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Alesis M1 Active 520 usb review

Updated on June 18, 2012

Alesis M1 Active 520 usb Review

Hello, my name is John, I'm a producer for the music production group called "CycloBeats". Alesis M1 Active 520 usb monitors are one of my favorite pieces of equipment.

If you want to learn more about these great affordable studio speakers, keep on reading and maybe you find out something you didn't know about them. ;)

Alesis M1 Active USb Front Side
Alesis M1 Active USb Front Side

Intro

Alesis M1 Active 520 usb Review

Have you ever wanted a cheap pair of speakers that sound "flat"? I know I have.

Everywhere you go online, music producers are praising flat studio monitors that cost a small fortune saying that using them is the only way to be a good producer and not some kid playing with FL studio. (yeah, guilty a bit there).

As you probably know already, "high-end" takes a whole new meaning when it comes to studio monitors. These things can easily cost you $2,000.

Let me tell you right here, these speakers are not high-end. Not even close.

But they're a great investment if you're buying your first pair of studio monitors or want a second set to give you a second opinion when it comes to your primary pair of monitors.

Alesis M1 Active Usb Back Side
Alesis M1 Active Usb Back Side

Features

Alesis M1Active 520 usb Review

- Size -> 10.6 x 7.3 x 10.6 inches

- Weight -> about 20 pounds

- Power -> 60W system, each speaker gets 30W

- Integrated audio interface (usb) -> 16-bit,

44.1 / 48 kHz playback and recording

- Frequency response -> 56 Hz - 20 kHz

- Inputs -> 2x balanced 1/4" inputs

- Outputs -> 1x 1/4" stereo headphone output

- 5 inch woofers

- 1 inch tweeters

- Bass boost switch

- Magnetically shielded (it's safe to place it near TV and / or computer monitor)

- Bass port

- Power supply - works worldwide

- Power / clip light

The bulit-in usb audio interface is the real selling point of these speakers. Maybe not if you're a seasoned producer with loads of your own gear but since these cost only a few dollars more than their brothers without usb audio interface, I'd say that's a good deal.

Since audio interfaces cost a certain amount and they're aren't by any means cheap, the fact that you have one bulit-in directly in to your speakers is great. You can basically just plug them in your computer and you're set.

(It's not just "plug and play" since you have to tweak a few things but simple enough)

What's even better, you can plug your instruments (guitar, bass, synth, MIDI - controller) directly in to the back side of the speakers and they will then serve as an amplifier / DI for that instrument.

It's very handy if you want to use a MIDI - controller for your DAW or if you want to record your guitar.

Sound

M1 Active 520 usb studio monitors

When you first unpack these speakers and put them on your table, they look very promising. After turning them on, there's a bit of a "wow" feeling if you're used to normal computer speakers.

Lets talk about their ability to bring out fine details first.

As with all studio monitors, it's important that they give a detailed and real reproduction of whatever you're listening to and these do not fall behind.

When I first tested them, I went to Youtube and played my favorite drum and bass song. It was in 240p so I didn't expect to hear anything different.

The sound was crystal clear and somewhere in the middle of the song, I heard something out of the ordinary. One sound that I didn't hear before. I tried switching back to my old speakers and I couldn't hear that sound at all, no matter how hard I focused on the song. Thinking I was imagining things, I switched back to my new Alesis monitors and listened to that part of the song again. And again, there was this sound that doesn't even exist in my old speakers.

That's all I have to say about them bringing out the fine details, after hearing that, I was hooked.

Now let's talk a bit about frequencies.

Even tho they have a very wide frequency response listed in their specifications, I wouldn't really call it great.

While high-end is crystal clear and more than satisfying, if you're a bass freak, then I'm sorry but these monitors aren't for you.

If you were to try to mix together sub bass and the sub part of the kick drum without using a dedicated subwoofer, you might as well be using any other speakers / headphones.

Even with the bass boost on, it seems kinda lacking. Now this is all from a perspective of someone who likes to make bass oriented music and it's capibilities are more than great if the lowest thing you have to mix is your kick drum and your bass guitar. But when you start adding subbass to the picture, it doesn't do that good.

However, when working with little frequencies below some 80Hz, these studio monitors really shine. (which means if you're not producing dubstep, drum&bass or similar style, you probably won't even notice it)

How it sounds?

Final words

You won't be breaking these anytime soon. They're rock solid and seem like they could survive a drop from your computer desk. (but don't try that at home ;p)

I had them for about a year and so far they don't seem to have even a scratch.

In order to position them properly, you might need a larger desk. Not saying that you can't set them up on a smaller one but you might want some room to maneuver.

With their price, alesis M1 Active 520 usb studio monitors are a great choice for your first pair of studio monitors or if you're an audiophile and want speakers that deliver a clear sound.

Actually, only time I wouldn't recommend you to buy them if you plan to use them exclusively for bass-oriented music.

I hope that you found my Alesis M1Active 520 usb review helpful.

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      brian_pelton 5 years ago

      I love how you presented your information on this lens. Maybe add some video. People love this!