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I need help picking monitors alpha 80s or focal trio6
Old 26th March 2016
  #1
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I need help picking monitors alpha 80s or focal trio6

Hey Guys im graduating from a music program, and im looking for life time studio monitor investment. I am already about 15 k in OSAP debt, and i am going to mix and master my own music and if the opportunity arises other peoples. Im focusing on being an artist, however still want professional quality mixes. Can i get to that point with Alpha 80s and will Alpha 80s be the only monitors i ever need.
The trios are 5997 Canadian which is A GREAT deal.
I calculated if i work 9-5 minimum wage job after all my likely expenses and over budgeting it would take me about 4 years to pay of OSAP and the 5997. with the osap interest rates at 3.5 and probably 1 percent for the speakers with student line of credit.
My teachers are Juno award winning engineers and producers, the head coordinator steve and emmy award winning composer Trevor Morris and Imanualez Ramirez suggest that i buy the monitors, regardless of the price. its a life time investment and will benefit my music greatly.
Other teachers say, save your self the debt and live without so much stress about debt, and buy alpha 80s and your mix will still be good and when i am making more money then go ahead and invest in trio6s. Spend the money on branding, promotions, (i dont really have all the music to start doing so, im just starting to make music worth buying so i want the quality to be that of high standard ) they also say you dont know if there will be some new speakers in two years that blow the trios6s out of the water.
and then you will have to get Studio acoustics regardless for about 280 (including stands) but thats payable.
looking for some perspectives on either commiting and just getting the 4 years of hard work and hard music and paying it off
or compromising for decent speakers and living life a little more care free.
if you guys could help me i really need help!
the trio6 become the same price as they are in US because of a new minimum wage being raised so retailers raise their prices.
But yeah its hard to decide when there are such successful people sugessting
Old 26th March 2016
  #2
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$6000 monitors $280 worth of treatment.
Old 26th March 2016
  #3
nms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Karloff View Post
$6000 monitors $280 worth of treatment.
I'm thinking there must be some misunderstanding there. Maybe he means IsoAcoustics stands?

That or he fell victim to advice from someone clueless about acoustics recommending some sort of foam room treatment kit.
Old 26th March 2016
  #4
Maybe he is being taught how to build his own DIY from his teachers he listed. IDK, for around $400 is what my expenses were and I was able to build 3 4ft X 8ft X 4" rockwool gobos, 4 703 4ft X 4 ft X 4" panels 4 4ft X 4ft X 4" rockwool panels and two roughly 2ft X 4ft X 8" triangular type corner bass traps.
This included wood, special fabric from a regular store, rockwool, and 703.

It was fun but was a learning curve. Also had an expert help me with placement of panels and which type of panels where. I could have learned the placement, but experience was needed to know where to put the 703 vs rockwool panels in the room. A weekend or two worth of work. I wonder what I could have got from GIK acoustics for $400 and how much time I woulda saved.

Room treatment is huge. Without proper treatment you may not hear or understand the value difference between the Alpha 8o vs the trio6, especially if you are just starting out. And yes new and improved monitors come out every 3-6 months, just like with most products, companies are always seeking to improve and innovate. Also it's best to hear / work on these monitors prior to "purchasing." ( Read: buy with full refund return policy and return within timeframe )

Also, how did you choose these two pairs? An entry level monitor (alpha) vs a pro level (trio6) huge gap between these to even compare especially for someone starting out.

If you treat your room first you will have a more accurate representation of what you are hearing.
Old 27th March 2016
  #5
I'll start with two statements.

1. Most things in life have a progression

2. At any point in time you are usually working to a reference.

Your ability to evaluate the monitors will depend on your ability to :

1. Hear them properly in an environment that brings out their best.

2. Your ability to translate what you hear and put it in perspective.

PROGRESSION

Let's start with progression.

