Monitor Audio Anthra W15 Review: Reaching new lows?

With a new range of subwoofers to sample, Richard Stevenson naturally opted for the flagship 15-inch model. Read our Monitor Audio Anthra W15 Review.

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Anthra aims for the best of both.

Heading up a trio of new premium subwoofers from British brand Monitor Audio, the Anthra W15 arrived at my home cinema via a puce-face courier struggling under the weight. It came in one of the most miniature boxes I’ve seen for a 15-in sub, suggesting a model with the density of a small star, plus instant appeal for anyone turned off by the trend of big-driver bass makers having equally gargantuan cabinets.

Monitor Audio Anthra W15 15in, 12in and 10in models complete the Anthra range
Monitor Audio Anthra W15 15in, 12in, and 10in models complete the Anthra range

AV INFO

Product15-inch sealed subwoofer with app-based EQ
PositionLargest model in Monitor Audio’s new Anthra series
PeersREL S510, KEF KC92, B&W DB3D
Websitewww.monitoraudio.com

Out of the packaging, the Monitor Audio Anthra W15’s shape is a perfect cube measuring 439mm per side and, therefore, barely much more significant than my incumbent 12-inch woofer. The sealed 25mm-thick MDF cabinet adds a 36mm-thick front baffle for increased solidity, while extensive internal bracing with supporting spars adds further mass to the design. Chuck in the 15-inch driver and 1.400W Class D amp, and you have a relatively compact beast weighing over 35kg and promising severe woofing ability… sort of a micro Rottweiler.

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The C-CAM driver cone features MA’s Rigid Surface profile to improve rigidity and reduce distortion

The fit and finish are Crufts standard, too. The all-around gloss finish, in white or black, is lush, and the amp at the rear is a proper MA-designed part with innovative cooling channels rather than a typical off-the-shelf unit. The Monitor Audio Anthra W15’s driver is pure Monitor Audio, too, its cone material being the ceramic-coated aluminum/magnesium (C-CAM) the manufacturer has favored for decades. Its continuous profile has a series of dimples (aka Rigid Surface Technology II) that further increase its stiffness-to-weight ratio to maintain its shape when the going gets tough.

Three’s company

Should the Monitor Audio Anthra W15 sound rich in price or specification, its Anthra W12 stablemate gets a 12-inch driver powered by a 900W Class D amplifier, while the petit Anthra W10 mates its 10-inch driver to 425W amp. There are no fancy Latin numerals for the naming convention here, or we might have ended up with an AnthraX.

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The sub’s fabric circular grille affixes magnetically

Several neat design touches span the range, including a front panel color-changing status LED easily dimmable from 100% to off using Monitor Audio’s MaestroUnite app and a smooth oversized trim ring to hide the otherwise ‘ugly’ driver bolts. All Anthra subs sit on four feet and can be used with supplied bullet spikes, with little pull-off flat rubber feet to stop it from going walkabout on hard floors, or bare plastic for dense carpet.

Around the back is an LCD with a rotary/push control to access settings. I have no idea why it’s there, as the MaestroUnite app covers every setting on the sub and more from the comfort of your sofa, and even if you did need to use the display, its positioning is awkward.

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Around the back is an LCD with a rotary/push control to access settings.

Below it are balanced XLR connections for LFE and unbalanced RCAs for stereo or LFE, all with loop-outs for daisy-chaining more subs. There’s also a 12V I trigger but nothing else,  so you are out of luck if you want a high-level connection. Arguably, any form of automated EQ is also missing from the list at this price point. However, this is less of an issue in an era of sub-channel correcting AVR systems like Audyssey MultEQ-X and Dirac Live and Monitor Audio’s app – and the sub’s 28-bit DSP – provides plenty of manual EQ adjustments for hardcore fettlers.

Monitor Audio Anthra W15's rear panel has XLR and RCA in/outs, 12V trigger, and settings display controlled by a push/rotary knob
The W15’s rear panel has XLR and RCA in/outs, a 12V trigger, and settings display controlled by a push/rotary knob.

The MaestroUnite app is perfect. It connects over Bluetooth, hooks the sub to your Wi-Fi for updates, and offers many fine-tuning options. That includes 360-degree variable phase, low-pass filter settings in 1Hz steps, and gain adjustment in 0.1dB increments. There are three standard EQ presets and three custom ones, the latter offering eight-band adjustment as parametric, low-shelf, high-shelf, or high-pass filters. This is down to granular 1 Hz and +/- 0.1dB adjustments, with variable Q-factor on the parametric curve filters.

The Maestro Unite app of Monitor Audio Anthra W15 covers gain, phase, and low-pass filter settings, plus preset and custom EQs
The Maestro Unite app of Monitor Audio Anthra W15 covers gain, phase, and low-pass filter settings, plus preset and custom EQs

The potential to get yourself in an audio pickle here is very high. It’s best to start with one of the three standard filters: Music offers a flat EQ response down to 10Hz, Movie gently drifts down the sub-bass to avoid LFE drowning the movie mix, and Impact curves the response towards a somewhat fruity peak around 80Hz-90Hz.

