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. Pioneer Pro Audio / Pioneer DJ now has some pretty serious studio monitors in its range. The Pioneer RM-05s ooze quality, and deliver a near-perfect sound for their not-insubstantial price. Pioneer has a winner on its hands here.
First Impressions / 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.