Have you grown weary of chesy litle two-watt computer speakers? Would you like to graduate from PC gekdom to profesional audio in one quick leap?
The NHT Pro M-00 powered monitor is your ticket straight to the top of the class. Long a favorite among musicians and studio pros, the “Moo” is a compact powered-monitor that combines superb performance with great versatility. The little two-way speaker weighs in at a hefty 14 pounds, thanks to an inboard 75-watt amplifier that fills the back of its rugged metal enclosure. The back panel includes a mains socket for an IEC grounded power cord, a power switch, balanced (XLR and headphone jack, or TRS) and unbalanced (RCA) inputs, a sensitivity switch, an auto-on switch, and a switch to select frequency balance for listening in the nearfield (<2 meters) or midfield (>2m).
Stick-on rubber bumpers (supplied) let you place the Moo on the nicest desktops without causing scratches. Threaded recesses in the back panel accept machine screws for wall-mounting. With a 1" fabric-dome tweeter and 4.5" woofer, the Moo is rated by NHT at 80Hz–20kHz “in room,” with the low-frequency cutoff at –6dB. This may seem like insubstantial bass response, but when used in the nearfield (as I do, with them flanking a Dell 17" LCD screen on my desk), the bass seems subjectively much deeper. The RCA inputs can be connected directly to the headphone output on a PC or iPod, or to a signal-buffering device, such as a USB digitalto- analog converter. (I have a Stereo-link 1200 between my Sony Vaio notebook and the M- 00s.) The balanced inputs allow feeds from any balanced source, such as a preamp. NHT makes a fully balanced outboard passive volume control (PVC) that can be inserted between source and speakers.
Two NHT Pro M-00s are far and away the best desktop audio system you can buy. They sound fantastically good for the money. How good? Well, they are favorites of Nashville mastering engineer Chuck Ainlay, renowned for his exquisite work on many of Mark Knopfler’s recordings. How good is Ainlay’s hearing? Try this: A few years ago, I was part of a group of music and audio industry professionals who volunteered as guinea pigs for the nowabandoned Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), an effort by the music industry to insert audible signals (“watermarks”) in recordings as a way of inhibiting piracy. SDMI conducted a series of blind listening tests in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville, to determine the audibility of the watermarks. I was among the group that tested at Denny Purcell’s Georgetown Masters studio in Nashville, twice at almost a one-year interval. Chuck Ainlay was in our group. Most of us scored 50/50, the same as random chance (meaning we were simply guessing), but Ainlay scored near perfect the first time and 100% the second time. The guy’s hearing is astounding.
Ainlay’s endorsement of the M-00s is all any music lover should need to justify buying a pair. They deliver details and dynamics that would simply fail to appear with PC audio systems — and with many entry-level home components. Residual noise is very low. They can play surprisingly loud, especially when coupled to the matching S-00 subwoofer ($500)—loud enough, in fact, to serve as a primary audio system in small-to-medium-sized rooms. Prolonged listening induces none of the fatigue or irritability engendered by many computer audio products.
Beyond desktop audio: With a 42" plasma monitor, using the variable audio feed from a Comcast DVR, the M-00/S-00 combo worked perfectly in a small home entertainment setup. Full magnetic shielding means the Moo can be used near CRTs without distorting the picture. I have also used the M-00s as surround effects speakers in a 5.1-channel home-theater system. The balanced inputs enable long runs of cable from your preamp/processor with very little loss—standard microphone cable works fine— and NHT wisely supplies extra-long power cords in anticipation of unusual applications. In hometheater setups, this use frees up two channels of amplification for bi-amping the front left/right channels, or for “Zone 2” use.
The auto-on feature puts the speakers into standby after a few minutes of no signal; they spring instantly to life when a signal appears. The Moo’s 75-watt power capacity is more than adequate for 5.1 surround effects—just remember to set the surrounds to “small” in speaker setup. The M-00 is robust, but it isn’t intended to shake your walls. That’s why subwoofers were invented.