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monitor placement question Studio Monitors
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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monitor placement question

Hi,

I am wondering what you guys with mastering facilities think about flush-mounted speakers vs. free-standing?

Happy Thanksgiving!


cheers,


audioforce
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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The Mastering Lab (in Ojai) and Masterfonics are two examples of superbly-tuned sound rooms with soffit-mounted speakers. The two Masterfonics rooms have nearly the 6 dB ideal of stereo summing for identical, in-phase signals, according to G.M. However, the acoustician (Hidley) and speaker designer (Kino-shi-ta) worked together to pull that off. If one worked without an acoustician and wanted to get store-bought, over-the-counter speakers to work well, s/he'd probably have an easier time using free-standers and experimenting with placement, toe-in, and wall treatment.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S_mask View Post
The Mastering Lab (in Ojai) and Masterfonics are two examples of superbly-tuned sound rooms with soffit-mounted speakers. The two Masterfonics rooms have nearly the 6 dB ideal of stereo summing for identical, in-phase signals, according to G.M. However, the acoustician (Hidley) and speaker designer (Kino-shi-ta) worked together to pull that off. If one worked without an acoustician and wanted to get store-bought, over-the-counter speakers to work well, s/he'd probably have an easier time using free-standers and experimenting with placement, toe-in, and wall treatment.
Thank you for that. I'm very interested in learning people's experience and opinions on this apparently sometimes debated issue.


audioforce
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Northward Acoustics rooms are all designed around soffit mounted speakers now. Thomas has posted some details in the acoustics subforum.

Here is one recent thread on a Northward build:

Archive Mastering - a Northward FTB build recap
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Basically 99% of our rooms are in-wall or in-glass. Even the new Sterling Sound we designed in NJ and Nashville that opened a few months ago moved to full in-wall.

The three or four rooms that aren't are "quasi in-wall" mounted and hence behave pretty much like in-wall. The last one we did that way (it will remain the last one) is Matthew Gray in Australia designed ca. 2012. It can only work well with specific types of speakers and Matt had such speakers.

Though we don't accept projects/designs where main speakers are not to be fully mounted in-wall anymore.

In-wall is much, much more performant than free standing. It's becoming the norm again in most pro studios and Mastering.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Having used these same ATC150s freestanding for a few years, and now in-wall, I can say with confidence that I do want to go back to freestanding speakers ever again.

The difference is quite astounding. The big catch though is that it has to be done right. That’s where someone like Thomas comes in.



Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
Northward Acoustics rooms are all designed around soffit mounted speakers now. Thomas has posted some details in the acoustics subforum.

Here is one recent thread on a Northward build:

Archive Mastering - a Northward FTB build recap
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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Thanks for replies so far, folks. Looks like some are happy with flush mounted monitors, but only under certain conditions.

I am still interested to also hear opinion from more of those who have opted for free standing as to why that choice was made.


cheers,

audioforce
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Having used both I like my Alon IVs free standing. I had a pair of Yamaha NS-1000 soffit mounted and they sounded great but the Alon's sound incredible free standing. I think a lot depends on the speakers, the acoustics and what kind of sound you are looking for. FWIW
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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I too have used both, and second the idea that in-wall needs to be done right but can yield excellent results. Disclaimer: I should say that my experience with soffit mounted speakers was for track and mix, not mastering, but both speakers and room in the studio I'm thinking of were designed by Roger Quested, and I could easily see how the system might apply to mastering.

Interestingly, we now have a third way in the Dutch & Dutch 8c stand-mounting speakers, which leverage the near presence of a front wall to modify and control their low frequency properties. This, combined with a cardioid response to the rear, for me (and I'm not the only one to notice this) can give an effect not unlike that of an in-wall setup.

While I have no doubt that if I had the cash I'd commission a room and ATCs from Northward tomorrow, the combination of the 8cs and my more modest space have given results as good as I've heard anywhere. Useful to know that there are effective solutions to suit a range of budgets, and as with so much in audio there's more than one way to get the job done.

Last edited by lowland; 2 weeks ago at 10:59 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Hello again,

So it seems to me that the majority of mastering engineers are using free-standing monitors.

Is there a reason for this? Or is it just easier? Or cheaper?

Maybe some more MEs who are using free standing speakers can chime in with their reason[s] for doing so.


Thanks,


audioforce
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
Hello again,

So it seems to me that the majority of mastering engineers are using free-standing monitors.

Is there a reason for this? Or is it just easier? Or cheaper?

Maybe some more MEs who are using free standing speakers can chime in with their reason[s] for doing so.


Thanks,


audioforce
Easier, cheaper and more adjustable.

A poorly-designed in-wall solution could present major problems, as short of a major rebuild there'd be little or no possibility of moving speakers to mitigate room anomalies, adjust toe-in etc. Freestanders, on the other hand, are usually fairly easy to reposition, with the help of a friend where necessary for larger/heavier boxes.

For these reasons effective soffit-mount tends to be the province of the professionally-designed high end, or of those DIYers who really know what they're doing acoustically.

BTW - I know someone who had to rebuild a (stone) front wall to improve speaker performance: it came out OK in the end, but was an expensive, unpleasant time for the owner.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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You can design a great-sounding and accurate room with either infinite baffle (flush-mount) or free-standing, but flush-mount certainly solves a few problems like edge diffraction and some SBIR issues. It increases efficiency with respect to amplifier power and low end, but high levels aren't as important in mastering studios as in for-hire recording/mix studios so that is one area that the benefit may less significant for mastering studios.

