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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new
      #1001790 - 04/08/12 06:45 PM
I recently bought a couple of these little boxes, so here are my impressions.

I'll skip the detailed descriptive stuff; you can look it up on the informative Equator website.

First impressions are that these monitors are small and nearly cute, missing the cute-ness by a hair, due the to all-in-one driver and port baffle with its annoyingly bright blue LED.

Mounted on the rear plate are the IEC mains inlet plus switch, and separate TRS and XLR inputs. The TRS input will defeat the XLR input with a jack inserted. Also on the rear panel are two controls: An input knob with the confusingly labeled ranges +4dBU to -10 dBV. Twiddle and see is my advice, they give a good range from pro gear to consumer.

Back to the front, you get to clock the intriguing concentric drivers. The bass/mid driver is 5.25 inches across, with a nice big voice-coil surrounding the silk dome tweeter in its short flare, which sticks out proud from the base of the speaker cone by about a centimetre. The whole thing looks well built, and nothing pokes out from the front of the boxes, which is neat. The edges of the boxes are nicely rounded, and the finish is a cool textured matt dark grey.

So ... What do the D5s sound like? Rather good overall but with with some problems. The stereo imaging is very good and solid, with a wide sweet-spot. Reverbs are detailed and revealed, but maybe with a little less depth perception than I was expecting. The transient response is good, except at higher levels: I suspect soft limiting is coming in early. This is OK for hyper-compressed material, but not so good with loud dynamic acoustic stuff like tabla, snare and guitar. But you have to remember these are tiny boxes! The mid range is excellent. Well defined, solid. Another good point is that I can hear tiny 'headphony' details like clicks, mouth noises, distortion and so forth that I'd not noticed before on other speakers

Tonally, the D5s have a couple of weak points: A surfeit of high top end, and a really annoying bump centred at 71 Hz. For a product that boasts of special internal Eq tweaking to match each individual box, and a generic voicing by a bevy of mixers and producers, I find these response lumps rather hard to understand, especially the bass one ... Quote: <1.75" Tuned Front Port For Accurate Low-End Extension>. All I can say is accurate to what? On experimenting with a signal generator and my ear two feet away for each D5 in various parts of my studio, it seems the 71 Hz is a port tuning or resonance problem: Block the port, and the bass is even from the low mids and downwards, but is less powerful in the sub 55 Hz regions of course. But I have a sub so to me that matters not. The overall effect of these peaks is to give the D5s a tiring top end after louder monitoring, and a boxy, congested feel on the bottom. The port 'chuffles' with lower frequency loud bass notes, by the way, but is not noticeable on normal mixes.

The boundary setting switch is worth a mention at this stage, as it affects the bass end with its 71 Hz hump. For those who don't know, boundary settings are to help integrate speakers with their positions in rooms, as their bass response will change with the distance from any surface and corner. So, if you place a speaker near the rear wall, the bass response of the speaker will go up, and if in a corner, it will increase even more. The boundary control can be used to compensate to give less bass, thus giving a more accurate bottom end. Likewise, away from walls, you can tweak the bass up to compensate for no walls nearby. So, what are the D5s boundary settings like? They don't work very well, for me, anyway. Yes, they do reduce and increase the bass response, but at the expense of some of the lower mid range, as can be seen on the lower plot. This lack of response of lower midrange gives the speakers the feeling that the mids lack punch, which impression is aided by the slightly boosted high top range. So I find I can't use the Boundary 1 setting; it takes away too much of the mid to lower mids. The Boundary 2 setting is the flattest, with a small lowering of the top-end, and the Boundary 3 gives a bigger bass lift, with a dip in the 1 to 2k region. And too much bass even free from boundaries! But, with a lower frequency switch point and a tamed 71 Hz hump, the Boundary settings would be brilliant, rather than a bit useful.

