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Focal SM9's / Adam S3X-H's
Old 19th October 2013
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Focal SM9 / Adam S3X-H / Barefoot MM27 / Quested V3110

Sorry to have yet another one of "these" threads, but this is not a vs-vs/whats better question. I'd like to know what people's experience is and feelings are towards these monitors that have used/heard all with enough adequate time/usage with each one to be fair to each one. I did a search and didn't find no thread helpful enough, so started this one.

I'm looking to replace my ever so loved Genelec 1031a's and 1092a sub. As much as I loved them and all, it is time for more power/volume along with the newer design of a 3 way. That said due to size restraints in my studio and price (really don't wanna pay 15k+ for some monitoring) desires I have narrowed it down to either getting:

**EDITED**

Focal SM9
or
Adam S3X-H
or
Barefoot MM27 Gen 2
or
Quested V3110

All with a 12" sub that gets to 22hz


All fit in all my physical restraints and budget desires. But I wanna know what people feel about each ones ? I've heard all at AES before. But it was a long time ago, and no real A/B type stuff. Most of my music ranges from almost everything except Country and Classical - Pop/Commercial, Alt Rock, Hip Hop/Rap, Soul R&B, Electronic, Synth Pop, Dance, Acoustical, etc..

Thanks !
Old 19th October 2013
  #2
Gear Nut
 
Joel C's Avatar
ATC SCM25A Pro
Old 19th October 2013
  #3
I have the SM9s and would seriously question the need for a sub.
Old 20th October 2013
  #4
Yo infa! Hope all is well!

I've spent some time with both. I am more than happy to discuss it personally over the phone sometime,

enjoy the rest of your weekend bro!

peace
a.j.b
Old 20th October 2013
  #5
I agree the SM9's do not need a sub.
Old 20th October 2013
  #6
Gear Addict
 

I feel extremely confident with the SM9s.

The only Adams I've checked out are old A7s so I can't help much there.
Old 20th October 2013
  #7
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel C View Post
ATC SCM25A Pro
Thanks for the input Joel. I do know about ATC and have heard nothing but great things about them. Unfortunately, for me (personally) the ones powerful enough for my taste are too big dimension wise for my exact particular set up. The ones you suggested are about as powerful as my current Genelec set up. And as wonderful and better as they probably sound over my Genelecs, I still know I want more power. I did a definite amount of research before starting this thread, and for all my restraints, desires, etc.. these two I mentioned are truly my only choices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaz28346 View Post
I have the SM9s and would seriously question the need for a sub.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason rocks View Post
I agree the SM9's do not need a sub.
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaczac View Post
I feel extremely confident with the SM9s.

The only Adams I've checked out are old A7s so I can't help much there.
Awesome to hear your opinions. Thanks so much guys. Gaz and Jason, have you guys also spent time with the Adam S3X-H's ?

And yea, your probably right about the sub thing on a surface level. But I sometimes do some sound efx designing for movies or video games, etc.. and I sometimes rarely do really want to at least have the capabilities of frequencies lower than the 30-40hz they offer by themselves. I'm having Bob Hodas shoot and set up my room and monitoring and he can dial them all in to a perfect setting so I ain't overdoing it if thats what your worried about. Though thanks for the concern.

On top of that, if I go that route I get the ability to cut the sub out and in whenever I want. I like to do that a lot to judge mixes and things besides just using near fields.

Right on for chiming in zaczac. Yea, the Adam A7's are literally horrible compared to the SX series. At that, the S3X-H is a ton better than the S3X-V. Honestly, it is such a vast difference from their lower end models that some can't believe it. That said, I agree with you. If you only heard the A series from Adam, then its not fair to totally compare the company to SM9's quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Yo infa! Hope all is well!

I've spent some time with both. I am more than happy to discuss it personally over the phone sometime,

enjoy the rest of your weekend bro!

peace
a.j.b
Its Tha Doc !!! Wut up bruh ? Long time no talk. We definitely need to catch up. Glad to see your still going strong man ! You at AES this year over there ? Anyway, for SURE I'll take you up on the invite to a phone convo. Call you middle of the week at the latest.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Besides Mixwell, I still would love to hear from as many users whose spent time with both these monitors and what they have to say.
Old 20th October 2013
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infa View Post
Its Tha Doc !!! Wut up bruh ? Long time no talk. We definitely need to catch up. Glad to see your still going strong man ! You at AES this year over there ? Anyway, for SURE I'll take you up on the invite to a phone convo. Call you middle of the week at the latest.
Doing excellent my friend! Busier than ever! So busy, that I couldn't make the show this year. Booked solid! And man, this month has FLOWN by me. I don't think I've slept...

