Choosing your monitors is often only the beginning, as the next stage is getting them to perform at their best. This can mean treating the acoustics of your studio.
However, we're now seeing manufacturers (KRK, IK Multimedia and Tannoy for example) revisiting the concept of tuning your DAW output or monitor response to compensate for the room acoustic.
Equator Audio Research's Q Series monitors continue the trend, offering impressive manual software setup and interfacing as standard.
However, the company also produces an optional analyser package that combines a reference mic with software to allow completely automated monitor setup for anything from basic stereo to multi-channel systems.
In the Equator range, the Q8s are the smallest, the Q15s the biggest and there's also a Q18 subwoofer. Apart from the sub, they all share the same coaxial design, and a 'cube like' shape.
The Q8s, although compact, still come in at 13-inches square and weigh over 15kg apiece - much of the weight comes from the 3/4-inch ply cabinet and 1-inch HDF baffle. The drivers are a 1-inch titanium compression horn driver and an 8-inch fibreglass/pulp woofer, with each driven by its own 200W amp.
Although audio is fed directly to each monitor (XLR or TRS jack), for control purposes, the units also interface with your computer. You connect the first monitor via USB and then daisy chain any further units to each other using Ethernet cables.
Although the software controls many parameters, you do need to ID each monitor using the dip switches on the back. Finally, there is a display on the front panel that indicates, among other things, signal level.
Although you can use the Q8 simply as an active monitor, it's worth interfacing the monitors and installing the software, as even the manual software compensates for standing waves based on the room dimensions you enter.
However, we were lucky enough to have the full mic analyser package, and this automates not only these but also settings for secondary reflections. This is extremely easy to use.
What's more, the results confirmed the problems we already knew existed in our room. More significantly, the software was able to correct each monitor slightly differently to accurately compensate.
Inevitably, all the science does detract a bit from evaluating the monitors. In use, they offer a very accurate and 'monitor like' delivery. They aren't too mid-range forward, which is good, but we do feel that they lack a little sparkle in the top end. The bass end is solid without being overbearing, and given the size of the Q8s, is less weighty than we'd expected.
If you do feel the need to tweak the overall sound, there are bass and treble tone controls within the software offering sweepable frequencies and +3dB/-6dB gain.
Overall, the Q8s offer a seductive package for anyone monitoring in awkward spaces, and they're particularly good if you need multi-channel support. However, for standard stereo applications (and if you can live without room correction), there's plenty of quality competition out there at this sort of price range.