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Studio Monitors

Postby Joel Bezaire » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:43 am

Hi, this might be a ridiculous question, but I'm not very familiar with studio monitors and I was hoping someone could help me. I was at my local music store earlier today previewing a couple different sets of studio monitors, and the pair that I was interested in (Mackie HR824 mkII's) didn't sound nearly as nice as a pair that was half the price. I've heard that the HR824 mkII's were highly recommended, and I was really disappointed with the sound. Upon doing some research later tonight, I learned about input sensitivity. The Mackie's had just been taken out of the box, and I'm assuming that this hadn't been adjusted. I personally thought that the sound was very quiet and dry when compared to the other monitors. Could this have been the reason why?
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Skerrick » Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:48 am

when it comes to monitors, its not about sounding nice, its about sounding clean and flat...
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby ef37a » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:45 am

Skerrick wrote:when it comes to monitors, its not about sounding nice, its about sounding clean and flat...

True^ but as monitors go I don't think my Tannoy 5As are so dusty and yet I enjoy listening to them. Got R3 going as I type.

Joel has I think hit the nail on the head? Level. It is vitally important when comparing any part of an audio chain that levels be matched, to better than 0.1dB if possible. This is hardly possible with speakers since no two will have the same frequency response.
I think the best you can do is read the reviews and keep in mind that with monitors, probably more than any other audio component, you get what you pay for.

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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:04 am

Joel Bezaire wrote:...the pair that I was interested in (Mackie HR824 mkII's) didn't sound nearly as nice as a pair that was half the price.


Okay... a couple of things spring to mind. First, the dealer wasn't doing a very good job -- normally you would expect them to be upselling as much as possible! -- and secondly, remember that a monitor speaker is supposed to reveal flaws in the recording, not flatter it. As has been said, it's not supposed to sound 'nice' on material that doesn't deserve it! Really well recorded and mixed commercial tracks will sound fabulous -- of course -- but less competent mixes (or mastering) should be revealed in their true state.

The Mackie's had just been taken out of the box, and I'm assuming that this hadn't been adjusted. I personally thought that the sound was very quiet and dry when compared to the other monitors.


If the Mackies were quiet compared to the other monitors then that does suggest the input sensitivity wasn't set up properly -- again indicating that the retailer really didn't know or care what it was doing. The dry comment is more interesting. Some speakers, when brand new, can sound quite tight at the bottom end and through the midrange. This eases off as the bass drivers get fully run in. Some speakers exhibit this characteristic more strongly than others and I've not handled brand new Mackies to know what they are like in this respect.

I'd suggest reading Paul White's review of the 824mkii speaker
HERE and see if you can correlate your impressions with his. Hopefully you'll find a comparable review of the other monitors you were auditioning and from those reviews you should be able to start correlating your impressions with those of more experienced listeners.

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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Joel Bezaire » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:52 pm

Ok, this is what I was expecting to hear. We were comparing several sets of studio monitors, but the pair that sounded the clearest was definitely twice as loud as the other monitors. I'll make sure when I visit again tonight that the levels are adjusted. Thanks for the help!
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby TravisClifton7 » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:01 pm

I have been doing some research and found a few reviews of cheap studio monitors and was wondering if the M-Sudio BX5s were any good? M-Audio BX5 Studio Monitors
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:59 pm

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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:05 pm

Error? Article name incorrect or Not Available on this site


as i recall, they're somewhat lacking in usefulness….
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Mixedup » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:57 pm

Joel Bezaire wrote:the pair that sounded the clearest was definitely twice as loud as the other monitors. I'll make sure when I visit again tonight that the levels are adjusted.

Can't stress how important it is to match levels when making comparisons. If you have an iPhone or Android phone install a level meter so you can be sure level is not skewing your perception. And take some of your own material along to use as a reference: both well mixed commercial tracks, and warts and all recordings/mixes where you know the faults to listen out for!
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby johnny h » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:49 pm

TravisClifton7 wrote:I have been doing some research and found a few reviews of cheap studio monitors and was wondering if the M-Sudio BX5s were any good? M-Audio BX5 Studio Monitors

Short answer, no.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Pete Kaine » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:06 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:[
I'd suggest reading Paul White's review of the 824mkii speaker
<a href="/sos/sep07/articles/mackie_hr824mk2.htm" target="_blank">HERE</a> and see if you can correlate your impressions with his. Hopefully you'll find a comparable review of the other monitors you were auditioning and from those reviews you should be able to start correlating your impressions with those of more experienced listeners.

I'd also note that review is from 2007 and whilst they were certainly reasonable speakers for the time and had their fans (notably amongst the dance music fraternity), a lot of very good speakers have come out in the years since and I personally think the is a lot of stiff competition out there to pit them against.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby John Willett » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:12 pm

TravisClifton7 wrote:I have been doing some research and found a few reviews of cheap studio monitors and was wondering if the M-Sudio BX5s were any good? M-Audio BX5 Studio Monitors

If you want inexpensive and good - I would look first at the Equator D5 - I'm hearing very good things about these and they are co-axial which make for a better stereo image.

