At Monitor Audio, evolution equals captivanting musical realism!
Alchemy is the medieval quasi-science that emerged in the Middle Ages. Its proponents were convinced that ordinary metals could be transmuted into the most precious…gold. Though the attempts of alchemists were never truly realized, the practice of refining metals has existed for centuries. Refining metals, is a process that seeks to remove impurities from the metal and get to the purist possible element; thus, attaining the most desirable qualities and the greatest value. Keeping that in mind, let me turn your attention to the noteworthy British audio product manufacturer, Monitor Audio. In 2022, Monitor Audio released their latest iteration of the Platinum Series loudspeaker models; the third generation (3G). This latest Platinum Series 3G, carries on the evolution of the last full line update, with the series maintaining its status as the company’s flagship loudspeaker line. The Platinum Series 3G is the fullest refinement of the series and incorporates decades of research and development. Monitor Audio claims its Platinum Series 3G is their highest performing series ever, which is something of a claim given the company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022, as well. Those knowing something about anniversary celebrations will be aware that a 50th is traditionally commemorated as a golden anniversary, yet I’m sure, Monitor Audio was ever happier to celebrate with Platinum.
At introduction, the Monitor Audio Platinum 3G Series included four models: the Platinum 100 3G bookshelf loudspeaker; the 200 3G mid-size floor standing; the 300 3G floor standing and; the C250 3G centre channel. Since the initial introduction, Monitor Audio has expanded on the Platinum 3G lineup, adding a couple architectural speaker models: the Platinum In-Wall 3G and the Platinum PLIC II in ceiling speakers. Together, these models are the companies most premium offerings for both two channel and multi-channel applications.
With the Platinum Series 3G, Monitor Audio has refined their series line-up holistically, building towards their goal of bringing the listener even closer to sonic purity and perfection. Monitor Audio has stated that their new Platinum Series 3G, provides, …a visceral experience for the ears as well as the eyes…deepens the connection between listening and making audio human. Living-and-breathing musical performances are a most thrilling endeavor and it is the latest of their innovations, incorporated into the new Platinum Series 3G that aim to deliver on that endeavor.
What’s New with this 3rd generation?
First, there is a ground up re-creation of their Micro Pleated Diaphragm tweeter, their third iteration, which they refer to as the MPD III. The MPD III is, as both prior versions were, a Monitor Audio in-house design. The MPD III comes from a lineage that began with the Monitor Audio engineering team’s initial exploration in their Concept 50 protype, a few years back and now leverages all Monitor Audio’s learnings from their ground-breaking Hyphyn loudspeaker.
This latest MPD III integrates the company’s latest R&D that serves to further reduce distortion and provide a most even frequency response with an extended passband of > 60 kHz. The MPD III is coupled to an optimized waveguide that maximizes control directivity while optimizing the soundstage and the sensitivity. To what effect? Monitor Audio claims that with the MPD III and optimized waveguide, the sound is larger, clearer, and more consistent with an even greater level of accuracy and detail.
Beyond the MPD III tweeter, the Platinum Series 3G loudspeakers employ Monitor Audio’s RDT III cones for the mid-bass and bass drivers. The RDT III brings three improvements over the prior generation, including: new rear layer carbon fiber skin, optimized cone edge treatment and, optimized rubber surround.
The RDT III is comprised of three distinct layers, with a Nomex honeycombed core that is sandwiched between an extremely thin yet rigid Ceramic-Coated Aluminum (C-CAM) front layer and an all-new Carbon Fiber twin-layer rear skin, which is comprised of twin layers of carbon fiber melded at 90-degrees against their grain; maximizing their combined strength. In the real-world terms, the Platinum Series 3G mid and bass drivers are boasted by Monitor Audio to be their lowest distortion drivers of all time!
The Platinum 200 3G and Platinum 300 3G models now use Monitor Audio’s Dynamic Coupling Filter (DCF) mechanism, which controls cone breakup, along with more powerful Neodymium magnets in a new motor design withy underhung edge-wound voice-coil. These enhancements ensure a smoother transition across the frequency range resulting in greater consistency with the MPD III tweeter. Specific to the bass drivers, large-diameter, edge-wound, underhung voice coils provide improved power handling and allow greater and more linear driver excursion for a wider dynamic range with greater control and tighter harder-hitting bass.
The crossovers have been improved with elliptical filters for absolute time alignment of the drive units at crossover points supporting a claimed great improvement to directivity. Monitor Audio has asserted that hundreds of iterations of the crossovers were examined through their state-of-the-art virtual simulation and prototyping techniques to arrive at a final system that harmonises all elements into a completely optimized acoustic package.
