Gear reviews

Sonodyne – SM 100 AK day by day

Day 1/2 with Sonodyne monitors.

besides gearslutz-moderator you might remember me as a highend-geardealer. while beeing a dealer is history I had the opportunity to listen and make shootouts with many brands of monitors/converters in different rooms. while everything audible is a matter of taste there is always a certain “wooow”-factor in some products. somethimes it’s a “woooow this sux” and sometimes the opposite, when something really appeals you and you want more more more.. 🙂

So if you read these lines I have no interest in selling Sonodyne monitors nor do I have any shares with the company Sonodyne..

so much for the disclaimer part 🙂 besides that, you know me quite well. I am brutally honest. it’s live or die.. black and white.. sucks or awesome.

so I had the Sonodynes SM-100-AK for 2 days now. actually I had them for a week but there was a problem when shipping them to me and one woofer was loose. I had a replacement woofer within “attention.. ready for applause”.. 1 day. wooow. Dave West/Martin from rules!

when taking the speaker apart I tried to gain access from the back, but no luck. this thing is built like a monster. very good layout, everything is very well screwed, not so much glue used.

so after fixing everything (not the companys fault, nor Sonodynes fault.. blame a Swiss shipping company please) I did the ordinary 5 minutes listening and then one night of white noise blast thingy (without myself beeing present.. )

First impression ():
good transient response, this fukkers go straight to the lowest lowend such a box can manage (I dont know if it’s 40Hz.. no sweeping so far) but it was deep down. the transient response was something to remember. the last time I’ve heard something like this was when listening first on barefoots MM27. so.. lowend, transient response is sweet, they go loud as hell, they don’t start to crap out even on bass heavy material AND they sound good on lowlevels. they preserve the sound even on very low levels. most of the lowcost speakers I had in my shootouts, just fukked it up when listening on lower levels.. mostly the lowend disappeared completly and the midrange was not there,only the topend remained. Not the case with the Sonodyne SM100-AK. the sweet spot is something I am not confident right now, but I need to fiddle around with monitor placement.

day 2:
after having the box slowly on “operating” temperature I started my listening tests again. I also did A/B with other monitors I have around. that’s my lovely pair of KRK VXT6 (which I had to replace the full amplifier board 3 times since I have them), Spirit Absolute II (old soundcraft speakers.. NS-10 like.. don’t sound like NS-10 but same purpose) and ADAM S2.5 from a friend. I worked a lot on ADAM S3s and barefoot speakers in the past.

Listening (still day2):
Tool – Jambie:I can hear the tapemachine noise before the drums coming in, and the vocals coming in.. that’s a big ++. stereo imaging is fanstatic
Metallica – sad but true : I can clearly hear the shaker in the center of the stereo field and can hear the sadly compressed kick drum with the klong klong attitude of the highend of the kickdrum.

AC/DC – hells bells : very good stereo imaging. you can hear the ambient reverb/echo of the guitars and the depth of the drums-recording space. guitars don’t hurt. again a ++

50cent – wanksta: the bass synth is getting good trough the speakers and doesn’t fight the kickdrum. also the snare-sample hurts a bit. that’s good, because it’s fukkin aggressive. again. A++. you can hear that most of the record is mono. so the speaker is not activily widening the space without having any good stereo image (happens usually with hi-fi’ish speaker-systems).

Soundgarden – black hole sun : sounds awesome on those speakers while retaining the original very differentiated use of reverb/delay/placement of the instruments and vocals. concentrate on kick/snare/vocals on this record. again ++

Avril lavigne – under my skin : the cymbals sound like horror, the voice sounds small and you hear the desser working very painfully.. you can hear the hole between the mids and the bass area. GOOOD! I never heard those problem-zones on any small format speaker! again A++

Backstreet boys – don’t remember the song.. it’s the one with the Cello at the beginning.. one of the later “rock” records : you can hear the Cello-timbre very well at the beginning. most monitors just eat it. great stuff. also you hear the very cool recorded bass. good.

Billy Talent – broken leafs: you hear the dessing-thing going on with the cymbals, you hear the bumping and the over limited distortion on the louder parts! very detailed and sharp representation of the sound image. you can hear the snare sample and kickdrum sample very separated from the rest of the record. ++

Bolt Thrower – inside the wire: you hear the very aggressive highend of the guitars.. the over-8khz thing going on with this record. cool. I never heard it on any other small format monitors.. it’s really a pain to listen to this frequency, but it’s quite remarkable on the SM-100 without beeing a punishment for your ears.. maybe I am deaf.. that might be the other reason 😉

Caliban – it’s our burden to bleed: wow. you hear the brittling (because of over limiting) of the guitars very very accurate. while it wouldn’t be a pleasure on hi-fi systems, it helps a lot on judgin if the monitor is any good in represantation of those small little details that make a good mix monitor. love it!

