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Review: Blackmagic Design Audio Monitor

Audio is half of all the "AV" we work with, so after getting some great LCD screens, adding some good speakers should be the requisite next step. How does the Blackmagic Design Audio Monitor stack up for providing good sound reproduction?


The Blackmagic Audio Monitor is a stout little device that boasts the same polished industrial design as their ATEM video mixers. It has good weight and is not too deep. The rear panel (Figure 3, below) features SDI in, AES/EBU XLR in, Analog XLR and RCA in, SDI (with embedded audio) in, and pass through. There’s also HDMI out, a USB port, and an IEC power jack.

Figure 3. The Blackmagic Audio Monitor’s rear panel. Click the image to see it at full size.

The front panel features a group of six buttons (Figure 4, below): solo left or right, channel up and down to select from multiple stereo pairs on the digital audio inputs, an input button that selects between SDI, AES, XLR and RCA, and a mute button that makes it quiet in an instant. There's also a headphone jack right next to the pack of buttons.

Figure 4. The six-button panel on the front of the Blackmagic Audio Monitor. Click the image to see it at full size.

The LEDs are big and the brightness seemed just about right to me. To the right of the meters is the LCD screen (Figure 5, below) where it would show the video if I fed it SDI. It always indicates what input is active, the stereo pair you are listening to, and the volume, from minimum to maximum. To the right of the screen is a nice sized knob that varies the volume level. It also presses in, but that functionality did not seem to be active on the unit I tested.

Figure 5. The Blackmagic Audio Monitor’s LCD screen

Lastly, I should note that when you plug headphones in the front, the speakers go quiet and the headphones have their own volume setting. When you unplug the headphones, the Audio Monitor returns the sound to the speakers at the level they were set to before. That’s a nice touch.

The speaker grilles cover small 1" drivers and ports for the dual 3" woofers inside the cabinet. There’s not a lot of room so you're not going to find a deep-throw 10" driver with a 5-pound magnet inside a case this small. And, unless you’re attempting a Bose-style waveguide, or using multiple small drivers in unison, you’re not going to be thumping the table. It’s basic physics.