SOS review is HERE (on the Equator site, so you don't need an e-sub to view it).

Image

Or - the larger D8 if funds allow.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Pete Kaine » Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:24 pm

Further to the suggestion above I personally find the D5's great, just a bit lacking on the bottom end extension if your working on bass heavy sort of stuff in the electronica realm which perhaps require a sub, however if your working with more with radio friendly guitar driven music I really do quite like them for that sort of application.

The larger coned D8's do fix that issue but you need a decent size room to deal with them... I suppose that's true of anything that fixes the lack of extension issue mind.

Either way they are certainly contenders for the price point.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Zukan » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:22 am

Mixedup wrote:
Joel Bezaire wrote:the pair that sounded the clearest was definitely twice as loud as the other monitors. I'll make sure when I visit again tonight that the levels are adjusted.

Can't stress how important it is to match levels when making comparisons. If you have an iPhone or Android phone install a level meter so you can be sure level is not skewing your perception. And take some of your own material along to use as a reference: both well mixed commercial tracks, and warts and all recordings/mixes where you know the faults to listen out for!

No sh1t! This is the old 'salesman technique'. Blast the volume and the punter thinks it's better.

In fact, I think every shop should have, at the very least, one room dedicated for testing monitors in a flat environment. At the end of the day someone is going to drop a grand plus on a set and if it was me I'd test the hell out of the system before parting with my cash.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby ef37a » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:19 pm

Zukan wrote:
Mixedup wrote:
Joel Bezaire wrote:the pair that sounded the clearest was definitely twice as loud as the other monitors. I'll make sure when I visit again tonight that the levels are adjusted.

Can't stress how important it is to match levels when making comparisons. If you have an iPhone or Android phone install a level meter so you can be sure level is not skewing your perception. And take some of your own material along to use as a reference: both well mixed commercial tracks, and warts and all recordings/mixes where you know the faults to listen out for!

No sh1t! This is the old 'salesman technique'. Blast the volume and the punter thinks it's better.

In fact, I think every shop should have, at the very least, one room dedicated for testing monitors in a flat environment. At the end of the day someone is going to drop a grand plus on a set and if it was me I'd test the hell out of the system before parting with my cash.

Bit much IMHO to expect all but the biggest retailers to have a dedicated monitor test room? Smacks of the old Hi Fi days of "Comparators"? In any case, there are no "flat" rooms outside the NPL. Then, only one pair of speakers can ever be in the optimum place and even those will be interfered with by the others and not sound quite as they would solo. Would you know which is |"best" anyway? Comparing a Tannoy with an Adam with a Focal?

I think the best you can do is search out the reviews, go for a well known brand, have a budget and, as everyone has said, learn to live with them.

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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Zukan » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:20 pm

ef37a wrote:
Zukan wrote:
Mixedup wrote:
Joel Bezaire wrote:the pair that sounded the clearest was definitely twice as loud as the other monitors. I'll make sure when I visit again tonight that the levels are adjusted.

Can't stress how important it is to match levels when making comparisons. If you have an iPhone or Android phone install a level meter so you can be sure level is not skewing your perception. And take some of your own material along to use as a reference: both well mixed commercial tracks, and warts and all recordings/mixes where you know the faults to listen out for!

No sh1t! This is the old 'salesman technique'. Blast the volume and the punter thinks it's better.

In fact, I think every shop should have, at the very least, one room dedicated for testing monitors in a flat environment. At the end of the day someone is going to drop a grand plus on a set and if it was me I'd test the hell out of the system before parting with my cash.

Bit much IMHO to expect all but the biggest retailers to have a dedicated monitor test room? Smacks of the old Hi Fi days of "Comparators"? In any case, there are no "flat" rooms outside the NPL. Then, only one pair of speakers can ever be in the optimum place and even those will be interfered with by the others and not sound quite as they would solo. Would you know which is |"best" anyway? Comparing a Tannoy with an Adam with a Focal?

I think the best you can do is search out the reviews, go for a well known brand, have a budget and, as everyone has said, learn to live with them.

Dave.

I don't see it that way Dave. One or two of the 'better' stores have demo rooms.

The way I see it is this: if I'm about to fork out money for anything that is going to be an integral part of my setup and costing a bundle then there better be facilities to test the product. If not, then a 'take and demo' policy should apply.

You wouldn't buy a thousand pound suit based on spec and reviews would you Dave?
I know I wouldn't.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby John Willett » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:39 pm

Zukan wrote:One or two of the 'better' stores have demo rooms.

