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RyanC 19th April 2004 12:19 AM

studio monitors

I was thinking about dropping 4k on a pair of A.D.A.M. studio monitors when i realized that they are just the eton woofers and a ribbon tweeter (which looks to be propriatary to ADAM??) and that the amps are probably not as nice as the bryston 4b st that I have sitting here. Then I realized that there are all these great digital XO's that would make testing and tweeking very easy (similer to the DEQX). The other thing that I realized is that most studio monitors lack puch- because they are 2-way designs they use low xmax mid woofers for accurate mids and therefore sacrifice that in your face kick that many HiFi systems have. Also my dad is an expert woodworker who has built many speaker cabs before so I came to the conclusion that I would be able to do better- especially considering that I don't have to tweak the XO by adding components and I only need to get a good amp for the HF drivers. And I could do it cheaper! or way better and the same price. . .

So on that basis I decided to start looking at ribbon tweeters and I found the Aurum Cantus drivers from e-speakers. They look pretty flat, shielded (this is important to me), and they feature a low xo point and they have inexpensive replacement diaphrams- wich is also important to me (as the occasional feedback or somthing is very likley to damage the tweeters sooner or later). I like ribbons because of there near perfect frequency, phase and impulse response- is there anything I should know about them?? (other than the fact that they are relatively fragile)

So I think I am pretty set on the AC G1 tweeter. I will get a behringer 2496 DSP based XO that has up to 48 dB/oct slopes- I am wondering if people who run active setups with ribbon tweeters find it necessary to install a passive HP filter to protect the tweeter??? My main concerns that I can't seem to find in the specs are distortion and thus listening fatuige- Listening to speakers is not my hobby- it is my profession. And I need somthing that I can listen to (at reasonable levels) for 40+ hours a week without my ears burning up. -my current NHT A 20's are great sounding and good to mix on but horrible in this department. The bass from them does not really kick in until the metal dome tweeters are loud enough to really wear you out after a 8 hour session.

Also the XO has 2 notch filters available per band and each is selectible between 6 dB/Oct and 12dB/Oct. Does anyone here have any experience with this device? It is base on Shark DSP's and provides auto-time allingment for all internal functions (as well as manual time allignment if it is needed to increase full range phase accuracy). I do plan on using a test microphone to tune the system.

So with all that in mind the kind folks at told me I should be able to push the XO point all the way down to 1k (using the 48dB/oct Hp filter) for the AC G1. The only thing that I can find that is better than that is the manger (wich has some other drawbacks that i don't like too much) and the raven r3 (a pair of those exhausts 90% of my budget and is no longer available anyway). This system will be active of course (so i still have to buy a good amp for the tweeters).

This seems to be good because now I can use a high excursion woofer that might exibit alot of cone breakup before it would mate well with a normal tweeter with a higher (2-3k) XO point. this wil give me more punch right?

So now the question is 2-way or 3-way??? I have a sub, and of course if this goes well the DIY sub is next. But I do want to be able to achieve an F6 of 40-50hz in my monitors. And I prefer sealed boxes so I will need a driver that can actually do this.

So I went on the hunt for high excursion woofers that seem to be able to play up to about 1k and don't exibit major cone breakup until an octive or more above that. which lead me to the aura ns12, wich has a 2 inch peak to peak excursion and it appears to have a high enought QTS to function well in a sealed cabinet (.43). Am I on the right track here?? does anyone have any experience with this driver??

I emailed Aura and madisound and the company said that it exibits cone breakup at 2k and they recomend an XO freq of 500hz or lower- madisound suggested a freq of 150hz but they said the engineer thought this would be the case due to the 4" voice coil. It seemed to me that this was the suggestion based on specs not necessaryly real world conditions. Neither of the two replied to as to weather or not I could push the XO point all the way up to 1k if I used a 48dB/oct XO. The aura does not exibit cone breakup until about 2k- I would be able to be 48 dB down at 2k and I could use one 12dB/oct notch filter at 2k (so 60dB down at 2k)- But i still have a hard time imagining (in my little world of mental physics) a driver having good control of minute 1k motions while simultainiously traviling 2 inches back and forth. E.G. how well will this driver produce a sine wave bass- a kick drum and the fundamental frequencies (and some first overtones) of a human voice simultainiously??

