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hereticskeptic 10th December 2011 12:35 AM

M-Audio Studiophile DSM3 Monitors
When I first caught wind of these monitors, it was due to an insanely large discount that has been going on with these for some time now. After reading several user reviews on the DSM3's, and looking at a 68% discount for the pair, I figured that I had very little to lose in purchasing them, and potentially a lot more to gain.

I ordered the monitors, waited patiently, and once I finally had the chance to set them up in my home studio, the audition was on! Being a three-way design (two 6.5" woofers, and a 1" tweeter), as well as built to a price point much higher than any of my previous monitors, I expected the DSM3's to demonstrate something truly unique and enthralling.

I was not to be disappointed!

The first thing that you notice with the DSM3's, is that the appearance is both modern and sleek. The rounded edges certainly help minimize diffraction, and the units just have a one-of-a-kind appeal to them. Once you begin playing audio through them, however, your attention steers completely away from aesthetics, and fully towards the achievement of affordable sonic bliss!

The stereo image is wonderful. Panning and reverb are so much easier to accurately pinpoint and control. Mixing, in general, are an absolute pleasure with these monitors! You can hear everything. The monitors reveal your flaws and your successes, with very little (if any) measure of bias.

The bass response is great, and while some may still feel the need to add a subwoofer to their monitoring setup, you'll be just fine without one. When listening to Hip Hop tracks, I get all of the "thump" and "boom" typical of that genre. When listening to smooth jazz, or R&B, the bass response is much more mellow, without any added haze or distortion.

The mid-range is where these monitors really excel. While the bass is clear, defined and present, it does not interfere with mid-range clarity whatsoever. This makes these monitors a joy to mix vocals with, as when the vocals sit perfectly with the backing tracks in the studio, they sit just as well when listening through headphones, laptop speakers or in the car. Translation has not been a problem at all.

The highs are not harsh, unless there is harshness in the recording you're listening to. I've had no issue whatsoever with piercing highs, or sibilance, when listening on a variety of playback systems. Basically, what you hear in the studio is what you hear in the real world, period.

One drawback with these monitors, is that they come equipped with built-in DSP, which adds another level of conversion after the conversion takes place from your interface to the monitors. For some people this is a major issue, as they'd be concerned about signal degradation. I've had no problem with translation, and because there are digital inputs included on the monitors, one can simply connect digital outputs from their interface to the digital inputs of the DSM3's, and skip the extra conversion stage. Some users have reported an increase in signal quality when using the digital connections, while others have stated that it isn't a significant difference at all. This is definitely something to consider when making a decision on whether or not to purchase these monitors. If your interface does not have digital outputs, you'll be forced to use the analog outputs, and that may not sit well with you. For this reason, I did give a lower grade for the feature set.

All-in-all, these are fantastic units! The sound quality is superb and ease of use is no issue (plug and play). I did slightly lower the grade of the sound quality and ease of use, due to the fact that there are certainly monitors at higher price points that offer more bass extension, and one may have to include a subwoofer in order to be fully satisfied with the frequency response. Also, the issue with the built-in DSP caused me to lower all grades except for "bang for buck", as this could potentially affect those three aspects. Features, I lowered a bit more, because the DSP is considered a bonus feature, and in fact, many people would rather not have this feature included.

These are certainly the best "bang for buck" monitors on the market right now, as they can be head at a 68% discount, but even at the normal price, they are extremely excellent monitors. For home, project and commercial studios alike, I see no reason that the DSM3's could not fit perfectly into one's setup. I highly recommend them.

BudgetMC 26th December 2011 02:19 AM

DSM-3 By M-Audio
OkeeDokee... I got in about two hours of listening before I had to shut it down for the night. I knocked my way through an assortment of Stax tunes (Green Onions, baby!), through some classic rock (Band on the Run and Sticky Fingers) to the aformentioned Mark Knofler, to some Xavier Rudd and then Morcheeba and Supream Beings of Leisure so as to work out the bass.

Overall, I have to say I was very pleased. I was A/B'ing them against my Blue Sky Mediadesk and Tannoys (black woofer Reveals and Comets) pretty much the whole way through.

My main impressions are:

Detail: One of the things I always look for in a speaker is stuff I haven't heard before. These speakers offered up a number of Gems. These include:
-- pick noise on the acoustic guitar in "Band on the Run"
-- a previously unheard "Uhg!" at the beginning of "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'"
-- 60's era bass. The bass on a lot of older stuff, which tends to be more mid-rangy than bottom-heavy, really came through. This was clear on both the Stax stuff and the early Stones material.

