This review of the M-Audio AV32 monitor speaker system gives us a good opportunity to look at one of the lesser-known names in speaker manufacture. We are sure they won’t mind us referring to them in that way. But honestly, they are not the first name that comes to mind when talking about studio monitors.
Founded in 1998 in Rhode Island, they are part of the inMusic brand of companies. They make a range of audio products for live sounds, musical instruments, DJs, and music production. And the M-Audio AV32 is one of their speaker systems that has a number of people singing its praises.
So what is it all about? Let’s find out in our in-depth M-Audio AV32 Review…
Searching for a studio monitor to use in your home or a small studio is not an easy task. There are so many things to consider, and there are a lot of products out there. Unfortunately, many of them are just not up to the job.
Sacrifices must be made…
If you are on a budget, which most small studios are, it becomes a bit of a trade-off. You will have to sacrifice something, or the price will just be too high.
You won’t be able to buy the totally flat-sound that is the preferred option for mixing and mastering. But you will be able to get a decent sounding set of monitors. That is what these are all about.
The next best thing…
M-Audio recognizes that they cannot be the real deal. But they can be the next best thing. And for those on a budget, that is important to know.
These are an entry-level system. They don’t pretend to be anything else. But are they up to the job of handling a basic studio monitoring role? So, let’s have a closer look…
The cabinet is well-built and designed to try and absorb unwanted noise and any hum. It is made of acoustically-inert MDF fibreboard and given a vinyl covering. Nothing fancy in the design. And for studio monitors, that is always a good thing.
They are built to be compact and measure just 7.5 by 5.1 by 6.1 inches. Therefore, they aren’t going to take up too much space. They can be placed on a desk near your work station without you having to buy speaker stands.
These are a two-way reference speaker, each having a three-inch uncovered woofer coated in polypropylene. This has a reputation that seems to be founded on producing an accurate and tight bass sound.
Detailed frequencies without a boost…
To deliver clear and precise high frequencies, there is a one-inch silk cone twitter that is ferrofluid cooled. It is located in a horn-type design. They have a Class A/B amp. Together the amp and speakers produce a punchy sound with good imaging.
The frequencies aren’t as flat as high-end studio monitors might be, but the sound is more than adequate. It is noticeable that there are no boosts to either bass or treble. Another helpful quality. Why does this matter? We will find out later on.
Active and Passive…
One speaker is active and the other passive. So they will need to be connected via the connections on the rear panel of the active speaker.
They are a decent quality build with good materials and with a reasonably attractive finish. And like we said, they are small enough so as not to be intrusive. They will deliver an output of ten watts. So not the most powerful monitors you will find. But a little more on this later as well.
Connections and Controls
Some controls are located on the front of the active speaker. There is a volume control and inputs for headphones and a 3.5mm aux socket. These are conveniently located, and the front-positioned volume control is especially useful.
Good connection options…
The 3.5mm aux input allows you to connect an MP3, computer, or any other sound source that is compatible.
On the rear of the active speaker are located the RCA inputs. They will connect to a mixer and even gaming machines if you wish. The RCA connectors are unbalanced, which does bring its own potential problems.
Easy to use…
All quite basic and simple to use without any bells and whistles, they do the job adequately. However, the unbalanced RCA connections may have an impact on sound reproduction. Their inability to effectively block interference can cause problems.
Therefore, they are best used over short distances. Then they will be more efficient and have less chance of collecting unwanted noise.
This is an important area if you are going to use these as studio monitors. We have already mentioned some relevant considerations. There does not seem to be a boost to either the low or highs frequencies.
If anything, there is a slight boost to the mids. And whilst these speakers do not have a flat curve, that is, in fact, a good feature.
Decent frequency ranges…
They have a frequency range of 80Hz to 20kHz. Maybe not so good on the bass sounds, but perfectly acceptable at this price point. They have an SPL up to 101.5 dB within one meter. And at below 90 dB, the signal to noise ratio is acceptable.
But let’s go back to the output level of 10 watts. As we said earlier, not the loudest, you will come across. But let’s stop and consider how you will be using them. Presumably, you will be employing them as ‘near-field’ monitors.
Because of this, they will be placed close to you. In our opinion, the ten-watt output is going to be loud enough in that situation. If you are going to use them for mixing, they shouldn’t be at a high volume anyway.
Playback is a different matter if you want to hear the results pumped up. But it is not the job of near-field monitors to punch out an inordinate volume. These speakers are for referencing the sound.
In that situation, they do a decent job, and the output level is going to be adequate. What is more important is the quality of the sound. The little extra given to the mids helps. And all things considered, that is very good for an entry-level system.
It could be said that these speakers have a rare quality. That’s because this package includes just about everything you are going to need for a quick and easy setup.
There are ⅛ inch stereo RCA and ⅛ inch cables and acoustic traction pads. But M-Audio have even included the speaker wire, which most manufacturers do not provide. Indeed a rare quality, and a welcome one at that.
And finally, it includes a power cord, which is about five feet long.
When you meet a product and a manufacturer you are not overly familiar with, you tend to concern yourself with certain things. How are they built? What was the system intended for?
Of course, you do that with all systems. But for some, you already know how they produce their equipment.
Therefore, this review has been an eye-opener and confirms something we have long suspected. That is, there are some companies with a relatively low-profile who are producing good stuff. M-Audio is one, and the M-Audio AV32 has been a surprising speaker system.
They have a good stable build and a nice finish. The design of the cabinets is understated and not flamboyant because it doesn’t need to be. They are compact and not going to take up much space if you are using them in a small home studio. And in a small room, the 10-watt output won’t get lost.
There is no boost to the bottom or top frequencies but a little applied to the mid-range. This might be considered a good idea to try and ensure no frequency response is dominant.
They have a basic control for volume on the front of the active speaker. But also on the front is the headphone socket. A good location and better than having to go round the back to plug them in.
A very nice feature from M-Audio AV32 is the inclusion of speaker wire. This saves unpacking the box and then having to rush to the shop because you can’t connect things.
They must be considered good value for money at this price point. In fact, better than just good value. Exceptional value.
From our perspective, there is very little to complain about. Some will think the bottom end is weak. We wouldn’t disagree, but that ignores the reason you may be using them.
If you are using them as reference speakers in a small studio, do you need enhanced bass? No, you don’t. If you were to use them for gaming, possibly. But for referencing the sound and mixing, the flatter the sound, the better. The lack of low frequencies is not a negative point.
There are only unbalanced RCA connectors, which could be considered a negative point. But this means you have to be careful about how you use them. And at this price point, certainly not a deal-breaker.
M-Audio AV32 Review Pros and Cons
- Flat frequency response.
- Compact and sturdy.
- Ideal for small studios.
- Easy to use and connect.
- Speaker wires included.
- Great value for the price point.
- RCA connectors are unbalanced.
- Not great for home audio listening.
Looking for Something Else?
There are a massive wide range of speakers currently available. So, find exactly what you’re looking for by checking out our in-depth reviews of the Best Studio Monitor Speakers, the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Speakers For Vinyl, the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200 you can buy.
Or how about taking a look at the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, and the Best Floor Standing Speakers on the market in 2020.
M-Audio AV32 Review Final Thoughts
As entry-level speakers, the M-Audio AV32 are a very good buy at this price point. They can be used for a variety of sound options.
As reference monitors for a home studio, they are excellent. If you are on a tight budget, it is difficult to imagine finding better value for money elsewhere.
Until next time, may the beat go on.