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PA Speakers vs Nearfield Monitors for Rehearsal Studio
Old 18th May 2017
  #1
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PA Speakers vs Nearfield Monitors for Rehearsal Studio

Hello. I remain confused about what are the right speakers for rehearsing in a studio. PA's or near field monitors?

My use:
- amplifying digital piano, synths, keys, drum machine, & vocals
- sometimes rock band (with drummer) loud, but more commonly, 'just loud enough' volumes for solo, duos.
(I am not talking about mixing.)

I think the answer is PA's.

Pros/Cons as I see them:

PA cons:
- for the same money, you get better fidelity with near field monitors.

Near Field Monitor Cons:
- restricted dynamic range compared to PA's. Less "live" like.
- may break when doing rock band loud. Or, potentially with mic feedback.

--
What's tripping me up is I use lower volumes about 90% of the time. And vocals about 50% of the time. And I like fidelity. ... I think I'm on the right path thinking PA's are for me. What do you think?
Old 18th May 2017
  #2
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Soothing Sound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsetto View Post
Hello. I remain confused about what are the right speakers for rehearsing in a studio. PA's or near field monitors?

My use:
- amplifying digital piano, synths, keys, drum machine, & vocals
- sometimes rock band (with drummer) loud, but more commonly, 'just loud enough' volumes for solo, duos.
(I am not talking about mixing.)

I think the answer is PA's.

Pros/Cons as I see them:

PA cons:
- for the same money, you get better fidelity with near field monitors.

Near Field Monitor Cons:
- restricted dynamic range compared to PA's. Less "live" like.
- may break when doing rock band loud. Or, potentially with mic feedback.

--
What's tripping me up is I use lower volumes about 90% of the time. And vocals about 50% of the time. And I like fidelity. ... I think I'm on the right path thinking PA's are for me. What do you think?
Ever heard of tinnitus?
Old 18th May 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
 
JayTee4303's Avatar
We use Carvin LM-153 tops, three-ways, to avoid the dreaded "1 kHz Hole Effect", driven by a Crown X-4000, 2000 watt power amp, in the Live Room, and studio monitors in Tracking, and the Control Room. We've had the mains in the LR up to 114.8 dB, measured, A, Fast, for a very brief test, and that's all we'll ever need. MIGHT add a sub in there, we have the amp for it, but findng one with the response we need in a small enough footprint...well, it hasn't happened yet.
Old 18th May 2017
  #4
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soothing Sound View Post
Ever heard of tinnitus?
What? What'd you say? ... What?

All day long. But, I don't think it's tinnitus. I think it's gearslutitus. Mental, not mechanical.
Old 18th May 2017
  #5
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayTee4303 View Post
three-ways, to avoid the dreaded "1 kHz Hole Effect", ...
3-way. Great. I been limiting my search to 2-way. Makes great sense though.

So, I'll take that as a PA > near-field.
--
And re: tinnitus remark. No, as much as possible, I try to keep it low. Which is what makes me re-consider the near-field for better fidelity. But, something tells me, that even a PA, during low volumes, has better dynamic response. (Great for digital piano).

Is there another kind of speaker to consider for the uses I've described?
Old 19th May 2017
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsetto View Post
3-way. Great. I been limiting my search to 2-way. Makes great sense though.

So, I'll take that as a PA > near-field.
If I'm trying to dial in the exact resonant filter on a synth patch, in the context of a mix, I'll take studio monitors, w sub, every time.

If I'm trying to light a fire under a hung-over drummer on the 87574635252th take of a hard rock corker, way past quittin time, give me the house mains, and turn it TF up!

Situational awareness.
Old 19th May 2017
  #7
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Thread Starter
Okay. I get what you mean by those two ends of the spectrum. But what about general playing? Let's say not at rock band/drummer levels. But at amplified voice, maybe duo with electric guitar levels.
Old 19th May 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
 

First off PA gear is not Near Field. They are designed for just the opposite, throwing the sound long distance. Depending on how tight the room is you may wind up having more feedback then actual sound.

What you can do is use self powered PA monitors. They are short to medium throw and you can sit them in front of a mic just like you would live. Youd still have issues with the other recording mics picking it up but I've recorded with both PA and monitors for over 30 years. Its a matter of how well you can isolate things in the room and absorb refection. My studio is converted garage and I heavily sound proofed to avoid problems with the neighbors. I have secondary walls, multi layers of materials and its super dead in there . Sound travels in a straight line and doesn't reflect back much so I can get pretty good isolation using PA for scratch vocals when we record with the band. This eliminates the need for wearing headphones. So long as there isn't allot of bleed over I can always go back and redo the vocals using a high quality studio mic.

You cant use many condenser studio mics through a PA because of feedback and bleed over. I instead use hand held condensers designed for live work and they have a shorter proximity like a standard dynamic mic has.