If you go with free-standing, what you have behind (and around) the speakers becomes critical. You don't want low frequencies bouncing from a couple feet behind the speaker and combining with the direct sound.

Beyond the "tweaky" nature of many mastering engineers' personalities, and the desire and ability to adjust and modify from time to time, a couple of historical contributing factors to mastering studios using free-standing monitors have been that studio mains just did not have the resolution demanded by mastering engineers. Also it was thought that something more akin to an idealized consumer use model might offer better translation for the final phase of production. Things have changed since the 70s and 80s and we are no longer limited to Urei 813s and Altec Big Reds, and we know more about psychoacoustics and translation, though of course open topics remain.

While on the subject it is worth noting a quick terminology clarification: "soffit-mount" is what happened years ago when you mounted speakers in a big, boxy extension off the wall above the control room glass (a soffit), a design which has some problems. These days it's "flush-mount" or "infinite baffle" that we are seeing a trend towards, and though distinct from one another, many still refer to it as "soffit-mount" out of habit.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
You can design a great-sounding and accurate room with either infinite baffle (flush-mount) or free-standing, but flush-mount certainly solves a few problems like edge diffraction and some SBIR issues. It increases efficiency with respect to amplifier power and low end, but high levels aren't as important in mastering studios as in for-hire recording/mix studios so that is one area that the benefit may less significant for mastering studios.

If you go with free-standing, what you have behind (and around) the speakers becomes critical. You don't want low frequencies bouncing from a couple feet behind the speaker and combining with the direct sound.

Beyond the "tweaky" nature of many mastering engineers' personalities, and the desire and ability to adjust and modify from time to time, a couple of historical contributing factors to mastering studios using free-standing monitors have been that studio mains just did not have the resolution demanded by mastering engineers. Also it was thought that something more akin to an idealized consumer use model might offer better translation for the final phase of production. Things have changed since the 70s and 80s and we are no longer limited to Urei 813s and Altec Big Reds, and we know more about psychoacoustics and translation, though of course open topics remain.

While on the subject it is worth noting a quick terminology clarification: "soffit-mount" is what happened years ago when you mounted speakers in a big, boxy extension off the wall above the control room glass (a soffit), a design which has some problems. These days it's "flush-mount" or "infinite baffle" that we are seeing a trend towards, and though distinct from one another, many still refer to it as "soffit-mount" out of habit.

Thanks, Jay.

So it can be done successfully either way, right? What are you using in your room? You've probably tried both?

Can you point to any downsides, sonically, for flush-mount systems?


cheers,

audioforce
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
While on the subject it is worth noting a quick terminology clarification: "soffit-mount" is what happened years ago when you mounted speakers in a big, boxy extension off the wall above the control room glass (a soffit), a design which has some problems. These days it's "flush-mount" or "infinite baffle" that we are seeing a trend towards, and though distinct from one another, many still refer to it as "soffit-mount" out of habit.
Thanks for this.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
Thanks, Jay.

So it can be done successfully either way, right? What are you using in your room? You've probably tried both?

Can you point to any downsides, sonically, for flush-mount systems?


cheers,

audioforce
Sure, there are numerous examples of successful rooms both ways. Thomas' rooms are great with flush-mount, but nobody would say Bob Ludwig's room with free-standing is a hack. New Sterling rooms are flush-mount, but the old ones clearly managed to do tons of good work with free-standing. In my case, our mix room is flush-mount and my mastering room is free-standing.

There aren't any significant downsides to properly done flush-mount, but it does need to be done right. You don't get a second chance (without tearing it apart and starting fresh), and there is more to it than just sticking speakers in a wall. If you don't have the budget or expertise then you can do more harm than good. I guess that's the downside; there isn't really a cheap, easy, forgiving entry-level option for infinite baffle. You need to commit and dive right in to the deep end.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
Sure, there are numerous examples of successful rooms both ways. Thomas' rooms are great with flush-mount, but nobody would say Bob Ludwig's room with free-standing is a hack. New Sterling rooms are flush-mount, but the old ones clearly managed to do tons of good work with free-standing. In my case, our mix room is flush-mount and my mastering room is free-standing.

There aren't any significant downsides to properly done flush-mount, but it does need to be done right. You don't get a second chance (without tearing it apart and starting fresh), and there is more to it than just sticking speakers in a wall. If you don't have the budget or expertise then you can do more harm than good. I guess that's the downside; there isn't really a cheap, easy, forgiving entry-level option for infinite baffle. You need to commit and dive right in to the deep end.
Thanks again, man.


Aside from the points you raised, I do wonder about difficulty switching between different monitors and / or being able to move things around in the room [or even bringing in additional gear] if you have an infinite baffle system. Do you do any of that in your mix room? How do you work it?


cheers,

audioforce
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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Thanks to everyone for the replies / information. I appreciate it.

I'll bump this in case anyone has any thoughts on strategy for using infinite baffle systems while still being able to switch between more than one set of monitors while working. How to do it? Or should it be avoided altogether? Also, what about making changes to the room after monitors are already placed? Anybody find that to be an issue?


cheers,


audioforce
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