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Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

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Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:57 am

So my Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5 amplifier I used for TV and Vinyl records went up in a few big sparks and some Magic Blue Smoke. So I now have spare speakers not being used for anything.

With our baby on the way, I have bigger priorities, so I was wondering if there was a cheap way I could use the spare speakers (a pair of Mordaunt Short M10 speakers) as a reference for my studio.

I was thinking of connecting my Behringer UMC204HD RCA outputs into a cheap small-footprint amplifier, then into the M10s. But looking on Amazon at all the cheap £50 or less amplifiers, I'm not sure I can trust these not to blow up like my AM5 did which is a much more trusted brand!

I also know that the response won't be flat. I mix on headphones anyway, so these would really be for testing out mixes, or demonstrating mixes to my band without everyone wearing different headphones (I have a separate headphone amp).

Oh and I'll also use them for vinyl listening now and again!

Any and all advice welcome!
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:03 am

I'd buy a used hi-fi amp. If you have hi- fi speakers, then there's no point not using a hi-fi amp. One from a decent mainstream manufacturer with a decent power rating and ideally a tone circuit bypass function.

Easy to pick something up on eBay for £40-£50.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:10 am

Wonks wrote:I'd buy a used hi-fi amp. If you have hi- fi speakers, then there's no point not using a hi-fi amp. One from a decent mainstream manufacturer with a decent power rating and ideally a tone circuit bypass function.

Easy to pick something up on eBay for £40-£50.

This is a good idea, I could also check places like CashConverters local to me etc.

My only concern with this idea is that a large amplifier like the Topaz was, would be difficult to fit on my studio desk. I'd ideally like something that could just sit on top of my UMC204HD.

Are there decent brands that fit this bill?
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby BillB » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:16 am

Ditto, your £50 will definitely buy you better quality if you spend it on a S/H amp rather than a cheap new one. Check Gumtree, Cash Convertors etc.

Edit: sorry, missed you last post. Size is an issue with old amps, but hopefully they can be tucked a bit out of the way - under the desk?
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:21 am

I have something like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/SMSL-SA-36A-Audio-Stereo-Amplifier-Black/dp/B017W13OR0/ref=sr_1_10?keywords=class+T&qid=1568276056&s=electronics&sr=1-10 driving a pair of Wilmslow Audio LS3 kit speakers and it sounds great. But, the hifi amp option would be better if you can find space for it as it will come with a phono/turntable preamp built in.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby BillB » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:28 am

That's really neat - does exactly what Garrettendi needs if he only wants a single input, say from mixer control room outs. I may take back what I said!
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:08 am

How loud do you need the amp to go? The MS10 are 3dB down on sensitivity over the WA LS3 at 86dB, and the SA36A provides 12W pc into 8 ohms. So it will be like using a 6W amp into the NS10s in terms of the same volume knob settings.

I'm not saying that it's not enough, but if you do want them to go quite loud, the amp might run out of power for reproducing loud transients.

With the less sensitive speakers, you might need just a bit more power. There is a 50W per channel (into 4 ohms) version of the amp, which would then match Sam's listening experience. The MS10s are 80W rated, so you won't over-power them.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/SA-50-TDA7492- ... 23CPT&th=1

But if you only have them just ticking over, then the 25W pc versions should be OK.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:51 pm

Thanks everyone!

Sam - that looks good, although I am a tad concerned with the reviews saying it came with a plug adapter that is illegal for UK legislation... What's your experience with this? My vinyl player already has a preamp built in as well!

Wonks - When I had these speakers with the Topaz AM5 they worked well, the volume was never an issue, couldn't even put it up above 12 o'clock on the dial before it got too loud! Sensitivity is not an issue with me, as I'm already facing an uphill struggle with my implant.

It seems that except for Sam, the general consensus is to get something like I used to have, by a trusted brand on the S/H market. I've had some thoughts about this, and I'm starting to lean towards that.

Then that brings me to Bill's comment. Where can I place a bigger amplifier unit? The desk is large enough on the top for two screens, keyboard, mouse and my UMC204HD but I think I'd struggle to fit a large amp on it. Underneath the desk, there is space enough to fit it, but my feet would end up resting on it, which probably isn't the safest place. There are two drawers to the right of the desk, that means the space underneath is only really for feet.

