M-Audio M-Audio Studiophile DSM3 Monitors by hereticskeptic
When I first caught wind of these monitors, it was due to an insanely large discount that has been going on with these for some time now. After reading several user reviews on the DSM3's, and looking at a 68% discount for the pair, I figured that I had very little to lose in purchasing them, and potentially a lot more to gain.
I ordered the monitors, waited patiently, and once I finally had the chance to set them up in my home studio, the audition was on! Being a three-way design (two 6.5" woofers, and a 1" tweeter), as well as built to a price point much higher than any of my previous monitors, I expected the DSM3's to demonstrate something truly unique and enthralling.
I was not to be disappointed!
The first thing that you notice with the DSM3's, is that the appearance is both modern and sleek. The rounded edges certainly help minimize diffraction, and the units just have a one-of-a-kind appeal to them. Once you begin playing audio through them, however, your attention steers completely away from aesthetics, and fully towards the achievement of affordable sonic bliss!
The stereo image is wonderful. Panning and reverb are so much easier to accurately pinpoint and control. Mixing, in general, are an absolute pleasure with these monitors! You can hear everything. The monitors reveal your flaws and your successes, with very little (if any) measure of bias.
The bass response is great, and while some may still feel the need to add a subwoofer to their monitoring setup, you'll be just fine without one. When listening to Hip Hop tracks, I get all of the "thump" and "boom" typical of that genre. When listening to smooth jazz, or R&B, the bass response is much more mellow, without any added haze or distortion.
The mid-range is where these monitors really excel. While the bass is clear, defined and present, it does not interfere with mid-range clarity whatsoever. This makes these monitors a joy to mix vocals with, as when the vocals sit perfectly with the backing tracks in the studio, they sit just as well when listening through headphones, laptop speakers or in the car. Translation has not been a problem at all.
The highs are not harsh, unless there is harshness in the recording you're listening to. I've had no issue whatsoever with piercing highs, or sibilance, when listening on a variety of playback systems. Basically, what you hear in the studio is what you hear in the real world, period.
One drawback with these monitors, is that they come equipped with built-in DSP, which adds another level of conversion after the conversion takes place from your interface to the monitors. For some people this is a major issue, as they'd be concerned about signal degradation. I've had no problem with translation, and because there are digital inputs included on the monitors, one can simply connect digital outputs from their interface to the digital inputs of the DSM3's, and skip the extra conversion stage. Some users have reported an increase in signal quality when using the digital connections, while others have stated that it isn't a significant difference at all. This is definitely something to consider when making a decision on whether or not to purchase these monitors. If your interface does not have digital outputs, you'll be forced to use the analog outputs, and that may not sit well with you. For this reason, I did give a lower grade for the feature set.
All-in-all, these are fantastic units! The sound quality is superb and ease of use is no issue (plug and play). I did slightly lower the grade of the sound quality and ease of use, due to the fact that there are certainly monitors at higher price points that offer more bass extension, and one may have to include a subwoofer in order to be fully satisfied with the frequency response. Also, the issue with the built-in DSP caused me to lower all grades except for "bang for buck", as this could potentially affect those three aspects. Features, I lowered a bit more, because the DSP is considered a bonus feature, and in fact, many people would rather not have this feature included.
These are certainly the best "bang for buck" monitors on the market right now, as they can be head at a 68% discount, but even at the normal price, they are extremely excellent monitors. For home, project and commercial studios alike, I see no reason that the DSM3's could not fit perfectly into one's setup. I highly recommend them.