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What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

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What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Imran500 » Mon May 13, 2013 11:19 am

Just wondering how much you need to spend for a decent monitoring amp - I don't particularly want to go too far over 200 quid. What gear do you guys use? Any thoughts on the ART or Samson Servo ones?
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby James Perrett » Mon May 13, 2013 12:11 pm

Quad 405-2 - they're getting on a bit now and some people find them too laid back but they're much better than an equivalently priced Samson. I'd still like to try building an amp from some Hypex modules though, as that would give an extremely high quality amp for just a few hundred pounds.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Mon May 13, 2013 12:26 pm

Dont forget the world of hi-fi and a second hand bargain from that world. Something like a NAD, Cyrus or Cambridge Audio will get you want you want. The Samsons are not great, I know as we have them at work.

If you are able to build a Hypex and dont fancy class D try a Gainclone. I use one at home and they are great value. Fleabay will get you a Chines sourced one for about £25 a channel amplifier boards only. They arent the most powerful but for nearfield or with sensitive speakers that will be OK.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon May 13, 2013 12:31 pm

I'm using an old NAD Monitor Series 2100 with my NS10s. It sounds OK but is quite big, gets quite hot and can be a bit temperamental. Might look for a class D amp to replace it some time.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby ronmac » Mon May 13, 2013 12:47 pm

I was fortunate to score a used Bryston 2B for a steal (much less than your budget!), so bargains are possible buying used gear.

Using a Hafler P3000 to power a secondary monitor pair. They are much easier to find used in your budget range.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Imran500 » Mon May 13, 2013 8:57 pm

Cheers for the replies - interestingly I currently use an old Cambridge Audio amp, I assumed a hi-fi amp would be inferior as it's not dedicated to audio mixing/ recording applications?
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Matt Houghton » Mon May 13, 2013 9:48 pm

I'm using a Dynaudio-badged DCA650 made by MC2. But that's probably over budget. I drive some secondary monitors with old hifi amps by Rotel (RA611 & 612) and they're decent and affordable if you find them in good nick. But buying older gear like this can be something of a lottery...
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Jorge » Tue May 14, 2013 2:58 am

Nearfields:
I disliked Samson Servo 240 and repurposed a very old Adcom GFA-555. Probably available used well under your budget. Dynaudio BM6 monitors.
Old Crown K1 into homebuilt 12" sealed subwoofer (Linkwitz Thor box with Ashly XR2001 crossover)
No fans, excellent sound, low distortion, lots of headroom, no limiters on amps but I never turn it up over 85 dBA at 4 ft, usually 75-80 dBA at 4 ft.

Club type monitors (when not gigging), used for rehearsing, checking club sound of mixes, they are inappropriate for mixing and not as flat as nearfields in small studio:
EV QRX112/75 with QSC PLX1804 amp through Xilica XP4080 DSP with EV presets, HPF @ 90 Hz.
JBL PRX618XLF subwoofer.
Power amp in next room, fans are loud.
I rarely turn it down below 85 dBA at 8 ft.
9-10 bales of Roxul mineral wool strategically placed in 13x15 ft studio.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby John Willett » Tue May 14, 2013 10:11 am

James Perrett wrote:Quad 405-2 - they're getting on a bit now and some people find them too laid back but they're much better than an equivalently priced Samson.

Personally I now use active monitors, so don't need a separate amp.

However - I would agree with James and say that the Quad 405-2 is still a superb amp.

I would not call it "laid back" though, just "clean and accurate".

I bought my Quad 44/405 back in the mid/late 1970s later getting the conversion to the 405-2 when it came out. I still have them and would never sell them.

The BBC used the 405 as a standard monitor amp. for years.

Once bought, never regretted.

So, for a superb amp. at an affordable price, a s/h Quad 405-2 is a no brainer - get one.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Tue May 14, 2013 2:06 pm

You wont get many Adcoms or Haflers over in the UK. But you can add to Rotel to the list of good cheapies, once part of the Rank EMI group of all things.

I am not a massive fan of the QUAD. But to those who are, what are you opinions of the replacement/upgrade boards? One of the problems with the 405 was that for modern standards it is built to a price. Look at the PCBs etc. There is mileage here. (A shame because they are very attractive amps along with the 44s). Because they are QUAD (great service department we were always told by customers when we were QUAD dealers.......) there is a premium on their price and you might have to look a bit to get one for £200.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby John Willett » Wed May 15, 2013 9:51 am

fay spook wrote:
I am not a massive fan of the QUAD. But to those who are, what are you opinions of the replacement/upgrade boards?

The change between the original 405 and the 405-2 was excellent - and the 405-2 can drive difficult loads better than the original.

But the change to the -2 version was back in the 1970s and not that long after the original came out.

The Quad philosophy at the time was a piece of wire with gain - ie: just amplifying without changing the sound in any way.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Persian Bit » Wed May 15, 2013 10:00 am

Been using active monitors for a few years [mackie, Genelec] but before that, I was using seperate amp and monitor setup for along long time. I like the shortage of cables and amp and everything in active monitors [and the controls they offer to match with room acoustics], but I still prefer the old shool sound.

