What's Driving Your Mix?NEW STUDIO MONITORS FOR EVERY BUDGET AND APPLICATION 6/01/2005 8:00 AM Eastern
It's happened to all of us. You labor over a mix — tweaking every last detail to the nth degree — only to play it back somewhere else and find that things don't quite sound the way you expected. Perhaps there's harshness in the high end or the low end is too boomy. So you wonder what happened.
Yup, been there, done that. Maybe it's time for a new monitor system — a trusted reference that lets you mix with confidence and translates well to a variety of playback environments. In the end, it's not about the mixing console or all the cool software used to assemble your content. What matters is playback consistency, which leads to the very reason for this article.
The products that follow — small and large systems, active and passive, and priced from around $300 to $50,000 — were introduced during the past 15 months and are shipping now (or soon). Unlike software and computers, speakers have a relatively long model life, so if you notice that a particular manufacturer isn't listed — such as Mackie, Meyer or Yamaha — it's because the company didn't introduce a new monitor product during the specified period. We found plenty of new stuff to check out, so let's get started.
The ADAM Audio (www.adam-audio.com) P33-A ($3,200/pair street) is a three-way active design offering the advantages of the company's mirrored S3-A design at a lower price point. Like the S3-A, one woofer acts as a full-range driver; the second joins it below 150 Hz, providing solid low-end response. Usable horizontally or vertically, the P33-A is shielded and has three 100-watt amps. The $750/pair ANF-10 is a two-way, shielded passive monitor combining a re-designed A.R.T. folded-ribbon tweeter and a 7-inch woofer in a relatively small cabinet.
Alesis' (www.alesis.com) ProLinear Series is available in two configurations: the 720DSP ($449 each) and 820DSP ($549 each). Both incorporate 24-bit/48kHz, 28-bit I/O DSP processing and include 4-band parametric EQ with eight presets and eight user programs, and a PC serial port for use with the included Windows DSP/control software. Audio inputs are XLR/¼-inch Combo jacks. All are 120W bi-amplified designs (80W LF/40W HF), and the frequency response for both models is 50 to 20k Hz (±1.5 dB). The 720DSP has a 7-inch Kevlar woofer (8-inch on the 820DSP); both have a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter and are mag-shielded.
The Alesis M1 Active MK2 ($299/pair) is a two-way, bi-amplified design using a 6.5-inch carbon-fiber woofer and a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter with ferrofluid coolant; both are shielded. The dual-ported enclosure has a Combo XLR/¼-inch jack with an input level control. Frequency response is rated at 38 to 23.5k Hz, -10 dB.
Distributed in the U.S. by A.R.T., Alto's (www.altoproaudio.com) M5A is an active studio monitor with a compact footprint. The M5A employs two 4-inch woofers for the LF and a 1-inch silk-dome HF driver. The tweeter amp is 30W; 60W drive the woofers. A near/far-field switch tailors speaker response for the room. The M5A is $289 each, and internal mag-shielding is standard.
Priced at $290/pair, Applied Research and Technology's (www.artproaudio.com) SLM-1 is a passive, two-way near-field with a 6.5-inch foam surround woofer and 1-inch silk-dome, medium-viscosity, ferrofluid-cooled tweeter. The cabinet employs a 2-inch tuned port on the lower front. Frequency response is rated at 40 to 20k Hz (±3 dB). The SLM-1 is a shielded enclosure and uses a gold-plated binding post for its input connector.
Distributed by LasVegasProAudio.com, ATC's SCM20ASL ($7,750/pair) is a two-way, active near-field. The monitor employs a 6.5-inch driver for the LF and a 1-inch waveguide-loaded dome tweeter for the HF. All drivers are manufactured by ATC, as are the crossovers and amps. The SCM20ASL has two separate amplifier blocks in each cabinet: 250W for bass/mid and 50W for high frequencies. A rear panel selector provides a flat setting and five LF boost settings for tailoring low-end response to different environments.
The larger ATC SCM50ASL Pro ($14,750/pair) is an active, three-way system for medium-sized rooms. The monitor uses a 9.2-inch ATC driver for the LF, a 3-inch midrange soft-dome driver and a 1-inch waveguide-loaded dome tweeter for the HF. Onboard amps provide 200W LF, 100W for the mids and 50W HF. An LF contour control provides five bass-boost settings.
