You are here

Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby YunG Clyde » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:32 pm

I had just been to the local music store today as I had made my mind up on buying a pair of Yamaha HS80m's after doing some research online. Mostly people say they are the flattest sounding monitor speakers you can get out there. To me a good pair of monitor speakers are the ones which'll give you the flattest response without coloring the frequencies at all (whether highs, lows or mids). This fits to the phrase "What you hear is what you get." And this in turn means that the mixe's translation will be at-least 95% perfect if not a 100%. What I mean is the final track out will sound exactly the same on at-least 95 systems out of 100 if not on all the 100 systems. Now I have 3 contenders : Yamaha HS80m's, KRK VXT8's, the Mackie HR824mk2's and the Adam AX8's. From the online research I did for almost a month I came to the conclusion that the HS80m's were the flattest of these. But when I went down to the music store today the guy there told me to wait for another week as they didn't have the HS80m's in stock (now this is a sign it sells out really fast) and then he went on to advice me about my purchase. He said that Mackies were the best and the flattest and would give me translations better than the HS80m's or KRK's. He also recommended the brands like Adam's and Genelec. Now money is not really the issue here. The issue is I don't want to purchase something and then sit and cry about it later. Frankly speaking I'm no expert at this. I know there's allot of people on this forum who own studios locally and overseas, who are mastering engineers, professional beat producers and many more talented and experienced folk. So its obvious ya'll have oceans and oceans of audio knowledge and I'd be thankful if you share it with me so I can at-least get an idea if I'm doing the right thing. Do the Yahamas really translate that well? In a battle between Yamaha HS80m's, KRK VXT8's, Adam AX8's and Mackie HR824mk2's who'd win? And why? Also if ya'll know any monitors which are better then please mention the brand name and the model. I usually do rap and hip hop music and also R&B. I do country music sometimes but that's rare. The genre shouldn't matter because whatever I do on it should translate well on other systems. Any suggestions? All help will be appreciated.

Regards,
Clyde Yung D'souza.
YunG Clyde
New here
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:17 pm

Hey Clyde

Welcome to the forums!

Unfortunately it's just not that easy. The frequency response of the speaker is one facet. The time domain response is another. The distortion is another still etc etc. That's before we've even started on the room itself which can WILDLY skew the response of the monitor as the sound bounces off the boundaries and comes back to cause cancellations and reinforcements (at different frequencies). On top of that is the issue that we all have a certain individual aesthetic preference. So one speaker might give me a little too little low end...If I happen to prefer things with a little less low end than most people, then that speaker will suit me. If I LOVE bass and crank it up then I'm going to be getting way too much. Different speakers drive different people different ways. It's an individual thing. Then we start to factor in the systems that we're trying to translate on to...Usually with massive bass boosts, out of phase speakers, put in crazy positions within terrible rooms. There is no such thing as a mix that translates the way you would prefer it to in all those environments.

SO what's the key? Well the key is to focus on the midrange balances in the mix. Worry about what is happening between 100hz and 5khz. Speakers that give you extended sub and airy high end are lovely, but that stuff is a distraction, and sometimes a dangerous one. To translate across the widest range of playback systems you need to get a really good midrange balance without being distracted by a lot of powerful bass etc. For this reason, small, closed box designs like NS10's and Auratones have been the mainstay in mix rooms for decades. It's not that you don't need to occasionally check the low end on a larger speaker, but the majority of the balance decisions get made on those types of speaker. No ports, no subs, no posh mega tweeter. You DO need a really good environment though...lots of carefully placed acoustic treatment of the right sort.

Some will argue that the flattest response, the most information is the key to the best mix. IMO that's the key to the best master. It may be the key to learning the most about the music you wish to listen to, but the key to the best mix is the speaker that drives you to fight the mix into a shape that comes alive on terrible band limited systems, not the most expensive ones. They will argue that a revealing speaker shows you every flaw...again, mixing is not about removing every flaw (necessarily)...it's about creating an exciting mix.

So of course, really we probably want to provide both those things. You won't get a really great speaker in the price bracket you're looking at, but you might get a really great mixing speaker.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3477
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby sc1460 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:50 pm

The £64,000 question. Just read the review in this months SOS on the Luminaires and the producer there doesn't even like near fields!