Anyway, I will look forward to catching up on things and discussing some serious speakahs! Lord knows, I could talk about speakah's for days....it's probably why I haven't slept...

Talk soon!!
Old 21st October 2013
  #9
Lives for gear
 
AllBread's Avatar
 

Nice thing about the SM9s if you do at times need to incorporate a sub for 5.1 work or sound design is the ability to put them in "focus mode" and turn off the passive radiator and the 8" driver.
Old 28th October 2013
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Ha, well I hate to do this to you guys, BUT I now have just figured out a way to fit slightly larger cabinets in the room comfortably without no negative issues. This opens up room for a few more monitor choices (unfortunately still not ATC) - But:

Barefoot MM27 Gen2's
Quested V3110
or as originally asked
Adam S3X-H's
Focal SM9's

Seems like from this thread, Focal SM9 is suggested more. But that was when I was asking about only them and the Adams. Now that 2 other monitors are added, I wonder how people feel ?

I'd like to ask this too - Is there anyone local to the bay area, and has any of these monitors, could I set up a quick listening moment with them ?
Old 3rd November 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infa View Post
Barefoot MM27 Gen2's
Quested V3110
or as originally asked
Adam S3X-H's
Focal SM9's

Seems like from this thread, Focal SM9 is suggested more. But that was when I was asking about only them and the Adams. Now that 2 other monitors are added, I wonder how people feel ?
I've used some of the speakers and here's my take on it.

Barefoot MM27 Gen2:
Haven't tried the second generation, but I've listened to Gen1 at a friend's studio and I've tested the Barefoot MM35 in my previous control room. To me they sounded like they looked like, two-way speakers with subwoofers. Nice sounding indeed, but not what I was looking for and I couldn't quite get my head around the low-end, it had that roundness that sealed cabinets usually have. They kind of embedded me with low-end whereas I prefer a good hit in the chest when auditioning a kick drum. Both MM27 and MM35 can play crazy loud and due to the low distortion and voicing they still sound good at very loud volumes. If you like big and bold, then do try them out.

Adam S3X-H:
Measured and listened to them at a friend's studio. Personally I'm not too impressed by the sound of ribbon tweeters, partially because of the mid-range distortion and partially by the fact that the transients are built by combining the sound of two totally different speaker elements, traditional piston moving cones and a folded ribbon tweeter. The former with a kind of slow mechanical movement and the latter with a super fast compressing/expanding folded diaphragm. I've tested a bunch of different ADAM speakers and I own a pair of ADAM A5 that I use for film and TV sound in my living room. Working on ADAMs has always made me tame the transients too much, maybe it's the slight "exciter" effect of the ribbon tweeter, and by "exiter" I mean that the upper parts of the transients arrive faster than the lower parts and thus are perceived as loud or more prominent than they really are. Anyway, sorry for lecturing, the ADAM S3X-H sounded to much like "speakers" and they weren't able to produce a "wall of sound" that a pair of good three-way speakers usually can do. The low/mid crossover filters at 350Hz was quite noticeable due to a rather large phase shift and sounded weird to me. The good thing about the speakers: a lot of filter settings to customize the sound and my producer friend is able to do good mixes on them.

Focal SM9:
Haven't had the pleasure of listening to them yet, but I will jump at the opportunity because people seem to like them a lot.

Quested V3110:
I tested a bunch of different three-way speakers, Barefoot, ATC SCM25, K&H etc before testing a pair of Quested V3110. I still remember the sound they produced before even being broken in properly, just this massive "wall of sound". Smooth British voicing with a really nice and detailed mid-range and treble. The low-end is just full of punch and girth.
They are not as detailed as ATC speakers in the mid-range, but it's still very detailed and makes me work hard. The low-end is better than most speakers that I've listened to and the mixes and masters I make translates well in other speaker systems.
When I redid the acoustics in my control room spending a lot of money on professional acoustic products, I borrowed a 12 inch ADAM GTC subwoofer from the distributor. I've always like the ADAM subwoofers but I hadn't even heard about the Grand Theatre Component series before.
Apart from being a really fast and tight subwoofer (normally used in small cinemas) it solved a room modal wave problem I was having in my control room - having it positioned on the floor and not halfway between the floor and room like the woofers of the V3110's it doesn't excite the same modal waves.
The V3110's doesn't really need a subwoofer to play full-range, but the subwoofer solved a modal wave problem for me and letting it play the lowest two octaves makes the upper bass and low-mid of the V3110 even more firm and punchy. The active cross-over filter in the ADAM subwoofer is quite good.
So, I ended up with an active four-ways speaker system that sounds fantastic.

