This is the big bertha of M-Audio‘s three-way active studio monitor speakers. The M3-8 are beasts, with crazy tech and specs that truely justify it’s $350 per speaker price. We already saw the capabilities in our M-Audio M3-6 studio monitor review, but if you have the dough for this, you will not be disappointed in terms of speaker power and overall accuracy with every possible frequency of a song. Some argue that mixes stand out when the mids are genuinely tweaked, which are stated to be the centerpeice of the entire song (the vocals). Let’s check this bad boy out.
Main features of the M3-8 monitor
- Retail price: $349.99 (each)
- Frequency response: 38 Hz – 22 kHz
- Dimensions: 10.6″ x 17.1″ x 11.2″ (W x H x D)
- Weight: 28.2 lbs (each)
- Made of real wood vaneer baffle
- Optimized internal bracing
- Inline mid and high frequency drivers
- 8″ low-frequency driver (woven Kevlar)
- 5″ mid-frequency driver (woven Kevlar)
- 1″ tweeter (silk dome)
- Integrated waveguide
- 220-Watts total (Tri-amp Class A/B)
- LF: 150-Watts
- MF: 35-Watts
- HF: 35-Watts
- Inputs: one 1/4″ and XLR
- 3-band EQ with bypass
- Low-cut filter switchable
- Power and volume control are rear-mounted
Overall build and stability
The wood finish is really sleek and I love the way they make a studio (home or professional) look. If you’re somebody who brings friends, family or even other artists into the lab, these give it a great vibe in terms of professionalism. This is real wood, it smells and feel like it in case you were doubting. No plastic.
M-Audio has never disappointed us when it comes to the build of their music equipment. The M3-8 studio monitor is a massive 28 pounds each, and although we don’t necessarily recommend traveling with them, they are built like tanks and will last you a good 3-4 years. As long as you keep them in good conditions (room temperature, people!) and turn them off when you aren’t using them, they will last you and will be a good investment. They offer protection for the monitor as well, with output current limiting, transient on/off to decrease pops, a subsonic filter, external mains fuse and over-temp protection (be wary — remain responsible with studio temperature).
Sound quality of the M3-8
None of the look, feel or overall aesthetics would matter if the sound quality wasn’t good, and for around 7 bills a pair this is the most important part of a studio monitor. The fidelity is crazy improved due to the three way design over prior M-Audio speakers. The emphasis of mid-frequencies has been the step up in terms of studio monitors as most in the market only have the sub-woofer and tweeter. It’s the difference between the bicycle and motorized scooter – think of the mid-frequency incorporation as the attached motor. All frequencies are clear when I listened to a song (The Roots), I particularly noticed how clear the vocals sounded. Although I don’t record with vocals much and stay with instrumentals, I’ve never heard an actual balance between vocals, bass and snares quite like this.
The frequency range is also very extended, with the widest we’ve seen when it comes to an affordable monitor (well, relatively). 38Hz to 22kHz is just right and will be feasible for pretty much all studios who are serious about tuned, accurate mixes. With a total 220-watts of power, you aren’t shortening yourself whatsoever. This is almost two times the amount of power as most budget studio monitors out there, including most from JBL, Yamaha and Genelec. No interference, static or hum experienced (these things can get damn loud, which I’d hope with 220 total Watts).
The final word on the studio monitor
If you have the money, the M-Audio M3-8 three-way active monitor will be an incredible investment for your music activities. Some would call the weight a con (nearly 28 pounds each), but what do you expect with something that packs this much power? It’s clearly night and day in terms of differences with some of M-Audio’s cheaper models of monitors, such as the budget-friendly Studiophile AV 40 ($120 a pair). This is only for those who want to spend a decent dime for a great return, and not only will they look cool in your studio but the investment will pay off when your mixes sound more clear, or the song you want to listen to with complete accuracy hits your ears.
If you’re looking to save at least a few more dollars, you can check out the lower model of M-Audio’s three-way active speaker, the M3-6 studio monitor ($249.99 each). The drivers are a bit smaller but you get what you pay for. Otherwise, you will definitely not be disappointed if you grab this monitor, especially a pair. Your ears’ll thank you, too.
If you also want some cheaper options and are looking to shop around, check out our best studio monitor speakers article.