Are these monitors good value? Well, at a mere $300 direct from the factory they are, and one can learn to live with their funny frequency response, love their fabulous wide mid range, good imaging and neat compactness. For serious mixing I find I have to use a sub, and block the ports, or at the very least constantly check with good headphones. These little boxes make really good location recording monitors. With two fifty watt RMS Class D amps, they go nice and loud for near and mid field monitoring, and run very cool with no need for a heat sink.

Checking out the D5s is really worth doing in North America as Equator do a 60 day money back guarantee if you do't like them, which is good news and makes it a no brainer with the low shipping costs there. But for us in Europe, the cost of importing makes them more expensive, but still worth a look at, though sending them back from here is quite costly.

The Equator website has a lot of detail on it as well as their other intriguing speakers. Well worth visiting.

My conclusions are that the D5 is a good, but flawed speaker. The flaws and be dealt with, however. It's weird that so many positive reviews have not caught that annoying bass bump, though I remember some mentioning the top end bump. As both my D5s do this, I assume that's what they're like, rather than a one-off.

If Equator had made a model with no port, with a sealed box's gentler bass roll-off, a tamed high end, and the Boundary Eq to come in gradually much lower, and the option to switch out the 'voicing', I'd be ecstatic!

I'm trying my D5s with the ports blocked for now, with a matched setting on the sub so I'll see how I get on.

Below are a couple of interesting graphs from the Equator website.




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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1009277 - 20/09/12 12:42 PM
Wow, a year's worth; 365 views and no replies.

Have I used the D5s since I posted this review? No, I've been using my PMCs and Sonic Impact amp. But I'll make up some leads so I can use the headphone socket on my DAC1 to feed the D5s, and cut off the PMCs at the same time. Crude, but it'll work fine, I'm sure.

I'll then try the D5s with some EQ on Logic's output to tame that monster low-bump while mixing, and see how that goes ... not forgetting to bypass the EQ when bouncing

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sc1460
member


Joined: 07/01/01
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1020171 - 25/11/12 09:45 AM
Just been reading the latest SOS mag with its review, more balanced than the US reviews which are gushing, probably because it only costs $300. I assume you burned it in overe 48 hours as everyone suggests you have to balance the sound?


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1021060 - 27/11/12 01:30 PM
Oh. I'll look froward to reading that review then. Interesting.

Yes, I did all the proper things like burning-in, and the speakers did seem a bit better.
I've ended up blocking the ports, filling them with wool. Much better.
I will be doing some tinkering inside, including cabinet damping, which will be fun.
I think that these speakers may be a classic case of gear that can easily be improved: By time. It's what we buyers have, and manufacturers don't have so much of, in research and especially the making of products.

Some points, after more living with these speakers.

~ I'd really like to be able to bypass the committee 'voicing'. I really distrust it: I want a FLAT speaker, as far as possible.
~ I'd like a direct digital input: there is digital processing in there, so why not have a direct digi in?
~ I dislike even more those bright LEDs, and the brash screen printing on the front.
~ I'd like no port: better bass transients, no resonance, no chuffing and a nice slow bass roll-off.
~ I like the imaging, especially close-up.
~ I like the great detection of compression that these boxes give at lower volumes.
~ I'd love the price, but for the weird bass response. Still like the little things, though!

G

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1025273 - 20/12/12 12:53 PM
An update: Funny Noises.

One speaker makes a quiet 'shh-shh-shh' pulsing 'pink' noise sound at about 280 bpm. It can be heard half a metre away. This chuffing has been present for ages, by the way.

More importantly, the other speaker has started to make a metronomic ticking sound at about 247 bpm. Listening carefully, it can be heard from a couple of metres away. This ticking is now quieter than when it first appeared. There is a steady lower-middy 'pink' noise in the background, steady not 'chuffy' like in the other box.

These noises come from both the mid-bass and the treble drivers. And the noises are the same when switching the speakers on 'cold', or whether they've been left powered up for more than a day.

I'll keep an ear on the ticking and 'shh'-ing and see if I can live with it: I wonder about the logistics and cost of replacing these monitors ... and whether any replacements may exhibit strange behaviours!

