ALTERNATIVE FACTS

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I have owned the KRK RP5G2’s for many years now, and they have done their job. When I first bought them, I figured I can’t ask for much more for the money. Coming from a decidedly more high-end background, I wasn’t particularly fond of them, but it was all I could afford at the time (moving to the USA and starting from scratch again), and other offerings in that price range (M-Audio BX5, Yamaha HS50) weren’t better; just different.

Fast forward six years, and the story is a little different; new offerings from JBL (LSR305), Presonus (Eris E5) and various others have made this market segment much more competitive, but one outlier was the Equator Audio D5.

At the time of writing, it is not clear whether or not Equator Audio is still in business; their website has been down for a long time, with only a brief message:

Thank you for visiting! We are currently performing scheduled maintenance and updates on the website.

Thank you for your patience!

But what sort of scheduled maintenance takes 3+ months? Just to recap: Equator Audio was founded by Ted Keffalo, an engineer/designer with a long pedigree, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago at the AES here in LA. The aim of the D5 (and, later, the D8) was to make high-quality monitoring affordable by selling directly to the consumer online. Initially, the D5 received unanimously rave reviews, but then came reports of questionable build quality and durability, and as things stand, it seems the company is in trouble.

Nonetheless, when I found a pair of used D5’s on reverb.com, I purchased them on a hunch, and I have been putting them through the paces for about three weeks now. Because I still have my RP5’s, I am able to do some meaningful AB’ing and I want to share my observations here:

  • The RP5’s have a lot of treble emphasis. This makes them sound much crispier at first, but it is fatiguing over longer periods of listening
  • The D5’s have a wider stereo image, and more bass extension. At first, they sounded muffled compared to the RP5’s, but after a while, it felt more like the RP5’s were overly bright. I’m still undecided, though.
  • The RP5’s sound good, but the bottom end is hard to judge on them. It’s like you hear the speaker more than the source material, down low.
  • The alleged questionable build quality of the D5’s soon became apparent; at higher volumes (not crazy loud, still nearfield level), bass-heavy material causes some kind of vibration in the enclosure. It’s not loud or particularly distracting, but it’s there.

To be fair, these are used speakers, and who knows what the previous owner did with them? I took a chance, and I may not have gotten what I needed. But the D5’s have really exposed the RP5’s for what they are: decent entry-level speakers, nothing more than that. What’s more, even though the D5’s may not be solution I need them to be (because of the noise), they have made it clear that I can’t go back, so it looks like I’m gonna need to invest in better monitors soon.

I’ll probably keep the D5’s, though. I appreciate what they offer, and I suspect that they will work well with a sub. With a highpass filter before their inputs, I reckon the LF noise problem will be taken care of.

In conclusion, this comparison over the last three weeks has reminded me just how different speakers can be, and it really gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Alternative Facts”. Which speaker tells the truth? I feel like they both give a different view of what’s going on, but I’m not sure that one is necessarily closer to the truth than the other.

On my shortlist of upgrades are the Genelec M030, Dynaudio LYD5, Neumann KH120, Pioneer RM-05, and HEDD Type 05. Interesting times ahead!

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