The Quested's and ADAM subwoofer produce a "wall of sound" that just sucks me into good music and I love listening to DSD recordings on them. I can filter +-1dB at 40Hz and actually hear what I'm doing which I've never been able to do before, or at least not with the same confidence. Very musical speakers that invites me into the mini Universe of well-produced records, but at the same time shows the flaws of crappy hyper-compressed pop records.

As always, you really should borrow a couple of different speakers and try them out in your own control room, because the acoustics, personal preference and speaker placement are big factors. I'm sure Bob Hodas can tell you all about them. :D


Good hunting
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Old 3rd November 2013
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
**Edited, please see original post above**


Good hunting
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Wow, thanks so much Fred for your knowledgeable information and the time you took to post it. Your post has helped me extremely. Due to the fact it has kinda coupled a few other people I trust judgements, I really am beginning to lean towards either Quested V3110's or Focal SM9's.

The main "spec" difference between the two that bothers me is the frequency range. The Quested seems to only go up to 20khz, whereas the Focals (and most newer speaker designs) go up to 40khz. Even though it shouldn't matter cause I can probably only hear up to 16khz now (lol) I still believe and have read how supersonic sounds can effect sounds in our hearing range. So having monitors with the ability to produce in that supersonic frequency range is important to me moving into the future.

Though hearing these speakers is the best thing I can do. I know. I still stand behind possibly needing/wanting the higher frequency response. What do you think ? Its just so hard, as everywhere I look don't seem to have them for me to listen to or better yet A/B. The Quested V3110's seem to be pretty rare really. Out here in S.F. no one seems to have them.

Thanks again for your very informative help !
Old 4th November 2013
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infa View Post
The main "spec" difference between the two that bothers me is the frequency range. The Quested seems to only go up to 20khz, whereas the Focals (and most newer speaker designs) go up to 40khz. Even though it shouldn't matter cause I can probably only hear up to 16khz now (lol) I still believe and have read how supersonic sounds can effect sounds in our hearing range. So having monitors with the ability to produce in that supersonic frequency range is important to me moving into the future.
I don't think it's that important to have the speakers play up to 40kHz, and like you point out you probably don't hear anything above 16kHz. I know that we can somewhat feel frequencies above 20kHz, but if you're working with hi-res audio and really want to know what's happening above 20kHz you're better off with a spectrum analyzer.
I'm not saying that it's bad to have a speaker reproduce sound up to 40kHz, but it's not a deal-breaker for me.
When I mix I use high-cut as much as I use low-end, cutting hihats above 18kHz usually makes them smoother and more enjoyable to listen to, same goes for VST synths and such. I will even high-cut a whole mix during mastering if it has too much uncontrolled high-end.
Even if the specs says 20kHz, the Quested V3110 have enough high-end me thinks. Listening to the 24bit 96kHz version of Alison Kraus & Union Station - "Paper Airplane" certainly display A LOT of treble and string definition. It would be interesting to hear the song through a pair of SM9's.
The obvious differences between the V3110 and the SM9 is that the latter have a metal tweeter and a slave woofer. I think it comes down to taste regarding metal tweeters, they have a tendency to sound a bit harder or even harsher than paper cones, but I haven't listened to the SM9's so I can't comment their sound specifically. Regarding slave woofers, it's hard to make them play 100% in phase with the rest of the sound field, my guess is that Focal has solved it by adding some kind of phase alignment filter, and all filters more or less add some distortion.
The Quested V3110's have a rather conventional three-way design, minimal filter settings and way over-blown power handling (1000W in each speaker). But having too much power is never a bad thing, because the extra power makes the speakers linear even at high volume. The bass amp is 700W Class D and the mid and treble amps are 150W Class A/B each, that I believe are biased towards Class A operation. Because the back of the speakers do heat up a bit even when idling.
The amps in the Focal SM9 seem to be kind of over-blown too, which is good me thinks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infa View Post
Though hearing these speakers is the best thing I can do. I know. I still stand behind possibly needing/wanting the higher frequency response. What do you think?
Apart from my Avantone Mixcubes I've almost never encountered speakers that have been lacking high-end. If you have the possibility, then check out a bunch of different speakers at a local music store and listen to the high-end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infa View Post
Its just so hard, as everywhere I look don't seem to have them for me to listen to or better yet A/B. The Quested V3110's seem to be pretty rare really. Out here in S.F. no one seems to have them.
I know, but Roger Quested's designs have been around for a long time, he's just not as good at marketing as he designing speakers.