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KTurley



Joined: 15/12/12
Posts: 1
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1026310 - 29/12/12 11:30 PM
Hi there, thanks for the post, found it very helpful. Just got a pair of these and for me, the rhythmic hissing started pretty much out of the box. There are a few similar reports on various forums, but no explanations as to the cause or a possible fix. Was wondering have you made any headway with them or any ideas what might be causing it?

Thanks again,

K


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darrylonguitar



Joined: 13/12/06
Posts: 37
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1026328 - 30/12/12 04:33 AM
Thanks so much for posting these in depth critical observations. After reading several reviews of the D5 around the web (including SOS), I was having some major G.A.S. past few days. Was not sure if replacing my Fostex PM0.5 MkII with the D5 or adding an Avantone Mixcube would be the best way to go. I'm a lot happier to have ordered the Mixcube earlier today after hearing that the D5 still appears to suffer from some ported-speaker issues. Also just plugged the ports on my PM0.5 with socks and response seems to be a bit tighter with plenty of bass remaining. On to the LFSineWaves test...


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1032104 - 04/02/13 06:26 PM
Quote Guy Johnson:

An update: Funny Noises.

snip >the other speaker has started to make a metronomic ticking sound at about 247 bpm. Listening carefully, it can be heard from a couple of metres away. This ticking is now quieter than when it first appeared. There is a steady lower-middy 'pink' noise in the background, steady not 'chuffy' like in the other box.

These noises come from both the mid-bass and the treble drivers. And the noises are the same when switching the speakers on 'cold', or whether they've been left powered up for more than a day. < snip




The ticking sound in the left speaker stopped a few weeks ago, and has stayed away. Weird.

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Daddy-O Digital



Joined: 01/08/13
Posts: 1
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1060280 - 01/08/13 03:26 PM
I find your review very interesting, as I just ordered a pair of these for myself and am waiting to receive them. As I read your review against the reviews of a lot of others I am reminded that the true value of one's opinion is not only in their words, but in the mixes that have produced. So with that in mind, can you point me to some mixes you have done that we all can hear? Because at the end of the day, it's not just the gear, it's the ear. Hearing some of your work would go a long way towards giving your opinion relevance. Eager to hear your work.


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1068092 - 29/09/13 09:48 AM
I've just read this, so apologies for the late reply.

I've not done any mixes on them solely, but am about to do a live small gig mix and an amateur orchestra in a church, so I'll do a first go just on the D5s ... A challenge as I suspect the acoustics of the gigs will be a problem.


I must get around to an update based on mods I did to these boxes. Basically adding damping and junking the ports, with an improvement in the clarity and the bass.

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1083203 - 13/01/14 08:53 PM
OK, it's been ages -- I've eventually got around to an update.

I was not really happy with the D5s as they were in stock specification. So -- as there was plenty of scope for some tweaking, I went and did done some. ...

First, I took the cardboard tubes, that were the main part of the ports, out. Previously I'd stuffed them with wool, and there was some bass improvement. The port tubes are roughly 2" outside diameter, and about 9 or 10" length, including a 90˚ bend to make them fit in the box. I thought that the tubes were taking up too much internal volume, for something that was now doing nothing (ish), so I removed them, leaving the plastic part the tubes were fitted onto forms the front of the port on the baffle. I blocked these with wood.

At this point I put the speakers together and tried them out … the bass was better. If I'd pick one word to describe it, that word would be 'openness'. So far so good. ...

Then I went for some more damping. I glued some rubber doormat pieces with a grippy pattern on it (cheap in Homebase) onto the insides of the boxes, covering about 2/3 of each side, using impact evostick. I also put little bits of the rubber onto accessible bits of the inside of the back-plate that holds the connectors and amps in place, and some blu-tak to damp the resonant circuit board. Then left the boxes for a couple of days to let the smelly glue solvent evaporate. By the way, I reckon that the rubber pads probably took back the space I gained by taking the tubes out.
Then I found some old duvet fibre left over from improving some stage-monitors, and added more 'stuffing' to the cabs, especially above and in and around the stub of the port; I thought that an area of higher density the end away from the driver might help.