My understanding is that the larger the voice coil- the more directional the higher frequency information becomes- is this a good rule?? So generally speaking I should not use a driver like that up to 1k unless I plan on sitting in a small sweet spot only??

The other driver that appealed to me was the peerless 10" CSX driver. This one has a smaller VC and a lower linear excursion of 9mm one way (which is still much better than the 3mm vifa's that are in my NHT monitors - or the 4mm of the eton's). The other comparable driver is the FOCAL 11K7512 or the FOCAL 13W8711, wich both have 9mm one way excursion as well. It seems to me that any of these would be a better choice for a 2-way system with the Aurum Cantus. Both of the focals have a qts of about .35 so is that too low for a sealed inclosure??? Again I am not looking for Subwoofer performace in terms of sine waves but I do want that puch and an F3 of about 40-50hz.

So I guess my main question here is- can I get away with a 2-way design?? I know that all these drivers are tested with a sweeping sinewave- what does that mean about their actual performance in terms of music or even pink noise matierial?? I would rather go 3-way if that is what I have to do to attain really good midrange response with actual music. If I went to a three way design I would probably be thinking about a smaller Tweeter with a higher XO point - say a hivi or a ac g2 or G3 and a mid that would bridge the gap between there and probably the Aura ns12- as it seems to be the ultimate expression of punchy low end (at least in terms of specs).

The reasons I would prefer to go 2-way are;
the cost- (3 way means 6 drivers and 3 stereo amps)
and It seems to be difficult to find high- max spl midrange drivers. . .

Oh yea I forgot about this- I am looking for a system that easily hadle peaks in excess of 125dB at 6 feet. And that can handle average levels of 110-115 dB rms. the main thing with the peaks thing is that I am dealing with music that has not yet been compressed (dynamically speaking)- This means huge peaks over average as compared to music that is already compressed in the mixing and mastering stages.

So the Ribbon should be fine here as it is extreemly sensitive and offeres considerable power handleing. So what mid-range drivers are available that can - single handedly (e.g. without needing 2 or more per speaker)- cover the range and the amount of spl that i am looking for?? I noticed the Davis 8" mid or maybe a soft dome mid??

Can mid range drivers be pushed a little further (in terms of max peak and rms spl) when they are HP filtered??

Anyway I am just looking for ideas and I am looking to fill in the gaps in terms of the knowledge that you guys have, from doing it before (I have actually built speakers before but they were passive speakers for playing live - I play piano). Any answers to my rediculous stream of conscience questions or advice or thoughts about other drivers would be greatly appriciated. Thanks,


Stephen D 19th April 2004 02:50 AM

Whew... my short term memory is to poor any more to remember all that! :D I'll just give ya my 2 cents on a couple things. Ribbon seems a good idea for studio monitor because in addition to their good response they have generally good directivity in the vertical axis (minimizing ceiling & floor/table reflections). For studio monitoring you want to minimize room coloration. On the 2 way vs. 3 way... definitely 3 way. This can be either 2 full 3 way speakers or 2 x 2 way satellites crossed to a single sub. I prefer the later. 2 way satellite with woofer from 100 Hz to 1-3 KHz (wherever you choose for your ribbon x over point) would be nice. One beauty of choosing 100 Hz as your target for xover point to sub is it also then matches up nicely to a 5.1 surround setup in case you want to do any surround mixing. I wouldn't think of doing a 2 way with woofer going all the way from 40 Hz to 1+ KHz.... to much Doppler distortion of mids & highs riding on the long excursion of freq that low.

