M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 review
Home entertainment speakers aim to make everything sound impressive; music production speakers are designed to reproduce sounds accurately.
That means a smooth balance of frequencies, from deep bass to high treble, and very low distortion for high clarity. Such units are unlikely to offer the volume or deep bass of similarly priced PC speakers, but they make up for it in refinement.
M-Audio's Studiophile AV 40 follows these principles. The compact, subwoofer-less design can't give you floor-shaking rumbles, but switching from a £100 PC speaker system to the AV 40 feels like removing cotton wool from your ears. High-frequency details suddenly come into focus, and the overall tone is balanced and authoritative. More expensive speakers offer more volume and even greater clarity, but the AV 40 is closer in character to these than standard multimedia speakers.
Speakers designed for music production, known as studio monitors, don't usually include volume controls, but M-Audio has recognised that the type of musician who's likely to use the AV 40 might not have it plugged into an easily controllable source. So there's an accessible volume knob alongside a headphone output and auxiliary input. Phono and balanced jack inputs on the back cater for both studio and PC setups.
The AV 40 is one of the most affordable studio monitor sets around, yet we're happy to report that it's up to the demands of serious use. The only potential limitation is for musicians producing bass-heavy electronic tracks: the restricted deep bass performance might lead them to over-compensate and add too much bass to their mixes. Meanwhile, the reasonable price and PC-friendly connections and controls mean it's equally well suited to passive listening. If you prefer to hear the details in your MP3 collection rather than just headbang along, it's an excellent choice.