Back at one time I used to use headphones for everyone when recording. It works too but there are drawbacks especially for people who don't record regularly. They tend to change how they play and change they're tones to sound good through headphones and if the headphones aren't linear they're record tone suffers big time. People who play live regularly can be better off just hearing they're instruments in the open air and hearing the other players. Besides your ears start to sweat after the first song and you wind up having to crank them too high with a drummer in the same room.

If you have a closed drum booth, then you can run them and not have all the false bottom end penetrating the headphones making the players think the mix had more bass then it does. Same thing with a live singer, If you have an isolated vocal booth then you can have complete separation there. Thankfully we have multi tracking capabilities so its simply easier to do just enough vocals to keep the band on track then go back and do a studio quality cut for those. Same for lead guitars. You can of course try any method you want. I like the open air method. I take taps off the PA mics and record those direct, record the bass direct, record guitars with mics and speaker emulate line outs and drums with mics. So long as the drums, rhythm guitar and bass are tight I'm not to concerned about the rest because I can go back and give those a redo in a solo situation and get the sound and parts nailed down tight.

I can say I have captured many songs that were all live including the vocals that cant be improved upon. Some things happen when playing live they simply cant be recreated and even with the lower quality vocals there's an energy there essential to the songs. You often have to do a whole lot more mixing but its worth it some times.
Old 19th May 2017
  #9
Gear Maniac
I'd just get some active PA speakers. The latest crop are pretty damn good.

Consider this:
- You go with studio monitors
- You use them at moderate volumes, and it sounds really good.
- You use them loud, and they either burn up or simply aren't loud enough
- You go out and buy some PA speakers.

Drum kits are loud, and if that's something you're competing with, then the only studio monitors I'd be considering are those really big 3-way Genelecs.

You won't be able to use PA speakers to decide on the last 0.1dB changes to the sliders on the 31-band graphic inserted on one of your reverbs. But they will give you a good idea of what's going on, and survive night after night of abuse.

Chris
Old 19th May 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsetto View Post
Okay. I get what you mean by those two ends of the spectrum. But what about general playing? Let's say not at rock band/drummer levels. But at amplified voice, maybe duo with electric guitar levels.
I ALWAYS start a rough mix on Dell PC speakers with a single, 2 inch driver, on each. It gets the mids right. You aren't going to hear kick or bass thump on a celllphone, but you CAN hear beater click and bass "wood". Same idea for HF.

I use studio monitors next, to get balance for the extended frequencies not audible on the Dells.

I used to run mixes thru up to 10 additional systems, all shapes and sizes, but anymore, the control room is dialed in so well it translates without all the additional checks. This, after I added a sub, 5 inch HS50m's, and an HS8s.

Not on purpose, but it always works out that finished mixes also get played on a phone, and thru the house mains, in the live room. It's been a good long while since what I heard on the mains or a phone made me go back and re-mix.

Where we monitor any given hour on any given day depends on where we're working, which goes to the purpose of each room. Live room is everybody face to face, quick n dirty, as much flexibility and as little tedious tweaking as possible.

Tracking covers high end E guitars, keys and bass, and Iso is for vox and acoustic instruments. The live room, being the largest, has the house mains, the rest use monitors. Live room's into Motu 2408 mk2 ADCs, at 105 dB dynamic range. Tracking into 110 dB 2626 converters, Iso and CR into 120 dB Motu HD-192.

Individual can mixers fed by the ADAT return/sync pipes at each station, so we can go to cans, when the situation requires it.

I see your basic question, and my answer is this. You're asking the wrong question. Instead of "which should I get?", the more effective q is "which should I get FIRST?"

And the answer then becomes a function of objectives, priorities, resources, and expected "end" result. Quotes on "end" because it never stops growing.

Your OP clearly stated "rehearsal, sometimes w acoustic drums." It did not say whether you want to cut a few demo tracks, or eventually compete with East West.

Demos only? Acoustic drums? Rehearsal? PA cabs may do you forever.

A place like East West has 130 dB studio monitors. Rip your face off mastering quality. Buying PA cabs, if headed that direction, is wasting money. Buy once, with your end objective in mind. There, available resources now, trump rehearsal needs, now.

In your exact situation, of which I only have limited knowlege and inferrence, I'd tell you to get the cheap Dells and the PA cabs, and save for some decent nearfields.

That assumes you need to rehearse first, want as good of recordings as you can get now, and want higher quality recordings later on.

But what I suggest isn't the point. The logical decision making process is. Once you define immediate objectives, long term objectives, priorities, and resource flow, and remember to either buy once or buy used, your questions should answer themselves.

Not blowing you off. This is the fourth (and final) iteration of my studio. This is the process I WISH I'd used since day one.

:-)
Old 20th May 2017
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
Great feedback! Thank you.

1. I will use passive speakers. That decision is done.
2. I am confused about long throw and near throw. I am aware of its existence, just don't really understand it.
3. I have an old pair of HR824's at a cramped mix desk.

Today my space is absolutely tiny. One day, hopefully it will be in a 200-300sf room. It will never be in a room larger. I'm trying to buy for today, with a small consideration of that mid-size room.