Bag End's (www.bagend.com) M6 is a two-way passive system employing a 6-inch woofer and a 1-inch coaxially mounted neodymium tweeter. Designed for critical near-field monitoring, the M6 uses Bag End's Time Align
MediaDesk, Blue Sky's (www.abluesky.com) $599 entry-level 2.1 system, offers full-range monitoring on the desktop and is optimized for DAW-based audio recording/production. MediaDesk 2.1 incorporates two ultra-compact two-way satellite speakers, each featuring a quality 4-inch driver and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, along with an 8-inch powered subwoofer with onboard bass-management system. MediaDesk can easily become a space-efficient 5.1 system with the company's 5.1 upgrade, which includes three more satellites, the amplifier/control module and a 5.1 remote.
Distributed by TC Electronic, Dynaudio Acoustics' (www.dynaudioacoustics.com) BM 5A ($1,250/pair) active, compact studio monitor is powered by two 50W amps and offers a response of 50 to 21k Hz. This two-way design includes a 6.7-inch LF driver and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. A $1,245 option, the BM 9S 200W subwoofer, has a 10-inch woofer, response down to 29 Hz and integrated bass management for stereo or surround. Dynaudio is also now shipping the BM 5P, a two-way passive near-field with a 50 to 21k Hz response, a 6.9-inch woofer and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. Both the BM 5A and BM 5P have small footprints, making them suitable for project studios, edit suites and broadcast vans.
Earthworks' (www.earthworksaudio.com) Sigma 6.2 is a two-way passive system with a unique port design that enhances bass response and ensures that LF energy is radiated into the room in the correct relationship to the rest of the signal. The Sigma 6.2 has a die-cast 6.5-inch woofer and a 40 to 40k Hz (±2dB) response. Power handling is rated at 150W continuous. Inputs are gold-plated binding posts and Speakons with gold contacts. It's available in cherry and black finishes, and is sold as a $3,500 matched pair.
Distributed by Synthax (www.synthax.com), the EMES Violett HR Active ($2,999/pair) is a two-way system with a 1.1-inch silk-dome tweeter and 8-inch carbon-paper woofer, each driven by 100W amps. Response is 48 to 20k Hz (±2 dB). The monitor employs dual 100W amplifiers. EMES' $699/pair Kobalt is a two-way, bi-amplified near-field monitor using a 1-inch ferrofluid textile dome tweeter and a 5.5-inch polypropylene LF driver, driven by dual 70W amps for a rated response of 64 to 20k Hz (±3 dB).
Unveiled at Musikmesse 2005, the Active Linear Phase (ALP) 5 bi-amplified monitor from Event Electronics (www.event1.com) features a 1-inch dome HF mounted in an elliptical waveguide for a wide sweet spot and is paired with a 5.25-inch, rubber surround/polypropylene-cone woofer. Response is stated as 53 to 20k Hz, and onboard amps provide max SPLs of 105 dB. Inputs are balanced XLR and TRS and unbalanced RCA, and the speaker is mag-shielded.
Focal (dist. in the U.S. by Wave Distribution, www.wavedistribution.com) debuts the Twin 6 Be, which comprises two 6.5-inch LF/MF drivers (with 150W amps on each) and a 100W amp pushing a TBEPRO inverted beryllium dome tweeter. Response is 40 to 40k Hz, with its tri-amplification yielding 115dB SPLs from its 19.7×9.8×13.4-inch, 31-pound cabinet. A more compact design, Focal's two-way Solo 6 Be pairs a 6.5-inch woofer and inverted beryllium tweeter with 250W (total) of bi-amplification, providing a 40 to 40k Hz response with 113dB peak SPLs. Mag shielding is standard on both models.
The Fostex (www.fostex.com) NX-6A ($849 each) near-field studio monitor is a two-way active design with a 6.5-inch woofer and a 20mm dome tweeter. The rigid frame woofer uses the company's Hyper-Radial diaphragm cone with UDR (Up/Down Roll) tangential edge technology to eliminate unwanted resonance. The magnesium dome is designed to eliminate harshness while providing fast transient response, and is recessed to the woofer for a focused sound image. Inside the mag-shielded enclosure, 60W and 40W amps provide power.
