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Barefoot MM27 VS ATC scm25 VS Focal SM9 Studio Monitors
View Poll Results: Which ones would you say is the best for mastering?
Barefoot MM27
72 Votes - 33.64%
ATC scm25
79 Votes - 36.92%
Focal SM9
63 Votes - 29.44%
Voters: 214. You may not vote on this poll

Old 14th September 2013
  #91
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They still have the "Focal" sound to my ear though...
Old 14th September 2013
  #92
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Focal designed all new drivers for the SM9. They are shared by no other model.
Old 14th September 2013
  #93
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Taurean's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by spencerc View Post
They still have the "Focal" sound to my ear though...
They have no sound; they are utterly transparent with scary low distortion figures. From another thread I posted: raw mixes on sm9's are the most jarring because you hear the space and air each track occupies. And with unmixed tracks, this is even more unsettling. No excitement, no smoothness just revelation. In essence, the raw mixes sounded "worse"; the most uncomfortable on the sm9's. At first one may be prone to go with more exciting speakers; more vibey and flattering speakers. But I wanted clinical and flat monitors. Ridiculous low self-noise, low thd, with no dsp in the path, and a leading acceleration factor: just unadulterated sound.

Aside from low end being different, with sm9 siblings there is what some consider forgiving nature in the upper mid range. SM9's do not share this characteristic. The SM9 were a new learning process because they're so clean you think something is missing. All they do is give you what is put in and I learned a lot in the technical respects from increased general research, Focal themselves (thanks Simon), and now from first-hand experience as well.
Old 14th September 2013
  #94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garryrobson View Post
Focal designed all new drivers for the SM9. They are shared by no other model.
That sounds like something coming straight from the marketing department
Old 14th September 2013
  #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TranscendingM View Post
They have no sound; they are utterly transparent with scary low distortion figures. From another thread I posted: raw mixes on sm9's are the most jarring because you hear the space and air each track occupies. And with unmixed tracks, this is even more unsettling. No excitement, no smoothness just revelation. In essence, the raw mixes sounded "worse"; the most uncomfortable on the sm9's. At first one may be prone to go with more exciting speakers; more vibey and flattering speakers. But I wanted clinical and flat monitors. Ridiculous low self-noise, low thd, with no dsp in the path, and a leading acceleration factor: just unadulterated sound.

Aside from low end being different, with sm9 siblings there is what some consider forgiving nature in the upper mid range. SM9's do not share this characteristic. The SM9 were a new learning process because they're so clean you think something is missing. All they do is give you what is put in and I learned a lot in the technical respects from increased general research, Focal themselves (thanks Simon), and now from first-hand experience as well.
All speakers have a sound. To say they don't either just comes from inexperience or ignorance (or perhaps marketing).

And if you think these speakers are clear and have low distortion, you need to hear the Spiral Groove Studio Ones...they'll really show you how much the SM9's are coloring the sound.

I'm not saying they're bad speakers, but they are by no means the flattest, most low distortion speaker out there.
Old 14th September 2013
  #96
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Taurean's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by spencerc View Post
All speakers have a sound. To say they don't either just comes from inexperience or ignorance (or perhaps marketing).

And if you think these speakers are clear and have low distortion, you need to hear the Spiral Groove Studio Ones...they'll really show you how much the SM9's are coloring the sound.

I'm not saying they're bad speakers, but they are by no means the flattest, most low distortion speaker out there.
"Doesn't have a sound" is a relative phrase; that's a given to me. But after testing numerous speakers - and granted within a price range - the sm9 again, had less of a sound in their class while fulfilling other criteria that I was looking for. It's not based on ignorance or inexperience but the exact opposite as well as a certain methodology. If I can I'll again borrow from my previous post: My methodology basically includes:

- Assuring matched SPL readings (if testing against others).
- Referencing commercial CD', but also unmixed music - raw tracks.
- Creating recordings from the monitor and observing frequency response relative to the original, digital file.
- Running test tone sweeps.
- testing for harmonic distortion.
- I will also check for global behaviors i.e. ascertain plots of a given speaker in more than one room whether if I can get to multiple locations and rooms or from somebody else's work space as well as their substantiated perspective. I look for repeating characteristics and average them out: this is a safe bet that it is the speaker with a certain characteristic.
- collecting as much, if not all, technical specs and info
- assuring specs match performance and personal, perspective experience.

You mentioned the Spiral Grooves and they may very well sound awesome and spec'ed well but I was interested in a broader range and fuller featured monitor, and based on simple tests one can do themselves and corroborating these results with official published information it seals the deal for me. I can't account for how you assess monitors and to say that may be marketing is involved in influencing anything is itself presumptuous and ignorant, for one could conversely say the same about any monitor being touted from your end. I can say this, so far the translation working on sm9's has been phenomenal; efficiency is a good word here. Going through a catalog of previous work has been revealing as well, and let's not forget a fun experience.
Old 14th September 2013
  #97
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Cool, sounds like they're working out great for you!

