Review: IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors

The power of small
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As the old cliché goes, “don’t judge a bookshelf speaker by its profile” (or something like that). But I confess: When I first saw the IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors, I didn’t have high expectations. How can you fit a high-quality, bi-amped reference speaker into a 7.1" x 5.3" x 3.5" design that weighs less than 4 lbs. for the pair? Suffice to say, these monitors proved my initial pre-judgment to be hasty.

Fig. 1. At about the size of a big external hard drive, the iLoud Micro Monitors defy expectations for portable powered speakers.

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With a combined system power of 50W coming from a pair of 3" woofers and 0.75" silk-dome tweeters, the iLoud Micro Monitors do, in fact, get loud—up to 107dB SPL—but you’ll likely get clipping before reaching maximum volume, as indicated by a red LED on the left speaker. Either way, they won’t blow you away with their power, but that’s not the point.

Made specifically for small studios of an average size of 10' x 13', the iLoud Micro Monitors use internal 56-bit DSP to create a time-aligned crossover point between the tweeter and woofer while preserving midrange accuracy. An EQ switch on the back toggles the bass and treble response from “flat” to a desktop setting made for small-studio operators who put their monitors on a surface that is close to a wall (which is normally not ideal). Two additional EQ switches attenuate the high and low frequencies from “flat” to -3dB.

The speakers must be connected together using the included cable and powered from the left cabinet. The monitors accept unbalanced analog inputs behind the left speaker using a pair of RCA jacks and a stereo 1/8" input. Combined with its Bluetooth connectivity, you can monitor one wireless digital source and two analog inputs simultaneously. The Bluetooth button initiates pairing; the front-panel LED flashes blue at first, then stays solid blue while connected. Each speaker has a two-position isolation base that can angle the speaker up from the desktop, as well as a mic-stand mount in the base.

When listening to the iLoud Micro Monitors, it’s clear right away that their sound surpasses that of just about any pair of desktop or bookshelf multimedia speakers you could compare them to. In fact, multimedia speakers generally display the exact midrange mud that the iLoud Micro Monitors were designed to avoid. The latter also has much better stereo imaging and offers greater clarity and detail through the full frequency range.

Likely bolstered by the bass reflex ports under the woofers, iLoud Micros deliver the kind of low, vibrational rumble that you can feel, despite having a frequency response starting at 55Hz (compared to 20-45Hz that is typical of larger studio monitors).

Simply put, the iLoud Micros push out a trustworthy, detailed, and well-imaged sound of real studio close-field monitors at levels that are more than adequate for the small spaces they target. With that, however, comes a normal studio-monitor caveat: low-level, yet noticeable hum due to the onboard electronics.

While the iLoud Micro Monitors cost more than most desktop multimedia speakers, they also blow them away in audio quality and have a smaller footprint than the majority of them. And compared to popular compact monitors within the same price range, the iLoud Micros are drastically smaller and weigh much less.

Whether you buy the dedicated travel bag ($39.99, sold separately) or stash them in a normal-size backpack, these professional speakers will make good little travel buddies.

STRENGTHS
Big sound in a tiny package. Designed for the quirks of bedroom studios. Many configuration options. Bluetooth connectivity. Two sets of analog inputs.

LIMITATIONS
A thick, stiff speaker connection cable and a lumped power supply put a small damper on transporting the monitors.

$299/pair, street
ikmultimedia.com

Markkus Rovito drums, DJs, and contributes frequently to DJ Tech Tools.