M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Desktop Speaker System Review
By: Michael Phrakaysone


I think everyone appreciates great audio.  Having such a system that can deliver audio the right way can make the experience sound satisfying.  I’ve done my fair share of reviews regarding speaker systems and when I reflect on them, there’s one common trait that is shared among all those reviewed; all of them are biased to some degree.  They were biased in the way that emphasized either bass or treble handling.  I’ve never come across a system that distributed these attributes equally; there was always something that was promoted more than the other. 

For example if I were to watch a DVD movie with an unnamed Logitech THX speaker set, I’ve always had to turn down the volume when there was an action scene involving explosions and had to turn the volume way up in the scenes involving individuals speaking to each other.  This system obviously had a powerful bass setup, yet had satellites that were overmatched.

Most consumers out there will refer to the common names in the industry such as the likes of Logitech, Altec Lansing, Klipsch and even Creative (I am not stating that these brands are bad).  Lastly, most people will also look to base their purchase decision based on the wattage of the system.  This in itself is the wrong way to approach it.

Enter the brand of M-Audio.  It’s likely that some of you may have never heard of this brand before.  Yet M-Audio is at the forefront of supplying audio for studio professionals, upcoming artists and musicians so that these musicians can create music the way the way it was meant to be heard.

Today I will be reviewing the M-Audio AV 40 Desktop Speaker System that is available for those music making folks whom need a portable speaker setup or for those just wanting a taste of professional sound.

About M-Audio

M-Audio, a business unit of Avid Technology, Inc, is a leading provider of creative tools for computer-centric musicians and audio professionals. Founded in 1988, the Company now has independent offices in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Japan. M-Audio is the driving force in the industry empowering musicians to create, perform and record with complete mobile hardware/software solutions that have forever changed when, where and how music is made. The Company's reputation for delivering cutting edge technology in easy-to-use, affordable products has garnered significant recognition by industry experts, including world-class artists, recording studios and magazines. M-Audio's advanced engineering and value-conscious pricing has also helped to bring the joy of creating high-quality music to virtually anyone with the desire.

The M-Audio AV 40 comes packaged in a very nice corrugated box design that is definitely marketed towards musicians in their home studio as evident with those very pictures on the box.  Brief specifications and features are located around.  Under the product name says “Professional Reference Speaker System” and this is the proper name of what their classified under.  There are also other names given for these types of speakers such as “Reference Monitors” but they mean one of the same.


  • type: two-way desktop reference monitor
  • low-frequency Driver: 4" diameter, magnetically shielded and curved cone with high-temperature voice coil
  • high-frequency Driver: 1" diameter, magnetically shielded silk dome tweeter
  • frequency Response: 85Hz - 20kHz
  • crossover Frequency: 2.7kHz
  • RMS SPL: 101.5dB @ 1 meter
  • signal-to-Noise Ratio: > 90dB (typical, A-weighted)
  • input Connectors: left and right RCA line input, left and right 1/4" TRS input and 1/8" aux input
  • polarity: positive signal at "+" input produces outward low-frequency cone displacement
  • dynamic Power: 20 watts continuous, per channel into 4 Ω
  • input Impedance: 10 k Ω unbalanced, 20 k Ω balanced
  • input Sensitivity: 100 mV pink noise input produces 90dBA output SPL at 1 meter with volume control at maximumhttp://www.m-audio.com/images/spacer.gif
  • protection: RF interference, output current limiting, over temperature, turn on/off transient, subsonic filter
  • indicator: blue power LED ring around volume knob on front panel
  • power Requirements: 100-120V/~50/60Hz, 220-240V/~50/60Hz; powered via detachable 2-conductor line cord
  • cabinet: vinyl-laminated MDF
  • dimensions: 8.75" (H) x 6" (W) x 7.25" (D)
  • weight: 14 lbs./6.34 kg

Looking at these specifications, you notice the wattage on the M-Audio AV 40 is rated for 20w continuous per channel thus resulting in a total of 40w.  Now this may not sound much for those who are wattage hunters, but we’ll see how they perform as wattage can be misleading and does not determine how a speaker system may perform.

The M-Audio AV 40 is a two-speaker system setup consisting of two different driver systems involved in handling the low-frequency and high-frequency of the sound spectrum and are powered by an amplifier that changes the amplitude (height and power) of the sound waves accordingly between the ranges of the 85Hz range all the way to 20KHz.  The M-Audio AV 40’s are magnetically shielded to prevent any interference to your electronics.

For your low-frequencies the M-Audio AV 40 uses a 4-inch curved cone and a high-temperature voice coil.  Your high frequencies are powered by a 1” silk dome tweeter which is situated at the top of the speaker system.  Combining all these components will allow the M-Audio AV 40 to reach a continuous ‘sound pressure level’ of 101.5db @ 1 meter if played at the highest volume and chances are you’ll never go that far since at those levels you’ll kill your ears.  But having this rating will give you confidence in knowing the M-Audio AV 40 can really fill up almost any size room.

The M-Audio AV 40 is very versatile in the type of connections it has.  Not only does it have the standard left and right RCA line input, it even has the higher quality left and right 1/4" TRS input jack that is a is commonly used for situations where you need to utilize long cable runs for your sound recordings.  The TRS connection is a great way to reduce the vulnerability to external noise which is an important factor when doing sound recordings.  Rounding off is a 1/8" aux input that is used if you want to use the AV 40’s to play from an MP3 player source or even musical instruments.

