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Why is it that most mastering studios do NOT use "studio monitors"? Studio Monitors
Old 8th March 2018
  #1
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Why is it that most mastering studios do NOT use "studio monitors"?

Instead of "perfectly flat, uncolored" studio monitors like Adams, Focals, Barefoots, etc., it is more common to see audiophile grade STEREO SPEAKERS, like B&W, Lipinski, etc., in mastering studios.

Why is that? Aren't stereo speakers designed to be "flattering"?

Old 8th March 2018
  #2
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firstly they are not really perefectly flat and uncolored

most importandly is high headroom, I dont care about "flatness" of the spectrum as much as being able to listen to the groove and the transients without the drivers compressing
Old 8th March 2018
  #3
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Dig deeper.
Starting from a wrong assumption.
Old 8th March 2018
  #4
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It's commonly advised not to MIX on stereo speakers because of their typical coloration - but then we MASTER on stereo speakers!

That's what I'm getting at. Seems like a paradox.
Old 8th March 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riccardo View Post
Starting from a wrong assumption.
What's that?
Old 8th March 2018
  #6
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Proper mastering studios have a more reliable and honest monitoring system than most recording studios have. Particularly in todays climate of home studios etc.

Recording studios often have to make compromises in terms of acoustics and speakers because of the different practical, budget and space requirements compared to mastering.
Old 8th March 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
Instead of "perfectly flat, uncolored" studio monitors like Adams, Focals, Barefoots, etc., it is more common to see audiophile grade STEREO SPEAKERS, like B&W, Lipinski, etc., in mastering studios.

Why is that? Aren't stereo speakers designed to be "flattering"?

I know a recording engineer who records, mixes, and masters his material on the same system, using a multi-channel Mackie array. He uses what he thinks "works". I'm sure he'd be completely confused by your assertion.
Old 8th March 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
Instead of "perfectly flat, uncolored" studio monitors like Adams, Focals, Barefoots, etc., it is more common to see audiophile grade STEREO SPEAKERS, like B&W, Lipinski, etc., in mastering studios.

Why is that? Aren't stereo speakers designed to be "flattering"?

All that crap is about marketing. It's kind of ingenious...

How (specifically) are speakers supposed to flatter the sound?

Smile curve? Frown curve? Boosted bass? Is bright good? Is warm good?

It's not like KRK Rokits are magically more accurate and detailed than Nautilus 800s just because they said "studio" on the box.

And it's not like MEs use any random hifi speaker, and there are audiophiles who use studio speakers because they sound better (their words).

There are accurate and inaccurate examples called both things.
Old 8th March 2018
  #9
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all i can say is my b&w's are definitely not flattering.
Old 8th March 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
Instead of "perfectly flat, uncolored" studio monitors like Adams, Focals, Barefoots, etc., it is more common to see audiophile grade STEREO SPEAKERS, like B&W, Lipinski, etc., in mastering studios.

Why is that? Aren't stereo speakers designed to be "flattering"?

Lipinski top of the line monitors are designed to be extremely flat, not flattering.

Frequency response:
50 Hz - 20 kHz ±1 dB.
28 Hz - 40 kHz ±3 dB.

+/-1dB for most of the audio range, now that's flat. Many so-called "perfectly flat" speakers can't do that.

Also, their design, having the tweeter surrounded by woofers on opposite sides, helps overcome the problem of localization where the sound can be heard emanating from a specific driver which can be annoying and can cause accuracy problems.
Old 8th March 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poinzy View Post
I know a recording engineer who records, mixes, and masters his material on the same system, using a multi-channel Mackie array. He uses what he thinks "works". I'm sure he'd be completely confused by your assertion.
No, I think he would understand my assertion. My question is why studio monitors - that are designed to be neutral and revealing - are not typically used in mastering studios.
Old 8th March 2018
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
Lipinski top of the line monitors are designed to be extremely flat, not flattering.

Frequency response:
50 Hz - 20 kHz ±1 dB.
28 Hz - 40 kHz ±3 dB.

+/-1dB for most of the audio range, now that's flat. Many so-called "perfectly flat" speakers can't do that.

Also, their design, having the tweeter surrounded by woofers on opposite sides, helps overcome the problem of localization where the sound can be heard emanating from a specific driver which can be annoying and can cause accuracy problems.
Yes, yes - my mistake on that example. They are "monitors".

But I'm wondering why something like the B&W 802 was a standard for so long. It's a "hi-fi" speaker, not a "monitor". Hi-fi speakers are typically designed NOT to be neutral.
Old 8th March 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moostapha View Post
All that crap is about marketing. It's kind of ingenious...

How (specifically) are speakers supposed to flatter the sound?

