Big Blue 2.1

Референтни мониториBlue Sky
Big Blue 2.1

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Big Blue 2.1
Big Blue 2.1
Big Blue 2.1

Most of the Blue Sky monitoring systems have been reviewed in the pages of SOS over the years. The System One was reviewed in February 2003, the Pro Desk in July 2003, and the Media Desk in January 2005. Now it's the turn of the latest and largest addition to the fleet, the Big Blue: an enormous mid-field, full-range, 2.1 monitor system that has been designed to satisfy the needs of those who need LOUD; we are talking 2KW of amplifier power on tap in the full 2.1 system!

Like the other Blue Sky monitors, the Big Blue system has been designed specifically as a 2.1 monitoring combination, comprising a pair of SAT 12 three-way monitors, and a SUB 15 subwoofer. Also like the other systems, it can be upgraded to a surround monitoring rig, simply by adding the additional rear and centre speakers and Blue Sky's bass management system (and maybe even an extra subwoofer!).

However, whereas all of the other Blue Sky systems are relatively compact, the predominant factor of the Big Blue system is... that it is big! Each SAT 12 monitor measures 381mm (15 inches) wide by 711mm (28 inches) high, and is 432mm (17 inches) deep. Not surprisingly given their bulk, they weigh just under 42kg (92lbs) each, so some assistance is required when unpacking and rigging them — and you'll also need some very sturdy stands. The cabinets are constructed from three-quarter-inch MDF, with one-inch panels front and back, and aren't the most aesthetically pleasing I've ever seen, but they do have a certain industrial, no-nonsense look that will appeal to many.


The SAT 12 'satellite' speaker is a three-way, front-ported design, complete with integral three-channel amplifier and line-level crossover. The amplifier pack mounted in the rear panel provides 200W each to the bass and mid-range driver, plus 100W to the tweeter. The drivers are all fairly familiar: the bass driver, for example, is borrowed from the SUB 12 subwoofer and features the same mica-filled polypropylene 'hemispherical' cone with a long-throw, two-inch, vented motor coil assembly and cast aluminium chassis.

The four-inch mid-range driver is another hemispherical design, this time with an aluminium-alloy cone borrowed from the Media Desk system. The tweeter is the distinctive dual-concentric design with its integral waveguide 'nose', as used on other Blue Sky monitors. All three drivers are 4(omega) devices, and the crossover points are set at 300Hz and 3kHz, so the mid-range driver covers the most critical three-octave band by itself. All three drivers are magnetically compensated, to prevent distorting the colorimetry if you happen to place them near those quaint, old-fashioned CRT picture monitors.

The rear panel of the SAT 12 has two analogue balanced input XLRs, the first being labelled as a 'full range' input. The manufacturer claims the system can deliver a frequency response stretching between 45Hz and 30kHz (±3dB) using this input, but the system is really intended to be used with the associated subwoofer, which is catered for with a dedicated '80Hz input' XLR. In this case, the signal is high-pass filtered at 80Hz, with a phase-corrected 12dB/octave response to allow correct matching with the SUB 15. As far as I can see, there is nothing to stop you wiring to both sets of inputs if you wanted, so that you could, in effect, switch the sub in and out by routing the signal via the sub/satellite or straight to the satellites — a facility some might find useful if their monitoring controllers don't already provide the facility to bypass the subwoofer.

You can appreciate the sheer size of the Big Blues from this rear shot, in which you can see the standard XLR connectors at the top.
You can appreciate the sheer size of the Big Blues from this rear shot, in which you can see the standard XLR connectors at the top.
You can appreciate the sheer size of the Big Blues from this rear shot, in which you can see the standard XLR connectors at the top.

The front baffle contains a removable panel that carries the tweeter and mid-range units, allowing them to be rotated as a pair relative to the overall cabinet. This makes it possible to use the SAT12 horizontally or vertically without sacrificing imaging precision (making it easy to configure the speaker for use as a horizontal centre channel above or below a screen, for example). Around the perimeter of this sub-baffle is a grid of four slotted, triangular port vents, lined internally with open-cell foam. The manual suggests that the design of these slots helps to reduce cabinet diffraction effects as well, and refers to them as a proprietary "Multi-Aperture Acoustic Diffraction Absorber." The idea is to help maintain a smooth mid- and high-frequency response off-axis, which is something that can be an issue on speakers with wide front baffles. Supportive evidence as to the efficacy of the 'MADA' is the well controlled response between 200Hz and 15kHz, which remains within an impressive ±1.5dB window.

I've already mentioned the two XLR inputs on the rear panel, but I should also mention that each has an adjacent pair of DIP switches that alter the input sensitivity by 10dB. The maximum input level is +12dBu with switches in the 0dB position, and +24dBu with them in the -10dB position (I know that 12+10 isn't 24, but that's what the specifications claim!). In addition to these sensitivity switches, there is also a recessed, rotary level-trim control that attenuates the level up to 12dB from the nominal input level selected on those DIP switches, with markings at 1dB increments.

The SAT 12 is well equipped with room-matching equalisation facilities too, and these are divided into four sections: tweeter, mid-range and woofer levels, plus baffle compensation. Each section is configured with four DIP switches, so that each driver can have its relative level changed by up to 3dB (up or down), in 1dB increments. The baffle compensation section allows the inevitable 'bump' in LF response, caused by mounting the speaker in a baffle wall (half space), to be attenuated by up to 11dB.

The final pair of DIP switches control the bright blue LED on the baffle panel. Normally, this is illuminated when the monitor is powered, but flipping these switches causes the LED to flash briefly when the monitor is first turned on, and then extinguish: my preferred operating mode! A rear-panel LED also illuminates when the speaker is powered and is unaffected by the switch settings for the front-panel LED.

The mains input socket and configuration controls are mounted below the enormous heatsink. The familiar IEC mains inlet is associated with a separate fuse holder, mains voltage selector and rocker-style on-off switch. There are no facilities for remote on-off switching. All of the connectors and controls are contained in a removable panel, with the heatsink mounted towards the top of the speaker's rear panel. Below this are four quarter-inch threaded sockets for bolting the speaker to an Omnimount or Powerdrive wall bracket. Another four sockets are installed in the base of the speaker as well. You'd need a lot of faith in your wall structure and bracket fittings to support these 42kg speakers, but I'm assured it is possible to mount them in this way! I think I'd stick with good old-fashioned steel floor stands and Blu-Tack, myself.


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