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Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby John Willett » Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:50 am

To answer the OP - the answer is yes.

For years I have my old Harbeth Monitor 30A as my main listening loudspeakers in my living room. I also have my ME-Geithain RL934K - the reason being that if I ever give up distributing them I am keeoing these for myself (so I got them is BirdsEye Maple instead of the standard black).

In the past several studios used top end domestic loudspeakers as studio monoitors (eg: B&W 801 and the Quad ESL63) as the best domestic loudspeakers wanted to be as newutal and accurate as possible.

You want to avoid those monitors that can show up every tiny detail and be tiring in use - but the best monitors are fine for home use as well. I would certainly put ATC, Harbeth, Neumann/K+H, ME-Geithain and PMC into this bracket. :thumbup:
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:00 pm

John Willett wrote:...
You want to avoid those monitors that can show up every tiny detail and be tiring in use ...:
I don't understand this, John. What do you mean?
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Arpangel » Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:33 pm

Back in the 90's a friend had a cheap Sony "music centre" with two little speakers, it looked awful.
But it sounded magical, everything you played through it sounded like pure cream, double, clotted, free range cream. We used to love playing stuff on it, it was great for just relaxing and having a beer. If there was a plug-in or a bit of hardware that gave me that sound I'd buy it today. That little stereo was only about £150 but the amount of enjoyment we got out of it was incredible.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby John Willett » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:01 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:
John Willett wrote:...
You want to avoid those monitors that can show up every tiny detail and be tiring in use ...:
I don't understand this, John. What do you mean?

I am not going to name names as it would be unfair - but there are some monitors that enable you to hear dB accurate changes, but are so tiring to use that if you mix on them in the morning, you have to stop at lunchtime and come back to it the next day.

Others tell you all the detail you need to know but do it in a way that enables you to work with them all day.

This came out in the very long High End Nearfield test on Gearslutz where David Zells in Norway did detailed tests on about 30 pairs of top end monitors - mixing, mastering and seeing how the results translated by sending them out to others - it was a long and interesting thread with very good test results.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:21 pm

Interesting. Could you supply a link please John?
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Zukan » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:50 pm

I use my Neumanns to listen to all music but in the bedroom where my missus and I watch all manner of badly mastered shows and music I use a Sonos. It's so damn good that I am thinking of having a set in the studio for checking mixes.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby James Perrett » Mon Nov 18, 2019 3:04 pm

John Willett wrote:but there are some monitors that enable you to hear dB accurate changes, but are so tiring to use that if you mix on them in the morning, you have to stop at lunchtime and come back to it the next day.

I'd put NS10's in the tiring category - especially when driven by the Teac amp that we used to use. However, some people seemed to be able to use them all day.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby The Bunk » Mon Nov 18, 2019 4:07 pm

Being a budget bedroom operator I'm still on an old pair of (now discontinued) Tascam VLX5s which I am actually really beginning to enjoy!! Almost out of habit those stay on even for "leisure listening".
And on that...quick question; they're active. Do they burn up much juice? I'm just conscious of it being possibly an expensive way of listening to music...(yes, times are tight!)
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Mon Nov 18, 2019 5:39 pm

The Bunk wrote:Being a budget bedroom operator I'm still on an old pair of (now discontinued) Tascam VLX5s which I am actually really beginning to enjoy!! Almost out of habit those stay on even for "leisure listening".
And on that...quick question; they're active. Do they burn up much juice? I'm just conscious of it being possibly an expensive way of listening to music...(yes, times are tight!)

Each speaker contains a total of 70 watts of amplifier power but I doubt they consume more than 10 watts each per hour (i.e. 0.01kWhr) . In any case, if you had passives the amplifier would consume about the same amount of juice, possible more.

