New Gear: M-Audio BX5 D2 Powered Audio Monitors

M-Audio-BX5D2-Single.jpg

M-Audio-BX5D2-SingleA long while ago I described my experience comparing some low-end powered audio monitors for use around the home and office. We have had a mix of things in use since then, although in every case there’s a Logitech Squeezebox feeding a pair of powered monitors.

In the post-holiday exhale I’ve taken an opportunity to add a pair of M-Audio BX5 D2 5″ Active 2-Way Studio Monitor Speakers. These were offered on Amazon for $288. That’s a bargain price given the performance of the product.

I’ve had a pair of the earlier BX-5a’s for some time. Over time I’ve come to appreciate them above almost everything else on-site. Thus the decision to buy the updated version was very easy to make.

Just a few days later Mashable posted an article offering “6 Laptop Speakers for Astute Audiophiles.” That article starts with the Audio Engine A5+ as their top-of-the-line offering. At $400 for the pair they’re a fine product, but I think that my BX5’s deliver equally well for less money.

AudioEngineA5-vs-MAudio-BX5D2

In fact, it’s worth comparing the specs of the two directly.

Product: Audio Engine A5+ M-Audio BX5 D2
Configuration: Two-way
Single amplifier
Passive cross-over
Rear ported enclosure
Two-way
Bi-amped
Active cross-over
Rear ported enclosure
Woofer: 5” Kevlar cone 5” Kevlar cone
Tweeter: 3/4” silk dome 1” silk dome
Amplifier Power: 50 watts rms 40+30 watts rms
Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 22 KHz +/- 1.5 db 56 Hz – 22 KHz +/- 1.5 db
Input configuration: – 10 dbm unbalanced RCA type x 2, 3.5 mm mini jack +4 dbm balanced XLR + 1/4” balanced TRS

The Audio Engine offering has a couple of nice conveniences, like a USB port for powering and iPod as a signal source, and a corresponding 3.5mm input for using such a source. It places the amplifier electronics in one speaker, requiring a speaker lead to the other which is otherwise passive.

The M-Audio speakers are identical, each requiring AC power and an input connection. The inputs use the professional, balanced signals via 1/4” and XLR type connectors. That implies using an adaptor to connector something like an iPod or Squeezebox. In practice such adapters are cheap and easily found.

The bi-amplified M-Audio speakers are considerably more powerful than the AE offering. The fact that Audio Engine quotes 75 watts “peak” power as well as 50 watts RMS power is a bit disappointing. I had thought that peak output measurements, once a common way to confuse the consumer, were frowned upon by the FTC.

The A5+ are a little more convenient in that the connectivity is tailored for a laptop or mobile device. The inclusion of a front-mounted volume control make that setting source independent, which may also be convenient.

In the end, I still think that professional powered monitors from the likes of Avid’s M-Audio, Behringer, KRK, Mackie and Yamaha offer superior performance for similar prices to some of the more costly PC audio solutions. When you can find such gear at a discount it becomes the obvious better choice.