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Blue Sky The Stand - built to carry the weight
Studio monitor stands seem to come in two types - low cost and shaky or high cost and ugly except for the elegant Blue Sky The Stand .
The Stand is a premium priced stand that combines good looks with steady support and adjustability.
The Stand, generically named, can hold near field monitors up to 80 lbs each. I'm not sure if I'd go put them to that test, although they are very stable at 30 lbs.
For most powered studio monitors, The Stand can position the monitor height between 33 inches and 45 inches, on any horizontal plane and vertically plus or minus 20 degrees. That should look after most situations in a home or project studio.
Monitor Stands compared
Studio monitor stands range from the low cost On Stage stands around $80 a pair to Sound Anchors around $650.
It is inevitable that you're going to bump into the monitors or stands while wiring or adjusting something around the mixing desk. You don't want the monitors falling down.
While the On Stage stands have a stated capacity of 90 lbs, they become unstable at 20 lbs or more. The leg and stand assembly are too weak and the stand will sway. Trusting them with expensive powered near field monitors seems foolhardy. Even 20 lb Dynaudio BM5 or BM6a monitors swayed on them.
Raxxess and Argosy (range $300 a pair) stands achieve more vertical stability by using two legs or a boxed leg. They also allow sand filling to give the stand more mass.
Sound Anchors (Studio Economik) are made from welded steel and are the tanks of studio monitor stands. They are not particularly handsome but are not going to drop the monitor.
All of these stands suffer from relatively narrow bases which can create lateral instability. Given the monitor is at least 3 feet up in the air, there is considerable vertical leverage to the monitor which causes swaying. It makes me nervous.
Blue Sky's The Stand has a 30 inch wide base, more than double to 10 x 14 inch base of the Sound Anchors. However, with the four leg configuration, the stand nests in closely with other gear and doesn't get in the way. Each stand weighs 25 lbs.
The Blue Sky Stand adjusts in height from 33 to 45 inches in 3/4 inch increments with an ingenious mechanism.
You put one foot on the cast iron base and simply lift the monitor to the desired height. At each 3/4 inch increment, there is an audible click which is locking the inner and outer cylinders. It's quite simple and easy and felt secure with a 30 lb Klein + Hummel 0300 monitor on the stand.
To move the monitor down, you have to lift the inner cylinder to its maximum height and push it gently to the bottom of its travel. At that point you lift up to the desired height.
When the stand and monitor are installed in a tight spot, returning the monitor to the lowest setting may require moving things out of the way.
The Raxxess and Argosy stands are not adjustable. Sound Anchor Compact Adjustable is adjustable with two bolts to secure height.
Mounting the studio monitors
The Stand comes with a main bracket for easy installation of Blue Sky monitors, for which it was designed.
Blue Sky Monitors have mounting brackets on the bottom which screw into the main bracket.
The bracket allows + or - 20 degrees of angle if you want to aim the speakers downward for instance.
There is an optional bracket for mounting other monitors that provides a wide base plate and safety strap. They are sold for $90 a pair.
However, you can remove the mounting bracket and install your own bracket or plate using a 1/4 inch coarse threaded 3/4 inch bolt.
The Stands are made with care. The cast iron bases are perfectly flat. In case your floor is slightly uneven, adjustable rubber feet can take up the slack. You can also install feet for carpet although they are not supplied.
I was impressed by the quality of the manufacturing. The base and cylinders came in two boxes. Assembly was well explained and easy.
Other than a tiny bit of play between the two cylinders, there is virtually no side to side movement in The Stands supporting 30 lb studio monitors. It's the first time I have felt confident with mounting my K+H O300s.
I will follow this review with details of how I adapted The Stands to support the K+H O300s.
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This article is the second in a two part about speaker stands and the K+H O 300. The first part provides details on Blue Sky The Stand review.
This reprint doesn't contain the links and illustrations in the original article. If you want the details, link to Building a stand for K+H O 300 monitors
When I got the monitors in 2009, Studio Economik suggested the Sound Anchors STUDADJR at $800 a pair.
I didn’t get a cheaper solution than Sound Anchors but I did get one that looks better and has more flexibility in speaker location.
There is a bracket on the back of the K+H O 300′s that supports wall mounting but no one recommends that for near field monitors. Reflections off the wall would be too strong at the listening position and aiming them 30 degrees toward the mixing position a little tricky.
Neumann, who purchased, Klein and Hummel, has a detailed specification K+H Mounting Hardware Matrix with approved supports that include suspending from the ceiling or mounted on tripod and mono-pod stands from K+M.
Neumann advise that loading stands with sand to dampen resonance does nothing. “We do not subscribe to all this “spike your stands” stuff seen in the hi-fi industry. A solid stand with this hardware is quite acceptable.” (Andrew Goldberg, Product Manager – Studio Monitor Systems, Georg Neumann GmbH)
Any solution from Neumann was going to cost about the same as the Sound Anchors and involved a confusing series of adapters.
I tried the K+H O 300s on OnStage SMS6000 Adjustable Studio Monitor Stands. It was scary to watch them sway in the breeze. (Fig. 3)
So I built a plywood meter bridge and placed the monitors on the extreme end of each side. (Fig. 2) That solution was certainly secure. The mixing desk can support 250 lbs. However, there was no means to experiment with the monitor location to get the best sound in the room. Right off the bat monitors were about 1 foot too close together.