Debuting at AES Barcelona last month, the Genelec (www.genelec.com) 8020A is the company's smallest speaker to date. Combining a 4-inch bass driver with a ¾-inch tweeter loaded into a directivity-controlled waveguide, response is 66 to 20k Hz (±2.5 dB), with dual 20W amps for treble and bass pushing 105dB peak SPLs. The 10-inch cabinets include an Iso-Pod stand for aiming the speakers while decoupling them from the surface on which they sit. A companion 7050B subwoofer extends the LF response down to 25 Hz with its 8-inch woofer, 70W amp and patented Laminar Spiral Enclosure, and includes bass management for 2.1 or 5.1 applications.
Another recent addition to Genelec's 8000 Series of bi-amplified active monitors, the 8130A ($995 each) provides a 192kHz/24-bit AES/EBU digital interface and analog audio inputs. Like other 8000 models, the 8130A has an all-aluminum Minimum Diffraction Enclosure
Priced at $32,000/pair, the Griffin (www.griffinaudiousa.com) G1 has two 8-inch magnesium cone drivers for mids, a Stage Accompany SA8535 ribbon tweeter on highs and an 18-inch long-throw woofer. The driver crossovers are all passive, with full-band EQ system handled by Class-A analog filters in the accompanying system controller. Frequency response is rated at 20 to 20k Hz (±2 dB), and the power rating is 1,600W on music signals. The mid and tweeter cabinet have a beveled front baffle to minimize diffraction.
Griffin's G2A active mid-field studio monitor ($6,400/pair) employs dual 8.6-inch magnesium-cone woofers with a planar magnetic ribbon tweeter. Amplification is provided by ICEpower
Retailing at $6,499/pair, the bi-amplified Hot House (www.hothousepro.com) ARM 265 has twin 6.5-inch woofers and a recessed dome tweeter in a rear-vented sixth-order alignment, coupled with a 150kHz signal path bandwidth. System response is 30 to 21.5k Hz (-3 dB). Amplifier output is rated at 250W RMS (x2) and signal-to-noise is 102 dB. The cabinets feature fully radiused edges finished on all sides in black, red or golden oak veneer.
The JBL (www.jblpro.com) LSR6300 Series combines patented transducer technologies with Room Mode Correction (RMC) circuitry to correct inaccuracies caused by room acoustics. All models in the series are THX pm3-approved. Priced at $399 each, the compact LSR6325P has a 5.25-inch woofer, a 1-inch titanium composite tweeter and 150W of amplification. The LSR6328P ($1,339 each) uses JBL's 8-inch differential drive carbon-fiber woofer and a 1-inch titanium composite tweeter for a 50 to 20k Hz response. The bi-amplified system outputs 250W (LF) and 120W (HF) amps. The optional LSR6312SP powered subwoofer ($1,499) uses a 12-inch Neodymium Differential Drive (NDD) woofer with 250W of power. An integral bass-management system provides LCR and direct LFE inputs, multiple subwoofer summed output, RMC and more. If a larger monitor is required, the non-powered, three-way LSR6332 ($1,399 each) combines a 12-inch NDD dual-coil woofer, a 5-inch Kevlar midrange and a 1-inch titanium composite tweeter. Frequency response is 60 to 22k Hz, with LF extension to 35 Hz.
New from Klein + Hummel (www.klein-hummel.com) is the O 900 studio subwoofer, a passive design typically used with the company's O 300D, O 400 and O 500C active studio monitors. The O 900 is a direct-radiation, bass-reflex system using two magnetically shielded 12-inch woofers. The O 900 is designed for use with K+H's Pro A 2000 power amplifier. Low frequency extends to 17 Hz. Protection circuitry for the O 900 includes a look-ahead peak and thermo limiter. Input and Thru connectors are Speakon. The enclosure design can accommodate optional stacking of the O 500C monitor.
