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Old 9th October 2008 , 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Christopher Woods View Post
I've heard that the BM5s are alright overall monitors, but don't like being driven very hard (they clip easily and shut themselves down). However, not having a pair of my own to verify this, take this with a LARGE pinch of salt.

I have the Samson Rubicon R6As - I love the ribbon tweeters, and overall their sound is really nice for the price, but I've had to take them back three times (I'm now on my third set!) The first set, which were an older build, started buzzing and humming fairly soon, took them back, got them repaired (but didn't fix the problem)... I also had problems with one of the units' ribbons just stopping working, and this happened several times across two different units (and through two repairs). The same problems happened again twice more, got brand new units in the end. These units have a differently designed body but once again, the same problem happened with one of the monitors.

I'm guessing from all the problems I've had (ribbons cutting out, excessive hum etc) that there's either a weak point in the manufacture of the monitors' amp stages, or possibly that they do not like being operated on UK 230v mains AC. (You do wonder!)

Anyway, touch wood this third pair has worked fine so far, although they're VERY sensitive to interference and will quite happily hum away regardless of the rest of your setup in certain circumstances. In my new place, the unwanted noise almost completely disappears if I unplug the audio cables from the back of the monitors, but in my parents place and my old house this only diminished the humming. I almost resorted to driving a spike into the ground and running them off that earth! but decided not to in the end.

(as an aside, DV Brum were *exceptionally* helpful and never once charged me for any of the shipping, even offering to pick up the faulty items and despatch once repaired/replaced - I felt quite bad about costing them money (as it would cost), so I ended up taking the monitors along in person (I considered it fair enough considering how helpful they were). I got the impression they wanted to ensure I got a satisfactory product however much it took, so top marks to them there! Sound Technology, the UK distributors, were the delaying factor usually - they took quite literally MONTHS in a couple of cases to turn around my repair or replacement, and both me and DV were left hanging on waiting for a response or update from them - and even then, didn't always repair the fault. My sub came back from its own repair (either the amp stage and/or the power stage almost completely broke one day without warning, really low level output even with the gain cranked, plus massive hum and buzz)... since then, it's not performed at full quality since; it's now more inclined to hum and always hums even with nothing connected except the mains lead - and the volume knob isn't flush with the other knobs or the main case, which indicates they've taken it apart and replaced some components but it STILL isn't working properly. Useless.

But never mind, this isn't DV's fault in the slightest, I can do nothing but recommend their after-sales support! so if you do have a problem with whatever you buy, don't worry about it - just get on the phone to DV and they will help you out.

Anyway, back on point. I'm running both the monitors and the sub (a Resolv 120a) off my old UPS now, in an attempt to provide as clean as possible an AC source and have all the speakers and the mixer driving them earthed to a common ground... With a little cable rerouting nearly all of the unwanted noise has gone, but I'm hoping that by using balanced XLR-TRS cables (arriving this week, hopefully) that will help shield further. I may buy some ferrite rings too. If you have a poor ring main or crap earth wiring resulting in some kind of ground loop in your house though, nothing will save you. (in my parent's house, there's so much stuff hooked up in the living room that I just get AC hum on my Rubicons almost constantly, regardless of how they're set up and connected!)

When the Samsons work, they're great value for the price and their treble response is just fantastic, which is what you'd expect from ribbons. The midrange drive is also alright, although you do need a sub to pair them up with for low end stuff. On balance, I don't think I'd buy them again if I needed absolute trouble-free performance, I might consider the Adams (or maybe some KRKs, which also sound pretty good but I've read about the various hissing problems they can also encounter). Then again, if at all possible then you may as well spend that little bit more and go to the 400-600 price range. That said, for someone on a budget who can put up with a little trouble here and there perfecting their routing and setup to avoid any possible interference, they're well worth it. And I suppose it helps you learn some of the tips and tricks to get your studio audio setup working as well as you possibly can

Again, regarding sound quality, the Rubicons are fairly transparent - not as detailed as a Genelec system and (of course!) nowhere near even the more modestly-priced ATCs, but heck, they'd certainly be a useful addition to your studio even if only used as A/B references. SACD and DVD-A material sounds reallllly nice on them, with exceptionally crisp and pure high frequency response (there's nothing worse than a tweeter which introduces horrible distortion into high frequencies) - but you should pair your room up with some good acoustic treatment (particularly bass treatment) so you can balance the room response out nicely. Music Tech mag, in their review of both the R5a and the R6a remarked that maybe you'd consider buying the smaller R5a over the R6a as the bass response was slightly less 'wooly' - although they were in a controlled professional studio environment, and my home studio doubles as my bedroom, so make up your own mind. However, my next step is to get some rockwool and fab some cheap bass traps!

Samson have also released the R8a now - I've not had a chance to listen to them, but I may amble down to my local DV with some test material and audition the R8a along with some other monitors in the same price range when I make my next purchase. I will definitely keep the R6as in my gear collection as they would certainly make excellent rear or side monitors in a surround setup.
Chris I have to say...that is a great post.

I have been seriously considering getting a pair of Rubicons after reading reviews and the results of a shootout. Your feedback above is excellent. I currently use a pair of Samsons (very happy with them) they have never given me a problem so I am sold on the Samson brand but I still might consider Rubicons at some point in future. I am surprised you had so many issues with your speakers. Your comments raised a few doubts for me about Samson build quality. But my own experience remains 100% good so far.

Good to read about DV support being so helpful! That mirrors their input on the forum
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