A few years ago I began assembling my own home studio setup. As such, I found myself scouting the net for a pair of affordable bug high quality studio monitors; and settled on RCF’s ‘Ayra’ series – in particular the Ayra 5, thanks to its compact cabinet dimensions, flexible positioning and excellent specifications. I was recently surprised to discover that despite an interval of what must be getting on for 5 years, these exact speakers are still on the market and part of RCF’s current product range.
Renowned for their top-class PA systems, Italian manufacturer RCF was founded in 1949 in Reggio Emilia; a city with a reputation for engineering and technical innovation as rich as its cultural heritage, and which still, more than 60 years later, is home to RCFs main production, administrative and R and D facilities.
There are 5 models in the Ayra range – 4 of which (the Ayra4, 5, 6, and 8) are standard 4”, 5”, 6” and 8” 2-way monitors. There’s also the Ayra 10” sub woofer – a 250W, class AB active sub woofer designed to compliment the rest of the range. The model reviewed here is the Ayra 5; though many of the features remain the same for the other models; aside from, obviously, the cabinet and woofer sizes.
Featuring a lacquer-painted MDF cabinet with a front-mounted slot reflex port, the Ayra 5s are a 2-way active design employing a 5” composite fibreglass woofer and a 1” soft dome tweeter, powered by a 55W (30W +20W) class AB amplifier. The drivers cross over at 2100HZ, frequency response ranges from 55HZ – 20KHZ, and a soft limiter helps to prevent clipping distortion.
The plastic front baffle features a typical driver configuration in which the 1” soft dome tweeter sits above the 5” woofer, which in turn sits above the slotted bass port. The drivers are recessed, with a neat trim hiding their fixings. The RCF logo illuminates when switched on to indicate power status.
Around back, you’ll find the IEC power input and the range of audio inputs including XLR, 6.3MM quarter inch TRS and single-ended RCA. There’s a tiny power switch, a gain potentiometer, and a high-frequency adjustment switch to attenuate the high-frequency output to better suit your room or listening preference. It’s worth noting that in operation the rear panels do become noticeably hot- so I’d recommend keeping cables tied back out of the way. It’s also important, both for sonic and ventilation reasons, that these speakers aren’t pushed up against a wall.
The cabinets are well made with neat rounded edges and large foam pads on the bottom to help minimise vibrations and minimise scratching of furniture or the speakers themselves. They’re fairly weighty 2 at 6KG for the pair, and measure 274 MM (10.78”) Xx 186 MM (7.32”) x 266 MM (10.47”) (W x H x D). They come in black or white, with both 240V and 115V versions available.
They’re supplied with a basic instruction manual (not that you’ll need it) and an IEC cable. I noticed that despite having been purchased in the UK, I received a european IEC cable. I’m not sure if this is the same for all UK models, or whether mine were imported – but it’s worth noting that if you don’t have any spares lying around, or you like your cables to match, you’ll need to order a pair of UK variants.
Sound wise they portray a strong mid range with soft yet natural highs. As you would expect for a pair of studio monitors their sound favours neutrality; and as such they not only sound great for playback but are also supremely easy to mix with. Get a mix sounding right on these, and chances are it’ll sound good on everything from the cheapest iPod earphones, to a car stereo, to a high-end hi-fi system.
Despite being near field monitors they’re also more than capable of filling room with an expansive, powerful sound stage. They’re rated at a horizontal and vertical coverage angle of 110 and 70 degrees respectively, with a maximum SPL (sound pressure level) of 106DB which they can certainly deliver. They’re easy to position, thanks to that front port design. They can play loud too with no hint of distortion, and their low-frequency reproduction is exceptional especially given the 55HZ LF response rating.
In summary; I’ve used these monitors for everything from music listening, to drum monitoring to recording (using both acoustic and electronic instruments). Each time they have produced outstanding results that bely their low price tag. The going rate is currently around £125 per monitor (£250/pair), which, for what you get, is exceptional value. If you’re in the market for a pair of high-quality affordable monitors that won’t break the bank, head to your favourite music shop and grab a pair. Highly recommended.