Equator Audio D8 - Pair by James O
In the fall of 2010, I was in the market for a pair of active near field monitors under $1000. Like any good GearSlut, I spent hours mining the seemingly endless threads and major magazine reviews about this particular market. Navigating that terrain can feel a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, during my many travels on gear message boards, I've learned its far safer to trust ten people who say Product X does one thing really well rather than one person proclaiming Product X does ten things incredibly.
So when the Equator D5s became some of the best reviewed monitors on GearSlutz at any price, this lifelong skeptic took a leap of faith and purchased a pair from this (at the time) relatively unheard-of company. Like everybody else who heard these monitors, I was blown away by their midrange accuracy, detail, and spatial imaging, especially for the price.
Almost three years later, Equator released the D8, and being extremely satisfied with my D5s, I eagerly purchased a pair since bigger is always better, right? Of course it is! The D8's offer all the same qualities that made the D5's great but with extended bass response, higher SPL capability, and a new voicing control.
Many people already know the D5 and what makes them a great speaker so I won't rehash those details here. The question most of you probably are asking is "Is the extended bass worth the upgrade?" Well, it depends on you situation. Yes, you can hear the lower information on kick drums and bass instruments much, much better. But did the D8's suddenly transform into hyped fun boxes? Thankfully, no. Would the D8's still benefit from a subwoofer? Yes, but most top-of-the-line monitors do too. Plus, I think the new voicing controls are even more useful than the previous edition.
My one complaint about the D8's is they are not very attractive aesthetically. Let's face it, most clients don't know anything about gear but they know what a cool piece of gear looks like when they see it and unfortunately these speakers aren't winning any beauty contests. Perhaps their look is a part of the way Equator saves cost but I would have preferred solid black to the matte grey and perhaps a different font for the company name. A bit nitpicky but still important.
If your D5's serve mainly as a secondary reference or live in a space where the small footprint is essential, the D8's probably aren't worth the cash. But if you are looking for excellent monitors under $1000 and need high SPL capability with nearly full range response, the D8's should be your first choice. Even if your budget is around $1500, the D8's are worth a listen. After all, they come with a 60 day unconditional money back guarantee. And quick side note: the guys behind Equator are awesome and they provide excellent customer service.
've worked on and listened to nearly all of the D8's competitors: Yamaha HS80s, Mackie HR824s, MAudio BX8s, DynAudio BM6s, just about every KRK model, mid-level Adams, mid-level Focals and more. I would pick the D8's over any of those. Of course, much of monitor selection is personal preference (I've met plenty of mixers and producers who use mid-level monitors with bad reputations). But I personally prefer Equator's D8's because they are reliable, affordable, and are incredibly accurate for critical mixing situations. Would I rather have Barefoot Micromains or ProAc's? Sure. And I would love to ride a unicorn to work everyday rather than drive my car that sheds parts on the highway like a dog shedding hair before summer. But money doesn't grow on trees and even if it did I might use that money to buy a horse, gaff a waffle cone to its head, and keep rocking on my D8's.