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Sonarworks vs High End Monitors

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Sonarworks vs High End Monitors

Postby bluedot » Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:56 pm

This is a conceptual question.

I've been using JBL LSR308's and a 10"KRK subwoofer in our studio for a few years now. We used to use the ubiquitous KRK Rokit 5's, and the switch to JBL made our mid bass translate much better. Our mixes have gotten a LOT better (translating to different systems) after we calibrated the studio with SonarWorks. Our mastering engineer noted the changes in our mixes and that they were't heavy in certain freqs he normally had to deal with.

A good job came in, and I would like to upgrade the studio with this dosh, so I was thinking about upgrading our monitors... finally.

But the question comes up - why go with high end monitors when Sonarworks develops a flat response out of what I am already using? What am I getting that will translate into better mixes with say ADAM's or Genelec's?

Now it makes sense that our mastering engineer needs high end monitors for discernment, etc. But isn't it all really about reference? Especially with most people listening on earbuds?

Before I mix, I run a playlist of music I am familiar with to hear how their freqs sound.

Can someone school me on what I am missing out on here?

Thank you!

ri
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Re: Sonarworks vs High End Monitors

Postby Logarhythm » Sun Dec 29, 2019 11:42 am

Not a Sonarworks user, but my understanding is that it is primarily concerned with correcting the frequency response - it can't overcome the physics of the monitor itself, so for example I wouldn't expect it to be able to do anything for time-domain accuracy, phase coherence, distortion etc. as these are limited by the nature of the drivers/cabinet (and ports, in the case of reflex-loaded cabinets like your JBLs) and interaction thereof.
If it could do all of that then there would be no need to buy more expensive monitors ;)

Better monitors may perform better in these areas and that translates to having a clearer idea of what's going on in the mix - hearing the right frequency is only part of the challenge, as you will also benefit from hearing it (a) as the right frequency, without colouration from distortion or phase issues introduced by driver/crossover/amp/cabinet/port behaviour and (b) at the right time, and only at the right time (or a closer approximation of it).

This is probably worth a read, if you haven't done so yet: https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/choosing-monitors
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Re: Sonarworks vs High End Monitors

Postby CS70 » Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:09 pm

bluedot wrote:
But the question comes up - why go with high end monitors when Sonarworks develops a flat response out of what I am already using? What am I getting that will translate into better mixes with say ADAM's or Genelec's?

First of all, if the issue is your room (as it seems to be), no amount of high-end monitors will help. The sound out of the speakers may be perfect, but it's of little use if it gets mangled by filtering at your ears. So if you have some money, acoustic treatment is usually a better way to spend it than higher-end monitors.

The quality of monitors is usually found in their frequency&time domain response, noise and distortion - that is, if they present (or not) an accurate reproduction of the signal both in frequency content and in the timing of the various components of that content, how "fast" can react without distorting, how loud they can go, etc. But the sound that gets to your ears depends on the monitors/room system, not the monitors alone.

The usual benefit of better monitoring (that is the full chain, starting from the DAC to the monitors and the room) is to get to the desired mix that translates well, faster and more easily. Basically, less work and less (or no) surprises. You can also get similar results by using good headphones and taking the room out of the equation, even if it's somewhat less intuitive imho. With not stellar monitoring, you're forced to check your mix on many systems etc - using more time to the target.

That said, about the difference between a "corrected" monitor/room and "good monitors in a good room" depends obviously on the correction, what are your expectations and needs, and what you get as results. I am not sure software can correct for all the effects of mediocre monitors or room, but as you have experienced it can certainly bring you further up on the road of a good mix.

So, if the results you get with your current combo are good (as judged by you and others), indeed changing it is pointless.

The difficulty of course is that you may not know what you are missing. Bit like the first time you drive a Ferrari if all you've ever used is Toyota Auris. :D

A way to test this without spending a fortune is to rent a room in a good studio for a couple days, and see if it makes a difference to your subjective experience.
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Re: Sonarworks vs High End Monitors

Postby ManFromGlass » Sun Dec 29, 2019 6:41 pm

So my form of common sense thinks the room will not have as much impact using near fields. Assuming one is sitting in the correct position to those monitors. And assuming, even with a sub, that bottom end could be seriously out of wack due to the room and length of bass fundamental frequencies.
I use the Sonarworks headphone prog along with the small genelecs. Both are good at pointing out deficiencies in my mixes.

Bluedot are you talking about nearfields, mid-fields or monsters that can collapse bowels at 10 paces?
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Re: Sonarworks vs High End Monitors

Postby ef37a » Sun Dec 29, 2019 7:15 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:So my form of common sense thinks the room will not have as much impact using near fields. Assuming one is sitting in the correct position to those monitors. And assuming, even with a sub, that bottom end could be seriously out of wack due to the room and length of bass fundamental frequencies.
I use the Sonarworks headphone prog along with the small genelecs. Both are good at pointing out deficiencies in my mixes.

Bluedot are you talking about nearfields, mid-fields or monsters that can collapse bowels at 10 paces?

This is my understanding of the Nearfield Principle, that the sounds arrive earlier and at a high enough level that they override some at least of a room's problems. Or is the idea just so much speaker maker's adpuff?

The failings of budget monitors are AFAIK mainly due to colouration and no amount of response tweaking can remove cone 'honk'. 'Speed' of any system, be it a loudpeaker or a ships stabilizer is I think a function of bandwith? We hear very little these days about "transient response" but how a system starts AND stops is crucial and again, I cannot see software helping there much either. (if built into an active speaker 'system' then probably does help)

Agreed, the best monitors in the world will be degraded by a bad room but the best room in the world won't make Auratones into PMCs!

In short, if you want a silk purse, start at least with some silk!

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Re: Sonarworks vs High End Monitors

Postby bluedot » Sun Dec 29, 2019 7:30 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Bluedot are you talking about nearfields, mid-fields or monsters that can collapse bowels at 10 paces?

Near fields. My sub is almost off to get the calibration accurate. (I was shocked at how bass heavy I was used to!)

I also use a Subpac so I can listen at low volumes are my ears get too tired before the day is over.

I work in my home studio, luckily its a loft with a vaulted wooden ceiling, no parallel walls, but carpeted and no rear wall, but... no acoustic treatment *at all*.

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