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby The Bunk » Mon Nov 18, 2019 5:46 pm

Thanks Dave, that's helpful and useful to know.
Fortunately, things aren't that tight so I can carry on!! I hadn't thought about the amp possibly doing more. I just happened to notice a while back that when I was doing lots of home recording, my elec bills went up. So I'd have a guitar FX pedal, guitar amp, computer, monitors and quite possibly hi-fi amp (for A/B purposes) all on at the same time.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Mon Nov 18, 2019 5:52 pm

Arpangel wrote:IMO there is no such thing as a neutral, or uncloroured speaker, and every speaker has "a sound" some more than others.
If a piece of music sounds great on one speaker but a bit bad on another, then which is right? and by saying "bad" who's bad would that be?
Some of my Velvet Underground recordings are amazingly bad, and sound bad on everything, my stereo, monitors, car, Bluetooth speakers, crappy music centres, and a lot of those speakers are awful, but they still let me know that it's a rough recording. And better (whatever that is) recordings sound better on all these speakers too.
So do we actually need a £10,000 monitor to make technical/quality judgements? I'm not sure?
One theory is that the bigger the window you have the more you can see, but I don't need a wall sized window in a mansion to see that it's raining outside. An "OK" speaker will tell you the essentials, the rest is a luxury that's nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.
Great records of all time have been made on all sorts of speakers, countless approaches to this whole thing, which tends to make me think it's pointless laying down rules on monitoring, it's as personal as choosing any instrument, we all have our own preferences and ideas about what things should sound like.
People I know who have made and are making music, a couple who are professional/successful, and some like me, essentially amature. There are Tannoy Little Reds in two cases, me and my 45 yo KEF"s, a pair of Alesis Monitor 1's, some Heybrook hi-fI speakers, AR Red Box, Proac Studio 1's. Quite a mixture of speakers, but I don't even think about them when I go to these people's places, they are just there.
And whether recording or relaxing, I don't have speakers for those two seperate things, it's never been an issue.

Sorry, cannot agree friend. Reading Hi Fi News reviews from the 70s/early 80s high quality speakers were tested against real sounds such as instruments in the room, jangling keys and both male and female speech. Very often the benchmark of low colouration and accuracy was the Quad ELS. Thus, the test was not for a 'nice' speaker but one that reproduced reality.

Then it all went Ts U and silly.

Such tests are not done today (why?) but it is very common to read, when Phil or Hugh are testing the latest £xxxx wonder (its a tough job but...!) that the top end monitors compare very closely to the already very high quality incumbents.

There is the logical conclusion that 'perfect' speakers would all sound exactly the same and would reproduce ALL sounds with equal fidelity regardless of frequency or SPL.

Not there yet but if you have enough mooolar, getting bloody close!

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:00 pm

The Bunk wrote:Thanks Dave, that's helpful and useful to know.
Fortunately, things aren't that tight so I can carry on!! I hadn't thought about the amp possibly doing more. I just happened to notice a while back that when I was doing lots of home recording, my elec bills went up. So I'd have a guitar FX pedal, guitar amp, computer, monitors and quite possibly hi-fi amp (for A/B purposes) all on at the same time.
Heh! I f you REALLY want to save money, don't use batteries in the pedal! Very expensive way to buy electricity. You could use rechargeables and solar power!

Someone just leaving the bog light on probably accounts for the price increase rather than your musical endevours.

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:17 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:...it could be a variant on the sometime microphone debate where it's claimed using calibrated measurement mics results in otherwise wonderful acoustic performances being turned into "cold, clinical" recorded performances. Again a fundamental failure to understand that fidelity is... fidelity. What more can one say?

The 'what more to say' is probably that recording music is -- for most of us, most of the time -- a personal art form.

In the painting art world, some artists create photo-realistic images, whereas others produce impressionistic watercolours. For the same source inspiration you'd get totally different 'user experiences'. Would you say one was 'right' and the other 'wrong'? No, of course not!

So while audio recording fidelity -- genuine, accurate, completely transparent fidelity -- is appropriate for some applications, it's clearly not so for all. Often some intended, pleasing colourations or distortions -- whether from microphone choice, or placement, or through signal processing -- may well add positively to the musical experience or allow the recording artists/producer/engineer to create the kind of sound they want to deliver as the 'user experience'.

