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$3k vs $1k Monitors: Apples to Oranges?
Old 4th September 2008
  #1
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DanGo's Avatar
 

$3k vs $1k Monitors: Apples to Oranges?

I know this topic has been posted and reposted on, but here's my twist on it.

I'm looking to dump my Mackie HR824s for something more accurate, less bass heavy and bass mushy, more detailed in the mids and highs. (I do film trailer music and ad stuff...so, indie rock, orchestral, electronica are all in a day's work).

My room is small (about 8.5 feet by 14 feet) and was recently tuned up by George Augspurger, who pronounced it a project that had turned out well. We discovered, as he was tuning the room, that the sub-100Hz room modes became almost a non-issue if I kicked in the 80Hz rolloff on my Mackies. Above 100Hz my room is very even.

Sooo.... I'm looking for monitors that don't have massive amounts of info below 100Hz. I will just use my trusty Beyerdynamic DT770s and visual cues (meters) to fine tune the subs in my mixes. Been doing that anyway, since I can't trust my Mackies.

In the running are Adam A7's and Dynaudio BM5A's but I've also heard great things about the Focal Twins and Barefoot Audio's offerings.

The question is: Is there any point in trying to do a shootout in my studio among monitors that cost around $1k and ones that cost in the $3k realm? Or, is that like comparing a compact car and a sports car on a racetrack? Apples to oranges?

I would much rather spend $1k than $3k, but I'm at the point in my career where I don't like to screw around with stuff designed for "prosumers" or lower end users. I can hear the difference between good and great, even if I can't (or rather, being a Gear Slut, shouldn't!) afford the expensive stuff.

So, what do you all think? Will I get what I need with the lower-priced monitors or will I just want to replace them within the year and get the Focals or Barefoots?
Old 4th September 2008
  #2
t_d
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i have adam A7s and focal twins. i got the Focals recently and am really blown away by them. the imaging is amazing and they are so SMOOTH sounding.

when i first got them i played one of my reference cds through the A7s, sounded great. then i switched to the Focals, and it sounded great.. but not as nice as i would have imagined... very different than the Adams. then, after listening on the Focals for a bit, i switched back to the Adams.. and boy, it was like night and day. the Adams sounded really like plastic and smeary.

that being said... i still think the adams are great monitors. they are so different than the Focals. way more high end, for better or for worse and not nearly as good low end response.. but they do still sound GOOD.. even if they are smeary next to the focals... they definitely work very well.

i'm also happy to say that the mixes i have done on the A7s translate really nicely to the Focals. It is the reason i got the A7s to begin with, as i heard they were quite true and translated well elsewhere.

so, the answer?

well, if you can afford them, the Focals are, in my opinion, a much nicer monitor.

however, if budget really is a concern, i think you'd be very happy with the A7s (as long as you don't A/B them next to the Twins ).

they're great monitors for small rooms and they do translate very well around to other systems.

i guess it is like apples to oranges. of course the monitors that cost 3 times as much are going to be nicer... but, you could do worse than the A7s and if $3k is a lot to eat right now you'll be happy with the Adams. and you could always spend $3k in a couple of years when you have a bit more financial leeway.

just my opinion. others will surely vary.
Old 4th September 2008
  #3
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

I trusted and learned my Mackies in my room for years, and my mixes translated fine. Recently I moved to the ADAM P33A and I can tell you that for $3k that is a LOT of monitor. The A7 kind of holds a candle to them, but not really. They outshine other $1k monitors pretty nicely, but again that is dependent upon taste and what you like / need to hear.

Concerning translation though:

When the bass on my P33A's farts...it's farting outside the room.

When the top end sounds harsh on the P33A, it's harsh elsewhere.

When my vocal is a touch down, up, too wet / dry...you get the picture.

I think the amazing thing about ADAM, and in particular the P33A, is the depth that they deliver. It's so easy to tell where things are placed FRONT TO BACK. Left to right is easy, but these guys have nailed depth in a very good way which efficiently lets me make better mix decisions. You actually hear how things are stacking forward on top of each other, if that makes sense.

That's been my experience as a former HR824 user (I don't bash them!) to P33A convert. They fit your need for higher quality sound but also less low end (they're not low end light, but much more even in response).

War
Old 4th September 2008
  #4
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
This may sound like a not so slutty suggestion, but it might be worth checking out a Pair of Event Precision 8s.

A buddy of mine is a fim and tv music mixer (for some pretty big stuff) and that is what he has been using for the last couple years.
Old 4th September 2008
  #5
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slaves666's Avatar
I just upgraded from A7's to P33's as well. The top is very similar to the A7's but the bottom is way tighter and defined( obviously because of the dual drivers) and the Mid's seem much clearer and deeper.
Old 4th September 2008
  #6
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warhead's Avatar
 

The A7 are a fair amount brighter on top vs the P33A here. Of course you can calm it down with the on board EQ.

