studio monitor advice

Hi all,
I've got a small studio for creating and mixing music, not mastering. I'm considering building some speakers to upgrade my current situation, I guess im looking for something I can turn up for more 'fun' in the studio, whilst also providing me a greater level of detail to improve my mixes.

Current setup:
Fireface800,
Yamaha msp5's
Sampson resolve 120a subwoofer.

My Room is 5mx3m with a 2.5m ceiling - its reasonably well treated with floor to ceiling bass traps in all four corners and generic acoustic foam on all walls.

I've mainly been looking at Troels Gravesen's designs, I started by looking at the Studio 101, then reading that the Discovery W18 was an improvement on this became interested in bigger speakers before finally ending up at the SEAS-3-Way-Classic-mkII!

I can adjust my listening distance to account for the bigger unit, but cant place them much more than 70-80cm from the wall. Would this be a problem?
Also, im having trouble researching an amplifier that would be suitable for studio monitoring...

My budget for the loudspeaker build is ~1k
Any advice would be much appreciated!
:)
 
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I'm a little curious why you aren't looking at powered solutions instead. Most pro's go that route.

I thought it was generally accepted that you can beat commercial speakers in quality / price going the DIY route?

I think in terms of having a reference to mix music with, active speakers are considered more of a standard with fewer variables that alter the sound...
That being said, i'm hoping I could build a better system than an 'off the shelf' option at my budget....
 
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eriksquires

Member
2013-05-10 4:11 pm
I thought it was generally accepted that you can beat commercial speakers in quality / price going the DIY route?

I think in terms of having a reference to mix music with, active speakers are considered more of a standard with fewer variables that alter the sound...
That being said, i'm hoping I could build a better system than an 'off the shelf' option at my budget....

Pro's tend to be cheap bastards, so the benefit in the pro market is less pronounced, but yes. :) That is, for the same amount, pro vs. commercial, pro speakers can be much better and add an amplifier to boot.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't go with DIY. :) I'm just trying to figure out your needs a little more, since I'm surprised by them. Here are some questions for you.


  • Do you have an amp already, or will this be an extra expense?
  • And what are the room acoustics like?
  • What kind of music are you making?
  • Where will you place the speakers in relationship to you and any equipment? For instance, on a mixing console? Up in the air?
  • Do you want to make your own cabinets, a turnkey kit, or partially made cabinets?

All that information could help us help you.

Otherwise if you just want advice about good kits, Gravesen makes some very good one's. There are also some good one's through Taylor Speakers, Madisound and Zaph Audio, and even Parts Express. Give us more to go on.

Best,


ERik
 
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krivium

Member
Paid Member
2009-10-13 2:43 am
Formerly i was tech/engineer in studios (big ones with SSL and AMS/Neve or Neve desks, big sound systems (Kinoshita, Boxer, Westlake, ATC,...) and big treated room (From differents accousticans e.g. Deluc, Hidley,...).

Here is some though: if you don't have measurement microphone and related softwares, have the time to understand how to use them the correct way don't go the diy way.

Your monitors are the 'lenses' through you 'see' your work and if not properly tuned you'll probably have some bad surprise once your work will leave the studio for the next process in the chain (mastering studio, mixer, you name it).

As stated by Eriksquires acoustic treatement is almost as important as the system you listen for accurate reproduction. This is the experience i have from many systems i've heard in big studios (especially the big Kinoshita's, ATC or Boxer's systems, ...small nearfield monitors is differents because theyre always bad located on console strips with induced comb filtering from the desk... but they're a kind of reference since the problems are the same everywhere...).

In some rooms fror example the Kinoshita's RM sounded excellent in other not, same for Genelec, Atc, you name it... What changed is nearly always the acoustic of room (and the maintenance performed on systems. More rarely 'house curve' corrections but i witnesses it too- eq to tune the system to the taste of the studio owner or acoustician's target).

That said your own room is small so you'll have lot of trouble using some 'classical' config as you stated (small direct radiators 2 or 3 ways with soft dome tweeters) acoustically speaking: imho a better way to deal with that is to start with a speaker which as an inherent way of controlling directivity (in the range past 1khz particularly).

