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M-Audio AV42 Studio Monitors Review – vs AV40 vs AV32

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By Scott Winstead


The M-Audio AV42 monitors are a desktop size that packs a nice punch. They can be used as reference monitors for sound mixing and audio track creation for video productions. They also serve as quality multimedia monitors for enjoying games and watching films. If you need your desktop monitors to be all-purpose, the M-Audio AV42 monitors are a good set to consider.

Your Best DealM-Audio AV42

M-Audio AV42

Top features

  • Class A/B architecture
  • 20 Watts Per Channel Amplifier
  • Optimized Bass Reflex Sound and Crystal-Clear Highs

Check price →

What is superb about the M-Audio AV42 Monitors?

The bass woofer in these two-way monitors is four-inches in diameter. The woofer speaker is coated with polypropylene. This helps produce a tight, precise bass sound with remarkable accuracy.

The one-inch tweeter is cooled by ferrofluid and has a silk cone. It uses OptImage IV tweeter wave guides for improved stereo imaging. There is a blue power LED light on the front that can be used to help align the wave guides.

Many desktop monitors, which are designed for multimedia use, get by with a smaller three-quarter-inch tweeter. A full one-inch tweeter sounds much better than a smaller one. The increased diameter from a three-quarter-inch tweeter to a one-inch tweeter is a big factor in how clearly the monitor reproduces the high-frequency sounds. It is very easy to hear the difference when conducting an A/B side-by-side test.

M-Audio AV42
RCA inputs for plugging in mixers, gaming systems, and other gadgets


The AV42 monitors are made from medium-density fiberboard (MDF) covered by a black laminated vinyl finish that has no seams. The MDF material is made from wood fibers combined with a wax and resin binder, which is made into panels through a high-pressure and high-temperature power-pressing process.

The woofer is coated with polypropylene. This material does not need as much power to drive it as metal does, which is found on other woofers. The woofer has a high-temperature voice coil. The tweeter is a cone design made from silk. Silk gives a very nice reproduction of the high frequencies. The drivers are ferrofluid cooled.

The power requirements are 100 to 120 volts at 50/60 Hz (for Europe, 220 to 240 volts at 50/60 Hz). The power cord is included and is detachable.


The MDF cabinets are designed to be acoustically inert. This stops unwanted resonance that could create frequencies that might otherwise make a muddy-sounding bass.


M-Audio AV42
M-Audio AV42 is a pair of compact desktop monitors, the siblings of the older AV40 model.

The small compact size lets you put these monitors almost anywhere. They can be put on a shelf, set on a desk, hung on a wall, or mounted on floor stands. They come in a classic black color, which makes them nondescript and they pretty much blend in with the typical home studio surroundings.

The safety features include magnetic shielding, RF interference protection, on/off transient protection, output current limiting, and thermal protection.


The dimensions are width 5.7 inches (14.5 centimeters) by depth 7.4 inches (18.8 centimeters) by height 8.4 inches (20.3 centimeters). The weight is 7.56 pounds (3.43 kilograms).

Sound Quality

The M-Audio AV42 monitors shoot for a sound reproduction that is in the middle between accuracy and niceness. Accuracy is needed for doing sound mixing such as making the audio tracks for your YouTube recordings. Niceness is a soft coloration of the sound to make it more enjoyable for listening while playing video games or watching some media (online streams, television, or movies, etc.).

M-Audio AV42

I give the M-Audio AV42 monitors high marks for being a pleasing middle-of-the-road solution. I like to play video games and listen to the sound of the game using headphones because my cat jumps and the dogs bark when the game suddenly gets louder when I use the speakers. Also, I like to have clear, high-end frequencies to get the feeling, by hearing something, when an opponent is sneaking up on me in a shooter game.

At the same time, I like to have accurate reference sound for mixing my voiceovers and the audio tracks I create for video productions. I don’t wear headphones for that work and the M-Audio AV42 monitors give me a great reference sound to work with when playing back my mix.

Who are the AV42 made for?

Audio enthusiasts who do a lit bit of everything will find these all-purpose monitors a superb choice. They have a nice sound for playing video games while wearing headphones with enough bass power and high-end clarity and an expansive stereo field with a wide sweet spot.

