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Upgrading Nearfield monitors

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Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Vyv » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:41 am

Hi everyone,

Faced with trying to get a good orchestral sound from samples, I think my current monitoring setup is not helping. I use Dynaudio BM5 (mk1 version) driven by a Malcolm Hill Chameleon Class A amp; the sound is OK but there's not enough detail or stereo imaging. I've just ordered some Studiospares acoustic panels to put between the speakers, and the room is quite large (5m x6m x 4m high), carpeted and dead sounding, perhaps too much so.

I also have a pair of PMC FB1+ driven by a monster boutique HiFi amp called LSA which sounds more accurate though it's a HiFi system rather than studio monitoring.

What I'm really asking is, how much do I need to spend on nearfields to hear a worthwhile difference? I notice that nowadays most monitors you read about are active, but I'm not convinced that the amp, which cost way more than the speakers in its day, is a problem - are there still good passive designs about? Otherwise the KH310As look ideal, but rather beyond my budget. I'd prefer to be looking at around the £1K level. Would something like Adam F7 be a worthwhile improvement?

By the way, before you tell me to audition lots of speakers, bear in mind that in this internet age there aren't any shops you can go and listen to this kind of stuff any more, they've all closed!

Thanks in advance for any suggestions
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:47 am

The PMC FB1s are basically just a floor-standing version of the TB2 (with a slightly longer ATL), and there is negligible difference tonally between the two models. So although they are wood veneered and sold into the hi-fi market, they are perfectly appropriate to use as monitors if that is practical in your situation.

I'm not familiar with the Chameleon amp, but if you want to hang on to that and you like what the PMCs do, then the obvious solution would be to pick up a second-hand pair of passive TB2s. There are some on ebay now for £600 -- although I can't vouch for their condition or the seller's veracity -- and similar items come up quite often.

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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Vyv » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:35 pm

Thanks for this, I hadn't realised the equivalence between the two PMC models, it also helps show what territory I'm in budget wise (1-1.5K for equivalent quality to the FB1s). But perhaps I didn't make clear these two systems are at opposite ends of the same room, so I don't really want to double up. I actually quite like the warmth of the Dynaudios but I think they tend to "invent" bass that isn't really there; I need something a bit more analytical.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby James Perrett » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:03 pm

Do you really need two systems? Why not use your PMC's for monitoring? In days gone by hifi speakers often found their way into studios while small studio monitors found their way into hifi systems.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Vyv » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:53 pm

Definitely need one system aimed at a sofa for - er - leisure listening to CDs etc and a work system for staring at a computer screen and tearing my hair out. The PMCs are effectively my full range monitors.

Just looked at the SOS review for ATC SCM25 A's. 7 grand. Ouch. But there's a pair of passive SCM10's on ebay ...
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby G-Doubleyou » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:18 pm

Are you listening in a treated room?

Controlling reflections, and the low end can improve clarity.

8-)
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Vyv » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:52 am

No, the room isn't treated, as I said in the OP I'm getting some acoustic panels to go between the speakers and may get some more if this improves things. It's a large carpeted and curtained room with lots of shelves and stuff to break up reflections, If anything I find it a bit too dead sounding.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:40 am

There are good-sounding rooms, nasty-sounded rooms ... and there are "treated" rooms. They sometimes can be very strange to work in :-)
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby John Willett » Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:38 pm

Vyv wrote:
By the way, before you tell me to audition lots of speakers, bear in mind that in this internet age there aren't any shops you can go and listen to this kind of stuff any more, they've all closed!



There are still a few good shops in the UK (eg: KMR, Funky-Junk, studioXchange, etc...) and the good manufacturers will have demonstration units to loan out.

I am taking a pair of the Geithain RL901K up north for a home demo shortly and the RL906 are going somewhere else.

I know PMC certainly have loan/demo units to do this as I borrowed a pair several years back.

ATC I think do the same and I am pretty sure Sennheiser UK have demo sets of the Neumann KH120A and KH310A.

PS - it's good if you can add your location to the left-hand panel - it helps us all help you better knowing in which Country and Region you are.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Vyv » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:22 pm

Location supplied, cheers.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby John Willett » Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:29 pm

Vyv wrote:Location supplied, cheers.


OK - so you are UK based.

As Hugh said - your existing PMCs should be fine and I would say probably better than the Adams.

But if you want to buy active monitors then the best around the £1k mark are probably the Neumann KH120A. The RL906 I mentioned before are around the £2k mark.

If you want PMC actives and keep your existing units for the living room, they are also worth considering.

But, as I said, KMR have a good monitor range on demo and so do Funky Junk and many of the top manufacturers/distributors may be able to arrange a home demo.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Vyv » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:32 am

Thanks for the info, John. I will get in touch with these dealers.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Oct 02, 2013 8:28 pm

Vyv wrote:Just looked at the SOS review for ATC SCM25 A's. 7 grand. Ouch. But there's a pair of passive SCM10's on ebay ...

I'm still using my SCM10's bought in 1997 and am very pleased with them ;)

They are built to last 8-)


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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors (SOLVED)

Postby Vyv » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:09 am

Just in case this is of interest to anyone, I ended up blowing my budget entirely and getting a pair of Focal SM9's. Thanks to Stefan and the team at KMR for letting me borrow a pair after I'd checked out a few alternatives at their showroom. I also spent a few quid on acoustic foam tiles from http://www.acoustic-foam.co.uk/ which were a lot cheaper than the Auralex equivalent.

Result: amazing increase in detail resolution, stereo image solidity etc. The bass goes all the way down, and the treble is sweet and unfatiguing thanks (I'm told) to the Beryllium tweeter. Some people have criticized the SM9 for being a bit flattering, I suppose it depends on your ears. I've always found hihats and brass tiring to listen to, even live, so the SM9 sweetness is a definite advantage to me.

Sound is not unlike the much cheaper Focal Solo 6 but with a lot more welly. I also tried the Neumann KH310 and KH120: the 310 had a slight bloom to the lower mid which I found distracting, but very open bass. I almost prefered the much smaller KH120, but found it hard to justify spending all that money on boxes slightly smaller than my existing setup.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors (SOLVED)

Postby maskedwarrior » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:32 pm

I can vouch for making acoustic screens at a fraction of the cost of the foam equivalent. If you need more treatment I'd check out some of the demos on here. Made a heap of difference to my humble setup and my crappy-sounding room! Enjoy your new speakers.
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Re: Upgrading Nearfield monitors

Postby John Willett » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:59 pm

Vyv wrote:Thanks for the info, John. I will get in touch with these dealers.

There is now a new dealer opening in London - with an excellent pedigree and highly recommended:-

The Studio Shop

Certainly the equal of KMR and Funky-Junk and should also be seriously considered.

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