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electronic MUSICIAN

Monitor Speaker

By the EM Staff | January 1, 2001

NHTPRO A-20

($2,000)

The NHTPro A-10 powered monitors garnered high marks from our veteran monitor reviewer, which made them contenders for our pick of the year. And when we auditioned them for ourselves, we drew an even closer bead. But then something happened that turned our heads-we heard NHTPro's top-of-the-line offering, the A-20. Two thousand dollars may sound like a lot, but when you consider the importance of reference monitors in the signal chain and the unique and useful features that the A-20s provide (not to mention their amazing sound), the deal starts looking pretty darn good.

To begin with, these monitors part company with most (though not all) active designs by employing a separate power amp. This approach maintains the advantages of a unified system, yet frees NHTPro from the restraints and compromises inherent in single-box designs. The amp provides 250W per channel and offers three 5-position controls (low-frequency compensation, high-frequency compensation, and input sensitivity) so you can readily tune the monitors to the listening environment. Because the controls are located on the amp, the amp can be positioned so that you can tweak from the sweet spot instead of having to reach around to the back of the cabinets.

The control amp also features a switchable numerical LED readout that shows average system SPL, incoming line voltage, or temperature of the output heat sink. Even the speaker cabinets employ unique design features, notably angled front baffles that help eliminate internal standing waves, minimize comb filtering, and improve stereo imaging and transient response.

As for the sound, the A-20s provide stunning resolution and clarity, a near-flat frequency response from 45 Hz to 20 kHz, and very low distortion. They're accurate in the time domain, too, which means exceptional dynamic range and representation of transients. Moreover, the sweet spot is wide, the imaging excellent, and the overall sound extremely smooth and tight. In short, everything about the A-20s evidences creative yet prudent system design. Need we add that the craftsmanship is first-rate, too?

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