M-Audio StudioPro 3 Desktop Audio Monitors
Compact powerhouses for home brewed mixdowns
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 1-3-2013
The power of today’s personal computers allows even part time musicians to produce sophisticated multi-track music files in a home office or spare room. What hasn’t changed is the musicians need to hear the playback clearly and that means effective monitors. The M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors reviewed here are surprisingly economical but produce clear, bright sound without taking up precious home based studio/office space.
The M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors are vinyl-laminated MDF cabinets that are 5.5"-wide by 7.9"-tall and 5.9"-deep. Together they weigh in at 8.8lb. so they won’t collapse the desk or table. Each cabinet has one 3.25" low-frequency magnetically shielded speaker with curved cone with high-temperature voice coil driver and a 1" diameter, magnetically shielded silk dome high-frequency driver. These cabinets use an advanced crossover design and custom-tuned wood enclosures that have a vented port to enhance bass. The cabinets also feature magnetic shielding to help avoid computer/video monitor interference.
The M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors have a frequency response of 100Hz – 20kHz ±3dB, crossover frequency: 2.3kHz and a dynamic range (Maximum Signal-to-Noise Ratio): >80dB. Dynamic power is 10 watts into 4O (per channel) at 0.5% distortion. Input impedance is 10kO (unbalanced) with an input sensitivity of 100mV pink noise input produces 90dBA output SPL at 1 meter with the volume turned to its maximum.
The M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors system is self-powered and operates on 115 or 220-volt power regulated with a voltage selector switch on the rear of the left cabinet. This rear panel also has a Bass Boost switch and a pair of RCA style inputs. A single 1/8” socket is for connecting the right speaker to the primary left side. The front panel of the left speaker has 1/8" inputs for headphones (mutes speakers) and Auxiliary In for playing IPods and similar devices through the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors. A blue power LED ring surrounds the On/Off/volume knob on the front panel of the left cabinet.
The M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors box includes a pair of directional wedge-shaped bases that let you aim the cabinets to optimize listening sweet spot. You also get four traction pads that help isolate the speakers from the surface while preventing their movement. Also provided is a patch cord with a stereo plug on one end that splits into left and right plugs on the other for connecting the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors to the computer. A single conductor cord with 1/8” plugs connects the right speaker to the left and a double-ended 1/8” stereo cord is used for connecting devices to the auxiliary in port. Or course there is the two-conductor power cord that also plugs into the rear of the left speaker cabinet.
I installed the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors in place of my old computer speaker system that had a separate bass box under the table where it was feeding into the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Microphone that captures my amps. The M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors come with angled bases that let you aim the speakers upwards or downwards depending on the level of the surface they are placed on. I found that these speakers are fairly directional so the bases might come in very handy to help eliminate feedback at a narrating microphone like I have at my graphics computer.
I started the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors evaluation by mixing some tracks in Adobe Audition. This software had always been working correctly, I just could not hear the tracks being played clear enough to add things like a bass line. If I turned the old speaker system up high enough to hear the tracks clearly the bass box fed back through the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Microphone at the amp. Now with the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors I can bring their volume up plenty to hear the tracks clearly while adding a new track. The only down side to the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors is that now I have no excuses so the errors are all mine when I play the mixdown back.
The M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors produce a clear sound at all reasonable volume levels including way too loud for my office space. I am a big fan of bass so I put the Bass Boost switch in the On position and left it there. Naturally these little speakers do not rattle the chest walls with low frequency power but the bass tone you get sounds right nonetheless. It is hard to describe as it really does sound like bass but the floor isn’t vibrating. However it is doing it, I like it and it certainly allows tweaking of the lower frequency sounds in a mixdown accurately.
The higher frequency sounds produced by the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors are also very clear and bright. I am impressed at how even high notes picked on a guitar come across with amazing clarity yet they lack the annoying sharp-edged distortion lesser speakers tend to introduce. Despite their relatively small size the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors are very capable.
If you are fighting standard computer system speakers when mixing music you need to check out the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitor system. With a street price of just $99.99 (12-24-2012) these speakers can be a cost-saving solution that will improve your “in studio” performance. I am very happy with how the M-Audio StudioPro 3 Monitors work in my office-based studio and am now happily trying to lay down bass lines to my guitar lines. It turns out that I am way better with the bass when I can hear the guitar parts clearly!
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