Dynaudio Acoustics BM5A Two-Way Active Nearfield Monitors

[$500 street, dynaudioacoustics.com]

Speakers are like tires.

Even a shitty car can gain better handling and speed from a new set, and nice cars demand nice rubber. The same goes for speakers. Sure, a fine set of monitors might just reveal all the flaws in the front end or the board, but at least you find out where the problem is instead of spinning your wheels in frustration. That said, there are at least as many different speakers available as there are tires, making the decision very challenging for home studio folk. Price prohibits cheap bastards like myself from shopping top shelf, and frankly, guys like me usually don’t have enough space are patient enough neighbors to justify a set of Pirelli-equivalent megablasters (see: Genelec, Tannoy, and so on). I’m just content to get a nice pair of well-balanced, versatile monitors at a decent price. Dynaudio Acoustics’ BM5A’s provide just what I need: active, nearfield monitors that work well in a variety of smaller spaces.

Weighing in at 8.7kg (19.7 lbs.) each, these are not flimsy cabinets. With only 9 liters of volume, however, they don’t cramp the room either. The cones are rather exposed from the front, which makes a klutz like me a bit nervous, but the woofers are molded polypro and aluminum, and the tweeter is protected by a funky-looking trident. At only $612.50 each (<$500 street), I wouldn’t worry about them as much as I would about the aforementioned billionaire-busters, anyway. The rear panel offers a number of tuning options via a trio of three-position switches (low, mid, and high), including a high-pass filter (flat, 60Hz, and 80 Hz) and a level switch (+4dB, 0dB, and –10dB). This makes it easy to remember the setup and keep it consistent side-to-side, rather than twiddling a bunch of knobs. The sound is well worth it, and feels like a lot more than 50 watts each. Response in the bass frequencies is remarkably full, given the size, but there is a low-cut switch to keep the neighbors from getting too mad (or to keep boomy rooms from going boom). High-end is also quite impressive and speaks to the success the Danish firm has had with their total rework of the tweeter. The mid-range is a bit muddy on flat settings, but the attenuation switch takes care of most of the problem, depending on the source material and the room. The only other complaint I could possibly have is that the power switch is kind of hard to find amongst all the other stuff on the rear panel, but that’s less likely to be a problem in a slightly larger room.

All in all, these speakers have made ’06 a much tighter, brighter, all-out rockin’ year for me so far. They remind me of a good pair of aggressive, all-season tires: great in the extremes, with good response on clear roads as well. For the budget-minded recordist working in challenging spaces, these monitors will get you where you want to go.