RyanC 21st April 2004 07:05 PM


I was actually debateing between a 3 way with a sub or a 2 way with a sub. So ulitimatly I'm looking at 3 way or 4 way. It sounds like from what you are saying that if i want quality mids and high excursion woofers that I should go 3 way on the monitors (and 4 way total). The main thing here is not to try to get much of anything over 150hz from a high excursion driver right??

what about this

Aurum Cantus G1


PHL mid or focal audiom 6wm or ??????


Aura ns 12 or peerless xls 12 for the lows

The main thing I need in my design is a mid that has high max spl

The reason I am wanting to go this way is that I want my monitors to have much better bass response that what I have now- I have NHT pro a-20's which reach down to about 80 but are lacking considerably around 100-150. The layout of my studio also works better with a sub that is not responsible for punch frequencies- only the thudy stuff say 50 and below. According to the calculations in winisd the aura will go down to about 45 so that is what I am looking for- BTW there are no surfaces here that boost the bass significantly (eg floor or wall or corner) So I need the speakers to do it on there own.

Also if anybody has any driver recomendations- especially for a high max spl mid I would love to hear them.

Also it has been a while since I did this last and I seem to remeber that a driver has an increased sensitivity and max spl when it is put into a cabinet- Is this only below 150hz? and how much additional dB?? thanks again,


A3rd.Zero 21st April 2004 10:57 PM

Im sure you have already thought about this but I thought that I would throw it out anyway. Studio monitors are made to be reference tools, not necessarily the best sounding speaker. If for instance the speaker augments the mids over other frequencies and sounds good because of it it will be a poor monitor because it isn't telling you exactly what your mix is doing. In fact in this scenario you will most likely produce mixes that are light on the mids. Sometimes monitors don't sound all that "musical" but that isn't their job.
The Event Studio Precision 8's are really great monitors with a really flat response, there are also powered versions which are even more predictable.


On the other hand the speaker it sounds like you would build would sure have some killer stuff in it, so it would be damn fun.

CeramicMan 21st April 2004 11:53 PM

Ryan, how about 8" or even 10" aluminium cone speakers from Seas, Visaton or Alcone? (I think the Alcone ones are shielded btw). Maybe pick one out that suits your intentions for box size and highest sensitivity.

There is a problem with using steep filters: ringing, and that is one major thing that causes listening fatigue. It will be practically impossible to sum together 2 steep filters to cancel out that ringing. If it's cancelled out on-axis, then it will be even worse off-axis and vice versa. A Bessel filter is has the maximum possible gradient-delta (sharpness) that doesn't cause any ringing. But, since the filter is not sharp at all (regardless of its order) it requires speakers with a wide frequency overlap. An even wider overlap is needed for Linkwitz-Riley filters.

Even if a speaker has a completely horizontal frequency response, it may still be quite rough as if it has a whole lot of steep bandpass, notch, and comb filtering done to it. Such filtering is mechanical and is caused by several things: internal box resonances that push against the cone, horn-loading, and cone break-up.

If you are sensitive to listening fatigue (as I am), then any soft cone material like paper, fabric, or polypropylene just won't cut it. Many of the so-called "high sensitivity" speakers only get good sensitivity measurements because of their resonant peaks from cone break-ups at relatively low frequencies in the midrange. Sometimes the frequency response graphs aren't even provided (PHL anyone? :apathic: ), or they are smoothed out to hide the most important information. On the other hand, a speaker with a hard cone (like aluminium) will have worse cone break-ups, but at frequencies that are high enough to be filtered out, like 5kHz.

To reduce the effect of internal box resonances, you will need a speaker with a low Qes, and definitely keep to your decision not to use passive crossovers. You may be able to boost the low-frequency sensitivity with a band-pass step filter if you use a sealed box. For this you will need a high-powered amp with high voltage rails that can take advantage of the impedance peak of the woofer.


Ap 22nd April 2004 12:23 AM

If you want high SPL & low distortion (fatigue) - I can see two choices;

A 3 way or a 2 way MTM with a sub.

