What We Like
- Good response across the range.
- Ease of use.
- Good dispersion control.
What We Don’t Like
- Underpowered compared to its immediate competition.
M-Audio is one of the better-known brands when it comes to affordable monitors. Their BX5 series are pretty well known. With that said, the new version of this model, BX5 Carbon is among the most attractive models under $300.
Looking at the M-Audio BX5 Carbon might leave a rather underwhelming impression. These aren’t particularly pretty and are often described as neutral. Cabs are made of standard grade MDF while the baffle is a composite design with extruded portions and a fairly subtle waveguide. However, there is a reason for this type of appearance. M-Audio has pretty much subjected aesthetics to the performance aspect of the BX5 Carbon.
Everything you see is there to get you a better tone. One of the best things about this speaker is its size. For a 5″ unit, BX5 Carbon is fairly compact. That is fortunate considering how hard it is to properly position larger near field monitors. Needless to say, you won’t have that problem with this speaker.
With that said, you do have to pay attention to how close you place these to a wall. That rear port requires some room to breathe, which is something most monitors in this price range share.
Compared to some other monitors, BX5 Carbon might come across as a bit underpowered. This thing packs some 40 Watts of power per speaker, which gives you 90dB max peak SPL. If your home studio is a smaller room, this type of output will be more than enough to get you the necessary control over the mix.
Finding the sweet spot for BX5 Carbon is fairly easy. M-Audio has installed a small LED light which acts as a reference point. All you have to do is position the speakers where you want them and make sure that the LED is facing you. The back panel reveals a fairly basic control cluster.
Acoustic space controls are limited to a -2dB/-4dB attenuation, which doesn’t offer too much versatility. In terms of I/O, you are looking at a standard TRS/XLR configuration. Finally, the volume control is also on the back.
The main selling point of the M-Audio BX5 Carbon is its performance. With a decent frequency response range that goes from 56Hz – 22kHz, you won’t a beefy bass. Especially considering that these come with a 5″ driver. However, the response is fairly flat. That is partially thanks to decently voiced transducers as well as the efficient waveguides.
Dispersion is reduced to a comfortable level and is almost nonexistent if you position the speakers correctly. The only aspect where BX5 Carbon sort of falls behinds its immediate competition is the volume. These won’t be very loud even if you crank up the volume. On top of that, pushing the speakers to their limits deteriorates the transparency to a certain point.
Again, this is a nonissue if you are working in a smaller room, which is what these speakers were designed for in the first place. When you consider the price you are asked to pay, M-Audio BX5 Carbons are definitely one of the best bang for the buck deals at the moment.
M-Audio BX5 Carbon series monitor speakers offer a lot of performance in a more basic package. These are made for the budget crowd who wants to get away from super cheap models. As such, these work pretty well.