Smile curve? Frown curve? Boosted bass? Is bright good? Is warm good?
Yes! You "flatter the sound" by NOT being flat! Boosted bass, scooped mids, sparkling highs, etc. These are all things "studio monitors" claim NOT to do.
Old 8th March 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
No, I think he would understand my assertion. My question is why studio monitors - that are designed to be neutral and revealing - are not typically used in mastering studios.
Not true. A lot of mastering studios also use typical studio speaker brands like ATC, PMC, PSI etc.
Old 9th March 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
Hi-fi speakers are typically designed NOT to be neutral.
Proper hifi speakers ARE designed to be neutral. Home audio and hifi are not the same thing but are often confused. High end B&W, KEF's and Harbeth speakers are designed to be neutral. Other manufacturers like PMC and ATC straddle both markets but accuracy is their main aim in both markets.
Old 9th March 2018
  #16
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Maybe the differences between monitors and speakers are more about the way they look than the way they sound. And maybe that is more related to the targeted consumer rather than the product. And maybe mastering studios want their studios to look impressive to potential customers. Since there is not that much else in a mastering studio, a few choice boxes, some "high-end" converters etc., and a big-ass set of speakers, the dominant object in a mastering studios is arguably the speakers. They need to look impressive to impress potential customers. Big and fancy works well I would imagine. And maybe they really do sound different and mastering studios want to approximate the consumer experience.
Old 9th March 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
It's commonly advised not to MIX on stereo speakers because of their typical coloration - but then we MASTER on stereo speakers!

That's what I'm getting at. Seems like a paradox.
Calling the speakers some of these mastering studios use is kinda like calling a Lamborghini a car.

There are some differences.
Old 9th March 2018
  #18
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So called „Studio Monitors“ mostly not have the needed resolution because of cheap and not stereo-matched parts. That begins at the x-over with passing a lot of electrical parts, runs into not expensive amps and ends on the (not matched) driver.

In a mastering studio I want to have the best and up-to-date parts so it is needed to change the D/A, the amps and rarely the speaker itself.
In a Studio Monitor all is together in one box, nothing can be changed or tuned. And mostly they use too small housings because smaller ones can sell better, sometimes that will be compensated per DSP to bring back a nice looking measurement.

A simple vented box is not the best, but cheapest solution for a definite Bass driver. Have a look to Impulse measurements of a “bass-reflex optimized driver that works well in small housings” and then on others. The transients are not sharp and slower.
And there are a lot more other aspects…
Old 9th March 2018
  #19
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Asking just for "flatness" in a speaker tells a very small story only. Theres so much more important aspects when it comes to sound reproduction
The main problem is that looking at freq graphs is the most easiest even for the uneducated, and most manufacteurs are fully aware of this. In a active or DSP based design ssimple "flatness" is quite easy to achieve. Dont let yourself fool by simple measurements, they tell nearly nothing unfortunately.
Old 9th March 2018
  #20
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One could add that it is the room that ultimately determines how "flat" a speaker is. You can have the best speakers in the world but in a poorly designed room they would be far from "flat" and may sound terrible. That is why mastering engineers spend some serious bucks on their rooms AND their speakers.

I use Alon IVs in my room and they sound incredible. I have also used Carver Amazing Loud Speakers and KEF 104/2. I have auditioned other speakers in my room and so far the Alon IVs sound the best and what I master on them translates well into other rooms and listening environments. FWIW

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 9th March 2018 at 02:20 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 9th March 2018
  #21
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I don't know if my ears are flat.
Do you know guys if your ears are flat?
Old 9th March 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
...it is more common to see audiophile grade speaker...
not around here...
Old 9th March 2018
  #23
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by priko View Post
I don't know if my ears are flat.
Do you know guys if your ears are flat?
Not according to this fletcher munson curve - Google Search

FWIW
Old 9th March 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
not around here...
What do you have around there - and are they dedicated mastering studios or are they "mixtering" studios?
Old 9th March 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirochandler View Post
So called „Studio Monitors“ mostly not have the needed resolution because of cheap and not stereo-matched parts. That begins at the x-over with passing a lot of electrical parts, runs into not expensive amps and ends on the (not matched) driver.

In a mastering studio I want to have the best and up-to-date parts so it is needed to change the D/A, the amps and rarely the speaker itself.
In a Studio Monitor all is together in one box, nothing can be changed or tuned. And mostly they use too small housings because smaller ones can sell better, sometimes that will be compensated per DSP to bring back a nice looking measurement.
OK now, this is the kind of reply I expected to my OP. Thank you.