Everything has a start, and can become better and better. Once upon a time 2 sets of hi fi monitors were on audition at a hi-fi store in a good room, and I could immediately tell that the cheaper speakers and amps were definitely less revealing than the much more expensive set (about 4 times more expensive).. Since then I have listened to many speakers, hi-fi, and studio, as well as mine, and the more I have listened and the more I have heard lots of different kinds of music in extended listening sessions, and become familiar with the music, and listening, it has become so much easier to hear the good, the bad and the ugly in all of these audio reproduction systems. Now it only takes me about 5 seconds of listening to immediately identify whats wrong or right, and the remaining 3 or 4 minutes of listening to a particular track, or other tracks is simply to confirm my 1st impressions, to be sure that my ears were not deceiving me. I have heard speakers costing up to $100,000. and as low in price as $220 per pair. The price is really not an issue or criteria but the more I listened, the more I knew what to watch out for.

I would suggest, you start off with a small investment in a good headphone (not ideal but a start) - something like an AKG 702 or similar, which has a good reputation - definitely something with an open back design. These cost about $220.

And any cheap desktop speakers with a subwoofer - those things by Logitech. Typically costing about $50 to $60, buy the best you can get at this price range.

Then spend a good few months listening to lots of music on these, and also where possible to the same tracks in music stores where monitors are on demo.

Where possible - find the best professional studio you can, and get familiar with how audio sounds in such studios. Where possible - listen to the same tracks in these studios.

Over time, your ear is being trained to hear the differences between the various tracks, and the different listening environments. No amount of listening to the opinions of others can replace your training your own ears to hear. With persistence, I assure you - one day soon enough, the Eureka moment will come when you realise that you are hearing - or better still, your brain is now better able to distinguish what it hears - with a lot more refinement than before - simply from a profound use of what you already have - ears.

At this time, when you now know what is the minimum acceptable clarity that is sufficient for your long term goal, you can pick with confidence a set of monitors that will last you the long term.

The two initial purchases I recommended, will then serve also as life long alternative references - not perfect references but each will highlight(exaggerate) certain aspects of any audio you play through them, and reconcile this to your ideal monitors, giving you a 2nd and 3rd opinion.

REFERENCE

Which audio tracks have you listened to, which in your opinion stand out for their almost out of this world ability to convey emotion, wither through their simplicity or masterful blend of a good number of instruments and voices. Identify a good number of these, which will change over time as you discover more of these, and each reference track will have certain things that they test in monitors. In my case - here are a few things that my reference tracks test :

1. Accuracy of bass,
2. Smoothness of frequency between bass and higher frequencies.
3. Can I hear clearly without artificial harshness, delicate instruments in the background.
4. Can I hear the location/panning of instruments in the left right plane.
5. Can I discern easily which instrument is placed in front of the other in the virtual 3D space..
6. Is the speaker able to tell me something specific about the kind of microphones, equalisation and compression used on especially voices.
7. How well can I perceive the room/reverb impressions of each instrument in the reference track?
8. Can I hear the difference in the voice - of the same singer, between sections of the same song and between different tracks on the same album - Do I know just by listening what type of processing was added.., especially where it is the same voice - the same lead singer...

A reference is some fixed point like a track you are familiar with, some variations in the same voice, across different tracks that you become familiar with, A drum beat that you - over time and listening on many different environments, to the same thing, have come to an understanding of what it should really sound like, in a perfect set of monitors, so you know how each monitor has exaggerated aspects of the sound.

Over time you will learn to trust your ears, as the 1st impressions will usually be right.

It is when you can hear much better, you will immediately hear the flaws in you listening environment also, and something will propel you to consider how to attenuate the flaws in your listening environment... And your ears will know when you have succeeded in fixing the flaws.

Now to answer your enquiry, having established a foundation.

A good monitor, must be coupled with a good listening environment, to deliver a transparent sound with the following qualities.

