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Price (pair): £399
Design: 2-way ported, concentric setup with DSP
Woofer: 5.25-inch polypropylene cone
Tweeter: 1-inch silk dome
Frequency response: 53 Hz – 20 kHz
The Equator D5s are the odd one out in our list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they’re the only monitors here to use a coaxial configuration for the two drivers: that is, the tweeter is in the centre of the mid-bass driver, a design which is intended to optimise stereo imaging. Secondly, they’re the only monitors here which use digital signal processing (DSP) to achieve a clearer, more accurate sound than more traditional designs would allow.
The D5s are part of Equator’s budget D series range, based on similar principles to the much more expensive – and very highly rated – Q series. The basic principles are relatively simple. In Equator’s own words: “What is the main reason for a bad mix? Lack of detail in the midrange during production.” In response to that observation, Equator as a brand prize mid-range clarity above all else, seeking to achieve sound reproduction which is free of phase distortion, exceptionally flat through the key mid-range frequencies and perfectly matched between the two monitors for a pin-point accurate stereo image.
We won’t pretend to understand every last detail of the complex DSP which Equator employ in order to achieve these aims (if you have the inclination you can immerse yourself in it here), but the end results speak for themselves. These are highly revealing speakers that allow you to focus in on every aspect of a mix. They’re also astonishingly good value, especially if you live in the US, where you can buy directly from Equator with free shipping.
The downside? A slight lack of bottom-end extension and overall oomph. If you’re looking for monitors to shake the walls, the D5s aren’t right for you. But in terms of their ability to reveal detail and make mix decisions such as subtle changes to EQ and compression easier, they can’t be beaten at this price point.