Link: Reloop — Price: €499/£440 per pair

Reloop Wave 8 studio monitor review (10)

Introduction

While we DJs seem to focus on the lumps of gear that we immediately touch, we often forget the back-end of our setup, which in many ways is perhaps the most important. There’s no point on harping on about the lack of quality in MP3s if you’re pushing your sets out through your nan’s old stereogram. And this was a lesson I learned a couple of times over as I’ve upgraded my speakers. So despite my old ears, I’ve become keener on having at least good quality monitors chucking music out at me. I run the ubiquitous KRK Rokit 8s in the studio, so I do have a recognised reference point to test out these Reloop Wave 8 monitors current sat atop heavy weight speaker stands. But how to they compare to a better know and industry standard brand?

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In a nutshell…

The Reloop Wave 8 monitors are active (i.e. powered with a built-in amp) studio monitors, designed for studio and performance use. They come with a wealth of inputs, but also have a cool feature in the shape of the volume and input selector remote, which is pretty much the same as the one employed on Pioneer S-DJ05 and 08 monitors.

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First impressions

There is a general theme with technology that if it’s German, it’s likely to be aesthetically reserved and border on minimalist. Well these Wave 8s certainly eschew the curves and brightly coloured cones of other brands and have a decidedly stoic monochrome theme. The cabinet is a rectangular seamless block of what I assume is MDF with rounded edges complete with black cones and flashes of silver trim. Viewed from the side, the Wave 8s are a black block, but this lends weight to the overall feeling of high quality. There’s a big white light on the top to let you know that the monitors are powered up, which is kind of useless in most cases, as we tend to sit lower than our monitors anyway. Thankfully, the selector light on the front is plenty bright enough to make up for it.

If you hadn’t already worked out the nomenclature of monitors, the number usually refers to the driver size, and in this case the Wave 8s come complete with impressive 8″ drivers. Right underneath is a full width reflex port — for those not familiar with such things, as the driver moves in and out to create the sound, the air behind it has to go somewhere otherwise the sound quality is compromised. Sometimes it’s a hole in the back, but as is popular on many monitors, a slot is cut into the front of the cabinet. Without it, your carefully crafted audio is likely to sound dull, especially at louder volumes.

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Inputs

Being an all-purpose workhorse, the Wave 8s come with a full complement of inputs. As with almost every other monitor, Reloop provide balanced XLR and TRS, but usefully also chuck in unbalanced RCA as well. For someone like myself who works with an ever-changing setup, being able to plug in a number of devices separately is rather nice. On the back of each Wave 8 is a selector for each input. But if you link them with the supplied cable, you can switch between them from one speaker. But the really big plus point of the Wave 8s comes via…

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The Remote

As previously mentioned, this is just about the same as the one used on Pioneer’s S-DJ05 and 08 monitors. Essentially, it plugs into the back of one of the Wave 8s, and assuming that you’ve linked the Wave 8s up with the aforementioned link cable, the remote can be used to remotely control the volume of both units, as well as remotely switch inputs and mute the audio too. It’s a 3m cable, so you can be some way from the monitors and easily control the key aspects of them. I absolutely love the remote — having just taken delivery of a Focusrite Forte audio interface, having a big knob on my desk to reach over to and control levels rather than have to mess around with individual pieces of software. So if I were to find  myself without a big knob on my desk, I’d be lost now. I’ll let you fnarr at than for a while.

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How do they sound?

Here we go again — the moment when I cringe at having to proffer subjective audio based opinions and make sense. Firstly, they’re not as directional as others. In an ideal environment, you’d set the monitors up in a triangle — monitors at two corners facing you in the third. This gives wonderful separation as well as pointing the drivers directly at you. With my KRKs, if I step outside of the triangle, especially walk away from it, the sound doesn’t fill the worxlab quite as much as the Wave 8s do. I suspect that this is deliberate and makes them more attractive to a wider group of buyers who perhaps would like to use them for performing live as well as in the studio.

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Before we talk about the actual sound, let’s have a look around the back to see what else the Wave 8s offer from a tweakability perspective. Obviously there is a volume control (which I pushed to max and let the remote do the work), but there are also 3 more controls specific to sound characteristic:

HF Trim: Gives you a ±2db adjustment on the top end.
LF Trim: Gives you a ±2db adjustment on the low end.
Acoustic Space: Apparently does something clever with the environment space to compensate for closely walls or something. I’ll translate this to “push up the bass and feel the thump”. It’s very noticeable when you have you hand on the cabinets.

The Wave 8s by design have a very linear response curve, which in the factory settings means pretty lifeless. Obviously a deliberate move so that studio people have a reference point to work to. But for me, the Wave 8 monitors came alive when I boosted everything on the back, and added some EQ love from my Mac. It’s when you tweak away that you’ll get the Wave 8s to sing just as you want them, or equally can run as linear as you like. And the louder the better too — at low volumes they’re merely OK. But pushed is where they work the best.

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Summing Up

The Reloop Wave 8 monitors are a jack or all audio trades. Not strictly studio monitor nor loudspeaker, they cater for the needs of a wide range of people, from producer and DJs to people wanting a very versatile yet visually innoffensive audio setup at home. I have very few issues with the Wave 8s to be honest — as an unproven brand, people might have some doubts but they shouldn’t really. I’d happily use these as my day to day monitors, knowing that I could very quickly repurpose them if I needed to perform in a small space. The sound quality is flat with enough room to boost it to a more lively quality, and the remote is the ever-so-handy cherry on the top.

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I suppose it comes down to value really. The natural competitor is the Pioneer S-DJ08, which comes in at around £600 (£425 if you go for the s_DJ05) a pair compared to the £450 mark for a pair of Wave 8s. I’ll also chuck the KRK Rokit 8s into the mix, if only because I have them, and they’d most likely be considered by potential buyers, which come in at around £400 a pair. When compared, the Wave 8s do really well, as they’re a much more complete package, but maybe acoustically trail behind the KRKs which despite the lack of settings on the back just please my ears more. Nobody ever really went wrong buying Pioneer of course, and I’m not sure that you’d really suffer much by going for the 05s over the 08s unless you really needed the additional power. You can of course scale all three down and do a comparison between the 5″ versions, and still come up with a similar, if cheaper conclusion.

Sound wise, I’d stick with KRK, but I’d really miss the remote. Yes, it’s a really cool feature that I’d happy to have now. All I can say is that for a less known brand, the Reloop Wave 8 monitors stand their ground and are a contender if you’ve got a £300-500 budget.

Ratings

Quality Excellent. Built to last, which if you plan to play out with them at all is a plus.

Features Hard to beat. The tweakability of the sound is excellent, but the real draw is the remote

Value High. The build is top-notch, the feature set high and priced very favourably in the market

Bottom Line

If you’re after a very versatile pair of studio monitors that deliver excellent sound and a rack of features, consider the Wave 8s.

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