1. Very little hype in any part of the frequency spectrum.
2. An ability to present the music in such a way that you feel that the musicians are in front of you, and you can literally point at them, and know who is playing in front of the other - in the virtual auditorium that the speakers create.
3. Listening should be effortless.
4. It's impossible to fully answer your question in one blog post, but I would say you should hear only the direct sound from the monitors, with any reflections from walls extremely minimal. i.e at low volumes especially the only thing you should hear is the audio from the monitors and no sense of a reflected sound from the walls, which muffles and makes the audio indistinct, almost like a kind of small echo.

I'll add this, if you've never seen coal, how do you appreciate the luster of a diamond.

I was once fond of the Alpha 80's but further listening has made their flaws so apparent to me that I no longer recommend them. Unless you have an extensive amount of room treatment. Nevertheless I would still find it difficult to recommend them.

Please take some time to understand what makes a good monitor - i.e the technology.

Here are a few good things to look out for :

1. Non ported (sealed) monitors - Or monitors that are ported but which you can block the ports of, give you a more accurate if less impressive bass. This is my definite minimum recommendation. While you can via in built eq, adjust certain parameters of the low end, the physics of a ported monitor simply cannot be fully overcome. - Its simply a way for the manufacturer to cheat, and attempt to give you more for less, but the audio quality is always compromised, to some extent - Over time, I now hear the flaws in cheaper ported monitors clearly, since I upgraded my monitors to a non ported configuration. Its a night and day difference....Accurate bass is absolutely important and ported monitors are not a suitable substitute. Some of the industry noise - good noise about certain monitors - such as the Yamaha NS10M is cos they were non ported, with a more accurate non flabby bass. I now trust my ears as I have clearly head the difference between ported and non ported monitors. Sealed (Non-ported) is definitely better.

2. You must hear and decide what type of high frequency high end you want, cos they all sound different between the tweeter technologies for producing high end. Metal tweeters like Genelec and Focal, or soft dome like Presonus and many other, or ribbons like Adams... I seem to like soft dome speakers.

3. Do you want two ways or three ways - Alpha 80s are two way - tweeter and woofer, the Focal Trio 6 is a three way - tweeter, mid range and woofer. Good three ways cost more.

4. Do you like coaxial speakers where the tweeter is in or near the middle of the woofer?

5 Do you like a hyped mid range - like Genelecs (read this as a bit sharp sounding) or a more natural sound like Neumann KH 310.

Whatever you are going to invest in, with the exception of the headphones and cheap computer speakers I recommended, you must invest of more importance, the time to hear, to learn, to know what you like, before you put down the cash for your ideal monitors, and then over time, and extensive listening invest gradually in some method of acoustic normalisation of your room.

Please note acoustic treatment could be simple things like soft furnishing, curtains, filled book shelves, a sofa, a carpet, a bed that absorb most of the sound reflected off the wall.

Positioning the monitor properly so it points at your ears/head properly - it will take you a while to learn the positioning that gives you the best/most accurate representation of that particular speaker in your room. And adjust your sitting position also.

Its a journey that a simple acquisition of the best monitor in the world, is only the start of your journey to an ideal listening environment.

I'll close with this. Monitor quality is not something you can buy, unless you have enough to buy the services of a top flight acoustician to do this on your behalf. Even in this case, the ultimate responsibility is yours to - just as you would tweak a production, adjust your listening environment until it gives you what you consider to be the most authentic representation of the audio, within the constraints of what you can afford - room and equipment.

Please listen to you reference tracks on a good sealed monitor and this will serve as a good mental reference of how good these tracks can sound, especially in the low end, so whatever you choose, this high end reference will serve as a guide.
Old 28th March 2016
  #6
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Just buy the alphas till you actually are makeing the money to pay for something like the trios!
Old 31st March 2016
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocky Official View Post
Other teachers say, save your self the debt and live without so much stress about debt, and buy alpha 80s and your mix will still be good and when i am making more money then go ahead and invest in trio6s.
THIS... THIS.. Again .. THIS .. Im talking about mixing monitors. Not HUGE TRACKING MONITORS which some may or may not need . So read on..
Unless you are not a speaker builder or do not know anyone who is really good at building custom speakers , 1000-200$ is the sweet spot to aim for in the commercial market. Why? From my few years of understanding , if you start from the base models which cost around 200$ and go up , there are big leaps in sound quality until the 1000-2000$ range. This is where you find monitors that are a couple or more steps up in monitoring quality from the low end tier.
The higher you go from here the improvements in sound quality with respect to the amount of money spent gets less and less . When you get rich and get an income on a regular basis , you may get something very expensive.

