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You opinions on sub-$5,000 near-field monitors? Studio Monitors
Old 13th September 2007
  #1
You opinions on sub-$5,000 near-field monitors?

I've been looking at adding a good pair of monitors to my setup (a 16x10x8 room in an apartment, which also needs acoustic treatment), and I was ready to just get a better-low-end pair like the Mackies, until I investigated further into the mid/high-end monitors. Lately I've done A/B tests at some of the pro audio stores around here, and the ones I've tested and am currently considering are:

Klein & Hummel O 300D (or maybe the 110's)
I listened to the 300D, and it's buttery smooth and accurate. Probably too rich for my blood though (the 300). The 110 might be doable, but I'm afraid I'd want to add a sub to it and that'll get expensive again.

Focal Solo 6 + Sub 6
Sounds very lush in the mids (especially on orchestral/vocals). I heard it without a sub, and it definitely needs one--at least when compared to the monitors with larger drivers.

Digidesign RM2
The ATL technology f-king works! At low levels the bass was still full bodied. Everything else about it really didn't stand out all that much from the JBL LSR4328P's I A/B'd against though. But the RM2's also weren't burned-in properly though (suggested time is 14 hours).

Dynaudio BM12A
Very nice, but when compared to the Focal's, they seemed a bit clinical in the orchestral/vocal area.

JBL LSR4328P
Pretty amazing performer when pitted against more expensive monitors. Often it was hard to tell that the JBL's were "inferior" in any way--whether in soundstage, frequency response, reaction time...etc. In fact it sounded very close to the BM12A's and the RM2's when I A/B's with them. In some instances, the JBL's actually had slightly better soundstage and clarity than the RM2's (once again, the RM2's were not burned in properly though). The onboard DSP calibration system is also a big bonus. I can totally use it in conjunction with acoustic treatment to get the desired accurate sound.

Mackie HR824 MKII
I could always save some money and get these (I've heard the original a few times, and they aren't as bad as people say). They aren't bad monitors--just not quite as good as the ones listed above (you get what you pay for). The rest of the money can all go to acoustic treatment.


The ones I haven't heard but would like to listen to in person are:
Adam A7 / A8

ATC SCM-10A-2 / T16

Focal Twin6

Should be very similar to the Solo6, with with more defined low-mid's. Focal Sub6
will need this for the Solo 6 to reach the bottom end.

PMC DB1S-A / TB2S-A
These guys should sound similar to the Digidesign RM2, since it's the same company behind the technology.

Lipinski L-707
If Bob Katz uses them, they can't be that bad, right?

I'm kind of curious about the Quested S7 as well.

I've never heard any Genelec's before, and I keep reading love or hate opinions on them--makes my a bit cautious. Usually the really good monitors will have almost no negative comments online, except for very minor little things, but the Genelec's get strong opinions split right down the middle--that's not a good thing IMO.

Anyway, I'm planning on spending about 5k total on new monitors and acoustic treatment (maybe a bit more if acoustic treatment requires more). I'm basically one composer in a bedroom, who wants to have as pro-sounding monitor/room acoustics as I can afford for the time being. As my composing career develop more and my savings build up, I'll mostly likely be buying a house and try to treat a room in it with a larger budget. The monitors/acoustic treatments I buy now should be still usable in that next location too.

Any advice from you guys would be much appreciated.
Old 13th September 2007
  #2
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gainreduction's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
I've never heard any Genelec's before, and I keep reading love or hate opinions on them--makes my a bit cautious.
The Genelec love-hate stigmata is derived from the older 10xx series which by now are 15+ years old. Those were hit or miss for most people.

The new 8000 series Genelecs are an entirely new speaker with massive amounts of R&D hours invested in the design. They are outstanding, superb quality speakers with absolutely nothing in common with the old ones (except for the logotype). Then, whether they suite your taste and sense of aestethics (© Fletcher) is a whole other thing. Only you can make that decision.

That said, I'd recommend you audition the 8000 series Genelec's with an open mind. My 8240's are one of the best gear purchases in a long time.

Good luck with your search.
Old 13th September 2007
  #3
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EliasGwinn's Avatar
 

In my 'home rig' (a 12x14x10' room), I've got the JBL LSR 32's...passive 3-way mid-fields...driven with a Hafler PRO1200...with matching LSR12 active subwoofer. They sound amazing!! I'm adding a Hafler PRO2400 to drive the mid-woofers and keeping the 1200 on the hi-mid driver/tweets....I think it will be a better match.

