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Review: M-Audio Studiophile BX-8a Studio Monitors

Review: M-Audio Studiophile BX-8a Studio Monitors

Loud, Clear and Crisp that make for an excellent monitor source

Gear   13724 Views
Last Edited by: Jack Stovin June 29th, 2012.

Studio Monitors are the heart of any studio. Be it a project studio or the top end studios found across the world, the single most important item in that studio is the studio monitor possbily second [maybe] to the microphone cabinet. As such, it is highly important that the right choice is made with regards to what to purchase for your studio. M-Audio have just released the BX8a Studiophile which is quickly taking the studio monitor world by storm due to it's quality of build, sound quality and low price. I seem to be hearing more and more about M-Audio these days and this is obviously for a good reason. They have a clear brand and identity and, as a fan of black, they have hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned with regards to their choice of colour across ALL their products. The M-Audio BX8a was originally released under the name SP-8 which was fairly similar looking but did not contain any switches or roll-offs. The SP-8s were good monitors but didn't really stack up as well as it should have against the other audio monitoring solutions in the pro audio field. So, back to the drawing board M-Audio went and they came out with this highly refined, re-branded and re-labeled product - the BX8a. I must say the improvements are vast and well worth the time and monetary investment because the M-Audio BX8a is a studio monitoring solution not to be reckoned with!

Inside the speaker cabinet, you will find an 8” low frequency driver and a 1” high frequency driver. The M-Audio BX8a's are bi-amplified which means that instead of having one amplifier to drive everything they have split the 130 Watt power output across two amplifiers, one 65 Watt powering the bass and one 65 Watt powering the rest which offers great evenness of sound. On the back of each monitor there is a large sub-frequency port that discharges the sub-sonic frequencies (3oHz and less). The M-Audio BX8a's allow you to connect into your setup through either an XLR cable or TRS / unbalanced ¼” TS cables, there is also very nicely a volume control allowing you to control the output of the monitors.

The first thing I found to be missing, is a front mounted on/off switch. Now, this might not sound like much of a big deal to you, but when you have multiple monitors and you want to "hotswap" the cables so you can hear your mix through different sources almost instantaneously, not having this option becomes a pain.

The main features of the M-Audio BX8A monitors include:
  • Incredible sounding yet affordable, two-way magnetically shielded studio reference monitors with a stylish design
  • 130 Watts of bi-amplified power
  • 8 inch low-frequency drivers with curved Kevlar cones, high-temperature voice coils and damped rubber surround
  • 1 inch natural silk high-frequency drivers
  • Magnetically shielded
  • XLR balanced and 1/4 inch jack balanced/unbalanced inputs
  • Power indicator
  • Volume control
  • Frequency response: 40Hz-24kHz
  • Low-frequency amplifier power: 70 watts into 4 ohms
  • High-frequency amplifier power: 60 watts into 6 ohms
  • Crossover frequency: 2.2 kHz
  • Crossover filter network: 4th-order Linkwitz-Riley
  • Amplifier type: class AB monolithic
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: >100dB (typical, A-weighted)
  • Input impedance: 20k ohms balanced, 10K Ohms unbalanced
  • Input sensitivity: 85mV pink noise input produces 90dBA output SPL at one meter with volume control at maximum
  • Power: factory programmed for either 115V ~50/60Hz, 230V~50/60Hz
  • Protection: RF interference, output current limiting, over temperature, turn-on/off transient, subsonic filter, external mains fuse
  • Cabinet: vinyl laminated MDF (enclosure natural Helmholtz resonance frequency: 30 Hz)
  • Size: 30.48cm x 25.4cm x 38.1cm
  • Weight: 26.4 lbs./unit; 11.97 kg
The Road Test

As with any 8-inch driver studio monitor, they come in big boxes as the monitors themselves are pretty hefty. Unpacking was easy enough as was setup. Until this point, my staple studio monitor was the Tannoy Reveal 8Ds. I have owned these since opening my recording studio and have loved them and trusted them. That was until this precise moment. Plugging the Tannoy Reveal 8Ds into the same audio feed and using the on/off switches on the Tannoys I could almost instantaneously listen to the difference between the two. What I used to love and trust was quickly sounding quite muffled in comparison particularly on the bass and treble frequencies.

The M-Audio BX8a studio monitors offered much more clarity across ALL frequencies particularly the treble and bass. The Tannoy Reveals do offer more bass boom, however as my time with the BX8a's has gone on I have come to realize that this lack of bass boom results in more bass clarity, which ends up being mixed to the correct levels to sound good on all systems. In the past, mixing with the Tannoy Reveal 8Ds I had found in some cases that when you played it on a hifi, the bass was too quite due to the Tannoy's pushing too much bass end out during the mixing process which resulted in the wrong mix level of the bass instruments (kick and bass guitar). Next to each other the BX8a sounds thinner than the Tannoy Reveal 8D's although you quickly forget this due to the crispness and clarity of the BX8as. Without even realizing it I found myself "cheating" on my long term relationship with the Tannoy Reveal 8D. To begin with though I held onto this relationship by running both together but now I rarely use the Tannoy Reveal 8D's at all, basically what was a love ended up becoming bin fodder for me due to the sheer quality of the M-Audio BX8s.


Figure 1: The Back of the BX8as

Other observations whilst using the M-Audio BX8a's is their stereo imaging. Good stereo imaging is one of those things that doesn't usually come across that well with near-field monitors. The clarity and three dimensions of the sound are great allowing you to pick out clearly even things turned down in a mix quite considerably. So after just listening to a couple of my favourite albums through these to test it was on to mixing. Since I have mixed music of all genres on the M-Audio BX8a's [from heavy metal all the way to pop and electronica with everything in between] I found it stands it's own with even the most brutal, heavy music.

In a nutshell for me, although the sound appears slightly colourized I feel these studio monitors are PERFECT for recording, mixing and producing digital based recordings and I fully trust how things sound, and will transcribe to other systems. If your mix sounds good on these, it will sound amazing on any other systems you try it on [even shitty laptop speakers]. It is good to trust your monitoring equipment and the M-Audio BX8a's are to be fully trusted. No more secondary source tests needed, confidently give your clients their master and move on to the next job!

My next test was to experiment with these studio monitors in different monitoring environments. I firstly took the monitors and my laptop from my acoustically treated control room into my big live "green" room which has no acoustic treatment and has a big echoey sound. The second place I took them was my open planned apartment, the idea being to put them in bigger rooms, so there would potentially be more problems. No problems were experienced and mixes were successfully completed in both rooms that transcribed excellently across other systems. This robustness is why I recommend the M-Audio BX8a's for all home and project studios. Not only do you get a great quality studio monitor but you can be comfortable in the fact that it will sound good in even the strangest of rooms and that's the single most important thing.

Summary

The M-Audio BX8a studio monitors offer superior sound quality at a price that makes it affordable for even the home user. The clarity is so good that I left my last studio monitors and shacked up with the BX8a's. My mixes just get better and better and that's all thanks to the BX8as. Check out the link below to hear for yourself, but by purchasing yourself a pair of these [and with of course sound engineering skill] you could be making record label quality recordings very quickly and without breaking the bank. Last minute Christmas present? I think so.

Pros:
  • Excellent, crisp and clear sound with a great 3d stereo image
  • Tight Bass
  • Great Value for Money
  • Works well monitoring all music
  • Works well even in non acoustically treated environments.
Cons:
  • No front mounted power switch
  • No protective cover for the tweeters
Information:Review Rating:
90%

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