Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.
What metrics should we use to evaluate the success of a loudspeaker, or even a full speaker lineup? Longevity? Value? Pure sales numbers? Customer satisfaction? Brand recognition? Glowing subjective reviews? Objective measurements? Ultimately, when it comes to Monitor Audio’s Silver series, it sort of doesn’t matter. No matter your preferred criteria, the Silver line has, since its introduction in 1999, represented a Goldilocks zone of performance and price for oodles of audio enthusiasts, largely due to its understated but elegant design, commonsense engineering, attractive MSRP, and overall lack of silliness.
And honestly, if this were an Amazon customer review instead of a proper audio publication, that last sentence could have served as my complete evaluation of the company’s new seventh-generation Silver 300 tower ($2600/pair, all prices USD), the second-largest speaker in the Silver 7G family and the middle sibling of three new three-way floorstanders.
If you’re reading this page, though, you no doubt want a little more information—specifically, what sets this new Silver 300 7G apart from its 6G forebear, which dazzled listeners from 2017 to 2021. The short answer? A lot of little aesthetic and engineering tweaks, none of which would be substantial in isolation, but which add up to an appreciably better-looking, better-sounding speaker all the way around.
Starting from the top, the Silver 300 7G benefits from a newly designed C-CAM tweeter with a redesigned magnet structure and rear chamber, as well as the new Uniform Dispersion Waveguide II. The waveguide has a more recessed look and is, quite frankly, stunning for a speaker at this price point.
The 3″ C-CAM RST II midrange driver is also smaller than the 4″ mid driver of the 6G, and the crossover between midrange and tweeter is now at 2.8kHz instead of 3.5kHz. Both changes result in improved integration between drivers and superior dispersion.
The dual 6″ C-CAM RST II bass drivers also benefit, as their name implies, from a refinement of Monitor’s Rigid Surface Technology and are made from a new aluminum alloy that’s more rigid. The new speaker also has a bit (but just a bit) more bass extension, with rated in-room frequency response of 31Hz to 35kHz (-6dB).
The industrial design of the loudspeaker has been refined, with some lines cleaned up, the finishes revamped, the hardware streamlined, and the outrigger feet bulked up significantly, giving the Silver 300 7G a firmer-looking stance. But otherwise, Monitor has mostly taken a don’t-fix-what-don’t-need-fixin’ approach to one of its most beloved offerings. As it should.
Setting up and tweaking the Silver 300 7G
One other change worth noting is that Monitor appears to have repositioned the bass-reflex ports on the back of the cabinet, although that doesn’t seem to have any impact on the speaker’s placement or positioning requirements. The seventh-gen Silver 300 falls firmly into a category of speaker that I refer to (in my head, at least) as “carrot, not stick.” In other words, it doesn’t punish suboptimal placement, but rather rewards some careful tweaking. Pull the speakers out of the box and plop them any-old-where, and they sound pretty darned great. Take the time to tinker with spacing and toe-in, though, as well as distance from the front wall, and they pay you back with even better imaging and soundstaging, as well as a more consistent and better-integrated bass response.
I wish I’d had the foresight to mark my original spots with tape, but my best guess is that the distance between there and where I ended up in terms of positioning amounts to less than two inches in terms of forward-back placement and under three degrees in terms of toe-in.
Throughout the course of my review, I relied on a revolving door of electronics and sources, starting with my old Peachtree Audio nova220SE integrated amp, then moving to the recently reviewed Emotiva BasX TA1 stereo receiver, and finally swapping that out for next month’s review unit, NAD’s new C 399 Hybrid Digital DAC-amplifier. My main sources were my Maingear Vybe media PC and my iPhone 12 Pro Max. For speaker-level connections, I exclusively relied upon Elac’s Sensible speaker wire.
Of the three amps, only the Emotiva struggled a little to drive the Silver 300s to their full potential, which is no real surprise given that the Monitor speakers are rated for 80W minimum and the TA1 delivers only 60Wpc. Still, it took some pretty aggressive music and unreasonably loud listening levels to really stress that system. At any rate, I did most of my critical listening via the Peachtree and NAD amps.
How does the Silver 300 7G sound?
There are, I think it’s safe to say, sort of two approaches to selecting tracks for critical listening. On the one hand, you can reach for pristine recordings of the sort usually trotted out as demo material at hi-fi trade shows (remember those?). On the other, you can opt for what you know, relying on recordings whose ins and outs and what-have-yous you know most intimately. For better or worse, I’m the type to take the latter road.
As such, my hardcore scrutiny of the Silver 300s began with the first iteration of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” on the Allman Brothers Band’s The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (24-bit/192kHz FLAC, Island Def Jam / Qobuz). It’s track 5 on CD 1, or track 1 on side 2 of the first LP, if you’re still a disc collector and want to listen along at home. Specifically, I’d ask you to skip to around the 6:44 mark, as well as in the neighborhood of 7:12. I’ve heard a lot of otherwise fantastic speakers at or around this price point render those punctuated bursts of organ playing with a bit of harshness, a bit of compression—not enough to sound bad, mind you, but enough to call attention to the transducers and remind you that you’re listening to loudspeakers in a room.
But that was far from the case with the Silver 300s. To lean on a hackneyed phrase in our industry, the speakers’ delivery of the organ was utterly effortless and wholly natural in its presentation. And that’s really one of the least remarkable things about the speakers’ delivery of the song. From note one, I found myself captivated by every aspect of the Silver 300s’ sound, from the wide and deep soundstage to the spot-on image specificity and the pitch-perfect tonal balance.
