Elite Acoustics Designs’ Sunburst Gear M3BR8 could be the most useful multipurpose monitoring tool I’ve ever used. Is it a studio monitor, instrument monitor, sound reinforcement speaker, Bluetooth-ready portable DJ/KJ rig, remote-location battery-powered portable PA, or a three-channel mixer with limited EQ? Actually, it’s all of those and more.
Designed, built, and tested in the U.S., the M3BR8 ($349.99 street) is notably well-built and ideal for mobile artists/recordists, such as those who frequently find themselves performing and producing on the go. The magnetically shielded, front-ported M3BR8 features a 5¼in. woofer and 1in. tweeter; three input channels featuring XLR and TRS inputs plus 1/8in. auxiliary jack with volume knob; three-band master EQ; long-lasting 15-plus-hour rechargeable battery; AC/DC operation; Bluetooth playback-ready; separate USB input and charge ports; and 35-millimeter bottom pole mount with a very sturdy overall build quality and road-ready design.
The M3BR8 surprised me with its studio monitor-level performance, as it’s built to handle small sound reinforcement tasks, too. Trust me, this is no typical portable PA; I’d feel comfortable mixing on MM Series speakers as well as listening for enjoyment because they sound great and are relatively accurate.
Providing comprehensive I/O for its channel count, the M3BR8 allowed me to employ the system as singer/songwriter sound reinforcement (just add microphone), a city sidewalk busking PA, a superb-sounding keyboard monitor, and—my personal favorite—no-nonsense studio monitors.
Solid as a brick, everything about the speaker feels high quality, from its knurled aluminum pots, carbon fiber-look covering over thick wood cabinetry to its minimalistic, sleek steel handle. The look is a tossup between modern-day design and lab coat-era recording products. As such, Sunburst Gear’s MM Series is effortlessly hip, perhaps without trying to be.
Next, I lent the MM pair to a local house of worship that employed the speakers in multiple ways: as a wireless “cry room” auxiliary speaker, a musician’s monitor for their extracurricular praise band, and small group, voice- and playback-only PA system. Those I quizzed at the church afterwards were very impressed with the MM Series. Most notably, they explained that the speakers filled their needs in a way that eliminated two to three other products they relied upon in the past. They also liked the M3BR8’s Bluetooth features; in small group meetings, they played back smartphone-based material via the feature with seamless results—proving its user-friendliness amongst pro audio novices.
Based on their feedback, I expect that they will ultimately buy a pair, or possibly two, and one non-Bluetooth model (M3R8). Based on overall quality and flexibility alone, I predict a growing buzz around the Sunburst Gear brand in 2015 based on the MM Series in particular. A 6-input MM Series speaker, the M6BR8, is due later this year with a few extra features. Don’t pass up the chance to audition a pair.
Strother Bullins is NewBay Media’s reviews editor, AV/Pro Audio Group, active musician, recordist, and club-level sound reinforcement wrangler. email@example.com
COMPANY: Elite Acoustics | sunburstgear.com/prod_speaker.html
PRODUCT: Sunburst Gear M3BR8 All-In-One Rechargeable Bluetooth Monitor
PROS: One of the most flexible powered speakers I’ve ever used; impressive build quality/US designed and built; internal rechargeable battery or AC power; compact and easy to transport
CONS: None noted
APPLICATIONS: Studio/recording, live/sound reinforcement, and most anything in between
PRICE: $449.99 list (M3BR8)