I haven't heard any of the other LSR monitors, but I've heard nothing but great things about them. Speaking of Bob Katz, he mentions in his "Mastering Audio" book that LSR's are the only near-fields he would trust.

The LSR (Linear Spacial Reference) technology is based on minimizing off-axis coloration. This is a great design philosophy, especially if they're going to be used in a small-ish room. Due to the close reflections, the off-axis response will contribute +/- the same amount as the on-axis, even when you ears are on-axis.

I'm not sure how I feel about the LSR's with the room-correction feature. Room correction is dangerous because it tries to compensate for the whole room by analyzing one (or two) points in the room. If the measurement mics are in a node or anti-node, or a parabolic focal point, or... and if you're ears are not in that exact same spot, the correction will be dangerously misleading.

Hope that helps...
Old 13th September 2007
  #4
Thanks for the comments. I'm surprised to hear that Bob Katz had such good things to say about the JBL LSR's, since some people like to bash it, due to its current popularity (like what happened with the Mackies). When I A/B'd it against much more expensive monitors, the LSR4328P's really held up admirably, and you know, if I can't hear the drastic difference that extra one or two or three thousand dollar makes, then why should I pay more?

I'd much appreciate it if all of you chimed in on your experiences with these listed monitors. It's impossible to demo them all or A/B them together, so to some extent I have to rely on other people's comments as well as my own ears.
Old 14th September 2007
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
Audionaut's Avatar
 

If you don't mind getting something a little bit different from the usual suspects, I'd recommend a hand built set of speakers by John at Van L Speakerworks.
VANLSPEAKERWORKS.COM

We're getting a set of custom nearfields for our new control room with 5" drivers (he has them with dual 5" drivers as well) for under $2K a pair. We've got a set of Tannoy Ellipse 10's up front now and they're just too big for up front.
A larger tower version is pictured on his website (See the "Quartet" product line). John claims that the components he uses are usually found in audiophile speakers costing over 5x as much... I dunno, but my studio owner hasn't stopped talking about them since the demo.

When your gearslut buddies ask you "so what did you pick, the focals?" You can be even sluttier and say, "well actually... I had a set custom built for my room... Do you have any Grey Poupon?"
Even better, you can use the extra $3000 on beer.
heh
Old 14th September 2007
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audionaut View Post

When your gearslut buddies ask you "so what did you pick, the focals?" You can be even sluttier and say, "well actually... I had a set custom built for my room... Do you have any Grey Poupon?"
Even better, you can use the extra $3000 on beer.
heh
Hahaha, that's pretty slutty alright. But will they allow me to A/B their hand-build bitches with renowned monitors liket those on my list? For me personally, listening to a pair of speakers without anything to A/B against is almost next to useless when you are doing comparison shopping.
Old 14th September 2007
  #7
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FireMoon's Avatar
The Adams, with a their respective sub, might very well be a great mix of detail and bass slam.. If there is a uniqueness about Amdams as speakers, it is that they dont have a particularly generic *tone* across the range. You cannot, therefore , judge one model of Amdams from anothers tone. Be that as it may, they are well worth listening to.
Old 14th September 2007
  #8
Lives for gear
 

John Van L +1.

There are few people who really love sound reproduction like that. He'll drop everything to shoot out $600 crossovers for you even if you're just dropping off a guitar amp speaker or a Hitatchi cheapo receiver to be fixed.

I don't know enough about the technical side of things to recommend him for your monitors (his main focus is high end home speakers), and he can take his own sweet time, but he certainly does make incredible sounding speakers. It really feels like you're in the same room with the people making the music.
Old 14th September 2007
  #9
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
Thanks for the comments. I'm surprised to hear that Bob Katz had such good things to say about the JBL LSR's, since some people like to bash it, due to its current popularity (like what happened with the Mackies). When I A/B'd it against much more expensive monitors, the LSR4328P's really held up admirably, and you know, if I can't hear the drastic difference that extra one or two or three thousand dollar makes, then why should I pay more?

I'd much appreciate it if all of you chimed in on your experiences with these listed monitors. It's impossible to demo them all or A/B them together, so to some extent I have to rely on other people's comments as well as my own ears.
The new one's are not as good as the original LSR 28P and LSR 32....
Old 14th September 2007
  #10
Gear Nut
 

While I have not heard the new MKII Mackie 824's, I do have the old ones as well as some Genelec 8040's. The 8040's are far better IMO - the difference is quite dramatic. I also have some soffit-mounted JBL6332's powered by a Hafler 9505 - which complement the 8040's quite nicely. The Mackies are collecting dust.....


