Monitors

Dynaudio Professional BM Compact mkIII

Feature-Rich, Active Monitoring System With BM9S II Subwoofer
Each BM Compact mkIII is bundled with an IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R155 speaker stand for tilt adjustment and acoustic decoupling.

From Danish pro audio manufacturer Dynaudio comes a new line of studio monitors: the BM mkIII Series. The product line comprises four satellite monitors and two subwoofers. For this review I tested the smallest of the satellites and subs, the BM Compact mkIII and BM9S II.

 

The two-way mkIII feels reassuringly heavy for its size (6.7x10.2x8.3 inches; WxHxD), weighing in at 11.9 pounds. The cabinet is constructed of 15mm MDF and has a beautiful wood-grain finish. The front baffle is beveled on its left and right sides only. Although the mkIII’s manual and Web page cite the monitor’s woofer to be 145 mm (5.7 inches), I found it to be only about 4.5 inches in diameter as measured from the outside edges of its rubber surround [Editor’s note: Dynaudio measures the woofer as a whole before it goes into the cabinet, which is 5.7 inches]. The woofer and 28mm (1.1-inch) soft-dome tweeter are powered by separate 50-watt Class-D amplifers. The mkIII provides a built-in limiter for the woofer’s amp to prevent over-excursion and includes thermal protection for both of its amplifiers.

 

On the mkIII’s rear panel, a narrow slot serves as a bass port. Input connections are via a balanced XLR connector and unbalanced RCA jack. A three-way input-sensitivity switch can be set to reduce input gain 10 dB, boost it +4 dB or provide unity gain (0 dB). A gain potentiometer isn’t included on the monitor itself, precluding fine adjustments independently for each monitor. A three-way switch is also provided for each of three analog filters, which are dubbed LF, MF and HF. The LF switch provides +2, 0 (flat) or -2 dB shelving equalization below 150 Hz. The MF switch activates a notch filter at 400 Hz to compensate for reflections off a console; its three settings are 0, -2 and -4 dB. The HF filter provides +1, 0 or -1 dB shelving EQ above 1.5 kHz. A fourth switch alternately rolls off the mkIII’s response below 60 or 80 Hz with a highpass filter or bypasses the HPF; it’s used to integrate the monitor with a subwoofer.

 

A power-mode switch provides a sleep setting that powers down the monitor after it receives no input signal for 20 minutes; two seconds after signal is restored, the speaker powers up again. Rounding out the back panel are a rocker-type power switch and two-prong AC receptacle. (The receptacle’s ground pin is removed to thwart ground loops; to prevent electric shock, double insulation barriers shield the conductive internal components). The included, detachable AC cord is roughly 6.5 feet long. The monitor is bundled (at no extra charge) with an IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R155 speaker stand, which provides adjustable tilt and acoustic decoupling.

 

The mkIII’s frequency response is stated to be 49 Hz to 24 kHz, ±3 dB, and the drivers’ DSP-based crossover is positioned at 2.1 kHz using a 12dB/octave slope. Maximum peak SPL at 1 meter is cited to be 116 dB. The warranty period is two years when purchased inside the EU but, oddly, only one year when purchased outside. The operating manual is somewhat lacking in technical details, such as corner and center frequencies for the built-in shelving and notch filters, which I obtained through inquiry.

 

The optional Dynaudio External Volume control provides continuously variable level adjustments for both monitors at once from a remote position. The remote provides a molded, 4-pole mini plug at each of two ends of a very thin Y cable; you insert each plug into a “remote” jack on the back panel of an mkIII monitor. The Y cable’s length and split point are such that the first monitor’s connection must be no more than six feet from your remote (mix) position—which is reasonable—and the two monitors must be no more than about 2.5 feet apart from one another, which is severely limiting. The Y cable—hardwired to the remote—and the molded mini plugs are not easily substituted. I much preferred using my mixing console to control the monitors’ level so I could place them farther apart.

 

BM9S II Subwoofer

The BM9S II was specifically designed to complement the BM Compact mkIII or BM5 mkIII (another monitor in the same product line). The sub measures 11.4x11.4x 11.8 inches (WxHxD) and weighs 19.4 pounds. It features a single woofer with a magnesium silicate polymer cone protected by a detachable fabric grille that covers the entire front face of the unit. Dynaudio cites the woofer to be 10 inches in diameter, but I measured it to be only 7.5 inches. The sub is driven by a 200W amplifier.

 

The BM9S II’s rear panel features six XLR connectors serving I/O for the left and right channels and “LFE Slave.” Your full-bandwidth control-room monitor outputs should be connected to the left and right channel inputs. Route the left and right channel outputs to the Compact mkIIIs. The LFE Slave I/O connectors are used for adding one or more additional BM9S IIs when using an external bass management system: Route your LFE channel to the slave-input connector, and patch the slave-output connector to the next sub in line. When you set a provided switch to slave mode on each of the additional subs, their phase and volume controls will be bypassed and associated adjustments controlled by the master sub.

 

Set the provided phase switch to 0 or 180 degrees to align the sub’s phase with that of the mkIII satellite monitors. A built-in highpass filter serves the satellite feeds; it can be set to 60Hz or 80Hz corner frequency (or bypassed) to marry the mkIIIs’ frequency response to the subwoofer’s. An LPF filters the BM9S II’s frequency response (and that of connected slave subs). You can adjust the LPF’s cutoff to be anywhere between 50 Hz and 150 Hz in continuously variable fashion, using a rotary knob. Another rotary knob controls gain for the sub; unfortunately, I found it (and to a lesser degree, the HPF knob) offered physical resistance throughout some of its adjustment range. A two-prong AC-power receptacle and power switch finish off the BM9S II’s rear panel. The included, detachable AC cord is a generous eight feet long.

 

The BM9S II’s unfiltered frequency response is cited to be 29 Hz to 250 Hz, ±3 dB. The operating manual needs to be updated; included diagrams don’t accurately reflect the BM9S II’s current control layout.

 

Critical Listening Tests

The ISO-L8R155 speaker stands’ adjustable tilt was a definite plus, allowing me to precisely point the mkIIIs’ tweeters at my ears. Listening to my own mastered mixes with the mkIIIs’ filters nulled and without the subwoofer installed, imaging was very good and the soundstage exceptionally wide. The monitor’s transient response also sounded very good, but stick hits on trap drums sounded a little thin. The mkIIIs produced a lot of high-frequency detail—too much, in fact, in comparison to reproduction of the midrange band. Even with the HF switch set to -1 dB to soften the highs, the sound was a bit thin, edgy and fatiguing. The bottom end also sounded pillowy (not tight).

 

Adding the BM9S II subwoofer reinforced the bass band nicely. I obtained the most seamless bottom end by passing full-bandwidth signals to the mkIIIs and setting the sub’s LPF control and gain knob near the 12 o’clock mark. But as much as the subwoofer helped the spectral balance, I still felt I was hearing a wide trough in the middle of the midrange band.

 

The Verdict

Considering how expensive the BM Compact mkIII and BM9S II are, I expected excellent spectral balance, flawless quality control, accurate documentation and a generous warranty. Unfortunately, the system as a whole came up short in all regards. While the BM9S II performed well and offers all the features you could hope for in a subwoofer, there are much better-sounding monitors than the Compact mkIII for less than half the price.

 

Mix contributing editor Michael Cooper is a recording, mix, mastering and post-production engineer and the owner of Michael Cooper Recording in Sisters, Oregon.

 

Product Summary

COMPANY: Dynaudio Professional

PRODUCT: BM Compact mkIII and BM9S II

WEBSITE: dynaudioprofessional.com

PRICES: BM Compact mkIII: $999.99 each; BM9S II: $1499; External Volume control: $99 (all MSRP)

PROS: Very good imaging and transient response. Exceptionally wide soundstage. Generous feature set. MkIIIs are bundled with IsoAcoustics decouplers.

CONS: Fatiguing high end. Understated midrange. Pillowy bass reproduction. No gain pot on Compact mkIII. Remote cable is unreasonably short. Short warranty period for buyers outside the EU.

 

Try This

When setting up a subwoofer, listen to how even notes sound on bass guitar. If the sub seems to make certain notes dip or jump in level, a room mode may be the culprit. To correct the problem, move the subwoofer one foot either forward or backward. If that doesn’t help, move it left or right one foot.

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