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In previous issues, I've often mentioned the Alesis M1 Active MkII monitor as a good, budget-conscious solution for home studio monitoring. The new models certainly look very different to the M1 Active MkII, with their computer-style power switches on top of the cabinet and their blue illuminated power indicators. At heart, however, they are based on the proven engineering principles of a ported two-way active system, in this case with the port at the rear of the cabinet.
The cabinets are solidly built, with one-inch-thick front baffles. An attractive black textured coating is laminated onto the surface of the box and the cabinet's front edges are radiused to reduce diffraction and to improve their appearance.
Both the woofer and the tweeter waveguides are recessed flush with the front baffle and fixed with cross-head screws. The smaller M1 Active utilises a 75W amplifier, while the has a W amplifier, and both models are magnetically shielded for use near CRT video monitors.
Alesis give its frequency range as 56Hz to 20kHz, but as no reference level is given for these measurements -3dB is the usual reference , this isn't hugely informative, and neither is a maximum SPL figure supplied. The one-inch, silk-dome tweeter receives 25W of power, while the five-inch woofer a light but stiff polypropylene cone set into a rubber surround receives 50W.
The crossover frequency is set at 2. Weighing 9. It uses the same driver construction at its smaller sibling, but with a 6. Hi Boost operates a shelving filter with a turnover frequency of 3kHz and offers 2dB of cut or boost, as well as having a flat 'off' position. Mid Boost switches a 2. The Lo switch sets the built-in high-pass filter's roll-off frequency at either 56Hz, 80Hz or Hz.
The Acoustic Space switch compensates for the build-up of bass frequencies that occurs when the speakers are used close to walls or to corners: there are free-space, half-space and quarter-space settings, which introduce an appropriate amount of bass cut. One final feature worth mentioning is that the monitors' blue power lights flash red to warn of clipping. When the input is overloaded, the speakers' power lights flash red, instead of blue. In my studio, the larger monitors came across as detailed and smooth, with exceptionally good stereo imaging and plenty of low end.
However, I felt the low end had a slightly plummy coloration that tended to make the bass sound just a bit more warm and round than normal. This characteristic is noticeable in many small to medium-sized studio monitors and is probably down to the port tuning artificially bolstering up low bass notes and kick drums before the response falls away at the lower cutoff point. It's not a problem, providing you get used to the speakers in situ, using good reference recordings that you know well.
However, my own preference is for more sonic honesty in this area. I preferred the s with the Hi and Lo Boost switched off, the high-pass filter at its lowest setting and the Acoustic Space switch set to its centre position. I had the speakers around 35cm away from the wall and well away from corners for these tests, and overall I found the sound revealing, with a satisfying low end.
There's also a decent sense of front-to-back perspective, although not as much as you'd get from a really high-end monitor. Switching to the smaller s revealed a broadly similar tonal character, but with a little less bass extension and seemingly a little less available level. Even so, the bass end is very credible and would perfectly suit many smaller home-studio spaces. If you crank up the level until the LED strips start flashing red on peaks, the subjective level is somewhat higher than I'd want to monitor at for any length of time.
If you back off the level a touch, to stop the peak lights flashing, the sound is still clean and the bass is still under control. I've always thought Alesis monitors offered a good compromise between quality and affordability and these new models seem to follow in that tradition. Although purists could no doubt pick holes in some aspects of their performance, they are very easy to mix on and are revealing enough to highlight any problems in your sound sources.
Both models have more bass extension than you might expect, and while I suspect that this isn't clinically accurate, it works well enough in most small to medium-sized rooms, providing you 'learn' the speakers using known reference material. The smaller s are a great choice for studios set up in smaller spaces or where desktop monitors are required, and even though they look slightly on the diminutive side, their performance is anything but.
To sum up, both models are well worth investigating if you're looking for an effective active monitor at the lower end of the price range. There are lots of powered monitors to choose from at a similar price to the and While it is impossible to make a technically perfect monitor at any price, let alone at this end of the market, Alesis have again managed to find the best compromise, to deliver affordable monitors capable of great mix results.
Alternatives There are lots of powered monitors to choose from at a similar price to the and Pros Sensibly priced. Great styling and solid construction. Sound detailed without being fatiguing. Cons There's plenty of low end, even from the little , but the bass sounds a little larger than life, especially on the Summary While it is impossible to make a technically perfect monitor at any price, let alone at this end of the market, Alesis have again managed to find the best compromise, to deliver affordable monitors capable of great mix results.
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M1Active 520 USB
M1Active USB is a studio monitoring system designed for professional studio use with an internal digital-audio interface. M1Active USB is a pair of active, bi-amplified, two-way reference monitors that play from 20, Hz all the way down to 56 Hz to cover nearly all frequencies audible to human ears. Priced attractively for any studio's budget, M1Active USB perform with linearity, clarity, and neutrality typically reserved for monitors that cost much more. We built M1Active USB around our popular five-inch polypropylene low-frequency driver for full, smooth response in the low end and our one-inch silk dome high-frequency driver for absolute clarity in the highs. Our custom crossover avoids the crucial vocal midrange, ensuring that your mixes sound the way you recorded them. The low-resonance bass reflex cabinet features radiussed edges to reduce edge diffraction and a tuned port for bass extension.
Alesis M1Active 520 Specs
Alesis M1 Active 620 & 520