For a decade I used NS10s with some old tube marantz amplifire and it used to sound just amazing [mainly used for pop and rock mixing]. many people used to argue about NS10's hard midrange, but when powered by a strong amp, they sounded just good. Those lush woofers really need strong power to drive.

I had another setup with same kind of old hi-fi amps with JBL monitors, and they matched pretty well.

These days most people stick to most high end, newest and expensive amps and speakers. But you can find a lot of old great sounding amplifires at a funny low price and match them with your passive monitors and get a great sound. of course you'll need a good ear and some research.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Wed May 15, 2013 3:13 pm

John Willett wrote:
The change between the original 405 and the 405-2 was excellent - and the 405-2 can drive difficult loads better than the original.

But the change to the -2 version was back in the 1970s and not that long after the original came out.

The Quad philosophy at the time was a piece of wire with gain - ie: just amplifying without changing the sound in any way.

No, not the factory update but the 3rd party upgrades produced more recently. Something like this

quad board

I understand what they said (or what Peter Walker said?) but you know there is a lot more to amplification than increasing the gain of a signal. How about driving tricky loads such as........ an electrostatic speaker? If your amps cant deal with the capacitive load etc........ and I do love an ESL
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby John Willett » Wed May 15, 2013 8:35 pm

fay spook wrote:
John Willett wrote:
The change between the original 405 and the 405-2 was excellent - and the 405-2 can drive difficult loads better than the original.

But the change to the -2 version was back in the 1970s and not that long after the original came out.

The Quad philosophy at the time was a piece of wire with gain - ie: just amplifying without changing the sound in any way.



No, not the factory update but the 3rd party upgrades produced more recently. Something like this quad board

I understand what they said (or what Peter Walker said?) but you know there is a lot more to amplification than increasing the gain of a signal. How about driving tricky loads such as........ an electrostatic speaker? If your amps cant deal with the capacitive load etc........ and I do love an ESL

Well - the Quad 405 was designed with electrostatic loudspeakers in mind as Quad already made them and the 405 came out at about the same time as the FREDs (ESL 63 - Full Range Electrostatic Doublet).

I think it was some dynamic loudspeakers that the original 405 was not so happy with (eg: the Linns I think), hence the -2 version.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby 4TrackMadman » Wed May 15, 2013 10:03 pm

Alesis RA150 for monitoring amp. On the other one I use an old Panasonic desktop component stereo that has MD line-in.
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Thu May 16, 2013 2:36 pm

John Willett wrote:

Well - the Quad 405 was designed with electrostatic loudspeakers in mind as Quad already made them and the 405 came out at about the same time as the FREDs (ESL 63 - Full Range Electrostatic Doublet).

I think it was some dynamic loudspeakers that the original 405 was not so happy with (eg: the Linns I think), hence the -2 version.

Thanks for replying . I do know quite a bit about QUAD history, I do understand that from about 1957 their amps have been expected to drive ESL speakers. My point was others haven't. Much as a lot of amps couldnt drive Apogee ribbons. And 405s couldnt drive Isobariks (or the big IMFs). Describing an amplifier requirement as a straight wire with a gain misses so much about amplifier design.

The 405-2 came out with the 63s. Neither versions drove the ESL particularly well, hence me not being a fan. I know I heard a lot of them. And versions with Audio-Pro and Gradient subs. Some "active mini-monitor" fans could do well to listen to some old ESL, from the QUADs, Stax and Janszen to Martin Logan hybrids, ML pure ESL and I hear good reports of Kingsound etc. Also isodynamics from Magnepan
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Thu May 16, 2013 4:48 pm

I bought my Quad 405, the 'original' version new at the end of 1978 from J.G.Windows in Newcastle and there were a pair of the new ESL 63s in at the time, which I listened to. They may have been driven by a 303 which worked very well with the first Quad electrostatics, the ESL 57. The problem with those early Quad 57 and 63 electrostatic speakers was the very wide load impedances, they presented, typically from 1 to 35ohms and the 'original' 405 current limiter didn't help much in that respect. The 303 was much better at driving the impedances it was presented with.

My 405 is still doing well after a rebuild (due another soon), but has spent its whole life driving a pair of Spendor BC1s.

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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby John Willett » Fri May 17, 2013 8:00 am

And I still remember hearing the magic of listening to a stacked pair of the original Quad electrostatics

Now, that was .............................
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Fri May 17, 2013 7:20 pm

Yes, stacked electrostatics are stunning. Alastair Robertson-Aikman, the founder of SME had a famous listening room, which I believe is still at the SME works in Steyning. There are four pairs of stacked ESL 63s, one pair of stacks facing the listeners and the other pair behind them at right angles.

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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Sat May 18, 2013 5:15 pm

Dont forget these 63s were in massive machined braces/stands. Using SMEs engineering prowess. Never been to their factory so I can't comment much further.

Mark Levinson of the eponymous company started with stacked QUADs. Not sure if this was before or after he was with Kim Kattrall. How about that fact fans!!
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Re: What studio amps do you use for monitoring?

Postby wayn ker » Sat May 18, 2013 10:45 pm

Creek 4140
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