Over the past five years, LA-based software company Output has become one of the most innovative brands in the game. Since their initial launch, they’ve gone on to release groundbreaking software, high-quality studio furniture, and now their latest venture, studio monitors. Previewed at NAMM what seemed like a lifetime ago, the company finally released their latest offering, Frontier, a pair of studio monitors made in collaboration with none other than leading speaker company Barefoot Sound.
Frontier features bespoke 6.5″/1.25″ coaxial aluminum alloy drivers designed and tuned by Thomas Barefoot for a flat anechoic response and low distortion. Frontier’s solid walnut base isolates the speakers and makes each one unique, while the bifurcated soft white LED light provides a pleasant visual accent. They also feature an ECO mode to make sure you’re not wasting power.
Unlike headphones, where, save for the break-in period, each pair should sound just about the same, studio monitors are much more challenging to accurately review. There are plenty of reasons why, but the main reason is that everyone’s room is different, and the tiniest adjustments to the monitor positioning can have a big impact on the overall sound. That being said, once you know your room, the adjustment period is dramatically decreased.
As for me, I’ve been working in my current space for almost two years, so I know my room well. When I first saw the monitors, I was instantly in love. From a design perspective, they are amazing. A sleek combination of natural and industrial design. The contrast between the wood and housing is very pleasing to the eye. The LED light also adds a dash of modernism.
While that’s all great and dandy, the real question is, how do they sound? To reference my standard setup, I use a pair of Genelec 8040s. They are punchy, highly detailed, and I love them. Upon first firing up the Frontiers, I noticed two things about them. First, they were extremely detailed. Almost equally as much, if not the same as the Genelecs, with perhaps a tiny boost in the highs. Second, there was a scoop in the low-mid region. It was very noticeable at first. So much so I was almost turned off but, but I decided to stick it out and see if I could get past it.
Fast forward to today, and I can confirm I don’t really even notice it anymore. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve had them at this point, but I have most certainly put them through the paces. I’ve produced countless tracks on them and can say without hesitation that these monitors are absolutely fantastic. The attention to detail is something Barefoot has become known for, and these are prime examples of that. Whilst I can’t say they are absolutely flat, their EQ curve is killer. I would love to compare them to a pair of actual Barefoots one day to see how they stack up. A nice little feature they have is that they come with a dampening pad for them to sit on.
Overall, the Frontier monitors are something Output should forever be proud of. Their quality standards translate across the board, both in design and in user experience. While these may not be the cheapest pair of monitors you’ll buy, they certainly are the cheapest if you want a pair of Barefoot-powered ones. That being said, they also won’t break your bank either, and I actually find their $1,399 price tag to be very reasonable, especially since they come as a pair.
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