Thats one of the reasons you had lots of Tannoy dual concentric (horn loaded: better directivity control) speakers in moderately sized controlrooms during 80's in europe for example.

You could go that route (coaxial) with the added benefice of source point (better sound stage if correctly positionned) or go the SEOS way for a more 'modern' approach.

Both are relatively high sens solution too: even if you never cranck up the volume too much it give you the added benefit of HEADROOM which is critical when tracking/mixing.
And if you track drums you could hear them near theyre real spl (but you'll give up some headroom, or use it all the way).

As a matter of taste i'll stay away from domes tweeter or medium which i personnaly don't like (i tend to feel them being unnatural in some ways in the upper end for tweeters and for medium (ATC like) i personnaly don't like them at all... but it's a matter of taste!).

Or go away with the diy, use a monitor from a known brand (depending on trend at the time you make your purchase) and it can even bring you clients (if you rent your room to other engineers or work with dumb musicians which think that what really matters is the brand on the loudspeakers -already seen that!!!).

That's my thought on your question.
 

krivium

Member
Paid Member
2009-10-13 2:43 am
When i say your room is small i t's related to the control rooms i used to work in which were more in the 100/200m² usable space with at least 3.5m height, meaning nearly the double surface once you take acoustic treatment into account (i will be very pleased to have a room like that for my own use!) and from an acoustic point of view (below 200m3 a room is treated as a small one for most acousticians i met).

The irony in this scale problem is that the smaller the room the more difficult it is to get decent results.

One other way to consider is to use a front wall with speaker in it: inwall mounting your monitors. It can seems counterintuitive that it's adapted to small rooms but in facts it deals gracefully with many acoustic problems you'll face: you can more easily create a RFZ (reflexion free zone), demand on low end speaker is lesser (you radiate in 2pi rather than in 4 and by the fact you don't have to tame high end/medium to compensate for bsc -rather the inverse: tame the low end using a low shelf- which increase headroom for this part of the spectrum....), and using some CID concept you can have a really nice room for medium/high end. The low end will always be difficult to treat but you can't break laws of physic...

If this is something that get your interest try to see Sawyer (acoustician) forum he is a defender of inwall monitor and have good advices and build already done.

For CID search on BBC archive about Walker and 'controlled image design'.


I know this not always feasable for cost or other reasons (if you don't own your place for eg) but if you're making music recording/mixing for money you should condider this too imho.

I know it can seem a little off topic to answer about acoustic when you ask about monitors but environnement for professionnal duties is really different than for entertainment as a majority of people are doing here.
 
  • Do you have an amp already, or will this be an extra expense?
  • And what are the room acoustics like?
  • What kind of music are you making?
  • Where will you place the speakers in relationship to you and any equipment? For instance, on a mixing console? Up in the air?
  • Do you want to make your own cabinets, a turnkey kit, or partially made cabinets?

  • No amp yet, I plan to budget 500-600euro for this.
  • I had a problem with a 30-40hz standing wave, then I placed 20cm thick floor-ceiling bass traps in four corners and it improved this significantly (I didnt have an omni-directional mic or use REW, it was a crude measurement recording a sine wave rising through the full spectrum)
  • Music is disco 70's throw-back spacey stuff!
  • I will make stands for the speakers
  • I will build the cabinets myself, I have access to a workshop and good woodworking skills.


You could go that route (coaxial) with the added benefice of source point (better sound stage if correctly positionned) or go the SEOS way for a more 'modern' approach.

Wow, Tannoy Monitor Gold drivers are expensive!
Everything i've read about waveguiding talks about how it makes a richer more resonant musical sound.. is this something I want?

When i say your room is small i t's related to the control rooms i used to work in which were more in the 100/200m² usable space with at least 3.5m height, meaning nearly the double surface once you take acoustic treatment into account (i will be very pleased to have a room like that for my own use!) and from an acoustic point of view (below 200m3 a room is treated as a small one for most acousticians i met).