If someone feels a technically accurate mic sounds 'cold and clinical' to them, and doesn't deliver the kind of sound they want to hear, that's an entirely valid opinion in my book. I don't see the benefit in sneering at that view... Their art is not your art...

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:39 pm

Totally agree Hugh but I am also sure that you will agree with me that a monitoring system has to be as above reproach and accurate as possible?

A speaker that flatters some sources but is dull or strident on others cannot produce consistent work.

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:27 pm

ef37a wrote:Totally agree Hugh but I am also sure that you will agree with me that a monitoring system has to be as above reproach and accurate as possible?

Quite so. That is the definition of a monitor speaker, surely?

A speaker that flatters some sources but is dull or strident on others cannot produce consistent work.

Indeed. It's why I've always laughed at the notion that a certain 'monitor speaker' is great for rock or classical etc...

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:54 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:...it could be a variant on the sometime microphone debate where it's claimed using calibrated measurement mics results in otherwise wonderful acoustic performances being turned into "cold, clinical" recorded performances. Again a fundamental failure to understand that fidelity is... fidelity. What more can one say?

The 'what more to say' is probably that recording music is -- for most of us, most of the time -- a personal art form.

In the painting art world, some artists create photo-realistic images, whereas others produce impressionistic watercolours. For the same source inspiration you'd get totally different 'user experiences'. Would you say one was 'right' and the other 'wrong'? No, of course not!

So while audio recording fidelity -- genuine, accurate, completely transparent fidelity -- is appropriate for some applications, it's clearly not so for all. Often some intended, pleasing colourations or distortions -- whether from microphone choice, or placement, or through signal processing -- may well add positively to the musical experience or allow the recording artists/producer/engineer to create the kind of sound they want to deliver as the 'user experience'.

If someone feels a technically accurate mic sounds 'cold and clinical' to them, and doesn't deliver the kind of sound they want to hear, that's an entirely valid opinion in my book. I don't see the benefit in sneering at that view... Their art is not your art...

H
. We know that accurate gear will not change a performance into "cold and clinical" or into anything else for that matter. We also know the difference between fidelity which is objective, and human preference which varies somewhat. I didn't sneer at personal preference. It just wasn't the topic I spoke to, which was fidelity.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby John Willett » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:46 am

Tim Gillett wrote:Interesting. Could you supply a link please John?

It's HERE - it's 116 pages and very long - but good reading.

The author let me do a reprint of his comments and reasons on the ME-Geithain monitors - and that's here

The original post for the bulk of the above is post # 2305 on this page (which also mentions the "other loudspeaker" I mentioned). The other quotes (in boxes) are from other posts he made - he did see the final thing before publication, gave his blessing and supplied a photo of his studio to go with it.

But the whole thread is good reading and he tested all the monitors properly, using them for mixing and mastering and wrote about it all as he went along.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:54 pm

ef37a wrote:
...There is the logical conclusion that 'perfect' speakers would all sound exactly the same and would reproduce ALL sounds with equal fidelity regardless of frequency or SPL.

Not there yet but if you have enough mooolar, getting bloody close!

Dave.
I agree Dave, and if all sounded the same then none would be any more "tiring" to listen to the next. Speakers these days though while more accurate than ever, will probably never reach the accuracy of mics. Speakers have a much harder job to do. They don't merely respond passively to air waves but have to create them and at high SPLs. Very difficult task for their design and manufacture.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Chump » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:43 am

I mix on studio monitors but I've got an old NAD 3020 amp based setup in the living room that gives a definite colouration to the sound (I've tried the amp with a few different speaker / room combinations, and its definitely the amp that gives the colouration). Sounds absolutely nothing like my monitors, but is weirdly flattering to pretty much any material I throw at it, and with a beer I think I might prefer it to my monitors. Useless for mixing though.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Nov 20, 2019 2:55 am

Unless the NAD is faulty, is driving speakers it's not designed for or is pushed beyond its limits, it's most unlikely to be the weak link in the setup. Is it possible what flatters the sound is the beer? Not just for you but for all of us...
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