This enhanced crossover performance is reinforced by an improved plinth that uses four new cast outrigger assemblies, which are locked together with a robust steel brace, ensuring maximum isolation of the crossover from any cabinet interaction.
What do they look like?
Careful thought and development were carried through to the cabinets and aesthetic design of the Platinum Series 3G, as well. The all-new cabinets come in luxurious and contemporary finishes, including Piano Ebony, Piano Black and Pure White Satin. These cabinets now possess a unique curved front profile to reduce diffraction. Gone is the leatherette front baffle covering, replaced with elegant looking wraparound real wood veneer and bold driver surrounds. New aluminum driver frames continue to use front to back tension rods to secure the drivers to the cabinet and augment the inert and vibration free characteristics of the cabinet.
The Platinum PL 200 3G is a mid-sized, 3-way, dual rear-port bass reflex floor standing loudspeaker. It has been designed to provide dynamic high-end performance with tight, controlled bass within a relatively compact enclosure. The PL 200 3G uses Monitor Audio’s latest MPD III high-frequency transducer, mated to a 4” RDT III midrange driver and twin 6” RDT III bass drivers. Both spike and flat surface feet are also supplied. Dual 5-way binding posts are found on the rear, which allow for bi-amp or bi-wire configurations and it’s great to see true cable jumpers rather than poor conducting brass jumper bars.
The Platinum PL 200 3G provide a frequency response of (-6dB) 32 Hz – 60 kHz (anechoic) / 23 Hz – 60 kHz (in room), with a sensitivity rating of 88 dB (2.83 Vrms @ 1 m, Free-Field). Nominal & minimum impedance are 4 Ohms, while power handling is 300 Watts (RMS). Dimensions come in at: 41” (H) x 14.5” (W) x 17.8” (D), with outrigger feet and spikes, while weight is 35.8 kg / 78 lb 14 oz per loudspeaker.
The Platinum 200 3G loudspeaker is undeniably beautiful, with traditional form and contemporary appointments. The various finishes will unarguably enhance the décor of any room that they are situated. My review sample was in the Piano Ebony, perhaps the boldest of finishes but also in my eyes the most glorious example of the finest furniture and audio appointment. The veneer and lacquer are of highest quality, with a finish and construction that is nothing less than impeccable. I’d expect the Platinum 200 3G would meet the aesthetic desires of virtually any potential buyer and can offer no criticisms on its form, function, and functionality.
I reviewed the Monitor Audio Platinum 200 3G in my dedicated and acoustically treated listening room, with my Bryston BR20 preamp / streamer / DAC and 7B3 monoblocks and toward the end of my evaluation put a MOON by Simaudio 860 v2 in, just for fun. Sources included Tidal HiFi via the Bryston BR20 streamer, as well as CD via my Rega Apollo CDP. Vinyl too was part of the experience, delivered by way of my long-term resident VPI Scout 1.1 turntable with Gold Note PH-10 & PSU-10 phonostage. Audio Sensibility Statement Single-Wire speaker cables were used in all listening sessions.
In my room 13’ x 18 ½’ X 7 ¾’ studio, I experimented with speaker setup and found that the Platinum 200 3G worked best about 4.5 feet from the back wall, just over 2 feet from the side walls and with 9 feet between them. I also found that to get the best treble presence and central image lock, it called for setting them just a couple degrees out from dead-on my listening position. Every room is different, and we all have different preferences, but I mention this just to let you know that the PL 200 3G do call for some placement experimentation.
I did some listening to vinyl and during that course was particularly taken by Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems LP. Almost Like the Blues is a track that provides a good understanding of realism given the various acoustic elements. With that song spinning, the Monitor Audio PL 200 3G effectively disappeared, laying out before me a well delineated and very generously sized soundstage. The images had a very natural presentation with image outlines non-emphasized but possessing a roundness and physicality that was nothing less than entrancing. The sound of the sole shaker at opening was exceptional in its realism, not only was the resonance of the granules ever clear but accompanying that was a micro dynamism that presented the instruments sound with an authentic physical presence. The late Leonard seemed to be raised to life with his voice most present and delivered with a ghostly deep and throaty character, yet impeccably clear. The images, whether from voice or instrument, had slightly greater width, depth, and height and took their place in space within the soundstage, the PL 200 delivery absent of any cookie cutter silhouettes. In fact, Leonard’s voice was larger than I’ve ever heard it on this track, within my room and his quiet poetic rhyme had me enthralled. The tactility of the percussion, bongo play, relayed not only the skins but the impact of the hand and the resonance of the slaps most authentically, its image off to the left, behind and higher on the holographic stage. It was evident that the PL 200 had an aptitude for delivering music in an uncannily lifelike manner.
