Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

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Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:32 pm

My previous experience with lowfi/mid-fi audio is that I own/have owned Sony V6 headphones, Sennheiser HD580 headphones, Energy Take 5 5.1 home theater set, Monsoon PM9 speakers, Klipsch PM 2.1 and the Logitech Z623. My tastes run towards ambient/accoustic & rock music, so I was interested in smooth mids and accuracy, rather than boomy mids/lows and loudness. I tried most of the leading PC speakers at the local store and all of them left me wanting because of lack of decent mids.

Since this is my first day with them, I will withhold judgement until I finish auditioning them. My take so far is that while the mid and highs are good, the bass seems a bit on the light side. The sound is revealing to the point of being somewhat fatiguing. Maybe I need to acclimate to these monitor speakers, which admittedly are for recording, not listening. The sound is forward and revealing, so it makes badly recorded sound stand out that much more, and exposed the deficiency in my soundcard as well. Anything less than 256k mp3s sounded crude and artificial. With a good source & soundcard, I'm guessing these will positively sing.

The BX8a Deluxe were on sale at 219, which is the upper limit of what computer speakers go for. The model I got is discontinued and the new ones are BX8 D2 costing double, supposedly with sturdier caps that don't burn out so quickly. Considering the price, these are decent value, but not overwhelmingly good. I was expecting to be blown away by the 8" woofer, but my guess is that the size is more marketing than actually put to good use. If things don't get noticeably better, I may go for the Swan M50s, which are around 280.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:42 pm

Nice review, but... aren't the M-Audio BX8A simply audio monitor speakers? Describing them as "PC speakers" isn't entirely accurate I guess. And of course, given their pedigree and price, one would expect them to sound seriously better than the usual suspects.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:30 pm

Most people are so accustomed to exaggerated boomy bass, they think that is "normal". So when presented with speakers which actually have flat response, the perception is that they are lacking in bass.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:57 pm

^ hence the creation of that horrible thing known as dubstep *cringes*.

My step brother does a lot of music recording and production, mostly with his own stuff (he's a damn musical genious). He uses M-Audio's step down from those, and they sound great for a non-professional setup.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:57 pm

If they're just a bigger version of the BX5a sitting on my desk, they're totally awesome monitors. They're not really meant for movies or other "multimedia" functions, as I'm sure you're learning, but for reference monitors they're super-affordable and sound awesome, and they are absolutely for active listening. Avid is retiring them, though, as they just got replaced by the BX8 D2. All the same, that doesn't take anything away from BX8a. They should still be pretty excellent speakers, if you know what you're buying ahead of time. I paid $249 a year ago for the BX5a, so getting a set of BX8a for $220 is a steal. just brew it is right about the flat frequency response. I was a little taken back when I got mine and was underwhelmed by the bass. Your ears adjust.

I'm something of an Avid junkie, though. M-Audio monitors, keyboard controller, and audio interface, and Pro Tools 9 MP for recording. I might be a little biased.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:11 pm

just brew it! wrote:Most people are so accustomed to exaggerated boomy bass, they think that is "normal". So when presented with speakers which actually have flat response, the perception is that they are lacking in bass.

Or they hear in the upper Khz ranges like me. That's why I have severe issues with stuff that's too bright-sounding, lacking in bass, or both. For instance, everyone quotes my Sennheiser HD212Pros as being heavy on the bass, but I find them just great, though obviously lacking in midrange and high-end detail.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:33 pm

That's not just you, morphine - that's just how the ear works. We perceive things in the 2-4khz range to be louder than, say, 10khz or 120hz when a totally neutral device would detect the same SPL across the frequency spectrum. Either our ears have evolved to pick up that range in order to better hear plosives, or language has involved to incorporate them because our ears hear that range better. Not sure which.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:06 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:That's not just you, morphine - that's just how the ear works. We perceive things in the 2-4khz range to be louder than, say, 10khz or 120hz when a totally neutral device would detect the same SPL across the frequency spectrum. Either our ears have evolved to pick up that range in order to better hear plosives, or language has involved to incorporate them because our ears hear that range better. Not sure which.

