Review: MunroSonic Egg100

Review: MunroSonic Egg100

Introduction and features

The MunroSonic Egg100 system is a passive nearfield monitor setup designed by renowned soundman Andy Munro, and manufactured here in the UK in partnership with Sonic Distribution.

Both are prominent names in the industry; they collaborated in 2011 as MunroSonic to release the Egg150s, a set of highly-rated speakers found in many professional recording studios today.

The Egg100 speakers take the same design principles and shrink them down ever-so-slightly.

Nearfield monitors are designed to be used in a studio setup with the speakers being placed close to the listener to avoid reverb from the room itself and deliver a true audio mix.

The Egg speakers themselves are made from a hard plastic composite with a 100mm woofer and a 25mm dome tweeter. They are also, as the name might suggest, egg-shaped, and each one sits in a moulded rubber base to stop them rolling around.

This also serves as a way to angle them both horizontally and vertically, meaning you can position the speakers exactly how you want them. They are intended to be used on a desktop, so angling them upwards helps stop sound waves reflecting off the surface of the table and distorting the audio.

Egg100

The Egg100 system also comes with an external amplifier, which has a built-in headphone amp and twin two metre-long speaker cables with Speakon connectors.

The amp is simple in design, with a power button ringed with blue LEDs to show it's switched on, a nice big rotary volume control and a 6.35mm headphone socket.

It has attenuation potentiometers for bass and treble, for both left and right channels, but these are tucked away on the side of the unit and recessed so they require a screwdriver to adjust. This will stop you from constantly fiddling with the levels when you really don't need to.

Separates

Although somewhat old-school in approach, having a separate amplifier works well, and makes switching them on and off, or adjusting the Egg speakers' volume, nice and easy. It's certainly preferable to groping around behind a speaker, feeling for a switch or volume pot, like you have to with powered monitors.

Speakon

The Speakon plugs on the speaker cables make setting up the Eggs very simple; you just slot them in and twist to lock in place. It means you can't accidentally wire them up out of phase, and they won't get pulled out either.

The integrated headphone amp is a nice touch too, controlled by the same dial as the Egg speakers, which are muted when you plug your headphones in. It definitely gave a richer, more refined sound than plugging them directly into my mixing desk or soundcard.

Performance

The Egg speakers themselves sound impressively clean and clear.

They don't colour the sound at all. That's all down to their design and not having any straight edges or corners inside for the sound waves to bounce off. Most cabinets have a resonant frequency which the box itself vibrates at, which has the effect of adding to the sound when playing notes at that frequency.

Not so with the Egg100 monitor speakers, giving them a really nice, flat response.

They also go very loud for such small drivers, and stay crisp and distortion free at a much louder volume than is comfortable to listen to when sat close to them. They have a wide sweet spot too, meaning you don't have to sit exactly in the middle of them for them to sound good. They're also not fatiguing on the ears, so you can use them for long studio sessions without getting a headache.

Although monitors are primarily meant for making music, a lot of people use them to listen to music as well - most especially DJs - because of their precise response.

Egg100

So I set the Eggs up next to my decks and mixed a load of vinyl through them. They sounded amazing handing vinyl; with all the warmth and depth of analogue sound really coming through.

Here the ability to angle the Eggs vertically was very useful. Being able to have them on the same surface as the decks, and angle them right up so I could stand and mix, eliminated any chance of feedback.

I also played digital music through them, mixing from my iPad, running Alogriddims DJAY2 app, and running through a Pioneer DDJ WEGO-3 controller. Using the EQ on the Pioneer I was able to get a surprising amount of bass out of them considering they only have 4" woofers.

Finally I ran them from a Bluesound Vault, which has a 24-bit / 192kHz capable DAC. Playing hi-res FLAC files the Eggs sound easily as good as mid range hi-fi speakers.

Egg100

Making music

Monitor speakers are really all about making music though, so I invited a producer friend over and we spent an afternoon putting the Eggs through their paces. We used a Focusrite soundcard running into a Soundcraft mixing desk.

We messed around in Ableton Live, Reason and Logic Pro, playing with a bunch of different synths and plug-ins and chopping up some beats and samples. We listened to a range of tunes in different genres and finally knocked up a pretty basic track, before mixing it down.

The Eggs handled everything we threw at them.

They sound really warm and rich, especially when running loud. All the tracks we played sounded exactly how they should, not lacking in any area except perhaps the low sub bass frequencies which the Eggs aren't capable of reproducing.

The only criticism we had was that in places where there was lots of sub bass in the track, which the Eggs can't reproduce, the higher bass they can play ended up sounding a little muddied.

Making crazy-weird noises with the various soft synths in Logic Pro though was loads of fun and, when we'd finished building the arrangement of our tune, mixing it down on the Eggs was quick and easy. They are tight, fast, make a great stereo image without wearing your ears down at all.

Verdict

If you're into music creation or DJing, and are looking for something a bit different from the standard black-box-with-amps-inside that most monitors consist of, then you may well want to give the Egg100s a serious look.

The heady mix of great-sounding speakers, with an impressive dedicated amplifier, makes the Egg100 a quality all-round audiophile package.

We liked

Their striking design may not be to everyone's taste, but there's more behind the Egg100's appearance than mere aesthetics. There is serious science at play here, and it gives the Eggs a unique sound as well as a unique look.

That simple, powerful amplifier is a neat touch too, allowing the speakers to reproduce the purest sound possible without having to do any amplification work too. Having an integrated headphone amp is also welcome.

But it is all about the Egg100 system's sound reproduction as a whole, and on that score the setup is really hard to beat for the money.

Egg100

We disliked

They don't quite go low enough for seriously bass-heavy work, and as such lend themselves more towards vocal-led production and mixing down live recordings, than hardcore electronica. However they do kick out way more bass than I was expecting for their size, and coupled with a decent sub (something MunroSonic is currently rumoured to be working on) they'd be absolutely cracking.

We also have to admit that because of the material the versatile stands are made of, there is a certain rubberised odour which takes a good long while to disappear.

And at £899 this monitor system certainly doesn't come cheap. But then if you're looking for a powerful addition to your home studio, or even pro studio, you don't want to cheap-out on your monitor speakers.

Verdict

The MunroSonic Egg100 is a very good monitor setup. If you have a small home studio and need something highly detailed, tight and precise that won't tire your ears, and you don't need to work much below 50Hz, they are absolutely ideal.

They can hold their own in the hi-fi department as well.

The Egg100 speakers are extremely well made and the external amplifier, with its built in headphone amp, makes them a cut above other monitors in a similar price bracket. Highly recommended!










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