When Italian music company IK Multimedia rocked the world with their ultra-portable, Bluetooth capable monitors, the iLoud Micro Monitors. Above portability, the sound quality is what caught most people off gaurd. How could such a little speaker sound so good? Good enough that many top studios around the world installed them? IK Multimedia put all their focus on creating a truly groundbreaking product, and the results spoke for themselves. But what if people wanted something more? Perhaps they wanted a great-sounding monitor, but also didn't have a huge budget, or great studio space? Or, they loved the sound of the Micro, but wanted something more? The company saw this gap, took everything that made the Micro successful and scaled it up to a larger, professional-grade studio monitor, with built-in features that you don't find on products many times their price, and as such, the MTM was born. In this review, we'll be taking a look at the monitors, their features, and how they compare to higher-end competitors.
What are they?
The iLoud MTM is a compact, two-way, three-speaker monitor that uses DSP to create an accurate depiction of what your audio actually sounds like. Despite their small size, the optional low-frequency extender allows them to compete with much larger monitors. Perhaps the biggest selling point aside from size and sound is the built-in ARC, which stands for automatic room calibration, which means that, regardless of your listening environment, a quick calibration of the monitors will have them perfectly adjusted for your room. They even provide a mic to do it.
As mentioned above, the MTM monitors pack a big punch for such a small footprint, with the biggest emphasis being able to sound great in any environment. Beyond the ARC and 40, 50, or 60hz bass extension, the MTMs also have various options depending on your listening needs. These include high and low-frequency 3db boosting or cutting, and you can change between a flat response, a pre-set EQ if they are sitting on a desk, or your own calibrated profile.
Many people don't realize that the tweeter of their monitors needs to be pointed at their ears, and as such, aren't getting accurate playback. To fix this issue, the MTMs are able to either screw into stands or tilt up to 20 degrees via the included mount. These also have rubber feet as to cut down on surface vibrations. They also come with rubber bases if you prefer to lay them on their sides, although IK Multimedia suggests keeping them upright.
I, like most others, was blown away by the Micros, so when I first saw these at NAMM 2019, I was hoping for a similar reaction. Similar reaction confirmed. Even in the loudness-war shitstorm that is NAMM, I was able to hear the quality of these monitors. It took some time to actually get a pair, as they weren't ready for the market at the time of NAMM, but I was beyond excited when they finally arrived. For reference purposes, in my studio, I had been using Genelec 8040as and Sonarworks Reference 4. One of the number one things I was curious about was how the monitors using the built-in ARC would sound compared to Reference 4's more extensive calibration process.
To calibrate your MTMs, simply plug in the reference mic, hold the calibration button in the back, and wait for it to finish a few moments later. You don't have to move your mic around at all. Just put it in your preferred listening position, press the button, and done. While the flat setting sounded...flat, my environment at the time wasn't the best. Granted, it also takes time to learn your room and monitors, but I wasted no time in getting them calibrated.
Even after calibration, they sounded excellent. Things were clear, and the low-end was tight. I tried the bass extension and also found it to be impressive, but for my environment, it was unnecessary. The mids are present and the soundstage is wide enough to hear even minute details. In terms of overall loudness, the MTMs are plenty loud in most cases, but I will admit that I did start clipping on a few occasions because sometimes I like to dance around and go mental when working on a record :)
When it comes to audio referencing, either with headphones or with monitors, the number one thing for me is that I want to basically forget what my old setup used to sound like. With enough time, this will happen regardless, but when you have a certain window of usability with a product, you are more critical of your experience. I can safely say that in the time I had to review them, I got used to the sound so quickly it was almost as if I didn't have another pair sitting on the ground right next to me. I can't even think about how many tracks I made on them. Of course, it wasn't instant, but only a day or two later max and I was comfortable enough on them to make critical mixdown choices.
In terms of how they compared to my 8040s, they definitely stood on their own. Obviously there are going to be many differences in sound, as the Genelecs have a much bigger and wider soundstage and a more robust low end, but one monitor costs way more than a pair of the MTMs, which is the whole point of them. But, for their size, and price, there's hardly a better option.
Overall, I have nothing bad to say about the MTM monitors. They sound amazing, they are built well, and although they aren't small, they are still very portable, and I'd definitely take them on the road with me. The ARC system works wonderfully and actually makes your listening experiences better. If you are looking for a new set of monitors, perhaps either as a second referencing pair, or you want to get pro-level sound at a reasonable price, I highly recommend checking out the IK Multimedia MTM monitors. And even if you aren't, I still recommend them. They also now come in white, if that's your thing.
The MTMs are sold in both single units for $349 and pairs for $699
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