Ive heard very bad mixes made on some expensive monitors (which I wont mention, they are good by the way) and mindblowing mixes made on the flattering krk. The rule is to audition a few good monitors and buy the one you like , learn them properly over time and pair them with a secondary reference like auratone 5c cubes. Such a speaker is of great help if you mix on a regular basis . Mixes translate better because you nail the mids.
I suggest you audition the following speakers (mid priced) before you make a decision. :-

APS KLASIK , EVE AUDIO SC208 / SC305 + TS108 SUB / sc307 , Presonus Sceptre s8
Old 31st March 2016
  #8
I have been using the Trio6Be at a clients spot, and all I can say is they are really incredible. Speakers are so personal, so its hard to say, but I really like them.
Old 31st March 2016
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
I have been using the Trio6Be at a clients spot, and all I can say is they are really incredible. Speakers are so personal, so its hard to say, but I really like them.
Can you see yourself getting rid of your CMS for them
Old 31st March 2016
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Karloff View Post
Can you see yourself getting rid of your CMS for them
If we put the Trio6's in the Lab, I would migrate the CMS-50 to my home studio,
Old 31st March 2016
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
If we put the Trio6's in the Lab, I would migrate the CMS-50 to my home studio,
Whats in your home studio now Doc
Old 31st March 2016
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Karloff View Post


Whats in your home studio now Doc
Focal CMS-40's.

SOOOOOOO,

To answer your next question,

I will migrate the CMS-40's to our office, where we test out gear,

WHICH,

Will replace my Focal Spirit Pro's, as that is all I have there at the moment


Old 1st April 2016
  #13
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I dont feel so bad with wanting to replace my CMS65 with trio 6 and getting a second set of spirit pros to replace my ATH50s in the gym.
Old 8th June 2016
  #14
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I've had Trio6s since they were in beta stage (I was one of the testers) and I've moved them through 2 studios (Florence-Berlin, yay) and worked on quite a good number of records and music since I've had them. Before I had Twin6 as mains and as secondary I had (and still have) NS-10s and Tannoy SRM-10Bs. Note: I am not a Focal rep nor do I work for them so there goes my honest flam.

The studio I had before and this I have now are completely different: day and night. One was a 18sqm room of an old house in Tuscany with a good careful tuning (without going crazy over it) this one is a 61sqm room created from the ground up to be a control room.

So the Trio6 went quite from heaven to hell (or the opposite, you decide) and I am pretty confident in what I am telling you. First off, nothing beats listening with your own ears, in your room and through your head. Mixing and such is a really subjective art, despite the technicalities.

This said, the Trio6s are really great to work with. They have all you need to get used to them and have mixes that translate. I don't see you have any problem -in the speaker- to have your mixes translate as you expect them. They are however, not easy to fit in any room. Front port, 3-way, they are certainly punchy in bass but they need a good room to start with. Now, you might say, "every monitor needs a good room" and that's true, meaning the better the room the better that good speaker you use is going to work for you. But I've worked with stuff that is easier to "fit" and other that is a bit harder. If your room tends to build bass, these won't be as easy as PMCs TwoTwo or the Twin6. They will feed on that bass buildup and give you a bit of a hard time.

Same in the low mids: they excel at giving you that 110-190Hz area that is often hard to get right. But if you have nulls or bumps there, you're going to have an even harder time. Mid-highs are present (3-way) and unforgiving if you have those 3k-5k nails but if in this case you should watch your distance from the actual speaker..as the blending will get weird (that's common to most 3-ways). Highs are the easiest to fit, we have them flat and the Focal tweeter is never too bright but has plenty of detail even for people in the far back of the room..and kinda open and 3d without the need of being nailed to the sweet spot.

