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Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

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Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Arpangel » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:00 pm

I've been using my ageing KEF transmission line monitors for awhile now, and for most things they're fine. However, I've been expanding my organ music colkection and I'm looking at may be making a few recordings of my own music using a local pipe organ.
What I'm finding with my current monitoring set-up is a roll off in the very deep bass,
I've always been put off by using sub-woofers in the past, as IMO they can upset the whole balance of the sound if they aren't designed right.
What I'm looking for is an "integrated" system, that's designed to work with a sub, I haven't a clue where to start looking, or, even if this is the right way to go, or if I'd be better off buying a more suitable set of monitors that don't need a sub.
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:31 pm

You're opening a substantial can of worms here, Tony.

Firstly, you're never going to get an even, balanced low bass response in a room unless you invest seriously in effective bass trapping... and that's bulky, potentially expensive, and rarely domestically acceptable. But without it you'll always have a collection of weak (or even missing) and boomy bass pedal notes and you'll never be satisfied! Been there, got the t-shirt... ;-)

If you have a room which will support a reasonably decent bass response, then you can either go down the sat/sub route or larger full-range monitor speakers. There are pros and cons to both, and the choice will come down to space, domestic acceptability, and budget.

But the golden rule for subwoofers is don't buy cheap, and never buy anything designed for home cinema!

The fundamental requirement for a music-system subwoofer is that it has to have incredibly low distortion because if it doesn't, the harmonic distortion will trample all over your satellite speakers' midrange, degrading their perceived performance quite significantly -- essentially adding a veil across the vocals and other midrange sources!

But ultra-low distortion in a bass driver is difficult to achieve and thus pretty expensive. Don't be surprised when a single subwoofer costs more than a good pair of satellite speakers!

Subwoofer systems designed for home cinema tend to be optimised to handle loud explosions well, and as a result they tend to be monotonic -- so resonant that they really just produce one note! Not much good for a nice Bach pedal line!

And finally, assuming you have a well sorted room and a decent subwoofer, you have to take great care over the physical positioning of the sub and its acoustical alignment. These are fiddly adjustments but not particularly difficult assuming the sub (or your monitor controller) have suitable facilities to adjust the crossover (or low-pass) filtering, level, and phase/time delay. Some simple acoustic measurement tools and your ears will get the job done easily enough.

As for suitable systems, it really is all about your budget and any requirements for size of speakers etc. Blue Sky do a range of models engineered from the ground up as 2.1 systems. All the usual high quality studio monitor manufacturers do dedicated subwoofers for their systems -- ATC, Focal, Genelec, Neumann, PMC, Unity Audio etc etc. Most offer big ugly cubic subwoofer boxes, but some are a little more inventive -- I quite like the PMC TLE subs which are aesthetically more pleasing to my eye, for example.

The new bass unit that matches the three smaller Genelec One monitors is an truly ingenious design that also doubles as a speaker stand... but make sure you're sitting down when you see the price! :-)
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Arpangel » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:09 pm

Thanks for that Hugh, I take on board your comments about room and position etc. As usual, it's a domestic compromise, not a dedicated space.
I have heard the Blue Sky Systems, Mike Skeet actually bought one over to my place, and we tried it in my room, some organ recordings he made in St Albans Cathedral, it sounded very good indeed, I could have lived with it and been very happy.
But that's the only system I've heard. Mike had a pair of ATC SCM20 monitors and an ATC sub, I never really appreciated that, maybe it wasn't adjusted properly, and Mikes room was very small.
If I'm going to go down this path it's going to be a significant investment, but I think it'll be worth it, I need to draw up a short list, for serious audition, and, in my room, that's not negotiable.
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby John Willett » Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:13 pm

Tony,

Give me a shout ands I'll bring my new ME-Geithain RL934K over so you can hear them.

These will be OK in a domestic situation - have a cardioid bass response and don't throw bass out of the rear, so will not muddy the sound in the room. They also are flat down to 30Hz which should be fine for your organ pieces.

But, as you said, you really need to hear any monitor in your own room to find out how they work, so I am happy to bring them over to your place - no problem.
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:30 pm

John Willett wrote:Tony,I'll bring my new ME-Geithain RL934K over so you can hear them.

Just for the avoidance of any doubt, or more complaints... John Willett is the UK distributor of Geithain loudspeakers...

:silent:
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Arpangel » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:43 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
John Willett wrote:Tony,I'll bring my new ME-Geithain RL934K over so you can hear them.

