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M-Audio BX3 Monitor Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 158 87.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 13 7.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 6 3.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 1.7%

  • Total voters


Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Feb 13, 2016
Seattle Area
This is a review, detailed measurements and listening tests of the M-Audio BX3 powered monitor speaker. I purchased it from Amazon by request from membership. It costs US $107.
M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker Review.jpg

The speaker looks like many professional monitors we review. However, when you hold it in your hands, it is extremely light and pretty small. So light that its stiff power cord drags it left and right by its sheer weight! The little 3.5 midwoofer though seems to be of high quality with high excursion for its size. Back side shows pretty rich feature set:

M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker back panel Review.jpg

A single cable carries the output to the slave speaker.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Reference axis for measurements was the tweeter axis. Room temperature was rather cold at around 60 degrees F.

M-Audio BX3 Measurements
Let's start with our suite of frequency response measurements:
M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker Frequency Response Measurement.png

Wow, that is one uneven frequency response! I don't know what they had in mind with this. The trough at 10 kHz is quite curious. I guessed at the dual drivers being active and causing cancellation and 3-D soundfield radiation seems to show that:
M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker 10 kHz directivity baloon Measurement.png

Here is our near-field response of each radiating source:
M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker near-field Frequency Response Measurement.png

We can see that the mid-woofer is going strong to 10 kHz and beyond.

Directivity is good resulting in early reflections to be similar to on-axis:

M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker early window Frequency Response Measurement.png

Speaking of directivity, response is indeed good in horizontal direction:
M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker Horizontal Beamwidth Measurement.png

M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker Horizontal directivity Measurement.png

No doubt this is due to small midwoofer not being much larger than the tweeter. Vertical response is quite narrow as the two drivers work hand in hand to beamform:
M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker Vertical directivity Measurement.png

So be sure to point the tweeter at you (elevate or tilt the speaker back).

Now we get to another problem area: distortion. Even with hearing protection I could tell the speaker was complaining, creating secondary tones during even 86 dBSPL sweeps:

M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker Relative THD Distortion Measurement.png

M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker THD Distortion Measurement.png

I usually go to 96 dBSPL but no way could the BX3 handle that. So I settled for 90 dBSPL. As you see, the results are not pretty there.

I forgot to run the waterfall test but here is the step response:
M-Audio BX3 Active Monitor Desktop Speaker Step Response Measurement.png

M-Audio BX3 Listening Tests
I started to listen to the BX3 and attempt to develop filters to it. But no matter what I did, I kept hearing some artifacts. I traced this to the port. Boy, what comes out of that hole is ugly! In all but the faintest volumes, it would both chuff and spit out highly distorted version of the front wavefront which by the way, sounded decent! I stuffed the port but then that high reduced the low frequency response. I put in high pass filters of different shapes but none would reduce the distortion enough. And this was with the port some 1 meter/3+ feet away from the back wall. If you put it any closer to the wall, it would get even worse I am sure. So I gave up.

I don't know how companies manage to sell a pair of active speakers for just $106. But sometimes cheap is too cheap. The distortion here and uneven response is just too much to handle causing the speaker to fall below my minimum standard for good sound. But maybe I am too picky. The BX-3 has over 1000 reviews on Amazon with 4.5 star average score! So if you fall in that same bucket, and want something that is better than your laptop speakers, this will do. For me, it won't and I want to encourage to spend more and get something better.

I can't recommend the M-Audio BX3.

As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/


  • M-Audio BX3.zip
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Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
May 14, 2021
Berlin, Germany
It's an insult to call this a monitor ffs M-Audio.
Any logitech speaker will probably behave better.


Active Member
Aug 30, 2019
The Netherlands
Interesting. I have worked with a lot of studio monitors in the past 15 years. For the majority Genelec and some Adam. Genelec really set the benchmark for me on sonic quality.
I did come across some M-Audio equipment that I had to work with and it never felt right. The software and interfaces where buggy (could have been the Windows Vista driver nightmare) and their monitors did not give me any confidence. They sounded off.


Major Contributor
Dec 12, 2021
Wodecq, Hainaut, Belgium
Ah, the typical cheap plastic monitor sound. Some of the cheaper brands left it and try to do better (like Behringer does relative well today), but many stay that way, and M-Audio surely is. I did not need the Amir test to kow that, but thanks for confirming what i heared...


Senior Member
Forum Donor
Jul 25, 2021
I imagine this competes with the Edifer MR4 which is clearly a much better bargain monitor:


respice finem

Major Contributor
Feb 1, 2021
"Reference" has become a pseudo audiophile BS buzzword IMHO. It means not much - something you can refer to, good, bad or whatever. So, if I refer this "thing" to my grandma's tube radio, it's probably a lot better :D
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