What is it?
Output’s eclectic product line includes plugin effects, plugin instruments, studio furniture, and with their latest addition, studio monitors. However, rather than develop these entirely themselves they’ve teamed up with premium monitor company Barefoot Sound.
The result, Frontier, is a professional level monitor with a more modest price tag, and is designed to fit perfectly into the Output ecosystem. Much like other Output products, it’s also sold and shipped to you directly. The first thing you’ll note, stunning good looks aside, is its coaxial design.
The driver unit is a bespoke 6.5”/1.25” aluminium alloy combo design tuned by Thomas Barefoot himself. Just below is a forward-facing bass port that tucks into the bottom section of the cabinet. The enclosure is a two-part design with a painted MDF top and solid walnut base, with the base acting as an isolator. The front finish is completed with a soft-glow power LED in the joint between the two cabinet sections.
On the back of the monitors, you’ll find a combo XLR/ TRS connector for balanced sources and RCAs for unbalanced. There’s also a level control (-10dB to +2dB) and switchable ECO Mode that automatically switches the monitors to standby when idle for 30 minutes. In keeping with Barefoot’s design philosophy, there are no EQ options.
Output suggest you position the Frontiers at least a foot from the nearest flat surface and with no filters to curtail low-frequency buildup; this is important.
That said, with relatively shallow enclosures (20cm) and no rear-mounted port they should be ideal for tighter spaces and workstation mounting. In terms of levels, the controls are notched, which is very welcome for matching the gain.
Performance and verdict
My first impressions are that the Frontiers have a very open sound with excellent frequency separation. Like other coax designs I’ve tried, including units from Equator and Presonus, the mid-range is very coherent and the sweet spot nice and broad.
The front port produces plenty of low frequencies and the low-end extension is very good given their physical size. The Frontier is also nice and punchy. Still, given the option to trim the low frequencies slightly then we probably would. The top end is silky smooth but also quite bright.
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The E8XT is a big, powerful monitor that doesn’t overstep the mark. Simple to set up and, importantly, excellent value for money.
• Focal Shape 65
The frequency balance is quite delicious, with exceptional transient detail and gin-clear stereo – maybe it is time you upgraded your monitors.
On long listening sessions this could become fatiguing, or simply encourage you to turn them down a bit. Nevertheless, the overall tone of the monitors is good and they sound really alive. In overall volume terms, there’s no published maximum SPL, but these monitors can go pretty loud and the bi-amps (100W each) do exactly what’s asked of them.
One aspect of the Frontier sound we really like is the mid-range detail, ideal for mix balancing and frequency pinpointing in a congested mix. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the target market, we think we’d still really like to see some onboard EQ to help tailor the overall sound to different rooms and different tastes.
That said, overall we think the Frontiers do sound excellent and offer a decent uplift both sonically and aesthetically for many users.
MusicRadar verdict: Beautifully designed coaxial monitors with an excellent pedigree and highly revealing sound.
The web says
“Output’s Frontier monitors are an interesting proposition, offering a worthwhile alternative to the many soundalike monitors available today. We can’t see these being put to use in a busy working studio, but for home producers with a stylish studio space, these classy and well-mannered monitors are well worth a listen.“
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Sound On Sound
- TYPE: Studio monitors (price listed for pair)
- FREQ RESPONSE: 45Hz to 25kHz
- CROSSOVER FREQ: 3kHz AMP POWER:100W (LF) + 100W (HF) INPUT IMPEDANCE: 20K Ohms
- INPUT SENSITIVITY: 87dB @ 1m @ -15dBv
- POWER: 265W max
- DRIVERS: Bespoke coaxial aluminium
- CONTACT: Output (opens in new tab)