Overall EM Rating
(1 through 5):
4TheBlue Sky ProDesk 2.1 is a desktop monitoring systm that combines a pairof compact, active monitors with a subwoofer.
Although monitors with drivers less than six inches in diameterserve as an important reference tool, they cannot accurately reproducethe lowest part of the audio range on their own. To address thislimitation, Blue Sky created the ProDesk 2.1 system ($1,195), whichcombines a pair of SAT 5 monitors with the Sub 8 subwoofer. The SAT 5'ssealed “acoustic suspension” cabinets take care of thefrequencies above 80 Hz, leaving the subwoofer to cover the 20 to 80 Hzrange.
Setting the Atmosphere
The SAT 5 satellite monitor is a biamped two-way speaker with a5¼-inch woofer and ¾-inch tweeter powered by individual 60Wamps. Blue Sky made the cabinet as narrow as possible while stillaccommodating the abbreviated woofer frame; narrow cabinets are oftenused to maximize a speaker's horizontal dispersion. The speakers usesoft dome tweeters with a uniquely designed wave guide that results inexcellent imaging. The SAT 5 also has an 80 Hz crossover filter,switchable on the rear panel.
The Sub 8 is powered by a 100W amp, and like the SAT 5 woofers, ithas an aluminum-alloy cone and no dust cap. It includes stereo inputsand outputs as well as a sub input and output for using the unit in asurround system. The sub output, which has a 24 dB-per-octave lowpassfilter at 80 Hz, is used for connecting a second subwoofer.
Each monitor has a rear-panel input-level control calibrated in 3 dBincrements. Blue Sky offers the Functional Volume Control ($100), awired remote-control attenuator for the system that attaches to thesubwoofer. This is especially useful if you have the speakers pluggedinto the outputs of a DAW's audio interface.
Ears the Scoop
One of the first things I noticed about the ProDesk 2.1 system isthat it has a good transient response and a wide sound field. In aclose-field monitoring setup, it's important that the monitors arepositioned so that they form an equilateral triangle — typicallywith 3-foot sides — with the listener's head. In my room, whichis acoustically treated, the SAT 5s sounded best at a distance of 6feet. The result was tight imaging, with an open sound that was liveand punchy.
Although the monitors don't sound overly hyped, the SAT 5s do have avery gentle “smiley” EQ curve, with a slight boost in thelowest and highest ranges. The trough of the curve is at 1.8 kHz, justbelow the crossover point between the tweeter and woofer. The result isthat vocals tend to sit further back in a mix on the ProDesk 2.1 systemthan on monitors that have a boost in the 1 to 2 kHz range.
On some instruments, the SAT 5's upper frequency range has atendency to sound sibilant, due either to a boost in the monitor's 6kHz area or to dips below it. For example, hi-hats sounded a littlesizzly, some vocalists sounded a little thin, and spoken-word materialespecially tended to sound artificial. However, the effect isn't severeenough to make the system fatiguing to the ears.
Overall, the bass response on this system is tight, and you don'thave to strain to hear bass notes. The Sub 8 is able to reproduce thebone-rattling frequencies below 30 Hz at a very respectable levelwithout breaking up or sounding strained. And in the 60 Hz octave abovethat, you'll have no trouble separating the bass drum from thebass.
One nice thing about the ProDesk 2.1 system is that the balance ofthe sub and satellites remains constant as you reduce the level. Youdon't want a studio monitoring system to compensate for theFletcher-Munson effect as you reduce the overall volume.
The ProDesk 2.1 does a good job of maintaining its sound quality athigh and low volumes, letting you hear the details of a mix clearly,especially in the lowest frequencies. And it's plenty loud for thetypical personal studio.
With two biamped satellites and a powered subwoofer, the ProDesk 2.1system sounds great and is very competitive in its price range. It'shard to find monitors that sound pleasant and are easy to work with,but this system fills both requirements.