Pylon Audio Ruby Monitor
We became interested in the products made by a Polish company, Pylon Audio, when it had just started being successful and their loudspeakers - Topaz and Pearl - gained recognition. Then, other products followed, such as Sapphire, Diamond, and Opal. Not to mention the floorstanding loudspeakers manufactured for Unitra or Audio Physics's Classic series, both using cabinets made by Pylon Audio in Jarocin - a city in which, in the 80s, the biggest rock music festival in Europe used to be organized. Testing their products was always a chance to catch up on Pylon's latest achievements. It seemed as if the company had been, step-by-step, checking off the next points on their earlier prepared plan. Launching a new series of speakers, adding glossy lacquers, entering international markets, designing their own mid-bass speakers, establishing collaboration with the award-winning partners, awards, exhibitions, honours, expanding wood veneer palette, extending the factory… Every now and then a thought comes to my mind that reportage about the Pylon factory would be something worth making, yet every time one problem arises - such article would have to be often updated, since in one year the situation may change so dramatically that a huge part of knowledge about Pylon Audio may simply become obsolete.
New ideas, exhibitions, success, photos with new distributors, clients like Audio Physic, awards, investments, and thumbing nose at the award-winning competition - all these things are the reasons why we should hate Pylon Audio. But... Gosh, just no can do. The factory from Jarocin not only doesn't make mistakes, but it also tries to avoid any conflicts and touching on topics that are considered controversial and suspicious in the audiophile community. Meeting the customers' needs is the heart of Pylon's success. Not some rocket science, not reinventing the wheel, but providing music lovers and audiophiles with loudspeaker sets which are normally constructed, have decent parameters and good drivers, sound well, are able to fit into any room, and do not cost a fortune. What one may want more? The company maintains close contact with its customers, who eagerly share photos of their systems, ask the manufacturer about accompanying equipment suggestions and give some ideas for new loudspeakers. The best thing about it is that there is no pretentiousness or buffoonery. When we entered the Pylon's room during the last year's Audio Video Show in Warsaw, I spotted the CEO of the company, surprisingly not wearing a suit, in the room with beautiful white Jaspers 25. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with the logo of the company and, behind one of the acoustic panels placed on the sides, he was sitting on the floor and assembling some extra chairs because there were just too many listeners in Pylon's Room. He stood up, dusted himself off, quietly greeted us, pointed at the curved floorstanding loudspeakers, and said "well, that's what we prepared this time". So if there is something mysterious behind Pylon's success, it's definitely not aggressive marketing.
Design and functionality
However, I have a different problem with Pylon Audio loudspeakers. Everything points to the fact that they are simply too cheap so that they are purchased by customers who do not exactly know how to place them properly in a listening room. The Facebook fan page of the company is full of photos which can serve as a perfect database for a handbook titled "what not to do with audiophile loudspeakers". There are, of course, positive examples, including systems in which Pylons work with much more expensive electronics, but it is hard to resist the impression that many users do not know how to handle such equipment. Well, you can try to educate them, but these days people are not willing to compromise and some of them think that those are the manufacturers who should make sure that the loudspeakers sound good regardless of their disposition and the class of electronics they are connected to. After all, you can create loudspeakers which, based on their design, are less sensitive to the distance too close to the back wall. In this case, they would be medium-sized sets with a closed box or bass-reflex directed to the front and cheap enough so that connecting them to budget electronics would not take away their go at the very beginning. And it seems that the Ruby Monitor bookshelf speakers were designed according to this recipe.