I'm about to upgrade some old near fields with a budget of £1000 and based on reading Hugh Robjohns reviews and considering either:
Neumann KH120
Focal CMS65

listening to these 2 in a good room the differences were really subtle but I will probably get the neumanns.

I use a cheap behringer mono grotbox for the mid range analysis which has really helped, though Mr Senior prefers the Avantone Mixcubes. Then I listen on cheap mobile ear buds.

However if I have correctly understood what Mr Senior says it is that budget near fields on their own a not very reliable indicators of a mix especially in a bad room. In this case he indicates a mono grotbox is very valuable as the one speaker is full range (without the dodgy crossover in budget nearfields) and the mono avoids the problems with dodgy phantom stereo for vocals.

Nevertheless I would find it impossible just to use the mono grotbox as clearly I need to hear the mix in stereo.

So, the conclusion seems to be spend as much as you can on acoustic treatment, get a nearfield that you like the sound of, and check the mix with a mono grotbox..

(My room has some basic acoustic trapping - so you should budget around £ 300 for a basic set)

In which case it seems to me it doesn't really matter which of the above ones you mentioned you get, as long as you also budget for some acoustic treatment for your room plus get a grotbox. The behringer is £100, the avantone around £230. Hope that helps.

Cheers
sc1460
Regular
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2001 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby John Willett » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:59 am

sc1460 wrote:I'm about to upgrade some old near fields with a budget of £1000 and based on reading Hugh Robjohns reviews and considering either:
Neumann KH120
Focal CMS65

listening to these 2 in a good room the differences were really subtle but I will probably get the neumanns.

At the £1,000 budget level I still think that the Neumann KH120A are the best around.

I used their forerunner, the K+H 110, for several years before I upgraded to monitors in the £2,000 bracket last year.
User avatar
John Willett
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4074
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2000 12:00 am
Location: Oxfordshire UK

John
Sound-Link ProAudio
Circle Sound Services
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:03 am

I just changed my monitors. I always struggled to get the mid-range balances that Jack mentioned right on my Adam A7s, though in many ways they are nice speakers. So I bit the bullet and bought a pair of NS10s and an amp. Haven't had a chance to do much with them yet but A/Bing the mixes I did against some commercial tracks on them is interesting to say the least.

Not sure how well NS10s would work for anything where the bass is very important, though.
Sam Inglis
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1916
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby hollowsun » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:20 am

Flattest studio monitors? These?

Image

User avatar
hollowsun
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2122
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby sambrox » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:31 am

I auditioned the Neumann KH 120A a while back against some other monitors in the same price bracket and was very very impressed. I held back on pulling the trigger, however, after reading Jack's and others' recommendation of the AE22s. The thing is, I REALLY like the idea of non-ported speakers, and while I never noticed any obvious bass overhang in the shop while listening to the KH120A, I just feel the AE22s would complement my current set-up better (I have one of the smaller, cheaper, non-ported Blue Sky 2.1 systems alongside a Behringer mono 'grot box'. The next upgrade will be to an Avantone Mixcube). So, as soon as I've been paid for my latest creation for the wonderful world of advertising (or should that be if...?), I'll be putting an order in with Thomann for a pair of the buggers.

Cheers,
Sam
User avatar
sambrox
Regular
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby James Perrett » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:55 am

You shouldn't get hung up on the ported/non ported issue. What should really worry you is whether the speakers are well designed or not - and sadly, many modern ported speakers aren't particularly well designed. However, as I understand it, the Neumann's don't fall into this category - they use the ports in the way that reflex designs were originally intended to be used - as a subtle bass enhancement.

Remember that there are also popular sealed monitors that IMHO are poorly designed too.

James.
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 5816
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: The wilds of Hampshire

JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.co.uk


Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby sambrox » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:39 pm

True. I investigated the waterfall plots of the Neumanns online, and indeed, they do perform admirably for a ported speaker (around 50 ms of overhang in the bass, if I remember correctly). I just figured that if I needed to check the extreme lows, I'd switch to the Blue Skys and whack the sub up a little. There's little point to having to make the compromise of a ported speaker if I already have the option of checking the low end on something else. Rather than true accuracy (ie flatness), I realized I probably needed a speaker that would translate well. Time domain accuracy is a big part of that I reckon, and the reviews of the AE22s just swung it for me.

