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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:17 pm

I'm one of those contrarians who is happy to use a large speaker in a small room - provided it is the right sort of large speaker. In this case I've used my big 15" Tannoys in a room that was about 4m x 3m with me less than a couple of metres from the speakers. This worked because the Tannoy dual concentric driver gives extremely good stereo imaging close up and they don't have highly tuned ports (or at least not to my ears) so the bass is extended but not overblown.

I'd agree that speaker design has come on a bit over the years. If you compare the Neumann KH120 with the similarly sized LS3/5a you'll notice that the bass is far more extended with the Neumanns.
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:07 pm

Time to show my hand methinks... :)

I have an earlier versions of these: https://www.krkmusic.com/Studio-Monitors/V4

... and there's also a V6.

No idea how that fits with your budget...

Some retailers will let you return speakers after buying - no questions asked. You could always buy your 'first on the list' and see how you get on.

FWIW, unless a retailer has a good, treated, quiet area for evaluating speakers on an A or B basis then I've not found retailer demos tell me much. And, of course, there's always the 'OK, so that's what they sound like here, but what about in my room?' conundrum. :)
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:13 pm

zenguitar wrote:
AlasdairEaston wrote: Especially since I've just concluded that my Taylor acoustic guitar needs a neck reset as well as new frets. :( Ouch.

Make sure that your tech knows that the Taylor neck can take shims to reset. Ideally you want someone who is experienced with Taylor. Or check with Taylor support for anyone recommended.

Andy :beamup:

Thanks Andy. I've got GuitarGuitar here in Edinburgh. They're at Taylor's "silver" level repairs so maybe they'd take on a neck reset usually, but Covid's kiboshed that for the time being. When you say shims do you mean for their bolt-on necks? This one's a 2002 CE314 Limited Edition and I presume has the traditional style neck joint. I'm fearing the whole thing's going to be a tricky job.
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby zenguitar » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:35 pm

The Taylor bolt on neck has been standard since 2001. And it it certainly used on current 314ce LE models. But an email to Taylor should confirm.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:36 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:Time to show my hand methinks... :)

I have an earlier versions of these: https://www.krkmusic.com/Studio-Monitors/V4

... and there's also a V6.

No idea how that fits with your budget...

Some retailers will let you return speakers after buying - no questions asked. You could always buy your 'first on the list' and see how you get on.

FWIW, unless a retailer has a good, treated, quiet area for evaluating speakers on an A or B basis then I've not found retailer demos tell me much. And, of course, there's always the 'OK, so that's what they sound like here, but what about in my room?' conundrum. :)

Thanks Mike. I did a bit of googling and those KRK's got really great reviews, notably in this very place, Sound on Sound, from Hugh Robjohns. Sadly, the price is just getting a bit too steep I think, especially if I start looking at the bigger 6" version.

Maybe I'll need to reset my expectations and my budget in the light of all this great advice though. I think at some point I'll need to do as you suggest: just buy the front-runner and see how it goes.
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:37 pm

zenguitar wrote:The Taylor bolt on neck has been standard since 2001. And it it certainly used on current 314ce LE models. But an email to Taylor should confirm.

Andy :beamup:

Ah, now that would be a bit of good news! Thanks, I'll get right on it. :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:23 am

Quick update: I've ordered a pair of the Focal Alpha 65's from Scan. The Ruark's are really starting to fail and I'm worried that any more tightening of the Covid lockdown might mean problems sourcing replacements. That's probably not going to happen but the thought of having no speakers for weeks or months definitely focussed my mind. Normally I'd be researching and mulling this kind of thing over for weeks. :crazy: These new ones should arrive tomorrow. :thumbup:

I'll post an update with my thoughts once I've given them a good run in. Thanks again for all your thoughts and experience.

One other quickie: Andy, thanks for the prompt about the NT neck on the Taylor. Turns out mine has one! - :bouncy: :D Phew, that's going to be a huge saving of money and worry.

