SM 200AK Review

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Sonodyne Electronics has been making professional audio products since the 1980s and has designed/manufactured projects for other well-known companies. At present, though, the Sonodyne brand is still better known at home in India than overseas.



Manufacturer: Sonodyne
Price: £685
Contact: Synthax Audio 01727 821870
Web: www.sonodyne.com





The SM 200AK’s rear-ported enclosure is made from 15mm MDF and sports a cast-aluminium baffle. This provides the baffle with solidity and rigidity, ensuring that the 8-inch Kevlar woofer and 1-inch metal-dome tweeter are firmly mounted and resonance is minimised. Casting the front baffle also enables the designers to curve the edges to reduce diffraction and incorporate an integral waveguide for the treble frequencies to sharpen imaging and provide a wide sweet spot.

The onboard amplifier module is a beefy affair, continuously providing 150 watts to the low-frequency driver and 100 watts to the tweeter. Naturally, this type of power can provoke sonic misbehaviour in some rooms, so the SM 200AKs feature bass and treble adjustment on DIP switches. For the low frequencies, switch 1 activates a 6dB per octave filter applied at 70Hz.

 

Making Cuts

Switches 2 and 3 provide two further reductions of 2dB and 4dB at 100Hz, and when both are activated you get a 6dB cut at 100Hz. At the other end of the frequency spectrum, switch 4 activates a 2dB cut above 4kHz to compensate for ‘live-sounding’ rooms or listening positions that are too close to the speakers.

The SM 200AK can be stand- or wall-mounted and ‘optional accessories’ are available. The flared cabinet would most likely preclude placing SM 200AKs on their sides and, given their height, the tweeter would most likely fire over the head of a listener if they were placed on a tall meter bridge. The flat surfaces of the cabinet are made non-parallel to eliminate standing waves.

Much of the impressive stuff is hidden inside. For instance, the bass ports are flared to minimise turbulence and the inner walls of the cabinet are coated with a specially formulated deadening compound to ‘prevent ringing’. The front panel is also inclined to improve time alignment between the drivers. We’re pleased to see the Gain control and power switch on the front panel too, along with the power status light. Audio connections are made via lockable XLR input and link sockets.

 

Crossing Over

The electronics feature a toroidal transformer, low-noise op amps, minimal signal wiring and PCB layout designed for optimum signal-to-noise ratio. The magnetically shielded drivers are bi-amped with a fourth-order design active crossover. Steep attenuation of out-of-band frequencies ensures minimum overlap to further improve off-axis response.

The SM 200AKs have a big, vibrant and enjoyable sound. The potential power is pretty obvious from the start, so if you need a set of speakers to vibe up a room full of musicians they certainly fit the bill. They’re also ideal if you like to monitor loud to generate excitement when you’re overdubbing guitars and so forth in the control room.

 

The Low Down

The low end can get right inside your chest. The frequency range extends below 30Hz and we didn’t notice any turbulence from the port opening. Despite the fullness, bass lines sounded accurate and energetic; the treble is wide open and clear, with plenty of air in the sound. Since our test room is fairly intimate, we followed Sonodyne’s guidelines and activated the treble cut. This smoothed things out and we felt the transition from midrange to treble sounded more natural.

If we do have one criticism – and this is entirely subjective – it would be that the soundstage doesn’t seem as deep as we might have expected. Having said that, we’d expect them to perform better in a larger room. Many will appreciate the up-front character, which particularly suited electronic and aggressive rock music.

 

Verdict

+ Power/level control at front

+ No discernible box resonance

+ Loud and powerful

+ Clean and vibrant sound

+ Impressive bass

– No automatic standby mode

– Lack of soundstage depth

Impressive sound quality and power but perhaps not the best choice for smaller control rooms.

8/10

 

 

Here’s a short overview from Sweetwater Sound:

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