Monitors for SurroundSPEAKERS TO BUILD YOUR MULTICHANNEL SETUP 2/01/2013 4:00 AM Eastern
Years ago, when the first wave of excitement for 5.1 music projects hit its peak, Mix ran a product roundup on “surround speaker systems.” We established criteria, such as they had to have their own sub, and we thought we were being cutting-edge. But then a number of users and manufacturers called in and said, “Huh? If somebody buys five speakers and a sub, it’s a surround system.” They were right.
This time around, we selected monitor models from leading manufacturers that we figured would work well for a near-field, surround sound experience, starting at 6-inch woofers and up.
Acoustic Energy Pro AE22 Active
Designed to be used on a mixing desk at ear level, the AE22 Active monitor incorporates high-quality Class-A/B power amplifiers totaling 160 watts for each speaker, with EQ presets to provide adjustment of tonal balance and low-frequency bandwidth. The AE22 is a low-distortion, closed-box speaker with an exceptional time domain performance (better than 40dB down within 5 ms) and good horizontal off-axis consistency. It doesn’t have the flattest anechoic amplitude response you’ll ever see, nor the widest bandwidth, but from 60Hz to 25kHz it is about as musically accurate as moving-coil driver technology can achieve at the price. There is also an AE22 Passive option.
The A7X in the AX series is ADAM Audio’s most popular model, and with the F7, the company presents a brand new speaker with the same dimensions and a similar sound quality, but at a lower price point. The F7, too, features ADAM Audio’s proprietary X-ART tweeter, the most famous of all ADAM inventions, assuring utmost clarity of the high frequencies. The 7-inch glass fiber/paper-midwoofer comes with a 37mm voice coil. It has been designed to perfectly complement the ART tweeter, starring in both the deep registers and the musically crucial midrange. The F7 shares the same controls one finds in the F5: a volume knob (-∞ to +6dB) and two room EQs for both the high (>5kHz) and the low (<300Hz) frequencies.
Akai RPM 8
The RPM8 reference production studio monitors are specifically designed for use with MPC workstations/controllers. RPM8 studio monitors are two-way, active, speakers made with producers, recording engineers, remix artists, DJs and other musicians in mind. Each monitor features an 8-inch woven-kevlar low-frequency driver with 80W RMS of continuous amplification for robust, full bass all the way down to 39 Hz. The monitors’ high-frequency system consists of a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter with 40W RMS of continuous amplification, mounted on a custom, functionally optimized waveguide for excellent control of directivity and reduction of unwanted early reflections. RPM8 studio monitors contain active, fourth-order crossovers for outstanding separation and optimal power management, delivering up to 113 dB SPL and with accurate frequency response from 39 Hz to 20 kHz.
The M1 Active 620 is the third generation of the acclaimed Alesis M1 Active Series. With a bold new look, redesigned driver, bass density control and EQ, this affordable, high-precision active reference monitor delivers superb sonic clarity. Specs include a 6.5-inch woofer, magnetically-shielded, with ultra-stiff polypropylene cone with rubber surround and high power handling voice coil (65 watts), 1-inch silk-dome tweeter (30 watts). Frequency response is stated at 49 Hz to 20 kHz; crossover frequency is at 2.8 kHz. The speakers include high, mid and low frequency EQ switches to accommodate user preference and subwoofers.
The compact SCM16a active loudspeaker is a robust monitor designed for the accurate reproduction of stereo and multi-channel audio in small- to medium-sized studios or in remote locations. Incorporating technology called Constrained Layer Damping, the SCM16a features two lightweight driver cones that sandwich a constrained damping layer, said to be more efficient than conventional damping because of the way it shears when the cone flexes. In addition to the CLD-designed 150mm mid/bass driver, the SCM16A features a neodymium 25mm soft-dome tweeter. The upgraded onboard amplifier pack provides 200 watts to the mid/bass driver and 50 watts to HF; the ultralow-distortion design is capable of continuous sound pressure levels greater than 108 dB. Controls include bass level EQ and high-frequency attenuation.
ATD2 FAR Active
The FAR Active monitor systems in the AV Series include high-quality analog amplification and powerful DSP and CPU, offering easy, convenient and central control of setup via dedicated PC software and remote control. The two-way AV monitors feature a front-ported bass reflex that allows flush mounting and easy placement in the room.