Serban Ghenea - the greatest pop mixer of all time me thinks - uses the older version of V3110 and does very respectable pop mixes on them, leaving nothing for chance.

Abbey Roads Studios have four Quested systems installed, including the main speakers in Studio 2 and 3.

The Neptunes have a massive custom Quested system in their control room.

As far as I know Hans Zimmer has tons of different Quested systems in all of his production suites and a massive system in his own music lair.

Read more about it at:

Monitoring systems - studio speakers. Welcome to the world of QUESTED


Hopefully you have a distributor of Quested speakers in Cali, because they are worth auditioning.


Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Old 5th November 2013
  #14
Oop
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
Barefoot MM27 Gen2:
Haven't tried the second generation, but I've listened to Gen1 at a friend's studio and I've tested the Barefoot MM35 in my previous control room. To me they sounded like they looked like, two-way speakers with subwoofers. Nice sounding indeed, but not what I was looking for and I couldn't quite get my head around the low-end, it had that roundness that sealed cabinets usually have. They kind of embedded me with low-end whereas I prefer a good hit in the chest when auditioning a kick drum. Both MM27 and MM35 can play crazy loud and due to the low distortion and voicing they still sound good at very loud volumes. If you like big and bold, then do try them out.
My opinion of the MM35's are similar. I've tested them 'in my room' where I have a Focal Twin system with the CMS Sub. After reading all the hype here, I was expecting to be blown away. From what I understand, the MM35's have the same response as the MM27's with lesser lows (which I haven't tested). While I did notice the increase in depth and tiny improvement in clarity, it was nowhere near the SM9 difference I heard. It still sounded very close to my Twin+Sub setup

SM9 is in a totally different league, compared to any previous Focal system I've owned. The difference is huge, at least for me in my room. It seriously sounds like listening to a pair of very expensive headphones in terms of accuracy.

While, not in my room, the only other pair that took me a bit by surprise were the KH O300's.
Old 5th November 2013
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
**Edited, please see original post#13 above**
Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Wow, again, thanks so much Fred. Your info is always rock solid as usual and very helpful to me in more ways than you can imagine.

And well, good news ! Thanks to Adam Brass at DSP Doctor (Doc Mixwell) I will have a pair of the ever so rare Quested 3110's delivered to a studio I will be at here in San Francisco for Demo'ing ! Add that to the fact the studio has a pair of SM9's. So that day I will be able to demo - shootout - A/B The Focal SM9's and the Quested 3110's in the same room.

The room is thanks to my close friend Michael Romanowski, and was treated by Bob Hodas itself. So I am sure it will be very accurate.

Thanks to Adam at DSP Doctor and Michael Romanowski here in S.F. and the Quested Rep, I will be able to pull this off ! I can not speak highly enough about the great service and customer dedication I ALWAYS get from Adam at DSP Doctor. Its been about 7 years (give or take) I've been dealing with him, and every time I am amazed at what he pulls off for me. (not to mention the 24hr instant email reply !) - Can't say that for no one else.
Old 5th November 2013
  #16
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oop View Post
My opinion of the MM35's are similar. I've tested them 'in my room' where I have a Focal Twin system with the CMS Sub. After reading all the hype here, I was expecting to be blown away. From what I understand, the MM35's have the same response as the MM27's with lesser lows (which I haven't tested). While I did notice the increase in depth and tiny improvement in clarity, it was nowhere near the SM9 difference I heard. It still sounded very close to my Twin+Sub setup

SM9 is in a totally different league, compared to any previous Focal system I've owned. The difference is huge, at least for me in my room. It seriously sounds like listening to a pair of very expensive headphones in terms of accuracy.

While, not in my room, the only other pair that took me a bit by surprise were the KH O300's.
Thanks for this feedback Oop ! Yea, as per my previous post right above, due to the overwhelming info I get from everyone, it seems they all mirror yours and Freds take on Barefeet. Frickin great monitors, along with the Adams, but without going too far into it (several reasons), I have now narrowed it down to either the Quested 3110's or Focal SM9's - period.

