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Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:34 pm

I was hoping I could get some opinions on passive 8" near field monitors.

I've gone through 2 sets of Rokits, and now 2 sets of JBL's in the last 15 years - and I would really love something that is repairable instead of the active built in amps that require replacement of everything. I really dislike throw away stuff.

Seems like cap hiss is usually the big issue in our active monitors - and I swear I can hear the devil talking out of my right nearfield right now. (But maybe thats another issue!). I tried changing the capacitors in my Rokits once, and BOOM It must not have been the right size or something as it exploded and smoked! Very exciting, but not very effective in my attempted repair.

I'm thinking of a 1u or 2u external amp and monitors that I could replace speakers like an NS-10 used to be. I use a 10" powered sub.

Any suggestions?

thanks!

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:04 pm

I shall leave suggestions of passive monitors to the better experienced here. The amplifier I would not fuss too much about, something from a good name and of the right power capability for the speaker will be fine.

I would say you have been unlucky with your experience of active monitors? I am on this forum every day and another and read VERY few complaints of amps in speakers failing.
I personally have had a set of Tannoy 5As running for well over 8 years. Solid state power amplifiers of good basic design are extremely reliable unless abused and it is very hard to abuse an amplifier in an active speaker! (Class D is probably a little LESS reliable in the cheaper brands?)

Capacitors do not cause "hiss" and the one you fitted exploded because either it was of too low a voltage rating or, you got it the wrong way around! Most likely the latter.

I would bite the bullet, grip the flexible friend firmly and go for a top name. Neumann, PMC and a few others.

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Wed Oct 14, 2020 1:07 am

Ahhh. I knew I could count on SOS to help me review my logic. Maybe it has been just a string of bad luck, kind of like my quarterly royalty checks. :headbang:

Yes, I have been using cheaper monitors. Many of my colleagues have commented on that nice SSL console or a UAD piece of outboard, and then point at my monitors - while I shrug.

I started using Sonarworks calibration a few years ago, and felt that it made all the difference in my mixes, (my mastering engineer agreed) and monitors didn't seem the best investment - but I am changing my mind. Even for just longevity.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Ramirez » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:42 am

Can you sell the sub to add to your budget?

If you’re happy try actives again, it’s hard to beat the smaller Neumanns - KH120 are great, and while I haven’t used them, the KH80 are just as good from what I’ve heard, and even better if you can stretch to adding the KH750 sub. If you’re going for a sub, I think it’s important to get a well matched one, and take the time to set it up and position it properly. They often cause more problems than they solve.

If you want passives, maybe a smaller pair of used ATCs could come within budget? We have SCM20 in the small studio. Definitely don’t need a sub with those, but I don’t know their used value.

You may also find a good deal on used AE22 monitors - either active or passive. Great speakers, and often go quite cheap second hand (I got mine NEW for around £400 when they were clearing them out and discontinuing them!)
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Arpangel » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:35 am

Sounds to me like you’re running your monitors at very high volumes??
I’ve never had a pair fail me, I’ve had a pair of cheap but good Behringer 3031a for about 6 years, no problems, and they are completely silent, no noise "at all"
This may be an option, they are cheap, so it’s worth the experiment, also, they don’t sound cheap, they also go very loud if need be, if that’s a selling point to you.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:06 am

I have not used the Sonarworks eq myself but it does get a good rep around here.
However, silk purses and pigs lugs...EQ will not improve coloration (there, I have left the US spelling for you!) and it could lower headroom and thus ultimate power handling capacity. Mind you, any decent amplifier should stand being caned for hours without failing OR some over temperature trip should cut in.

I used the word "eq" rather than "calibration" because of Arpangel's comment. Have you in fact calibrated your monitors for operating sound level? If not I think it is something everyone who is even remotely serious about recording should do. You want consistent monitoring levels every time you sit in that sweet spot.

"Behringer" speakers? Er, don't know about that!

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:41 am

Well, someone has to say it... :lol:

Is your room acoustically treated? If not, then you'd be well-advised to invest (word used deliberately!) some of your budget into at least some treatment.

Your choice of course, but you won't get the best from any monitors if they're in a definitely dodgy room.

Oh; and forget about the sub... it will probably cause far more problems than it solves. If you mix a lot of bass-heavy stuff then get some good headphones to check-out those aspects.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby blinddrew » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:47 am

Could it be that the Sonarworks is introducing a problem here?
If you've not got a uniform bottom end, which is likely even in heavily treated rooms, could you be unknowingly cranking a whole lot of extra power to try and compensate for a room null?
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:25 am

blinddrew wrote:Could it be that the Sonarworks is introducing a problem here?
If you've not got a uniform bottom end, which is likely even in heavily treated rooms, could you be unknowingly cranking a whole lot of extra power to try and compensate for a room null?

Quite likely if it's making a lot of correction adjustments...

