Not too long ago, powered monitors were considered unworthy of a place in the commercial or project studio environment. In recent years, however, this situation has reversed, largely because of the reduced size and weight of switching power supplies and the latest innovations in amplification circuitry. Active monitors, as they are most often referred to these days, are everywhere-with more coming our way. This design approach is intended to give the end-user greater monitoring control and better value, in addition to increased cost efficiency for the manufacturers.
Whether your work is in music production, multimedia, broadcast or audio post-production, you can find an active monitor system that meets your needs. Since many audio professionals are involved with picture in some capacity, an increasing number of speaker systems are magnetically shielded to prevent image distortion on computer or video displays. Many systems also have provisions for subwoofer integration.
Another recent development has to do with the pricing structure of monitor speakers. With surround sound monitoring becoming increasingly important in audio production, many manufacturers are beginning to price their speaker systems on an individual basis instead of per pair.
The following information should provide a useful perspective on this rapidly expanding segment of the professional audio market, and data on subwoofers is included where applicable. Manufacturers are listed in alphabetical order. For more information on these or other models in any company's line, see the sidebar for contact information.
Alesis M1 ActiveHoused in a ported cabinet, the M1 Active Biamplified Reference Monitors use an eighth-order active crossover and custom-designed dual amplifiers. Designed to provide fast transient response in the low-frequency range while maintaining detail in the upper-mids, the 6.5-inch cone woofer is formulated from carbon fiber. The 1-inch silk dome tweeter has ferrofluid cooling, and a time alignment circuit in the crossover's tweeter section allows the frequencies from the high and low drivers to occur in sync. The speaker has a 75-watt woofer amp and a 25-watt tweeter amp. Alesis also offers the $599 companion S1 Active Subwoofer. MSRP: $649 per pair.
Audix PH250 Active Playback MonitorsThe Audix PH250 Active Playback Monitors employ a D'Appelido design and can be set up vertically as a mirror-imaged pair or horizontally with the tweeter on top. The monitors provide 30 watts per channel (RMS) with 60-watts peak power. The PH250 uses a two-way 5.25-inch poly woofer with a 1-inch dome tweeter. Features include an auto on-off function for energy conservation, magnetic shielding and unbalanced RCA inputs. The cabinet is a bass reflex design. MSRP: $649 per pair.
Behringer B2031The B2031 is a two-way active monitor featuring an 8.75-inch long-throw woofer and a 25mm dome Ferrofluid-cooled tweeter. This biamplified system has a 150-watt low-frequency amplifier and a 75-watt high-frequency amplifier. The crossover is defined at 2 kHz. The B2031 uses a phase-optimized waveguide for controlled sound dispersion. The monitor's frequency response ranges from 50 to 20k Hz. The B2031 is delivered in matched pairs. MSRP: $599 per pair.
Dynaudio Acoustics BM15AThe BM15A is a two-way design featuring two discrete power amplifiers. The monitor has a 9.5-inch polypropylene bass driver with a 4-inch aluminum-alloy voice coil. The Esotech 28mm Ferrofluid-cooled dome tweeter features a neodymium magnet and aluminum-wire voice coil. The LF driver uses a 200-watts-per-channel amplifier, and the HF driver is driven by a 100-watts-per-channel amp. Each cabinet includes HF and LF trim pots. MSRP: $3,599 per pair.
Event Electronics PS8Part of Event's PS Series, the PS8 is a two-way, biamped monitor. The LF power amp puts out 70 watts, and the HF amp puts out 30 watts. The cabinet has an 8-inch polypropylene cone woofer with a high-temperature voice coil and a damped rubber surround, combined with a 1-inch silk dome, ferrofluid-cooled tweeter. The PS8 employs an active fourth-order asymme- trical crossover defined at 2.2 kHz. On the rear panel, the PS8 provides both a 11/44-inch TRS jack and an XLR connector for input signals. These two inputs are hard-wired in parallel, enabling either input to be used as a pass-through connector. Additional models include the PS5, PS6 and 20/20/15 subwoofer. MSRP (per pair): $849 for PS8; $699 for PS6; and $599 for PS5. The 20/20/15 subwoofer is $1,199.
Fostex NF-1AThis biamped system consists of dual 60-watt amps, an internal baffle configuration that uses HP sound reflectors to extinguish standing waves and two tuned 2-inch cylindrical ports for increased bass response. The NF-1A's 21mm-thick MDF (medium density fiber) material for the main enclosure widens to 33 mm where the drivers are mounted. The NF-1A employs a push-pull damper in the speaker's woofer assembly, and the 6.5-inch woofer is coupled with a UDR tangential diaphragm edge that eliminates unwanted anti-resonance. The high-frequency UFLC tweeter uses a low-loss 6dB crossover. MSRP: $899 each.
