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xanderbeanz
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4th December 2012
Old 4th December 2012
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Active Monitors or some Vintage Speakers + Amp?

I posted this originally in the "Low End" forum, but they're being totally useless and after 300 views no one's given me an answer, so i thought i'd give our boys a go coz you're a knowledgable lot

Here goes:

So i record in an untreated bedroom, and get pretty decent results, i record and mix there, and then master through ipod headphones on a macbook running Izotope ozone, with much A/B'ing of commercial tracks. I get results which sound nice and crisp and loud on an ipod/car/hifi.

So the results are fine, but i'm using a big old Panasonic Hifi (not seperates) and it's speakers to mix on at the moment, and it takes up alot of space on my desk.

I'm upgrading my studio, switching from an old faithful Soundblaster Audigy (I know it's consumer grade shit, but as I said, i get decent results) to an Akai EIE Pro, and to go with that I'd like a more aesthetically pleasing setup.

I like the look of the Fostex PM0.5 monitors (the white ones) which would seriously save alot of space, but i'm wondering if a smallish amp (i mean, any HIFI component amp would seriously take up less vertical space than this hifi) and a pair of nice Technics/JVC/Wharfedale speakers would suit my requirements just as well, and be quite a bit cheaper. Some of them old 80's speakers look lovely with the front grilles off!

It IS an untreated room, so maybe the speakers would be fine.

Thanks for reading, I'm aware this is all seriously low end stuff.
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4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
but i'm wondering if a smallish amp (i mean, any HIFI component amp would seriously take up less vertical space than this hifi) and a pair of nice Technics/JVC/Wharfedale speakers would suit my requirements just as well, and be quite a bit cheaper.
I say absolutely.

Just try to get your hands on some largish 3-way (or more ) speakers, as i have a feeling that those will in the end be slightly better for monitoring duties than the tiny two way "hi-fi" stuff that seems to be so common out there.

Don't even think of getting a low end satellite+sub system, even though it is physically small, the eq curve on those is often terrible.


I asked a similar question on here, and the general consensus was that proper hi-fi speakers with a reasonably even frequency curve will do fine for monitoring, they are just not near-field speakers, so you can't really place them on your desk and expect good results.
But placed properly they should give you a good image of the music.
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4th December 2012
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im assuming you make electronic music with a bit of bass and if so I would go atleast a 6.5in driver speaker , maybe 8in if you have a reasonable size room

pretty much any monitor would be a step up , if you can afford a little more than those fostex you can probably get a pair of mid level monitors like the yamaha hs series , jbl 23xx series , heaps of others like event , mackie , smaller adams. lots of different options , best way is to audition a heap at a music store

the vintage hifi depends on the gear , some great relatively accurate stuff that works quite well , but lots of very "hyped" sounding gear especially in the low end range . I worked for a while on a small set of 80s uk celestion hifi bookshelf speakers and they were pretty good , but they were a "monitor" sort of sounding speaker anyway , relatively clean and flat sounding. large boomy and splashy big main room floor standing speakers can be more difficult.

remember you can make music on anything if you know the sound of it well enough and check it on enough systems . but you will probably find a monitor speaker will be quicker and easier work on , with less referencing and less changes required . it will put you in a closer ball park straight away.
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4th December 2012
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You didn't say what kind of cash is available for the speaker upgrade. Put a sum of money in the pot and no doubt you will be besieged with suggestions.
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4th December 2012
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The best I found for cheap was Tascam VLX5, think theyre upgraded now but still cheap?
Didnt like the KRK and Yamaha ones I tried, but the Tascams had good reviews and good sound.
Actives chosen for small footprint as well, amps take up space and are an extra expense I dont need (Im very, very cheap ... )
Room treatment Im honestly not that convinced is essential unless your room is a concrete box or such and you cant avoid a bad placement of the speakers.
But Im sure ill be told off for that
Not a pro, hardly a musician.
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4th December 2012
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Money is around £200-300, sound quality is important (although as has been said elsewhere, anything will be a step up) but aesthetics are also important, any good lookin' good soundin' speakers will do me. Fine to buy second hand.

And music wise, i do like my bass, but aswell as electronic stuff i do quite a bit of rock and orchestral work.
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4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
Money is around £200-300, sound quality is important (although as has been said elsewhere, anything will be a step up) but aesthetics are also important, any good lookin' good soundin' speakers will do me. Fine to buy second hand.

And music wise, i do like my bass, but aswell as electronic stuff i do quite a bit of rock and orchestral work.
honestly, for that money i would go with a Quad power amp (306 or higher) with alesis monitor ones, which have a good frequency range... they go very low
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4th December 2012
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If you have decent headphones I'd let go of some of the bass in favour of better everything else for that cash and go Equator D5.
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It seems that aestetics play a large role in getting monitors. I.e. smaller = looks better on a small desk.

