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Monitors for Small Rooms

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Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby PeasantPunch » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:54 pm

The space i work in isn't ideal in terms of acoustics. Its a very small bedroom and apart from the requisite equilateral triangle between myself and the speakers, its not good in terms of distances and angles. I'm aware that this can problematise certain aspects of monitoring, especially with the wrong speakers.

I currently work with a pair of Behringer Truth B2031As, but i don't know whether i should be using something else. I've done some reading on set ups and i guess there are no hard rules because every space is different, but i feel as if i'm making blind decisions when it comes to trying to adjust the Truths to my space, with the Low Frequency, Room Compensation and High Frequency controls (http://www.behringer.com/assets/B2030A_P0135_M_EN.pdf), or whether its worth doing at all.

Is there somewhere i can look to try to begin to know how i should be adjusting them for my room? There is nothing in the manual.

I realise i'd probably be better off with something other than the Truths but out of principal i'd like to be able to feel as if can depend on them, perhaps as an alternative to a smaller pair of monitors. Which leads me to ask - what would people recommend as an alternative to the Behringer Truths, for a small, compromised acoustic space?

A 5" or 6" pair seems to be better for a smaller room. I've been recommend the KRK Rokit 5, or the slightly more expensive Adam Audio A3X (the music i'm mixing is (not exclusively) clubby synth pop - don't know if that'd make a difference in the choice i should make).

Can these speakers be depended upon in this environment? I get the impression big accurate bass monitoring is the domain of bigger better spaces with bigger speakers, but i'm hoping that with a decent pair of smaller speakers, and a very good pair of headphones for bass, i can get some pretty tight mixes??

Any pointers on how to use the Behringer Truths, and more suitable, smaller alternatives would be very much appreciated!
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby chew_rocket » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:25 pm

Spend the cash on bass traps.... GIK Acoustics is probably your best bet, they also offer free advice on how best to treat your particular space.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:58 am

I agree that treating the room will help, but you could probably do with some better monitors as well. I would spend about £200-300 on some room treatment (just DIYing this myself, but it doesn't seem to be a great deal cheaper!). Then have a look around at monitors. You could keep the Behringers so you could A/B between them and another pair. I don't know what to recommend, other than some of the KRKs are quite good for their price and size.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby James Perrett » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:34 am

The Acoustic Energy AE22's seem to have a good reputation around here for good sound with controlled bass. Most cheap speakers seem to have uncontrolled one note bass thanks to underdamped bass reflex designs which will only be exacerbated by poor room acoustics.

Personally, I use a pair of LS3/5a's but they don't go very loud and they do some interesting things to the bass end which may not be appropriate for dance music

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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:03 pm

+1 to the AE22s. I love mine! Just trying to get the bass in my room more balanced. I wouldn't mind a sub, but that would likely lead to more problems, plus it is very expensive to get the AE one. One day...
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby John Willett » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:35 pm

The AE22 actives are probably the best in the price range.

However, the new Neumann KH 120A are only a little more and are also well worth considering.

KMR price is £715 +VAT a pair for the AE22 actives and £915 +VAT a pair for the KH120A.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby PeasantPunch » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:36 pm

Thanks for the advice guys. The AE22s are out of my price range so i went for a pair of Adam Audio A3Xs. At 4.5" they should be more suitable for my cupboard of a bedroom studio.

Will just have to look into getting some sort of acoustic treatment for my room now. Again, i can't afford too much here but i need to do something.

chew_rocket wrote:Spend the cash on bass traps.... GIK Acoustics is probably your best bet, they also offer free advice on how best to treat your particular space.

Thanks for that, looks like a good bet. Will send them a few pics!
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby EnlightenedHand » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:05 pm

You can buy the raw materials and make your own broadband absorbers for significantly cheaper than buying pre-made traps anywhere. I've seen folks go with wooden framed traps with OC 703 (or similar) wrapped in burlap (or similar) at a price of roughly $60 US each trap. It can even be done cheaper if you get creative.

But the point I guess is that your room is more of a problem than your speakers at this point. If you're looking for dramatic improvement trapping all the corners of the room as a start would be far more useful than changing speakers.

As far as small speakers go, I happen to think the KRK vxt4 is one of the most useful small speakers for mixing/critical listening available. I own a pair (they aren't my mains though). I have had them for years and they are exceptional IMO. For the money they are a complete steal. Very clear mids and highs, easy to work with stereo field, no harshness, clear lows that while lacking extension don't have a boxy or "one note" quality to them. Impressive indeed for $600 US/pair.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby PeasantPunch » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:55 am

EnlightenedHand wrote:You can buy the raw materials and make your own broadband absorbers for significantly cheaper than buying pre-made traps anywhere. I've seen folks go with wooden framed traps with OC 703 (or similar) wrapped in burlap (or similar) at a price of roughly $60 US each trap. It can even be done cheaper if you get creative.

But the point I guess is that your room is more of a problem than your speakers at this point. If you're looking for dramatic improvement trapping all the corners of the room as a start would be far more useful than changing speakers.

As far as small speakers go, I happen to think the KRK vxt4 is one of the most useful small speakers for mixing/critical listening available. I own a pair (they aren't my mains though). I have had them for years and they are exceptional IMO. For the money they are a complete steal. Very clear mids and highs, easy to work with stereo field, no harshness, clear lows that while lacking extension don't have a boxy or "one note" quality to them. Impressive indeed for $600 US/pair.

