iKey Audio M-606V2 Review

July 3 2011

 

I finished building my new computer five months ago. To go with my new rig I wanted a matching audio system with just as much power and flare like nothing I had before. I previously used a Logitech Z-340 2.1 speakers. It was a well-praised budget computer speakers of its time. However, it lacked fullness. With its measly, two inch drivers and a separate subwoofer with four inch driver it produced the highs and lows adequately but left me feeling hollow and yearning for some mids. I had planned to get bigger speakers for a long time but could never afford a pair until recently.

During my research I came across studio monitors which got me excited since I have never heard of them before. They are similar to bookshelf speakers most people are familiar with but they have built-in amplifiers. The marriage of the drivers and amplifier from the ground-up allow the speakers to be designed so the unit as a whole reproduce close to a flat frequency response as possible to give the listener an unadulterated listening experience. In comparison your everyday bookshelf speaker like your boombox or hifi system may accentuate certain frequency bands to produce a more pleasing sound but may or may not sound authentic to the original. Also, with hifi speakers the same set of speakers may sound completely different depending on the receiver you use. Studio monitors alleviate the trouble of mixing and matching drivers to amplifiers since the designers have done it for you.

When I was shopping for speakers I wanted to go big and get a set with at least six inch woofers. I thought this would give me tons of volume and fullness that I had been missing. After numerous research and checking out different brands I settled with the iKEY-AUDIO M-606v2. I hate research.

iKEY-AUDIO is a relatively new name and a subcompany of GCI Technologies, a company based in the USA with manufacturing outsourced to China. Their product line mainly comprise of DJ audio equipment. I probably would have overlooked M-606v2 if it were not for their red woofers. They remind me of KRK speakers with their yellow woofers. It is certainly eye-catching. It is a nice deviation from the ubiquitous black speaker box with black tweeter and woofer. The M-606v2 is an active studio monitor with a bi-amp design. iKEY-AUDIO describes them as cost-effective studio monitors. Put another way these are budget studio monitors. They can get really expensive. If two hundred dollars is budget just imagine how much the highend units cost.

I bought my M-606v2 at musiciansfriend.com and pricematched with novamusik.com, which brought the price down to $194 for a pair. When you are shopping for studio monitors be aware that most are sold individually. I suppose this makes it cheaper for those who need to replace just one speaker later down the road. Do not rely on pictures posted on websites. If in doubt ask customer service.

Musiciansfriend's turn-around time was quick. I was practically waiting at the door for the mailman to deliver. I was grinning from ear to ear. Musiciansfriend double boxed the speakers as opposed to simply shipping using the retail box, which is a big plus on my book. After I unboxed everything I inspected the speaker construction for a bit before doing a showdown.

Coming from the Logitech Z-340 I was at first apprehensive about the size of the M-606v2 when placed right next to my 23" monitor. At 8.5 x 12.6 x 10.25 inches these things are big. They have a good weight, too, at 17 pounds each. Many of you will probably share the same concern but rest assured the moment you first listen to them you will be at ease. In fact you may throw everything off your desk just to make room for these.

At last music sounds much more fuller and satisfying than ever before. The hollow feeling I had is now filled with audible bliss. The treble is no longer disjointed from the bass. It is a blast listening to my music collection. The highs are crisp and provides good stereo imaging. There were instances, with classical music in particular, where I confuse an instrument as being real. It startled me enough that I mute the volume to make sure there was no ghost fooling around with me. The bass is super. My room is 13.7 x 12.25 feet with a nine feet high ceiling. The bass response here is great and never obtrusive. I certainly do not miss having a subwoofer. The M-606v2 will not shake walls as much as a subwoofer but it will do its share. The stereo bass really helps expand the soundstage. There is plenty of volume to fill the house. I have never had the need to turn the volume past nine o'clock.

Granted these are supposed to be nearfield speakers I had to try them in the living room and my experience was a little different. My living room is about four times larger than my bedroom. I did not have the best speaker placement being within a foot of the back wall. I connected the speakers directly to the DVD player. At 13 feet distance I felt the bass was overwhelming at times to contort my face. I could feel it inside my head. The woofer excursion can reach at least 7mm one way during heavy bass but never detected any distortion. I found the volume set slighty below 9 o'clock provided ample volume and dampened the bass a tiny bit. The vocals sounded a bit cupped and lacked clarity. Some equalization to boost the upper mid frequencies may help. It is still far superior to the sound coming out from my TV. The stereo imaging is phenomenal. Hearing rain drops on the leaves in the movie Avatar put a smile on my face. The lemurs were very three dimensional.

I don't have the proper speaker measuring equipment so I can not say for certain the frequency response of these speakers. There is a SPL vs Frequency graph printed right on the retail box. Whether it is accurate or not I do not know. I would say the upper-bass, lower-mid frequencies sounded more pronounced to me when watching movies in the living room. I had no complaints when listening to music.

I read an article about building speakers and the author mentioned that based on his experience speakers with flat SPL vs Frequency measurements tend to sound just that, flat. Speakers that sounded good actually have both ends of the spectrum slightly higher creating a valley in the center.

 

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