The irony in this scale problem is that the smaller the room the more difficult it is to get decent results.

Yes, Ive found this out the hard way, my room is very resonant in the 30-40hz range, but I have dampened this significantly.

I know it can seem a little off topic to answer about acoustic when you ask about monitors but environnement for professionnal duties is really different than for entertainment as a majority of people are doing here.

Thankyou for your input though, there is much to research here, I will have a look, but I dont think I could afford an 'in the wall' set-up!


.
 

eriksquires

Member
2013-05-10 4:11 pm
You know, given your tastes in music the 3 way from Gravesen sounds like a really good idea thanks to the extra dynamic range in the mid-range.

Do some research on REW and a decent calibrated microphone first though. I suspect your going to need quite a bit of mid-high frequency damping before you get useful output. Of course, I would also an AKG 712s with a decent headphone amp as a completely different alternative devoid of these problems, but your never going to get the visceral feeling.

Another choice is to go with small late '80's JBL studio monitor with the Keele designed bi-radial horns. You'll get better dispersion control and a lot of dynamic range.

s-l1600.jpg



Best,


Erik
 
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daniel

Member
2003-03-16 8:20 am
... I guess im looking for something I can turn up for more 'fun' in the studio, whilst also providing me a greater level of detail to improve my mixes.
First you should find out why you can't turn up the volume. Do the yamahas run full-range? If yes, can you high-pass them? Does the room get muddy?

My Room is 5mx3m with a 2.5m ceiling - its reasonably well treated with floor to ceiling bass traps in all four corners and generic acoustic foam on all walls.
Do you have a measurement mic? Google REW, read the manual and take a full-range measurement - one at your listening position would suffice for now. Post the .mdat file.
...
I can adjust my listening distance to account for the bigger unit, but cant place them much more than 70-80cm from the wall. Would this be a problem?
Also, im having trouble researching an amplifier that would be suitable for studio monitoring.
My budget for the loudspeaker build is ~1k
Any advice would be much appreciated!
:)
Without seeing how you positioned your working area and current speakers - and what possible problems you might have - it's not possible to suggest proper solutions for your problems. So - pictures of your room and a listening position measurement. Swapping only speakers could be a lateral move at best in your current situation.
 

krivium

Member
Paid Member
2009-10-13 2:43 am
Wow, Tannoy Monitor Gold drivers are expensive!
Everything i've read about waveguiding talks about how it makes a richer more resonant musical sound.. is this something I want?

I never talked about gold Tannoy! Strictly speaking i've never seen one Gold in any studio i've been on: more DMT or System XXXX range (DMT15 and System 1200 mainly). They're not in the same price range, some says they're lesser quality than gold... maybe, but for what i've heard and seen this is just talk from geeks (just google 'the exchange' in London and see by yourself list of artist and album mastered and which Tannoy model they use... ;) ). But that was not my point to turn you on Tannoy, other brand build good and relatively affordable coaxials. Funny enough for me to see Genelec having coaxials in theyre most recent range of studio monitors.

'a more resonant' sound from waveguide? Could you explain a bit or give reference please? For me this is quite the inverse and i don't think latest JBL monitors use this technology if to much colored. I think you mix with the results gained in a non acoustically treated room where you could use the waveguide and the way they can hande first reflexion in domestic environnement. If positionned correctly and with the right amount of treatement (at the right place) they're not going to make resonant sound whatever it means.

For threeways with direct radiators this is exactly what i have at home (Technics Monitor2) and in a difficult room they just give an impressive mess, compared to some Tannoy System 1200 i've borrowed a friend for some month last year. They just don't have the controlled directivity needed in very reflective rooms. Just take a look at some directivity plot from any SEOS12 or up , draw your room and listening position and report the directivity diagram results... and see by yourself! ;)
In domestic environnement most use toe in for an effect, in professionnal environnement nothing protect you from listening them on axis with a 60° triangle.

Maybe you can think of others cons about them but not the remark you made i think.

I guess im looking for something I can turn up for more 'fun' in the studio, whilst also providing me a greater level of detail to improve my mixes.