BTW - I was never a big fan of the 10xx series Genelecs. It was actually Bob Katz's comments on the 8040's that inspired me to try them.
Old 14th September 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
hi,
I finished university on composition and sound tech. I too work in my bedroom

I own adam p11a's and worked with genelec 8050's at school for a long time.

For my review for genelecs: They have weak and strong points. The strong points are they are very flat and easy to hear warmness when added into a mix and they also don't change much color when changing the volume by the mixer,sound card etc. . I learned mixing with them pretty easy. The bad thing is you can't get any decent detail with them. As more you want to make critical eq'ing or stuff like that you barely feel the changes but those changes could be heard easyly on a hi-fi system(if you don't trust the recordings you'll have trouble with them). If I were creating sounds in electronic music I would choose genelecs because they are very flat but for mixing acustik music I would stay away from it. After getting used to genelecs, it's very hard to get used to other systems. They are very characteristic, thats why people love or hate them.

I choosed adams because they are very detailed. You may not like the color of them because they aren't sounding sweet. It's like mixing with a hi-fi system,not easy to get used to when first started because they don't lead you anywhere as much as the genelecs. But you won't be surprised when listening your mix on a different system. When mixing with them, you always look for how to make the insturements in the mix sound like in real life-not around a certain color the recordings try to lead you(if you like mixing in a little muddy monitoring system,don't work on adams). You should listen to the p33a's.

8" woofers are more natural sounding then 7's but they will be too loud to work on a small room. If you monitor on small levels, the high freq.s in your mix will sound unbalanced. I'm used to the metric system so I can't understand how big your room is. But don't buy anything smaller than 6.5-7".

Also, try to find those monitors in various studios and listen how they react when mixing. Listening to mixes and specially mastered albums on monitoring systems won't give an idea how they will lead-help you while mixing. The ns10m's sound bad when listening music on them, but I believe the ugly peak around the 3 khz is the secret why these mointors have become legends.

I hope my independed ideas of monitor selection will help you.
Old 14th September 2007
  #12
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FireMoon View Post
If there is a uniqueness about Amdams as speakers, it is that they dont have a particularly generic *tone* across the range. You cannot, therefore , judge one model of Amdams from anothers tone.

that's my impression as well. i love the s3a's for their mid-centric focus; the s2a's sound scooped in comparison with a lot more sizzle.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 14th September 2007
  #13
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooker View Post
worked with genelec 8050's at school for a long time.

For my review for genelecs: (snip) The bad thing is you can't get any decent detail with them. As more you want to make critical eq'ing or stuff like that you barely feel the changes but those changes could be heard easyly on a hi-fi system.
Weird. I haven't used the 80xx series Genelecs yet, but my experience with the 10xx series Genelecs was EXACTLY OPPOSITE yours! I.e., there was all this incredible detail and micro-resolution that I would hear in the monitors that just DISAPPEARED when I took the mixes home.


To the OP: fwiw my next pair of monitors will be either Lipinski L-707's, or Barefoot MicroMain27's, which are a bit more than your $5k price range but close enough to consider.
Old 14th September 2007
  #14
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gainreduction's Avatar
 

I find that comment weird too, there's plenty of detail in the 8000 genelecs.
Old 14th September 2007
  #15
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dyoll's Avatar
 

I have tha A7's and I think they're great. My mixes translate very well. Check them out. With monitors reviews are great but you have to go with your own ears
Old 14th September 2007
  #16
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MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
As noted in post #2...the 8240s are amazing...and they are tuned to your room...and can be retuned to your room as your budget permits acoustical improvements.

8250's with no sub may be perfect...depending on the style of music you do
Old 14th September 2007
  #17
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kgdrum_nyc's Avatar
 

my vote would be for the Twin6 w/ the Sub
KG
Old 14th September 2007
  #18
Lives for gear
its's normal for opininons to vary,maybe there are room factors or something else. I've always felt that(in a mastering kind of listening) the 8050 has a constant deessed color by the crossover. This helps with harsh sounds (since it gives some kind of sweetness) but cannot traslate enough harmonics for me to get into detail. Maybe this should be asked to the mastering guys, I'm sure they'll give a better answer to what I am trying to explain with my terrible english
Old 14th September 2007
  #19
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction View Post
The Genelec love-hate stigmata is derived from the older 10xx series which by now are 15+ years old. Those were hit or miss for most people.

