M-Audio AV42 represent the larger cousin to their ever so popular AV32. Overall, these are among the best studio monitors you can grab for under $200. With that said, M-Audio did cut a few corners where they probably shouldn’t have, but the end result is a very conveniently balanced package.
Although there is nothing inherently bad about the design of M-Audio AV42 monitors, this company really likes to stick to their guns. Cabs are made of decent quality MDF and come with a shiny plastic baffle. So shiny and glossy, that it comes across as a bit cheap. With that said, there is some level of elegance involved here. Namely, the waveguide for the tweeter is not only massive, but it is aesthetically appealing as well.
Seeing how these are powered speakers, M-Audio did that thing where they put a volume knob and AUX port at the front of the active unit, but the power button at the back. That is a bit irritating because you will most likely need to use both of these controls on a daily basis, so why put the power button on the back panel? Maybe we are just too stuck on minor details.
What you get inside each cabinet is a 1“ tweeter that sits in that glorious waveguide, and a 4“ low-frequency driver right below it. These two are wired to a crossover which kicks in right around 2.7kHz. Combined, both cabinets deliver some 20 Watts of power and are capable of reaching max SPL of 101.5dB at 1 meter. So far so good.
The I/O cluster includes your passive speaker output and a set of balanced RCA inputs that you can use to hook up a variety of gear. Overall, the features package on these is not too extravagant, but that’s about as much as we can expect for this type of money. Last but not the least, we got fairly large rear firing ports that actually help the low-end gain some girth.
The performance of M-Audio AV42 is more than decent. The level of transparency is up there with the rest of the speakers in its category, but you get an extended lower end thanks to that 4“ driver. With that said, you will definitely hear a bit of bias in the trebles as they come across as rather sharp. Positioning the speakers is another issue that requires some planning. Having larger than usual rear ports, you really have to be careful with how much room you leave between the wall and the speaker.
Finding the sweet spot for the drivers will also take some time and fine tuning. M-Audio did a great job with their waveguide design, however, it makes the trebles harder to spot when you are searching for optimal positioning. Overall, for being just slightly more expensive than cheapest monitors out there, M-Audio AV42 do a solid job.
Despite its faults, M-Audio AV42 is a very solid performer that will get the job done. The compensation for its quirky nature is a super low price. Seriously though, these monitors are scraping the very bottom of the $200 range, which is pretty amazing when you really think about it.