We don’t typically overview studio screens, however with extra individuals working from home, extra individuals are recording, mixing, and modifying all method of media from residence as nicely. At $169 every (or $338 for a pair), the Pioneer DJ VM-50 audio system are comparatively budget-friendly studio screens. There’s no Bluetooth or wi-fi streaming right here, no Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and no headphone jack. These are powered studio screens, plain and easy, and so they’re supreme for near-field monitoring in a medium-sized room. There are some quirks within the design which may scare away purists in search of an unadulterated sign freed from DSP (digital sign processing), however should you’re in search of pair of studio screens or computer speakers that present a comparatively correct audio illustration, you are in the appropriate place.
DSP vs. EQ
Out there in black or white fashions, every VM-50 measures 11.9 by 7.eight by 10.four inches (HWD) and weighs 12.2 kilos. The aluminum entrance face has no protecting grille, which is all the higher for displaying off the angular edges of the MDF enclosure for the 5.25-inch aramid fiber woofer and the 1-inch tender dome tweeter. To the left, the Pioneer DJ brand is emblazoned between the 2 drivers, and to the appropriate, an LED strip—horizontal, and likewise with sharp angled edges—glows white when on and crimson when in standby mode.
The drivers are bi-amplified, every receiving 30 watts of class-D amplification with DSP. They ship a frequency vary of 40Hz to 36kHz.
Beneath the ported bass-reflex duct, the again panel homes enter connections for XLR, quarter-inch balanced TRS, and (unbalanced) RCA. There’s a quantity knob, in addition to an auto standby on/off change, and a grasp energy on/off change. Close to the ability change, there’s a connection for the included energy cable. The quantity knobs have detents and markers so you’ll be able to match every speaker exactly, although the detents are intently spaced and slightly slippery, so in testing it took a number of tries to make certain we had every speaker matched on the similar stage.
To the appropriate of those inputs and switches, there are the aforementioned DSP knobs. Maybe the nomenclature right here will flip some purists off—in the event that they have been labeled EQ knobs, issues may appear extra in sync with studio lingo (and typical studio philosophy of transparency whereas recording and mixing). These knobs make use of digital filters to realize their sounds, so technically a time period like DSP isn’t incorrect, nevertheless it typically implies a point of lively processing like dynamic compression or limiting reacting to peaks within the audio, which would not be one thing you’d usually need in a studio monitor.
Pioneer DJ reps affirm that, technically, there is some dynamic limiting within the sign chain, however solely as a protecting measure—an overload limiter on the enter stage—so you’d solely have interaction it at extraordinarily excessive quantity ranges. There is no such thing as a dynamic compression or limiting or multi-band compression being utilized to the sign, and thus no squashing of peaks such as you hear with DSP usually related to Bluetooth speakers, as an illustration. So whereas the knobs say DSP, they’re, for all intents and functions, EQ filters with particular settings, primarily designed to regulate the sound signature of the screens to your room’s form and dimension, with an added security measure being utilized to the enter at excessive volumes.
The Low DSP knob has 4 settings (L1, L2, L3, and L4), as does the Excessive DSP knob (H1, H2, H3, and H4). The again panel has a diagram that reveals what these settings correspond to. For each Low and Excessive knobs, L1, L2, L3, and H1, H2, and H3 all imply the identical issues—Room 1, Flat, and Room 2, respectively. The final settings on every knob, L4 and H4, stand for Membership Bass on the Low knob and Vivid Treble on the Excessive knob. It’s slightly odd that these two get such clear descriptors whereas the opposite settings don’t, however the graph on the again clearly reveals that Room 1 cuts out deep lows and dials again brilliant highs, specializing in mids, whereas Room 2 boosts bass round 50Hz, for a pleasant subwoofer-like vary so as to add a pair decibels of push, and progressively provides in excessive frequencies beginning round 4kHz.
Pioneer reps confirmed that switching to Flat mode is not a bypass for the DSP, it’s merely a comparatively flatter sound signature. And Membership Bass boosts the aforementioned 50Hz vary by 5 decibels, whereas Vivid Treble provides a bump at 4kHz and a a lot bigger enhance round 8kHz. After all, the pliability of the 2 knobs means you’ll be able to combine and match to get the appropriate stability. Frequent sense dictates good start line could be Flat on each audio system, then including in lows or highs based on the again panel charts. You’ll wish to match the settings for left and proper audio system.
