Simon Cote of Focal North America swung by Sound Pure Studios today and brought the new CMS series of active monitors with him. While we had heard the CMS 50’s at trade shows and in less than perfect spaces, we were all really looking forward to finally getting to hear the 50’s and get a first look at the new CMS 40’s in our studio to hear what they could really do in a great monitoring environment.
First and foremost, the CMS series isn’t a “cheaper” version of the popular Be monitors from Focal (we have the Focal Twin 6 Be’s in our studio with a pair of Sub 6 Be’s). The CMS series is a new design targeted towards home studios. They are smaller and were designed to give great results even in less-than-ideal acoustic spaces.
Setting up the CMS series is quite simple. They come with their own Focal isolation pads, and we placed the 40’s and 50’s right on the bridge of our D-Command desk. First we went with the CMS 40’s without the subwoofer. Jason and I were shocked at how detailed the 40’s were across the entire frequency spectrum. With a 4” woofer and 25 watts to power it, and then the 25 watts aluminum/magnesium inverted dome Focal tweeter, this is a very small monitor, but the CMS 40’s sound bigger than what you would think!
After listening to a few mixes we had been working on in the studio with the Twin 6 Be’s and a pair of Sub 6 Be’s, it was easy to see how well the CMS 40’s will translate. As Chris mentioned, “the CMS series are Focals after all.” I guess we shouldn’t have been so surprised. Moving to the 50’s was even more surprising.
Simon and I talked about the CMS 50’s after last year’s NAMM show and I told him: “there is no way the 50’s will have the bass response needed to do full mixes without a subwoofer in our control room.” I feel like I owe him money on a lost bet. He called me out, brought them down, and I was quite impressed with how detailed, accurate, and articulate the 50’s were. We didn’t even have the sub fired up yet!
After reviewing the rough mixes on our latest big band sessions and some older full jazz mixes, it was clear how much Focal was able to get out of these smaller monitors. Now it was time for us to add the CMS sub to the mix. We stuck with the 50’s for these tests and played several test tracks that Focal provided, as well as fired up some pop/hip-hop and rock mixes. The addition of the sub had an incredible impact on what we could hear and how much we could hear. Simon dialed in the crossover on the back of the CMS 50’s and it brought out more detail in the low-mids. Mixing with this set up would not have been a problem!
For small studio owners looking for a smaller, affordable set of monitors, the CMS series must be looked at. The CMS 40’s are shipping early August 2010, but for a set of monitors under $1200, I’m just not sure there is a pair on the market that will outperform the CMS 50’s!
Simon, thank you so much for coming down and spending time with us this morning, and I must say, I feel like I owe you lunch! You were right all long, and I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with the performance of the CMS 40, the CMS 50, and especially the combination of the CMS 50 with the CMS Sub.