Quested VS3208 Self-Powered Midfield Monitor - ProSoundNetwork.com

Quested VS3208 Self-Powered Midfield Monitor

Since the 1970s, Quested has supplied high-end studio monitors to major studios such as Abbey Road, The Hit Factory and many more. Quested's largest self-powered monitor, the VS3208 reviewed here, is a three-way design with a built-in 400 W power amp. Applications include midfield use in large rooms and main monitors in small to medium rooms.
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Since the 1970s, Quested has supplied high-end studio monitors to major studios such as Abbey Road, The Hit Factory and many more. Quested's largest self-powered monitor, the VS3208 reviewed here, is a three-way design with a built-in 400 W power amp. Applications include midfield use in large rooms and main monitors in small to medium rooms.
Product PointsApplications: Studio monitor

Key Features: Three-way midfield powered monitors; dual 8-inch woofers; 3-inch midrange, 1.25-inch tweeter; 230 W LF, 110 W MF, 100 W HF amplifiers

Price: $7,400 (pair)

Contact: Quested at 608-251-2500; Web Site: www.quested.com

Plus

+ Accurate, well-balanced response

+ Deep, tight bass

+ Clear, present and detailed imaging

Minus

- Big and expensive

The Score: If you are shopping for an active midfield monitor, be sure to audition the Quested VS3208. I recommend this fine product.
Features

This is a big, heavy speaker. Each monitor weighs 104 pounds and measures 19 inches wide, 24.25 inches high and 16.5 inches deep. Cabinet construction is rock solid.

Two 8-inch diameter ported woofers, a 3-inch soft-dome midrange and a 1.25-inch soft-dome tweeter are located on the front. Crossover frequencies are 450 Hz and 4500 Hz, 24 dB/octave. Each driver is housed in its own chamber. Since the tweeter and midrange domes are not physically protected, care must be taken during installation. An LED glows green when the power is on, flashes red 0.5 dB below signal clipping, and glows red if the amp overheats and is muted.

A large, three-channel amplifier with heat sinking and an on/off switch is on the back of the cabinet. It works on 230 V or 115 V. Total power is 400 W continuous. A temperature monitor shuts off the amp if it overheats and automatically turns it back on when the temperature is safe.

An optional kit lets the user remove the electronics and mount them away from the speakers - permitting the VS3208 to be mounted in soffits where no cooling is available. Also optional is the VS1115 subwoofer, which extends the response down to 15 Hz. Magnetic shielding is another option. Also available is a pair of 38-inch tall steel speaker stands ($290 each) that place the speakers at the optimum height for most applications.

Three easy-access toggle switches are used to contour the LF, mids and HF. Input is via a 3-pin XLR-type connector, which works with balanced or unbalanced signals. A trim pot adjusts the monitor's sensitivity over an 18 dB range in 2 dB steps.

According to the user manual, maximum SPL is 112 dB C-weighted at 1 meter. Frequency response is reported to be 40 Hz to 18 kHz +/- 2 dB. Sensitivity is adjustable between + 4 dBu and -14 dBu for 100 dB SPL at 1 meter. Amplifier continuous power is 230 W LF, 110 W MF, and 100 W HF. Claimed THD is less than 0.03 percent up to 1 dB below clipping, while hum and noise are at least 100 dB below the clipping level.

The user manual covers, positioning, connections, controls, specs, accessories and driver replacement. List price is $7,400 per pair with a five-year guarantee.

In use

Using CDs and my master tapes, I listened to the Quested VS3208 before making any measurements. I placed the speakers vertically on stands, several feet from the walls, with the tweeters at ear height. Quested recommends the speaker axes cross one-half to one meter behind the listener. In my control room, the VS3208 sounded best with the tone controls flat. Here are my impressions:

Piano: Realistic, uncolored. Big and strong, authoritative.

Acoustic guitar: Naturally bright. Not boomy or harsh. The speakers convey a sense of the physical wire of the strings.

Vocal: Natural. Not sibilant (unless the recording is sibilant).

Drums: Good impact. Snappy and clear.

Kick drum: Tight, with a well-defined attack.

Cymbals: Realistic. Sounds like brass. Naturally crisp, but not annoyingly tizzy.

Percussion: Same as cymbals. Well defined.

Bass: Tight, deep, full and gutsy. Uniform volume of different notes.

Sax: Good balance between warmth and edge. Realistic.

Electric guitar: Neither puffy nor lean in the lower mids. Appropriately aggressive but not harsh.

Orchestra: Slightly forward in the midrange compared to, say, the B&W 801. Not bad. Cutting the mid switch helps.

My own mixes (done on Vergence A20s) translated quite well to the Questeds. The VS3208 transient response was terrific: I could hear each string being plucked in a strummed acoustic guitar, or each bell in a sweep of a bell tree.

Overall, I was struck by the presence and detail of these speakers. Their transparency makes instruments so palpable you can almost feel them. Imaging is very sharp. The VS3208 offers fine resolution of reverb as well.

In my lab at home, I was not able to mount the VS3208 in a wall. That would boost the lows and tame the mids (due to the lack of cabinet diffraction). Quested offers a free soffit-mount kit that flattens the woofer's response when the monitor is flush-mounted.

Summary

The Quested VS3208 has many strengths - its transient response, clarity and detail are exemplary. Off-axis coloration is minimal, as is the THD. The tone controls let you adjust the response easily. The VS3208 can be cranked up really loud without noticeable breakup or congestion. Overall, it sounds gutsy and authoritative, yet accurate.