Sonodyne SM 100Ak Monitors Review

Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Bobby Frasier



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Right out of the box these speakers sounded really, really good. I usually warm up to the sound of any given transducer and take my time learning the speaker, but as soon as I fired these up, it was apparent that these were well designed. As with any speaker, they started to sound even better after a break-in period. But I didn’t have to run these for 100 hours at 100dB SPL to loosen them up. Generally, front port designs take a little longer to break in; getting the motor to work in-phase with the port takes some big air movement on the woofer to loosen it up. But these were punchy, with very little port turbulence on initial application of signal.

As far as SPL goes, these are not going to fill a large room—that’s not what they are designed to do. They work very well in a near-field situation. The big question: Is the sound transferable to other speaker systems? The answer is yes. Mixes performed on these speakers sounded extremely close to being the same mix on other, more expensive speakers.

I listened to many different source tracks, both mixed and mastered, as well as raw tracks from Pro Tools sessions at 24-bit/44.1 kHz. What I found truly revealing (and truly delightful!) was the vocal range. Vocals are represented with the utmost detail and presence. There is an intimacy, with center imaging that is wide and solid. Reverbs have a depth that seemed to image and reproduce outside the speaker box. The “in-your-face” character of electronic music reproduction matches up with my reference speakers that cost more than twice as much.

Bass guitar is well articulated with very little of the “small box” sound associated with a smaller design. Drum timbre is reproduced accurately, with cymbals having only slight coloration by comparison to my titanium references. Clean electric and acoustic guitars showed all the timbre of the original tracks. The distorted guitars of Norwegian death metal sounded only slightly forward, but there was no smear, masking or intermodulation distortion between like-timbered instrumentation. Hammond organ delivered all the nuances of a Leslie speaker system reproduced with accuracy. Even the intricate harmonics of acoustic piano where reproduced realistically on these little 6.5s. My references are rear ported, so there is a difference in the low-mid, upper-bass reproduction due to the positioning of the ports, that being a slight increase of amplitude in the 120 to 240Hz range—not a bad thing for a speaker this size, considering the system’s roll-off at 60 Hz. The result is that the speaker sounds “full,” with no hole in this critical range, which I have found missing in speakers of this size in the past.

The Sonodyne SM 100Ak monitors perform well beyond their price point. There are few speakers on the market right now that offer this level of accuracy and reproduction in the 6.5-inch range at this price point. Punchy on the bottom end, a smooth and accurate silk tweeter, along with solid engineering principles, make the SM 100Ak a complete package; a solid performer at a ridiculously reasonable price. Get five of these, and a subwoofer, and start mixing in surround, please! A must listen!

Bobby Frasier is an educator, audio engineer and Beatles fanatic.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the Sonodyne SM 100Ak Monitors product page.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the Sonodyne SM 100Ak Monitors product page.

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