Jun 21, 2010
Blue Sky Media Desk 2.1 System Review
I've recently been on a quest to enhance my listening/monitoring experience for my main edit suite. I previously posted a not-so-flattering review of the M-Audio EX66's but I can say this is quite different.
Just to be sure I hadn't caused any setup errors on the recently purchased M-Audio EX66's I spent an exhaustive testing period where I purchased, dragged into the office an auditioned several monitors including DynAudio, Alesis and JBL to see just how other models would perform in *my* edit suite and not the dealer's nicely dampened sound room.
The most surprising thing about all the stand-alone self-powered monitors is that they all have an audible, *pink-noise-type* floor hiss. That makes no sense to me, since I'm used to Class-A discrete circuitry in my home audio receivers/amps such as NAD, Adcom and Onkyo - you can turn up the volume *almost* full (with no input selected) and still not hear as much floor noise from those amps as compared to all these professional monitors have at idle. It must have something to do with the amplifiers being in such close proximity to the drivers - but I digress.
I recently spent time at a clients' edit suite and noticed how natural, balanced and flat his audio was but never really paid attention to what the system was until the day I left. When I finally noticed it was the Blue Sky MediaDesk I couldn't believe all that accurate audio was coming from a "low-end" rig - low-end, meaning it didn't cost $2k or more. So to put it to the test I purchased a set myself.
I'm flat-out amazed, to put it simply. This little, affordable system has absolutely stunned me; I hear details far deeper into the mix than I've ever heard before and imagery is on-par with the DynAudio's. Highs seemed a little bright and sharp initially but after the drivers warmed up and started to break in a bit that mellowed out to a more neutral and accurate flat response. When the sub is properly placed and levels set it is a perfect match for the satellites. Unlike other 2.1 systems I've demo'd the sub was neither over-powering nor did it create an unnatural out-of-phase relationship to the sats - again this was achieved with balancing the output with both room placement and using an SPL meter and sine-wave capture software for setup purposes. (I used the same process for all the monitors I've tested). To date, the Blue Sky Media Desk is the only 2.1 system I've tested at this price range that created such a normal, all-around balanced output.
Of all the systems I tested only 2 stood out significantly from the rest of the pack: The BM15's and the Blue Sky MediaDesk 2.1. The distinctive difference between the two? The BM15's were slightly more accurate both in imaging and in 2k+ frequencies but the mids and lows were actually a tad muddy when compared to the Media Desk. The BM6A's with sub were also a great sounding setup but the BM15's actually had much more accurate highs and so I took the BM6A's out of the testing loop.
So let's see... the DynAudio's were about $2.5k for the pair, the Blue Sky Media Desk was $500 and has better mid to low performance but sacrifices a smidgen of imaging, hmm... And the noise-floor hiss? The BM15's and Blue Sky systems were near identical; not non-existent but far, far less than the Alesis, JBL's and of course the extra noisy EX66's.
CONCLUSION: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
If you want the most accurate, best bang-for-the-buck in professional audio monitoring for UNDER $600 there's just no substitute for the Blue Sky Media Desk 2.1 system. Period.