Cheers all,
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby zenguitar » Thu Jan 14, 2021 12:32 pm

Glad it's all working out for you :thumbup:

Andy :beamup:
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:49 am

Righto, I've had the Focal Alpha 65's here for a few days now and here are my thoughts so far. Hope this helps other folks looking at monitors around this price point. Forgive the waffling context but it might help others understand my situation and therefore how much of my experience applies to theirs.

After an easy set-up my first listen was The Final Cut by Pink Floyd. But that first listen was actually slightly underwhelming. I will say right here though that I've since warmed to them and I'm confident that they'll do me a great job. However that first listen, well, I think there were three problems: 1. My expectations; 2. My room; 3. Burn in time.

So, re. my expectations... My gut reaction on that first listen was that it wasn't as ruthlessly, murderously clear as I was expecting. In hindsight, to some extent, I'd been imagining that every single instrument and tiny noise, every breath, would jump out and say hello and be easily distinguished. Like some miracle of physics whereby, in the finale of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, the rustle of the picolo player's jacket could be picked out and enjoyed just by turning your attention to it. Of course that's never going to happen, and that's quite right and proper. There can never be a recording or real life situation where *every* sound is up-front and present. Which is a great reminder for me that trying to create a mix like that is a fool's errand. If everything's at the front then nothing's at the front. So, that's one thing these monitor have already taught me.

Regarding my room, it's not exactly dead but it's not what you'd call "live". I guess it's the coombed ceilings and carpets. In my simple head, the high frequency waves bounce off the coombed ceilings (on 3 sides) down into the carpet and don't have the energy to reflect back from there much. I don't think there's a huge amount of high-mids flying around either but there is quite a bit of low mid and bass. I have some homemade bass-trapping in the form of constructed and fabric-wrapped 1200 x 600 Rockwool panels, and just slabs of Rockwool RW5 lying around, still in their factory wrapping. I need more though. So I'd say my room emphasises the lower end of the spectrum rather than the upper. It's tilted towards bass. If I was to use hopelessy unscientific language maybe I'd call it "warm" and a bit "fat". The opposite of cold and clanky. So these Alpha's have a job to do to deal with that, the challenge being clarity. I'd say they're doing pretty well. Certainly better than my old Ruarks and my old Marantz hifi amp. I think they're better than my room is, but that's not their fault, that's something I need to sort out.

Regarding burn-in time... I think it has made a difference, mostly in clarity. The bass seemed full and weighty right from the start. Treble seemed slightly understated at first but now seems right. Detailed and fine without being tiring.

So, all that waffle aside, what conclusions can I draw from the first few days use? I like them. With that caveat about my room acoustics, the sound is clear, detailed and weighty. I can't see many home/small studio people complaining about any lack of bottom end. The stereo imaging is great. I feel like I could reach out and grab sources in the mix with total precision -- that wee guitar line over there, the tambourine that comes in on the right just there, those individual backing singers dotted across the stereo image. I can also now hear things I previously couldn't, like in an old Motown mix, the character of the space where, say, the horn section was recorded.

I also now hear a bigger difference between commercial productions. To exaggerate slightly make the point, on the old Ruarks everything sounded broadly fine. Now it seems like there's a bigger difference between the good productions and the less good ones.

The Alphas also seem effortlessy powerful. Bass feels solid and steady, like the amps have a grip of iron on the speaker cones. Long sustaining deep bass notes in busy mixes feel unperturbed by any complexity going on above and around them.

Regarding the mids, I was about to say that they seemed a bit less forward than I'd expected. But on reflection I think that would be misleading. They are sweeter and more pleasant than I'd expected (or even feared?) but there is definitely much more clarity and detail there than in my old Ruark/Marantz setup. So that doesn't feel like a bad result! In fact it feels like a nifty feat to have pulled off. I'm certainly relieved that they're not cold, ruthless and tiring, which was a slight fear I had about studio monitors designed to reveal.
Indeed I've been happy spending many unbroken hours in front of these so far.

After the burn in period has fully passed and I've gotten used to them I'll probably dial back the bass slightly using the controls on the back.