They are incredibly neat and seem very, very solid. I even like the veneer which may not look as good as the finishing used in the Pylon's highest series, but for €949 there is really nothing to complain about. Especially that not only do we get the desired woodwork, but also the original mid-bass driver PSW 17.8 EXS with a membrane made of Endumax, Prestige series Seas H1149-06TDC dome tweeter (kopułka) and a few other accessories which together give the impression of communing with much more expensive monitors. Just look at the sockets. There are not small, ugly terminals pressed into a plastic profile, but elegant WBT pole terminals sticking out of a black, mirrored nameplate. True, it is not the first time that this Polish company adopted this solution. Nevertheless, hardly any monitors worth less than €1000 a pair look so good not only from the front but also from the back. Speaking of the front, the most important element is a wide ventilation port situated at the very base of the boxes. It is protected by a black metal mesh, just like the loudspeakers. Owing to that, all fragile vibrating elements are nearly completely safe and the presence of an open-work grille will hardly have any influence on the quality of the sound. Some manufacturers claim that such grilles are virtually invisible in the measurements. The reason behind the decision about covering the port, in the same way, is probably the willingness to maintain consistency of the whole project, but at the same time, the user may be sure that nothing flew or went into the tested monitors. If there is anyone in doubt about the mesh, Pylon also offers traditional, round grilles with magnetic fasteners.
In the base of the boxes, we will find four metal threaded sleeves. They are usually installed in the floorstanding loudspeakers so that the user may screw spikes or feet and may easily adjust their height. If we spot such holes in the monitors, it is a clear indicator that we may equip ourselves in the company stands that are designed to be screwed together with the loudspeakers. Meanwhile, the sleeves in Ruby Monitor being positioned so widely apart, we may assume that the manufacturer makes it clear that they can be treated as mini-floorstanding loudspeakers. I have even found a set of metal feet taped with felt in the box contents. Is it a producer's clear suggestion that we can put the loudspeakers on chests of drawers, desks, racks, and other furniture of this kind? There is no rear bass-reflex, so why not? Well, when positioning the columns in the listening room, we should still take into account not only our comfort and the amount of low frequencies but also something called stereophonic sound which we deprive ourselves of when we push them too close to the wall. I would like to think that Pylon's customers will carry out at least one experiment to find out. I think it would not be the worst idea to create dedicated stands, for instance, ones with one solid metal leg that you can load down. Its top would be X-shaped and each arm would have a screw hole, which would be an indicator for audiophiles that Ruby Monitor are the loudspeakers that should be treated seriously despite their low price.
It can be easily figured out that Ruby Monitors are quite similar to Ruby 25 mkII floorstanding loudspeakers. The membranes made of Endumax are highly beneficial since they impart a spot of characteristic tone colour to the given set of columns. At the same time, two crucial elements should be focused on. First, the monitors do not have any problems with low tones. Not one bit. Neither with the lowering nor with the control. Not even with the "details" such as tone colour, filling, speed, or the ability to smoothly go up without obstructing the midrange (which, as well as in the floor model, is one of the main advantages of these columns) or leaving there some sort of an odd hole where some sounds disappear almost completely and some are artificially burned at the edges to create the illusion that the loudspeakers miss absolutely nothing. Some music lovers will be suspicious about the port covered with metal mesh, but I guarantee there is nothing to worry about. Quite the opposite. In favourable conditions, placed on decent stands and given a bit of free space around, the monitors work at least as well as other sets with rear bass-reflex, whereas in more difficult rooms, they should do much better still allowing the user to enjoy the clean and adequately big sound. Though, squeezing Pylons in dark recesses of a TV shelf would be going way too far, since this is the moment when soundstage appears, the second important element and the one I noticed right away. I will not even multiply the adjectives that come to my mind. Suffice it to say, the stereophonic sound that is so complex, three-dimensional, precise, and totally separated from the loudspeakers is a real sensation in this price range. Once again it turned out that the monitors should not be treated as poorer floorstanding loudspeakers with smaller bass. Maybe the bass is slightly weaker (even though I did not miss it at all in a 30 m² room), but the soundstage is in a completely different league. Maybe I am writing nonsense. Maybe it has been too long since the Ruby 25 mkII test and I forgot that they also had something to show in this matter. But in their test, I mainly focused on the midrange, even by comparing it with what the polypropylene speakers used in monitors produced under the BBC license can do (which I could repeat it all when it comes to the currently described model), yet this time, nothing but the stereophonic sound enthralled me.