Behringer B3030A Reference Monitor
The B3030A incorporates an ultra-high-resolution, 2-inch velocity-ribbon transducer and a long-throw, 6.75-inch Kevlar-coned woofer (built-in 140-watt bi-amped) in a die-cast aluminum chassis and an active crossover network with 4th order Linkwitz-Riley filters. There are separately controlled limiters for low and high-frequency overload protection, and servo-balanced inputs with XLR and ¼-inch TRS connectors.
Blue Sky SAT 6.5 MK II
Blue Sky entered the monitor market with an emphasis on surround systems, and the SAT 6.5 MK II is a reliable, high-performance THX pm3-approved active monitor speaker with a 6.5-inch hemispherical woofer and a 1-inch dual-concentric diaphragm tweeter that has a built-in waveguide for excellent off-axis response. The speaker delivers clear, accurate sound with a low noise floor and an adjustable gain range. A pair of custom-designed 100W amplifiers with optimized electronic crossover power the speaker. The rear panel offers a gain control, 12dB input attenuator, and 80Hz highpass filter for acoustic adjustments, while audio input is via a balanced XLR connector.
The DBM50 two-way active near-field monitor includes a 7.5-inch extended–excursion woofer, 1-inch high-resolution soft-dome tweeter, powered by a 2-channel 50-watt amp (crossover frequency at 1500 Hz, with 6dB slope), all in a housing that incorporates a front baffle tilt for desktop placement and a smooth HF waveguide securing optimal near field sweet-spot. Frequency response is stated as 46 Hz to 21 kHz (±3dB), with max SPL of 117 dB at 1 meter.
Emotiva airmotiv 6
All airmotiv monitors are fully bi-amplified, with a separate amp for the woofer and high-frequency transducer, each offering 210 watts per channel of power—audiophile-grade, with toroid transformer, large electrolytic power capacitors, and stacked metalized film capacitors used throughout. Mixers can use either balanced or unbalanced inputs, tweak the response to fit a studio or room with active crossover controls, and have the convenience of 115V/230V user-switchable AC power, with full override protection. The high-frequency gain, low-frequency gain, and overall gain of each unit are calibrated to within 1.0 dB of reference standard, which allows every pair to deliver stunning imaging and pinpoint placement of instruments in the sound stage.
Featuring a coaxial design, the Equator Audio Q12 studio monitor offers an SPL of 114 dB before distortion powered by 500 W to the woofer and 200 W to the horn. The drivers include a 12-inch woofer and a 1.3-inch titanium dome rear firing compression driver. The magnetically shielded cabinet features a 1-inch HDF baffle and 3/4-inch 13 layer Baltic Birch.
Event Electronics Opal EX8
The two-way Opal EX8 features a 1-inch metal-dome tweeter mounted in a unique elliptical waveguide and an 8-inch woofer. The Opal’s EX8 mid-low driver is a technical innovation. As a raw speaker it provides a frequency response of 30Hz -10kHz and power handling up to a staggering 1000 watts. The EX8 is capable of reproducing midrange frequencies with the clarity and speed of dedicated midrange drivers. At the same time it can deliver defined and accurate frequencies down to the Opal cutoff of 35 Hz, without resorting to rear-porting and manipulation of the listening space. Two proprietary Event technologies allow for this performance from a single driver: X-Coil and XBL.
One of the many innovations within the SM9 are the two independent monitoring systems housed within the same speaker cabinet: a 3-way monitor equipped with a 1-inch pure Beryllium inverted dome tweeter, a 6.5-inch midrange driver, 8-inch bass driver and an 11-inch passive radiator; and the same cabinet includes a two-way monitor utilizing the same inverted dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch mid-bass driver. By engaging the Focus mode switch on the side panel of each speaker, the three-way system becomes a two-way monitor with different crossover electronics. The all-analog amplifiers developed specifically for the SM9: 600 watts of Class-A/B amplification drives the SM9 on three separate channels, respectively 400 W (woofer), 100 W (midrange) and 100 W (tweeter). Independent left and right speakers are offered at a suggested retail price of $3,995 each.