I moved to the track Keep the Wolves Away by Uncle Lucius, from the album And You Are Me, streamed via Tidal HiFi. This was truly an… oh.. wow track with the PL 200 3G. The opening bass drum hits were gloriously masterful, dynamic having tremendous heft and solidity. The bass frequencies were superbly dense with the trailing resonance depicting a deep and high soundstage. The PL 200 3G portrays such bass notes with the slight partiality for weight over texture with the result being that low bass notes sound grander and more masterful in comparison with my own Dynaudio C2 Signatures. This is bass that can be not only heard but felt, punchy and concussive. In fact, despite the PL 200 3G only having about 75 % of the internal volume of the C2’s, they sounded like larger full-size floor standing loudspeakers. In short, the PL 200 3G should not be underestimated given their modest dimensions – they play like full sized loudspeakers and should be more than enough for most rooms in terms of sheer bass output.
Still with track, Keep the Wolves Away, the acoustic guitar bodies were very well communicated by the PL 200, with string textures evident, while there being a touch of roundness on the leading edge of the string snaps. Midrange, as exemplified through the vocals were smooth and very natural, the focus apparently on communicating the humanness of the voice rather than focusing on the recording. As mentioned earlier, the PL 200 3G deliver images with a softness to the outlines and greater dimension to images, lending to a heightened perception of realness in the music. One other endearing quality of the PL 2003G was its strength to communicate harmonic colour. On this track, this technicolour harmonic presentation was heard in a most deliciously sweet glow and tubey resonance of the electric guitar. The track served to solidify the PL 200 3G’s ability to not only play music but provide an emotional connection during the listening experience.
A different listening session
During my time with the PL 200 3G, I had the opportunity to visit a nearby dealer, EQ Audio, located north of Toronto, in Barrie, Ontario. Ed O’Helihy, the friendly and gracious owner had the PL 200 3G loudspeakers setup in a meticulously treated demonstration room. Ed took us through a curated list of tracks that included Fluid by Yosi Horikawa; Eleanor Rigby by Musica Nuda, Say Something by Justin Timberlake and; Train Out of Hollywood by Keb Mo, as well as numerous others. The accompanying equipment was a Naim stack, including: NSC 222, NAP250 and NPX 300, with Audience Adept Response power conditioning and Frontrow cables.
The soundstage was tremendous, both wide and astoundingly deep. Dynamic impact was visceral and clear across the expansive soundstage. The PL 200 3G confidently and efficaciously energized the 17’ by 23’ space, delivering a commanding performance. The traits of realism, naturalness, warmth, solidity, and dynamic prowess were all evident, in spades. The demonstration proved the PL 200 3G very capable of delivering credible scale.
Moon River by Lori Cullen is one of my favourite tracks, both because of Lori’s artistic rendering of this classic song but also for the diversity of sonic elements - low level details, detailed instrumentation and deep, textured bass notes. Listening to the PL 200 3G play this song, I found myself surrender to the sweet splendor of the music. Lori’s voice was most captivating given the human trueness in which the PL 200 3G was able to conjure it. The high frequencies possessed a most graceful and svelte characterisation of the innate detail. I did note there was just a slight shyness in air, a little less glint and sparkle in the upper treble and a softening of leading edges, which I’m accustomed to; however, none of this took away from the pleasure in the listening experience. In fact, the PL 200 3G in all its repertoire consistently avoided drawing undue attention, absent of theatrics that less designs seem to us to awe-and-shock. You might even say that its skilful reticent nature serves to provide the listener with a greater appreciation of the holistic performance, rather than distracting antics. Bass notes on Moon River were just as I became to expect from the PL 200 3G, possessing high density, excellent low reach, deft control, and intimidating weight.
Monitor Audio’s PL 200 3G is a most successful evolution of their well proven Platinum Series. It possesses a propensity for naturalness, timbral accuracy and image dimensionality. These are loudspeakers that not only adeptly play music but extraordinarily recreate the live performance. At $17,500 CAD, the PL 200 3G are also an attainable high-end loudspeaker. I talked about alchemy being unachievable but refinement, now with that Monitor Audio has undoubtedly achieved their greatest performance success with the Platinum Series 3G. The PL 200 3G successfully possesses that most desirable quality in high-end audio…captivating musical realism; accordingly, this is a loudspeaker of astounding value.
Price: 17 500 $ CAD / a pair
Warranty: 5 years, parts and labour
Distributor: Kevro International Inc.,
T.: 1 800.667.6065,