Though not very well known in domestic audio circles, LD Systems of Germany is a pro audio manufacturer with an extensive product portfolio which has been in business for more than 35 years. They are part of the Adam Hall group, a large pro audio manufacturer that has been around for nearly half a century. When I was contacted by Mr. Aniket Mane, Deputy Manager of Marketing for Kripa Electronics (India) Pvt. Ltd. – the Indian distributor of LD Systems – to consider their products for a review in Hifitoday.com, I was overwhelmed with the choice on their website. They have 14 categories with each category having at-least ten to twenty products (The products are also classified under a “Series” sub-heading). After spending considerable amount of time I decided that the most suitable product for review would be the SAT 62 A G2 active monitor loudspeaker.
SAT 62 A G2:
This awkwardly named unit is a powered monitor loudspeaker from their Installation category, SAT G2 series. I made an educated guess that the moniker was based on some of the speaker characteristics such as the number 6 referring to the 6.5 inch mid/woofer and the A referring to the Active onboard amplifier. I suppose this type of nomenclature would be required when a company has 100’s of products. The loudspeakers that I received were reasonably attractive MDF boxes, finished in a durable pebble grained black finish. The 12mm MDF vented cabinets are chamfered at the rear creating a truncated octagonal profile, which looks more attractive than the ubiquitous square or rectangular active monitors for sale. The front is covered in a fixed metal grille with the LD logo and the rear is quite busy with a dual position (on/auto) power switch, rotary volume knob, an XLR input, an XLR output, an IEC power connection and a main power switch. Additionally an M6 rigging point along with a mounting plate is provided. The speakers are also shipped with a mounting bracket helpful for installation onto walls or ceiling. This two way design has a 6.5″ woofer and a 1″ tweeter mounted to the front ported cabinet. The onboard Class A/B amplifier is rated at 50 watts of RMS power, propelling the drivers to a frequency response of 55-20,000 Hz and a maximum sound pressure level of 108 db. The size of the speaker is relatively small at 320mm x 200mm x 200mm (hxwxd) and it is quite light at 5.25kg.
Setup, Break-in & Positioning:
One thing I gathered from the connectivity options is that I would require a pair of long XLR cables, or else I would need an adapter to enable the use of RCA interconnects. Fortunately Aniket sent me a pair of 2.5m long XLR cables, which I ran direct from the balanced outputs of my preamplifier to the speakers. I put them on 24″ tall stands in the same position where I placed my current speakers – about 2 feet from the rear wall and about 2.5 feet from the sides. My first impression was of diminished low frequency response, so I moved them back by a foot, which helped flesh out mid bass to a certain extent. The provided speakers appeared brand new out of the box so I ran them for approximately 15 hours before I sat down for any serious listening.
The first thing that caught my eye upon reading the specifications was the high SPL rating of 108db. I felt that this was exaggerated based on the slight stature and relatively light weight of the speakers. So I cued up Hans Zimmer’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Water Tower Music (24/96, FLAC) OST. On the track Is she with you? – As I turned up the volume – these diminutive monitors belted out a raucous presentation that was loud and absolutely free of any distortion. I measured the SPL level at my listening position (8 feet away) at 95db, significantly higher than what I normally listen to. At this point, in deference to the health of my hearing I backed off the volume but was convinced that these could easily handle very high SPL’s without getting congested or unruly, which is the bane of many small monitors. I moved onto something more serene, namely female vocals from one of Prince’s protégé – Kandace Springs’ debut album Soul Eyes – Blue Note (24/96, FLAC). Her smoky, sultry voice on Talk To Me was quite enticing, presented very well by the SAT 62’s.
One of my favorite bands, Los Lobos’ Kiko & the Lavender Moon from Kiko – Mobile Fidelity (2.8Mhz, DSD), featured a superbly wide soundstage generously spread between the monitors. However the fact that I pushed the speakers close to the wall precluded them from delineating stage depth to my liking, in effect creating a single plane of sound rather than a more layered depiction. This was a tradeoff I was willing to make in order to get better bass reproduction and will ultimately depend on individual listener tastes in regards to soundstage dimensionality. Male vocals on the track sounded very clear and distinct without any coloration. Listening to Trilok Gurtu’s tabla percussion from his album Twenty Years of Talking Tabla – Union Square (16/44.1, FLAC) – on the track Once I Wished A Tree Upside Down – the SAT 62’s set up a rhythmic and mesmerizing show. Pace was spot on and timing precise, leading me to tap my toes and bob my head.
Next I cued up a small Jazz ensemble by Wofert Bredhode Trio, Black Ice – ECM (24/96, FLAC). On Olive Tree I discerned focused and pinpoint imaging which is long-established small monitor strength. The tambourine that is struck periodically during the performance was placed with razor sharp accuracy to the left and slightly rear of the stage. The piano to the right of the stage sounded rich and lush tonally, replete with adequate color and texture. One thing I noticed during my listening sessions with the SAT 62’s was their somewhat reticent low bass frequencies. The extension and depth that I was normally used to in many tracks was present but with significantly less impact and presence. In that respect I think that a subwoofer to augment them would be nice – and LD systems have 3 options to choose from within this series.
Comparison to ATC Studio Control Monitors 11:
The ATC SCM 11 v1 passive monitors that I use have a rich studio heritage and when available cost approximately 1.3 lakhs, so I felt they would be an appropriate benchmark. The most immediate difference was that the ATC’s could dig much deeper and present bass more convincingly than the LD systems monitors, though in terms of low frequency specifications they are rated similarly 56Hz and 55Hz respectively. Mid range is an ATC forte and in comparison they sounded more lush, rich and fleshed out to the relatively leaner sounding LD systems. In the higher frequencies however, it was a closer call, both monitors sounding equally extended and smooth, though again I preferred the ATC’s dome tweeter for its overall refinement. The SAT 62 was the decisive winner in ultimate overall loudness, which it scaled effortlessly. Moving onto the spatial characteristics of the sound, imaging was sharper through the LD systems, but they suffered in soundstage depth while lateral expanse was similar to the SCM 11. Overall they did well when compared to the more expensive ATC’s. In comparing pricing another fact to be borne in mind is that an amplifier is not required for these and in that respect their value proposition is that much better.
The LD systems SAT 62 A G2 are excellent active monitors that not only play loud, but do so with adequate control and finesse. In addition they are also refined at moderate playback levels, with smooth treble and good midrange response. For laid back genres their bass will be adequate but they will require support of a subwoofer for more demanding music. Their imaging is spectacular with very good sound-staging abilities. If you are looking for active monitors in the 75k to 1 lakh range, you should definitely consider the LD systems speakers.
- Sources: Windows 7 based Music PC running J River Media Center v20.
- DAC: North Star Design Excelsio.
- Amplification: Parasound JC2, Line Magnetic LM501 IA.
- Speakers: ATC SCM11 v1.
- Cabling: Signal cable silver reference interconnects and speaker cable, Adam Hall XLR cable.
- Rack & Stands: Sorice equipment rack and Sound Organization speaker stands.
- Listening room dimensions: 6m x 4.5m x 2.6m’ (lxwxh).
LD Systems, Germany
- Website: www.ld-systems.com
- LD Systems, SAT 62 A G2, Active Monitor Loudspeaker
- Distributor: Kripa Electronics (India) Pvt. Ltd.
- E-mail: [email protected]
- Website: www.keihifi.com
- Price: ₹ 32,900/speaker
- Warranty: 1 year (offsite)