Some of the most prestigious names in monitor design are getting into the project studio market. Paul White auditions Quested's new baby powered monitors, affordable enough for the project studio owner and portable enough for the producer on the move.
Roger Quested has been building studio monitoring for more years than I can remember, and though his reputation was forged by monitors you could park your car in, his range of smaller monitors has also found its way into both professional and project studios the world over. The VS2205 is a compact, active 2‑way monitor designed as an accurate nearfield reference, and is small enough to make it ideal for those producers who like to carry their own monitoring around with them.
Because engineers tend to put their speakers sideways atop a console's meter bridge (regardless of manufacturer's recommendations), the VS2205s deliberately present a low profile. To achieve this, the design uses two identical 5‑inch bass/mid drivers, each mounted in its own ported chamber, while the cabinet edges are rounded to help reduce HF diffraction — and to prevent dented shins when the monitors are being transported!
Handling the top end is a ferrofluid‑damped 28mm soft‑dome tweeter with wide dispersion characteristics, the aim being to deliver a wide listening angle rather than a single, tightly focused 'sweet spot'. From the Quested literature, I get the impression that Roger disapproves of horns or waveguides because of their intrusive effects on the phase response of the system, and instead prefers to use a tweeter with a naturally wide dispersion characteristic. The crossover frequency is a fairly low 1.25kHz (though the steep 24dB/octave slope prevents the tweeter from working too hard at the bottom end of its range), and the overall frequency response is 75Hz to 19kHz within +/‑ 2dB. The maximum quoted SPL is 108dB (C weighted).
The box itself is extremely solid, not least because of the internal baffling that divides the two bass/mid enclosures, and extra weight is added by the 100W and 50W (LF and HF) RMS power amplifiers, plus the active crossover circuits. Clip‑on grille covers are fitted as standard, but the top end definitely sounds more transparent when these are removed. A cutout in the bottom of the grille shows the new purple Quested logo, and a green LED lights when the speaker is powered up. There's also a front‑panel clip LED to warn of imminent speaker abuse, and habitual abusers are protected from their own folly by full thermal protection.
The acceptable listening angle is very wide, and vocal reproduction is particularly smooth and well behaved.
Separate recessed rear‑panel switches allow both the high and and low end to be rolled off if required; the low‑end switch introduces a rolloff for use with Quested's optional subwoofers, while the high switch puts in a 1dB drop at 20kHz for room matching. There's also ‑10dBv or +4dBm sensitivity switching. Power comes in via standard EC mains connectors. Each cabinet measures just 340 x 265 x 282mm, and weighs a manageable 29lbs, with the power amp heatsinks recessed into the cabinet sides out of harm's way.
When I auditioned the very familiar set of test CDs in my collection, the first thing that struck me was how smooth and comfortable these speakers are to listen to, with none of the 'tizz' or brashness associated with so many popular nearfield speakers. On the downside, though, I feel that percussive transients could be just a hint crisper. The bottom end is delivered with a solid thump that belies the 75Hz lower frequency‑response limit, and for use in a small studio I think the bass goes quite low enough, though I feel that bass sounds lack a little definition. I guess the bottom line is that good transient detail goes hand in hand with a bright sound, and over‑bright monitors can be very hard work, especially if you're using them for long sessions.
As claimed, the acceptable listening angle is very wide, and vocal reproduction is particularly smooth and well behaved. Stereo imaging is good — not too surprising, considering the small physical side of these speakers — and the available level is adequate for nearfield use.
These are good monitors and, though they're not perfect, I prefer their understated, neutral tone to the brash pyrotechnics of many American models. But, while they're not unreasonably priced, neither are the VS2205s exactly cheap, and for the same money, you could choose a pair of small Dynaudio active speakers, the new mini Genelec system, some excellent Spendors or, for rather less money, the Event 20/20 actives. Which ones you prefer depends largely on what you expect from your monitors — though I'm a stickler for smooth, accurate monitoring, I have to admit that I found the overall sound of the VS2205s just slightly unfocused, though not seriously so. You really need to hear these speakers side by side with the competition in a decent listening room to put them in perspective, but I think you'll be impressed by their smooth vocal delivery and by their tendency towards honesty rather than flattery.
On balance, I think it's fair to say that these little monitors have more virtues than vices, and their compact format makes them idea for mobile recording or as a producer's portable reference.
- Smooth, unfatiguing tonality.
- Excellent vocal reproduction.
- Compact, yet adequately powerful.
- Transient detail could be slightly better.
These are nicely built active monitors that combine true portability with Roger Quested's characteristic 'tell it like it is' tonality. Some may find them slightly lacking in detail, but you can listen to them for hours without feeling fatigued.