Every musician and audio professional knows the mail order company Carvin. For years, the company has sold U.S.-made custom guitars, basses and accessories.
Product PointsApplications: Project studios, computer editing, radio news suites, surround speakers
Key Features: 6.5″ woofer; 1″ tweeter; contour switch; five-way binding posts; video shielded Duratex covering
Price: $149.99 per speaker
Contact: Carvin at 800-854-2235
+ Good sound
+ Video shielding
+ Five-way speaker jacks
– Contour option provides too broad a filter
The Score: Inexpensive shielded closefield monitor perfect for project studios and multimedia use.
In recent years, Carvin has branched out into pro audio gear with a line of pro audio products that includes large and small mixers, PA systems, mics, amplifiers – and now a basic studio speaker, the SRS6.5 ($149.99 per speaker).
The SRS6.5 is a no-frills, small passive monitor that is handy in tight listening spaces. The 6.5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter combo are housed in a 14.75 inches high by 9 inches deep by 9.25 inches wide cabinet; it weighs 21 pounds.
The cabinet is your basic laminate wood speaker box, but Carvin applies a Duratex finish that toughens up the scratch resistance and helps eliminate midrange coloration. A front slotted bass port, located at the bottom of the cabinet, enhances low bass output. The speakers are shielded for use near computer and video monitors.
When engaged, a top-mounted, passive contour switch claims to give the SRS6.5 a “hi-fi” speaker-like sound so you can check out how your mixes sound on home speakers (more on this later) . The filter rolls off a region of high bass to low treble: 350 Hz to 5 kHz.
The specs claim a 50 kHz to 20 kHz frequency response (no tolerance or crossover points given). Power handling is rated 125 Watts at 8 ohms, sensitivity is rated at 92.5 dB (1 Watt at 1 meter). Speaker connector jacks are gold painted, five-way binding posts.
I hooked up the speakers in my home project studio. Sources, routed through a Mackie 1402 VLZ mixer, included 16-bit DAT, CD-R, analog Dolby S cassette deck, and 24-bit Alesis MasterLink. Amps included a Parasound power amp and a Legacy high current preamp.
Carvin’s response graph shows this speaker to be fairly flat for its size. In my room, the little Carvins indeed sounded clean and uncolored. Some users may want more high-mid and treble sizzle out of their speakers, but the SRS6.5s are a lot less fatiguing because they are fairly flat from 1 kHz to 5 kHz.
According to Carvin’s measurements, there is a subtle 2 dB drop from 5 to 10 kHz that flattens out beyond 10 kH. But again, the slight roll-off makes the sound less fatiguing – especially at higher volumes.
The unique contour switch removes a bit too much of the 1 kHz-5 kHz (almost -10 dB at 1 kHz!) spectrum of the speaker, resulting in a dark character that I did not like. The feature is supposed to mimic a hi-fi speaker’s response, but most good home speakers made today do not sound like that. Maybe a boom box has response that is 10 dB down at 1 kHz, but I doubt it. In my opinion, the speaker does not need the contour feature.
At less than $150, the Carvin SRS6.5 speaker is a good quality, small speaker. Besides being useful in a small project studio, a pair of the Carvins would be at home in computer audio suites, broadcast news suites and in surround placement installations.
Remember, Carvin is a mail order company, so you will have to buy it to try it out. There is, however, a generous return policy.