Thanks for the advice. I won't be able to go for the full works but if traps in the corners is one of the essentials then i'll start there. I looked at the KRKs but i had to draw the line somewhere with my budget and the Adam A3X seem to be part of a good range of new speakers.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby Red Mastering » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:36 pm

1. acoustic treatment - it does wonders, like putting 2xtime more expensive monitors, actually even better
when you do it (there's massive info 'how', and diy is a best option if you on budget (check SOS for info there were nice article there about it)
when you finish - maybe you won't look further as berries truth ain't the worst monitors on earth, and with proper acoustic treatment you could have a good monitoring setup

good luck
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby Jeraldo » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:06 am

James Perrett wrote:

Personally, I use a pair of LS3/5a's but they don't go very loud and they do some interesting things to the bass end which may not be appropriate for dance music

James.


I love these. A long time ago, when I was doing outdoor sound reinforcement, I had a seriously powered amp on rental, and I couldn't resist the urge to give the LS3/5A's a go. I was totally amazed. They get a lots(!!!) bigger and louder, too. And the urge was to keep turning them up, which is a testament to either low distortion, or just a very easy on the ear sound. They never sounded strained, and I had to caution myself about over running them.

Even though they are inefficient, I regularly drive them with a tiny amp that images well.

Here's the odd thing. I do organ recordings. There is never time when I don't know exactly what's going on in the lower end, whether 16' for 32' stops-and no lumps or bumps. I'm aware of how low they don't go, or at least aren't supposed to, but whatever is happening, it's all there.

For critical applications, I check on headphones, but I'd do that anyway, not matter what monitors are involved. But even with with headphone checks and hearing the program material elsewhere on larger monitors, the bass is never wrong. Nor is much else.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby chavernac » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:26 am

Adams and Focal are my go to speakers.
I owned some Krks and Fostex then took a leap of faith towards the focal... Night and Day.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby Music Wolf » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:51 am

PeasantPunch wrote:

Any pointers on how to use the Behringer Truths

As a former Truth user I can testify that the best way to use them is still in the box, power off and no signal present.

I really struggled with mine in a small, but treated, room. I switched to a pair of Adam A5s and have never looked back. I would support the recommendations to treat the room as this will invariably help (and even the best monitor can't overcome a bad space) but the Truths are toxic. In between offloading the Truths and taking delivery of the A5s I used a set of cheap Fostex P4.0s for a few weeks. The improvement over the Truths was unbelievable. For the first time I realised what stereo imaging really meant. The A5s were a step up again and for the first time I could take a mix and have it translate onto another system.

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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby John Willett » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:13 pm

Jeraldo wrote:
James Perrett wrote:

Personally, I use a pair of LS3/5a's but they don't go very loud and they do some interesting things to the bass end which may not be appropriate for dance music

James.

I love these. A long time ago, when I was doing outdoor sound reinforcement, I had a seriously powered amp on rental, and I couldn't resist the urge to give the LS3/5A's a go. I was totally amazed. They get a lots(!!!) bigger and louder, too. And the urge was to keep turning them up, which is a testament to either low distortion, or just a very easy on the ear sound. They never sounded strained, and I had to caution myself about over running them.

Even though they are inefficient, I regularly drive them with a tiny amp that images well.

Here's the odd thing. I do organ recordings. There is never time when I don't know exactly what's going on in the lower end, whether 16' for 32' stops-and no lumps or bumps. I'm aware of how low they don't go, or at least aren't supposed to, but whatever is happening, it's all there.

For critical applications, I check on headphones, but I'd do that anyway, not matter what monitors are involved. But even with with headphone checks and hearing the program material elsewhere on larger monitors, the bass is never wrong. Nor is much else.

The modern equivalent of the LS3/5a (which are superb and as Jeraldo said) is the Harbeth Monitor 20 which is exactly the same size as the LS3/5a but quite a bit better. It's what the LS3/5a would be if designed today - superb. 8-)

Harbeth was started by one of the BBC loudspeaker designers and they were one of the three licensees to make the LS3/5a and the Harbeth was the cream of the LS3/5a manufacturers.
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:07 pm

Jeraldo wrote:Here's the odd thing. I do organ recordings. There is never time when I don't know exactly what's going on in the lower end, whether 16' for 32' stops-and no lumps or bumps. I'm aware of how low they don't go, or at least aren't supposed to, but whatever is happening, it's all there.
My guess is that's a sign of excellent transient response. A big sealed box is still a pretty good design approach...
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Re: Monitors for Small Rooms

Postby James Perrett » Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:47 pm

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:A big sealed box is still a pretty good design approach...

But LS3/5a's are tiny...

The bass thing that I alluded to is a slight boost around 160Hz which does something similar to a bass enhancer box like the Aphex Big Bottom. It boosts the harmonics of the low bass notes which make them appear to be louder than they are and means that the sound isn't obviously lacking in bass when compared to larger monitors.

I think LS3/5a collectors might dispute John's assertion that the Harbeths are the best as the old 15 ohm Rogers version seems to be the most sought after. Of course, the BBC would say that the specs are so tightly controlled on these speakers that any version should sound the identical to any other.

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