Ok maybe because of ... your room! Do you know K-metering? In the description of the principle Bob Katz specify for a target of 85dbspl for K-20 for large room and as low as 75dbspl target for small room.
This is a psychoacoustic phenomena: as your brain get more and more first reflexion (from sidewall mainly) and you push up level it start to think this is to loud so dangerous for your ears. Kind of brain limiter to keep your ears safe.

Here again, if you limit the way your loudspeakers are projecting 'sound' in your room you could past this limit (a bit... don't expect confortable 90dbspl rms level...and it's not safe practice anyway) . For the lack of details: same thing, too much reflexion blur the details... Haas effects as it worst. But i agree about the improvement in midrange details going threeways if well implemented. But this is a trade (for some design) for others artefacts...
 
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krivium

Member
Paid Member
2009-10-13 2:43 am
I forgot to mention some brands of coax: Beyma,B&C, Radian, etc,etc... all makes good coax. And if you ad a sub crossed between 150/300hz (depending on diameter of coax choosen to stay 1/4 of wavelength of crossover freq) you've got a 3 way with inherent drawback of coax minimized.

This is what Tannoy did with some of theyre gigantic monitors 215: 1 x15" coax and 1x15" sub giving insanely loud spl capability wich retains good details.
 

eriksquires

Member
2013-05-10 4:11 pm
I forgot to mention some brands of coax: Beyma,B&C, Radian, etc,etc... all makes good coax. And if you ad a sub crossed between 150/300hz (depending on diameter of coax choosen to stay 1/4 of wavelength of crossover freq) you've got a 3 way with inherent drawback of coax minimized.

This is what Tannoy did with some of theyre gigantic monitors 215: 1 x15" coax and 1x15" sub giving insanely loud spl capability wich retains good details.

Radian even has a beryllium compression driver or replacement diaphragm which will fit I believe, though it's sold as part of another compression driver. I've never heard it.

Here's a good source of pro coaxials: US Speaker

Best,

Erik



Best,


Erik
 
Thankyou all for all the information presented so far, there is a lot to digest here:)
I will be researching the options provided over the next few days.

I just bought a Behringer ECM8000 to perform a proper measurement and have downloaded REW. I can see that the acoustics of my room will probably be my biggest hurdle.

That being said, can anyone recommend a suitable amplifier for monitoring through a SEAS-3-Way-Classic-mkII? Maybe this is a bit premature, but i'd like to know roughly/ ballpark the type of money i would have to spend IF I were to go this route..

Coaxial's sound very interesting.. but i'm not sure about designing my own loudspeakers, surly i'd be better of using a tried and tested design/kit at my level of experience?

.
 
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krivium

Member
Paid Member
2009-10-13 2:43 am
I just bought a Behringer ECM8000 to perform a proper measurement and have downloaded REW

You should be ok with that. ECM8000 as a great price/quality ratio but it as some drawback: past 92/94dbspl you can't rely to much on results from my experience and vs much more priced measurement mic i compared it to. But this will probably not be a limiting factor for you. Rew is a great software really. Which kind of soundcard do you use?
Now you'll have to understand how to setup the whole things to have meaningful and usable measurement. And this can be a steep learning curse! Try to read the most you can about that.


That being said, can anyone recommend a suitable amplifier

Troels Gravesen specify 90w rms (long term power handling) 250w peak. I would say something in the 180w/250w /8ohms range should be fairly ok. If you must locate your amp in the control room it's wise to select one which is noiseless/without fan. Try to see if you can find an Amcron/Crown D300 or similar (80's build like a tank pro amplifier noiseless) second hand. Should be loud enough to blow your ear off.
Or go the class D route using Hypex 400w(4ohm), but it'll be more pricey but really great amp to my taste.

Coaxial's sound very interesting..

Yes. But they are not flawless: every design as it pros and cons. For the purpose i repeat this is the controlled directivity which is interesting(beside the other advantages): in a way it tend to solve some potential acoustical problems related to your room (mainly first reflection issues).

But keep in mind that they're conical 90°dispersion which can be a problem versus a waveguide.