The new 8000 series Genelecs are an entirely new speaker with massive amounts of R&D hours invested in the design. They are outstanding, superb quality speakers with absolutely nothing in common with the old ones (except for the logotype). Then, whether they suite your taste and sense of aestethics (© Fletcher) is a whole other thing. Only you can make that decision.

That said, I'd recommend you audition the 8000 series Genelec's with an open mind. My 8240's are one of the best gear purchases in a long time.

Good luck with your search.
I totally agree about the 8040 and 8240. These completely changed my opinions about Genelec. As for the Lipinskis, when you factor in the amplifiers and the cost of a pair of active subwoofers, your "sub $5000" doubles or triples...

BK
Old 14th September 2007
  #20
Mastering
 

I'm very impressed with the Klein and Hummel 300, perhaps even suitable for mastering quality.
Old 14th September 2007
  #21
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
Thanks for the comments. I'm surprised to hear that Bob Katz had such good things to say about the JBL LSR's, since some people like to bash it, due to its current popularity (like what happened with the Mackies). When I A/B'd it against much more expensive monitors, the LSR4328P's really held up admirably, and you know, if I can't hear the drastic difference that extra one or two or three thousand dollar makes, then why should I pay more?

I'd much appreciate it if all of you chimed in on your experiences with these listed monitors. It's impossible to demo them all or A/B them together, so to some extent I have to rely on other people's comments as well as my own ears.
I've changed my opinions over time about the LSRs.... especially the 32's. I no longer recommend them. They seem a bit boxey and "covered" and they do not seem to translate as well. This based on a lot longer listening time and experience with clients trying to get mixes right on them.
Old 14th September 2007
  #22
Gear Addict
 
EliasGwinn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
The new one's are not as good as the original LSR 28P and LSR 32....
Yeah, that is my impression as well. I think the originals were built for a professional market, and the newer ones are built for the project/home studio market. They probably shifted some manufacturing cost from driver/cabinet/electronics to the room-correction feature. tutt

The orginals are solid and very neutral and accurate. If you've only heard the room-correction variation, try the originals before you decide.
Old 14th September 2007
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
I've been looking at adding a good pair of monitors to my setup (a 16x10x8 room in an apartment, which also needs acoustic treatment), and I was ready to just get a better-low-end pair like the Mackies, until I investigated further into the mid/high-end monitors. Lately I've done A/B tests at some of the pro audio stores around here, and the ones I've tested and am currently considering are:
I've used Adams, Focals, Dyns, Mackies, JBLs in my 11x17 room. Room treatment is critical if you want to properly evaluate speakers. If you get speakers now and then do room treatment, it'll sound different. I'd buy a bunch of GIK or RealTraps panels first. Of course its a preference thing, but here's my opinion on the monitors:

I had the old Mackie 824s and was ignorantly blissful with them. I actually liked their upper mid/high content. It's the low mids and lows that gave me a hard time. The passive radiator just was too smeary. If you high pass it at 80Hz though, its not that bad.

The Adams are a different animal. Currently using P22s. The A7s are a little bass light (esp. if you're used to a sub you may not like them although I think true near field monitoring can be done without a sub). The P33s are also nice but are very picky about placement IMO. The highs are the same on all Adams since it's the same ribbon tweeter. It's very detailed but can be too focused or "honky" sounding for some people. Bad CDs sound bad on the Adams. The best thing about the Adams is that they translate consistently to other systems.

Genelec 8040s. The rear bass port caused problems in my room. The Adams and Focals have a port in the front. The Gens sounded nice but seemed more hifi to me, esp. when compared to Adams.

Focals - Solo6, smooth and detailed. It had plenty of bass for me. This probably sounds lame, but I think the extreme detail made me focus a lot of time on unimportant things. I'm only a hobbyist so I don't go in the studio everyday. When I mixed on the Focals, I'd spend hours on EQ and compression and sometimes failed to see the bigger picture of the song. Probably just my inexperience.

JBL - I borrowed a pair of LSR6328 (not the newer 4328) for a few days, without room correction mode. It had nice strong bass. Seemed to be what the Mackies wish they were. Can be played loud and didn't need a sub. I wouldn't mind using them now actually.

If you're in an apartment, I'm not sure how loud you can play. If you liked the JBLs, I'd get them and save the money for more gear heh
Old 14th September 2007
  #24
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1210Cold's Avatar
 

Spend the extra money and gets the Barefoots. They've changed my life.
Old 14th September 2007
  #25
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EliasGwinn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
I've changed my opinions over time about the LSRs.... especially the 32's. I no longer recommend them. They seem a bit boxey and "covered" and they do not seem to translate as well. This based on a lot longer listening time and experience with clients trying to get mixes right on them.