The PM641 is a three-way monitor from Fostex featuring a 6.5-inch woofer, 4-inch midrange and a 3/4-inch tweeter driven by a 50W, 18W and 18W independent amplifier. A built-in channel divider provides ideally overlapped frequency crossovers for smoothest connections between the drivers. The midrange and tweeter are positioned symmetrically on the Left and Right to minimize the physical height of the enclosure boxes as well as to minimize the effect of diffraction.
The Genelec 1038B is a three-way active monitoring system including loudspeaker drivers, speaker enclosure, multiple power amplifiers and active, low signal level crossovers. The 1038B is designed to perform well both as a free-standing monitor and flush mounted into the control room wall. The unique Directivity Control Waveguide Technology provides excellent stereo imaging and frequency balance even in difficult acoustic environments. Versatile crossover controls allow for precise matching of the speaker system to different acoustic conditions. The system can be used both in vertical and horizontal orientation by simply rotating the DCW unit.
From the ears of engineer/designers Mick Guzauski and Larry Swist to yours, the GS-3a three-way active system features a 2-cubic-foot sealed enclosure housing a 12-inch woofer, 3-inch ATC dome midrange and 1-inch dome tweeter. Frequency response is stated at 28 Hz-18 kHz, ±2dB. The free standing, two-rackspace amplifier takes both analog and digital (AES) inputs and swallows a beefy 12 amps.
The LSR4326P two-way system from JBL features a 6.25-inch woofer and a 1-inch tweeter powered by 150-watt and 70-watt amplifiers. The 4326P features Room Mode Correction, JBL’s exclusive technology that automatically analyzes and corrects the response of each speaker in the room for absolute accuracy at the mix position. The magnetically shielded transducers minimize interference when used in close proximity to video monitors, and the reinforced enclosure and convenient mounting points make for easy installation.
KK Labs DS-8
The KK Labs DS-8 is a powered monitor that includes DSP/Ethernet control with either analog or 24-bit/48kHz AES/EBU digital audio input connections; audio connections are via XLR. The two-way design features an 8-inch woofer and a 1-inch inverted-dome titanium tweeter powered by integral 350W and 200W amplifiers.
Klipsch RB-61 II
The compact, passive RB-61 II monitors from Klipsch (15.4x8.5x12.25 inches; HxWxD) come in black ash or cherry woodgrain vinyl and feature a 1-inch titanium horn-loaded tweeter, 6.5-inch high-output woofer. The RB-61 II features Klipsch’s proprietary Tractrix Horn technology promising precision and clarity. The dual binding posts allow for the bi-wiring or bi-amping of the speakers.
KRK Rokit Powered 10-3
The Rokit Powered 10-3 monitor is a state-of-the-art three-way design enclosed in a compact form factor, with tweeter and midrange in a unique rotatable housing; whether they are vertical, placed on their side or wall mounted, the proper orientation of the acoustic axis can be maintained. The radically curved front surfaces minimizes diffraction and provide a wider, more natural-sounding sweet spot from the front-firing slotted ports. The tweeter design of dome and waveguide geometry coupled to the curved front baffle are optimized for on- and off-axis linearity, and the Rokit Powered 10-3 has both Low and High Frequency level controls.
M-Audio BX8 D2
The BX8 D2 from M-Audio updates the BX Series design inside and out. Featuring 8-inch LF drivers with Kevlar cones and a 1.25-inch silk-dome tweeter with integrated waveguide (70W LF; 60W HF Class A/B amplification). Response is 38 Hz to 22 kHz, crossover at 2.2 kHz. Input sensitivity is 90 dBA at 1 meter. The 12-inch x 10-inch x 15-inch monitor weighs 26.4 pounds.
The MR8mk2 from Mackie incorporates an ultralow-distortion 8-inch voice coil driver with hyperbolic curved cone profile to reduce severe cone resonances and a high-output 1-inch soft-dome tweeter with neodymium magnet to minimize distortion and handle fast transients. Each monitor includes 150 watts from precision Class A/B amplification with active protection circuits (100 W for LF, 50W for HF), while an optimally sized custom waveguide provides seamless transition of HF and LF. Adjustable HF and LF acoustic controls offer sonic tailoring to your mixing space, and flexible inputs include XLR, TRS and RCA connections.
