M AUDIO SP5B

M Audio Studiophile SP5B Nearfield Monitors

Published in SOS February 2002
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Monitors

M Audio's first foray into active nearfield monitors is certainly extremely affordable, but could it be a false economy for the home recordist?


Hugh Robjohns

The SP5B is an active nearfield monitor, measuring 350 x 166 x 200mm (hwd) and weighing 5kg. The front panel of the vinyl-covered MDF cabinet carries a 5.25-inch polypropylene bass/mid-range driver, and a one-inch silk-dome tweeter. Both drivers are magnetically shielded.

The tweeter's mounting stands proud of the baffle such that the axis of the voice coil is some 30mm in front of that of the woofer. This also makes it very vulnerable to damage as the silk dome rises slightly proud. There is an unusual wave guide which can be angled to alter dispersion and directivity as required.

The metal rear panel supports the internal electronics and is fitted with an IEC mains inlet, complete with integral fuse holder and a rocker switch. Both XLR and TRS quarter-inch jack sockets provide balanced line-level audio input, and the two inputs are mixed internally with a single level control.

A large 1.5-inch flared port is positioned at the top of the rear panel and extends about four inches into the cabinet. Data provided with each loudspeaker showed a fairly flat frequency response, although closer inspection of the graph axes revealed that the plot only covered the range from 200Hz to 20kHz, and a dynamic range from 20 to 120dBSPL. In fact, the speaker's on-axis response fills a ±5dB window between 220Hz and 20kHz, with broad dips centred around 4kHz and 12kHz. The response peaked at 1kHz and seemed to tail off gently from there down, falling 8dB by 200Hz and looking like the trend would continue.

Listening Test

The SP5B sounded pretty much as you'd expect, given its frequency response. In a free-field situation the initial impression was of a small boxy-sounding speaker with a very forward mid-range and a generally weak bass response — the handbook insanely suggests a frequency range of 33Hz to 22kHz, but doesn't specify the measurement limits! You get more bottom end if you place the speakers close to rear or side walls, although not too close, as most of the LF comes from the rear port, which needs room to breathe.

M Audio SP5B £329
pros
Compact.
Self-powered.
Loud.
cons
Poor bass response.
Two-dimensional sound stage.
Boxy sound quality.
summary
A two-way active loudspeaker which sounds rather small and boxy.

The treble is clean and well extended, and the stereo imaging is precise and stable — an advantage of the small cabinet size. The speaker also sounds very fast, but is quite two-dimensional — there is no real depth and it fails to convey any impression of room size.

The amplifiers generate more than enough output level for nearfield use. An input of 200mV (-12dBu) is enough to produce full output with the gain controls fully up — a normal +4dBu monitor signal required the speaker's gain controls to be turned over half way down, which made balancing the stereo image a fiddly procedure.

Like many companies before them, M Audio claim that 'after long research and development' the SP5B changes 'the concept of nearfield reference monitoring', and is 'designed to overcome all the limitations of conventional nearfield reference monitors'. I think not! With the lack of any real bass energy, the SP5B does create an impression of 'transparency', but I really don't think it justifies the 'reference monitor' tag. I found mixes performed on this speaker didn't travel very well to other systems, and it was poor at revealing the details in complex mixes. Even choosing reverbs was difficult, as the speaker didn't seem to reveal any differences between my Lexicon's programs!

The SP5B has no real UK competition at the price. Most two-way active systems cost at least a hundred pounds more — the Genelec 1029, Yamaha MSP5, Tannoy Reveal Active, or HHB Circle 3A, for example. But a comparison with any of these would quickly reveal the weaknesses of the SP5B. I find it hard to recommend the SP5B, and would suggest you saved up a few hundred pounds more to buy a more dependable monitoring system.

 information
£329 per pair including VAT.
Midiman
+44 (0)871 717 7100.
+44 (0)871 717 7101.
Click here to email
www.midiman.co.uk
www.midiman.com

SOS Readers Ads
GRAB A BARGAIN

£465,031

of Second-User Gear for sale now — don't miss out!