Hey Bob,

My apologies... I didn't mean to speak for you.

Though I am surprised at you opinion of the 32's. In fact, they initially felt a bit too bright and lacking mid's (when driven from a single Hafler PRO1200). That is why I decided to bi-amp and drive the woofers with the PRO2400. Soon, I'll get another PRO2400 to drive the hi-mid and tweets, and feed both PRO2400's with an active crossover.

Any suggestions on active crossovers?
Old 15th September 2007
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

A little story on JBL LSR 6328's:

I recommended these about six months ago to an audiophile who listened almost exclusively to stratospherically-priced headphones, didn't own any speakers because they all fell short of the cans in the areas of detail, transparency, and intimacy that he prized, and who was proposing to buy yet another set of high-end cans.

He already owned the Sennheiser Orpheus HE-90 and the Sony Qualia R-10 (each retailing for around five grand for the phones alone and the constant recipients of oohs-and-aahs amongst the headphone cognoscenti) and he was thinking about buying another expensive phone, the Stax Omega 2. All the speakers he'd auditioned (Quad, Martin-Logan et al) he'd found disappointing and he'd achieved a certain notoriety in audiophile circles as a speaker-hater.

Anyway, I suggested he try out the JBL's as I was confident (owning two sets of Stax electrostatic phones myself) that the 6328's were every bit in the league of the expensive cans as far as detail and intimacy were involved and leagues ahead in tangibility, weight, bass response, and imagery.

He bit. He couldn't find a dealer in the West Florida region who stocked them but managed to audition a set of the cheaper 4328's and was impressed enough to order a set of 6328's unheard.

Anyway.......within a month of getting them he sold his Qualia R-10's and amp, within another month he sold his Orpheus HE90's and Woo amp, then he ordered the matching 6312 Sub.......and finally he's found speakers that he finds "far superior to that provided by even the best headphone systems that I've ever heard". He still keeps a set of AKG 701's for listening with the computer but now relies exclusively on the LSR's for serious listening.

And interestingly he listens almost entirely to classical music.........

Make of it what you will.
Old 15th September 2007
  #27
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

i LOVE the old 28p's for listening and playback, they have a way of revealing the personality of the music that few other speakers do. i could mix on them but only if i had another, more mid-accurate ref available, because the 10" driver does not do mids with the kind of detail i need.

what i remember about the 28p's is that they ate small rooms for breakfast, the sound was overwhelming and congested in bedroom-sized spaces; and they needed to be working, 80+ db, in order to really speak.

fun though, a hell of a lot of fun. lately i've been thinking about getting a pair back in for my home theater, i really miss the ones i sold.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 15th September 2007
  #28
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
i LOVE the old 28p's for listening and playback, they have a way of revealing the personality of the music that few other speakers do. i could mix on them but only if i had another, more mid-accurate ref available, because the 10" driver does not do mids with the kind of detail i need.
The LSR28P does not use a 10" driver.... it's an 8".
Old 16th September 2007
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
what i remember about the 28p's is that they ate small rooms for breakfast, the sound was overwhelming and congested in bedroom-sized spaces; and they needed to be working, 80+ db, in order to really speak.
Well, the guy I mentioned doesn't listen loud so I'm not altogether sure about the 80 dB to get going although I can see your point. I find my KRK Rokit 5's get into top gear at very low levels but then I think that's a function of the hyped balance of the Rokit. The 6328's are as unhyped as any monitor or speaker I've come across and so they need to be played at realistic levels to preserve the right spectral balance. Peter Walker of Quad used to say that there was only one correct playback level for each recording and it ain't 72 dB (unless it is.....).

As for midrange accuracy I find they do voice better than anything I've heard. Peggy Lee, for example, sounds uncannily right (try "Baubles, Bangles, and Beads" - 1953. Astonishing!) and I'm constantly startled by the feeling I'm listening directly to the singer. An audiophile speaker such as the ProAc Response 2 (which is in the corner gathering dust) sounds positively foggy and obviously reproduced by comparison.

My only gripe with the 6328/6312 combo is that the electronics in the sub slightly compromise the 6328's. The sound subtly hardens, narrows, and loses timbre. Not a huge deal but on chamber-music, voice, and piano I prefer the 6328's not encumbered by the 6312.
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