There are a LOT of studio monitors out there in the world, and it’s easy to end up down the monitor rabbit hole, looking at speakers that are $500 each and beginning to question your very existence.
“Is it really any better than my headphones to mix?”, “Does my home studio have enough space to make use of high fidelity monitors?”, and “Which kidney do I have to sell so I can make a good mix?” are all questions that arise far too often.
And while putting a kidney up on eBay is a commendable approach, there is another way.
It’s clean, clear, and really pushes some air. It’s been noted to have a balanced bass frequency response to the 50Hz range. Something not generally possible with studio monitors so compact.
I would’ve expected the housing to shake loose, but no, it stays put and sounds powerful. The front-mounted bass ports are also a nice touch as having them close to a wall doesn’t really color the sound the way a rear-mounted one would.
The mids and highs are crisp and clear, and there’s a ton of nice, clean headroom here to provide a good range to work with.
So long as you aren’t pushing it into the 90dB range, the sound is very transparent.
IK was also kind enough to also add some -3dB settings on the rear for adjusting low and high frequencies, as well as two predetermined settings for either the desk (upright) or flat (laying on its side) orientations.
The low frequency -3dB switch cuts out some bass and allows more of the mid and high frequencies to shine without being overtaken by the bass at low volume settings.
I found the high-frequency -3dB switch to cut out too much of the treble for my tastes. But depending on your room setup, I’m sure it’s useful in some settings.
That’s not to say the sound doesn’t have its quirks, such as the DSP limiter I mentioned, and some users have mentioned the mids and highs may be fatiguing after some time.
As with all monitors, there is something to be said about analytical specs, but in the end, it does come down to what you hear.
The reality is I can’t say I’d be using them over high-end, robust, studio monitors in any true professional audio or music production setting. But if you’re looking for superb sound in a small footprint that you can travel with for your music production adventures, look no further.
The sound generated with the IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor will impress anyone, and not just because of the novelty of a big sound coming from a small footprint. They really do sound great.
Build Quality (7/10)
At $350 for a pair, I don’t think anyone is expecting anything other than a plastic build, and you’re not wrong. However, it does feel nice and sturdy.
As I mentioned the great bass response earlier, this can only be achieved with the very sturdy housing and enough weight to keep the speakers from vibrating right off your stand or desk.
However, there is also a way too thick 4-pin cable to connect the two speakers that are included.
It is overkill for passing sound to another speaker, but I appreciate the intent. Maybe it’s meant to contrast against the small size and legitimize the big sound.
It’s durable, but it’s hard to beat finished wood or metal housings.
Not the most attractive monitor in the world, but you will not have to worry about build quality in the slightest.
The rear panel uses RCA for the inputs and a 1/8″ stereo jack for output. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but RCA cables are not the most durable or universal. Perhaps it was to save on size, but it’s a bit of a miss for me.
If you’re using an interface that only has 1/4” TRS outputs, you’re going to need to source an adapter.
Value For Money (9/10)
I don’t know exactly what a perfect score would look like here, but I’m giving it as close as I can.
If you’re a musician, chances are you’re not exactly rubbing elbows with Elon Musk, so the value is key when making purchases to enhance your audio production abilities. Here is where the iLoud Micro shines.
I’m usually skeptical of such marketing tactics, but in the end, I find it hard to argue with.
I don’t think I’d use anything smaller for reference, yet despite the size, it really delivers on sound.
Not everyone can have their rooms treated and outlined for the best bass response. With the iLouds, even if you’re not a huge audiophile, you will get a lot of clarity and transparency from these speakers.
I don’t really have much here regarding value because I think it really is great in that metric, but if I were to gripe it would be that, while they can be quite loud, the limiting DSP and general limitation of 3-inch drivers and 3/4 inch tweeters will not be filling a larger studio or outdoor setting.
So while it’s not necessarily going to excel in every scenario, when it comes to smaller, home-based studios, I really like these as a value pick.
How do I connect my iLoud Micro to an audio interface?
The RCA inputs will take the signal from your audio interface, and the rear 1/8″ stereo jack will be able to send into your audio interface if desired.
Many budget interface such as the Mackie Artist will only have 1/4” TRS outputs, but with these monitors only have 1/8” TRS inputs you’ll also need 2x male 1/4” to 1/8” adapters (they’re only a few bucks though).
How do these compare to the iLoud MTM?
In short, the MTMs are larger, more robust in sound, powered, and feature automatic room calibration using the included ARC mic for a great price as well.
But there’s a bit of a price bump, so budget allowing they are definitely worth checking out too!