By Mitch Gallagher
EQ was given a preview of Blue Sky's MediaDesk at last January's NAMM show, and I've been waiting anxiously to put the system to the test. There's a thorough description of the MediaDesk in our May issue preview, so let's dispense with re-hashing the nuts and bolts other than to say the MediaDesk is a 2.1 system, comprising a subwoofer and two satellites. The sub isn't an add-on, it's integral to the system providing full-range sound.
The sub contains all the controls, bass-management, and amplification. This means the satellites are very light and can be placed most anywhere: on stands, on wall mounts, on mic stands (with optional adapter), or even sitting on your desk next to your computer monitor. An adjustable "foot" lets you set the satellite angle so the speakers aim at your ears.
The MediaDesk owner's manual provides instructions for calibrating the subwoofer to the satellites, and Blue Sky offers downloadable test tones. All you need is something to play the WAV files and an SPL meter. (I use the cheap one from Radio Shack.) The process is easy and you'll have the system dialed in quickly. The Blue Sky website is also an excellent support resource.
system provided for this review was stereo - 2.1. But it's a piece of cake to upgrade to 5.1. The upgrade kit includes a second 3-channel amp module that mounts in the sub, three satellites, and a remote control that provides master volume and individual speaker trim controls.
I'll cut right to the chase: The MediaDesk lives up to its claims, and then some. I set the system on my desk, flanking my computer monitor. The MediaDesk works great for this application. There's plenty of power, and having the speakers right there makes keeping your focus on the screen easy for extended mixing/editing sessions.
Placed on stands, the system performs even better: the midrange and the highs open up. When placed on a desk, the speakers become boxier sounding, due to reflections off the surface. This isn't a Blue Sky problem, it's an acoustics issue. Still, a "desk" switch that compensated for this phenomenon might be a nice addition
Even on stands you'll want the satellites placed close in. The system gets loud, but isn't designed to blast out large rooms. I found placing the speakers around 3-4 feet away to be ideal: The sound is natural, open, and sweet. I monitored for hours without ear-fatigue.
At $599, you'll be hard-pressed to find a true full-range system that performs as well as the MediaDesk. For small rooms and close-up monitoring applications, this one is a winner.