Choosing the right desktop speakers can certainly be challenging. It usually boils down to something like how much you value high-quality over how much cash you’re willing to part with. I would personally rather fork over some serious loot for a hardcore set of drivers. But I thought it was time to start taking a look at some of the extremely affordable options on the market to see what saving a thousand dollars or more sounds like.
Enter Samson’s latest MediaOne M50 Power Studio Monitors. The extremely affordable desktop speakers are set for release later this month so we thought no better time than now to see how the sub $120 monitors will hold up in a typical podcast/music production workflow.
First let’s get some basic specs out of the way here. The M50s ship as a pair with one active monitor and one passive. In other words, the active speaker takes the audio and power inputs and is connected to the second to create the stereo image. You’re looking at RCA and a 1/8-inch stereo input connectivity with an optional stereo/sub output. You’ll also find a front-mounted volume pot as well as a headphone input and a nice white activity LED.
The M50s immediately felt a little bit light and somewhat fragile to me during the initial unboxing. But after getting my hands on them and putting them into place in the studio, the surprisingly elegant hard plastic shell does feel quite robust.
I also wasn’t in love with the look of the speaker when they were originally unveiled, however, the mix of matte and shiny black finishes here is growing on me everyday I sit in front of them. Samson is using basically what I would consider a slightly old school rectangle encasement with rounded corners here. They seem to have a more pricey, boutique look to them than the KRK’s beside them, which is a nice breath of fresh air for me.
The M50s have been integrated into my studio setup for a while now. I have my main system running through a UA audio interface with the M50s connected as my alternate monitors. I have also been running tests with a MacBook Pro plugged directly into the speakers via the 1/8-inch jack.
All-in-all, I’m pretty impressed here. I certainly wasn’t expecting much, but they most definitely sound better than the $119 asking price. In just about all cases of these smaller, more affordable speakers billed as studio monitors, I tend to notice an exaggerated high-end and what is usually a sort of bloated low-end overcompensating for its lack of power. That doesn’t seem to be the case here with the M50s — they know what they are, and they aren’t trying to hard to do it. While I do hear a slightly muddy tone in the lower mid range on some recordings, it is extremely subtle and stopped being an issue for me within a couple of days.
As near field-style, secondary monitors, the M50s certainly get the job done without breaking the bank. In fact, I have quite enjoyed being able to check my mixes on them in order to get a better feel for how the tracks will come across on smaller and lower-end drivers.
One minor gripe I have here, and I’m assuming just about any pro (or semi-pro) will say the same thing, is the inputs. They are entirely serviceable as is, but the lack of a 1/4-inch or XLR option is annoying for those with a proper audio interface that will most likely require cable adapters or an Amazon order. Having said that, I had a pair of 1/4-inch to RCA cables lying around that remedied the issue quickly.
At $119 for the pair, these things will be sticking around in my studio setup as alternates for the foreseeable future. Yes, there are better secondary drivers out there, but the M50s offer amazing value for the price with a pretty design that will most definitely be a jump up from any of the built-in options sitting in front of you.
The Samson MediaOne M50 Power Studio Monitors are available now from $119 (with a late August shipping date in most cases) at Amazon, B&H and just about all major audio dealers.
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