Priced from $299 to $599 each, KRK's (www.krksys.com) Rokit Powered Series comprises the RP-5, RP-6, RP-8 and RP-10S. The RP-5, 6 and 8 are active two-way designs, while the RP-10S is a powered subwoofer. Driver complements include 5, 6 and 8-inch glass-aramid composite woofers and 1-inch neodymium soft-dome ferrofluid tweeters. Power is supplied by 75, 100 and 140W bi-amped systems. The RP-10S uses a 225W powered 10-inch high-excursion woofer. The V Series 2 monitors include the $1,399 V12S powered sub and the V4 ($499 each), V6 ($699 each) and V8 ($999 each) — all active two-way designs. Driver complements include 4/6/8-inch Kevlar woofers and 1-inch soft-dome tweeters. Power is supplied by 90/120/180W bi-amped systems. The V12S uses a 12-inch high-excursion Kevlar woofer mated to a 250W amplifier.
The high end just got higher with the KS Digital (www.ksdigital.de) ADM 0 studio monitors ($49,000/pair). The powered three-way system borrows a page from KS' ADM 1 and ADM 2 studio monitors. The ADM 0 uses the KS Digital Firtec technology, boasting an uncolored response across the full frequency spectrum. Digital processing and a newly designed cylindrical waveguide offer linearity in phase response and amplitude. The 10-inch bass, 8-inch mid and 1-inch tweeter are powered by two 600W amps, and come with AD/DA converters, digital crossover and optional PC software to remotely adjust various parameters for room equalization.
The ADM 2 ($9,800/pair) from KS is an active, two-way midfield monitor with a frequency range of 38 to 22k Hz (±3 dB) using an 8-inch woofer and a 1-inch HF driver. The ADM 2 supports analog and digital inputs. For digital feeds, the ADM 2 supports the AES3 format with an XLR-symmetric, active bypass connector. The ADM 2 supports sampling rates upward of 96 kHz. Analog connections also use XLR-symmetric, active bypass connectors. Power amplification for the system is rated at 200W and 100W.
The Linn (www.linn.co.uk) 328A is a four-way active reference monitor for near- and mid-field monitoring. The driver complement includes two 8-inch independent servo-controlled bass drivers integrated with the company's 3-K driver array: a grouping of the midrange, high-frequency and superhigh-frequency drive unit. These include a 3-inch midrange dome, a 1-inch tweeter and a ½-inch super-tweeter. The 328A includes a 500W three-way active amplifier module and twin 500W bass amplifiers.
M-Audio's (www.m-audio.com) BX5a is an active two-way design using a 5-inch LF driver with Kevlar cone and damped rubber surround mated to a 1-inch silk dome. Priced at $399/pair, the BX5as are bi-amplified (40W LF; 30W HF), magnetically shielded and feature XLR balanced and ¼-inch balanced/unbalanced inputs and a volume control. Response is rated at 56 to 22k Hz.
Priced at $999 each, M&K Professional's (www.mksound.com) MPS-1611P is a bi-amplified (110W LF; 50W HF), two-way design with a port on the enclosure's rear panel. A removable port plug configures the MPS-1611P for either stand-alone (ported) or as a sealed cabinet for satellite/subwoofer applications. For use without a subwoofer, remove the plug, throw a mode switch into “full-range” and the system delivers down to about 45 Hz (±3 dB). The driver complement includes a 6.25-inch polypropylene woofer and 1-inch soft-dome, ferrofluid-cooled tweeter. Upper-end response is rated at 22 kHz (±2 dB).
With its down-firing tweeter, the New Audio Spatial One (dist. by Sound Control Room, www.soundcontrolroom.com) sports a unique appearance. (See review on page 120.) This two-way design lists at $1,200/pair, and features an inverted Kevlar cone tweeter and a 6.5-inch polypropylene rubber surround woofer. The monitor's 2-inch rear vent is flared on both ends to avoid adding wind coloration under heavy loads. The Spatial One's passive five-way binding post input can be removed and replaced with an active input terminal. The company has a specially fitted active amplification system with the crossover built into the amplifier. System response is 50 to 20k Hz.
NHT Pro's (www.nhtpro.com) M20 ($1,000 each) is designed for multichannel environments and has a long-throw, 6.5-inch woofer and 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter, both of which are shielded. Included with each M20 monitor is a single-rackspace, Class-A/B 250W control amplifier with front panel controls for boundary and distance proximity and input sensitivity.
