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Alesis M1

Active Powered Monitors By Paul White
Published May 1999

Alesis M1

The cost‑effective M1 Active nearfield monitors are the first active speakers Alesis have produced. Paul White puts them to the test.

The Alesis M1 Active is one of the least expensive powered monitors currently available, but it shouldn't be dismissed as being in any way cheap and cheerful as it actually turns in a very respectable performance. This little two‑way system features a one‑inch silk‑dome tweeter working in conjunction with a 6.5‑inch woofer, both mounted on a one‑inch‑thick MDF baffle. The woofer is powered by a 1.5‑inch long‑throw voice coil, and features a non‑woven carbon‑fibre cone in a Santoprene roll surround, while the tweeter is ferrofluid cooled.

Though the cabinet is relatively small as active monitors go (15 x 8.5 x 9.75 inches), it is very solidly built and well braced, fitted with dual‑reflex ports that are positioned to help with cooling the onboard amplifiers. Internal fibreglass damping is used to minimise internal cabinet reflections in the mid‑frequency range, while attention has also been paid to the cosmetic design with flushmount drivers, rounded cabinet and port edges, and an attractive grey metallic charcoal vinyl covering. The Alesis logo is mounted at an angle so the speakers look right whether they're mounted horizontally or vertically, and a blue LED indicates that they're powered up. To enable the speakers to be placed symmetrically in either landscape or portrait mode, the cabinets come as a mirror‑image pair.

Power for the speakers comes from a pair of onboard amplifiers, themselves powered from a switched‑mode power supply designed not to 'sag' at high power levels. There's no automatic overload shutoff, but you'd have to drive these speakers very hard to damage them. The amplifiers are rated at 25 Watts for the tweeter and 75 Watts for the woofer, which may not sound like a lot, but you can get plenty of level out of the M1 Actives before they start to complain. The quoted figure is 118dB at one metre for a pair, and even if you treat this with the obligatory pinch of salt (you have to allow for the effects of power compression), it still adds up to a loud little monitor. The crossover features an extremely sharp 8th‑order filter (48dB/octave) operating at 1.5kHz, with a little further correction at 50Hz to help level out the low end response. A frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz +/‑2dB is quoted, and magnetic driver shielding is used to prevent interference with computer or TV monitors.

Connection to the M1 Actives is via a standard balanced XLR socket, but other than a level trim control and a power switch, there are no controls on the rear of the box.


If you were to put the M1 Actives up against some very high‑end active monitors, you might reasonably come to the conclusion that they lack a little in the way of high‑frequency detail and low bass extension — but only a little. They turn in a smooth, confident performance and deliver a creditably accurate representation of the signal you're listening to. The soft‑dome tweeter must help contribute to the tonal smoothness of this monitor, and even after long listening periods, I didn't find the sound fatiguing.

Bass extension is something a lot of users seem to want more of, but in a small untreated room, it often does more harm than good. The M1 Actives deliver a confident punch without getting down into those sub‑bass regions that stir up all the room problems, and though the manual includes excellent advice on positioning, they actually seem very tolerant of location. Voices are handled kindly with no tendency to harshness, yet detailed brighter sounds, such as bell samples, come across crisply enough with no sense of the detail being veiled in any way. As I said earlier, you really have to put these monitors side by side with something quite esoteric before you can hear their shortcomings, and even then you have to know what you're listening for.


Given their physical size, price and performance, the M1 Actives make excellent small studio monitors. They have enough bass extension to let you know what's going on at the low end of your mix, but without aggravating room problems, and they're physically small enough to go on stands or on a meterbridge. Though upright mounting is always better, I tried the M1 Actives on their sides and found the sweet spot was still adequately wide.

What I like best about these monitors is their smooth neutrality. Despite costing little more than a passable pair of passive monitors, they're good enough to use for very serious mixing jobs.


  • Nicely engineered with attractive cosmetic styling.
  • Neutral, non‑fatiguing sound.
  • Plenty loud enough for nearfield work.
  • Inexpensive.


  • No electronic driver protection.


Surprisingly good active monitors, given the low cost, that work well in most rooms.