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Serious Sounds

We pair M Audio’s new DSM3 monitors with the SBX10 subwoofer and stand back to observe the earth-shattering results…

Constantly on the look out for a powerful, project studio monitoring set-up DJmag thought it would take a look at M Audio’s DSM3 monitors married up with the SBX10 subwoofer to see if this combo could provide serious earth-moving sounds for producers dabbling in electronic dance music who need big room sound, but in a space-conscious environment.

I remember the day when I first walked into a professional studio and experienced the wall of sound that was the main monitoring system, huge 15-inch sub woofers that would pound the living daylights out of my ears. This was serious sound — only found in the super studios — that many a producer would be envious of. Nowadays, studios like this are in the domain of the uber professional and cost big bucks to hire day to day — not really that practical for the majority of dance producers.

A lot of killer tunes have been created in bedrooms or project studios and space is at a premium. Studios and producers still need to find big room sound from their monitors, but at a fraction of the cost and space.

What we are going to look at is how to create this big room sound at a fraction of the cost and with out the need for lots of space. The speakers we are going to use to demonstrate this are M Audio’s DSM3 High Resolution monitors and their SBX10 Subwoofer, but any combination of studio speaker and woofer can work. 

Bass In The Place
The DSM3 monitors can work well as full-range speakers and have a nice overall sound to them. But when producing tracks and throwing a lot of bass through them at high volumes, it can be very taxing on them, and at worse, tiring on the ears — not good. This is the same for any near-field monitors. Using them together with the SBX10, or any subwoofer, will allow your monitors to reproduce full-range signals at higher levels without stressing the internal components, meaning the speakers aren’t taxed and your ears won’t get bashed — that’s the scientific bit explained!

With this in mind, our task was to see if we could get a large sound from these relatively small speakers and subwoofer in comparison to the studio beasts we are trying to mimic, so we went about creating a Skream-style dubstep track, loaded with bass and subs to tear apart any dancefloor. As mentioned, the SBX10 was going to handle the bass duties whilst the DSM3s captured the rest of the sound. Straight away, when plugged in and not fine-tuned to the room, the sound that came from our combo was immense. It tore apart our test studio, the bass response was awesome and we spent a good few hours on full blast with the woofer turned up to 11, just laughing at how much bass was coming through the system.

Producers have to be careful here, as if the woofer isn’t tuned properly you may think you’re getting too much bass in the mix and compensate for this by rolling it off in your tracks — the result being a track that is bass light. The woofer should be used to get a feel on how your track would sound on a big rig — don’t mix on it — the handy foot switch will turn it on and off. The main monitors are only selected on occasion, whilst the body of the mix and track development are done on the near-fields. Utilising the woofer bypass will create this effect: let the DSM3s carry most of the mix duties and then for that little more oomph, smash in the woofer.

Set up the subwoofer to work with the monitors by setting the crossovers on the back of the sub, so that when the woofer is on, it’s still possible to hear all the facets of the sound of the track coming through the monitoring system — punchy kicks, tight bass, defined midrange — not just an overpowering sub bass drone. This will re-enforce the bass frequencies that are coming through the system so that the sound still has clarity.

The technical minded amongst us will also know that if a subwoofer is placed close to a wall in a small room, it can effectively turn the room into one gigantic speaker so take care with placement and remember it’s all about the tuning. Once tuned correctly, the combination of near-fields and sub — as in the DSM3 and SHX10s — can definitely give the desired effect of creating a very big sound ideal for electronic dance music and playing out in a club.

The DSM3 monitors and SBX10 woofer are available from M-Audio costing £640 and £240 respectively. For the purpose of this review, the scorings are for the combined set-up of the DSM3s and the SBX10.

Verdict

Price   DSM3: £640.00, SBX10: £240.00
Contact   maudio.co.uk
Build Quality
  8.0
Ease of Use   8.0
Features   7.0
Value for Money   7.0
Sound Quality   8.0
Hype   Great sound from a relatively small set-up somewhat deceiving to the eye and ear.
Gripe   Bass from the woofer can be deceptive if not set up properly.
Conclusion   Combining a subwoofer with a set of near-fields will add extra dimension to your monitoring set-up. The DSM3s and SBX10 are a great pairing and really do go some way to giving the user that big room sound.
Overall Score   7.6/10
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