I bought my Tascam VL-X5 monitors after having done thorough research online as to what the best monitors I could get within this price range was. I was convinced by my research that the these Tascam monitors were the best monitors my money could buy, being that I was on a very limited budget.
One of the major selling points to me was the frequency response, ranging from 45 Hz to 22 kHz. I figured I would be cutting my mixes below 50 Hz anyway, and that I hence would not be in need of a sub woofer. The fact of the matter is that the bass response in these speakers is impressive. I am able to better define the low end of my mixes. I can add low end thump and remove low end blur. But these speakers are simply not big enough to completely accurately represent the low end. If my mixes are played back on a bigger and more expensive monitor setup with a subwoofer, faults in my mixes will be revealed. However this should come as no surprise. For its price range, the clarity and accuracy of these monitors is amazing!
These Tascam monitors feature EQ switches on the back that let you adjust the EQ of the output based on how you have placed the speakers in your room.
I have come to love these monitors. They are almost transparent, and extremely accurate for the price!
On a side note, do note that no matter how flat your monitor speakers are, what you hear is very much coloured by the room you are mixing in, and this can not be dealt with without heavy acoustic treatment of the room. Flat speakers are a very good starting point, though, and these Tascams have EQ switches on the back to compensate for weaknesses of the room you are listening in.
Update: There is now an updated version of the VL-X5 speakers, called VL-A5.
These really are incredibly good value for money if you're looking for a pair of powered monitors. Note these are not hi-fi speakers for regular home use (although I use them quite happily for that too) but rather for music producers who want to accurately hear the frequency characteristics of music. In my case, as I mess around with electronic tones, frequency accuracy was key.
The sound quality is great and I'm convinced it's down to the location and type of baffle (2 slots either side of the tweeter) these speakers have. Although the front baffle enhances the bass, it retains definition. Oddly, because of the flat frequency response ,when you start listening to music all the time on these things it's like hearing some pieces of music for the first time. Treble is handled by a 1-inch silk speaker and bass by a 5.25-inch low frequency speaker powered by the built in 30 and 60-watt amplifiers. Now that may not sound all that impressive but they passed the volume test (said volume test being my poor next door neighbor having to knock on my door several times and ask me to turn it down). They may be small but they're powerful and pump out enough bass. Only a Miami crank head would be disappointed at the bass response.
Anyway, I find these to be pretty truthful in how they represent the sonic spectrum (frequency response up to 22kHz ) even if I do have a tendency to mix at loud (ish) volumes. At quieter volumes they still sound great. They've helped me refine my producing technique too. I tend to roll the bass back when using these. When I listen to old songs, mixed using my old B&W HiFi speakers, on the Tascams the bass frequencies smearing over the other tones in my mixes are much more defined.
Because the speakers have built in magnetic shielding I can quite happily have these sit on my desk flanking my computer and not worry about any damage happening to my display or hard drive from magnetic pulses. They're small enough to sit on a desktop, although as they each contain an amplifier and power supply they're quite deep and weighty little beasts.
Although they mostly get used with electronic music, I've played jazz, classical and rock music through these things and always been pleased with the way they sound.
Switches and LEDs
The speakers are contained within basic black wooden cabinets. No fancyschmancy rounded corner polycarbonate panels here but I expect that for a budget speaker. Each speaker comes with an individual power cord (which are nice and long) which fits snugly into the socket on the speaker's rear panel. Included are instructions containing some useful information on how to setup the speakers so you get an accurate stereo picture of whatever you are listening to.
They've got classy blue LEDs in front and behind. The front one is good for staring at in the dark when inspiration refuses to come. The back one is good as it helps you locate the on/off switch. Each speaker has its own low frequency and high frequency cut/boost switches as well as individual volume controls. These let you tailor the output of the sound depending on the acoustic environments you're working in.
I have no regrets with this purchase a couple of months later. Sure the KRKs (review coming) may have looked better and the Yamahas (already reviewed) have a more famous lineage, but the Tascams do the job for less than half the price of either of them. Ultimately it is only your own ears and experience that can be relied upon to provide a truthful reference for audio. So the VL-X5s provide incredible value for a pair of monitor speakers in this price range. I think Tascam may have ceased manufacturing them so you should pick them up if you're in the market for a pair of monitors.