Genelec S30DGenelec's S30D Digital Monitoring System has a frequency response of 35 to 50k Hz and is available in vertical and horizontal versions. The S30D's 96kHz/ 24-bit digital interface accepts the AES/EBU format (or S/PDIF with an impedance adapter) and supports input word lengths of 16 to 24 bits. The monitor also provides analog and digital through connectors. The S30D has an 8-inch woofer, a 3.5-inch midrange cone driver and a ribbon tweeter. The tri-amplified (120W, 120W, 120W) system provides electronic crossover and protection circuitry. The S30D features built-in bass, mid and treble level controls, bass roll-off and bass tilt controls. MSRP: $2,850 each.
Hafler TRM6Designed for close-field monitoring and surround sound applications, Hafler's TRM6 employs the company's Trans* nova amplifier technology in its design. The two-way, biamped system (50W for low frequencies, 33W for highs) is magnetically shielded and offers a free-field frequency response of 55 to 21k Hz, +/-2 dB. The TRM6 incorporates a 6.5-inch polypropylene cone woofer and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter high-frequency driver. The cabinet's front panel includes a Power/Clip/Thermal LED. The rear panel has a combination XLR 11/44-inch input jack, RCA input jack, unbalanced/balanced DIP switches, and bass and treble shelving DIP switches. A companion TRM10S subwoofer is available. MSRP: $625 for each TRM6; $695 for the TRM10S.
HHB Circle 5 ActiveThe magnetically shielded Circle 5 Active is a biamplified system that uses an 8-inch bass-mid driver with an injection molded cone and a Ferrofluid-cooled soft dome tweeter. The Circle 5 has a 140-watt amplifier for the low-mid driver and a 70-watt amplifier for the tweeter. Solid-state Polyswitch protection circuitry prevents overloads. The cabinet's construction consists of a rigid, nonresonant material with a ported design that is finished in black. MSRP: $1,399 per pair.
Hot House ARM 265The Hot House Active Reference Monitor 265 is a biamplified, mid-field speaker featuring twin 6.5-inch, long-excursion woofers and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter in a rear-vented sixth-order alignment. The ported cabinet has rounded edges to reduce diffraction, and a series of rear panel switches facilitate gain and response adjustments along with an XLR/TRS input connector. Each power amp is rated at 250 watts per driver. The ARM 265's rated frequency response is 30 to 20k Hz, +/-1.75 dB, and the signal-to-noise ratio is rated at 102 dB. The ASB (Active Sub-Bass) 115 subwoofer is available. MSRP: $6,499 per pair. The ASB 115 is $3,499.
JBL Professional LSR25PBased on JBL's Linear Spatial Reference design, the LSR25P is intended for use with workstations, in edit suites and small control rooms. This biamplified monitor provides 80 watts of LF power and 40 watts of HF power. The system has a 5.25-inch nonwoven carbon fiber-composite woofer and a 1-inch titanium-composite diaphragm tweeter along with an Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal waveguide with 50D by 100D dispersion. The monitor has integrated mounting points for horizontal or vertical orientation, plus front panel volume and power controls. These speakers are magnetically shielded. The speaker also offers a built-in highpass filter for use with a subwoofer. MSRP: $479 each.
Klein + Hummel O 198The Klein + Hummel O 198 is a three-way, triamped monitor that incorporates an 8.25-inch polypropylene cone woofer, a 3-inch fabric soft dome midrange driver and a 1-inch titanium-alloy dome tweeter. The power for this magnetically shielded monitor is delivered by a bass amp providing 100 watts at 4 ohms, a midrange amp providing 50 watts at 8 ohms and a HF amp delivering 50 watts at 6 ohms. The O 198 has an integrated protection circuit to prevent damage to the drivers or overheating of the power amplifiers. The monitor's free-field frequency response is 45 to 20k Hz. MSRP: $4,000 per pair.
KRK ExposE E8DiKRK's Expose E8Di monitors use an IEEE 1394 FireWire interface with DSP-based crossover and equalization software to eliminate phase errors and improve the overall accuracy and dynamic range of the monitor. The first such monitors to incorporate FireWire technology, the E8 includes a 1-inch Inverted Dome Kevlar high-frequency driver and an 8-inch Kevlar woofer. The biamplified monitor provides 120 watts to the HF driver and 160 watts to the LF driver. Maximum sound pressure level is rated at 114 dB for music and 123dB peak. MSRP: TBD.
Mackie Designs HR824The Mackie HR824 is a biamplified monitor with an 8.75-inch mineral-filled polypropylene cone low-frequency driver and a 1-inch viscous edge-damped aluminum dome tweeter with a ferrofluid-cooled voice coil. The monitor's LF amp is rated at 150 watts to a 4-ohm load; the HF amp is rated at 100 watts into 6 ohms. The HR824 uses a modified Linkwitz-Riley crossover configured at 24 dB/octave at 1,800 Hz. Its free-field frequency response is rated at 39 to 22k Hz (+/-1.5 dB). The HR824's rear panel provides both 11/44-inch and XLR input jacks plus switches for acoustic space, LF roll-off and HF adjustment. MSRP: $749 each.