After a few minutes of the listening session, I felt genuinely sorry for Ruby Monitors. It was difficult to believe that they sounded so well and so disproportionately to their price. I have, after all, tested Ruby 25 mkII, hence I should have a particular image in my mind of how their compact version may sound. That was a show I did not expect. Although I am an experienced listener and the sets from the Jarocin company have surprised me numerous times, my subconsciousness could not contain the fact the monitors worth €949 can sound so well, with such spectacular space, clean bass, natural midrange, and interesting and exceptionally captured balance between clarity and smoothness. May I just add that I have recently tested a lot of cool and extremely cool compact sets such as Audiovector R1 Signature, Wharfedale Linton Heritage, ELAC Vela BS 403, Mission ZX-2, Focal Kanta Nº 1, JBL HDI 1600, and ATC SCM 11. It seems obvious that, even based on the recent tests, I have a certain understanding of the topic. Though I must admit, it regards mainly high-end products. Indeed. So why then I could not spot the difference when listening to Pylons? Obviously, Ruby Monitors sound different, but comparing them with monitors worth 1000-2000 euros, I could not hear any catastrophic quality gap. I can easily imagine a situation in which after a quick listening session and relying solely on the character and sound quality I choose Pylons over Mission or vintage Wharfedale. However, it would be slightly harder with ATC, ELAC or JBL, since their advancement (resulting mainly from using much more expensive components) should appear faster. SCM 11 are heading towards studio clarity and are able to present music in a very close, suggestive, tactile, and direct way. HDI 1600s offer a big, concert sound with impressive bass and clear high frequencies. Vela BS 403s are one of my favourites - the speakers that could work in my reference system if I had a slightly smaller room for the sound system. The thing is that Ruby Monitor have also many advantages and except for the obvious quality difference in comparison with these three abovementioned ones (I emphasize - a difference, not a chasm), I will not be surprised if someone, after a short listening session, chooses Pylons thinking that money saved on buying them will be added to an amplifier, a source, stands or cables.
Ruby Monitors are really quite exquisite. It is worth mentioning the accompanying equipment and the conditions they worked in during the test. Unison Research Triode 25, Auralic Vega G1, Clearaudio Concept or even the Enerr One 6S DCB plug strip are much, much more expensive devices than Pylons. It can be assumed that I squeezed everything that could be squeezed out of them which does not change the fact that I had a great time. What is important, the Polish monitors were not frightened by the company of high-end equipment and cables. They sounded like they got a great kick out of it. It is almost like they were delighted that they were not connected to some budget AV receiver, with YouTube videos as a source of music sent from a smartphone via Bluetooth. Connecting the equipment and cables worth tens of thousands euros to the monitors worth €949 seems equally illogical, but at least it creates quite a satisfactory effect and allows us to see what these speakers can really do. Though, I will not recommend such a combination to anyone. However, it is worth drawing some conclusions from this lesson and figuring out the right company for Pylons, which will treat them adequately to the sound they offer, not their price. You can find twice as expensive compact sets, which will be whipped by Ruby Monitor only after 5 minutes of comparison, so you can set the price bar at approximately their level. When choosing an amplifier, I would definitely pay attention to products such as Musical Fidelity M2si, Audiolab 6000A, Fezz Audio Silver Luna, Unison Research Unico Primo, Exposure XM5, NuPrime IDA-8, and Hegel H90. I am absolutely not joking. To bring out at least some of the Pylons' magic I mentioned earlier, you have to invest in the source and cables as well. The cheapest and easiest option will be to choose an amplifier with a good DAC and to feed it with something like Primare NP5 Prisma. Otherwise, I would suggest something like Bluesound Node 2i. When it comes to the cables, I would focus on cheaper models of Albedo, Chorda, Cardas, or Tellurium Q, depending on the demand when perfecting the system and slightly correcting the chosen direction. Enough said Ruby Monitors are really awesome speakers. I hope that, even though we are dealing with quite cheap compact loudspeakers, there are people who are willing to spend some time and money to bring out what is best in them. They are worth it.