In retrospect, I can partly answer my own question in that many of the "studio monitor" brands I mentioned in the OP are "nearfield" monitors. Most mastering studios, AFAIK, do not use nearfield monitors.
Old 9th March 2018
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ View Post
Asking just for "flatness" in a speaker tells a very small story only. Theres so much more important aspects when it comes to sound reproduction
The main problem is that looking at freq graphs is the most easiest even for the uneducated, and most manufacteurs are fully aware of this. In a active or DSP based design ssimple "flatness" is quite easy to achieve. Dont let yourself fool by simple measurements, they tell nearly nothing unfortunately.
Yes, very true. A speaker can have great frequency response but horrible TIME DOMAIN response.

I like to see "waterfall plots" rather than just an FR graph but few manufacturers provide that info.

And yes, the room is certainly a big factor in the overall system response.
Old 9th March 2018
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Not according to this fletcher munson curve - Google Search

FWIW
Interesting subject here for another post - we know our hearing is not flat but how BALANCED is it left/right? Do we sometimes hear peaks and nulls as a result of left/right ear imbalances?

Considering that, is it possible that some people with "golden ears" actually DO have better ears?

Old 9th March 2018
  #28
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if your speaker is linear in the listening range +/-1dB, this means that you have spent a lot of time placing the speakers and the measuring microphone - and otherwise it doesn't mean anything!

put your speaker close to the wall and he's got 6db more in the bass, put him in the corner and he's got 12dB more lowend - and we're talking about "linear speaker"?
What bull****!

Speaker, speakerposition and spatial properties together with the listening position should be "linear", whereby no human being can stand a linear speaker - in this case "linear" means rather "the desired target-line", which almost always means a decrease from the mids to the heights of 0.5 - 2dB/octave.
some people like me also prefer a decrase over the whole spetrum to the heights of 0.5 - 2dB/octave.

are hi-fi speakers in most mastering studios?
no. but there was a phase where you saw a lot b&w.

many high-end manufacturers use really good components, especially the drivers are bought in higher production lines than most studio loudspeakers.
from a certain point on, the clear division of studio/hifi/high end smears, often the same loudspeaker is available in 2 versions, once black, once with wood veneer and gold clamps for $1000. - more.

interestingly enough, you also see mastering engineers building their own speakers again and again - just in this forum I can think of some spontaneous ones.

sometimes you will find high-end audio products, but all in all more from manufacturers such as atc, pmc, etc. - the studio room designers often even work very closely with loudspeaker manufacturers.

more recently, the trend has also been towards digitally controlled systems - barefoot, guzauski-swift, dutch&dutch, suter/ohlhorst (my system) ASO.

It is impossible to separate the loudspeaker from the room anyway - they have to work together.
Old 10th March 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
Yes! You "flatter the sound" by NOT being flat! Boosted bass, scooped mids, sparkling highs, etc. These are all things "studio monitors" claim NOT to do.
You just described pretty much all of the "studio monitors" that edm/dance producers like. And you missed my point.

No one in the hifi world wants a colored speaker.

They wind up with colored speakers because uncolored speakers are expensive to make.

Remember, the NS-10 was a failed hifi speaker before they wrote studio on the box and it became a staple.
Old 10th March 2018
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
What's that?
I am sorry you took it so badly Jeff, I believe it wasn’t anybody intention to insult. Rather your initial statement felt o most a bit far from reality.

Just to clarify I did not reply as I missed your post and then saw both James, Frank Case, Magnus and Teebaum already replied stating what I would have written anyway.

A studio monitor by definition is a speaker system to be used in a recording (and mastering environment) thus the requirements are for drivers that can take abuse and keep going all day long.
Studio monitors are built to be tough and easy to service.

Rogers/BBC LS, Harbets, JBL, Altec a few decades back were all designed to high specs, in more recent times Studer evolved in PSI, PMC (studio and hi-fi line with diferent tweeters for a reason), B&W used by the truck load by classical oriented recording and mastering facilities the world over are Studio Monitors. ATC have both lines. Most mastering studio use studio monitors, some will use hi-fi lines, exactly the opposite of what I read stated above. Jim Williams would even argue that hi-fi products are way ahead thanks to a much wider audience and therefore income for manufacturers.

Pleasing, rose tinted hi-fi speakers are mostly a thing of the sixties and seventies maybe part of the eighties, with exceptions thrown of course.

So yes mastering facilities do use studio monitors that are relatively flat and to a lesser extent hi-fi lines, and this does not mean the hi-fi ones are less flat than those with the “studio” tag attached.
Small to medium all in one self powered boxes are simply powered speakers. Wether manufacturers choose to attach the “studio monitors” tag to those offering does not mean they actually are analytical tools. I am confident we can all distinguish between sales and marketing pitch and actual performance of a given tool.
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