M-Audio AV42

They can be used to listen to media playback and can fill a small- to medium-sized room with robust sound. They are also capable of serving as reference monitors for a home studio and used when creating audio tracks for video productions or music mixing.


The RCA inputs allow connecting to any audio source that uses that style jack. Connecting to a mobile device, laptop, or smartphone is easy to do via the one-eight-inch mini stereo plug input.

If you want to see an unboxing and setup without much commentary, this video gives you a visual guide,. It is easy to follow but has almost no audio explanation of what the guy is doing. There is no sales pitch here. This video just lets you see the steps needed to take the monitors out of their box and hook them up, that is all.

If you prefer to get a detailed narrative while the box is opened, this is another unboxing video with a vocal description of everything. This unit in the video is designed to be used in Europe so it shows an alternative power cable.

Pros and Cons

For a quick overview here are the pros and cons:


  • Nice sound for compact desktop monitors.
  • Modestly priced.
  • Useful for multimedia and reference monitors.
  • Has volume protection that cuts off the sound, if the speakers are overdriven.
  • Easy to set up with included cables.


  • The power switch is on the back of the left speaker and not integrated with the volume control knob that is on the front.
  • Needs an adaptor to use one-quarter-inch XLR connectors.

M-Audio AV42 Specifications

Here are the specifications:

  • Amplification: Active, Two-Way
  • Amplifier: Integrated, Class D, 50 watts
  • Output: 20 watts per speaker (40 watts total)
  • Frequency Response: 75 Hz to 20 MHz
  • Nominal Impedance: 10 KOhm
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio: 90 dB
  • Sensitivity: 101.5 dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2700 Hz
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Controls: Power On/Off, Volume

M-Audio AV42 vs. AV40

The M-Audio AV42 is an upgrade from the AV 40. The AV 40 comes in a bright red color, which some find a bit off-putting unless you have Andy Warhol art prints of tomato cans on your home studio walls, then it fits right in. You probably cannot find a new set of M-Audio AV40 monitors because the AV40 model has now been replaced by the AV42 newer version.

One of the technical differences is the M-Audio AV42 model comes with waveguides that can be aligned using the light emanating from the LED power-on indicator. The previous AV40 model does not have wave guides. A wave guide works by physically directing the sound wave in such a way as to enhance the sound and give it certain characteristics as well as a location in the stereo field.

With the M-Audio AV42, you can use the wave guides to help direct the high-end frequencies coming out of the tweeters to create the sweet spot you like. A sweet spot is the position between your monitor and yourself where they sound the best to your ears.

M-Audio AV42

This sweet spot fine-tuning works well if you are going to be sitting in the same place all the time. If that is the case, you can tune the monitors and then move on. It is less helpful if you plan to move around or listen to the audio playback from various heights (like standing when using a mic on a floor stand as well as sitting at a desk while mixing.)

The size of these two models of monitors is nearly identical with the AV40 being just a bit larger than the newer Av42. The AV40 has the dimensions of width 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) by depth 7.3 inches (18.5 centimeters) by height 8.8 inches (22.4 centimeters).

M-Audio AV42 vs. AV32

M-Audio AV42
Front-panel 1/8-inch stereo auxiliary input for connecting your audio sources, 1/8-inch headphone output, and volume control.

The M-Audio AV42 and the AV32 are easy to compare. Think of the model AV32 as the little brother of the slightly larger and much more powerful AV42 model. The AV32 has a one-inch silk cone tweeter and a three-inch polypropylene-coated cone in the woofer. The AV32 woofer is one inch smaller, at three inches, so the bass response is less punchy than the larger AV42 model with its four-inch woofer. They both use ferrofluid for cooling.

The design is similar between both models in this series, just scaled down for the AV32 model. They both are made from medium-density fiberboard (MDF) covered by a black laminated vinyl finish. They both have wave guides to direct the high-frequency sound.

For the AV series, M-Audio removed the speaker grills (covers) so that the wave guides will not be impaired. The wave guides broaden the sound coming from the tweeters to give a larger, more accurate sound stage (aka sweet spot).

M-Audio AV42
4-inch polypropylene-coated woofer for tight, accurate bass.