Detail was also exquisite, to the point where there was absolutely no mistaking Butch’s drums for Jaimoe’s congas and timbales. Berry’s bass also struck the perfect balance between authoritative and laid back, giving weight to the entire endeavor without ever being overbearing. Tonally, spatially, texturally, temporally, and in every other respect that matters, the Silver 300s did such a spot-on job with this recording that it was difficult to say anything truly meaningful about the speakers themselves. What I heard was the music. When I closed my eyes, the Silver 300s called practically no attention to themselves.
Just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things in terms of tonal balance, I next turned my attention to one of my favorite test tracks for such: “Right Turn” from The Essential Alice in Chains (16/44.1 FLAC, Columbia Legacy / Qobuz). Technically, this isn’t an Alice in Chains tune, but rather a supergroup effort that also features Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell on vocals. Those two share vocal duties with Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley, and although three of the four singers perform in roughly the same register, the harmonic distinctiveness of their voices means that if there’s any meaningful tonal imbalance in the midrange, one singer will dominate the mix to one degree or another, especially during the harmonies.
The presentation of the Silver 300s was so even-keeled, though, that the quartet gelled into 44 percent of a mythical hydra. I would say they became one, but that’s far from the case. Due to the precise imaging and soundstaging, as well as the bountiful detail of the speakers, each singer was easily identifiable, spatially and texturally, but their performances were delivered on such equal footing that there was something magical about it.
For something a bit more acceptable in audiophile circles, perhaps, I loaded up “Smoothie Song” from Nickel Creek’s This Side (24/96 FLAC, Craft Recordings/Qobuz). Take everything I said about the tracks above and apply it here. I have no additional observations to make about the Silver 300s’ fantastic imaging, soundstage, tonality, and detail. I will say that this is a pretty good test track for spotlighting cabinet resonances, but I couldn’t hear any here, so that’s a moot point.
It was during this track, though, that I allowed myself to wander out of the sweet spot and even at times walk around the room. And what struck me was just how wonderfully wide and even the dispersion of the Silver 300s was. The only thing I really lost by getting off axis was some precision in the very upper registers, and even this rolled off gracefully the farther I got from a proper listening position.
Other than gushing about the spot-on reproduction of Robert Trujillo’s upright bass, I’m struggling for words that aren’t just empty gobble-gobble. Simply put, the Silver 300 sounds like a three-way tower speaker should sound. Full stop. I have to admit, I’m a little curious to hear how much of an improvement I’d get by upgrading to the Silver 500, but only a little. In a room the size of mine (12′ 4″ × 10′ 1″), I can only imagine I would be tiptoeing deep into diminishing returns territory. If your room is much larger than mine, of course, or if the extra bit of bass extension appeals to you, your mileage will probably vary.
What other comparable speakers are worthy competitors?
If I were in the market right now for a sub-$3000 pair of three-way tower speakers, I would be agonizing over the choice between the Monitor Audio Silver 300 and Sonus Faber’s Lumina V ($2799/pair). Sonically speaking, it’s difficult to make many meaningful distinctions between the two, because both simply sound the way I think a three-way tower should sound. Neither does anything wrong. I’m inclined to say that I remember the bass of the Lumina Vs being a bit more robust, and I think the Silver 300s might have a slight edge in terms of midrange dispersion, as well as a bit of a steadier hand above 8kHz. But I don’t have the Sonus Fabers here anymore for direct comparison, and audio memory is notoriously unreliable. So don’t hold me to either observation.
If a buddy came to me and asked which one to buy, these would be my recommendations: If you’re more interested in pure bang for the buck, the Silver 300 is probably the smarter choice. If you’re more motivated by aesthetics, and you like your speakers to serve double duty as playback devices and design statements, the Lumina V is worth the extra coin. Nice as the wood veneers and luxurious finishes of the Silver 300 are (and they’re way nicer than they have any right to be at this price), the Lumina V ups the swank factor significantly with its genuine leather wrappings and natural wood baffles.
Honestly, though, I think you’d be thrilled with either.
TL;DR: Should you audition the Monitor Audio Silver 300 7G?
Hell yes. If you’re shopping for an affordable three-way tower speaker that looks as good as it sounds, and sounds exactly the way a speaker of this design should—which, let’s be honest here, hasn’t always been a realistic expectation—then Monitor’s mid-line Silver 300 does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the sort of speaker that I hate reviewing, no matter how much I love listening to it, because there are only so many ways you can say “this simply sounds correct” before becoming a repetitive bore.
. . . Dennis Burger
- Speaker-level connections: ELAC Sensible speaker cables.
- Sources: Maingear Vybe media center PC; iPhone 12 Pro Max; BluOS.
- Power protection: SurgeX XR115 power conditioner.
- Amps: Peachtree Audio nova220SE, Emotiva BasX TA1, NAD C 399.
Monitor Audio Silver 300 7G Loudspeakers
Price: $2600 per pair.
Warranty: Five years, parts and labor.
Monitor Audio Ltd.
24 Brook Road
Rayleigh, Essex SS6 7XL
Phone: +44 1268-740580
Fax: +44 1268-740589
North American distributor:
902 McKay Road #4
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3X8
Phone: (800) 667-6065, (905) 428-2800
Fax: (905) 428-0004