I've measured. 19Khz+ :)
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:12 pm

Oh, OK. You might be a freak, then. :lol:
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:42 pm

morphine wrote:I've measured. 19Khz+ :)

And? You act like that's out of the norm. :P
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:39 pm

Most adults will start to lose that range, though I think I hear most of it still. At least using this here Youtube video, I hear what it claims to be 18khz.

http://donrathjr.com/audible-range-human-hearing/

So I guess he's not so freaky, probably pretty normal.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:37 am

I used to be able to hear out to nearly 20K when I was younger. I believe my hearing cuts off somewhere south of 16K these days. Probably too many loud rock concerts in my teens and 20s... and the very occasional one still (saw Iron Maiden last year, and they were *freaking* loud).
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:35 pm

I can pick out a bit of 18kHz but not at a flat amplitude, there's some loss there. Easy to test, though, as many sound editing packages will do tone generation. I've been using the freeware version of this tone generator utility for years:

http://www.nch.com.au/tonegen/index.html

Look for "downloads" at the bottom of the page. Or, just search the Android Market for "tone generator" and browse through the options, there are many similar utilities. But note that any of these can immediately blow up a set of speakers (or ears) if run at high amplitude or for extended periods, so use with caution.

Also worth noting that while 20-20kHz is the nominal human hearing range, actual hearing range (apart from induced damage or a birth defect) falls under a bell curve, with the lower tail kicking in around 30Hz and the upper tail kicking in around 18kHz IIRC.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:32 pm

Thanks for the informative links. I tested the speakers with the youtube video and was unable to hear above 17khz. I also tried the tone generator and there was a noticeable hump around 8-10khz. Bass was audible down to 30hz, but barely.

These speakers are detailed, but not very musical. There is something missing, but I can't put my finger on it.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:12 am

Just a update- I added an Asus Xonar D1 card to my system. I can't say it's a night and day difference between my Realtek built-in sound, but perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay is that the music is less fatiguing after listening for extended periods.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:42 am

You may lose hearing in high frequencies, even at a young age, but listening for it on any headphones or speakers playing back in a bedroom isn't going to give you much of a clear idea where and how much.

Most men have lost 10 dB down to 8 KHz by age 35. Don't freak out. It's just what happens. It doesn't mean you can't hear above that, and that's why you don't go deaf.

If you "lose" 18 KHz, it doesn't mean it's just gone. It's just going to be diminished a few dB (at first) and masked by any other sounds. You can probably still hear it if you listen for it by itself, but you can't eliminate the environmental factors.

All headphones fall off before 20 KHz, and if you look at the frequency chart, it turns into a squiggle fest just before there. I'm not sure I've ever even heard of any that don't have a several dB drop by 15 KHz or so, and that's an incredibly rare, best case scenario. Most, even "good" headphones, are far more eratic, and jump off a cliff at 10 KHz.

And yet, you can probably still hear things like super high frequency sine waves with them. See where I'm going with this?

There are a fair amount of studio monitors that are flat in the highs, even beyond 20 KHz. But good luck finding a room that doesn't screw with that more than your hearing loss will. Every room is a squiggle fest, even a treated one, unless it's treated to the point of becoming an anechoic chamber. Same problem there.
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Re: Short take on the M-Audio BX8a Deluxe speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:57 am

morphine wrote:
just brew it! wrote:Most people are so accustomed to exaggerated boomy bass, they think that is "normal". So when presented with speakers which actually have flat response, the perception is that they are lacking in bass.

Or they hear in the upper Khz ranges like me. That's why I have severe issues with stuff that's too bright-sounding, lacking in bass, or both. For instance, everyone quotes my Sennheiser HD212Pros as being heavy on the bass, but I find them just great, though obviously lacking in midrange and high-end detail.


Just FYI, if you're saying it hurts your ears, that's likely intermodulation distortion, not an imbalance of high frequencies.

Intermodulation distortion tends to increase as it occurs further up the spectrum, pretty much regardless of what sort of device. Because of that, you might notice one device that extends higher sounds more "ice picky" than another in a similar class that does not extend as high. For example, comparing two sets of inexpensive headphones through a less-than-perfect signal path, including the amp and whatever else. It could occur at any point.

However, that's a design flaw, not a physical certainty. Nothing really has to be audibly distorted. Manufacturers often include THD, total harmonic distortion, at some incredibly high SPL, as if they're telling you that you can avoid significant distortion before that point. The trouble is that that's only one type of distortion, only at 1 KHz, and it's pretty inoffensive to us. It's downright misleading, because staying under that level doesn't mean you're avoiding audible, and much more offensive, distortion.

IMD is typically going to be a higher percentage, at a lower SPL, and it sounds horrendous when we pick up on it. It's measurable in the same manner as THD, but that's a figure you will almost never see in specs of headphones, speakers, microphones, amplifiers, or anything of that nature, even though it is present in all of them.

Manufacturers don't want you to know how bad IMD often is, even in allegedly "well designed," "no holds barred," "built like a tank," "military spec," high end devices.

One big reason you might still hear it, even in a virtually clean path, is because music recordings of today f***ing suck, for a number of reasons that extend beyond just distortion introduced with mastering. Again, you have to consider the entire signal path - including the source, which involves speakers from guitar amps and microphones with their own intermodulation distortion.
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