This said, if you do keep good care of them, they work great "nearer" and "further". We have them at 3,15m from the listener and they still kick major behind. Translation's superb and they don't fear going up in volume (something the Focal line was a bit shy in: 'sheer volume blast', which to some engineers is something necessary..and I must say I've myself discovered that). Twin6 love to work at average level, they sound great at it. If you blast out they start going places. The Trio6s are even more solid than SM9s to me. Sub bass is there and needs no sub to me, I've been working on songs that have sub bass content (e.g. electronica stuff) and the clients have been always happy, I've never been surprised by more/less than I thought and I can high-pass exactly where I want to and be sure what I am hearing is there. I am not saying they are the key to take decisions in the subbass area because it's a thing that requires more than just the speakers. All I mean is the Trios themselves won't give you problem in that.

Bottom line: I believe once you put a good monitor in a good room, the rest is just chit-chat. Until your room is not right, you'll be changing monitors every month to find the solution. But it's not there. Trio6s are in that dirty dozen range of "good monitors". They work. They might not be your taste, try them and find out..but remember it's a matter of getting used to your monitors IN a good room. A bit more money on tuning the room will work better than a bit more money on the speakers.

Let me know if you need more help! Sheding money on these things is not a joke!
Old 8th June 2016
  #15
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To the OP......NO DEBT!! NO DEBT NO DEBT!!!! You are already starting in a hole with your student debt. Don't dig any deeper! When you have debt you are working for your debtors FIRST and not for yourself. For simplicity sake, lets say you have a student loan payment of $300 per month. You get a minimum wage job that pays you $10 per hour. That means you are working the first 30 hours every month for someone else! If you add to that your equipment and studio monitors etc you can simply add hours and money to that based on your minimum wage job.


Since you plan on being an artist and not really pursuing the technical high end recording business even as n intern somewhere, the less debt you have the more you will enjoy your art! There is an old saying that says the borrower is slave to the lender and that is 100% true. They own you, your time, your energy, your money, and your effort until you have them paid off. I believe to be the best artist you can be you need to have your mind and spirit as free as possible and not be beholden to anyone for debt if at all possible. Get out of your student debt ASAFP.....then take the momentum you will gain by paying off your debt and use that towards SAVING for what you want to buy. By going into debt you do get some instant gratification but that gratification wears off quickly the first time you cannot make your payment on said equipment.

I do some mentoring for some younger folks and this is ALWAYS a big lesson for them. NO DEBT! Don't be a slave for someone else!

Just my 2 cents.
Old 8th June 2016
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motoxxx View Post
To the OP......NO DEBT!! NO DEBT NO DEBT!!!! You are already starting in a hole with your student debt. Don't dig any deeper!

(...)

I do some mentoring for some younger folks and this is ALWAYS a big lesson for them. NO DEBT! Don't be a slave for someone else!

Just my 2 cents.
This, absolutely. I am a couple turns ahead of you, not in achievements but in simple "life" terms..and I can totally relate. While on one hand my post has (I believe) some good info and feedback on it, I would hate it for it to be a propellent or accelerant towards you getting into debt "just because"..that's why I felt it was due to re-post this

There are plenty of ways to do things that won't put a bullet in your wallet. I myself am here to help, I am sure we can find more than one solution that will work great and be versatile, not to mention the constructive feedback that others have to post here. Hit me up here or wherever you want, don't be impulsive in purchases.. if I can save you from the shark teeth of debt, I'll be happy
Old 9th June 2016
  #17
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I've always hated focals. But I have to admit those trios sound really damn good. I saw go for the trios man.
Old 9th June 2016
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thetalkinghead View Post
I've always hated focals. But I have to admit those trios sound really damn good. I saw go for the trios man.
Where did you get the chance to hear the Trios?
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