Ballance: While the Blue Sky's tend to highlight the low end and get a bit thick and vague in crossover territory of the low-mids, and the Tannoys seem to go light on the bottom and highlight the high end, the DSP3's seemed to strike a happy medium. This is pretty much what I was hoping for. The bass was nice and solid (though it didn't match the Blue Sky's sub for low-end extension), and the mid-range was very nice. The highs, at this point, still seem a wee bit harsh, but these are brand-new tweeters, and it isn't fair to evaluate them too harshly until they've had a chance to open up and mellow a bit.

Another observation is that the imaging is very good. I picked up some stereo percussion stuff while listening to Xavier Rudd's Food in the Belly that hadn't been evident before. Also, the sweet spot IS bigger than that of my other monitors. I have all-too-often suffered a bit of back strain trying to sit extra straight to remain in the Tannoy Reveal's sweet spot, in particular. I found myself happily slouching while listening to the M-Audios.

I did not, btw, find the DSP3's too "nice" to listen too. I don't think I would choose them to put on tunes just for chillin' out. That's, IMHO, for speakers that have enough smear factor to "glue" everything together... these did a good job of keeping the various components discrete. In the old Stax stuff, for example, I could hear the various backup singers as individuals, while on my KRK R5g2's and "New Big Advents" they all merge into a single chorus. Now, I like background singers acting as a chorus when I'm listening for pleasure... but if I'm mixin I wanna hear everybody on their own.

So them's my initial comments. BTW... this was while using analog inputs. I have an Event ESW-1 switcher that lets me toggle between up to six pairs of analog speakers, so I went with that for the initial listen. But, I'm going to try out the digital inputs soon to see what they have to offer.

Celereon 24th March 2012 03:50 AM

M-Audio DSM 3
First off I should start by saying that I have by no means the ears or the experience to make valid judgements on these matters. However, I did an extensive shootout between these monitors and others such as Yamaha HS80s, KRK Rokits, Dynaudios, Neumann KH120s, Event Opals and others in a treated room. Initially I was going for the HS80s as I have a bigger room and wanted more bass extension. Then I heard these, and thought that they were too good to be true. I also managed to get them for only a little more than the HS80s would have been and am very very happy with them.

I must say the Event Opals were slightly better, a bit more impactful especially in the low end, which is why I am only giving the DSM 3s a 9/10 in the Sound Quality department. Really though, they deserve a 10, especially considering that I paid about one quarter the price of the Opals for them.

In terms of features, they are digital monitors, so they have an additional A/D/A stage in them for the digital crossover and EQ. They do have a digital input (SPDIF and AES) if anyone is concerned about the degradation of quality from the extra conversion stages. I haven't used the digital inputs simply because volume control is a little harder with digital signals. There is also extensive EQ options, including 175Hz and 220Hz for desktop reflections.

The sound is amazing. Quite literally I am still blown away every day I hear them and I have had them for three months now. The bass extension is excellent; again the Opals were a tad better here but the DSMs have plenty and are actually much cleaner. Highs are smooth and unhyped, and the mids are excellent. I think the word I am shooting for here is NATURAL. Listening to DVDs of live concerts puts me right in the room with the musicians. Intimate vocal acoustic recordings really shine on these and I have had many people comment on how it sounds as though there is a singer sitting right in front of them.

The stereo imaging is excellent and separation really works well so that I can hear where each instrument and each musician is placed in the mix. In fact I can tell if I'm not sitting dead center because the vocals will move a couple centimeters. These are really clear monitors that translate well simply because what you're hearing is essentially what you have.

I've heard the DSM 1 and DSM 2 (the smaller versions) and they have the same sound signature: open, clear, detailed and so natural. For a smaller room one of these will work well, but considering the price I paid I figured I might as well go for the biggest ones. The only things I would recommend are: you'll need a good room with treatment to make the most out of these monitors. Perhaps if you are doing electronic or dance music you might want monitors with a more hyped top end and a sub, but I think you definitely wouldn't be UNHAPPY with these monitors.

I am very very happy with these.

vicwind 31st August 2013 09:47 AM

I picked up a pair of these two years ago and paid 900!
I figured it was a no brainer, based on listening to the dms2 and liking those.
I just wish the analog inputs could bypass the AD stage. Oh well, I use them spdif in and go from a BMC2 and they are clear and natural. If you find 'em, grab 'em!