Not everyone has an expansive amount of studio space for recording and listening to their productions afterward. As well, not everyone has a huge budget to spend on gear or an endless amount of help to take supplies to a gig. But even when these factors appear to limit what you can buy for your studio or portable gear setup, that doesn’t mean you have to compromise quality. The Fostex PM0.3 monitor, in conjunction with the Fostex PM-SUBMini, exemplifies this.

On a basic level, the PM0.3 is a three-inch fiberglass cone woofer with a ¾-inch silk dome tweeter and D-class power amplifier. Fostex built the monitor with a wooden enclosure box for quality audio performance and considered the user’s convenience. Specifically, the compact design comes with a built-in digital 15W amplifier in each channel and left and right RCA and stereo mini inputs. For those on the other side of the pond, the PM0.3’s energy-saving features comply with ErP requirements.

The overall design comes in a choice of three colors, each with a matte finish. The LF driver features the three-inch cone speaker, and the HF driver the ¾-inch soft-dome tweeter. It provides a frequency response of 110Hz to 20kHz.

As Fostex’s first three-inch, two-way powered monitor speaker system, it’s compact enough for placing on a desk next to a PC, to be used with your MP3 player or iPhone, and is portable enough to be taken to gigs or any place you’re looking to have a decent system.

The PM-SUBMini easily works in conjunction with the PM0.3. At just five inches, the active subwoofer produces strong lows and also considers energy efficiency with its design. A stiff, sturdy fiberglass driver composes the diaphragm and center cap, while a 50W digital amplifier comes with a built-in PSU. A four-layer, wound voice coil assists with controlling mid and high frequencies.

Regarding compatibility, it meets the PM0.3 in terms of size and physical characteristics and also works with the newer PM0.1 speaker systems. With either compact speaker system, it can be used as a satellite speaker and provides variable crossover frequency control from 60 to 150Hz.

PM0.1 w/subMINI

PM0.1 w/subMINI

Design-wise, Fostex built this device with a closed enclosure and rafter-like front battle and added an RCA pin jack. The phase reverse switch assists with making adjustments to easily match the main speakers. And the 80dB device continues to feed the signal to the main speaker, even when the power is turned off.

Fostex further added an automatic energy-saving function. The subwoofer goes into sleep mode, in which it consumes only 0.5W after 15 minutes of no signal.

In terms of usability, the combination proves to provide a natural, quality sound as reference monitors and when used with a desktop computer. Their simplicity extends to functionality, with both essentially being plug-and-play devices that don’t need extensive configuration and tinkering to deliver a consistent, decent sound.

What comes out is fairly accurate of your mix. It might not be the best out there, but for under $300, it gives what could be described as honest and detailed, with wide and realistic sound positioning like higher-priced monitors. On the other hand, the quality is somewhat average, and while you get an accurate picture of your production, its soundstage has no height or depth.

Like the sound, the construction is more than serviceable. You’ll be able to count on it for getting to gigs and having it stay in one piece. The PM0.3 has its volume knob located on the back, and because of its small size, you’ll need to find something, like a shelf or wall mount, to position it for optimal listening.