There’s a lot that goes into constructing the perfect home studio setup. You’re going to need a means of recording your music as well as a way of playing it back at its best – and that’s not always as simple as pushing play if you’re truly serious about recording. If you happen to own a pair of monitors that can’t handle certain frequencies or is unable to truly replicate your mix, you might end up with something acceptable on your system and something completely washed out on another – even if room acoustics have been accounted for. This is why a professional grade monitor system is key to any home studio – the only thing is, a lot of these high end systems are a bit out of reach of the pocket book for the some musicians. In comes the M-Audio BX5 D2 – a bi amplified active monitor boasting impressive specs at the very reasonable price of $299.99. Are these monitors up to snuff?
When people think of M-Audio, most don’t associate them with their monitors, so it might come as a huge surprise to learn that according to sales reports from January 2009 for December 2010, the company’s BX5 speaker was the bestselling monitor in the US. With its combination of compact design, respectable specs and affordable cost, that shouldn’t really come as a surprise. And as the name suggests, the BX5 D2 is the official successor to that very popular monitor. With the D2, M-Audio has redesigned both the appearance and internal construction along with some upgraded specs.
As far as looks go, the new design comes in midnight black with only the silver name insignias and a small blue LED light that shines when on boasting any other color. I personally liked the way M-Audio decided to have the LED shine brightest when you’re sitting on-axis from the speaker’s front, helping you position the monitors. The front of the D2 sports a new 5 inch Kevlar cone that provides ample sound from the new low-frequency drive. The upper frequencies meanwhile are handled through a one inch silk dome, with a crossover frequency between the two cones at 3kHz, resulting in 70 watts of power – 40 watts provided by the bass driver and 30 watts through the tweeter. On the back of the monitors you’ll find both balanced XLR and balanced or unbalanced TRS inputs, along with the standard fare power inlet, rocker switch and volume dial. Both speaker cones are magnetically shielded. All in all, while not too unique, the complete package still looks plenty attractive.
As far as the actual sound goes, the D2s offer some truly impressive sound for a system this small. The frequencies in the upper mids tend to stand out the most with just the right amount of clarity while still maintaining a good amount of punch – never too brittle. The top end meanwhile shines nicely without being too overbearing. I can say that from my own experience with monitors of this size and price range, they usually don’t fare this well in that department without some clatter. The bass meanwhile isn’t nearly as impressive but considering the D2s’ small size and 5 inch cone, a lowest possible range of 53Hz is perfectly acceptable for this type of monitor.
Although you should never trust the lowest end frequencies on compact speakers since they can never truly recreate them, the D2 still provides enough bass to make it a great platform to accurately mix bass guitar and kicks – just make sure you use a multimeter to check for unheard bass spikes and you should be fine. The low mid-range is nice too and with the crossover frequency at 3kHz, there's none of the awkwardness caused by too many sounds being unnaturally split across the cones.
There's a punch to the BX5 D2s that makes them an ideal monitor for pop and dance music but they're accurate enough for intricate mixing, so I’m pretty sure they'll also work great for those working in post-production and sound design. Also, they would make an excellent choice if you’re simply looking for above average computer speakers or monitors for a home theater and surround system.
The original BX5s have been the undoubted leader in the compact and affordable monitor space for a while now and for good reason. It’s a little strange that there was never really a similar monitor from rival competitors looking to eat up some market share. Anyways, looks like M-Audio is looking to keep itself above the pack with the D2. If you like what you’ve read so far about the D2s but are looking for something with greater bass extension, you should consider taking a look at M-Audio’s larger BX8s – which have also received an impressive overhaul – which boasts a wider frequency range of 38Hz to 22kHz. All in all, do not let the small price tag fool you – M-Audio’s BX5 D2s offer impressive sound and specs at a bargain that are perfect for beginners or those simply looking for an extra pair of reliable monitors that won’t break the bank!