And the better stores and better manufacturers/distributors allow you to try out in your own space.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby ef37a » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:25 pm

Zukan wrote:
ef37a wrote:
Zukan wrote:
Mixedup wrote:
Joel Bezaire wrote:the pair that sounded the clearest was definitely twice as loud as the other monitors. I'll make sure when I visit again tonight that the levels are adjusted.

Can't stress how important it is to match levels when making comparisons. If you have an iPhone or Android phone install a level meter so you can be sure level is not skewing your perception. And take some of your own material along to use as a reference: both well mixed commercial tracks, and warts and all recordings/mixes where you know the faults to listen out for!

No sh1t! This is the old 'salesman technique'. Blast the volume and the punter thinks it's better.

In fact, I think every shop should have, at the very least, one room dedicated for testing monitors in a flat environment. At the end of the day someone is going to drop a grand plus on a set and if it was me I'd test the hell out of the system before parting with my cash.

Bit much IMHO to expect all but the biggest retailers to have a dedicated monitor test room? Smacks of the old Hi Fi days of "Comparators"? In any case, there are no "flat" rooms outside the NPL. Then, only one pair of speakers can ever be in the optimum place and even those will be interfered with by the others and not sound quite as they would solo. Would you know which is |"best" anyway? Comparing a Tannoy with an Adam with a Focal?

I think the best you can do is search out the reviews, go for a well known brand, have a budget and, as everyone has said, learn to live with them.

Dave.

I don't see it that way Dave. One or two of the 'better' stores have demo rooms.

The way I see it is this: if I'm about to fork out money for anything that is going to be an integral part of my setup and costing a bundle then there better be facilities to test the product. If not, then a 'take and demo' policy should apply.

You wouldn't buy a thousand pound suit based on spec and reviews would you Dave?
I know I wouldn't.

Ok so some stores can afford a demo room (FWIIW!) I more or less said that. But IMHO that is more sales flannel than science. Such rooms are not going to be anything like YOUR room except by the wildest chance and you still have speaker positioning/interference to contend with. In any case what are you listening for? It has been said in these and other pages ad.n. that you do NOT buy monitors that are "nice" but ones that are accurate and the only test for that is the original sound. Such demo rooms are a hang over I think from the heady, hi fi days of RPM when such luxuries could be afforded (or maybe speaker mnfctrs coughed up a bit?)

The review will tell you the big picture, build quality, operational foibles, speccs such as input sensitivity (and PUH-LEASE! Self noise!). After that you really can't go wrong with a famous name in your price range.

Suit? Never wear one. Last "smart" clothes I needed were for a funeral and the British Heart Foundation stepped up handsomely!

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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Zukan » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:39 am

Still disagree my friend.

Some shops have half decent demo rooms and at the very least they are much better than cranking volumes in a store where everyone's playing synths n' guitars.

Like John said, good stores will allow you to take the monitors away and demo them in your room.

I would never buy anything without demoing, especially monitors.

'I like that Merc man.'
'It is nice sir'
'Which model would suit me best do you think?'
'I am not sure sir. Have you not read the reviews?'
'Yes, but it's a lot of money and I thought maybe I'd take a couple of the cars out for a test drive?'
'WHAT?!'
'A test drive...no?'
'I am sorry sir, but we don't allow test drives. Surely the reviews are enough no?'
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:18 am

I think that our ears are pretty good at separating out the effects of the room from the sound of a speaker. The differences between speakers are still fairly large in my experience and a demo in a shop with a reasonable demo room can at least weed out the ones you really dislike from the ones you'd want to demo at home.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby ef37a » Mon Jan 13, 2014 4:03 pm

James Perrett wrote:I think that our ears are pretty good at separating out the effects of the room from the sound of a speaker. The differences between speakers are still fairly large in my experience and a demo in a shop with a reasonable demo room can at least weed out the ones you really dislike from the ones you'd want to demo at home.

Well I am sorry James but that flies in the face of everything that every noob has ever been told about monitoring. "Location, location. LOCATION!"

Furthermore, on the axion that "perfect" loudspeakers would all sound the same, surely any decent reviewer would weed out anything that anyone could truly dislike? Or are they telling us porkies?

I glad to hear that the good dealers will loan out demonstrators. Not all brands tho' I bet? So that narrows it down a lot!

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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:05 pm

I'm not saying that the room isn't important - but you can hear many of the major characteristics of a speaker in a less than perfect room. You may not hear the finer points though...
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby IvanSC » Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:54 pm

What James said. I am starting on the long trek towards upgrading my monitors tomorrow.
I already have a shortlist and a wish list - plan on weeding them out exactly as James said.
I personally think it is unreasonable to expect anyone to simultaneously "lend " you multiple sets of monitors & hope to get my "lend us a pair" list down to a max of three.

Now if I were spending north of £5k, I would expect more.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Zukan » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:35 am

All the best with that Ivan and let us know what you went for m8.