Purchasing the M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Desktop Speaker System you’ll receive the following items…

  • M-Audio AV40 Speaker System
  • Instruction manual
  • RCA to 3.5mm male cable
  • Speaker gauge wire
  • Aux In cable (3.5mm male to 3.5mm male)
  • Traction Pads
  • Power cord

While installing these speakers to my computer system, I noticed that the RCA to 3.5mm male cable was short and resulted in moving my computer closer to the speaker set to accommodate the shorter length of the cable.  It would have been great if the cord was a little longer.

The next observation is the speaker wire.  The gauge chosen is thin (seems like 20-guage) and I would suggest if you can, replace the wire with at least 16-gauge to provide better performance. The included speaker wire does the job no problem, but a thicker gauge will improve the system.

A closer look

These speakers look great up front and define what quality is and how quality looks like.  The cabinet is made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) wood which has been covered with black vinyl.  MDF is a type of wood which is the standard for a high-quality speaker system because it has strength (will likely never break apart), weighs more, and has the abilities of providing better frequency response resulting in better sounding bass and making every other aspect of a speaker system sound better. 

Frontal shots reveal the rounded edges and black accents which cover the tweeter and cone.  These two drivers are protected with a black speaker grill.  Located at the bottom is the M-Audio logo, volume control knob (has a cool blue LED light which increases in brightness when the volume is increased and vice versa), the Aux Input and the headphone jack.

The rear of the system is busier than the front.  Everything here is labeled so it’s rather simple to follow.  Two things I would like to mention is the bass boost switch and power switch. 

The M-Audio AV 40 features the power switch on the rear of the unit.  During my time with the unit, I feel it should have been integrated with the volume knob to make things simpler and frankly less annoying because the need to ‘stretch’ behind the unit when you need to turn the unit off.

 In addition to the 4-inch low-frequency driver the M-Audio AV 40 features a bass boost switch that does what it says making the low end a little bit punchier, a bit not by much although as you’ll read on it’s not really needed.

How does it perform?

The best sounding speaker setup I’ve ever reviewed thus far or even heard up to this point; the M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 is an amazing piece of work.  They sound perfectly balanced and I’m running them through an older Sound Blaster Live Value sound card.  Imagine playing these through a better sound card! 

I cannot say enough of how thoroughly impressed I am of these reference monitors in every aspect.  Out of the box, I have to admit they did sound a little hallow out of the box, but once the amplifier warmed up the AV40’ started to rock and made me say “wow” multiple times.

As I mentioned before about sounding bigger than they look, that is really true.  I can play these speakers in a relatively large family room with the volume knob not even passing half way while watching a DVD and they fill large rooms rather nicely even despite being directional. 

The AV40’s are directional so you need to position them to play directly at ear level to hear what their truly made of.  I had to raise them 2.5-inches off my computer desk to be at ear level and what a difference it makes.

While testing these speakers out using high bit-rate sources such as CD Audio, DVD audio, and HDTV AC3 audio sources the M-Audio AV 40 speakers have amazing clarity and made me hear ambient sounds I couldn’t recall previously.  Especially watching HDTV content, voices sounded great, action sounded powerful and the sound just had great dynamics and mid-range was excellent.

I was surprised to even find even in low bit-rate sources such as YouTube, how great the sound still feels.  Voices are still life-like and great under these circumstances.

Utilizing these M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 speaker systems for a good couple of weeks now, I have no desires to have more bass.  The bass displayed on the AV40 isn’t earth shattering by any means but is good and sufficient enough for my liking and does not have emphasis over the treble.  The bass and treble are evenly distributed with no emphasis to either aspect and this is what makes the AV40’s such a great system because it is balanced in all regards.  Flicking on the bass boost will give you more bass if you choose to desire it.  Bass boost was not needed for me to enjoy this speaker system. 



I'd like to update this review with a follow-up after M-Audio supplied their excellent M-Audio Audiophile 2496 sound card.  This is no ordinary sound card but one that offers professional MIDI recording performance at an inexpensive price point supporting 24-bit/96KHz for increased dynamic range and ability to produce clean recordings.

This replaced my older Sound Blaster Live sound card and made a total world of difference. The system was great before but with the M-Audio 2496, it just opened up even further and sounded different.  There was definitely more bass present and the mid and highs just flowed even better resulting in a better experience.  It sounded bigger and more fuller than before.  I can't say enough at the difference a better sound card makes and the M-Audio 2496 is worth every penny.


I cannot say enough about the M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Desktop Speaker System.  They are a wonderfully balanced speaker system in all regards.  These speakers literally make you taste what you hear. 

Since 2003, I’ve never given an Editor’s Choice Award to an audio system.  However, the M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Desktop Speaker System has exceeded all my expectations in order to achieve this award.

Pros and Cons

  • + Great dynamics and overall sound
  • + Great MDF construction
  • + Good bass
  • + Balanced sound
  • + You can taste the sound
  • - Thin guage speaker wire
  • - Short RCA to 3.5mm male cable
  • - May not be as portable as M-Audio has thought because of weight

Editors Choice


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