Big boy bass

As 15in subs go, the Anthra W15’s compact size, sumptuous design, sealed cabinet, and sophisticated app feel refined. Additionally, MA’s description suggests the Anthra series majors in musicality and depth. So, is this a subwoofer best left to music lovers who can’t get their ears around more than two channels? Thankfully, no. The Monitor Audio Anthra W15 is a smooth and sophisticated performer with articulation in the lower frequencies to give detail to bass instruments. Still, it is just at home using its big boy driver/amp combo to deliver insane levels of LFE.

Setup in my room was aided by the sealed cabinet and knowing where to get the best results: front wall and one-third in from the side. Yet without onboard EQ, it remains worth experimenting with room position, which will be easiest on a carpet with those easy-to-slide plastic feet fitted.

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Duly balanced and set to the Movie EQ preset, Red Notice (Netflix) opens with Dwayne Johnson chasing a wily Ryan Reynolds through the museum. The scene is filled with clattering scaffolding and OTT thumps of people falling into canopies and pavements, here all given the full-fat treatment of a subwoofer set a little hot; nudging the gain down pulled it all together, letting the Monitor Audio Anthra W15 fill the room with deep, detailed LFE. A Porsche Taycan ‘roars’ out of a garage to a backdrop of Rage Against the Machine, only to get hit by a camper van. The collision brought a room-shaking boom that sounded like two planets colliding.

Diving into the custom EQ settings, I ended up with a curve looking a lot more like the Impact preset to give the W15 a little extra attack, punching up a section around 70Hz-90Hz and tailing off lower to keep the room in check. This sounded even more articulate but still with real LFE grunt – the Anthra W15 is not the tightest or fastest subwoofer in the lowest octaves. Still, it can move severe air and resolve many effects at different frequencies.

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This is a subwoofer with a big enveloping sound, rich in detail and offering excellent extension – all things that work well with home cinema – yet it has an arguably even more impressive trick behind its gloss exterior, and that’s an audiophile performance with two-channel music. Paired with large standmount speakers driven by bridged channels of a Marantz AMP10 (HCC #350), the W15’s custom EQ tools and a well-tuned pair of ears made it very simple to integrate for adding superb depth and weight to recordings.

It can do that hard-to-explain trick of bringing warmth and presence to vocals while adding space and air to upper frequencies. French artist, Yoann Lemoine’s voice on Woodkid’s ‘Highway 27’ (Tidal), soared with adding the W15 in the stereo mix, adding a gravelly richness and realism to his vocals. On the same S16 album, the track ‘Goliath’ came across with swelling bass and drums with fabulous texture.

All-round Anthra

Monitor Audio’s brief of musicality and depth for the Anthra range rings true with the mighty Monitor Audio Anthra W15 – it’s one of the best ‘stereo music’ subs I have auditioned around its price. Its movie performance is exhilarating, too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it could give more speed and slam with help from a REW/PC calibration or third-party bass EQ system. All the ingredients are power aplenty: a virtually resonance-free cabinet and that sophisticated 15-inch C-CAM driver. Consider this a cracking all-rounder!

Monitor Audio Anthra W15 TECH SPECS

FeatureSpecification
ProductMonitor Audio Anthra W15
Drivers1 x 15″ C-CAM RST II cone
EnclosureSealed
Onboard Power (Claimed)1,400W (RMS)/2,500W (peak)
Frequency Response20Hz – 200Hz (16Hz, -6dB)
Remote ControlNo. MaestroUnite app instead
Dimensions439 mm (width) x 439 mm (height) x 439 mm (depth)
Weight35.4 kg
Features– Balanced XLR input/output
– Stereo RCA input/output
– 12V trigger
– MaestroUnite control/settings app with 360-degree phase
– 3 x EQ presets (Music, Movie, Impact)
– 3 x custom EQ presets with 8-band EQ
– Front indicator LED
– 28-bit DSP engine
– Magnetic grille supplied
– Rear-panel display

TESTED WITH

RED NOTICE: Comedy action with Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot, Red Notice (Netflix) offers ridiculous set-pieces, a pacey, twisty plot, and a Dolby Atmos sound that lacks subtlety but goes up to 11. Sequels are in the works, perhaps on the proviso they don’t cost the same $m to make.

Verdict

Monitor Audio Anthra W15 with home cinmae highly recommended badge
10 Total Score
Highly Recommended Monitor Audio Anthra W15 Review

Flying the flag for the new Anthra series, the W15 is a fantastic sub for music and movies and offers plenty of tweaking flexibility. And it's not huge, either!

Check at Amazon (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Author

  • 7Review

    Founded in July 2014, 7Review is a free audio resource for beginners, and we're dedicated to helping you create the ultimate movie-watching experience right at home. We pull insights from top audio magazines and trusted industry sources to bring you well-researched, reliable reviews and tips. Whether you're a home cinema pro or just starting out, we aim to give you the info you need to make the best choices for your setup.

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