IK Multimedia up their monitor game with the new range of DSP powered Studio Monitors - the iLoud Precision range.
These new monitors are designed to compete with much more expensive active studio monitors providing more power, SPL, frequency response and detail than their previous iLoud Micro and iLoud MTM monitors, which were more for the desktop.
These feature high grade Class D power amps, 150Watts total in the Precision 6 (what we have).
Drivers are 6.5" ultralight coated paper low distortion mid-woofer and a 1.5" high output, low distortion chambered textile dome tweeter.
There's alsop DSP on board which does three things, firstly it ensures the optimum frequency response (36Hz- 30kHz!) and precise phase and time alignment.
Secondly, to give ARC (room correction) by calibrating the the speakers using X-Monitor software and the included calibration mic.
Thirdly to provide different voicings for the speakers, ranging from general colour to completely different speaker models, other studio monitors, hi-fi and multimedia devices.
Each speaker comes with a calibration mic and four acoustic decoupling discs for mounting on surfaces.
Calibration is pretty simple, USB cables for each speaker, X-Monitor software and follow the routine, with four mic positions, the frequency anomalies are mapped then the DSP can correct for it - this is in the speaker and does not require CPU from the host machine.
If you go for the optional iLoud remote, there are four programmable buttons that can switch in ARC, or speaker models or a variety of other functions.
So what do they sound like? I replaced our studio Focal Alpha 80 active monitors and quite literally it was night and day, the precise stereo imaging and detail across the frequency range was impressive. These speaker probably arent designed to be quite so far a apart but just switching them on flat with no processing, it was an enlightening experience.
I also placed them at my laptop station, again not the most ideal placement being on an overshelf and quite close to the listening position. However again, a real night and day experience from my Genelec 1029A monitors.
The stereo imaging, and detail across the entire range was eye-opening. The last time I had this experience was a recent mix session using ATC SCM20A monitors (costing 2.5x the price)
Using the ARC, I wasn't quite so sure, for me, they seemed to restrict the open-ness of the sound, but I think the ARC was doing quite a lot of work. I'm also told that spending a while acclimatising to the ARC'ed sound will enable you to get used to it more, but I would say on balance I preferred the non modified sound.
IK have done an impressive job in making a really high end sound more affordable, yes it's still a bunch of money, with the range starting at £899 each for the 5s (5inch driver) £999 for the 6 (6.5 inch) and £1199 for the MTM (2x 5inch and single tweeter) they aren't cheap, but for what you get these speakers sound amazing for the price and could be considered a bargaining when compared with other studio monitors that offer similar characteristics.
I know speakers are fairly utilitarian things, but these are something I am now hankering after.