I did notice the height of the monitors changes the sound significantly, which is more noticeable with the AV32 speakers than the larger AV42 model. Play around with different monitor heights when you are fine-tuning the directions to set the wave guides until you find a spot that is “just right” as Goldilocks would say.

The AV32 monitors are noticeably smaller. The dimensions are width 5.2 inches (13.2 centimeters) by depth 5.9 inches (15.0 centimeters) by height 7.5 inches (19.1 centimeters). The weight is 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms).

The largest difference is the sound output. The AV32 has only 10 watts per channel (a total of 20 watts). This is half the size of the VA42 that offers 20 watts per channel with a total of 40 watts.

It is interesting to see the reviews from a few years back that praise the AV32 monitors like this one from Andrei Roman. They really hold up and are still popular many years later. At four minutes into this video, there is a sound test. Enjoy the goofy dancing, while you get some idea of how these monitors sound. You will not learn about the quality because that depends on the way you listen to the video; however, you can get a general idea about the sound volume and the presence of the bass in the mix.

Another video from Digital DJ Tips compares the AV32 and AV42 models. The reviewer also talks about the improvements made over the previous models of AV30 and AV40 that these new models replaced.

The opinion of this reviewer is similar to mine. The AV32 and AV42 models are not going to give the same quality as more expensive professional studio reference monitors. They do add some sound coloration that while pleasant to the ear may not be wanted for those seeking an actual true reference sound. However, all-in-all, the price point of the AV42 monitors is reasonable for what they offer. They are quite useful and represent an exceptional value for the money.

Honestly, I don’t think the price difference between the two models justifies getting the lower-powered AV32 model. Having only 10 watts of power for each speaker is too little for my tastes. Even if I am not driving my speakers at full volume, I like them to have the capability to increase volume. With more room to increase the power, the sound is better, with less distortion.

I like to test monitors when running them at half the maximum power output rating. For this reason, if I wanted to get a pair of the M-Audio monitors in this series, I would readily choose the AV42 model over the AV32 model to get more power.

M-Audio AV42
Universal compatibility with tablets, computers, or mobile devices.

In this video from the manufacturer, you can see the AV32 model sitting on top of the larger AV42. It shows the attention to detail that the manufacture used when deciding to remove the grill and upgrade these monitors with wave guides. The poly material used for the woofer is strong enough to take a poking by a finger and bounce back without damaging the driver.

You can connect your computer to the back of the active speaker and then you can also connect another device to the aux input on the front of the speaker. When you plug in headphones on the front, this cuts the speaker sound. The headphone volume can be controlled by the volume knob, also found on the front.

What Others Think of the M-Audio AV42 Monitors

This music producer from Powercoat Music explains why it is important to have high-quality monitors in a home recording studio. The recommendation is to use one set of good monitors and stick with them to train your ear. The idea is to make a mix that works as best as possible on many different sound systems.
Toward the end of this video is an explanation of how to place the monitors for the best sound. The manufacturer recommends placing them three to five feet apart and away from the listener to form an equilateral triangle, with the listener’s head centered. Then, angle the monitors slightly inward so that they face you. Also, be sure to place them at least three feet away from the nearest wall or other flat surfaces to avoid any unwanted sound reflections.

The bottom line is that the AV42 are reasonably priced and work well for hearing a bit more of bass if that is your preference. The bass is strong from a monitor set without a subwoofer but not overpowering.


The M-Audio AV42 monitors are a superb choice for those that expect their monitors to do the triple duty of being wonderful for playing video games, listening to media, and mixing audio for home studio recordings/video productions. They provide an excellent reference sound and have some nice coloration that makes listening to them also enjoyable for regular purposes, such as gaming. One of my favorite things to do is to make the mixes of audio files for video game development using these monitors as my reference.

Your Best DealM-Audio AV42

M-Audio AV42

Top features

  • Class A/B architecture
  • 20 Watts Per Channel Amplifier
  • Optimized Bass Reflex Sound and Crystal-Clear Highs

Check price →

If you want to see my thoughts about other studio monitors, be sure to check out my reviews of My Top-19 Home Studio Monitors. Happy mixing!

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