Back to the SEOS: they share same dispersion horizontal of approx 90° (more or less, coax will probably be a bit more directionnal as you go higher up), but vertically this is another story: SEOS is more 40° than 90° with coax. This can be an advantage (if ceiling in your room is low) as it'll minimise reflection from floor/ceiling. It is dependant of final position too.

Sorry to insit on that solution but don't dismiss waveguide too much, they have lot's of advantage too.
Just too give you an idea of commercial products using this same technique:

LSR305 Products | JBL Professional

M2 Master Reference Monitor Products | JBL Professional

An other thing about trying to limit problems of first reflexion: you can use some panel 1m width with angle to 'redirect' potential first reflection from side wall outside your listening position (for 1khz freq and up). This is what CID previously mentionned is all about, but to a greater extend. This is relatively simple to perform and relatively costless. But you'll have to draw some sketches and perform some simulation. Not a great deal to do/try. Results can be astonishing!
 
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krivium

Member
Paid Member
2009-10-13 2:43 am
A last thing about 'classical' three ways you have to be aware of: they need a bit of space to sum up coherently. Your listening position will probably be moved back in the room.

This is one of the trade off of the design. This can be an issue too.

In professionnal designed control room sweet spot (listening position of engineer) is located at the critical distance of the room.

Critical distance is the place as which you have direct sound field and diffuse sound field of room 6db down each others (direct sound field is the area where the sound of speaker is proeminent, diffuse sound field is reverb from room). This is a trick when used with other psychoacoustic effects (hass effect in the range of 19/20ms) to help your brain discern easily the sound from speaker from the sound of the room by itself (the reverb sound). If located more in the diffuse field you'll ear more the room (and by the way the manner your speakers are radiating over the room, hence the need for even power response of loudspeaker...) and once you're into the diffuse soundfield sound pressure remain constant (you don't loose 6db each time you double the distance to sound source).

This critical distance is dependant from volume of room and if 'big room' are used it's because their critical distance can be made greater than in small room.

Typically in a room like yours i would say that critical distance is in the range of 1/1.5m at best.
If you choose conventional three way layout as the one's Troels you could have the problem of loudspeaker summing not coherent -because of distance- and if they have the same issue as mine (different diameter speaker with different radiating specification) this lead to the mess i was talking about in room . Here is why a constant directivity solution can have an advantage too: even radiating power response.

In domestic situation this can not be a problem, or you decide to live with it, in the case of monitoring where accuracy is the key this can be not something acceptable. To overide this limitation if you build threeways keep your Yamaha as nearfiel monitors, you alredady know them and probably can work great with them. Switching to bigger monitors for fun listening and theyr own qualities... One of the reason you see differents monitoring systems in big control rooms: each one its use! :)
 
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Hi everyone,
So I've got to grips with REW and here's my .mdat file:

http://www.filedropper.com/jan30210157

Couple of points:
  • Not sure if my subwoofer's level is set correctly, I run my monitor's through its crossover, but I only set the subwoofers level by listening to a commercial song and adjusting
    until it sounds right.
  • Waterfall view doesnt seem to display correctly.. everything is longer than 300ms?
 
Hi Dimebucker,

I had the same waterfal problem in my room. I had so much resonance in my room that I could not measure it using that graph with OmniMic. Bought a pair of these in red and it all tightened up:

GIK Acoustics Soffit Bass Trap

My bass lost all the flabbiness and the red complimented my Feng Shui and brought more romantic energy to my home. :D :D :D


Best,


Erik
 
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On the subject of amplifiers. Parts-express is running a $100 sale for 250ASP IcePower modules. Kind of hard to resist at that price. Together with cases and cables from China, you can build a very pair of 250W monoblock amps for around $560. Alternatively of course you could build them into your speakers, saving yourself the case costs.

I have three on order already, so I'm not as worried about you guys grabbing the last one's. :) I have no idea what they sound like. Reviews appear much better for these than previous generations. Jeff Rowland was hawking them in his $4-5,000 201 amplifiers.

Best,


Erik
 
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