Monitor Audio Studio 89 Loudspeaker Review

Posted on 1st July, 2024

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Loudspeaker Review

Simon Lucas auditions a new mid-price standmounter that packs some impressive new technology…

Monitor Audio

Studio 89 Standmount Loudspeakers

USD $2,500

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

Before Monitor Audio rationalised its loudspeaker ranges into the easy-to-understand Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum groups, Studio was the name given to its premium speaker range. The new Studio 89 standmounter is not the company's first attempt to reanimate this name, but it's definitely the first time it has attempted to do so using a typeface that resembles the bootlid badging of the original Ford Sierra. Oh, and it's also the first time the company has been able to deploy technologies developed for the flagship Hyphn loudspeaker too…

UP CLOSE

This is a compact loudspeaker, one that's noticeably deeper than it is tall; at 340x157x361mm [HxWxD], the Studio 89 is unusually proportioned. The bespoke stands ($625 USD per pair) bolt securely in place and are a harmonious match. There can be no disputing the quality of build and finish on offer here. The lacquer of the gloss black is so lustrous that you can see your face in it. The coppery-bronze badges at the bottom of the baffle curve around to one side of each cabinet, and in colour, they echo both the driver array of the speaker and the detailing of the speaker stands.

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

The driver complement comprises Monitor Audio's own MPD III tweeter with 108mm RDT III mid/bass drivers above and below it, positioned vertically in an 'MTM' arrangement. The company says that the 'vertical symmetry' of this layout offers the large 'point-source' sound dispersion that's one of the main pillars of its 'Transparent Design' philosophy. The MPD III (micro-pleated diaphragm) high-frequency unit has a specially shaped radiating area to deliver equal directivity in both vertical and horizontal planes, and the waveguide it sits behind contributes to this, too. The transducer's rear volume is optimised in an effort to keep 'ripple' in the audible frequency range to a minimum.

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

The two RDT II mid/bass drivers represent the current state of the 'C-CAM' (ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium) art that Monitor Audio has been finessing for quite some time now. Each unit features three super-thin layers of ceramic-coated metal, a Nomex honeycomb core, and carbon weave. It is driven by an oversized and powerful motor system that features 85mm magnet structures—bigger than the cone itself.

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

The driver array is sited in an aluminium front baffle that's decoupled from the main body of the cabinet by a layer of dense foam. Both the baffle and the drive units it supports are secured using a through-bolt method that attaches the rear of the drivers to the back of the cabinet. The result is a very rigid structure in which the driver array can do its thing in isolation, and no visible screw heads or other fixings anywhere on the cabinet.

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

The third-order crossover that takes care of signal transfer is a new design that uses bespoke polypropylene and polyester capacitors in series. The crossover board also features air-core and low-loss laminated steel-core inductors. The cabinet's rear features a few narrow 'velocity' ports – one at the top and one at the bottom. Despite the visual appearance, they represent a relatively large port area. They are designed to keep both internal pressures and airflow inside the cabinet balanced as well as keeping turbulence to a minimum. Also, around the back of the cabinet, there's just a single red and a single black terminal, quality rhodium-plated items, of course.

THE LISTENING

If you're after a red-blooded, eye-popping music-making style, then the Monitor Audio Studio 89 may sound a little too considered for your tastes. There are plenty of other speakers with a more feral nature that should cater to you. If, however, you seek an accomplished and accurate window on the recording, this could be for you. This speaker is even-handed to the point that it's happy with all types of programme material and, to a slightly lesser extent, the quality of it.

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

During my audition period, I listened to tracks such as Bounce by Sweet Baboo as a 16-bit/44.1kHz TIDAL file, a vinyl copy of Pärt's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten by the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra, a Compact Disc of Redondo Beach by Patti Smith and a 24-bit/96kHz FLAC file of Arooj Aftab's Last Night – and this speaker sounded highly confident and comfortable with all of them.

As far as tonality is concerned, it is studiously neutral and seems happy to get out of the way of a recording without adding or subtracting anything. This kind of sonic objectivity and impartiality only becomes more welcome the longer you listen. It stays coherent right from the bottom of its bandwidth to the top.

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

Plenty of fine detail is retrieved and carefully presented in the right context. The broad strokes always take centre stage, and, as a result, the Studio 89 sounds unerringly natural. Low-frequency presence is substantial but not muscle-bound; the leading edge of bass information is straight and crisp, so rhythms are expressed convincingly and momentum never flags. There's plenty of variation at the low end to go along with this speaker's straightforward punch; it may not be the heaviest of hitters, but its swift, manoeuvrable nature more than makes up for it.

Treble has proper bite and crunch to go along with its brilliance, and even if you decide to listen at unsafe volume levels, there's no suggestion of edginess or hardness. And in between these two extremes, the midrange communicates in a lavish manner. There's an absolute stack of information revealed, in particular where the details of a singer's technique, attitude and intentions are concerned. There's proper articulation to the midband, so the speaker never seems remote or removed from everything that's going on. That crossover design seems to be very accomplished indeed.

Monitor Audio Studio 89 Review

The Monitor Audio standmounter creates a large and well-defined soundstage, providing you indulge in just a bit of toe-in towards your seated position. There's a lot of space, both from left to right and from front to back, to work with, and a real sense of authority and organisation. Every element of a recording, even if it's complex, has room to operate. Again, this is not at the expense of the unity or sense of singularity that Studio 89 creates.

There's plenty of dynamic headroom available, so no matter if it's the quiet-to-loud shifts in the Patti Smith recording or the gradual but inexorable increases in intensity apparent in the Avro Pärt piece, they're described with real positivity. Furthermore, the Monitor Audio is equally sure-footed with the less obvious, but no less significant, dynamic variations that a recording of a solo instrument or unaccompanied voice can contain. Overall then, it's a pleasure to play music through this special standmounter.

THE VERDICT

If you have a reasonable sum of money to spend on a high-achieving pair of compact standmounting loudspeakers, then you are not short of choice. To this shortlist, you should now add Monitor Audio's new Studio 89. It's a subtle and detailed yet charming and engaging design that's sure to seduce many prospective purchasers and is so well worth an audition.

Visit Monitor Audio for more information

Simon Lucas's avatar

Simon Lucas

Simon was editor of What Hi-Fi? magazine and website and has since written for Wired, Metro, the Guardian and Stuff, among many others. Should he find himself with a spare moment, Simon likes publishing and then quickly deleting tweets about the state of the nation (in general), the state of Aston Villa (in particular) and the state of his partner’s cat.

Posted in:Applause Awards 2024 Loudspeakers Bookshelf / Standmount Hi-Fi
Tags: monitor audio  kevro 

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