Alesis M1 Active 520 Powered Studio Monitor: low-cost, high-end computer speakers


Neat article. From the last paragraph:

Hans Zimmer’s “Man of Steel” score on CD has loads of big drums pounding away and tons of deep bass. The M1 Active520 did a good job, but the JBL LSR305 monitors are more dynamically alive, go deeper in the bass, and project a bigger, more precisely focused soundstage. That speaker’s suggested retail price is double the M1 Active520’s, but the LSR305’s heavily discounted price is just $240, or $40 more than the M1 Active520.

Sounds worth the extra 34$ for the LSR305s.

I wonder how these compare to similarly priced 5.1 systems like the Logitech Z906 or more dedicated home cinema offerings.


Excellent. I need some good monitors. I’ll put them next to my monitor.


Show of hands, whose computer has RCA audio out jacks? An â…›" - ÂĽ" adapter would be more relevant (and cheaper) for most people.


Of course, a good set of monitors should have a flat bass response and a flat treble response. The point being to mix audio without colouring it with added emphasis on any frequencies.


(Raises right forepaw). But I use an M-Audio Audiophile 2496, a “prosumer” grade audio card.

You’re right though, most low-end sound cards and nearly all mainboards use 1/8" TRS outputs. However, it appears that these speakers are aimed at folks setting up home studios. Although mainboard sound systems are better than they used to be, I’d guess that a better sound card would go into most of those computers.

I guess most flat-out pros wouldn’t look twice at any gear connected with either RCA pin jacks or 1/8" plugs.


I’ve built quite a few hobby speakers and published an article on a simple powered one. Powered speakers are the wave of the future for a variety of reasons. Self-powering puts characteristics like power limiting and EQ into the realm of the speaker electronics where they belong.
13 lbs is a pretty hefty small speaker. Most consumer speakers that size weigh half that or less.


bumped into this: (which doesn’t include the alesis, yet). it does include a sample from these (which i’ve been hesitating on for years).

Small speakers, ptui!

It’s been mentioned already, but I’d go with the JBLs for a few extra bucks:

JBL powered monitors are one of the best deals out there these days. I’d also shell out $40 for some acoustic foam blocks to put them on.

You will be completely shocked by how much those pads improve the sound. Once you’ve got a good set of speakers, like the JBLs, you could spend twice as much on speakers and not get the improvement you’d get by putting a set of those pads under them.

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Interested textile window mufflers? They absorb both visual and auditory interference as caused by flat glass surfaces. Type IKEA Björnloka, bidding starts at $1000.


I’m not sure if you’re joking, but that’s actually different than the mopads. I’m aware that beyond a certain threshold of speaker, which those JBLs are past, the room makes much more difference than a better speaker. OTOH, room treatment is expensive and a huge PITA, so I wouldn’t really recommend it for anyone who’s not running a studio. The mopads are cheap, simple, and have an enormous effect. Whatever the speakers are sitting on sucks energy out of them, but different amounts at different frequencies, dramatically changing the frequency response. It also re-radiates that energy, making things sound muddy. Speaker isolators fix that.


If your going to spend the extra money for decent speakers you might as well shell out a few more dollars and get a better sound interface(can’t really call them cards anymore). I have several $20 Behringer UCA202 that I use on my linux boxes. They have RCA in and out. They sound slightly better than onboard cards and work well in linux.

On my recording computer I use an Tapco 2in/2out firewire interface with two mic preamps built in. That one has 1/4" TRS out. I also have a Delta 1010LT which has 8in/8out all RCA.

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That’s generally a good sign. More weight tends to mean heftier drivers and a less resonant box. (Remember, the speaker’s job is to accurately reproduce the signal. It should NOT add any color itself.)

Given the better magnets we get these days – and given the assumption that you’re only trying to get the sound a few feet from the speaker to the listener rather than filling a room or hall – big speakers are generally going to be overkill unless you’re running the sound entirely too high.

What is the price of his latest? …

If these are for listening to music, you know, just to enjoy it, for 100 quid why not go take your pick of vintage Wharfedale, Celestion, Tannoy, Linn or other British speakers? Sure, a $20 digital watch keeps essentially perfect time, but has no soul; same with the latest mass produced speakers. Now, if you’re producing audio for distribution, monitors some sense, although at that point why not headphones?

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Headphones, no matter how good, will not tell you the same things about the sound as monitors, especially in the lower end. Personally, even for listening, I like my speakers flat and soulless. I listen to a lot of different stuff, and a frequency response inherent in the speaker that might well make some things sound better will make others sound worse.


I would really like to assume this is a two-layer troll where the people who are–on the surface–supposed to be trolled get the biggest laugh. I certainly guffawed but it’s possible I just have bad taste.

On the off chance this is a single layer troll, second what Space_Mokey said plus add if you’ve ever tried recording music in a small enclosed residential space, you’d know how much things like heavy curtains or comforters pinned to walls can help with things like reflected sound and horrible muddiness.

Absolutely. Coloring is appropriate in an instrument, sometimes in a recording, but NOT in a speaker.

(If you want coloration added at playback time, that’s what tone controls and/or equalizers are for. You shouldn’t have to start by compensating. Of course in fact no speaker is ever perfect, but the flatter the better.)