And as my post says above, I will be able to A/B these soon ! I'll keep this thread updated with my opinions (if they matter - haha)

Thanks again !
Old 5th November 2013
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infa View Post
And well, good news ! Thanks to Adam Brass at DSP Doctor (Doc Mixwell) I will have a pair of the ever so rare Quested 3110's delivered to a studio I will be at here in San Francisco for Demo'ing ! Add that to the fact the studio has a pair of SM9's. So that day I will be able to demo - shootout - A/B The Focal SM9's and the Quested 3110's in the same room.
Excellent!

Make sure to bring an unprocessed multichannel project and spend a couple of hours mixing with each speaker, first with one speaker pair and then with the other pair. How does it feel setting a basic drum and bass balance? EQing vocals and working with FXs.

And of course bring your reference tracks and listen to them a lot while mixing - preferably uncompressed 16 or 24 bit files from CDs or DVDs.

When you're done with both mixes, print them and compare them on other speaker systems. Which one translates the best?

Suggestion for a couple of reference tracks:

Alison Kraus and Union Station - "Paper Airplane" 24/96-version

Buena Vista Social Club - "Chan Chan" 24/96-version

Massive Attack - "Paradise Circus"

Deadmau5 - "Arguru"

Josh Groban - "Love Only Knows"

AC/DC - "For Those About To Rock"

Depeche Mode - "Welcome To My World"

Foals - "Spanish Sahara"

Radiohead - "Karma Police"

Crank up the volume on the two last and prepare to visit two great music universes. :-)
Both sound great on the Questeds - very physical mixes.


Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Old 6th November 2013
  #18
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
Excellent!

Make sure to bring an unprocessed multichannel project and spend a couple of hours mixing with each speaker, first with one speaker pair and then with the other pair. How does it feel setting a basic drum and bass balance? EQing vocals and working with FXs.

And of course bring your reference tracks and listen to them a lot while mixing - preferably uncompressed 16 or 24 bit files from CDs or DVDs.

When you're done with both mixes, print them and compare them on other speaker systems. Which one translates the best?

Suggestion for a couple of reference tracks:

Alison Kraus and Union Station - "Paper Airplane" 24/96-version

Buena Vista Social Club - "Chan Chan" 24/96-version

Massive Attack - "Paradise Circus"

Deadmau5 - "Arguru"

Josh Groban - "Love Only Knows"

AC/DC - "For Those About To Rock"

Depeche Mode - "Welcome To My World"

Foals - "Spanish Sahara"

Radiohead - "Karma Police"

Crank up the volume on the two last and prepare to visit two great music universes. :-)
Both sound great on the Questeds - very physical mixes.


Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Your the man ! Great advice, I will be doing so as requested.

Quick update to everyone in the thread, I have some breathing room, as the timing for me, the Quested Rep and the Focal SM9 studio out here can't seem to orchestrate anything for about 3-5 weeks down the road. So just wanted to let everyone know. Be patient, and keep the thread updated as things progress.

The good news in that, is it gives me plenty time to get my materials and plan ready.

Thanks again to all !
Old 10th March 2014
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infa View Post
Your the man ! Great advice, I will be doing so as requested.

Quick update to everyone in the thread, I have some breathing room, as the timing for me, the Quested Rep and the Focal SM9 studio out here can't seem to orchestrate anything for about 3-5 weeks down the road. So just wanted to let everyone know. Be patient, and keep the thread updated as things progress.

The good news in that, is it gives me plenty time to get my materials and plan ready.

Thanks again to all !
Giving this thread a bump. Did you get any speakers to try out yet?

Can anyone else chime in with regard to their opinions of the S3X-H/SM9s?
Old 1st October 2014
  #20
Gear Head
 

Bump
Old 2nd October 2014
  #21
ECM
Gear Addict
I would not listen to personal thoughts on which a person likes more, both very different monitors, like the list in the first post, they are all very different to each other and cater for different people. I much prefer the S3X to the SM9 (More detailed, open, clarity, more power etc) but the next man could prefer the SM9.
Old 2nd October 2014
  #22
Gear Addict
Having had the The barefoot mm27 and Sm9 they are both fantastic speakers one thing you may want to consider is how loud you intend to play them and what type of music you do. In my opinion the Sm9 where not as loud as I wanted them to be. Again this is why I ask what type of music you do. I happen to make techno music and sometimes I need that club feel and the Sm9 just left me feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Another grip is that the focus mode buttons where on the side which make it quite unusable if the monitor is sitting more than 3ft away from you. They should of implemented a foot switch.
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