And of course that is a fair consideration if you have to live in your studio as well. As many of us do.



But wouldn't it stand to reason that you'd get better sound quality by getting a really nice used pair of hi-fi speakers rather than spending that little money on some of the cheapest monitors you can get?

I see all these recommendations to get "real" monitors, but really doubt wether a new pair of speakers in this price range can in any way beat a solid used pair of hi-fi speakers, that probably cost a lot more when new.
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I like the look of these KRK's:



What's the scoop on these? Anyone used them? £329 for a pair on eBay.
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I got a pair of Kef 104ab which sound excellent (they are usually around the £100 mark I think) but I mix on dynaudios and am glad I spent the money 10 years ago..getting used to speakers is the main thing and I have no reason to change (although the new Neumann's are tempting)
I agree that for sub £300 it's tough but around that price some may be good. I have little experience though.
In any case, Kef are excellent from that era and affordable. Take up space though.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
I like the look of these KRK's:



What's the scoop on these? Anyone used them? £329 for a pair on eBay.
any monitor with a duct on it will not give accurate frequency response near the duct. .
how near depends on the design.

i see this allot in the gearporn thread.. guys with not much room using ducted monitors. sitting too close and having the monitors too far appart making that effect worse...

there's nothing inherently wrong with them... some of the most high end and accurate monitors have air ducts... just something to bear in mind: placement is more critical with ducted monitors

cosed cased monitors with half-spherical cones are the best for small rooms with close listening positions as this shape pushes soundwaves out equally in all directions. none of these in your price range though..

having said that.. there should be technical specs available on just how close is too close to use on any particular monitor.. google the specs
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i've got alesis m1's. very good for the price and very cheap second-hand.
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Take a look at the Equator Audio D5s. They're $300 USD, small, good looking, and sound good. Tape Op had a glowing review of them earlier this year. SOS reviewed them favorably this month. I previously had Tascam VLX5s --- the D5s are a nice step up.

The bass doesn't have a lot of punch. I'm using a subwoofer with mine. I don't push mine very hard so I can't comment on how they do at high volume.
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4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
If you have decent headphones I'd let go of some of the bass in favour of better everything else for that cash and go Equator D5.
I have read about the Equator D5 in the Low End Theory forum for the first time yesterday. After that I did a little bit of research and I guess those will be my next speakers. A lot of people (amateur & pro) praise those ones. The only thing I don´t get is the DSP thingy. Do they emulate something? Something that is more suited toward small studios (in terms of space/room)?

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4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
I like the look of these KRK's:



What's the scoop on these? Anyone used them? £329 for a pair on eBay.
I use those. I can't give a comparative A/B or suggest alternatives though. What everyone says about the muddy (and perhaps exaggerated) bass of the cheapest KRK line rings true to me. It was a big upgrade for me, from the original Alesis Monitor One through a low end technics amp (These KRKs are active powered). I think you can learn them with a bit of translation testing, like any monitors I suppose. There may be better options for the price, I don't know, Yamaha or Mackie maybe? If I were getting something else it would probably be in double that price range. We get what we pay for after all. But these suit my personal needs just fine and I don't feel like I need something more at this time.
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As far as I know they tune the dsp thingy at the factory and it isn't adjustable. Only something they use to achieve the sound of the wee things, wouldn't call it emulating anything.
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The key to any monitoring system is really "knowing it." That said, most commercial stereo speakers are very "kind" in a sense that they impart a lot of coloring to a basic signal and very often offer "spread" over "stereo image" because they don't want to have a small "sweet spot" where one person in the room hears a great mix and everyone else gets something very "off." This is why "near field" monitors are horrible as home stereo speakers, and vise versa.

My monitors are ugly. Big black monolithic boxes. Yeah, it would be awesome if I had something beautiful, but I went with the best sounding quality studio monitors I could afford at the time. I think you'd be much happier in the long run if you do too, as no matter what you put in your studio, after a while it's just part of the wall paper in a sense. My wife is always asking me if I want some kind of nice furniture to make my studio look better and I always think, "Why spend money on something that doesn't make a sound!?"
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4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
My wife is always asking me if I want some kind of nice furniture to make my studio look better and I always think, "Why spend money on something that doesn't make a sound!?"
Because how you feel when in that studio will have a measurable effect on what sounds you end up making in there? Maybe your wife knows this....
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I wonder if just turning the bass down on my computer would counteract the KRK's bass heaviness, or is that too damned simple, I mean, there's gotta be some kind of half a page post coming on why you can't just put an eq in your signal path to bring out the best of certain speakers.