I'm good on amps. I can go any way on speakers. Except, at this moment, in my small space, I think limiting it to about 14" speaker depth is a good idea. That pretty much eliminates a 15" 3-way.

I definitely do not need long-throw. Today, near-field suffices. Tomorrow, medium throw is all I need.

I've looked at the live monitor selections, and I always end up at the PA's because they have wider dispersion and lower bass response.

I've considered the EV 12" passives (ELX, EKX). I'm also looking at RCF "installation sound" line. Specifically, C5212-99 (90x90). Or RCF 10" C3110-126 (120x60).

One "issue" with those is they are all long-throw, obviously. As a wild guess, i would *suppose* the RCF have better fidelity. But I don't know that. All the speakers I've mentioned are wood boxes. There's no 10" wood EV.

The live monitors are also larger in size. I've got to be ruthlesss about speaker depth, and to a lesser extent width.

Thank you!
Old 20th May 2017
  #12
Gear Head
 

I would go for an HK PA System, they are great!
Old 20th May 2017
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
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Thread Starter
What I need the speakers to do:

1. Must work for amplified vocals at medium levels. This will be a large part of the time. ... I think this rules out monitors, right?
2. Small part of the time they have to work at medium-hitting drummer level volumes, with bass & electric. ... So, forget the 1st requirement, as it has to work here. Right?

Facts:
- the room is 9ish by 7ish now and for at least 1-2 years.

Wants:
- Decent for the following aspects, while being subservient to the above items: fidelity (for digital piano), dispersion, feedback, bass response

(I'm open to a sub. I know what that sounds like in the room, & how to handle it.)
Old 20th May 2017
  #14
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Thread Starter
So now I'm wondering about throw. Long throw, vs medium throw, vs short.

I figured dispersion was a key thing to consider. To better approximate the good stereo image I get from nearfield monitors, I am trying to get speakers with widest dispersion available. (90deg horizontal for the 12". 120 dry horizontal for the RCF 10".)

There will only be 1 left, 1 right.
Old 20th May 2017
  #15
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I absolutely would not put PA speakers in a 9x7 room. I have. I had...lol...a pair of JBL MRX 515s and a pair of Cerwin Vega Earthquakes in a 10 x 10 room. Sounded like hell. Much mud. Just the JBLs...mud.

Its like being inside the speaker cabinet. How are you going to fit a drumkit in there anyway?

I'd look into some NS-10s.
Old 20th May 2017
  #16
OP im doing exactly this. Using active studio monitors in a pretty large rehearsal room. Rock band with drums but a good drummer, and not an overly loud band. It sounds phenomenol, but yes headroom is a concern. You basically get either excellent flat sound around 100-108db or loud crappy pa monitor sound at 115-120db. Pick yer poison. We're using Presonus Sceptre S8's. Theyre unusually loud for "nearfields," loud enough for what we need but just barely. We got good deals on them, less than $800 for the pair. I also use S8's in my home studio room, so its great for me, everything sounds familiar and high quality. Finally can really, really hear whats goin on.

Don't overthink it, your Mackie HR824's are perfect for rehearsing, just use those! I have those too (the old mk1's) and currently they are my home theater speakers. Loud as hell and super deep bass response. Probably for live monitor use youll need to play with the high-pass settings on the back, i know the presonus' were overloading way too easily until i high-passed on the rear, cutting around 60 or 70hz or so and it rly allowed way more volume/headroom.

What Id say is consider incorporating compression on the vox channels to tame them b/c headroom/clipping the monitors is the concern, and also use a graphic eq to ring out the monitors dnt get feedback. Maybe an Ashly or BSS graphic eq. Parametric is fine too, better probably but less fast and forgiving.

Im using a Mackie Onyx board for the rehearsal space, with compression on nearly every channel (lotta fmr rnc's and some dbx units) to maximize volume from the studio monitors while avoiding triggering the internal limiter in the monitors (most have an overload light, or a limiter that kicks in, etc. Gotta keep it under that threshhold). At least consider a master buss compressor or limiter to avoid peaks hitting the monitors too hard.

What i really want now is the presonus studiolive speakers to use as live monitors. Its the same coax speakers as in the sceptre monitors i have, but waaaay louder and for live use. It has onboard dsp also so you can apply a PEQ curve to each speaker digitally with a tablet or computer. Sometimes they go on open box or refurb sales for $800 a pop, pricey. Also looking at db fm10's but i dont want to go backwards in sound quality.

Yer room is small enough, i say just use the mackies, shld be plenty loud. Absolutely dont worry abt throw or dispersion, thats not going to be helpful here in a small/medium room. In fact wide dispersion would HURT in a small room, why do you want the sound axis shooting so wide its just hitting walls and adding reflections. Even in small clubs, dispersion is misunderstood and wider dispersion would probably hurt more than help if it was near a boundary. "Throw" is close to a meaningless marketing term ppl love to argue about, but regardless you dont want any "throw' in a small room.

Anyway good luck!
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