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In-depth Feature:  M-Audio Studiophile BX8 + SP-8S
Nick B writes:
  • Specifications .

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    Enclosures are sturdy, made from MDF (medium density fibreboard) with a plasticised paint coating giving decent scratch resistance. The only thing to watch out for is that it is a bit slippery – so careful mounting is needed – for the purposes of this review I placed the BX8s on top of my Yamaha NS-10’s on rubber pads to prevent them sliding off. Rubber pads or grip tape should be included methinks.

    Around the back, amps are securely fixed with recessed mounting, though surprisingly the BX8s don’t have any external heatsinks. However, I didn’t find that the amps ran particularly hot. The rear panel is pretty simple, there’s an XLR input, a TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) stereo jack alternative input, which can accept either balanced or unbalanced connections, a volume knob, power switch and mains socket. (Mains leads are supplied – well done M-Audio!). There’s also a reasonable sized bass port, enabling “extremely low frequencies” according to it’s makers.

    You also find the various EQ and curve settings: Accoustic Space, High Freq, Mid Range and Low Cutoff. Accoustic Space appears to increase and decrease the energy of the midrange, Hi Freq the level of the tweeter, Mid Range switches between two EQ settings and the Low Rolloff adjusts the bass cutoff, switchable at 37,47 and 80Hz.

    In comparison, the SP-8S has a physically larger amp unit with a chunky heatsink, stereo inputs, crossover outs L+R plus an output for an additional sub should you wish, plus the controls for level, phase, sub frequency and satellite cut off frequency.

    Plugging up the BX8s is pretty simple – start with all equipment off! Then just take the signal outputs from your source (in my case, the monitor/control room out from my Yamaha 03D on TRS) and plug em into the left and right speaker inputs respectively. Once connections have been made, power up the source first, then the SP-8S and you’re ready to adjust the EQ settings.

    Between them these settings do offer quite a wide tonal variation in sound. I found the BX-8s at their flat setting a tad bright and brash for my ears, so I set them to the following setting for my optimal EQ. Amp, room and program material will no doubt govern the final settings for everyone but you should be able to achieve what you need.

    Make sure the signal you send is low at first to ensure you don’t freak out the neighbours (or do yourself any ear damage). You may wish to set the level for the amps lower than max and that may take a little tweaking as the volume control is on the back. Not a problem unless access to the rear of the speakers is restricted – like mine for instance, but you only need to set it up once.

    Setting up the SP-8S sub unit is a little more involved. Firstly, connect your stereo source to theSP-8S inputs and on to the SP-8S via the XLR outputs. Then you can set the overall level of the sub bass with the, you guessed it, level control. Setting the frequency that the SP-8S works at is nicely tunable with the subwoofer frequency control –variable between 50Hz and 180Hz and the satellite high pass frequency – controls the frequency at which the signal is passed on to the SP-8B’s. Between them it’s possible to greatly change the characteristics of the setup and proves to be extremely flexible.

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