Many years ago, in my inexperience I was explaining to someone how good my grotty speakers sounded with loads of EQ adjustment applied. He then pointed out that life with my amp might well be short but happy, as I could well be stressing it beyond its operational parameters. For me that was a lesson learnt...
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:42 am

There is certainly a risk when using room correction software that the correction will call for substantial extra level at specific (low) frequencies in an effort to compensate for standing wave nulls in the room... and that could lead to speaker over-excursion and/or amp overloads.

Thankfully, most modern room correction software incorporates limits as to the maximum boost it can call for, specifically to try and prevent this kind of issue... although if the speaker is already being driven close to its peak level limits it won't actually be of much help! Moreover, the limits can often be overridden by the unthinking user, too!

I don't know what KRK/JBL speakers the OP was using, but to go through four sets in fifteen years does seem rather excessive and suggests to me that they may well have been used to maintain average SPLs rather higher than intended. Many small active monitors tend to use 'chip amps' which are not as robust as discrete outboard designs either...

If the OP is keen to pursue the passive with external amp idea -- and there's nothing wrong in that approach -- there are a lot of good quality passive studio monitors floating around on the used-market as the trend is for people to replace them with more modern active designs. I'd recommend looking for professional models from the likes of ATC, Dynaudio, PMC, Quested etc, and high-spec professional (fan-less) amps to match.

Just make sure that whatever you choose is capable of handling your SPL's with ease. The last thing you need is an over-stressed amp and bass drivers!

And I wouldn't recommend NS10s... ;-)
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Arpangel » Wed Oct 14, 2020 1:23 pm

ef37a wrote:"Behringer" speakers? Er, don't know about that!

Dave.

:D

Am I unhappy with my 3031's? No.
I’ve seen them used by people from all walks of musical life, someone I knew at uni was signed to Sony at the time, he mixed that breakthrough album on a set of Berry’s, it was his talent that got him signed, not the monitors, and the guy that signed him didn’t say "we can’t possibly sign you, you’ve used inferior monitors!"

:D :D :D
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby RichardT » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:38 pm

Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:"Behringer" speakers? Er, don't know about that!

Dave.

:D

Am I unhappy with my 3031's? No.
I’ve seen them used by people from all walks of musical life, someone I knew at uni was signed to Sony at the time, he mixed that breakthrough album on a set of Berry’s, it was his talent that got him signed, not the monitors, and the guy that signed him didn’t say "we can’t possibly sign you, you’ve used inferior monitors!"

:D :D :D

I am sure that’s true. My experience of getting better monitors (KEF LS50W replacing some quite elderly Genelecs) was that it made a huge difference to hearing into the mix, though. It became much easier to hear what was wrong and what was working. If I could afford something like Kii 3s I would go for them. So my advice is to get the best monitoring you possibly can afford (allowing a decent amount of money for room treatment and stands).
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:37 pm

Thanks for all the input.

I mix at 74db - with an SPL meter close at hand to verify. Years ago? Yes, things were cranked up pretty loud due to jamming in the studio and we were doing dance music back then. These monitors are JBL 308's first generations, and have not been overdriven. One has already been replaced in 4 years of use.

I do however, have my volumes cranked on the monitors like the manuals suggest.

Currently, I use a Subpac and low volumes so I can get more mileage out my ears.

I have considered losing the sub - Sonarworks pretty much takes it away in its calibration. I had to turn it almost off, and move it half way across the room to get calibration. I think it lives mostly as a table more than a sub these days.

I use an SSL SiX for monitoring - so monitoring is coming from it's main outputs. I mix in a loft without parallel anything, exposed beams, wood decking ceiling, carpeted floor and bass traps in the back. My calibration hasn't been an issue, and my mixes have translated well across systems. I've had an engineer run my acoustics, and the Sonarworks has helped, but it is but a slight difference when using their calibration. Happy with that.

Monitor replacements have been due to noise when nothing is running through them. Just turned on, everything else off. Cabling disconnected, moved, etc. Still, hiss and gremlin electronic noise through one or the other prompts a new set.

The noise drives me crazy. I think its making me insane. The voices....
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby James Perrett » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:50 pm

Your mention of voices makes me wonder if you have a radio interference problem. Are there any AM radio transmitters close to you? Have you checked the ground connection to your room? It may be worth adding ferrite blocks to your mains cables and signal cables to prevent RF getting into the speakers.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:09 pm

Thanks for the input.

I disconnected everything again this morning and the noise is still audible. I’m on a high end battery backup power conditioning system (hard drives for film requires it) , just replaced the batteries and ran diagnostics Last week.

Only one speaker is noisy. I live in a location where there isn’t reception if I tried for anything. I’m being cheeky with the voices. Pops. Hisses. Little noises.

My trash can Mac Pro is close by, but it makes noises with it off or the monitor moved. The tweeter hisses.
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