Review & Video: Pioneer RM-05 Active Monitors

Review Summary:

We think that even more than the RM-07s, these hit the sweet spot for DJ/producers with the money to spend who want something truly special to mix on. They ooze quality, and deliver a near-perfect sound for their not-insubstantial price. Pioneer has a winner on its hands here.

Bi-amped Active Monitors
  • Bi-amped Active Monitors
  • Rating: 5
  • From:: Pioneer
  • Price: $599 each
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 27, 2017
  • Last modified:February 27, 2017
The Pioneer RM-05 (left) alongside the RM-07, its bigger brother.

The Pioneer RM-05 (left) alongside the RM-07, its bigger brother.

Full RM-05 Review

Maybe because nowadays every DJ wants to add the "slash producer" to what they do, maybe because of Pioneer's producer-focused Toraiz series of instruments, or maybe just because the company wants gear in all sectors of the electronic music game - whatever the reason, Pioneer Pro Audio / Pioneer DJ now has some pretty serious studio monitors in its range. Today we review the Pioneer RM-05s.

First impressions and setting up

They are compact, and heavy. Real heavy. Weighting 9.3kg each thanks to the solid aluminium construction, picking them up reminds me of the first time I picked up a Technics turntable, back in the day. But all that weight - for what? Well, in the case of monitors, it ought to translate to less cabinet resonance, equals a purer sound. We'll find out if it does a bit later...

Meanwhile, it is near-on impossible not to add any dust or dirt that's around to the bodies of these speakers, due to their matt finish: Once you have them in place, you'll want to give them a good wipe and keep your grubby hands off of them as much as possible.

If you're familiar with Genelec's monitors, you're familiar with these - they're a similar shape, with the same "tweeter in woofer" design. Especially on a such a small speaker (these are the smaller brothers to the RM-07s), it makes sense, giving you a more compact monitor. We liked the look a lot. There's room for a front bass reflex port, yet they still have a manageable footprint and as such won't look out of place in the smallest of studios.

RM-05

The front and back of a pair of RM-05s (they, as with all such monitors, are sold separately).

Round the back as per most active monitors of this type you'll find a gain control plus kettle-type socket for power, and a power on/off rocker switch. With this design your inputs are unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR, and additionally Pioneer has equipped them with four-step low, mid and high EQ controls for fine-tuning their sound once you have them in place. Usefully, there's an auto switch-off switch too, powering them down after 20 minutes of inactivity.

They come with a choice of deep or shallow round rubber feet that you can attach depending on the height of the monitors relative to your listening position, and then it's just a case of getting them in place (Pioneer says the design means they work well close to a wall, but we didn't test that), powering up, balancing left and right (a bit tricky as the gain controls aren't stepped, so you have to literally play this by ear), and you're ready to go.

In use

We actually already use the RM-07s daily in our main studio, and we've grown used to their sound, so it's good to be able to compare the two. We currently have the RM-05 in our second, smaller studio (a room of about 16 square metres) and they're much more suited to it than the RM-07s would be.

Frankly, they sound great: you'd expect that (after all, at US$599 each they're a step up from the average DJ monitors we usually have knocking around here), and while it's definitely good to have the fine-tuning EQs on the rear (we rolled off the bass and mids by just a notch to find a sweet spot for this room), they are remarkably balanced out of the box.

Pio

I'm not going to pretend I know what this means, but apparently it indicates why the speakers work well with their backs to the wall. Feel free to throw light on the meaning of this diagram in the comments...

The bass is maybe a smidgeon less clear on the RM-05s when compared to the RM-07s, but I guess you'd expect that for a smaller monitor - it is still exceptionally full and detailed, with true mids and highs completing an overall fantastic sound - certainly we long ago forgot the speakers and got "lost in the mix" with these, and overall have no real complaints at all.

Conclusion

Aimed directly at the studio, and in the case of the RM-05s against the RM-07s, the smaller studio, these monitors deliver the goods. Their impressive on-paper spec plays out in the real world, and they are a conversation starter thanks to the smart design and aluminium casing.

Their bi-amped (50W per amp) output is clearly plenty for the size of room they're intended to be used with, and while they are priced accordingly for pro active monitors, they still represent good value. While there is plenty of competition at this price point, we think the RM-05s do enough to win their own tribe of supporters out there.

