Review: Reloop Wave 8 Active Monitors
Reloop’s Wave 8 two-way professional active monitor speakers are similar to the Pioneer S-DJ08 speakers. Like the Pioneer models, they aim to provide the sound quality of a classic active monitor design with some of the convenience of consumer hi-fi systems. They do this through a twist in their tail: A wired remote control that lets you switch inputs, alter the volume, mute, and even turn the speakers on and of, in parallel. But how well does it all work, and how good do they sound? In this review and video, we find out.
First impressions are good. The Reloop Wave 8s are quite sober in design, certainly more so than the equivalent flashy Pioneer model, being boxy, mainly black, with silver plastic trims the speakers. The tweeter trims extend to the top of each speaker, where they encircle a backlit Reloop logo that tells you when the speaker is switched on.
The speakers have a front-facing reflex port under the woofer (this means a hole to allow the bass to move the air more effectively), and three small white LEDs right at the top middle of each speaker front, that indicate which of the the inputs the speakers are monitoring.
The back panel
Round the back, cooled by a big cooling fin, is a metal panel containing the controls. There are balanced inputs for TRS and XLR plugs, and an RCA input for an unbalanced source.
There’s a master volume, an input select button, and various trim controls to tweak the sound – an HF trim (for the treble), an LF trim (for the bass), and an “acoustic space” control which is apparently to tame unruly bass in reflective rooms. There are also sockets for a “Link” cable and the “Wave” wired remote control unit.
These are “proper” active monitors. Active monitors are “standalone” speakers. They each have their own power supply, on/off switch, and built in amplification for the speakers (by the way, I’m assuming these aren’t bi-amped, as the the tech spec makes no mention – I guess for the price that’d be a bit much to ask).
Why have active monitors? Because having a separate amplifier in each speaker helps to achieve better sound quality. One issue, though, is that you have to turn them on and off separately and adjust their volume separately.
Worse, with many such monitors, they’ve only got one input, and so if you want to switch from monitoring your computer to monitoring your DJ controller to monitoring your iPod dock, you have to reach round the back to unplug the current source and plug in the new one every time. This is not fun, and a big price to pay in your typical home situation just to get that boost in sound quality. That’s where the Wave 8s play their trump card: a remote control system, which cleverly works on both of them at the same time, even though they’re otherwise completely independent of each other.
Setting up and in use
So as they’re active monitors, you need to get an audio signal into each of them. That means a mono cable running from the left output of your DJ controller to the left speaker, and a similar mono cable running from the right output to the right speaker. You do the same with anything else you may want to use them with. There’s a choice around the back of XLR, TRS (both balanced) and RCA (unbalanced) inputs, so you may need to get some adaptor leads to get everything plugged in correctly, depending on your gear.
With your gear plugged in (and the mains electricity connected – again, one power lead per speaker), next job is to use a special link cable to connect the speakers together. Finally, you plug the wired remote control into either of the speakers. Set the volume controls on the back of the speakers to the same on each, and you’re ready to go.
Using the remote control
The remote control is quite heavy, in silver-painted metal on the top and in rubber underneath. It sits nicely on your console desk or surface. It has a big volume knob, and two small buttons at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock for functions. There is a small blue LED to indicate that the unit has power.
Obviously the big volume knob adjusts the volume. The mute/standby button at 9 o’clock mutes the music when you press it momentarily, unmuting it when you do the same again. Press and hold it, however, and the speakers enter standby mode, and close down. To turn them on again, you press and hold it again.
Meanwhile, the “input” button cycles between the three available inputs – RCA, TRS and XLR.
Between these controls, you have a decent level of control over the functions of two speakers in parallel. The only things not controlled are the little buttons on the back of the speakers for HF trim, LF trim and acoustic space – settings that you basically “set and forget” anyway.
Speaker sound quality is subjective, and also be aware that for the price these aren’t going to give you the clarity of sound you get from true pro studio monitors.
But having said that, they are very good. I’ve no idea how loud they are as the tech spec doesn’t have RMS output, but they are plenty loud enough for any home practice studio, trust me on that one. I found the sound clear and engaging, with plenty of bass, and the treble controlled and not harsh. I actually used the HD trim control to add a bit of boost to the treble which suited my ears best – probably a product of them being subjected to club volumes for 20 years! There was a little bit of interference from my (very) nearby iMac, which I had to move away from them, but once I’d done that they behaved themselves.
I’m a fan of this concept, borrowed as it is shamelessly from Pioneer. “Serious” active monitors are a good way to ensure better sound quality, but in multi-use rooms they have always been a bit impractical.
Adding in a desktop remote control in this way gives the home user some of the conveniences of a hi-fi unit, meaning that such speakers can play more nicely with other kit too. After all, you may watch movies in your bedroom too, or listen to your iPod and play Xbox in your living room – both situations where having extra audio inputs that you can easily switch to is a bonus.
Reloop has got some really nice products in its range of late, and this is another one. The Wave 8s are competitively pitched, and for what you pay, they sound excellent. Not only that, they’re well built and should last you a long time. They have one input less than the Pioneer model, and maybe aren’t quite as good looking – but they’ll only cost you around two-thirds of the price.
• A Wave 5 model is also available, the difference being that while these have 8″ woofers, the Wave 5s have 5″ woofers.
Reloop has got some really nice products in its range of late, and this is another one. The Wave 8s are competitively pitched, and for what you pay, they sound excellent. Not only that, they're well built and should last you a long time. They have one input less than the Pioneer model, and maybe aren't quite as good looking - but they'll only cost you around two-thirds of the price.
- Reloop Wave 8 Active Monitors
- From: Reloop
- Price: $151
- Reviewed by:
Do you like the concept? Would you go for speakers like these to make life easier in your multi-use practice area? Please share your thoughts in the comments.