Cheers,
Sam
User avatar
sambrox
Regular
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Dave B » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:14 pm

I bought AE22s. Largely because Max loomed over me and said "You really need to get a pair of these".

Coward? Maybe .. but on the other hand, they are very good monitors..

User avatar
Dave B
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Maidenhead

Veni, Vidi, Aesculi

(I came, I saw, I conkered)


Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:34 pm

Dave I'm still using those NS10's I bought from you back in the day.
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3477
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby James Perrett » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:29 pm

sambrox wrote:There's little point to having to make the compromise of a ported speaker if I already have the option of checking the low end on something else.

I've never heard a sub that really works for this (apart from a really expensive PMC system). They're usually giving you some woolly oomph that sounds nothing like real bass. A well designed reflex system is every bit as good as a well designed sealed system.

James.
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 5816
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: The wilds of Hampshire

JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.co.uk


Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:06 pm

sambrox wrote:The thing is, I REALLY like the idea of non-ported speakers...


The reality and the concept are often different things. Sealed cabinet speakers have a bass response that is different from ported speakers, and in some cases the difference can be beneficial. But equally it can be a hindrance depending on the application...

I've seen waterfall plots of sealed cabinet speakers with very obvious resonances causing significant LF overhang. I've also seen plots of ported speakers that have phenomenally fast decays at LF, as good as many sealed cabinets!

The ported cabinet issue is with speakers designed to generate significantly more bass (either extension or level or both) than the cabinet and/or driver can really support. And that typically happens with small budget 'monitors' that promise more than they can deliver. The result is a resonant bass that is smeared and grossly misleading, and in such cases better performance can often be obtained from sealed monitors that cost a similar amount.

However, go up market and virtually all high end pro monitors are ported cabinets, yet few if any have problems with resonant bass...

And the idea of 'turning up the sub' to check the bass is ludicrous and suggests a complete misunderstanding of what a sub is supposed to do... Not that many budget subs work properly anyway.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 16937
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby sambrox » Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:15 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
sambrox wrote:The thing is, I REALLY like the idea of non-ported speakers...

The reality and the concept are often different things. Sealed cabinet speakers have a bass response that is different from ported speakers, and in some cases the difference can be beneficial. But equally it can be a hindrance depending on the application...

I've seen waterfall plots of sealed cabinet speakers with very obvious resonances causing significant LF overhang. I've also seen plots of ported speakers that have phenomenally fast decays at LF, as good as many sealed cabinets!

The ported cabinet issue is with speakers designed to generate significantly more bass (either extension or level or both) than the cabinet and/or driver can really support. And that typically happens with small budget 'monitors' that promise more than they can deliver. The result is a resonant bass that is smeared and grossly misleading, and in such cases better performance can often be obtained from sealed monitors that cost a similar amount.

However, go up market and virtually all high end pro monitors are ported cabinets, yet few if any have problems with resonant bass...

And the idea of 'turning up the sub' to check the bass is ludicrous and suggests a complete misunderstanding of what a sub is supposed to do... Not that many budget subs work properly anyway.

H

Thanks, Hugh. I've been a subscriber to the mag and a forum lurker for years, so your points have already been engraved on my brain. I was being flippant with my sub comment, so it's good you put me straight, at least for anyone reading this that's new to all this.
For what it's worth, I've found the Blue Skys very good at judging low end. The crossover in my system, however, is encroaching on the lower mids, which I feel makes it more uncomfortable to make accurate mix decisions in that region, hence my hankering for a second near-field system. The Neumanns are at the limit of my price range right now, and as the areas where they are superior to the AEs are superfluous in my case, I'm grateful to be able to save a bit of money and put it into an extra trap or four.

Cheers,
Sam
User avatar
sambrox
Regular
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby YunG Clyde » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:21 pm

Ok guys thanx for all your replies. Now to sum it all up one last question - if I were to mix and master a hip hop/r&b track in an acoustically treated room in the followin scenerios:
1. using a pair of yamaha hs80m's
2. using a pair of adam a7x's
3: using a pair of krk vxt8's
4: using a pair of mackies hr824 mk2's

which scenario would give me the best results and translate well on majority of systems in the outside world?