War
Old 4th September 2008
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

I was in the same situation with the exact models you described (A7's and the Focals). I was able to A/B/C these models plus the DyneAudio's.

I spent about 1 hour switching back and forth between all 3 models.
The A7's are good. The Focals had a very good, hi-end sound to them, which I liked. I couldn't justify spending double the money on the Focals, based on several facts. One, my room. Two, the actual sound. I chose the A7's because they just 'matched' the stuff I'm doing better. ( I brought a CD of my mixes to test the monitors).

In the end you have to use your ears to decide. If you have deep enough pockets and can justify the expense, then do it but the A7's are good monitors and I'm happy with my decision.
Old 4th September 2008
  #8
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DivineMusic's Avatar
 

i feel the same way about mackies. once you learn them in a good room, your mixes can be great.
i still have mine along with jbl 4328p's.. i really wanna upgrade to the adam 2.5a's...

they have an incredible response but with a nice sub i love them. im really in love with the jbl 4312p subwoofer
Old 4th September 2008
  #9
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Thanks for those very useful replies, folks! So, I'm getting that Adam A7s are not going to sound as good as the Focals, BUT that their mixes will translate well. I think that the appeal of the Adams would be price. If price were no issue, I'd just leap for the Focals. And I just might, being a gear slut.

Interesting, too, that the Dynaudios just don't seem to rank here...

I have learned the Mackies at this point and I think that you kinda have to learn any monitor and how it sits in your room, no matter how good the monitor is. But hearing things clearly, rather than sitting there doubting whether what you're hearing is what is there is the goal (i.e. saving time on mix decisions!).

Taylor, I hear you on the comparison, and I think that makes sense.

War, if you don't mind my putting it to you: if I were going to spend $3k, would you in all honesty recommend the Adam P33A over the Focal Twins? As a dealer, you have something to lose by answering me too honestly, but nonetheless... ;-)

Trot, what was it about your room that made you go with the A7s? Similar situation to mine? Also, how or where did you compare all three?

I'm in LA and would love to find a place to hear all these monitors in one room. Ideally, my room! But, I'd go somewhere else for at least a first listen.

RCM, I guess I'm biased against Events simply because they're so mainstream. Sounds silly, but as I've gone farther from the mainstream with my set up, getting boutique stuff, etc., I've found it's paid off. That said, I know a lot of folks using Events, Tannoys and Mackies and doing great mixes on them.
Old 4th September 2008
  #10
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanGo View Post
War, if you don't mind my putting it to you: if I were going to spend $3k, would you in all honesty recommend the Adam P33A over the Focal Twins? As a dealer, you have something to lose by answering me too honestly, but nonetheless... ;-)
I don't use or sell Focal, doesn't mean they're inferior, it means I never bothered to get them in here and check them out. I'm sure they're fine speakers, likely worth it for you to check them out if you can. I made a light inquiry when they first became all the rage on forums, and they were backordered and not willing to jump on sending a pair out for demo at the time so my interest just didn't stick (got busy and forgot about them really). Like most things, a lot of the forum chat has calmed down about them at this point so maybe it'd be easier for me to get their attention next time I think about Focal.

It's not easy carrying tons and tons of monitor lines: they're bulky and expensive to ship here and there. It's easier to keep up with microphones by comparison!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanGo View Post
I'm in LA and would love to find a place to hear all these monitors in one room. Ideally, my room! But, I'd go somewhere else for at least a first listen.
thumbsup

War
Old 4th September 2008
  #11
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DanGo's Avatar
 

Thanks, War. That was an interesting answer.

Another dealer, who sells Focals, has also been giving me the low down and where it becomes hard, nay, impossible to really audition and compare everything is that one dealer sells Focals; one sells Adams; another blah blah... you get the picture.

I think what it might come down to is that I should be patient (nearly impossible for a Gear Slut!) and wait til it's wise to drop more cash on either the higher end Adams or the Focal Twins. That day should be soon, but not today.

Meanwhile, any of you LA GearSluts have either the Adam p33a's or the Focal Twins (or slutz that we are...both?!). If you do and you'd be willing to play a few CD tracks on em for me sometime (I'm in Westwood), I'd be grateful! I'd love to hear these things before taking the plunge.
Old 4th September 2008
  #12
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warhead's Avatar
 

Mercenary Audio sells both, nothing else in the way of monitors, but both Focal and ADAM.

War
Old 4th September 2008
  #13
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Hey man, maybe it's a bit off topic but you gotta try the S3A.. I've compared them to p33, s2a,a7+sub8 side to side for a week. Not even close IMO! I know, I know.. it's a + 3,500 difference but like my ol' man used to say you always get what you pay for
Old 5th September 2008
  #14
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Solidstate, I'm sure they're great...but $3k is already a reach. I know that often, but not always, if you buy the more expensive gear, it will sound that way, but by that logic, I should ditch my D-Box and just buy an SSL board already! Seriously, though, thanks for the input and I'll keep it in mind.

