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Customer Review

150 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Punchy, Crisp, With Perfect Mids After Break-In. And Subwoofers Aren't Made For Music!, December 31, 2008
This review is from: M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Powered Speakers (Previous Version) (Electronics)
Until I used these speakers, I thought that speaker "break-in" was just certain audiophiles' way of justifying a speaker purchase. The speakers didn't actually get better, their ears just adjusted to them, right? Boy, was I wrong.

I purchased the M-Audio AV 40 after reading the umpteen quadrillion 5-star reviews plastered all over the internet, and after having sworn off bloated, sloppy subwoofers forever. I eagerly awaited the arrival from Amazon (four business days, not bad!), and when they came I was so excited I could barely hook them up. However, this was followed by an extremely hollow and anti-climactic sound. I was crushed! Rather than packing them for resale, I recalled some other reviewers' advice on breaking them in. I skeptically continued by leaving them juiced them for the better part of a day, and I was rewarded with the title of this review - Punchy low end, unreal crispness in the higher frequencies, and VERY well-pronounced mids.

A lot of people consider music to be low and high end, childishly embellishing both ends of the spectrum. That's fine, as I'm not the Taste Police, but sooo much music is lost, 'smeared', or just drowned like that. Most of your music lives in the mids, and that is clearly evidenced by the outstanding reproduction of the M Audios. I'm hearing subtle nuances I've never heard before, like fingers on frets, breath, and a ton of other sounds previously washed over by my typically consumer-level 2.1 system (Klipsch).

'Punchy' lows are hard to describe until you hear it for yourself. They are clean, 'fast,' and accurate. This is a stark contrast to the typical 2.1. The M Audio rig delivers low-end as the recording engineers intended. Most importantly, the rest of your music is intact, and you're free to enjoy a clarity generally unheard of in computer audio.

Another trait that bucks the trend of computer speakers is the clear highs. Sure, those other systems have highs, too...some even have dedicated tweeters (though most use all-in-one drivers). The difference here is that the highs just sail from the speakers as opposed to being shrill, 'bright', and fatiguing after longer listening sessions. You're free to concentrate on the music without being reminded of how annoying your speakers are. That's a HUGE upgrade from most speakers that use circuitry to color your sound. Bose, for instance, is notorious for ruining pure sound by processing it into what THEY think you want to hear. If that's tinny cymbals and loose, slippery bass, hey, have at it. The M Audios leave the frequency spectrum alone, allowing you to enjoy the flat (i.e., accurate) response or EQ to your content.

Build quality is out of this world, at this price point. Clearly, these aren't your buddy's same-same, 'plasticky' speaker system. The design itself is extremely professional and understated, though I can see how some users might be turned off by the footprint. Hopefully, this will be mitigated by the lack of wires running all over your office, or subwoofers taking up floor space (not to mention screwing up your sound).

One of the simplest things to do in order to have great audio is to ditch the sub and go for a system that is designed not to compete with itself, which is what almost always happens with overpowered subs and tinny satellites. People often buy speakers like the Logitech Z-2300 based on sheer power stats. Sure, you'll rattle window sills and piss off the neighbors, but I'm convinces that too much music is lost under the flatulent bass. Those units are GREAT for home theater, as they have ported boxes that lend themselves to power over accuracy. Thus, explosions sound great. But the same force that drives home sound effects in movies is what makes kick drums or more complicated bass lines boom and bounce all over the place, destroying the natural balance of the sound. The M Audio presents the entire spectrum for you to bathe in.

These are 'near-field.' You'll get the best result by placing them very close to where you sit. They will make a terrible bookshelf solution, as they are ported in the rear and bookshelf placement will not give them proper room to breathe. What I did was buy a $50 set of speaker stands here at Amazon, mounting them about four feet from each ear. The sound is just out of this world, and they look awesome while freeing my desk for my notoriously disorganized crap.

These speakers are like $130 shipped, as of this writing. That's the cost of most self-styled 'high-end' PC systems. But trust me, the AV 40 are the only ones I've heard that are delivering anything close to a great, non-fatiguing listening experience. As a bonus, if you live in an apartment or condo they won't be talking about you at meetings. But most of all, the clarity of these little speakers is hardly EVER found at this price point. I'm ridiculously happy with them, if you couldn't already tell!
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 25, 2010 11:57:58 PM PST
This is the best review I read. My next goal in life is to buy these. Right now I use headphones with my mixing board. Headphones! There are just too many wires running around. I don't even have an amp for my guitar, I use my mixing board for that, so I have to use headphones when I play. The wire gets in the way and is annoying, plus my headphones aren't all that great.

Posted on Mar 26, 2010 3:59:12 PM PDT
Einstein says:
I really like your rich and detailed review. Thank you very much!

Posted on Aug 3, 2010 3:18:32 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 3, 2010 3:19:53 PM PDT]

Posted on Oct 30, 2010 11:12:03 PM PDT
Jakkkke says:
awsome review, you have a gift for words-humorous too. I will be buying a set if I find there is no current "upgrade" since your review. You should get a commission from them as your review has likely sold several of these bad boys. They pay folks big bucks to blog their items, but those paid reviewers don't have the honesty and real world sound. Thanks.

Posted on Apr 15, 2011 1:24:00 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 18, 2011 7:31:05 PM PDT]

Posted on Sep 18, 2011 6:59:30 PM PDT
Steverino says:
You do not lie. These speakers need a serious break in time. I was very disappointed with mine when I first got them and had to use them with my z5500's plugged in or else I'd just get way too much of the high end. But after a 2 or 3 weeks I stopped using the z5500s with them and wow the sound had totally changed from when I first had them. And they got even better with more use; I think it took like a month and a half to really break them in.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 6:27:15 PM PDT
baldee63 says:
Your review must be one that I later recalled about "break-in" I was disappointed but remebered that part of your review, so thanks for that!! I then wrote my review later and discovered it was very similar to yours after the fact....you were spot-on dude. Didn't mean to copy your review, but I guess we had the same opinions.Anyway, thanks for taking the time to review and helping us "doubters" out!!

Posted on Jun 3, 2013 9:17:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2013 2:25:29 AM PDT
creed says:
Nice review. The thing I'd say is if you have experienced sloppy subwoofers then they were bad subwoofers. But for the sort of money that these speakers cost you won't get anything decent. If you ever get the chance to listen to an REL Strata 5, well I'll eat my hat if you think that's sloppy.

Posted on Apr 19, 2014 12:03:49 AM PDT
Wow reviews by some folks who understand speakers!! Nice! I've had many many pairs of speakers over the years, few I like all things about. The room is a large part of your speakers sound as well as placement. There is a lot of crap out there, loud booming subs that lack detail. Poor crossover point choices and varying driver quality. At lower volumes the AV 40's are pretty good at moderate volumes, driven too hard and distortion ensues as all amplifiers do at some point. I paid $80.00 for these, a good deal on good sound. The bashers got bad ones. hey, made in china that's the way it goes these days. I like my pair so I think at some point i'll put some better quality parts in the power supply and maybe the HV side of the amplifier.
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