I assume it wouldn't be safe for the amp to be stood on its side, resting against the side of the desk (like a book), so an alternative I've thought is maybe putting an old coffee table to the right of my desk (which is my only side for hearing anyway) and placing the amp on that with the two speakers side by side. My father-in-law was recently getting rid of his old amp so I could ask if that's still available.

What are peoples thoughts on any of the above?

Also, does anyone have any guesses what could have caused the AM-5 to blow? We moved it a week before it blew, and at that time of moving it we had to reconnect the speaker wires. Maybe there was a stray bit of copper from inside and it short-circuited? I don't know if the polarity was right when we re-connected either... The positive may have gone into the negative, etc.

Final question for now... The speakers are 8 ohms so any amplifier would need to load that.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:58 pm

Quick amendment to the last post: I've googled it and speaker polarity would not have caused it. It would only have caused phase issues across the pair if they were different.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby James Perrett » Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:10 pm

Could you put your new amp under one of the screens? Old hifi gear was designed to stack so it should be happy with the weight of a modern screen on top of it.

It may also be worth popping off the covers of the old amp to see exactly which component blew up. If one of the speaker outputs was shorted then it may have just been a fuse blown (although transistors often blow faster than fuses).
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby ef37a » Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:54 pm

I would stay with the second hand hi fi amp G.

I have an old Arcam Alpha 6 50Wpch and that is plenty loud enough out of two Mission 770s. 50W should give you 100dB with your speakers.

All the main names produced decent amps, Sony, Hitachi, Yamaha, Marantz and Denon never made a bad ANYTHING! 30 to 50Wpch should see you sorted.

Cash Generator shops give a one week no quibble return (done it, got the T shirt) and the charity shops will refund if gear fails.
One quick check is an Output Offset measurement. Connect a DC meter to the speaker terminals and with all controls at zero, switch on the amp. The meter should settle to less than + or - 50mV, preff less. Obviously check both channels.

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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:32 pm

garrettendi wrote:So my Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5 amplifier I used for TV and Vinyl records went up in a few big sparks and some Magic Blue Smoke.

Talk to Will (Folderol) nicely and he might take it on a project to fix... unlikely to be too difficult to sort out, and the man has time on his hands these days! :lol: It might stop him eating too many Oaties biscuits too...
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:36 pm

Thanks everyone!

I think I've decided to go trawl the second hand market for a decent brand name.

I did ponder whether the PC monitors could sit on the amp. I thought it best not for safety reasons but James you make an excellent point that hifi systems are designed with stacking in mind anyway, and flat screen monitors are relatively light.

If Will would like the project I can see what is possible, but I imagine sending it to him could be not a huge deal cheaper than buying a whole new (used) amp. And I wouldn't like to impose myself upon him.

My next port of call is to make some measurements of my desk, and check the usual suspects with regards to buying - first is to talk to my inlaws and see if their amp is still available!
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby Zukan » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:40 pm

As an aside I sometimes use my Sonos to check mixes. Best non studio monitoring system I have ever used.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby Folderol » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:08 pm

ZZZzzz z {ploink} Eh? Wassat?

Hmm, well. Could be interested depending on how far away you are or whether you're likely to go to any SOS meets soon.
Otherwise sending it would be a bit chancy, and the cost might outweigh that of a S/H replacement.
Finally if it's one of the {spit} monoblock designs I might not be able to do much with it.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:05 pm

It’s all sorted! I’m picking up this weekend a second hand amp.

Quick q: it delivers 2 x 35W at 8 ohms

My M10s are 8 ohms and rated at 80W

Is that within safe tolerances?
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:09 pm

Also idiot question

If I use my drum or guitar amp VSTs from the interface without a full mix will that be ok for the speakers? I assume yes because they are designed for the full range of music
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:15 pm

Yes and yes.
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby garrettendi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:18 pm

Thanks Wonks. Sorry for the anxiety!
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Re: Using Hi-Fi speakers as monitors with an amplifier?

Postby MOF » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:46 pm

If I use my drum or guitar amp VSTs from the interface without a full mix will that be ok for the speakers? I assume yes because they are designed for the full range of music

Just be careful with listening levels, pfl on such instruments without any form of limiting might blow your speakers.
My understanding of monitor speakers is that they’re more robust and the active ones usually have peak protection limiting incorporated.
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