Samson Resolv A6 Active Studio Reference Monitors

This bargain-priced powered monitor will find its home in our industry's "new mid-tier studios."
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Nowhere in the continuity between the source and the ear are devices more variable, more subjective, and more argued over than microphones and monitors. Physically, with monitors, it's about the various kinds of paper, silk, plastic, metal or ribbon, and occasionally, pro audio users see bamboo, hemp or banana "fab-ric." (Great for secondary monitor conversation pieces: "Dude, we're listening to your mix on hemp speakers." "No way!" "Way!")

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I record, mix and master music for CD projects and for video. And I'm old school; that means paper, not plastic. I mix and master on JBL Century L100 (grills off) pushed by a Hafler P4000 amp, and no subs. I also have Electro-Voice Sentry 100 speakers pushed by a Crown D60 at another monitoring station. For checking the small scene, I use Radio Shack Minimus Seven speakers at both stations. I also take CDs out for a ride in my gracefully aging Acura RSX to listen to how the road noise eats away at my mixes, and I have a friend with a wall-o-sound system and Polk speakers, each the size of an office water cooler. When he turns the power amp on, I swear I see the room lights blink very slightly.

Features

The Samson Resolv A6 is aimed at the "everyday pro audio use" market. At $400 a pair, they are biamped powered monitors with 6.5-inch, carbon-fiber, 75-watt bottoms and 1-inch, 25-watt, silk dome tweeters. The Resolv A6 has both balanced and unbalanced inputs and a four-position high-frequency control. They are AV-shielded and made out of MDF, so you can run them next to video monitors. There are two thin skid plates on the bottom of each monitor that aid, to some degree, in isolating vibrations, but also so that they won't slide around or scratch whatever they are sitting on. There's a front port and an active crossover. They strike me as nicely made, solid, and well featured.

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In Use

I often use selections from Steely Dan's Aja when critically comparing components—that, and some CDs I've mixed and mastered myself. The sax break on "Deacon Blues" is right on the edge on my JBLs. It's over the edge and a little fatiguing on the Resolv 6, mostly from what's coming off the silk dome tweeter. On the Resolv 6s, vocals pop out sort of like they do on Yamaha NS10s. I think they should re-center the notch for high-frequency control so HF could be rolled off more or rework the tweeter to be smoother. The dome tweeters are too bright and peaky for critical mastering work, even when backed off to the lowest HF position. As you move off-axis, though, response is consistent with no beams or peaks. The Resolvs have plenty of power. They have surprising low end for speakers with a 6.5-inch woofer—not fundamental bass, but a higher harmonic, but enough of it for most non-critical applications.

Summary

On the price/value spectrum, the Resolv A6 do OK. Samson calls them Studio Reference Monitors: Maybe they are as secondary or tertiary "reference" monitors, but—to my ears—not as primary monitors. The new mid-tier studios are in dens, garages, houses and other spaces, and that's where these monitors will find a home.

Ty Ford has been reviewing equipment for Pro Audio Review since the first issue. www.tyford.com

Resolv A6 Bench Test by Tom Nousaine

FREQUENCY RESPONSE:
• Monitor On-axis 87 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 4.7 dB

BASS LIMIT:
• Monitor: 80 dB SPL @ 50 Hz (<10% Distortion)

CONTROL ACTION: TWEETER LEVEL
• Tweeter Plus 2 = +1.8 dB > 8 kHz
• Tweeter Plus 4 = +3.3 dB > 8 kHz
• Tweeter Minus 2 = -1.9 dB > 8 kHz

The A6 has smooth octave-to-octave balance with only moderate frequency-to-frequency variation and well-controlled directivity.

However an up-tilt in frequency response beginning around 400 Hz gives the speaker an overall raised treble character.
Second Opinion: "The Resolv A6: Shocking Low Cost = Real Bargain"

For the shocking low-cost (as low as $370 per pair on the street), the Samson A6 is a real bargain. Sure, it has a rising frequency response on the top end, but it is not an irritating bump for the kinds of audio I monitor: acoustic, clean electric jazz guitar, bluegrass, folk, etc. Though bumped, the high-end for those kinds of music sounds open while the bass is tight and decent for a little monitor with a 6-inch woofer. And there is ample power as long as you don't wind 'em up too loud.

The components are pretty darn good considering the price, and the solid, well-braced cabinet relays a fairly tight, clean bass. I played some SACDs and DVD-As—both pre-recorded and high-res copies of some of my stuff—through the Samson tandem and was impressed. However, with more dense pop music with a high-mid and treble emphasis, the speaker does get a bit congested and harsh when turned up. All in all, I think it is a good utility monitor for non-critical desktop editing, broadcast news suites, and musicians. If you don't crank it too hard, you'll like it.

—John Gatski