Cardigans – communication: the representaiton of the vocal reverb/space is very good. Now for the first time I can hear the sonodyne monitor clearly. it’s sounds a tiny bit smaller.. but hey.. we are talking about a monitor the size of a genelec 1029.. or even smaller.. it’s very very accurate what I have in mind.
the lowend representation and level of detail is still awesome. you hear the timbre of the voice.

ok… now I could continue for the next 20 songs I have in the loop.. but.. I stop. will try to make some mixes until next week (I am out of my studio for the next 3 days).

After day2 (listening only): A+ and great,very focused and revealing monitor. I don’t miss any frequency and I am impressed by the transient response and how fast this thing is. also how loud they go without crapping out and retaining the sound at low volumes. good stuff coming from india.

A/B with my other monitors: the ADAM S2.5 have a more in your face midrange for guitars/snare/vocal stuff.. I will see how I can manage the Sonodyne midrange. it sounds focused and not overhyped. I just hate it when it’s too low.. I can’t comment about it.

one thing: when you listen to stuff like Cardigans – no sleep or Rammstein Mutter where the intention of the record was to have the guy or the girl right in front of you jumping out of your speaker.. they really jump out of the speaker! the last time I’ve heard something like this was on Gheithain’s 901.

ok.. enough praise. the bad thing is that they are black only and not in neon bikini Borat yellow..

Day 3: wow

day4: incredible

I really need to be honest. I haven’t heard such a cheap monitor in a long time which sounded that right in the HF and LF. the overall balance, transient response and capability to reproduce room, space and layering is incredible.

you can’t get to the deepest bottom of your music so I still need a sub to complement them, but down to where they are specificied it’s unbelivable for a 400 Euro loudspeaker…

I am in the middle of mixing something and I am impressed.

I just made a post at local ebay about my pair of KRK VXT6.

let’s see how it translates.

after the dark

after mixing an album on them, I am still in love. I need to negotiate my subwoofer/satellite settings again. if I switch off my sub, everything is fine. that’s a room problem, not a problem of the monitors.

I found out the folowing stuff:
the highend is revealing. really, that’s the best part about the Sonodynes. Highend is open, you can cut/boost, and it translates well. you can work hours on them without getting tired (or not so tired as with other monitors) but they do not sound “nice”.

the midrange is quite revealing and you have to be carefull to cut/boost. that’s a learning process you have with every monitor. it was quite easy with the sonodynes to make the snare/guitar/vocals balance sit well in the mix.

the bass response is spectacular, down to 60Hz. below there is not much left (and I don’t expect much below 60Hz from a Genelec sized 1029 speaker cabinet). the bass is tight, and there is not much missing.

the (-) so far:
I got some small problems adjusting the bass/guitar levels concering the lowermid content (that’s the 150hz to 400HZ region). I will measure again my room and move the monitors a littlebit around in my room. it was a lot better then with my KRK/Genelecs…

stand-by.. more coming 🙂

5 Responses to “Sonodyne – SM 100 AK day by day”

  1. Sjoerd Banga says:

    Hello George,

    My (untreated) room is about 3×4 meters and I am wondering if I should buy the SM100AK or SM50AK. I guess the 50 would be ok, but I want to think about the future when I have a bigger (and treated?) room.
    How would the 50’s compare to the 100’s?


    Sjoerd Banga

  2. ben says:

    George – I’ve read a lot of your stuff on here and Gearslutz lately. My main monitors for a while have been KRK V6 Series II’s – I get some really good mixes from them, but I am hoping for an upgrade. I see you’ve used the APS I/O monitors as well. What are your thoughts of APS vs. Sonodyne, and do you think either would be a significant enough upgrade from what I have?

    • GeorgeNecola says:

      a while back ago I mixed on aps io (wall nut),s3a (the old ones with analog amps) and now switched to sonodynes, ns 10. yes, i owned krk vxt6 and the sonodynes sound ike speakers and not like harsh over inflated low midish,something 😉

      i am quite happy and if you do some work on your room acoustics like I did when moving to the sonodynes, you can’t go wrong.

  3. Marcus says:

    Hello George,

    Have you had the opportunity to compare them to PSI a17m’s? I’m about to buy a pair of these, absolutely love them. Haven’t had the chance to check out the Sonodynes, which are obviously much cheaper. Just curious. Thanks in advance!

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