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Old 6th August 2014
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Audiovisjon's Avatar

The Final Choice !

Hi guys !

It is so cool of you to keep this thread going with so many insightful thoughts and comments. Really nice reading indeed !

To be clear I would like to state my final decision in the choice of monitors and why. The monitors I used before this test was Barefoot mm27 and Pmc Mb2 Xbd.

As I stated before . I could probably do my work and be pretty happy with either one of these magnificent monitors. To me it came down to which and how many qualities I needed to be included all together in one design. I finally found the Geithain monitors which completely exceeded all my expectations and had every quality I could wish for in a speaker. I ended up buying the Geithain RL801K1 and the RL944K1 .

The basic point of a studio monitor is to provide a realistic picture of whats going on and show your tracks as true to the source as possible. However.. This thread has shown that realistic is a definition thats not a constant between engineers. Everything affects everything in the world of sound and we all experience differences to how we perceive sound as realistic or "true to the source". I must also confirm that my ears and perception abilities has changed a lot over the years. My abilities to hear balance in a production is definitely much improved compared to my definition of "realistic" reproduction 20 years ago.

It is great to define speakers as punchy , tight , bright , smooth , detailed , open , wide , big , small , slow , fast , translative , accurate , balanced but we have to be aware that these words mean different things to different engineers depending on their experience , education , age , taste , room and acoustical conditions , musical inspiration thru life and so on. Because I decided to walk away from the Barefoots I have heard many accusations about me not being ready to hear my tracks with open pores and magnifying glass. This is of course a very wrong assumption , at least from my point of view.

I have always been very impressed by speakers I have described as hyper detailed like the Barefoot mm27. They show you everything with open pores thru a magnifying glass and adjustment in 0.1 db can be perceived as wrong or right. To achieve such a design is impressive , no doubt about it.
However.. The big downside with these speakers is also the same as its merits . All my material is presented to clear and detailed compared to the real world which makes me go 1 db on the eq instead of 2 db on every track . If I go the hole 2db they screem wrong and my ears hurt even though this would translates better. Along with questionable translation, the lack of inspiration along with hurtful ear-fatigue made me look for something else. The hyper detailed feature is great for editing work but not for everyday mixing and mastering tasks in my experience. It has nothing to do with being afraid of "big pores" but rather my definition of realistic sound reproduction.It seems like some Barefoot owners are offended by me moving on to a different speaker. This is absolutely not my intension and I hope we can share the benefits of being honest to our experience instead of being offended by another mans choice. I refer to my introduction about the definition of realism not being a constant among engineers.

Now .. many people swear by having several sets of speakers side by side to cover these different aspects of monitoring. Every speaker in the test was suffering one way or the other by resonance ,interference and phase deviation by a speaker cabinet nearby. This was also one of the reasons why I did not consider having multiple sets of speakers side by side in my studio but instead one ultimate near field on motorised stands. This way I can have them completely out of the equation when working on the mains.

So.. This is the Geithain qualities I found and fell in love with.

The Truth
I have tried to highlight every aspect of a speaker regarding finding the one with the most truthful picture that interacts with the way I perceive and mix music. This means a reference that produces sound as accurate as possible related to how I interact as an engineer. If I feel like doing a 2db adjustment I want this decision to translate and not having to come back and back it off 1db. I want to be able to compress a drum kit to the point where i feel the beat and know that the speaker isĀ“nt helping me with overly tight or punchy bottom end.
I want the reference to be thru to the source as how I perceive truthfulness . Not to wet , not to dry , not to 3d , not to 2d , not to wide or narrow, not to big or small , tight or punchy but balanced in every way. This was what I found in the Geithains after the gracefully recommendations from fellow gearslutz members.

I could describe the sound as very balanced ,transparent, detailed and accurate with a big and wide virtual window, but the most describing word would be calm and natural. They don't seem to exaggerate anything and every quality is presented with confidence and calmness. This adds a level of inspiration in the everyday work which naturally has a big impact on the resulting product. They are by no means a flattering monitor and present the flaws as accurate as the pro side of a production. They sound just as natural or thruthful playing a smooth jazz production to a modern rock song making them an accurate reference no matter what genre your in.

