Monitor Audio Pl200 (£4750)

Monitor Audio shrinks the Platinum philosophy into a more compact floorstander

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.
   In photographs the ’200 might look identical to the PL300 but sit them side by side and immediately you’ll notice that it is unquestionably better suited to cramped living spaces, being 155mm slimmer, 85mm shallower and standing 115mm shorter at 998mm (39in) in height.
   The ribbon tweeter employed is formed of a material that Monitor Audio calls C-CAM: Ceramic- Coated Aluminium/Magnesium, the company claiming an output approaching as high as 100kHz. The ribbon was developed to work in a two-way speaker so it had to be able to operate from 2.5kHz.
   It’s protected by using an 18dB per octave high pass fi lter while its deliberately short length and horn profi le are aimed at ameliorating the issue of the narrow dispersion common to ribbon transducers – especially long ribbons.
   Meanwhile, the bass and midrange drivers are a new in-house development intended to increase cone rigidity while maintaining low mass, so that the cone can work as a piston throughout its operating bandwidth. Similar in design philosophy to Leak’s ‘sandwich’ cone of yesteryear, it comprises a core of an ultra-light honeycomb fi bre material called Nomex (originally developed by Dupont) bonded between two ultra-thin, 40μm, layers of C-CAM alloy.

Compared with the bigger PL300, the PL200 appears to sacrifice very little in terms of subjective bass extension and ‘wallop’, sounding as fast and pleasingly punchy in the lower registers as its elder brother. Listen to audiophile recordings, however, and the PL200s spring into life. Opus 3 Records’ beautiful analogue recording of The Omnibus Wind Ensemble’s Music by Frank Zappa [CD19423, a hybrid SACD] sounded natural and holographic, with the bassoons, clarinets and horns recreated in space in a most delicious fashion.
   It’s the ribbon tweeter that makes the PL200 stand out from the crowd. Treble detail is fabulous, the speaker sounding clear, open and brightly lit, while lacking the fi zz and harsh ‘glare’ that is common to most speakers that err towards the brighter side of the tonal spectrum. On ‘Still… You Turn Me On’ – with Greg Lake’s vocal just in tune – the Monitor Audio PL200s proved highly revealing of the recording’s innate high quality. Elsewhere, sustained bass notes from Emerson’s Moog synthesizer and Carl Palmer’s rabid assault on his massive drum kit were simply taken in their stride.

Unashamedly luxurious with a high price to match, the PL200 nevertheless represents fi ne value given the immaculate fi nish and attention to detail. While it won’t fi ll a barn of a room with high SPLs, for those smaller than, say, 20ft by 16ft, it’s probably as good a monitor as such a room can sensibly accommodate. It delivers explicit, full-range sound in abundance and thus comes heartily commended.

Originally published in the Yearbook 2010