Meyer Sound Laboratories X-10A decade after developing its landmark HD-1 powered monitors, Meyer ups the ante with X-10, a new system designed for high-SPL/high-accuracy performance in a large-format package. Retail is $15,000 each. For detailed information on the Meyer X-10, see the "Technology Spotlight" on page 146.
Miller & Kreisel MPS-2510/PThe Miller & Kreisel MPS-2510/P is a powered monitor using the same 5.25-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter drivers as the passive MPS-2510, with an Active Phase-Focused Crossover. User-selectable vertical directivity allows for optimization in various monitoring environments. The Narrow position has controlled directivity for focused sound. The Wide position covers a deeper seating area for listeners at a producer's desk behind the mixer. The MPS-2510's LF and HF transducers are each powered by 150-watt onboard amplification. Five of these monitors, along with an M&K Pro subwoofer, combine to create a 5.1 music monitoring system, providing the reference level playback required by Dolby and THX. MSRP: $1,699 each.
Professional Audio Design/Munro Associates MA1The MA1 is a compact, high-power, three-way active studio monitor ideally suited for stereo and multichannel applications requiring accurate and full-range monitoring. The system may be used freestanding or flush-mounted. The speaker contains a dedicated 600W power amplifier package and is equipped with extensive onboard variable equalization and level trims to allow fine-tuning to any situation. The monitor provides two 9.5-inch bass drivers, one 2.75-inch midrange dome and one Esotar tweeter. MSRP: $7,950 each.
Professional Monitor Company (PMC) AML-1The AML-1 features a 6.5-inch carbon fiber and Nomex honeycomb flat piston bass driver, which allows large, controlled linear excursions. A 1.25-inch high power-handling soft dome unit is used for the monitor's high frequencies. The two drivers are integrated by discrete, low-noise active crossovers. The AML-1's amplifier and crossover designs are licensed from the high-end manufacturer Bryston. The speaker's bypass controls provide for input level adjustment, LF roll-off, LF tilt and HF tilt. This biamplified monitor uses a 100W RMS LF amplifier and an 80W RMS HF amplifier. MSRP: $4,995 per pair.
Quested Monitoring Systems VS3208The Quested VS3208 is a three-way monitor that houses two 8-inch bass drivers, a 3-inch soft dome midrange driver and a 111/48-inch tweeter. The VS3208 is only 19 inches wide, which makes it possible to place the speaker above 19-inch rackmounted equipment. The built-in amplifier provides in excess of 400 watts RMS, a three-position EQ switch on each of the LF, MF and HF bands, and an input sensitivity switch with an 18dB range. MSRP: $3,700 each.
Roland DS-90Roland's DS-90 24-bit digital reference monitor provides both optical and coaxial digital inputs. The two-way, biamplified monitor houses a 6.5-inch polypropylene cone woofer and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter in a bass-reflex enclosure. The DS-90 uses a 2.6kHz active fourth-order crossover. Powering the monitor is a 60-watt amplifier for the LF driver and a 30-watt amplifier for the HF driver. Controls include Level, LF Trim, HF Trim, an analog/digital input select switch, a Left/L&R/Right assign switch, a digital in (coaxial/optical) switch and a power switch. The DS-90 has both balanced and unbalanced analog inputs terminated in XLR and TRS connectors. MSRP: $595 each.
Tannoy System 800ATannoy's System 800A employs an 8-inch dual concentric driver with two 90-watt amplifiers for the LF and HF plus an electronic crossover. Tannoy's Dual Concentric Point Source technology creates a coherent wavefront that is consistent both on- and off-axis, and provides audio engineers greater freedom of movement in the mix position. The System 800A's free-field frequency response is rated at 44 to 20k Hz. This magnetically shielded monitor can accommodate both -10dBu and +4dBu signal levels on its XLR/jack connector. Retail: $1,895 per pair.
Vergence C-20 (formerly NHT Pro)The C-20 active center-channel speaker is designed to mate with the A-20 monitor loudspeaker system and, in combination with the optional B-20 Stereo Subwoofer System, expand it into a 5.1-channel monitoring suite. The C-20 provides an exact sonic duplicate of the A-20 speakers, but given its role, features a non-angled, perpendicular enclosure front and vertically centered, magnetically shielded drivers. The one-rackspace, 250W monaural control amplifier includes boundary proximity, distance proximity, and switchable input sensitivity as offered on the A-20 2-channel set. MSRP: $1,250 each.
Yamaha MSP10Yamaha's MSP10 is a biamplified system with a 120-watt amp for the low-mid driver and a 60-watt amplifier for the high-frequency driver. The magnetically shielded MSP10 provides an 8-inch woofer and a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter. The tweeter operates in conjunction with a waveguide horn to achieve broad, uniform HF dispersion regardless of listening position. The MSP10 has three-position low and high trim switches plus a low-cut filter. The rear panel includes XLR inputs. In addition to the black-finish MSP10, there is also the maple-sunburst-finished MSP-10M and the SW10 powered subwoofer. MSRP: $749 for each MSP10; $799 for each MSP10M; and $849 for the SW10.