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Wednesday, December 9th, 2020
Remember the advertising slogan for Clairol's Nice 'n Easy, "The closer he gets, the better you look"? Hinze's high notes sounded piercing (it is a piccolo, after all) but not shrill or harsh or breathy, even though I was playing the Quintet at a volume roughly equivalent to having a front-row seat in a small recital hall. Brent Butterworth reviews the PL200 II tower speaker from Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series, which incorporates a new Micro Pleated Diaphragm tweeter, among other improvements. If the Platinum Series was designed to enhance Monitor Audio’s ‘street cred’ among audio purists in the 21st century, it certainly hit the mark, the compact PL100 standmount and fl oorstanding PL300 having garnered numerous awards and accolades around the world. C-CAM is also used in the construction of the ribbon tweeter, whose frequency response is claimed to extend to 100kHz. The wood finish (Santos Rosewood on the review samples) is impeccable: smooth, with a gloss that indicates multiple coats of varnish, each coat (of 11, I'm told) polished to perfection. I have sold all series of Monitor Audio in the last 10 years of time. Monitor Audio Gold 200 5G Floorstanding Speakers (0) $7,305.00 $7,689.00... Monitor Audio Gold 300 5G Floorstanding Speakers (0) $9,395.00 $9,889.00. The PL500 II uses many of the same components and bases of the drivers from the rest of the Platinum range. It stretches from speaker to speaker and a few feet beyond, but it doesn't have that colossal sound many people would expect from a heavily produced rock or pop recording. Using such different materials on the same cone tends to damp resonance and reduce distortion. For movies and TV, I used a Sony STR-ZA5000ES AV receiver. The midrange driver occupies its own sealed, tapered enclosure within the main enclosure. With such extraordinary performance at $9,000 per pair retail, the PL200s are competitive with speakers that cost much more. Except as noted, I made measurements with the grille covering the midrange and tweeter removed. We love the way the company’s engineers have designed the drive unit mountings. Or at least pretty close to real. From a distance, it looks much like any other floorstander. I compared them with the PL200 IIs using my Van Alstine AVA ABX switcher, which allows precisely level-matched comparisons. The speakers were delivered by Sheldon Ginn, Jeffrey Ginn, and Jamie Arseneau—respectively, the VP of Sales and Marketing, Account Manager, and Service Manager of Kevro International, Monitor Audio's North American distributor. We're very much at a hardcore enthusiast price point here, in which case the purchase becomes more a matter of taste. That's why I recommend attending a regional hi-fi show to listen to as many speakers as you can to find out what you like the best, if you don't have years of experience as an audiophile to rely on. The speaker was placed atop a turntable that elevated it three inches off the ground. Typically, I use recordings with lots of acoustic guitar or cymbals to test tweeters, but I've started using Gudrun Hinze's recording of Graham Waterhouse's "Piccolo Quintet, Op. So far I've mentioned only fairly lightweight music, but the PL200 IIs did a nice job with heavier music, too. It doesn't sound as dramatic and exciting as some exotic audiophile speakers, but that seems to be by design. Cunningly shaped enclosure dressed in top quality veneer. Additional Resources• Check out our Floorstanding Speakers category page to read similar reviews.• Visit the Monitor Audio website for more product information. The mic was centered on the tweeter axis and placed at a distance of two meters from the front baffle and a pile of denim insulation was placed on the ground between the speaker and the mic to help absorb ground reflections and improve accuracy of the measurement at low frequencies. The originals featured a ribbon tweeter, while the II Series uses an MPD (Micro Pleated Diaphragm) tweeter, which is Monitor Audio's version of an AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeter. Description and design conceived by Monitor Audio engineers for the new Platinum II series. The PL300 II’s cabinet is an elaborate affair. There are two reasons why I shouldn't let this price jump bother me. Even though a high-end tower speaker like the PL200 II is obviously designed primarily for music listening, it can be expanded into a home theater system--Monitor Audio offers the $3,995-each PLC150 II two-way speaker and the $5,795-each PLC350 II three-way speaker as a matching center speaker. Thus, it's effectively working as a mechanical low-pass filter, allowing a shallower slope and simpler filter to be used in the crossover circuit. Under the leather, the front baffle is made of something called Anti Resonant Composite (ARC), "a thermo-set polymer loaded with minerals." The speakers clearly revealed the album's rather strangely mixed stereo presentation, but the timbres of the instruments--especially Burton's vibraphone and Jarrett's piano--sounded natural nonetheless. Perhaps a wee sexist in today's world, but if Monitor Audio were to borrow this slogan, they could well adapt for the advertising of the Platinum PL200. I declined to participate in the surveyStereophile editorial policy does not allow writers to act as consultants, and this was tantamount to being a consultant, albeit an unpaid one. This gives the new PL500 an incredible amount of focus and precise imaging, compared to the PL300, for example. The 804 D3 isn't as neutral-sounding as the PL200 II; its measured response is definitely not flat, and it doesn't sound flat. Al Jarreau's recording of the jazz standard "My Foolish Heart" had a real "band in the room" feel, as if I were watching Jarreau and his group in a small jazz club. ("The best move we ever made," says Dean Hartley.) I had not listened to Monitor speakers for any length of time. These are heavy speakers at almost 55kg each, and large too, standing 111cm tall so make sure you have help unpacking them. The bass is ported, but, again, the design is unique, and called HiVe II: a straight-rifled aperture that's claimed to be able to move air in and out more quickly than conventional designs. Makes the most of high-performance sources and amplifiers. It's up to you to decide if you'd rather spend your 11 bills on a more by-the-book design like the PL200 II or on a big panel speaker from MartinLogan or Magnepan, or various other options from smaller, boutique brands. There is a substantial peak in the tweeter's response, centered near 16 kHz, but this will be audible to few, if any, listeners (and certainly not the older male audiophiles who are the likely buyers of this speaker). I'd describe the sound of the PL200 IIs on this recording as "authoritative." I can't describe the speakers' rendition of her voice any more articulately than "really, really, really clear," but that pretty well sums it up. Comparison and CompetitionUnfortunately, I didn't have any speakers in the PL200 II's price range on hand when I did the review, but I did have my trusty $3,500/pair Revel Performa3 F206s. Monitor Audio has been at the forefront of metal speaker cone technology for several decades and the RDT II transducers employed in the Gold 300 represent the pinnacle of their achievements. The drivers are on the exotic side: the midrange and bass have metal-covered cones, and the tweeter is a ribbon rather than the ubiquitous dome. Most solid-state and reasonably powerful (at least 30 watts per channel) tube amps shouldn't have any trouble driving this speaker. I loved the way the PL200 II revealed the subtleties of this often-unsubtle instrument. From a distance, it looks much like any other floorstander. Here you’ll discover the essence of Platinum II engineering: silken layers of the finest high frequency definition suspended on an explicit midrange, seamlessly underpinned by a deep, clean and responsive bass foundation. In R.E.M. In 2007, Monitor Audio broke new ground with their Platinum series -- a premium line of six models led by the critically acclaimed PL300 tower speaker ($11,000 USD per pair, discontinued). You never should use any Monitor Audio loudspeaker without spikes. 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