Even within entry-level studio monitors, there is plenty of variety. Prices also range from very affordable to expensive. In this review, we check out an aggressively priced option from Pioneer.
The Pioneer DM-40 active studio monitors are a compact and cheap set of studio monitors that pack a powerful punch. While it does fall short for analytical listening it still has a lot to offer beginners.
There is more than meets the eye with these monitors. Let’s dive into the details and see how this budget-priced option stacks up.
For a compact and cheap studio monitor the Pioneer DM-40’s have plenty going for them when it comes to sound quality.
The first thing you’ll notice is the warm and pleasant low-end. For a small monitor, it’s rich and full. Very satisfying if you like to listen to bass-heavy music. The mids and highs are also clean and crisp. Muddy tones are not present and the clarity is there.
The main downfall though is that the frequencies are not well balanced. If you are into music production these are not ideal. I’d look elsewhere if you want to use these for analytical listening.
But for DJs or general listening, these are great. The meaty low-end in such a compact package makes them an appealing choice for hobby DJs.
The DM-40 also offers up lots of loudness. Great for plugging into your DJ controller for home practice sessions. They are not loud enough for a party but you shouldn’t be using studio monitors for these types of performances anyway. The sweet spot is not large enough to fill a room with even sound.
Even at higher volumes, the distortion is very minimal. It wasn’t until I cranked them beyond 70% that I felt there was an imbalance.
If you want a cheap set of studio monitors that are loud with decent sound you can’t look past the DM40’s.
The build quality of the Pioneer DM-40’s is decent. I don’t expect amazing top-shelf components at this price point. Despite this, they are sturdy and well constructed. Even better than other monitors at this price.
The Pioneer DM-40’s dual front bass ports offer deeper bass.
At 10.9 lbs (4.9kg) for the pair, they have a good amount of heft to remain stable. The added cushioning stickers help to keep them in place. Included cables are also of good quality.
The Pioneer DM-40’s offer a compact 4-inch cone woofer. The dual bass ports work in tandem and deliver that satisfying kick in the low end.
The Pioneer DM-40 offers a 2-way bass-reflex system with Fiberglass woofers.
Complementing the low-frequency driver is a ¾-inch soft-dome high-frequency tweeter. This handles the mids and highs and does a reasonable job thanks to the large convex diffuser.
The frequency range is between 70Hz – 30kHz. Plenty of room to deliver on both the low and high end.
Having tuning options opens up the ability to adjust output based on speaker placement or studio space. This is one area that the Pioneer DM-40’s fall short in. There is no flexibility to adjust the output of these monitors. For the price, it isn’t a feature I normally expect but it is worth mentioning.
The Pioneer DM-40 offers two unbalanced connection options. A standard RCA connection along with a ⅛-inch stereo mini-plug. I would have liked to see a balanced option but in most cases, the unbalanced options will be more than suitable.
Two common connection options are available on the Pioneer DM-40.
Speaker wire connects the two speakers with the left speaker serving as the master. The supplied cables are long enough to handle most setups. Included in the package is an audio converter cable to run from the mini-jack to RCA. A nice inclusion.
The Pioneer DM-40 also has a ⅛-inch headphone jack on the front of the main speaker. This makes them a great choice as replacements for standard computer speakers.
The DM-40’s sport a smart and attractive all-black appearance. I like the choice Pioneer has made to avoid shiny surfaces. Often these types of finishes attract fingerprints and scratches. The dual bass ports hug the woofer and add to the sleek design.
The Pioneer DM-40 studio monitors are attractive and available in white as well.
The large convex diffuser around the tweeter adds some nice depth. Add to this the inward-facing beveled edges and restrained use of the Pioneer logo.
The speakers are also available in white. A good option to have if the black speakers clash with your existing studio decor.
One of the appealing aspects of the DM-40’s is the compact size. Perfectly suited for smaller studio spaces while still delivering pleasing sound.
The Pioneer DM-40 is a compact and light set of studio monitors.
These monitors are also light enough for placement on shelves. Just keep in mind that they need proper space around them for air circulation. Without the ability to vent heat the interior components may become damaged.
The Pioneer DM-40 studio monitors offer excellent value. It’s because of this that they are often bundled with beginner controllers. For a few hundred dollars you can get a setup that gets you started in the world of DJing.
They offer good sound and build quality. This makes them one of the best entry-level monitors available for hobby DJs.
What Others Have To Say
Lots of fans out there for these compact speakers from Pioneer. Perfectly suited for bedroom DJs that enjoy a meatier low-end.
Balanced Vs Unbalanced Audio
There are a couple of things worth noting about audio cables. When looking at studio monitors you need to understand what connection options they offer.
Some will offer unbalanced options while others will offer balanced options. Some will even give you a choice between the two.
RCA is one of the most common unbalanced connection options for audio signals.
The difference between balanced and unbalanced cables comes down to how many wires they have. Balanced cables send a positive and negative signal as well as a grounding wire. Unbalanced cables don’t have the third wire.
The most notable thing is that unbalanced cables can suffer from interference. This problem only really becomes an issue if you are running the cables over longer distances. Or if you have a large number of other cables near your unbalanced cables.
Where possible I recommend using a balanced signal. But for most home studios you shouldn’t experience much interference since your cable lengths will be minimal. Just aim to keep other cables away and you should still be able to enjoy clean audio.
If you are looking for compact monitors there are some other options worth considering. Likewise, some interesting budget options challenge the DM-40’s when it comes to price.
PreSonus Eris E3.5 Review
When it comes to compact studio monitors the Presonus Eris E3.5 is another excellent option. More suited to analytical listening than the DM40’s but not as satisfying for casual listening.
- Excellent flat response for a more accurate representation of music.
- Lightweight and compact. Ideally suited to small studio spaces.
- A very narrow sweet spot requires precise placement.
Read our full PreSonus Eris E3.5 review for more detailed information.
Presonus Eris E3.5
Mackie CR3-X Review
The Mackie CR3-X studio monitors offer an even cheaper option for beginners. While not the sturdiest of monitors they do deliver with extra features. Worth considering if you are on a tight budget.
- Ultra affordable option for budget-conscious beginners.
- Front AUX port for media devices.
- Not the most impressive build quality.
Read our full Mackie CR3-X review for more detailed information.
JBL One Series 104
Sick of square speakers? Then the JBL One Series 104’s is for you. Attractive oval-shaped design that is both compact and powerful. Excellent sound quality places these above other 4-inch monitors.
- Compact design that is well suited to small work surfaces.
- Excellent sound quality with the added benefit of Bluetooth.
- Super loud but clarity is not as refined at lower volumes.
Read our full JBL One Series 104 review for more detailed information.
Should You Buy?
The Pioneer DM-40’s are an excellent set of studio monitors. But they are not for everyone. If you are a bedroom DJ or want something better than computer speakers these are ideal. On the flip side, if you want to hear and analyze your latest musical creation in detail these will fall short.
Despite this, the low-end is hard to resist. Couple it with the good build quality and you have a winner on your hands. Perfect for beginners and hobby DJs.