The imaging is something else on the Geithains and something that " floored" me right away when listening to them. I really don't mean like "high end" little bit better than the rest , but rather a big step and a game changing experience. I measured them after this experience and confirmed a close to perfect phase response better than any other speaker in the test. When i received the bigger RL801K1 I could also confirm a sensational phase response with the same exceptionally imaging features. This contributes to an overwhelming confidence in mixing the balance between the five elements. I don't think the aspect of good imaging can be overdone it just gives you a better control over the different elements of the mix. The only speaker I think came close to the Geithain Imaging was the Amphion .

Frequency response
The Geithains cardioid design along with the concentric driver contributed to the best overall response interaction in my room. I have had speakers that has measured 10db worse in the bottom end compared to the RL944K1.It is like the room isn't really there and I am listening to the direct sound of the speakers rather than the reflections and room interactions. Every note is balance all the way down to about 33hz with more than enough headroom which is exceptionally for a single 8" driver. This makes my brain perceive the sound as very un-confusing , calm, realistic and accurate. The aspect of imaging and frequency interaction made me confident that the steep investment was worth the money.

The aspect of translation has been tested thoroughly with mixes shared on gearslutz and with fellow engineers in Norway. About 90% of the feedback about translation has confirmed that my interaction with the RL944K1 is the best. I feel more confident mixing and mastering than ever before. I am not sure I work faster than before but I work different and more enjoyable with these in my possession .

I tested the speakers for headroom and distortion when pushed. In general the closed box design seems to have less artefacts when pushed. The port design often starts to pump and breathe when pushed a bit. Still..Regarding headroom I would say the Genelec 8260 and the Barefootmm27 was the clear "winners" with seemingly endless headroom . Other than impressing clients I don't see endless headroom as a vital quality as long as its within what you need it to be.
The RL944K1 has a red light that lights when you hit the overloading limit. I have not seen the light yet. Even with cinema settings and modified eq presets that puts an extra load on the elements I feel the headroom is more than enough. They play very effortlessly in a way that don't make me scared when renting out the studio to hiphop producers etc.
Size and virtual window:
When working with main speakers you don't want the line of site to be blocked by a big near field speaker. That is usually the fact if you want a near field speaker that provides a big virtual window to work with. The size of the RL944K1 is about 39cm x 25cm and this speaker provides the biggest virtual window in the test. Every elements seems bigger with more space and separation. This lets me get a closer look on individual tracks in a mix which leads to less soloing and more mixing with multiple elements present in the song. It also contributes to less strain on the ears and more inspiration when working.

My experience with speakers with good imaging is that it comes at the cost of a smaller sweetspot. Both vertically , horizontally and front to back. i have confirmed this with most speakers in the test. The Geithains was the first speaker with incredible imaging along with a very wide sweetspot. i take it that the combination of concentric design and cardiode response results in the ear hearing more of the source from one point in space. Direction then comes easier to understand because it comes from fewer points in the room. The same way its easier to determined direction from one mono speaker compared to two speakers summed to mono.
Anyway.. This was a very welcome feature me and my clients love .

Placement and room-interaction
The RL944K1 seems to be the most forgiving speaker to place in the test. The interaction in different rooms , with speakers on their side , close or far from walls etc had far less impact compared to most of the other designs. I did test the Geithains in a very small studio right up to the wall and they still sounded to my satisfaction. I would imagine this to be an indispensable quality for people who need to bring their speakers to different places.

Though I had some mobile phone interference on the RL944K1 demo model the new model I bought is absolutely silent. The "white" noise from the amplifiers is very quiet and i have to put my ear right up against them to hear them working. The only speaker in the test I experienced as even more silent was the passive Amphion with the hypex Ncore400 amps. Those were close to quiet as in " wonder if they're on ? " . Sitting in front of a speaker that spits noise at you all day long is not healthy so I consider this worth mentioning.

It is important to emphasise that all of this reflects my experience. I can not guarantee whether or not my opinion transfers to any of you but hope nevertheless some might benefit of my line of thought.

( For some reason I was not "allowed" to post pictures . The manage attachment knob is gone in my browser? )

Here is a link to my final setup with Geithain RL801K1 and RL944K1. I even took some pictures with the widescreen elevated down from my ceiling.

Enjoy !