I won't make you wait to find out if I'm happy with the Dynaudio BM5A MKII's. The answer is yes. In my career as an audio professional, I've owned my fair share of monitors. More specifically "affordable" models. I've had M-audio, KRK, Roland, hand-me-down Tannoy's and other combinations too numerous to mention. Let me tell you, what I've found with the latest iteration of the BM5a, I think they've really nailed an affordable NF monitor. The price I paid? $424 a piece. That's the best deal I've ever sniffed out on these monitors. It just-so-happened that I got to Guitar Center during a "green tag event". Total after tax I came in right around $900.
With the BM5a mkII, you have only a few features and one possible input. A lot of other speakers in the $300-$1k range usually have TRS, XLR and sometimes RCA input connections. Here you'll only find XLR, which in most cases should be more than fine. If you have the means to buy $1000 speakers, you've probably got a TRS to XLR cable somewhere. Next thing you'll find on the back panel is a series of filters. You'll find a variable 60Hz or 80Hz high-pass, a low frequency shelf with 3 possible settings (+2, 0, -2), a mid frequency notch (0, -1, -4) and lastly a high frequency shelf (+1, 0, -1). Another important switch on the back besides the AC main is the input level. I'm actually a huge fan of it's simple 3 setting switch. You get +4, 0 and -10. This to me is favorable over a sweeping pot. I never like assuming where 0 or +4 is on each speaker. I always had to put a sound level meter on a stand, run a 1K tone in Pro Tools and calibrate the output of my 2 speakers to ensure my balance was 100% correct. I never trusted some printed lines and a plastic knob to give me the exact same settings on each of my speakers. With these I have 3 preset choices and no need to calibrate. Thank you!
Before I move on to how they sound, I feel I should mention the nifty protection systems inside these speakers. Basically they have a series of overload and thermal sensors that force the monitors into a standby mode to allow cooling and a mute mode to avoid blowing.
Now on to the sound of the speakers. I plugged them in and nestled them into their Auralex Mo-pads, setup my listening position and tweaked the filters. In my studio I employed the low shelf at -2 and the high at -1. I really want an even representation of my mid-range. While my monitoring output is at +4, I opted for the 0 setting on my input. They were all setup and ready to break in!
The first album up was Steely Dan's "Royal Scam". This is always the first thing I listen to after I setup a new set of monitors in any room. I listen to the entire album from front to back, all songs in order. (I recommend this to everyone. Take a well recorded and mixed album that you can stand to listen all the way through and play it through every one of your monitoring setups. Keep it with you on a thumb drive and repeat. I've done this for years and believe it helps me wrap my head around the speakers or room I'm going to work in). My initial perception was that perhaps the speakers were a little bright and maybe a little big in the bottom (at least in my mix room where I normally sit). So I tweaked the filters as written above. I started to feel a lot more comfortable after getting the filters right. The speakers sounds really smooth and pristine. Easy on the ears at any level I tried them. Once the Dan listening test was done (which it passed with flying colors), I moved on in my music collection.
I cued up all of my favorite albums from over the years. Great mixes...not so great mixes. Rock, indie, punk rock, hip-hop, death metal and anything between. I think I put in about 6 hours of listening. Which I also recommend when setting up new speakers or mix positions. I felt 100% confident by the end of my day that I could make informed decisions on these monitors when mixing.
Two days later it came time for me to put my investment to the test. I had planned about 5 or 6 hours to mix and eclectic indie track loaded with trumpets, guitars, drums, organet, melodica, triangle, upright bass and a slew of vocals. Much to my surprise, 3 hours into my mix I found my self running out of things to do. I could really see into my mix, making quick and confident decisions with panning, eq's, reverbs and a bit of compression here and there. Two days later a bit of the same, mixing another track with the same results.
In summary, if you're like me and are looking for a better set of monitors than mid-level deals or hand-me-downs, check out these monitors. They really are a step up and for the price you can have professional speakers that will definitely help you mix and allow you to mix for longer periods of time. I would have easily purchased these at the normal $499 a speaker.
*I chose these based on the fact that I worked at a studio with the original Bm5a's in the past. I also use Bm6a mkII's in another studio I currently work for. I've worked on an assortment of dynaudio speakers over the years and have always been pleased with my results.