Now the sub drivers you've picked are just that for sub - I wouldnt go any higher than 60hz with them, so you really need another bass driver, to help with that 'punch range' 100-200hz.

A pair of Eton 7" in an MTM with the AC ribbon would be really nice & relativley simple. An MTM would help minimise floor/ceiling reflections & give you a nice symmetrical repsonse through xover (provided x-point is kept low enough).
My pick would be the Eton 2 x Eton 7-372 in a vented box (vented boxes achiev higher SPL with lower excursion requirements).
If you want to go the 3way route it is considerably more complex & expensive.
PHL / Focal / Eton are all good choices.

till 22nd April 2004 12:35 AM


Oh yea I forgot about this- I am looking for a system that easily hadle peaks in excess of 125dB at 6 feet. And that can handle average levels of 110-115 dB rms.
yea, its possible:,00.html

i think my systems comes near to your specs

RyanC 23rd April 2004 01:53 AM


Thanks for all the good Ideas-

I have a couple of questions-

Can a mid-bass driver achieve higher max spl if it is hp filtered? Say 12dB per octive at 100hz

Also Will the ringing in the steep slopes be an issue with an active dsp based XO? I was hoping it might allow me to cheat a little but maybe not-

To A3rd.Zero

i understand this- that is why I am planning on tuning the system to my room- The XO that I will use is DSP based and has 2 parametric filters per band (boost or cut) in either 6dB/OCt or 12dB oct- It should allow me to obtain a much higher degree of accuracy than any off the shelf system like the events (my passive 20/20's measue in at + or - 15dB in my room!!).

to Ap-

do you really think the aura ns 12 would need to be LP filtered that low?? Why? madisound told me 150 and a rep from aura said 500. I would not want to go that high as I understand that IM goes way up in the HF of a high excursion woofer but I figured I could go at least to 100 or 150 at the highest.

Anyway I think i should be able to obtian sufficient overlap here if I can find a Mid or mid bass woofer that can go from say 100hz to 2k and can produce jthe max spl's in the range that I am looking for.

That is why I am wondering if I were to actually HPF a mid bass driver at 100hz would I be able to squeeze more max spl out of it?

The other thing that I am interested in is amplifier recomendations- I have a bryston 4b st that I can use and I was thinking about one of the studio hafler amps for the tweeter (100 wpc althought I doubt if it will need 1/3 of that). And then maybe find somthing for the mid depending on which one I get.

As you can tell I am leaning more toward the 3-way TMW design, I like the MTM idea but I only need control of downward HF directivity- up is fine (my cieling is acoustically treated), Plus I would like to use the bryston and get the most out of it so it makes sense to me to use it for the woofers. An MTM, in my active design, would probably still be a 3 way (unless it was push-pull right?) . It is my understanding that it is better to have one M run up to the tweeter and the other only up to about 150hz or so?? At wich point it seems to me like- Why not just get a really kicken woofer and a quality mid- each driver being the ultimate (or almost atleast) expression of it's dedicated frequency range.

Again any input here is helpful- thanks again,


Ap 23rd April 2004 05:42 AM

I dont discount the Aura 12 can go higher , what I was alluding to was room placement & blending with the mains. I find it much easier & sonically better when the sub is kept below 60hz, different story if you are using it for a bass driver in a 3way.

I do like MTMs for simplicity & efficiency, as for mixing & matching amplifiers I have never really had good results doing this - although in a studio setup things are different.

And yes you will achieve higher spl by having a HP on your midbass as it will reduce its need for xmax - does that makes sense? In other words excursion increases greatly below 100hz.

PS check out the Dynaudio m2 - large dome mid & a pair of 8" in a 3way - that would work!

CeramicMan 23rd April 2004 06:02 AM

Ryan, can you tell us a bit more about the speakers you currently have? And whether the 110dB-115dB sustained volume is the speaker sensitivity, or in-room loudness?


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