The biamplified M1 Active ($649/pair) is the power version of the award-winning Alesis Monitor One. Not just a Monitor One with built-in amps, the M1 Active has an improved, flatter frequency response, sharper imaging, and more detail.
Product PointsApplications: Studio; project studio; commercial recording
Key Features: 6.5″ carbon-fiber woofer; 1″ silk dome tweeter; S/N ratio is >110 dB ref. 60 W at 8 ohms
Contact: Alesis at 310-255-3400.
+ Smooth, extended response
+ Deep bass
+ Fine imaging and detail
+ Helpful manual; informative
+ High value
– Too much bass in some environments
The Score: Excellent sound quality, great price. A worthy sequel to the Monitor One.
While the M1 Active sports the familiar charcoal and blue finish, the rounded cabinet edges, a blue power-on LED and two front-mounted bass ports are new. These provide fast and extended low-frequency response.
The M1 has a 6.5″ carbon fiber woofer and a 1″ silk-dome tweeter. Carbon fiber, used for combat aircraft wings because of its high strength and low weight, is 25% lighter than polypropylene. Carbon fiber improves low-frequency transients and upper-mid detail. The tweeter is damped and cooled with ferrofluid, and its wide dispersion allows a big sweet spot. This driver is mounted off-center to flatten its response.
Woofer and tweeter are signal-aligned at the crossover frequency of 1.5 kHz, reducing time smear. The eighth order electronic crossover drives a 75 W woofer amp and 25 W tweeter amp. LF amplifier distortion is rated as <0.03% THD at 30 W/8 ohms, A-weighted. Its S/N ratio is >110 dB ref. 60 W at 8 ohms, A-weighted. HF amp distortion is <0.06% THD at rated power.
The M1 Active comes in mirror-image pairs and, thanks to magnetic shielding, can be mounted near computer or video monitors. Rated frequency range is 38 Hz to 23.5 kHz (-10 dB points). Hookup is easy via the combination phone jack/XLR connector.
Dimensions are 8.5″ x 15″ x 9.75″ (WHD) and weight is 19.5 lb each. The user manual has excellent sections on closefield monitoring, speaker placement, troubleshooting, and surround sound.
I placed the M1s about 2′ from the wall and toed-in, aimed at me. I wanted to place them farther from the wall, but my console is fixed in place. The speakers were 4′ apart and 4′ away on stands behind the console.
I compared the $649/pair M1 Actives to my reference monitors, NHTPro A-20s ($2,000/pair), with adjustable frequency response. When I turned up the bass on the NHT, the tonal balance of the NHT and Alesis were very similar, which is highly complimentary to the Alesis. But when I turned down the bass on the NHTPro, it was more accurate than the M1, which sounded a little too bassy overall unless I plugged the ports, as suggested in the manual.
Compared to the Alesis Monitor One, the M1 Active sounded a little smoother, less harsh and more detailed. There was definitely a family resemblance but the M1 Active was a step up.
I played a variety of instruments on CDs through the M1 Active speakers.
Acoustic guitar: Gentle and warm.
Bass: Full, deep, weighty. Sometimes a little too strong unless I plugged the bass ports. Deeper bass than most other closefields.
Piano: Full, smooth and neutral tonal balance.
Voice: Natural, not sibilant.
Cymbals: Sweet with extended highs.
Percussion: Not excessively bright.
Electric guitar: A little puffy or midbassy unless I plugged the ports. Rich-sounding.
Bass drum roll: Deep and weighty.
Orchestra: Natural timbres. Musical and pleasant.
Sax: Warm with a slight edge.
The overall tonal balance of the M1 Active in my control room was warm. The bass was a bit too strong, partly because of the wall behind the speakers. Plugging the ports helped. Cranked up to full volume, the M1 Active monitors played very loud without a sense of strain.
The Alesis M1 Active is a fine sequel to their Monitor One. Tone quality of the M1 is smoother, imaging and transients are clearer. These monitors put out plenty of loud sound with low listening fatigue, and have some of the deepest bass of any small monitor without a subwoofer. Great job, Alesis!