I'm looking forward to a science lesson
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Well, in practice you would have tested your mixes on different systems. So if you are hearing too much bass in your studio, you would know if it was actually too much or just sounding like too much in your listening environment. The treatment of your room, or lack thereof is the bigger obstacle IMO. Considering that, the most effective EQ for monitoring might be inside your mind, regardless of what monitors you use.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
I wonder if just turning the bass down on my computer would counteract the KRK's bass heaviness, or is that too damned simple, I mean, there's gotta be some kind of half a page post coming on why you can't just put an eq in your signal path to bring out the best of certain speakers.

I'm looking forward to a science lesson
it would help correct the frequency response. transient response on the other hand...can't do much about that
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I hate the small KRK's, boxy and blah...

Equator D5

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4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rooftree View Post
Take a look at the Equator Audio D5s. They're $300 USD, small, good looking, and sound good. Tape Op had a glowing review of them earlier this year. SOS reviewed them favorably this month. I previously had Tascam VLX5s --- the D5s are a nice step up.

The bass doesn't have a lot of punch. I'm using a subwoofer with mine. I don't push mine very hard so I can't comment on how they do at high volume.
seconded. i have the D5s; really love 'em. they don't take up much space, and they sound so good! very transparent and flat. they expose everything you're putting into your music. they're less than 2 feet away from my ears, and i don't listen at anything approaching high volume, so i can't comment on how well they'd fill a room at a distance. but they're startlingly awesome for near-field usage.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
I wonder if just turning the bass down on my computer would counteract the KRK's bass heaviness, or is that too damned simple, I mean, there's gotta be some kind of half a page post coming on why you can't just put an eq in your signal path to bring out the best of certain speakers.

I'm looking forward to a science lesson
I dont see this as a problem in a certain aspect like to EQing your room

but the old phrase "more harm than good if you dont know what you're doing" springs to mind.
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4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlmorley View Post
I got a pair of Kef 104ab which sound excellent (they are usually around the £100 mark I think) but I mix on dynaudios and am glad I spent the money 10 years ago..getting used to speakers is the main thing and I have no reason to change (although the new Neumann's are tempting)
I agree that for sub £300 it's tough but around that price some may be good. I have little experience though.
In any case, Kef are excellent from that era and affordable. Take up space though.
Agreed. I own a pair of KEF 103.2 precision series which I absolutely love! they're flat (enough) and sound superb. Some TLC and they sound much better than any "monitor" speaker in the sub 2K category. Pair them with a healthy amplifier and you're all set. Just take the time to learn how your system sounds.

I also know some people still mix on vintage JBL's. Hell, Bruce Swedien mixed "thriller" on such a pair... as you can see in the pic:

The Harrison 4032 Music Mixing Desk...
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Think about the Yamaha NS10M...It became the defacto standard for studio monitors worldwide...Not even great speaker really.. Pretty flat, and did a great job.. But it became a "universal reference"... That's what's important here.. "reference" You have to be able to know what you are mixing is going to fly. And that;s what always kind of puzzled me about the NS10m....( back to a universal reference)... So....also consider that sound systems in homes and commercial environments have evolved since the advent of the NS10m.... to me....in a studio working with sometimes very subtle elements....and also sometimes very dynamic prgoram.....you really want to be able to "reveal" everything...stip of all of the veneer....


There are a lot of off the shelf active studio monitors now that do that.. and do it well. the "Adams" The "JBL's", the "Mackie stuff". You want as flat as possible... Home stero speakers? NO,, absolutely not.. That stuff is all over the map. It might sound great when you are spending hours working on your mix.... and then you find out that it only sounds great on those speakers. Also...in an ealrier thread someone talked about putting their speakers on some styrofoam... spend a few extra dollars and properly isolate your speakers from your table that you are working on....Keep in mind that in a real studio...all of these acoustic issues were carefully considered and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to achieve the proper results.

I could reccomend a few separate power amp passive speaker combos that would be amazing... but not practical...the stuff you need is now there all in one package and can't argue with it
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NS10's are 'flat' now? How on earth did you come to that conclusion. About as 'unflat' as it gets.....
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I'd recommend a 2 way speaker system. A 3 way requires a greater listening distance ... in an untreated room, that's asking for problems.

Take a listen to the smaller Yamaha's. I think the Yamaha HS80M's might be too large for your room.
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I see absolutely no reason to get NS10's anymore in this day and age with so many better quality modern alternative. NS10's suck ass.

If your really worried about translation, get a pair of Avatones to supplement your main monitors...


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