They’re pretty much the perfect all-rounder. Practically sized, sympathetically styled, top notch build quality, and insanely useful with a remote control to bring consumer usability to what are otherwise pretty purist powered DJ/production monitors. And all of this at a truly good value price point. What’s not to like, except that they’re a close copy of a Pioneer design, of course?
First Impressions / Setting up
What design, I hear you say? They look pretty normal to me! Well you’d be right; they are stylish and understated, well-built but nothing more standout than that. Sure they do have some design flashes (literally: The Reloop logo on the top lights up when they’re powered up), but overall they’re a workaday-looking studio monitor as far as the styling goes. They say: We’re dependable, we’re well made, we won’t let you down.
It’s when you look at the back panel that you start to understand they versatility. Apart from a big heat sink (they are powered, meaning each speaker has its own amplifier and power supply, hence the need to keep them cool), an on/off switch, and the jumbo socket for the power lead, there are clues here as to why these might just win a big place in your heart.
Firstly, there are three inputs: RCA, jack and XLR, the latter two being balanced. That means versatility: You could have your DJ controller permanently plugged into the XLR, your computer wired through to the jack, and still have the RCA inputs free for any other source, such as TV. (Just to make it clear, these are individual powered monitors; you plug one side of the signal into each, so there is a single RCA, a single jack, and a single XLR connector on each speaker.)
There are a few other controls here too; a small volume control, a small input select buttons, and three three-way switches to fine-tune the sound (LF, HF and “acoustic space”; the last one is beyond me). However, these being monitors, you’re not meant to be coarsely tuning your sound here; it’s really for matching any nuances of your room. The rest is to be done on your mixer.
The remote control
But the magic is given away by the “control” sockets. Here, you can plug two speakers together with a supplied lead, and add in their trump card: The wired remote control, which can attach to whichever speaker is the most convenient in your set-up out of the pair, and control both of them.
Now let’s get one thing clear here: These are in this respect pretty much an exact copy of the Pioneer SDJ-05s/08s, so the idea’s not original, but it is still insanely useful and well implemented. What you get is a heavy, round, small remote control designed to sit on your desktop. It has a big weighted volume knob, and two push switches. The left-hand push button toggles on/standby, or mute if you hold it continuously for a short time. The right-hand button cycles through the sources.
What this means in practice is that you can leave all of your sources permanently plugged in, and mute, adjust volume, switch between them, even turn your monitors on and off (standby anyway), all without lifting more than a couple of fingers. You’re getting the uncompromising schematics and design of DJ monitors, with some of the versatility and convenience of consumer audio gear. And for today’s busy, cramped, multi-purpose studios/lives? That’s a massive thumbs up from us.
While they’re still pleasingly heavy due to the excellent build quality, the Wave 5s are actually a better-looking all-rounder for me that the Wave 8, which somehow, being bigger, seem a bit over-imposing (the KRKs and Pioneers at that size are rounded/have jolly yellow flashes to break their lines). The design of the Wave 5s, though, seems to fit nicely into a medium-sized room, and once you’ve got all your wiring tucked away and your remote control somewhere clever, they almost fade into the background.
Until you turn them on that is. These speakers are real performers. They have a clarity and fullness to their sound that to my ears is close enough to the Pioneer and KRK speakers that I’ve also tested for this kind of DJ/studio monitor niche to make them true contenders.
Compared to the Wave 8s, they of course lack a bit of bass, and in absolute volume levels won’t go as high, but you shouldn’t be using these for parties anyway, and 90% of you reading this will never be able to push them near to their limit anyway at home. Certainly we like it loud here in the Digital DJ Tips offices and we never got them past two-thirds volume, at which level they lost none of their definition and were really very loud indeed.
I can’t really comment on whether they’re transparent/”flat” enough for production as I’m no expert on production monitors, but I’d say with the tuning options on the back, you could tweak them to be there or thereabouts.
We love them. They’re the best all-rounder I think we’ve tested so far. They’re good value for money, well made, versatile, and look “vanilla” enough for them not to offend over time. That may sound weird, but I think you want a speaker to fade into the background a bit. Be just “there” and do a job. The looks reflects the task at hand here, because these do indeed do the job – effectively, cleanly and satisfyingly.
The trump card, of course, is the remote control. It’s this that means they straddle the line between consumer speakers and dedicated monitors, DJing and production, amateur and pro. For the prosumer DJ who also has other audio requirements, the true pro who wants something compact and convenient for home, or for the committed amateur with greater aspirations, I’d hazard that a pair of these will serve you well, and you’ll end up loving them as we have.
Sure, they’re not 100% purist studio monitors, but for the money and the intended market, they’re a bit of a revelation. If you can think past the big mid-range brands, you’ll save hard cash by buying these, without compromising quality at all. And I promise you you’ll never want to live without a remote control again, either!