|The new Dynaudio BM-range (click to enlarge)|
In my last post I reviewed the differences between the Dynaudio BM5A mk II and mk III. Following on from the same review-day at ProLyd in Oslo last spring, I’ll have a closer look at the original Dynaudio BM6A mk I and the brand new BM12A mk III. The BM6A mk I is a much-celebrated monitor through many years. It is quite telling that it has been in production parallely with Dynaudio producing its successor, the mk II. Producers have still wanted to buy the mk I, and it is known for amongst other things, having a more powerful amplifier than the BM6A mk II. Now however, it is being discontinued. I have never worked on it and have been keen to try it out for a long time!
For good measure and some serious big sounding fun, we wired up a pair of Eve AudioSC408 as well. The first time I heard them was at the Music Production Show in London last year (read what I wrote then), and from the quick impression I got, I understood they were worth getting better acquainted with. When this is being released, Sound on Sound will just have published their review of the same monitor. Our reviews have two different approaches and I encourage you to read both.
As I always do in my monitor-reviews, I’ll tell you what tracks I played and how the speakers performed. That information will hopefully give you an impression of the sound of the speaker. I'll leave it up to you to click on the links and read up on the technical details that are already published by the manufacturers.
BM6A mk I & BM12A mk III
|The much loved and acclaimed BM6A mk I|
Montrel Darrett “When It Comes Back Around”
This neo-soul/ gospel track has a lot of vocal layering contrasted by plenty of action in the lows.
The BM6A mk I immediately stood out as some of the most impressive monitors I have heard in this segment. It is not hard to understand how they earned their reputation! Mids and vocals are clear and present, and there’s a real sense of control over what the bass is doing.
When I switched to the BM12A mk III my first thought was “what I have I gained?” The all-important vocals were much further back in the mix. The BM6A has a 7-inch bass element, while the BM12A has an 8-inch element. It is not uncommon that an 8-inch element in a two-way system leaves too big a distance between the highs and the lows. In those cases the vocals and the mid-range tend to get less distinct. It felt like that is what I was experiencing with these.
Everything was very much in its place and the mix was crisp and clear in the BM6A mk I. I felt I was possibly missing some of the lowest extension, but the there is both a clear sense of what the bass is doing and the bass is more than low enough lows to shake the walls. For reference the BM6A mk I is rated down to 45 Hz and there are limits to how much deeper one should expect a 7-inch driver to go. The BM6A gives an excellent sense of where I'm at with the levels internally in the mix.
In the BM12A mk III the reverb tales came out more. If you read my last review, this is the same effect that I found in the BM5A mk III versus the mk II. The BM12A gave a clearer sense of what goes on at the back of this mix. The main vocals however, are lower than expected—just like with the track above. As I browsed through other tracks on the same album I found that the BM12A came more to its right on some tracks than on others. The BM6A stayed quite consistent.
A point could be made that if the BM12A were pulled further back from the work-position and some eq switches were fiddled with to tailor it to the room, it could possibly fill a larger space in a better way than the BM6A. —like a mid-field monitor. This is just a theory though, and remains to be seen.
My eyes could tell my all the way from the start that the Eve SC408 would be too large for the tiny listening-room. And quite right, Beastie Boys’ “Nonstop Disco Powerpack” was threatening to tear down a wall or two from the outset! I cut the lows on the inbuilt eq. with 5dB (the maximum amount), and things started to tidy up quite a bit. There was still too much bass for the little room, but the vocals came out much clearer after the eq-correction. This could mean one of two things: either the writer of this review is an idiot for playing on main monitors in a way to small room, or, this big monster-pair of mains are extremely flexible since things were sounding ok after a quick correction. I’ll leave it up to you to choose! The mid-range clarity is really good, but the BM6A revealed more mid-range details in comparison. This as expected though, when you consider the BM6A as a high-quality dedicated nearfield monitor, and the SC408 as a huge crate with impressive bass-extension and a friendly price-tag.
The bass on the SC408 was still set to -5dB and the hi-shelf got one last adjustment to +1dB. On this track the vocals, Hammond, backing and everything fell beautifully into placed in the mix! Lovely rounded highs, warm mid-range and nice clarity! The bass extension is fantastic and well controlled, even with the low eq. turned down. After the adjustments on this track, the SC408 shone as a much more open sounding speaker than the BM6A. Again, this is in line with the expectations, but I was genuinely surprised of how well this speaker performed with all the odds stacked against it (the size of the room and all the eq. adjustments). There is a good sense of depth, fidelity and clarity here!
For me the BM6A mk I and the SC408 are the clear winners of the day! I’ll be sad to see the BM6A mk I discontinued and this review has left me seriously wanting a set. However, I’m hoping to get my hands on a pair of mk III as soon as possible for testing (or buying). For all-round use, great detail, power and reasonable bass-extension, this is one of the most impressive nearfield monitors I have come across in the segment around a thousand Pounds for a pair.
To treat the BM12A mk III with the respect it rightfully deserves I should play around with it in a bigger room and have more time to explore its eq. settings. None the less, I do have a feeling that I would end up with a pair of BM6A of one generation or the other, instead of the BM12A. I prefer the BM6A both to the BM12A and both the BM5A that I reviewed in my last post.
The SC408 is clear, open and has a very comfortable smooth top-end that I find in all Eve monitors. The BM6A mk I reveals the most details in the mids and in a large studio these two would complement each other nicely, as mains and nearfield monitors respectively. What's more, the SC408 retails at less than six thousand Pounds for a pair! As far as mains go, that’s very affordable, and the benefit of superb bass-extension coupled with great clarity is made available for most semi-professionals who own a studio alone or as a group together.
If you are looking at a pair of Eve SC408 or a pair of Dynaudio BM6A mk I, you have my warmest recommendations for both! I am really looking forward to hearing the BM6A mk III and to find the SC408 in its native environment some day soon—that is, in a large studio! With luck, hopefully my own!
|Review setup at ProLyd's listening room.|