The PM range of monitors was released to the world in 2005 and while Fostex's name might not be the most immediate to spring to mind if you were listing companies building studio speakers their popularity has proved sufficient for Fostex to tweak and reissue the whole of the PM range.
The smallest of the monitors, the PM0.4n, is the subject of this review. These are available in a range of five flashy colours with red, yellow, white and purple options for those who prefer something striking, alongside black for studio traditionalists.
So, can the visual vibrancy be matched with sonic fidelity?
The PM0.4n's are active monitors, that stand only 22cm tall but which feature a 4" cone for their low frequency driver and a ¾" soft dome tweeter for the top end. 18W of power are available to both drivers and frequency response is offered between 60Hz and 30kHz.
Input is provided at the rear via RCA or ¼" jack, alongside a continuously adjustable gain control, while the power button lies below a prominent heatsink, with a bright blue LED on the monitor's front to indicate that it's ready to do your bidding.
One construction point of note - the PM0.4n's are not magnetically shielded speakers, so may be prone to greater levels of interference than any of the other models.
Sound and size
Monitors of this size usually suffer most at the bottom end and with the frequency range stated above, it's fair to say that the PM0.4n's shouldn't be exclusively trusted to balance super-low bass content, though the prominent roll-off of the original PM0.4n design is much less apparent this time around.
However, they manage to avoid the more obvious low-mid pitfalls that can beset monitors of this size by providing a pleasingly rich level of detail in this area, while there's also plenty of snap in the upper mids, without too much obvious colouration
The tweeter is nicely fizzy without being over-bright and with the dance music we fed their way, in particular, the PM0.4n's are punchy little beasts, responding well even at louder listening levels.
More layered and textured material stands up fairly well too, though there's a slight prominence around the 'vocal sweet spot', which you'll need to handle with care if you're intending to use these speakers to mix pop records.
Rich, more-orchestrated music is also impressive, with a good density of field and pleasing stereo image.
As is clear from Fostex's website, these monitors have been designed to serve a multitude of purposes, including installation in clubs and bars for 'recreational' listening and this is perhaps supported by the range of colours in which the monitor is available.
This doesn't rule them out for those looking for a studio monitoring solution towards the budget end of the market but any mix can only be as good as the monitors on which it is put together and accordingly, this is one area where anyone who can stretch their budget, should.
However, the PM0.4n's impressed us with the level of detail they do manage to convey and they're certainly capable of doing a good job, so if you're shopping with one nervous eye on the debt crisis, you should certainly add these to your listening list.
Good sound quality. Surprising depth of detail for a monitor this size. Available in a range of colours.
Shouldn't be trusted for monitoring super-low bass frequencies. Prominence around the 'vocal sweet spot'.
Packing more sonic weight than their size would suggest - good for those on a budget.
The redesigned, smallest monitors of Fostex's PM monitor range
Type of Monitor