Blue Sky ProDesk Sat5 Active Satellites and Sub8 Active Subwoofer

This monitor system is the most realistic and musical sounding I have heard in many years. The Blue Sky ProDesk system ($1,195) includes two small satellite speakers and one subwoofer. Applications include monitoring for stereo recording, broadcast and digital audio workstations.
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This monitor system is the most realistic and musical sounding I have heard in many years. The Blue Sky ProDesk system ($1,195) includes two small satellite speakers and one subwoofer. Applications include monitoring for stereo recording, broadcast and digital audio workstations.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, multimedia, project studio

Key Features: Two powered satellite speakers; one powered subwoofer; satellite - 5.25-inch aluminum alloy cone woofer; 3/4-inch tweeter; magnetic shielding; subwoofer - eight-inch aluminum cone woofer

Price: $1,195

Contact: Blue Sky International/Group One at 631-249-1399, Web Site.

Plus

+ Smooth, uncolored and realistic

+ Tight, full bass

+ High value

+ Excellent detail and sharp imaging

+ Solid construction

+ Low distortion and listening fatigue

Minus

- Extreme deep bass is weak, but this might be my listening room.

- Slightly warm-sounding near surfaces (but this is easy to get used to).
Features

Each satellite speaker cabinet is very dense and inert, measuring just 6.6 inches (H) x 10.9 inches (W) x 10.2 inches (D) and weighing 24 pounds. Finished in satin gray, the cabinet walls are made of 3/4-inch MDF with a one-inch baffle on front and rear. Styling is sleek and attractive, and construction quality is excellent.

In each satellite is a shielded 3/4-inch tweeter with a dual-concentric diaphragm and integral waveguide. The acoustic-suspension woofer is a shielded unit of 5.25-inch diameter with a cast aluminum frame, aluminum alloy cone and 1.5-inch voice coil.

On the rear of the cabinet are the amplifier heat sink, on-off switch, IEC power connector, gain pot (0 to infinity dB) a switchable 80 Hz high-pass filter, and an XLR input that accepts balanced or unbalanced signals. The satellite amplifier provides 60W for the woofer and 60W for the tweeter at 0.01 percent THD.

Behind the black fabric grille of the subwoofer we see an 8-inch high-excursion woofer with an aluminum alloy cone. The woofer has a cast aluminum frame and two-inch voice coil. Cabinet walls are 3/4-inch with one-inch baffles on front and rear. The sub measures 13 inches (H) x 16 inches (W) x 13.4 (D) and weighs 48.5 pounds. Conical isolation feet are included. The sub has a 4th-order low-pass filter at 80 Hz. Built into the sub cabinet is a power amp that provides 100W at 0.01 percent THD at 100 Hz. On the back panel are the amplifier heat sink, IEC power connector, on-off switch, gain pot (0 to infinity dB), and six XLR connectors. These connectors are labeled Right in/Right out, Left in/Left out, and Sub in/Sub out.

According to the manufacturer, the satellite frequency response is ± 1.5 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz (-3 dB at 80 Hz - 20 kHz), while the sub response is ±3 dB from 35 Hz to 200 Hz in a typical room using a direct feed (i.e. without the low-pass filter engaged).

The user manual is clear, offering tips on setup, signal connections, controls and connectors, and specifications. Instructions are given for calibrating the system with pink noise, an SPL meter and a 1/3-octave RTA.

Listening Tests

I found the ProDesk system easy and intuitive to set up, thanks to the large, clear block diagram on the sub's back panel. I placed the ProDesk satellites on stands behind my console, two feet from the rear of the speakers to an absorbent wall behind them. They were at ear height and toed-in to aim at me. The satellites needed to be placed far from adjacent walls to avoid a mid-bass buildup. I placed the sub under the console and adjusted its level by ear until it sounded balanced with the satellites. Here are my impressions of the ProDesk system reproducing some musical instruments:

Drums: Clear and smooth.

Kick drum: Tight. Good but not aggressive attack. A bass-drum roll is very audible, but is not ultra deep.

Cymbals and percussion: Smooth, delicate and sweet, with extended high frequencies.

Piano: Mostly uncolored. Slightly warm, not metallic or harsh.

Electric guitar: Combines warmth and "bite."

Electric bass: Fairly deep and tight. Full. Well balanced with the rest of the audio range. Uniform loudness of notes. Very deep notes are slightly weak (maybe with some frequency doubling).

Acoustic bass: Full but not overwhelming. Tight and well controlled.

Acoustic guitar: Gentle, delicate and warm.

Sax: Realistic. Pleasantly warm and mellow. Edge or breathiness is somewhat muted.

Strings, brass and woodwinds: Natural timbres. No harshness.

Flute: Natural, with a realistic amount of breathiness.

Voice: "Human" sounding. Not too much sibilance unless the voice was recorded with a high-frequency boost.

I did some mixes on the ProDesk system and almost instantly I felt comfortable with its sound and found it very easy to work with. The mixes translated well to other speakers.

Overall, these Blue Sky monitors sound musical and pleasant. They have very low distortion and low listening fatigue. Imaging is sharp and the sense of depth is impressive. I heard unusually good separation of instruments in loud, complex mixes. What's more, the system provides excellent resolution of reverb.

Summary

The Blue Sky ProDesk sub/satellite system sounds wonderful and has impressive measurements. It offers low fatigue and excellent resolution of detail. Near large surfaces, its sound becomes slightly warm in the upper bass but this is not judged to be a problem. Although the lowest bass notes lack weight, this might be an anomaly of my control room.

Since the ProDesk system is self-contained, easy to set up, and compact, a group of SAT5s and a SUB8 subwoofer could make an excellent surround monitoring system.

Review Setup

NHT Pro A20 monitors; Sony PCM-R300 DAT recorder; Philips CD 910 compact disc player; Mackie 1604VLZ mixing console; TASCAM DA-88 DTRS recorder; Goldline TEF-20 sound analyzer; Crown CM-150 measurement microphone.