightly different things to cinephiles, and Monitor Audio has an illustrious heritage of making awesome speakers, two at a time.
The trouble for me, here, is while I really wanted to like these speakers, I just didn't. For, despite being so raved about by the stereo boys, these new Bronzes lacked a crucial quality for me. I just couldn't get excited and I think I know why.
To start, I had a set of the BX5 floor standers, the BX centre offering and two BXFX dipole/bipole switchable output speakers to go with the subwoofer called BX W10 (for its 10in driver.) They are vinyl wrapped for cheapness, which is a pity as Q Acoustics manages low cost, but still uses real wood.
They have cute, rubbery top brows to their cabinets, with branding upon them, plus funkily cool magnetically attached Neodymium grilles with no holes in the box fronts. And they have excellent, deeply rifled porting in lots of places so the lovely drivers can breathe deeply and play low.
The subwoofer speaker is great for the money and really does go in and out a long way, making good bass at the price. In fact, it was the strongest part of the system I had.
I played some multichannel stuff from my DTS collection and also a chunk of Star Trek on Blu-ray, but try as I might, I never got to the Spockesque moment of having 'an emotional response, captain!'
At first, I couldn't understand why. The detail is all in there, delicate and tinkly and even sweet and crisp, since the super-high technology from the Platinum, Gold and Silver product has found its pared-down way into these Bronzes, which can reach up to frequencies of 30kHz.
And the depth of the low-end cut-off of the small BX5 towers is impressive and helps the subwoofer integrate a treat. The bigger BX6 versions could be needed to get any deeper bass in the soundstage.
But something truly vital was lacking and it dawned upon me slowly. The passive crossovers, for all the vaunted development the website cites, simply have to be an area where cost has been saved.
The BX Bronzes are somewhat unemotive, and while shiny and pretty-sounding, they appear to play through a letterbox of narrow dynamics and scale with horribly low efficiency.
Monitor Audio claims 90dB comes out of these products when measured with one watt a single metre away, but I had to turn my amp up until it creaked to get any real level. Way before then, the sub was straining and just going 'boomp!' Instead of carrying the note, and the system as a whole just failed to reach the level that got you engrossed in the film. Lovely on multichannel music, though.
NOT ALONE: The BX W10 sub is aided by the low-end prowess of the tower speakers
I cannot help but feel that these are for brandophiles who know and love Monitor Audio's huge repertoire, especially its top stuff. But I would have been far happier with much less cabinetry and simply more cinematic sound, with greater dynamics and less power compression sucking the excitement out.
I reckon, then, that Monitor Audio's Bronze series is suited to stereophiles who like world cinema and art flicks, rather than unabashed action movie fans. Tragically, they left me lukewarm, even versus other products of a similar price bracket.
If you want to see what the brand is really capable of, find a few extra hundred quid and check out Monitor Audio's Silver series – which packs punch and power alongside the pretty cabinets