M-Audio AV32.1 Review. Lot's of gear for the money, but is it any good??

Idea behind this speakers is very simple. Take the AV32, a new version of well regarded and very popular M-Audio AV30, a speaker that for many was the first step into high fidelity desktop setups, and add a "subwoofer" to give it more body, punch and depth. At the shop You have to spice it up with good price and Voila! M-Audio AV32.1 is ready!

Welcome on my blog for the first time in 2016. Today we are going to take a look at new multimedia speakers from M-Audio, the AV32.1. This is basically an AV32 with added ".1" that is a subwoofer. For many this could look as a perfect bridge between small and inexpensive AV32 and some big, more expensive and hard hitting pro solutions. This looks like a great option for someone not entirely focused on music, willing too give up some of the fidelity for a bit of fun and rumble with movies and games, and unwilling to spend big money in the process. So what we have here is basically two passive satellite speakers, and a subwoofer with amplification for the satellites and sub. Satellites are exactly the same as aforementioned AV32, so we can find here a 1inch soft dome tweeter and 3inch plastic midwoofer, enclosed in very simple, plain looking enclosures. Those two are connected with subwoofer unit that houses 6.5inch long throw woofer responsible for frequencies from around 40hz up to, what M-Audio said is, 100Hz. Subwoofer size is similar to some 6.5-7inch monitors available today, so it is not very big. Inside the sub's enclosure are 3 amps. Two of these are 20W amps for satellites (same power as AV32's bigger brother - AV42) and one 70W amp for the sub itself. Both satellites gets the signal cut out from anything below 80hz so they do not have to work as hard. When You add all amps together You have an ample 110W of power in this speaker which is nice. Satellites as well as subwoofer are bass reflex designs with ports on the back. Overall build quality is good for the money.

There is no volume control on satellite speakers. To control overall volume of speakers and sub we can use cheap, plastic IR remote or digital volume rocker on back of subwoofer. 98% of times I used remote and it is a shame that it is so poorly made. It gives almost no feedback when I press the buttons, and the only way to know if pressing made any effect is to look at backlit M-Audio logo on the front of subwoofer - it blinks when receiving inputs from remote. Next to this backlit logo we also have an IR receiver so You better do not hide Your sub too well, because You will be unable to control volume. This means You will have limited choice when it comes to sub placement. Another limiting factor to subwoofer placement is the fact that there are very short speaker cables that run to each of satellite speakers from subwoofer, but repleacing those cables should not be a problem. On the remote, beside buttons for volume control, we can find power button that puts AV32.1 to sleep mode and a button to defeat the subwoofer and send signal only to satellites. Switch to turn power down comepletly is on the back of subwoofer.

There are two ways to feed the signal to AV32.1. One is a classic analog RCA input and the other is a digital optical input that accepts signal up to 192kHz/24bit. I used only RCA inputs to test AV32.1 and signal was feed from Matrix Mini-I DAC. During the test subwoofer was placed under my desk slightly to the left off the centre with bass reflex port facing a wall behind my desk. Satellite speakers where placed on foam pads for isolation from desk and some books to rise the speakers off the desk surface.


When I first turned AV32.1 on and started doing some stuff on my PC with no music playing yet, I quickly realized that I hear a hiss coming from both satellite speakers. It was audible hiss and one that tire my ears fast. Tannoy 402, I reviewed not so long ago, also had this kind of problem, but there, it was even worse than in AV32.1, to the point of being audible over some quiet music. Here, when I started playing music the hiss was gone under that music, so at least I could enjoy them while they do that. When music was not playing I tended to turn AV32.1 off, because of that hiss, and this is not how it should be. 

First few days of using AV32.1 was rather underwhelming, mostly because of booming bass from subwoofer. Midrange was clear and quite precise but a bit boxy. Also treble was OK, smooth and extended. But bass was all over the place, big and booming in upper bass regions. It was also deep, in my space it is reaching down to around 45hz. I guess that 36Hz that M-Audio claim is at -10dB at least. My first reaction to all of that excessive bass was to look for subwoofer's volume knob to tame it a bit, but there is none. Unfortunately M-Audio decided to ditch separate volume control for subwoofer, and that is one of the biggest problems with AV32.1. Subwoofer volume is set to high for my taste and for my room. My room is bigger than most rooms it will be used in ,so this can be a big problem in smaller rooms. Another problem with subwoofer is the fact, that in theory it should play only up to around 100Hz but that is not the case. Sub is audible way beyond 200hz and this causes many problems. One is booming bass around 150-160Hz, and the other one is that it affected male vocals, making them nasal and smeared.

After about a week of use, bass from the subwoofer settled a bit, became less boomy and gained a bit of speed that was missing. For most of the part, bass from AV32.1 is very enjoyable, deep and punchy, but lacks a bit of precision. It is also quite well stitched together with sounds coming from satellites, only when music hits those booming notes, it is a bit disjointed. Adding subwoofer to AV32 completely changes character of these speakers. When subwoofer is muted, satellites sound tiny, whimsy and rather bright, but when the sub is playing, music becomes big, punchy and nicely physical. AV32.1 can shake the room and pump some serious levels making it a nightmare to neighbors. Unfortunately, at higher volume levels, subwoofer goes in to frenzy mode and overpowers music completely, so You better stay with volume on reasonable levels. Midrange is neutral to slightly analytical, quite precise and clear but a bit boxy, especially when the level goes up. Same goes for treble, that is well extended but lacks a bit of detail. Soundstage is big, with strong central image and nice depth.


My JBL LSR305 compared to AV32.1 is much more balanced speaker, a bit dry sounding but in a good way. Bass from LSR305 do not go as deep as in AV32.1 and lacks a bit of physical nature of AV32.1, but is more precise, natural and textured. JBL sounds whole, coherent and does not excite my room as much as AV32.1 do. JBL is definitely more open speaker with better detail and bigger, more precise soundstage. JBL is also more dynamic and instantaneous, AV32.1 lacks a bit of initial punch. When pushed hard, JBL keeps composure, where AV32.1 changes music in to bassy mess. AV32.1 is good choice for bass freaks playing electronic and hip hop music with lots of bass content. Also movies sound great on them, speech is clear and explosions kick harder than in LSR305. AV32.1 actually made me turn  bass controls on my JBL LSR305 from 0dB to +2dB for more punch in the gut, and order a small subwoofer for test with my JBL :)

I also compared AV32.1 to Microlab Solo 6C. Microlab is a strange sounding speaker, not very enjoyable, with weak bass and forward, harsh sound. AV32.1 is a better choice out of these two, with tons of bass, less harsh sound and more detailed midrange and treble.


AV32.1 is a good solution for those looking for big, deep bass, enjoyable occasional music listening, movie watching and games. It is a good system with reasonable asking price, haunted by some major flaws (hissing and lack of level control for subwoofer). If You are serious about music listening and want Your speakers to give You sound as close to reality as possible, than I recommend some good 2.0 speakers with less bass, but more balanced and more detailed sound. 

- Big sound with strong bass response down to 45Hz
- Clear midrange, smooth treble
- Easy on ear, not harsh 
- Good choice for bass heads and movie fans on a budget

- Audible hiss
- Subwoofer level set up too high, no controls for subwoofer level
- Bass boom at times
- Subwoofer adds unwanted weight to male voices
- Flimsy IR remote, IR reciever on subwoofer
- Slight boxiness of midrange
- Lacks a bit of overall finesse
- Sound quality falls apart at higher volume levels

Verdict : 6.5/10 

Here is my short video to give You an idea how they sound: