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SPAcoustics SP1M(L)

SP Acoustics SP-1ML (Pair)

5 5 out of 5, based on 1 Review

New High End Monitoring option.....


8th March 2012

SP Acoustics SP-1ML (Pair) by Dragonbreath

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5

Pre-amble

Well, okay, so, as it happens, I was asked to do some testing for these things.... I knew Steve Phillips, the designer, from his days at Acoustic Energy, where he was heading up the Pro Division, and the team that designed the AE22 and AE Pro Sub/Sat system ... and I had a little limited involvement in the sub design choices , and testing...

My nearfield system of choice, thereafter, being a pair of AE22, and 2 of the Pro-Subs, as the best value , sealed box , full range monitoring system capable of mid sized treated room "filling" SPL... My Studio partner has a habit of setting up drum sounds at REAL drum kit SPL levels.... probably because, apart from being a talented producer, he was formerly a pro drummer, many sessions and tours under his belt..... so he knows what he wants to hear, ..... I just wear ear plugs while he's doing it..... :D



so, anyhow, back to the story....

When Steve struck out on his own, with a no nonsense, performance based design, rather than a cost based design, I was intrigued, within my occasional role as a studio design consultant...

So, having heard the prototype vertical set, and been mightily impressed, I persuaded a client to invest in a pair....

the ONLY issue with those original SP1M's , being the vertical alignment... (Portrait) making them a little tricky for installation in control rooms with a console and relatively limited space.... but sonically, they were absolutely flawless.....

The client is ecstatically happy with them.... and will happily publicly effuse about them..... says his productivity in mix work as gone through the roof...

Happy clients are always nice :D


Thus the discussion began about how to take the core design concept in to a landscape format, to make installation in a console based room a more practical proposition......

After much mucking about with assorted options, Steve came up with the SP1ML ......


I'm currently sat in front of a Pair....... of the active versions, i've not yet stopped grinning every time i turn them on,...


So what are they?

a 3 Way , large sealed box design.....

Imagine , if you will, something with a time domain response akin to the NS10 , but presenting a nominally flat (± 3dB) response , from 35 Hz upwards .... and rolling off very gently below that.... at , at worst, half the rate of even a well designed Ported cabinet.... and in some cases less...

so... the real low end is ALL there.... there is no sudden drastic drop below the port's active range.... because there is no port.....

better yet, having then been set up in MY control room, and tweaked, we have a real world, measured , ±3db range of 18Hz to 18kHz, and only being -5dB at 10Hz and 20kHz.



Non fatiguing, very dynamically fast, tight... when the source stops, so do the speakers.... they're just a clear window on to the mix, without hyping anything at all....


one does take some time to get used to how high the SPL can get if you don;t keep an eye on things.... there's so little distortion, that they simply do not sound loud , even when blowing the back wall off the building.....


i've tracked bass at almost live band levels (don't ask ) with no hint of approaching the limits of capability....

you have to remind yourself, not to leave them turned up..... trying to have a conversation, and discovering you cannot hear your own voice is a good clue....


With the active version, there is an incredible amount of detailed positional compensation adjustment possible, but it's not really for the end user.... thus not a bunch of knobs and switches, but a digital interface via USB with the amplifier/crossover pack. SPA will generally aim to set up a set in your room..... making fine adjustments to crossover parameters and filters in conjunction with room measurements, to ensure the best result possible within a given space... it requires bespoke software to do so.... and AFAIK it is not intended to let end users have this.... this is fair comment really.... these speakers are intended to perform at the highest level, and far too many people have a tendency to fiddle with stuff they have no real business mucking about with, and then blame the equipment for their incompetence.


on balance, i would recommend the active version as the better option, given that it is much harder to tailor things to a less than ideal room without the abilities of that amp pack....

that said, the passive ones are equally fabulous.... subject to suitable quality amplification being on hand.... and subject to a well designed and treated room, but by my calculations, that route can potentially be more expensive than buying the active version, unless you already have that level of top quality amp on hand.....


now the bad news

1) they're rather large.... and quite heavy...... the landscape version i'm testing is around 100 litre enclosure, the portrait version is even bigger (around 120? i think) this does not make for small boxes.... nor are they really suited for anything like small room near-field application... mid-field / room mains ,... yes.... although you can get away with mounting them above and behind a large format console meter bridge , in a suitably sized facility...

2) they're not cheap, in an "absolute" sense.... although in a relative sense, for the level of performance and quality, they're actually remarkably good value.. at this price level, we're in the top end of the market, and there are , quite frankly, other speakers in this price range that do not perform to the same level in some respects.... pretty much anything at this level can be reasonably expected to be pretty damn good..... but these do stand out as being rather notably good for the price. but bloody hell is your accountant going to have a fit when he finds out what that price is !


they're definitely not for the faint hearted, nor for the small room..... but if you have a decent sized mix room, or are about to build one...... or , for example, your old westlakes are falling apart..... then you should most definitely add these to your list of things to investigate......



I know there are professional reviews in the publication pipelines , with multiple audio specific publications..... so I'm not going to wave my arms around and shout much more..... i'll let you have other people tell you more.... ones that you may feel you can trust more.... as you have no idea who i am, where i've been, or whether my opinions are worth actually listening to.....

just keep an eye out for these things.... they're fecking AWESOME!!

 
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