Review Summary:

We think that even more than the RM-07s, these hit the sweet spot for DJ/producers with the money to spend who want something truly special to mix on. They ooze quality, and deliver a near-perfect sound for their not-insubstantial price. Pioneer has a winner on its hands here.

Bi-amped Active Monitors

  • Bi-amped Active Monitors
  • Rating: 5
  • From:: Pioneer
  • Price: $599 each
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 27, 2017
  • Last modified:February 27, 2017

Video talkthrough

Do you own either these or the larger RM-07s? What do you think of them? Or is there a go-to speaker you'd recommend instead at this price point? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. These look great but 1200 for a pair is a serious commitment; any suggestions for something in the entry level bracket?

    • DJ Vintage says:

      At this price point I'd say the competition is grueling and (just my opinion) ahead of Pioneer.

      Brands like Adam, Genelec, Neumann (yep, from the 2.000+ dollar microphones), Focal and even more "generic" brands like Mackie, Presonus, Yamaha and the high(er)-end KRK's are present in this 5-7" speaker segment. Some with ribbon tweeters which are truly wonderful for that high-end clarity.
      Bi-amping is pretty much standard as is a minimum power output of 100W RMS combined.

      More than ever in this price range the motto should be "trust your ears". You don't go order this stuff online. You make sure you get to do some comparison listening sessions with your own music.
      At least that is what I would do before parting with such a substantial amount of cash.

      Entry-level KRK's Rokit (well no longer called that, but the RP-series) have gotten quite a bit of competition over the last few years, mostly from "DJ" - brands. Still a hard to beat price/performance option and with a good 10" active sub to be added if you are not satisfied with the bass end of the 5s (which is indeed a tad lacking for bass-heavy genres). Here too, listen first if you can, preferably in A-B(-C-D) direct comparison. But if you stick with the major brands you should be safe.

  2. DJ Vintage says:

    As I replied to another post, this is a VERY competitive slice of the monitor market. While maybe higher-end for DJ/Producers, this is actually entry-level for recording studio work (some would even say budget level LOL).

    Personally I have never been a big fan of coaxial speakers for any purpose other than minimal space portable gear and even there only as the least worrisome compromise between space and sound requirements. This is highly personal though and I know technology has moved ahead in this area as well over the last decade.

    What I find interesting from a design standpoint are things like:
    * why have unbalanced (RCA) and balanced XLR and not balanced combo connectors, which will also take TRS (and even TS) 6.3mm Jack connectors? In cost the difference is pretty much a non-issue, technically it fits in the same cut-out and has the same amount of pins to solder to a motherboard. Yet you get to use a lot more different cables. Don't forget lots of gear has Jack out instead of XLR, meaning you need adapter cables or plugs.
    * Why have a 3-band, 4-step equalizer on a (studio) monitor speaker? Without wanting to write a piece on control room acoustics, let's just say that every room has it's own sound characteristics. The general purpose of monitor speakers is to produce the most "honest" sound possible. Any kind of broadband, fixed center frequency EQ will generally destroy more of the acoustics than it will fix, the problem being often in a rather narrow frequency range, the EQ applied usually affecting a far wider frequency range. Possible exception could be a bit of low-off filtering to let you get rid of some rumble or boom.

    Room acoustics should be fixed primarily by first measuring and finding out what exactly IS wrong with the room and then using passive techniques (from heavy curtains and carpets to bass-traps in the corners and deflection/absorption panels on walls and ceilings). Only when those options (make no mistake they are usually work-intensive and/or expensive) are exhausted could you consider bringing in something like specific parametric EQ (where you can set the center frequency exactly as well as vary the bandwidth) or 30+ band graphic EQ.

    Imho the money going into the EQ design/production would have been better spent on either (even) better components (amp, crossover filter, speaker driver) or a sharper price. Again, just me.

    Clearly I have no opinion on these specific speakers, haven't tested them live or A/B-ed them with speakers known to me. I am taking Phil's word for it that they sound good. Apart from the general design things I mentioned and the price point which puts them in the midst of some aggressive and high quality competition, it is always good to see more choice arrive for our discerning ears. And if you are a Pioneer aficionado (and lots of Pioneer users seem to be, almost like Apple users) this makes your choice a whole lot easier 😛

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