Speakers are so personal...I think in any case people should do more of what you described and test things for themselves.
Old 15th September 2013
  #98
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martijn W View Post
That sounds like something coming straight from the marketing department
This is exactly what I don't like about GS. Even 100% factual statements are shot down in flames. I mean, why bother?

All components of the SM9 were designed for that model. Unlike most speaker manufacturers, Focal designs and manufactures, by hand, ALL their own drivers and tweeters.
Old 15th September 2013
  #99
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lm66's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason rocks View Post
I believe the tweeters and 6" woofer on the Sm9 is the same as the Twins. Amps are different of course.
Woofers on SM9 are not the same as Twins or Solos, they are the same as Electra 906 (which don't exist anymore sadly..) or Utopia (Hifi line of Focal/JMLab).
Old 15th September 2013
  #100
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by TranscendingM View Post
The SM9's are built from the ground up, totally different.
That's what I was told when I reviewed them - here's a link to the June 2012 issue of Audio Media containing the review:

http://www.audiomedia.com/Archives/AudioMedia201206.pdf
Old 15th September 2013
  #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
That's what I was told when I reviewed them - here's a link to the June 2012 issue of Audio Media containing the review:

http://www.audiomedia.com/Archives/AudioMedia201206.pdf
Nice review Nigel
I couldn't agree more about having a remote for the modes.
That's the one thing missing.
Old 16th September 2013
  #102
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by TranscendingM View Post
Nice review Nigel
I couldn't agree more about having a remote for the modes.
That's the one thing missing.
Thanks Bob - you're in good ME company with that name.

Also see my post #59 on page 2 of this thread.
Old 18th September 2013
  #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixerguy View Post
I know the ATC 25 well

I own ATC 150s

How would Focal SM9 sound. Compared to what I know and own?




I had SM9's in here (fully treated studio, yet on the smaller side, this influenced my final decision)

After 2 months of problems i swapped out the sm9's for the atc 25's.
(I have mentioned these technical problems elsewhere wont go into full detail here again)

So, BESIDES the technical issues and just based on the performance etc i would say this...

ATC's sound more musical, yet surgical than the focals. Before i heard the atcs i was a bit worried they wouldnt be enjoyable to listen to as they would be too clinical. Im producing more than mastering. However they are great. I have them coupled well with the neumann 810 sub. I never heard such sound and its quite a revelation. I heard/read all the hyperbole about them but it is accurate, not exaggerated or imaginary. For the amount of the money they are this better be the case!

Focals are great and enjoyable. To me they tend to have their own sound where the atcs allows each recordings character to shine through...good or bad. The focals dont do this aswell, however that doesent mean they are crap, they are unbelievably good. The bass tends to be overexaggerated in here so i had to tweak the eq (unless i was using them with the sub, i alternate). I have the atcs set flat and because i have already set everything up in here with other monitors for the last few months they just sounded great right from the start. Much more clarity. We are being very critical here, but the SM9's sound veiled compared to the 25a's.

Plus the sm9's were too bulky for this room really, and the atcs fit in much nicer. And they didnt break my back quite as much getting them in place!

Also i had the Focal Twins in here before the sm9's for a few weeks...I always find it interesting that they are regulary criticised for being BOTH "soft and forgiving" and "too mid-foward and harsh". I personally found them to hard sounding. Maybe they are harsh sounding so you make soft mixes?

The sm9 is the solution to the twin imo.

The atc so far is the solution to the sm9 (for me, literally)
Old 18th September 2013
  #104
Many of us can't afford the ATC's and I am thinking the Neumann 310's might be a good option. I am leaning more towards the clinical clear sound of them over the colored SM9's.
Old 18th September 2013
  #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garryrobson View Post
Focal designed all new drivers for the SM9. They are shared by no other model.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martijn W View Post
That sounds like something coming straight from the marketing department
Quote:
Originally Posted by garryrobson View Post
This is exactly what I don't like about GS. Even 100% factual statements are shot down in flames. I mean, why bother?

All components of the SM9 were designed for that model. Unlike most speaker manufacturers, Focal designs and manufactures, by hand, ALL their own drivers and tweeters.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lm66 View Post
Woofers on SM9 are not the same as Twins or Solos, they are the same as Electra 906 (which don't exist anymore sadly..) or Utopia (Hifi line of Focal/JMLab).
So much for 100% factual statements I guess..

The tweeter also looks quite familiar. Are are we talking about new designed drivers based on previous (similar) designs?

I'm sure some components have been changed but "new drivers designed dedicated for the SM9" is nothing more than marketing slang...
Old 18th September 2013
  #106
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by garryrobson View Post
Focal designed all new drivers for the SM9. They are shared by no other model.

Yes...but Focal (obviously) designed and built ALL of the Focal models regardless of parts/design specifics so they still all share a similar "sound".

The sm9 does have less of a "sound" than the Twins for example but you can still idenitify that berylium tweeter sound. This doesent stand out as much on the sm9's as the twins, as the sm9's have the bigger bass to balance it all out subjectively.
Old 18th September 2013
  #107
Gear Maniac
 

My favourite aspect of the sm9's was that every single screwhead had FOCAL written in it. I wish they had spent as much time on this as they had on making sure the speakers actually work properly. Even the replacement they sent had a problem. No other brand of speaker in here had similar problems.

The shop i bought them from doesent even stock them because of the problems i encountered. Someone from Focal has to go there and explain to them that they have resolved the problems before they re-stock.



But they WERE nice screws.........
Old 18th September 2013
  #108
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martijn W View Post
So much for 100% factual statements I guess..

The tweeter also looks quite familiar. Are are we talking about new designed drivers based on previous (similar) designs?

I'm sure some components have been changed but "new drivers designed dedicated for the SM9" is nothing more than marketing slang...
Who cares.

You listen with your ears, not your eyes or marketing 'slang'.
Old 28th April 2014
  #109
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I've heard them all but only worked on ATCs and the Focals. It truly depends on what sort of music you are doing. For long periods of mixing or tracking, Focals all the way. Sealed box, lots of low end information without having to crank them.
Old 29th April 2014
  #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Parker View Post
I've heard them all but only worked on ATCs and the Focals. It truly depends on what sort of music you are doing. For long periods of mixing or tracking, Focals all the way. Sealed box, lots of low end information without having to crank them.


SM9's are not actually 'sealed' boxes.
Old 29th April 2014
  #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Parker View Post
It truly depends on what sort of music you are doing.
Nope.. It depends on your taste and room..



Unity audio should be added to the list..
Old 29th April 2014
  #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post


SM9's are not actually 'sealed' boxes.
Well, they don't let air in or out of the box so...what is your definition? Yes they have a radiator.
Old 29th April 2014
  #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umulamahri View Post
Nope.. It depends on your taste and room..
This is simply a matter of opinion. There are speakers I personally would favor if I were working on film scoring or classical work, there are speakers I would favor if working on dance music.

For mastering as the OP questioned, I would personally choose ATC for sure. Long periods of tracking or mixing? SM9 all the way.
Old 29th April 2014
  #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umulamahri View Post


Unity audio should be added to the list..
Have you worked on the Boulders? I'm very curious about these.
Old 29th April 2014
  #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Parker View Post
Well, they don't let air in or out of the box so...what is your definition? Yes they have a radiator.
Passive radiator designs basically work in a similar way as a ported design. They resonate the inner waves outside of the baffle (box), to support/supplement the lows. The difference is they use a tuned diaphragm vs a tuned port. There are differences between them, but what they both share is that they are not a sealed design, they are a resonant design speaker (bass reflex).

Passive radiator (speaker) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are pros/cons to each and every speaker design and it's no different here. For one, a passive radiator has more mass to start/stop, inherently affecting transient response to some degree (that degree of course dependent on the particular specs of the design, e.g. cone size, weight, loading, etc.).
Old 29th April 2014
  #116
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I shall add that the term 'sealed design' speaker is in reference to moving molecules in/out, it's more of an alternating current analogy. In a sealed box, the only thing moving air molecules is the active speakers.
With a port, air moves in/out push/pull like way, just like a passive radiator would move air in/out. A port does it 'passively' too, just without a diaphragm in the way (ok, I simplified this a bit)
Old 29th April 2014
  #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Parker View Post
This is simply a matter of opinion. There are speakers I personally would favor if I were working on film scoring or classical work, there are speakers I would favor if working on dance music.

For mastering as the OP questioned, I would personally choose ATC for sure. Long periods of tracking or mixing? SM9 all the way.
It is...

But in regards to mastering you should always use the same set of speakers that you know very very well. its the only way you will be able to have instant reaction to the material being played. Ear training is everything..

When I say room, im mainly referring to size. and bass response.. Its one of the biggest factor in choosing the right size speaker..


the boulders are great.. they sound great and go very low. good imaging. they feel like speakers in the 15k price range..


I use the rocks daily.. amazing for the price.. and the bass response is very tight. in the right room they start to dip at 30hz.. dare I say one of the most detailed speakers in there price range.. Very revealing..
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