Featuring DEQX Calibrated
Developed in partnership with Tannoy, the Pelonis (www.pelonissound.com) Signature Series includes the PSS28 MKII and PSS210 MKII near/mid-field systems, and the PSS212 MKII and PSS215 MKII main monitor systems. Priced from $5,500 to $40,000/pair, all four models are active three-way systems developed around a new driver technology first introduced in the company's PSS215AW MKII four-way active wide-band model. The systems use custom dual-concentric drivers combined with Linear Drive Motor woofer technology.
Unveiled a year ago at AES Berlin, PMC's (www.pmcloudspeaker.com) DB1-A and TB2-A monitors feature integral Flying Mole (www.flyingmole.co.jp/en) digital bi-phase fusion reference amp modules weighing only 1.1 pounds and supplying 160W. The units incorporate 5.5-inch and 6.7-inch LF drivers, respectively, with the same 1.1-inch soft-dome tweeter used in PMC's larger mid-fields. PMC is also now offering a $7,995 Mix Pack, an active 5.1 kit with five DB-1A monitors and a powered 150W SubTLE1 subwoofer. The 100W DB-1A has a 5.5-inch woofer, a ferrofluid-cooled aluminum tweeter and a response of 5 to 25k Hz (+0/-3 dB).
Quested's (www.quested.com) S6/S7/S8 Series reference monitors are all two-way active systems. Priced at $695 each, the S6 has a 5-inch LF driver and a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. The $995 (each) S7's driver complement is a 6.5-inch woofer paired with a 1.25-inch soft-dome HF driver; priced at $1,495, the top-end S8 uses an 8-inch LF driver and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. The S7 and S8 incorporate a ported enclosure design. User-selectable EQ settings are a common characteristic of the line. The S6 is driven by a 65W LF amp, with 45W driving HF. The S7's amplifiers are rated at 120W and 7W, while the S8's are rated at 220W and 150W. Response (±2 dB) is given as 75 to 22k Hz (S6); 65 to 22k Hz (S7) and 50 to 20k Hz (S8).
Roland's (www.rolandus.com) DS Series of bi-amplified monitors includes the DS-5, a 45W 5-inch two-way system ($229 each); the DS-7, a 60W 6.5-inch two-way system ($349 each); and the DS-8, a 120W, 8-inch two-way system ($579 each). All models are shielded and provide XLR, coaxial and optical digital inputs in AES/EBU and S/PDIF formats that support 24-bit audio and sampling rates to 192 kHz. All feature an efficient heat sink power amplifier that's compatible with new IEC60065 safety standards, and the power switch is conveniently built into the front panel.
Samson's (www.samsontech.com) Rubicon active ribbon monitors feature 2-inch ribbon HF transducers as part of a two-way active design that also includes 4-position HF level controls. The Rubicon 6a ($559/pair) has a 6.5-inch inverted-cone LF driver and is bi-amped with 75W for the LF and 25W HF. Priced at $449/pair, the Rubicon 5a sports a 5-inch inverted-cone LF driver and is bi-amped with 50W LF and 25W HF. Both models have ¼-inch TRS and XLR inputs.
The PS8R from SLS Loudspeakers (www.slsloudspeakers.com) is a bi-amplified near-field using the company's new Evenstar
Unveiled at Musikmesse 2005, Tannoy's (www.tannoy.com) Precision (passive) and Precision D (active) monitors use the company's Dual-Concentric Constant Directivity drive unit, which comprises a cone LF/MF driver and a 1-inch titanium-dome tweeter positioned on the back of the woofer for true point source playback. Additionally, there is a 1-inch titanium-dome SuperTweeter
Tannoy's second-generation Reveal Series monitors are now available in active, passive and digital configurations. The active Reveal 5A ($399 each) has 40W and 20W amps driving its 5-inch woofer and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, for a 65 to 30k Hz response. The passive (Reveal 6, $229 each; and Reveal 66, $339 each) and digital (Reveal 6D; $629 each, and Reveal 66D, $799 each) models are available with single or dual 6-inch LF/MF drive units sporting the multi-fiber paper pulp cone and SuperTweeter for response to 51 kHz. The digital line also includes Reveal 8D ($799), an 8-inch woofer version. The Reveal 8D provides S/PDIF coaxial inputs and slave outputs, as well as XLR analog inputs. Optional Activ-Assist software can help Reveal 8D users set the speaker equalization to compensate for room acoustics and/or placement. The program measures the characteristics of the monitor compared to an anechoic free-space reference and recommends from more than 2,000 DIP switch combinations for the best possible response. The software, supplied with a pre-calibrated mic and the necessary cables, requires a typical Windows or Mac computer with a standard soundcard I/O facility.
