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Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

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Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby samuk » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:44 pm

I am looking to buy a pair of monitors in the £1k range for the pair.

However, I live a long way from any stockists where I could demo them, so am thinking of buying a pair without demo-ing them first.

Is this a bad idea?

The monitors I am considering are likely to be Neumann KH 120A’s. I haven’t seen any negative reviews of them, and they are considered to be very accurate, neutral monitors which is what I am looking for as they will be my only monitors.

Any advice appreciated, thanks
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Re: Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby Wonks » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:52 pm

Good choice of monitors, so you can't go far wrong.

The best form of demoing is from a store that lets you take the speakers home to try them out, then you know what they'll sound like in your studio area. Listening to speakers in a shop where you've got 20 sets set up on shelves, all different heights and distances apart can only tell you so much, e.g. things like bass extension, but won't tell you what they sound like at the correct distance apart for your listening distance and how big their 'sweet spot' is.

But even so, its nice to find out what a speaker that goes down to 48hz sound like compared to one gong down to 55Hz.

But if I had to buy monitors blind in that price bracket, I'd go with those Neumanns.
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Re: Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:10 pm

There's no point listening to monitors outside your own space. None. Not only will they sound different anyway, but the test of a monitor is to work on it. Mix a few tracks with it and see what direction it takes you. A good retailer will send you a demo pair.

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Re: Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:03 pm

I have considered this conundrum and have reached the conclusion that, as long as I buy a good pair of monitors, I will learn to use them. Obviously I will go and listen before I buy (it would be foolish not to) but I don't believe I have sufficient experience to make a properly informed decision on my own so will take the advice given here and, when/if I buy I will buy monitors that much more experienced people than me more or less unanimously declare are the best available at my budget (which happens to be the same as yours). In this case that means KH120s......
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Re: Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby aekoi » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:12 pm

I wouldn't worry about not demo'ing. I bought mine with no demo. The main thing is to get used to them, and listen to your mixes on different 'boxes' as reference (i'm meaning car, boom box, venue PA if poss etc).
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Re: Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby James Perrett » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:31 pm

samuk wrote:The monitors I am considering are likely to be Neumann KH 120A’s. I haven’t seen any negative reviews of them, and they are considered to be very accurate, neutral monitors which is what I am looking for as they will be my only monitors.

I've heard them in my studio and also done some mixing on them somewhere else. They have a similar balance to the other monitors I use and I'm comfortable using them (although my big monitors go very slightly lower). They were a safe bet until Hugh reviewed the KH80's - if you can live with a slightly higher bass roll-off they are apparently even more accurate (though I've not heard them myself).
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Re: Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby CS70 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:11 pm

samuk wrote:I am looking to buy a pair of monitors in the £1k range for the pair.

However, I live a long way from any stockists where I could demo them, so am thinking of buying a pair without demo-ing them first.

Is this a bad idea?

The monitors I am considering are likely to be Neumann KH 120A’s. I haven’t seen any negative reviews of them, and they are considered to be very accurate, neutral monitors which is what I am looking for as they will be my only monitors.

Any advice appreciated, thanks

When you can't demo, you have to rely on other judgements and expertise. SOS reviews are , after all, exactly that :D

The consensus is that the 120s are excellent in a typical little studio setting (and using a pair myself, I am perfectly satisfied), so it's not a bad idea.

There are certain products where the manufacturing process has so much variability that two supposedly identical models aren't really doing exactly the same thing (acoustic guitars, for example) so you have to test exactly the one you want to buy, but Neumann's stuff.. you know the model, you know how it sounds (or it's broken).

So go ahead. :)
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Re: Buying monitors without demo-ing - what are the issues if any?

Postby samuk » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:42 pm

Thank you very much for all your replies, extremely helpful.

I’m now going to order monitors from a store that offers free returns (and open them very carefully) allowing me to test them in my own room by doing some mixes. I’ve never much liked demo-ing things in stores anyway, at least with guitars and amps with all the other noise from other demo’s in progress.

I’m quite confident the KH 120’s will sound good, although I’m now leaning towards the Neumann KH80’s having seen Hugh’s review and the technical data on them indicates that they are more accurate with only a slightly lower (7 Hz) bass extension.

Thanks again - you’ve helped lift a fog of confusion!
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