So, did my modified D5s sound any better? Well,to cut a long story short, indeed they did! A tighter bottom, with an extended bass. Slightly clearer mids, too. Much Better.

Would I use them for serious mixing? No ... not as my main monitors, but as a useful comparison monitor I do. They also make a neat solution for various editing jobs away from home, and the D5s make for convenient location monitoring: with power and signal leads, the speakers go into a large Morrison's "lifetime" shopping bag ... very useful, and neat.

I also use the D5s for an informal film club with a small screen at my local, and they do really well on that job, with surprising bottom-end, and good articulation. A few people have commented on the good sound they give on movies … and you can really tell the bad movie mixes, too … the ones where it's all foley and music .. and then compressed to hell.

So, now that I've modified the D5s, I finally think they're well worth the money.
Before the modifications? … No, not quite there, what with the boomy and flabby-ish bass, cabinet resonances, non-selectable 'committee' EQ, and the room compensating EQ tilting at a much too high frequency -- I'd have thought about 300 Hz, rather than 1k2 Hz as it seems to be on the charts, and on listening too, it still feels you lose too much high bass/lower mids on the lightest Boundary setting.

Hope that all makes sense, any questions I'll be happy to answer. If any come up here, PM me as well as I don't get to this page often!

G

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1083707 - 16/01/14 03:14 PM
Since I wrote the above the other day, I looked again at some reviews, especially after a member here stated the D5s were good monitors.
What I can't get around is that almost nobody thinks the bass-end is tubby or inaccurate! To me, the bass-response (in many different rooms) is so off as to be a deal-breaker for serious bass decisions below 100-odd Hz ... I can't see that my boxes are any different from other D5s … and now the D8 has a good review (and I'm not doubting that they are good in their strong areas -- imaging, mid detail, mid/top transient response, their ability to judge compression and limiting) it's just that the bass is, for want of a better term, 'hi-fi' rather than 'monitor'. I find this really odd.

Anyway, I'd really recommend that outside of the US that people listen to them very well if they can before they buy, as sending them back from Europe is a tad expensive!

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1083751 - 16/01/14 06:32 PM
Just discovered a new fault. What I thought was treble 'spitting' or 'spaltting' on lower-rate MP3 on vocal S sounds is actually distortion. On testing with white noise, the top amp mutes, followed by the bottom amp a few dBs louder. This is on one box only, though there is some intimation of spitting on the other one. When listening at low levels, the spitting mush stops and the true 'ess' can get through. The sound is rather like an OTT de-esser making an 'S' sound more like a spitty 'F' … Using test signals it starts cutting out above 10k and by 20 starts cutting out really early.

I've used both left and right outs on the speaker, and different XLRs (just in case!) from my USB DAC1 (it's headphone out is pristine). I'll check the board and all connectors and get back…

later … After listening to more music, it's the top amp very briefly muting; leaving the low trebles from the bass/mid driver that are left on the steep 4th order to suddenly have no "toppy-top" from the tweeter to balance them -- sounding just like an extreme de-ess. The amount of time it's muted depends on the loudness of the music and its spectral content. Now, I wonder what's making the mute happen? I can see a driver swap as well as having a look at the board!

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Edited by Guy Johnson (16/01/14 06:44 PM)


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1083828 - 17/01/14 10:44 AM
An intriguing fault, Guy. Please keep us informed in your progress.

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4445
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1084080 - 18/01/14 06:51 PM
OK, I've had a rummage.

Swapped speakers, and they are OK, so the fault is with the amp(s), or the DSP board feeding the amps. Definitely the high highs making the amp cut out, more than lower highs.