Build quality and technical parameters
Pylon Audio Ruby Monitor are two-way compact monitor speakers with a bass-reflex port on the front panel. The structure is based on the original mid-bass driver PSW 17.8 EXS, equipped with a metal basket, a large magnetic system with a Faraday ring, and a membrane made of Endumax. As the manufacturer guarantees, it is a material characterized by an excellent balance between internal damping and rigidity, whereas the weight of the membrane is lighter than the corresponding cone made from fiberglass and cellulose. High frequencies are produced by a silk high-tone Seas dome tweeter. The Polish manufacturers often use drivers from famous Scandinavian sub-suppliers and since they order quite a lot, even pretty decent tweeter such as used here 27-mm silk dome H1149-06 27TDC may fit into the limited budget. Maybe the speakers are not high-end, but they have nothing to be ashamed of. I only do not understand why Pylon, in their technical data tables, persistently uses its "own" symbols of the drivers, even though they were bought from Seas or Scan-Speak. Here, for instance, we see that the high-tone loudspeaker is not Seas H1149-06 27TDC, but Pylon Audio PST-120.6. It would be understandable if there were some extremely cheap components from a little-known Far Eastern factory, but the inscription "Made in Norway" should not offend or discourage anyone. Maybe it is a form of securing the columns from being copied? That is possible, but I know people who are able, just based on a dim photo of a loudspeaker, to recite by heart its symbol and basic technical parameters. Besides, every competing company can buy, measure, and disassemble such a monitor. After all, it is not a big investment. I would not be worried about do-it-yourself enthusiasts, either. They like to make things, not to listen to music, and if they can carve something within their budget, away from their wife and children, they most frequently make "clones" of ProAcs, not Pylons. Coming back to the tested monitors, in order to screw the speakers out of them, first, you need to disassemble the metal mesh securing both of them from damaging. The procedure is not difficult, but it requires knack and patience. The grilles fit tightly and to be sure they are "gripped" with flexible glue at several points. As always, the quality of Pylons' woodwork can only be praised. Everything is spliced and milled neatly even in the cheaper sets of this company. Here, the boxes are made of thick MDF boards. The interior was dulled with thick sheets of synthetic wool adhered to each wall. The crossover is situated right next to the sockets. A simple filter was built from components of decent quality. Thick copper cables are quite interesting since they were only soldered to the loudspeakers, not attached by the compression fittings. Maybe it is a minute detail, yet it is not often seen in budget columns. Apparently, some things are still done the old-fashioned way in Jarocin, which actually makes me very happy.
Unison Research Triode 25, Auralic Vega G1, Clearaudio Concept, Cambridge Audio CP2, Cardas Clear Reflection, Albedo Geo, Enerr One 6S DCB, Enerr Transcenda Ultra, Enerr Transcenda Ultimate, Custom Design RS 202, Norstone Esse.
Ruby Monitor is a product for two types of customers. The first one is a seeker of good and cheap equipment. Let him squeeze these monitors in a tight corner of a shelf assembled with a kitchen knife, push them towards the wall till the sockets hit the plaster, plug them into a 7.1-channel AV receiver, put a dracaena in a plastic pot on the left speaker and an African shaman metal figure on the right one. The loudspeakers will still sound much better than the majority of monitors at this price. The second customer type, who is going to be genuinely interested in them, is an audiophile who perfectly knows how to handle such equipment, but for some reason has to refrain from spending more money. Common sense tells me that, when it comes to loudspeakers, you never want to buy on the cheap. Especially the loudspeakers, which even combined with stands and spikes, are cheaper than the amplifier and the source. That is true. But what can I do with the fact that they might as well cost 1499 or 1699, not 949 euros? Not my problem. The only thing I know is that after this text I will have a ready-made answer to questions about good, universal and audiophile compact sets worth 1000-1500 euros. I am considering keeping them just for the sake of having great monitors on hand and to remind myself every now and then how much good sound you can conjure up even with a very limited budget. Highly recommended!
Speakers type: Monitor, 2-way, ventilated
Sensitivity: 86 dB
Impedance: 8 Ω
Frequency response: 40 Hz - 20 kHz
Dimensions (H/W/D): 42/19,6/31,5 cm
Weight: 9 kg (piece)
Manufacturer: Pylon Audio