The KH 310 three-way active monitor features a Mathematically Modeled Dispersion Waveguide with wide horizontal and narrow vertical dispersion, said to provide smoother off-axis response. The 8.25-inch woofer, 3-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter are powered by Class AB amplification (continuous, 150W, 70W and 70W), with crossover frequencies at 650 Hz and 2 kHz (24dB/octave slope). Frequency response is measured at 34 Hz to 21 kHz, ±3 dB, with max SPL of 114 dB averaged.
The twotwo•6 from PMC features a 6.5-inch driver that incorporates the company’s ATL bass loading technology and a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter with Class D amplification and a crossover at 1.8 kHz. Frequency response is measured at 40 Hz to 25 kHz, with a max SPL of 113 dB. A powerful DSP engine controls driver response, crossover and EQ, and they were designed to be positioned either horizontally or vertically without compromising imaging.
The V2108 reference monitoring system from Quested Limited is intended for near-field applications. It applies an 8-inch woofer and 1-inch dome tweeter to designer Roger Quested’s well-known driver layout, along with the company’s new current-driven, floating drive stage Class-A/B amplification with two channels of 200W to each of the drivers. The compact cabinet delivers LF response down to 40 Hz.
RCF Mytho 6, Mytho 8
New from RCF USA are the Mytho 6 and Mytho 8 active two-way, near-field reference monitors. These combine an aluminium/magnesium alloy (with high-excursion soft-polymer surround) dome tweeter and either a 6- or 8-inch neodymium woofer in a front-ported, all-aluminum enclosure. Power is via 200- and 100W Class-A/B bi-amplification to the LF and HF drivers with onboard DSP crossover and equalization.
Samson Resolv A6
The two-way, active Resolv A6 with round-edged, ported tuned enclosure includes a 6.5-inch woven carbon fiber woofer and 1.25-inch silk-dome tweeter with neodymium magnets, heat-sink and ferro-fluid cooling, along with integrated low-diffraction waveguide. Power is 75 watts and 25 watts; an active crossover uses a multi-pole design for linear response from bottom to top. Frequency response is 40 Hz-30 kHz, and there is a four-position high-frequency lift control. XLR and 1/4-inch balanced inputs, unbalanced RCA inputs.
The SM100ak two-way active near-field monitor, designed to appeal to musician/engineers, includes a 6.5-inch Kevlar cone woofer in a diecast chassis and a 1.25-inch silk-dome tweeter with integral waveguide firing through a twin, vented port. Frequency response of 60 Hz to 22 kHz, ±2 dB, with max SPL of 108 dB. Amplification is 80 watts to LF, 40 watts to HF, with 4th-order Linkwitz-Riley crossover at 1.8k. Front controls include power switch and volume; rear controls include Gain and four DIP switches for bass/ treble tilts and bass roll-off, with balanced XLR and TRS inputs.
Tannoy Reveal 601P
The low-distortion 6.5-inch LF/MF driver and 1-inch soft-dome wide-bandwidth tweeter (coupled to an elliptical waveguide) of the Tannoy Reveal 601P extends the amplitude response from 63 Hz to 30 kHz; the passive two-way design recommends 50W to 100W RMS. The sculpted and rigid front baffle design is said to minimize diffraction, and response has been optimized for quarter-space near-field operation, such as on a meter bridge or on a desktop. A front firing reflex bass port negate boundary-coupling. Balanced XLR and unbalanced jack connectors.
Trident Audio HG3
The unique cabinet configuration of the HG3 was designed to solve problems: cabinet resonance, phase distortion, intermodulation distortion, edge diffraction…but it’s the rotating 6-inch-diamter cylinder housing the midrange and tweeter that catches one’s eye and provides ultimate listening flexibility. Dual-voicecoil longthrow subs extend smooth response down to below35 Hz, while the midrange and tweeter, with separate 60W amp, take response to 19.5 kHz. Crossovers, critical in a separate sub enclosure, are set at 320 Hz and 3.5k. The amplification section houses three high-power MOS modules; THD is at .05 percent, with noise level typically below -104 dB.
The HS80M two-way bass-reflex, bi-amplified near-field studio monitor was designed with flat, accurate response in mind, much in the tradition of the venerable NS-10. Featuring an 8-inch cone woofer and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter (120 watts total power), frequency response is stated at 42 Hz to 20 kHz. XLR and TRS inputs accept balanced or unbalanced power, and the rear includes Mid EQ, Room Control and High Trim switches, along with a Low Cut switch.