Put them all back together and the good one now no longer works! Checked voltages again and now only 200 millivolts from the PSU ... can't find any fuse/reset in sight. Ho-hum. I may have shorted something while testing I suppose, though I noticed no sparks.

Anyone want a pair of D5s for spares, make me an offer I can't refuse!

Quite enjoyed them while they lasted … but with the funny chuffing/hissing noises and these latest failures … Hmm … I won't be buying any more.

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Essio



Joined: 12/04/11
Posts: 2
Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1098548 - 18/04/14 03:20 PM
Hey Guy, thank u very much for the answer to my questions.

As i told u im using a blue sky 2.1 system which have 6.5" driver satellite speakers. I really love the sound of those speakers but im having a lot of trouble with the low end because of my small room and the sub. Im using a second pair in my parallel room which is a roland, its a larger pair than the sat 6.5, (think the model is ds90). Now on those im getting a much clearer bass picture. I was all set to replace the roland with the equator as the roland is very old and because equator got great reviews but after reading this thread im not sure what to do. Do u recommend the ds5 in my situation? Do u recommend any other speaker than can do the job im looking for. Something very revealing like the roland, size wise 6 to 7" driver would be perfect but also one which gives a good judgment of bass end and kick. Im doing mainly electronic dance music. Thanks a lot

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Essio



Joined: 12/04/11
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1098959 - 22/04/14 10:55 AM
And when did u buy ur pair, I read in another forum that some problems have been ironed out in the new production runs, there is no real evidence to that claim tho.

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1102962 - 13/05/14 07:05 PM
Oops! Sorry, forgot to look here for a bit! Must add this page to my tabs...

No, I would not recommend the D5s; I don't trust their bottom end.
However, if you're in the States, then I believe there is a no-quibble return policy, so it's worth a try.
Maybe they are more reliable now; I bought mine a couple of years ago.

What I WOULD recommend is some acoustic treatment for your room. Look up bass traps and bass trapping, especially.

If in doubt of your bass-end, you can always listen to (good!) headphones, check out the SOS reviews.
Same with speakers. … Though SOS gave D5s good reviews that I can't understand, regarding the bass-end! Unless my boxes were totally different from their review examples.

Anyway, sorry for the delay in replying.

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Guy Johnson



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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1104277 - 21/05/14 07:22 PM
Latest Report. My one remaining D5 has now expired; it makes a spitting farty noise from the treble driver—and no audio.
So, I've lost my (Useful) Mono Box.

Ho-hum.

Hmm; wonder how much replacement boards are? … are spare parts subject to import duty? Can I be arsed? I'm tempted, I miss the little things. But it's bound to be a major hassle



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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1110070 - 30/06/14 10:06 AM
I've decided to have some fun with a Driverack PA and a couple of amps I have spare now … poor neighbours!! … and hours of fun

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1118417 - 13/09/14 12:58 AM
can I have a penny for every hit?

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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1123262 - 22/10/14 10:59 AM
This is crazy, the number of hits. Makes me wonder whether what Equator, and some reviewers must think?

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turbodave



Joined: 25/04/08
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1123278 - 22/10/14 12:12 PM
Well , I think we know your motives well enough by now...not exactly mean spirited are you, Guy? Any flaws have been well highlighted here...more food for thought I imagine for the manufacturers. Dave

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SafeandSound Masteri...



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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1125168 - 03/11/14 03:00 PM
Out of pure interest what would you recommend at this price in the UK? £400.00 It is a tricky price point.

cheers


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1125680 - 06/11/14 08:24 PM
If Equator have fixed the reliability and noise issues, addressed the weird response in the bass, and give a three year guarantee à la Thomann, then the D5s would be good value at £400.

Other than that, I don't have enough "ears-on" experience with £400 active monitors.

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Guy Johnson



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Re: Equator D5 monitor loudspeaker new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1127573 - 21/11/14 11:56 AM
This is silly. If I'd a penny for every view, there'd be enough money for a holiday in wonderful wet windy Weston-super-Mare.

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