AVI Neutron Five

2.1 Monitor System

Thumbnail for article: AVI Neutron Five

This interesting monitor system uses the natural roll-off of the satellite speakers to provide the crossover with the subwoofer.

Tannoy Reveal 601A

Studio Nearfield Reference Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Tannoy Reveal 601A

Building to a price inevitably entails compromises. The art is in choosing the right ones...

Quested V3110

Three-way Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Quested V3110

Sometimes, a dose of old-fashioned good engineering delivers something well worth listening to...

Adam A7X

Active Two-way Studio Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Adam A7X

Their A7 nearfield monitors received many plaudits, not least in the pages of SOS, but manufacturer Adam thought there was room for improvement.

PMC TB2S AII

Active Nearfield Monitors

Thumbnail for article: PMC TB2S AII

PMC broke new ground a decade ago with their TB2 monitors, but the competition have been catching up. Does PMCs new activated design nudge them back to the front of the pack?

Avantone Active MixCube

Secondary Reference Monitors

Avantone have added on-board amplification to their contemporary take on the classic Horrortone secondary monitor, and the result is something quite special...

Sonodyne SM 50AK

Two-way Nearfield Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Sonodyne SM 50AK

India may be a growing force in most industries these days, but few Indian pro-audio companies have made it into Western markets. Can Sonodynes speakers change all that?

Unity Audio The Rock

Monitor Speakers

Thumbnail for article: Unity Audio The Rock

The time-domain response of monitors is often sacrificed for level, but this sealed-cabinet design tackles that issue head-on...

Infrasonic Blow 4D

Nearfield Monitor Speakers

Thumbnail for article: Infrasonic Blow 4D

With digital and analogue inputs, these small speakers from newcomers Infrasonic promise a lot for the money. Can they outperform their budget price tag?

Blue Sky Sat 8 & Sub 212

2.1 Monitoring System

Thumbnail for article: Blue Sky Sat 8 & Sub 212

If you demand brutal and revealing precision from your monitors, read on...

Barefoot Sound MicroMain 27

Active Three-way Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Barefoot Sound MicroMain 27

As well as a distinctive design, these huge nearfield monitors offer a frequency and time-domain performance that compares with the best.

Adam S3XV

Studio Reference Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Adam S3XV

Adam make the leap to a three-way speaker design that seems to pay dividends in clarity and separation.

JBL LSR 2300

Monitor Speakers

Thumbnail for article: JBL LSR 2300

JBL have a reputation for clinically precise monitors, but this time theyve come up with something a little smoother...

Equator Audio Q8

Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Equator Audio Q8

Coaxially-mounted speakers may seem a bit old-school, but theres nothing wrong with the theory — and a touch of DSP can make them very modern indeed!

M-Audio Studiophile DSM1

DSP Reference Monitors

Thumbnail for article: M-Audio Studiophile DSM1

Built-in DSP extends the flexibility and usefulness of these capable speakers.

Event Opal

Studio Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Event Opal

Events new owners make some extravagant claims for these new high-end monitors, whose design is said to put quality first. Do they live up to the hype?

Samson Resolv A6 & 120A

Studio Monitors & Subwoofer

Thumbnail for article: Samson Resolv A6 & 120A

Samsons new low-cost nearfields can produce a big sound, but do they measure up for serious mixing? We find out.

Prodipe Pro Ribbon 8

Active Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Prodipe Pro Ribbon 8

Ribbon tweeters can yield a smooth sound, while still capably reproducing transient detail — and the Pro Ribbon range promises to do so for an attractive price.

Focal CMS65

Active Nearfield Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Focal CMS65

Focal control everything from design to manufacture in their factory in France — and this approach appears to be paying off.

Klein+Hummel O410

Active Midfield Monitors

Thumbnail for article: Klein+Hummel O410

Getting the balance right between the benefits and disadvantages of ported and non-ported speaker designs is a tricky job, and K+H do it better than most with this ported model.

WIN Great Prizes in SOS Competitions!

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media