I tell you summat: if Blue Sky still produced the system I bought from them 2 years ago then most of the systems out there, and yes that includes the AE22, would be left wanting FOR the price.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby IvanSC » Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:44 pm

Listened to Focal cms50 (they didnt have the 65s)Neumann kh 120' Focal sm9 and Unity The Rock II today.
In a decent listening environment.

Tomorrow is Quested, focal cms65, AE22 and hopefully some burned in kh120s.
FWIW the Focal 9s at £4,500 I HOPE were a faulty pair.
Suckier than a sucky thing.
Something truly weird going on around the crossover points between speakers.
Oh and both focals sounded smeary in the midrange and severely lacking in low mid/high bass.
Maybe I should buy a new set of ears....

Trying hard not to like the The Rocks too much - bit above the limit I had set myself.
And of course I am inevitably straying towards ATC country..... ouch!
A mate has a pair of the 25s in a nice room that I fell in love with a couple of years ago.

More info tomorrow night.

DickieF - if you are there - you and The Byre are right about the Neumanns!
bang for buck even on a brand new, un-burned in pair is impressive.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby IvanSC » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:34 pm

Back again after a brief but interesting visit to KMR.

Well. I evidently dot like ANY of the Adam or Eve range, up to and including ones that cost £Silly.
It really is something about the tweeters... I had previously listened to 3x and 7x and didn't really like either. This trip just confirmed it for me.
Today was mostly about the AE22 actives and the Gaitheins, as no broken in Neumanns were available.
Liked the AAs but once you factor in a matching sub and all the attendant treatment my room would need, I was back up to the price of The Rock II. And the Gaitheins are indeed a thing of beauty but I could not afford a pair which have much actual bottom end content.

Bugger! I really didn't want to spend that much, but at present it really is a one horse race as far s I am concerned. The Rock II
I reckon with them and a pair of something fairly large and raucous for the visiting hooligans to make a racket through and I will be set.

I would be interested to hear some thoughts from anyone who has actually used the Getheins in anger on a few mixes before I open my moth-filled wallet....

Also, advice on how to avoid telling my wife the new speakers cost as much a my car is currently worth would be appreciated....
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby ef37a » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:48 pm

IvanSC wrote:Back again after a brief but interesting visit to KMR.

Well. I evidently dot like ANY of the Adam or Eve range, up to and including ones that cost £Silly.
It really is something about the tweeters... I had previously listened to 3x and 7x and didn't really like either. This trip just confirmed it for me.
Today was mostly about the AE22 actives and the Gaitheins, as no broken in Neumanns were available.
Liked the AAs but once you factor in a matching sub and all the attendant treatment my room would need, I was back up to the price of The Rock II. And the Gaitheins are indeed a thing of beauty but I could not afford a pair which have much actual bottom end content.

Bugger! I really didn't want to spend that much, but at present it really is a one horse race as far s I am concerned. The Rock II
I reckon with them and a pair of something fairly large and raucous for the visiting hooligans to make a racket through and I will be set.

I would be interested to hear some thoughts from anyone who has actually used the Getheins in anger on a few mixes before I open my moth-filled wallet....

Also, advice on how to avoid telling my wife the new speakers cost as much a my car is currently worth would be appreciated....

Hi Ive,

Hah!If my monitors were only the value of my car I would be using the worst ****PC speakers Maplin could offer!

Dave. (still cost £238 to insure it)
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:33 pm

IvanSC wrote:Bugger! I really didn't want to spend that much, but at present it really is a one horse race as far s I am concerned. The Rock II

That's the problem when you listen to decent monitors... you realise what you're paying for and why you need to spend that much!

The Rocks are great monitors and you won't regret them once the credit card has healed. I like the Geithains a great deal too. I don't understand why so few people get them -- but I think it's just because they are an unfamiliar name who do little advertising.

I didn't find the KH's were very critical of running in -- the 120s and 310s both barely changed during the run in period (unlike anything from PMC which always changes quite dramatically).

Also, advice on how to avoid telling my wife the new speakers cost as much a my car is currently worth would be appreciated....

Tell her what it cost, rather than what they cost! Worked for me!

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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby Btyreman2013 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:42 pm

you should re-consider giving those neumanns a listen! I am still in shock at how good the kh120a pair are, and how well mixes translate from using them, I can't say a single bad word about them.
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Re: Studio Monitors

Postby IvanSC » Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:29 am

Initially impressed, but then heard a few slightly more expensive boxes and the neumanns started to sound like what they are - a small box being incredibly clever at sounding big.
This is a real sea change for me after a lifetime of either hearing stuff through large mains or assorted small and medium Tannoys & not much else.
Have to say that coming back to my current tannoys - system 6 Mk2 - I am beginning to see exactly what I have missed out on in speaker development over the last 30 years! (grin)
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