Tapco's (www.tapcogear.com) active monitors include the S·5 and S·8 and the accompanying S·10 subwoofer. The $499/pair S·5 and $749/pair S·8 are two-way desktop designs and employ a waveguide-loaded 1-inch silk-dome tweeter. The S·5 has a 5.25-inch, polypropylene cone woofer; the S·8's is 8-inch. Power for both the LF and HF sections is 60W for both models. Frequency response (±3 dB) is rated at 64 to 20k Hz for the S·5; the S·8 is 40 to 20k Hz (±3 dB). Both include balanced TRS/XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs. The optional $419 S·10 Active Studio subwoofer uses a steel-frame, dual voice-coil 10-inch woofer and onboard 120W amp that takes it down to 34 Hz.
The VL-S21 from Tascam (www.tascam.com) is a low-cost monitoring solution that pairs two thin satellite speakers with a powered subwoofer for home recording/edit suite/multimedia use. The powered left/right speakers use NXT technology single drivers that provide wide dispersion, uniform frequency response and reduced room interaction, offering full-range sound in a compact package. Retail is $129.
Designed by John Oram, the Trident (www.oram.co.uk) LS102 is a mag-shielded near-field featuring twin 4-inch, white coned LF/MF drivers flanking a 1-inch dome tweeter. Power handling is 60W RMS, and the dual gold-plated speaker terminals allow for bi-wiring. Response is 55 to 22k Hz; sensitivity is 85 dB, 1W/1m. The 17×12×7-inch cabinets weigh 20 pounds each and list at $1,506/pair.
Triple P Designs' (www.triplepdesigns.com) Pyramid is an unusual design because the cabinet is, indeed, a pyramid: The enclosure's dimensions are 7.12×7.87×6.5 inches (H×W×D). The system's driver complement is listed as 2.92 inches for the HF with a 5.4-inch woofer. The Pyramid provides dual binding posts for the inputs. This passive monitor has a power rating of 5W to 30W, and retail is $310/pair.
Truth Audio's (www.truthaudio.com) TA-1P ($998/pair) comprises two 5-inch mineral-filled polycone woofers and a tuned chamber, 1-inch cloth-dome tweeter. Response is rated at 48 to 20k Hz. The power handling capability for this rear-ported passive monitor is rated at 160W continuous into 4 ohms. All rear panel connectors are gold plated.
The Westlake Audio (www.westlakeaudio.com) Lc265.1V ($5,275/pair) is a passive three-way design with dual 6.5-inch woofers, a 5-inch midrange and coaxial 1-inch dome tweeter. The Lc265.1V employs dual ports and includes the company's Iso-Back dual-path, integrated passive crossover for single or bi-amp operation. Designed for stereo and multichannel monitoring (a horizontal center-channel version is available), the Lc265.1V is fully mag-shielded. Response is rated at 42 to 18k Hz (±3 dB). Inputs include two dual banana/five-way binding posts.
Wharfedale Professional's (www.wharfedalepro.com) Diamond ProActive monitors are available in two configurations: The 8.1A ($299/pair) uses a 5-inch woofer and a 1-inch dome tweeter, and its sibling, the 8.2A ($399/pair), with a 6.5-inch LF driver and 1-inch dome HF. Both feature bi-directional Kevlar weave woofers. The neodymium-magnet tweeters are ferrofluid-cooled. Both models employ a bi-amped power section with 60W dedicated to the LF and 40W for the HF. A TRS/XLR Combo connector and RCA inputs are provided, with a gain control and a bass cut switch to compensate for wall or corner placement.
Yorkville Sound (www.yorkville.com) has added a more compact active studio monitor to its YSM line. The new YSM2P is a 46-watt, two-way bi-amped, loudspeaker delivering a 70 to 19k Hz bandwidth from its 5.25-inch laminate cone woofer and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. The speakers have ¼-inch and XLR inputs and are mag-shielded.
Roger Maycock is an independent writer based in Los Angeles.