Past the 4 rubber toes and an influence cable that connects to the rear panel, there aren’t any included equipment. The worth is low sufficient that we wouldn’t anticipate something further to start with, and most studio screens don’t ship with extras, however we definitely would not complain if the audio system shipped with primary cabling.
VM-50 Audio Efficiency
For our testing, we linked two VM-50 screens to a 2019 Apple iMac through a Common Audio Apollo audio interface in an acoustically handled room. We examined all kinds of audio, together with every part from lossless audio information, to Apple Music, to in-progress ProTools HD studio recordings.
With each audio system in L2/H2 (Flat) mode, on tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the low-frequency response is correct and clear. The audio system can get fairly loud—louder than a studio atmosphere is prone to want—and I by no means detected the enter limiting getting engaged, so if it was, the limiting is actually delicate.
We are able to affirm that whether or not you select to hear in flat mode or enhance the bass all the best way, the sound signature in the end leans towards accuracy. Whether or not you hear heavy lows or not might be going to rely extra on speaker placement. In our acoustically handled room, the screens have loads of room to breathe, with no wall or floor instantly behind them. That’s more durable to drag off in most residence settings, and when you’ve got a wall inside a foot of the audio system, it is seemingly you gained’t want both of the bass-boosting settings. However the level is, even once we pushed the audio system to their bass-boosted limits, their sound signature by no means resembled that of a mega-bass, overly boosted system like lots of the fashions we take a look at.
Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a monitor with far much less deep bass within the combine, provides us a greater sense of the VM-50’s common sound signature. Again at flat settings, the drums on monitor are delivered with a clear, pure presence—they’ve some roundness and thump to them, nevertheless it’s delicate. You’d by no means describe their presence within the combine as heavy or thunderous, which is how they’ll sound on bass-forward audio system. Callahan’s baritone vocals are delivered with an ideal mix of low-mid richness and high-mid crispness, and the acoustic strums get supreme definition, sounding brilliant and ethereal. The mids typically sound scooped out on this and plenty of different tracks we take a look at on bass-forward, sculpted audio system, however right here the lows, mids, and highs are delivered ideally.
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On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives simply the appropriate high-mid presence, permitting its assault to retain its punchiness and the vinyl crackle and hiss to take a seat of their meant background layer of the combination. Usually, when there’s an excessive amount of high-frequency sculpting, we hear the vinyl crackle step ahead a bit an excessive amount of. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat can sound like pure thunder by the boosted-bass techniques we frequently take a look at, whereas right here the deep lows are delicate each on the synth hits and the maintain of the drum loops when the audio system are in flat mode. When the knobs are adjusted to Membership Bass, the drum loop will get beefier, however the sub-bass synth hits stay comparatively staid—they’re swimming in deep subwoofer territory these audio system do not actually dive into. The vocals on this monitor are delivered with supreme readability and no added sibilance.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In response to the Different Mary, obtain a really perfect mix of lower-register instrumental illustration and higher-frequency readability. The upper-register brass, strings, and vocals take heart stage and command your consideration, whereas the lower-register instrumentation sometimes reaches for deeper notes that push issues barely past a delicate anchoring function. This turns into extra pronounced in Membership Bass mode, a setting undoubtedly not designed for classical music, however one which doesn’t sound half unhealthy on this monitor. That’s as a result of, just like the DSP right here, it’s a barely deceptive time period—there’s nothing club-like about this bass setting, however I assume it sounds slightly extra alluring than “50Hz +5dB.”
Reasonably priced Audio system for Your Studio or Pc
For the value, the Pioneer DJ VM-50 audio system supply wonderful readability and the flexibility to regulate audio to a level. For even much less cash, the $99 Mackie CR3-X audio system additionally ship studio-friendly audio, albeit with much less energy. And should you’re simply in search of a strong sound system to your laptop versus one that provides sonic accuracy for mixing, we’re followers of the Audioengine A1 ($199) and the two.1 Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 ($299). Neither of those techniques have the identical studio-friendly inputs because the VM-50, nevertheless. Finally, the VM-50 audio system ship clear, correct audio for these on a considerably modest studio finances.
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