Recording - September 2014 - 51

those of my guest listeners, that sweet spot
is quite small. If you move even a couple of
feet forward or back, the low/mid balance
becomes suspect and the phantom center
breaks up, and if you move too far to one
side, you can actually hear the mids
"peek" around the tweeter waveguide,
becoming uncontrolled and spiky.
Since most coaxial designs are intended to provide a wider sweet spot than
conventional monitors, I found this restriction disconcerting. The M3-8 was a beautiful speaker to listen to... as long as you
sat in the right place and didn't move.

placed beneath them. All three drivers are
set in an attractive wood-veneer fascia, with
porting in the rear of the vinyl-laminated
wood cabinet. The construction is very dense
and heavy, each speaker weighing just over
28 pounds, and the cabinets are very rigid
with no obvious resonances or ringing.
The rear panel sports an impressive set
of controls. In our review of the original
Studiophile BX8a back in November
2008, Nick Casares dinged the speakers
for relatively primitive EQ capabilities,
complaining that they were difficult to
adjust for his listening space. Not so with
the M3-8; in addition to a 60 Hz or 80 Hz
LF cutoff for use with a subwoofer, it sports
a full 3-band EQ on the back, with ±6 dB
boost or cut at 100 Hz, 1 kHz, and 10
kHz. This is in addition to a Volume knob,
power switch and IEC cable jack, rear-facing port along the top edge, and large
heat sink. Connections are balanced XLR
and TRS plus unbalanced RCA.
The M3-8 boasts a 38 Hz-22 kHz frequency response, no tolerances given. Its
three amplifiers offer 150W in the lows
and 35W each for mids and highs, with
crossover frequencies of 450 Hz and
3.9 kHz.
The M3-8-in the studio
The M3-8 was set up in Recording's
office studio. It's a reasonably well-damped
room for near-field monitors, and you can't
get much smaller than this space and still
hope to get decent results with big 3-way
speakers. The monitors were set up in a triangle roughly 6' on a side and aligned
with the tweeter/mid aimed at the listener's

height. Ultimate Support speaker
stands were used, with spikes to isolate them from the floor but no isolation under the speakers themselves.
My results with the M3-8 were so unusual
that I called in other staffers to listen to them;
asked for their impressions without my telling
them what to listen for, they all confirmed
what I was hearing. This speaker offers an
extraordinary listening experience, but with
one important caveat I'll get to in a moment.
The imaging of these speakers is unbelievably accurate! You can hear precisely where
everything is in the stereo spectrum, and the
phantom center, especially for vocals, is so
tightly defined that you can reach out and
touch precisely where in thin air there isn't a
center-channel speaker providing the stuff in
the middle of the soundfield!
The crossovers have no perceptible hiccups between high and mid drivers; I
thought I might have heard some nonlinearity right at the 450 Hz mark between lows
and mids, but only on one or two tracks with
a lot of lower-mid stuff going on and never
enough to be able to confirm for certain. I
did most of my listening with the EQ
bypassed, and did a few sessions with the
mid EQ band rolled off by about 1.3 dB (the
EQ controls are click-detented with about 3
clicks per 2 dB of boost or cut; I cut by two
clicks on each speaker). This helped balance
the tracks I found problematic but made most
other tracks less reproducible to my ears.
Highs and mids meld beautifully with the
coaxial design, and bass is strong, focused,
and extended without being woofy.
Now, what about the caveat I mentioned? As long as I was sitting precisely in
the sweet spot of the M3-8s, my listening
experience was the impressive one I've
described... but in my experiences and

Conclusions
Two very different monitors-two very
different results. The BX5 Carbon is a
speaker I can cheerfully recommend to anyone who'd like an entry-level monitor that
provides a forgiving soundstage for listening alone or with small groups of collaborators. Just be sure to check your mixes in
speakers with more bass, or add a sub, to
confirm you're getting the whole picture.
The M3-8, on the other hand, offers an
exquisitely detailed and precise listening
experience to the solo engineer/producer
positioned perfectly with respect to the monitors, but is much less suitable for use in any
situation where a great deal of movement
(as with a large console) or a wide usable
listening area (as with multiple engineers or
artists listening at once) is paramount. Listen
and judge for yourself.

Prices: BX5 Carbon, $149.99 each;
M3-8, $349.99 each
More from: M-Audio,
www.m-audio.com
RECORDING September 2014

51


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Recording - September 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014

Contents
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
Recording - September 2014 - Cover2
Recording - September 2014 - 1
Recording - September 2014 - 2
Recording - September 2014 - 3
Recording - September 2014 - 4
Recording - September 2014 - 5
Recording - September 2014 - Contents
Recording - September 2014 - 7
Recording - September 2014 - 8
Recording - September 2014 - 9
Recording - September 2014 - 10
Recording - September 2014 - 11
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Recording - September 2014 - Cover3
Recording - September 2014 - Cover4
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