The market for affordable studio monitors is large but hard to navigate. One of the beacons of proven performance goes under the name of M-Audio AV32. This speaker has been among the best you could grab for less than $100. Needless to say, that hasn’t changed even to this day.
When M-Audio designed AV32, the appearance of the speakers was important but not to a point where they were willing to sacrifice the performance. Even so, it is worth saying that a whole lot of brands who compete in this segment tend to spend too much time and effort on looks rather than performance. M-Audio has done a great job at finding a good balance there. AV32 are made of decent quality MDF with a synthetic front baffle that incorporates a more complex waveguide for the tweeter and a standard, rigid surround for the woofer. This is another active model where the manufacturer made the right decision of placing all of the controls at the front of the active speaker. Overall, it looks decent and is built fairly solid. That’s all we wanted to know.
There are two things that really define M-Audio AV32. Firstly, there are the drivers. Or to be more specific – the baffle design. We have a standard 1“ tweeter and a 3“ woofer driver. That tweeter is sitting in a very large and meticulously structure waveguide. In a sense, it really expands its reach quite a bit. However, more on that later. The woofer is packed into a thick surround and a discreet waveguide of its own. That’s the first notable thing. The second is the power. Being active speakers, you are limited to whatever is packed inside. In the case of M-Audio AV32, you are looking at 10 Watts RMS per speaker. That means you are looking at 20 Watts RMS out of this set. While it might sound like a small number, it is actually quite decent.
Turning these on reveals an interesting type of tone. There is definitely a short burn-in period that you should respect. Other than that, they are fairly decent in terms of response. Speaking of which, AV32 will start off at around 20kHz and drop down to 80Hz. Considering these pack 3“ woofers, those 80Hz are completely understandable. Positioning the speakers takes some effort. First of all, those rear firing ports require you to keep some space between the wall and the back of the speaker. On top of that, the waveguide design makes it a bit tough to find that sweet spot in the near field. Once you do that, you should experience a slightly biased but relatively flat response across the range. Sure, it won’t be anywhere near a professional level, but you will get all the tools you need to get the job done on a budget.
Compared to most other affordable monitor speakers, M-Audio AV32 are fairly well ranked. Whether it is the more accentuated baffle and waveguide design or the way they are voiced, but AV32 will get you solid performance. What is really awesome is the fact that the price is more than competitive.