Should the sound be warm or cold? - diyAudio
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Old 10th July 2004, 07:38 PM   #1
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Default Should the sound be warm or cold?

Many say that monitor speakers have a cold sound.
Is this due to the fact that they are flat? Can a monitor be flat and sound warm in the same time? Is it a matter of taste?
Are the Etons sounding any bit cold? Are the ATCs very warm sounding? I have listened to some Tannoy Reveals and they sounded very cold but quite detailed. The man in the shop said that you can't have monitors for your hifi in home. That does mean that everything in the hi-fi or in the high end is coloured? Some others say that paper woofers are warm and coloured (some TAD owners). Please shed some light in this topic.

Thanks in advance!

Mike
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Old 10th July 2004, 08:24 PM   #2
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The number one difference between monitors and 'audiophile' speakers is who they are being sold to, and therefore how the marketing department skews the ad copy. By and large monitors are aimed at pros who know which end is up and don't swallow advertising hype without question; speakers for the non-professional market tend to be over the top with marketing hyperbole. It's not unusual for monitors and home speakers to share identical components.

If the 'man in the shop' recommends against monitors there are 3 likely reasons why:
1. He doesn't sell them
2. He makes a higher profit on home speakers
3. He is clueless
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Old 10th July 2004, 08:59 PM   #3
markp is offline markp  United States
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Frequently monitor speakers are designed for near-field listening like on a console in the studio. Warm and cold are hard to attribute to one variable alone. It is usually a speaker with a dip in the midrange that is called warm while a flat one is called cold but there is more to it than that.
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Old 10th July 2004, 10:49 PM   #4
rdf is offline rdf  Canada
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillFitzmaurice
By and large monitors are aimed at pros who know which end is up and don't swallow advertising hype without question...
Don't believe it Bill. 'By and large' is the operative phrase here. To this day I still see fresh studios sporting horrid Yamaha NS-10's, popularized decades ago by Niles Rogers mixing some forgotten hit with them. For years afterwards producers argued about which brand and how many layers of tissue paper were best taped over the tweeters. At my place of work I finally shelved the Auratones (Horrortones, Monotones..) - 4" 'full range' drivers in 5" cubes, 120 Hz fundamental resonance with a Q=~2 - the producers used all day, the no-bass/no-highs character being easy on the ears over a long shift. They couldn't stand to use the boomy and abrasive 'pro' JBL 4410's on stands directly behind the 'Tones.
There is some truth to what you say, but you let producers off way too easy. In my experience the they would benefit from a few more audiophile delusions.

Michael: 'Pro' monitors can sound like anything. We auditioned the Reveals and felt they weren't as accurate as, for one, the Behringer Truth's at under $600 CDN the pair powered. Nor did the Tannoy Reveals sound anything like the Tannoy 800's in my office. None of them sound like the wonderful PMC's. I never followed up on it but the powered Rolands in one studio have digital inputs and at the time of purchase Roland was working on internal DSP which provide the user a series of presets to make the Rolands sound like other 'pro' monitors!
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Old 10th July 2004, 11:05 PM   #5
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Hmm. I use a Tannoy HPD Dual concentric nearfield monitor for (part of) my 'HiFi at home' & in mono too :-)

The real answer is to let your own ears, not a salesman's talk, decide! I've heard modern 'studio nearfield monitors' with harsh treble, boomy bass and muddled mids that I certainly would not want anywhere near my 'home hifi' - but some studios do have 'monitors' that simulate the 'cheap home/car' sound - purely to check what their recorded material sounds like under these conditions!

Given a comparison between decent quality loudspeakers in well-built boxes (ie not el-cheapo types with the drivers badly fitted into flimsy, rattly boxes) it really comes down to what you (the listener) prefers, how a speaker sounds in your own home (and how much space you/you partner will give loudspeakers!) Any salesman's opinion can only be just that - has he heard any of them in your house? A speaker that sounds 'cold' in a shop listening room (or round a friends) may sound very different in your home, with your furnishings etc etc

I was comparing/testing some loudspeakers today - just switching between them at will (single units were arranged so as to minimise spatial diferences as much as poss - listener sat in common 'sweet spot') I used a crude multi-way switch box to switch the output from left speaker channel of the amp (test was in mono) so a speaker/crossover/enclosure unit was the only variable. The listening room, signal path, cables, source material, even the amplifier channel were all the same.

It was surprising just *how* different they sounded - and how some seemed to 'suit' some types of music better than other types. Yet all (except the one with unfinished crossover) are acceptable for normal listening when heard in in isolation.