War, you're a gentleman to suggest a competitor. Now, assuming I buy the Adams, what is the etiquette here? That's actually a serious question and one that's worried me in going on this board: there are many people who take the time to give thoughtful answers to questions like the thread I posted and many of them also happen to be selling gear... I've so far bought gear from Tony Belmont and from Mercenary and GC Pro (though they don't participate here) and I'm kinda willing to make the rounds just to be fair.

Maybe I'm thinking about this too much!heh

--Dan
Old 5th September 2008
  #15
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How about the middle ground, price-wise?

Focal Solo 6s are $2200. Smack in between the price-points you mention, and they're wonderful. Not quite as deep, to my ears, as the Twins, but equally impressive.

Give them a shot.
Old 5th September 2008
  #16
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ddageek's Avatar
 

If I were in the market and had $2500 I would give Plush's Spendors some serious thought!
Old 5th September 2008
  #17
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u b k's Avatar
 

i'm a pretty unabashed fan of the twins but i'm telling you now, if you need to roll off bass to eliminate sub-100 issues then you'll need to roll back the bass with the trim control or they'll very likely swamp your room with low end problems. they're very meaty down to about 50hz and still have substantial heft at 40hz.

fwiw i've got the bass trim dialed all the way on back on mine because i like how it changes the voicing of the monitors from a modern, beefy thing to a very 70's, mid-focused thing. i also roll back the hf all the way as well, for the same reason.

the detail on the twins is uncanny, imo nothing in the adam line compares until you get to the s3a and above, and then the playing field is level.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 5th September 2008
  #18
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanGo View Post
War, you're a gentleman to suggest a competitor. Now, assuming I buy the Adams, what is the etiquette here?
Well, I took that one to private message with you.

War
Old 5th September 2008
  #19
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MicSlut666's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by solidstate View Post
Hey man, maybe it's a bit off topic but you gotta try the S3A.. I've compared them to p33, s2a,a7+sub8 side to side for a week. Not even close IMO! I know, I know.. it's a + 3,500 difference but like my ol' man used to say you always get what you pay for

Can you tell how the ADAM A7 with the SUB 8 compared to the other ADAMS you have tested. I could imagine this combination is still a bang for the buck compared to the more expensive ADAMS.
Old 13th September 2008
  #20
Gear Head
 

i upgraded from a pair of mackie 824s to a pair of focal twins a couple of months ago. at first i wasn't 100% sold on the decision (especially since i'm still sitting on my mackies as nobody in the area seems to have the cash for them at the moment), but after spending a few weeks on them i would never go back. my mixes translate a whole lot better and i can listen to them all day without feeling fatigued, which was a real problem with the mackies.

i picked up a pair from amiel here on the forums after listening to a friend's pair (he has a 5.1 setup with the solos for the rear and center speakers, plus stereo subs!) and i listened briefly to a pair of a7s but decided they wouldn't be a huge step up from my mackies. this ends my 2 cents.
Old 13th September 2008
  #21
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Marineville's Avatar
 

I've not heard the Adams A7 but I did spend a week with the Focal Twins and liked them very much. After much monitor auditioning it came down to a choice betweem the Focal Twins and the K+H 0300Ds and I opted for the K+H, admittedly at double the price.

Had the K+H not been in the equation I would definitely have gone with the Focals.

Oh, and when you get your main monitoring sorted out check out the new baby Genelec 6010As for real world listening. Fab!
Old 16th September 2008
  #22
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Gregoire, that's interesting about the Focals and the low end. I imagine, frankly, that unless I get monitors that simply have no low end capability, that any nearfields worth their salt will have this issue. I saw that Focal has some sort of software to adjust for listening position (and room eq?): have you used it? know anything about it?

Werrt, those 2 cents are worth a lot more than that for me. From all I've read, I'm going to have a hard time listening to both the Adams and the Focals in an unbiased way: I'm feeling like I want the Focals already! But I'm going to try to do a real comparison. The main thing that's interesting to me is that many people have described the Mackies as fatiguing, which is a relief: I thought my hearing was just going! They definitely are hard to use all day for composing, recording, as I just can't trust what I'm hearing at the end of the day. I know that's a problem generally, but I also blame the monitors for being a bit harsh.

Marineville, interesting. K&H are most likely too rich for my blood, but it's good to know there's another vote for the Focals.

Daedalus, I've definitely wondered about the Focal Solo 6's, too. When you say, "not quite as deep" as the Twins, do you mean literally not as much low frequency? Or that they don't have the same depth of field? or something else...

Best,

Dan
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