So, do I wish I could afford block-busting £30,000 monitors and the room to go with them? Of course. Would Neumann KH80s sound better at "only" twice the price? I'm sure they would. But I can't have them, and I think these Alpha 65's will do me a great job. I enjoy using them, they seem like great tools, and certainly my production quality is not now constrained by my monitors. Now I only need to improve *everything else*! :lol:

Cheers,
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 19, 2021 12:28 pm

Sounds like they're doing all the right things, and your path of discovery is very familiar! ;-)

However, the one thing I would suggest is that rather than your room being generally 'warm' there's probably a few specific low frequencies (and their harmonics) that tend to dominate -- the room modes or resonances. As a result, you many well find that music sounds better in some keys than others, and that some bass notes are strong while others almost disappear.

One way of getting a good handle on what's going on is to generate/program a sequence of descending bass notes from (middle) C4 all the way down to C1, obviously with the same volume on each note. Make each note last a second or so, with a short gap between each note. That way you will be more aware of any resonances in the room causing notes to sustain. When you play that back over the speakers you will quickly appreciate just how lumpy your room is at the low end, and how much of an improvement you're gaining when adding bass absorbers.

Bear in mind that your speakers will have a falling efficiency as the notes descend too, so don't worry too much about maintaining the same level throughout -- it's the prominent peaks and troughs that are more important to address.
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Tue Jan 19, 2021 1:54 pm

Thanks Hugh. I'll knock up a simple sequenced synth part to generate those descending notes and keep track of how the room responds. :thumbup:

I presume a pure sine wave would be the best idea?
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:56 pm

Yes, simple sine waves tones.
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Tue Jan 19, 2021 4:24 pm

Just tried out Hugh's suggestion and found a really noticeable peak around MIDI notes 41, 42 and 43, so that's about 87Hz to 98Hz. That was from a sine wave synth patch. I think I need to order some more Rockwool.

How much benefit can be had from simply having it in the room, still in the factory wrapping? (Can you tell I've done enough studio re-organisation and building for a while?) I can see this wouldn't be good for absorbing high frequencies but for bass? Maybe?

Due to the coombed ceilings on 3 sides (which slope down from the ceiling to around 900mm from the floor then go vertical) and doors and velux windows, I don't really have many useable 90 degree corners, which would be the traditional place to load up with bass traps. What I do have though is one wall/coombed ceiling which is vertical to about 900mm then sloping towards me above that. It's about 4.5m long behind my desk (i.e at my feet as I sit here, facing it) which could be loaded up from the floor with Rockwool to a height of, say 900mm. That Rockwool could literally be 400, 500 or even 600mm deep without losing much usable floor space (since it's tucked under the sloping ceilings). That would be one mighty trap! Does one mega trap equal many smaller ones???

In reality, I suppose I'd probably better make a "front face" of 100 or 200mm thick Rockwool RW3, then maybe a 300mm deep cavity behind that.

It's just the idea of receiving the Rockwool, simply dropping the packs onto the floor behind the desk and getting back to making music (finally!) is very appealing.
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Jan 19, 2021 4:34 pm

AlasdairEaston wrote:It's just the idea of receiving the Rockwool, simply dropping the packs onto the floor behind the desk and getting back to making music (finally!) is very appealing.
Try it and see! Trying to apply theory to small, oddly-shaped rooms is generally a redundant exercise unless you have a barrel-load of experience to go with it so your best bet is to experiment. And this can be done with the rockwool still in its bales.
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Re: If I was to replace my Ruark Templars with proper monitors?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:10 pm

AlasdairEaston wrote:Just tried out Hugh's suggestion and found a really noticeable peak around MIDI notes 41, 42 and 43, so that's about 87Hz to 98Hz.

Impressively depressing test, isn't it! :ugeek: :lol:

How much benefit can be had from simply having it in the room, still in the factory wrapping?

The obvious answer is try it and see... but actually, it often works remarkably well.

Does one mega trap equal many smaller ones???

It can do... it all depends where the trap is in relation to the problematic modes... but again, try it and see...
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