I used a Tannoy Eaton, a 1980s Tannoy 8" dual-concentric, a Celestion DL10, a old Mordan Short M25, and three home-built units (one of which I'm sorting a crossover for - hence the test). To be *really* fair, I should have had a sub-woofer connected all the time as the 12" and 10" drivers in bigger boxes are capable of better bass than the bookshelf 8" - aside from that it is interesting to hear the differences in the sound - and from the experiments I did, the crossover makes most of the difference (esp those overbright tops!) when comparing units with same-size bass drivers. Connection to a sweep generator on slow sweep clearly revealed inadequancies around the crossover points.

I know what my own preferences are (the Tannoy Eaton), my two male friends both preferred the newer Tannoy dual-concentric (which I find, like many modern units, to be over-bright) - but we agreed this preference may be due to men's ability to hear high frequencies degrading earlier than women's! We all liked the detail and clarity of the dual concentrics, and preferred the Celestion (an old large-box 3-way design) to than any of the 2-way units.
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Old 10th July 2004, 11:23 PM   #6
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Thanks guys for the replies!

So crossover configurations can result in a warm or cold sounding loudspeaker. Isn't it? For example if we have the same components and cabinets etc but different crossovers we can adjust the sound in the way we like...(correcting the dips in the sensitive midrange area or in the upper-mid 1-6Khz)? Or not?
So if a speaker is idealy flat it is more likely to be "cold" sounding.
Is this the explanation why mega-buck hi-end equipment sounds so uninteresting and dull?
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Old 11th July 2004, 12:11 AM   #7
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Sound should be neither "warm" nor "cold", but "realistic". Of course, it helps to have heard a live performance of the music you're listening to beforehand.

By the way, Linkwitz makes note of a dip that would improve sound for a few types of music.

http://woodartistry.com/linkwitzlab/models.htm#H
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Old 11th July 2004, 12:22 AM   #8
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Yes - take the same drivers and box and play with different crossovers and you will hear the affect on the sound (try an active crossover unit if you ever the chance). Some vintage speakers (ie older Tannoys) allowed adjustment of the passive crossover using controls on the rear - so you could adjust the sound to suit your particular room.

I wouldn't say a speaker exhibiting a very 'flat' response will necessarily sound 'cold' - but one with a less-than-flat response will show some colouration of the sound - and may sound pleasing to a listener. A slight treble peak will be obvious in a room with few soft furnishings, but sound pleasing somewhere with (treble-absorbing!) velvet drapes! Studio monitors might sound 'flat' when heard in a studio - as the room may be acoustically treated to sound 'dead' - which the typical home is not!

Expectations can affect perception of sound too. Music heard regularly as a child on a big valve radiogram, may sound 'wrong' or 'odd' when heard on a modern system with the coloration (and possibly hum) from the radiogram is missing.
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Old 11th July 2004, 12:40 AM   #9
Rocky is offline Rocky  Norway
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Michael,
"Warm" or "cold" sounding speakers are hard to define. Different people have different feelings associated with what they hear. A world class speaker (say a top-of-the-line Kharma or Avalon) on a reference system producing incredible detail and a flat response curve can very well be experienced as "cold" or "sterile", "non-musical", even though it's deadly accurate.. Or maybe even because of it's accuracy.. If you ask me about warmness and coldness in audio equipment, I'd say tube amps are warm.. digital amps cold.. transistor inbetween.. sometimes cold sounding, sometimes (like Electrocompagniet) warm.. I'd say inefficient speakers are cold.. efficient full-range drivers warm... horns warm... CD cold.. Vinyl warm.... But the funny thing is... there are always exeptions..
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So crossover configurations can result in a warm or cold sounding loudspeaker. Isn't it?
I'd say passive crossovers in generic will cool your system down.. Why? because they eat SPL and your speaker demands more power, limiting your amplifier choices. Warm or cold is not a resistor setting in the filter, it is a result of your entire fidelty chain. Efficiency is a key factor here IMHO.

Obviously, in two minutes, someone will point out that I am wrong in my sayings, and that transistor amps are warmer than digital and that's why they use large heatsinks, but by then I'll be long gone Packing up my stuff now, gettin' on the train first thing in the morning, and spends some weeks with my beautiful girl on an beautiful island outside the beautiful coast of beautiful Sandefjord enjoying the hopefully beautiful weather. You guys have a nice jerkoff
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Old 11th July 2004, 12:58 AM   #10
Rocky is offline Rocky  Norway
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Remember people have different perceptions of the cold/warm sound phenomenon too... A midrange emphasing system with a notable higher response in the mids might sound warm to some because of how it presents voices, instruments... If you trap the excess mids by a notch filter some might say it sounds colder... but undoubtly more realistic...
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