(Explanation for your answer not necessary but if you do explain, its better for me.)
YunG Clyde
New here
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby chris... » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:44 pm

From reading the replies on the thread, I'd say the answer is "none of the above".
User avatar
chris...
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2704
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Sunny Glasgow

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Skerrick » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:04 am

KRK ROKIT 8'S ver.G2.
THAT IS ALL.
User avatar
Skerrick
Regular
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Skerrick » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:06 am

YunG Clyde wrote:Ok guys thanx for all your replies. Now to sum it all up one last question - if I were to mix and master a hip hop/r&b track in an acoustically treated room in the followin scenerios:
1. using a pair of yamaha hs80m's
2. using a pair of adam a7x's
3: using a pair of krk vxt8's
4: using a pair of mackies hr824 mk2's

which scenario would give me the best results and translate well on majority of systems in the outside world?

(Explanation for your answer not necessary but if you do explain, its better for me.)

if the room's acoustically treated i wouldnt think youd need the KRK VXT model, although any decent and well ported studio monitor SHOULD perform well in a treated room.
User avatar
Skerrick
Regular
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby YunG Clyde » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:45 am

Thanx guys for all your suggestions.. I went out and bought myself a pair of the Yamaha HS80m's and i'm pertty happy with the way they sound and give me audible details as to what sounds good and what sounds bad. I hope as time goes by i learn them better and master the art of "LEARNING" your speakers and making great mixes. If i do have any more problems in the future, I knw where to come...
YunG Clyde
New here
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:00 am

Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby Zukan » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:36 am

sambrox wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:
sambrox wrote:The thing is, I REALLY like the idea of non-ported speakers...

The reality and the concept are often different things. Sealed cabinet speakers have a bass response that is different from ported speakers, and in some cases the difference can be beneficial. But equally it can be a hindrance depending on the application...

I've seen waterfall plots of sealed cabinet speakers with very obvious resonances causing significant LF overhang. I've also seen plots of ported speakers that have phenomenally fast decays at LF, as good as many sealed cabinets!

The ported cabinet issue is with speakers designed to generate significantly more bass (either extension or level or both) than the cabinet and/or driver can really support. And that typically happens with small budget 'monitors' that promise more than they can deliver. The result is a resonant bass that is smeared and grossly misleading, and in such cases better performance can often be obtained from sealed monitors that cost a similar amount.

However, go up market and virtually all high end pro monitors are ported cabinets, yet few if any have problems with resonant bass...

And the idea of 'turning up the sub' to check the bass is ludicrous and suggests a complete misunderstanding of what a sub is supposed to do... Not that many budget subs work properly anyway.

H

Thanks, Hugh. I've been a subscriber to the mag and a forum lurker for years, so your points have already been engraved on my brain. I was being flippant with my sub comment, so it's good you put me straight, at least for anyone reading this that's new to all this.
For what it's worth, I've found the Blue Skys very good at judging low end. The crossover in my system, however, is encroaching on the lower mids, which I feel makes it more uncomfortable to make accurate mix decisions in that region, hence my hankering for a second near-field system. The Neumanns are at the limit of my price range right now, and as the areas where they are superior to the AEs are superfluous in my case, I'm grateful to be able to save a bit of money and put it into an extra trap or four.

Cheers,
Sam

Which BlueSkys do you have?
User avatar
Zukan
Moderator
Posts: 6170
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2003 11:00 pm

Samplecraze   Stretch That Note Masterclasses


Re: Flattest studio monitor for mixing and mastering

Postby sambrox » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:30 pm

I've got a set of the first run of Exos that I found on eBay for next to nothing (the badge is larger than on the review models, which leads me to believe they were one of the prototypes...?). There were apparently some manufacturing issues that led to the first generation of Exos to fail after a year's use or so, hence the extremely cheap sale. I've never had a problem with them, however, and as I've mostly been doing media work they've suited me perfectly. I love being able to turn the sub right down so that it effectively is off, leaving the LF roll-off of the satellites at around 140Hz. Gives me an idea of how things might sound through TV speakers.

However, as I'm now booked to produce, record and mix 3 albums in punk, blues and indie genres in the next couple of months, I reckon it's time I got a 2nd system that was more well-suited to that kind of work.

Cheers,
Sam
User avatar
sambrox
Regular
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:00 am


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests