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How to try out active monitors in shop?
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psykx
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#1
14th August 2011
Old 14th August 2011
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How to try out active monitors in shop?

Hey all,
I'm going to be heading to my local dv247 to test out my first set of monitor speakers, I'm going to try out the A7x, BM5a, KRK VXT8 and maybe the yamaha hm80. I reasonably sure they won't let me take all these monitors home to A/B and bring back the ones I don't want so I'm stuck with listening to them in the shop.

How am I going to tell which ones I will prefer in my room? Or should I just buy the ones I like the sound of most?
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14th August 2011
Old 14th August 2011
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Maybe best to play a good mix and a mix you know sounds bad. Pick the ones that pick out the flaw's in the mix the most and sound like the most easy to fix problems in the mix and to mix with.

Don't buy the ones that sound the best, as you don't want a monitor that makes stuff sound very good, you want one that is going to tell you what's going on.

The Adams and Dynaudio should be the most accurate in terms of detail. KRK may have the best low end.
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15th August 2011
Old 15th August 2011
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but won't the room sound change things too much?
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15th August 2011
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Get the Adams .. you won't be disappointed!

They make great monitors .. period!

That said, you can always start with the least expensive ones and upgrade if you don't like them. I work at a store in Chicago and don't have a problem with customers who do this.
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15th August 2011
Old 15th August 2011
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A couple of thoughts and things I have learned over the years.
Bring recordings you like and dislike but be careful about monitors that glaringly point out flaws, not that this isn't exactly what you should look for, but you will tend to pick monitors that over emphasize the higher frequencies because that is in part what allows you to hear many of the typical faults in the recordings. It's one reason why NS-10 and Sony 7506 phones are so popular for that type of forensic work. What you want is a good balance between revealing flaws and accuracy of the monitor.

Don't play them too loudly as the other monitors in the store are going to start vibrating creating a passive radiator effect to some degree which will muck with the low end.

Make certain the monitors you are supposed to be listening to are actually the ones playing. And the only ones playing.
With a wall of monitors this is not as easy as it appears and mistakes get made with the switching either by accident or on purpose.
I know it sounds stupid but I have seen it before and I don't mean it as an insult.

Take your time and make sure to go on an obscure day of the week. Early morning is best. Don't even think of going on a Friday-Sunday. You will just leave frustrated and probably with a headache.

Good luck and be sure to check the exchange policy before buying in case they don't sound good in your room!
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15th August 2011
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well some DV stores have a room with them on show, in fact if your lucky like me you can get some ex demo ones for a song (payed £47 for my Tannoys) so dont be afraid to ask them if they have some for demonstration perposes.
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The biggest challenge when trying out monitors in store (even if they have a dedicated treated room, like one of the local shops here does) is that the placement of the various models (i.e. relative side, front and back walls) is not the same. That makes for poor comparison - all monitors need to be in the same placement for any comparison to be valid. Further, is the placement of the demo models in the store's room (and the sound/treatment of the room itself) similar to the placement you'd use in your room (esp. as regards distance to the front wall as this affects bass response - if a particular model has variable room mode / baffle step compensation selection switch then this does not matter quite as much assuming the store set it appropriately)? Probably not.

The only way to be sure is to audition monitors in your own room. Not many places will let you demo in your own space, but use their room to make yourself a short list of candidates (like 3) and then rent them for a day (should only be around $20 ea - money well spent).
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15th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psykx View Post
but won't the room sound change things too much?
At least you'll be comparing them all in the same environment. Still gives them all a level playing field. These are all nearfields too. Shouldn't have them so loud that room has as much effect as you'd be concerned about with midfields and mains.

If you get them home and don't like them, take them back.
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15th August 2011
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That's not exactly true. The front wall always matters; the other walls may not matter as much, but still do.
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All the walls (and ceiling and floor) matter.
If they are all set up side by side, they will also be in different spots of the room.
Depending on room size, a foot can be a huge difference.

That being said, the only real way to know anything is to live with them for a while and see how they translate for you.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Granny Gremlin View Post
That's not exactly true. The front wall always matters; the other walls may not matter as much, but still do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seamus TM View Post
All the walls (and ceiling and floor) matter.
You both see I wrote that room doesn't have "..as much effect [with nearfields] as you'd be concerned about with midfields and mains" at appropriate listening levels, not that it didn't matter at all.

I'm letting the OP know to put his concerns in perspective. Don't be blasting the NF monitors at levels you'd never use in his workspace and exacerbate room effects disproportionately. I see dudes in monitor rooms all the time cranking up tiny little NFs like they are watching a Hollywood action film.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jomox View Post
Maybe best to play a good mix and a mix you know sounds bad. Pick the ones that pick out the flaw's in the mix the most and sound like the most easy to fix problems in the mix and to mix with.

Don't buy the ones that sound the best, as you don't want a monitor that makes stuff sound very good, you want one that is going to tell you what's going on.

The Adams and Dynaudio should be the most accurate in terms of detail. KRK may have the best low end.
I think this is really the best you can do besides trying them out in your place for a couple weeks. Bring in your own reference CD so that you have something to test other than what sounds great to you.
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Maybe you could bring your monitors in with you...
That might give you the closest thing to apples outside of actually buying something completely blind.
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How to try out active monitors in shop?

When confronted by a wall of speakers and a switchbox, try to find a reference. If they have a set of high end monitors there use that, or use one you're really familiar with. Always switch to that before switching to something else. Don't go back and forth between two choices. Your ear will always be drawn to the more exciting sound.

In my younger days. I sold stereos. I could turn someone's head completely around by switching through speakers in certain sequences while pointing out liabilities or attributes I wanted them to pay attention to. Usually I wanted them to have the best sound for their budget, but if they'd gotten some strange notion of good sound (like a smiley scoop) from some other stores demo, I could pick a piece of music and jump around between very scooped speakers and really forward speakers to get them back to neutral. Just going from a smiley to accurate would end up sounding flat to them.
psykx
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17th August 2011
Old 17th August 2011
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I can bring the headphones I'm using to mix with at the moment, that sound like a pretty good plan. The gear shop does have a room for demoing monitors which isn't that small and has a little treatment on the walls. All the monitors are crowded around an imac and are on different levels so you can just move the height of your ears rather than a whole bunch of speakers.

I was thinking of a prodigy tune, a dubstep tune, some old soul, a couple of my mixes and maybe some dj shadow stuff. Am I right in thinking that I only need to test out the type of music I want to mix/produce?
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17th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psykx View Post
How am I going to tell which ones I will prefer in my room? Or should I just buy the ones I like the sound of most?
You can't really tell which you will prefer in your room (for sure), but you can minimize your chances of buying something that you hate:

If you have the pleasure of listening (unlike some of us), consider the following basics. You probably know most of this like the back of your hand, so consider this a general reminder list for all of us (including myself):

- take your time, don't be in a rush, don't let others hurry you, pick a spot when you have time and there are few other customers if possible

- move the speakers around: against the back wall, away from wall, on a desk, listen really near, a bit further away, listen for off-axis coloration esp. (a sign of uneven power output across the whole FR range in all directions).

- always bring your own music, music you know intimately, pref. your own mixes. Different genres, wide variablity, but of course mostly the type you intend to work on.

- bring also harsh, stringent and "hard on the ears" type music. Play it a bit louder for a while and 'feel' (don't analyze) if you start to cringe.

- if you have many contenders, eliminate fast to have more time to listen to the real candidates. 15minutes doesn't tell you everything, unless you are one of those freaks of nature who have a perfect echoic memory and a buillt-in flawless RTA

- if you find a couple of pairs that you like, put them in various positions, perhaps even ask to move to a smaller room (if you have your own portable audio source, this might be easier). Compare in different placements / settings

- use the compensation switches to test for desk, back-wall, etc placement fixing, but don't be fooled into believing you can fix a bad sounding speaker (to you!) with them.

- in bass frequencies you are going to get standing wave nodes that are powerful and these are mostly the same regardless of the speaker (just volume/track dependent and partially lowest extension). And you can't find these in a room that is not the final listening room. So don't sit in axial room mode maximums, move yourself or the speaker to have at least some kind of idea of the speaker, not the room.

- if you use a very specific audio source gear with a very esoteric output impedance (analog outs), then brigng it along. Unlikely for most pros, but good to keep in mind for some DIY / boutique stuff.

- Make notes, esp about first impressions. After listening for long time, you are most likely to forget, get mixed on what you heard from which speaker and what was bad, etc.

- sleep over it. Go again and have a final last go. If it was superb yesterday, it needs to be also better than others today. Don't buy on an instant whim, monitors can be longer term love affairs (or hate affairs if you choose badly).

Of course, the more money you are going to spend (out of your own budget), the more important this is.

IMHO, YMMV, etc.

Good luck with your purchase!
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17th August 2011
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If you can get a nice clean recording of a female voice you know well like your mother, sister, girl friend, wife etc take that with you. Just talking will do.
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