Position of the monitors side to side affects the proper stereo image at the mixing seat, just ahead of the focal point. They are supposed to be set up in an equilateral triangle with the listening position. The optimum distance is 67.5″ apart, according to some, which puts the focal point about 3 to 18″ behind your head.
Monitors placed on the mixing desk or meter bridge transmit sound through the desk faster than through the air. The monitors are subject to low frequency cancellation. That effect is mitigated by using the Primacoustic RX9 – HF Horizontal Recoil Stabilizer. (Fig. 2)
The other problem with meter bridge mounting is the sound reflects off the desk. The tapered angle of Mackie MCU Pro Control Surface, MCU Pro Extension and Mackie C4 Pro act like the traditional beveled mixing desk to deflect some of the reflections. (Fig. 3)
The recommended installation is the near field monitors installed on stands to get the best results.
Horizontal or Vertical
Most active near-fields are placed vertically. The 3-way K+H O 300s are designed to mount horizontally with the tweeters to the outside.
Neumann provide plenty of technical information in the K+H O 300 manual on frequency response and distortion both vertically and horizontally. The sweet spot for best response is narrower when mounted on the vertical. (Fig. 4)
The Stand and adaptation
After a year of putzing with OnStage stands, the meter bridge and almost ordering the Sound Anchors, I came across Blue Sky’s The Stand. It had everything I needed – large 30 inch base for stability, capacity to handle 80 lbs, and vertical and horizontal adjustment. Blue Sky The Stand Review
To make the K+H O 300 secure, I ordered the Neumann LH-25 bracket specified in the K+H Mounting Hardware Matrix. (Fig. 5) From appearances it seemed like an easy adaptation to drill a few holes in the mounting bracket on The Stand and bolt them together.
When the LH-25 and The Stand arrived, a simpler solution presented itself – remove the Blue Sky bracket (Fig. 6) and install the LH-25 bracket directly on the top of the chrome cylinder. (Fig. 7)
When I tested the adaption, the thumb screw didn’t allow the K+H O 300 to pivot vertically. (Fig. 7 )
Blue Sky confirmed, in an email, the thumb screw can be replaced with a 1/4″ bolt (coarse thread) and washer. I used a hardened 1/4″ x 3/4″ steel bolt, although the original thumbscrew is not hardened. (Fig. 8 )
Be careful not to over torque the 1/4″ bolt since it may either break or suffer shear damage and break later. Use only the amount of torque you would on the thumb screw.
You may wish to keep the original Blue Sky bracket and attach the LH 25 to it. It seemed redundant and merely added three more bolts to tighten and without adding any rigidity or features.
Installing the speaker
The K+H O 300s come with a plastic screw in each side that must be removed first. If you take the speaker off the stand later, the plastic screws must be put back.
The hard plastic handled thumb screw and washers are installed as illustrated in Fig. 9.
This is a two-person job. One person can hold the 30 lb speaker and another can thread the supplied bolts, washer and rubber washers.
The biggest problem was holding the speaker in the correct position and not cross threading the screws.
Hand tighten the plastic covered bolts and no more.
Alternatively, one could place the K+H O 300 on its back, install the screws in the bracket and stand the assembly up. That seemed a little dangerous so I got my daughters to help. (See Fig. 1 for fully assembled Stand, LH-25 and K+H O 300)
Alternate mounting brackets
If you pick a mono-pod or tripod stand for the K+H monitors, there are several other adapters available that will connect with them – LH 28, LH 29, LH 37 and LH 48. Consult the K+H Mounting Hardware Matrix for details.
Putting the speaker and stand in place
This is again a two person operation. The whole thing is rather unwieldy with the base width, height and weight. The speaker stand will drop if you lift the from the speaker bracket, which is how you adjust the height upward. (Fig. 10 )
Once in place, all that was need were small adjustments of the rubberized feet to compensate for the hard wood floor.
Where to buy
Total cost was $600 for Blue Sky The Stand (pair) at Amazon.com or other dealers and $120 for the LH-25 brackets (pair). Not many dealers carry the LH-25s but I did find a pair at Studio Economik who ship to the US and Canada. In Europe, Prosl.com will order them. Most Neumann dealers can order them from Sennheiser, who own Neumann, although several wouldn’t admit they could.
Dealers are listing these items as “Each” but you will need a pair of both. That must be to avoid sticker shock.
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Stephen Pate wrote:I want to thank James Lehmann who posted on the SOS forum the only review of the Blue Sky Stand. Without his post I wouldn't have purchased The Stand.
Why thank-you Stephen!
I don't know where my original Blue Sky User Review has gone - all my posts prior to 2007 seem to have been deleted!
Well, for anyone that's still interested you can find it here on my own website User Review of Blue Sky ProDesks and Stands
Six years later and I can say that the Blue Sky Stands are the most boring piece of gear I have ever purchased - and as regards monitor stands, trust me this is a good thing. They just sit there and do their job - never breakdown, never require upgrading, never really even think about them. Outstanding!
- James Lehmann
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I used to be a rocker, but now I've gone off it and just sit in one. (JL)
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