Just for the avoidance of any doubt, or more complaints... John Willett is the UK distributor of Geithain loudspeakers...

:silent:

They've got to be worth a listen though! :)

My instinct is to go for a sub system I think, I've only heard what I want to hear so far, from subs. They seem to produce the very low end pedal requencues that I need, much better than an integrated speaker system.
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:09 pm

Unfortunately, what you want is almost certainly impossible to deliver. I would go for the 'full spectrum speakers' rather than a sub-woofer.

So what do I know? Well I was just talking this evening to my old organ teacher, (taught by 'Mr Trevor' (C. H. Trevor), and friend of Germani, Rubenstein, Horowitz), as was I!

The only authentic organ reproduction on speakers, I have ever heard, was on Tannoy Westminster speakers, completey rebuilt, on the Tannoy stand at Harrogate, in 1983, driven by two monoblock Harmon Cardon Citation 13 amps, running through the HC pre-amp from a modified Ferrograph 1/4 inch, running at 30 ips. In a very large, but accoustically wonderful, space.

For recording, which I also do, mic placement is the absolute key. A pair of omni NT55s will be so much better than exotic omnis in the wrong place. And the 'sweet spot' may be quite small and well defined.

Anyway, just my two pennyworth!!
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:18 pm

Arpangel wrote:But that's the only system I've heard. Mike had a pair of ATC SCM20 monitors and an ATC sub, I never really appreciated that, maybe it wasn't adjusted properly, .

if an ATC 2.1 system doesn't do it for you... there's no hope for you....

even I generally like ATC stuff ....

you could always try a set of SP Acoustics SP1

if you don't hear what you want through them, it isn't in the recording.

of course you'll need a decent size room, and effective treatment to get the best from them....


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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby James Perrett » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:04 pm

Trevor Johnson wrote:The only authentic organ reproduction on speakers, I have ever heard, was on Tannoy Westminster speakers, completey rebuilt, on the Tannoy stand at Harrogate, in 1983, driven by two monoblock Harmon Cardon Citation 13 amps, running through the HC pre-amp from a modified Ferrograph 1/4 inch, running at 30 ips. In a very large, but accoustically wonderful, space.

A pair of those will set you back £32k - possibly the most expensive product the Behringer group make these days? The spec says that they're no more than 6dB down at 18Hz.
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Oct 21, 2019 10:30 am

Once again, thanks for your replies, but I get the feeling that this one, as usual, is going to get firmly swept under the carpet, again.
I'll just recap, my "studio" is to all intents and purposes a domestic living room that my other half like to use sometimes, to read, and watch telly in, my studio area is one end of the room, with a huge sofa in front of it, which doesn't bother me as it's behind my back when I'm monitoring. But any acoustic treatment is out, it's not a "bad" room anyway, it's quite dead, owing to lots of soft furnishings, especially in corners, but whatever, it's not getting changed. It's a big-ish room, 25X15ft.
I also have a preference for one box speaker systems, but.......I can only base my opinion on what I've heard, my friend bought a Blue Sky Media System down here and it sounded exactly the way I wanted it to, it was satellite speakers and a sub. We played a recording of the organ and choir of St Albans cathedral, it was a very good recording made by my friend, and the full weight of the organ came across very realistically. The neighbours thought we had an organ in the house! and our house is detached!!
Regarding ATC systems, I love their speakers, but all I can say about my friends sub set-up was that the room was way too small, and it wasn't adjusted properly. I'm my experience you need a large space for bass sounds to really develope, although I'm aware that that rule "in some circumstances" may not apply.
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:00 am

Arpangel wrote:I can only base my opinion on what I've heard, my friend bought a Blue Sky Media System down here and it sounded exactly the way I wanted it to, it was satellite speakers and a sub.

As I said earlier, there are pros and cons to both approaches.

The sat/sub solution has the benefit that the sub can be located for optimal sound distribution in the room without messing up the stereo imaging of the sat speakers. With all-in-one boxes, your options for placement of the bass drivers in relation to the room boundaries is more restricted, and that can sometimes become an issue.

But, there is a lot more scope for mis-aligning a sat/sub system, and many have subs that really don't perform that well in a quality music application...

H
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:12 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:But, there is a lot more scope for mis-aligning a sat/sub system, and many have subs that really don't perform that well in a quality music application...

H

Yes, but plans are in the making, for an organ only system, so as long as it sounds OK for that I'm not really worried about using it as a general monitoring system.
I've just had a word with my partner,, we've got a tower on the top of our house, we've just cleared it out, it's not really doing anything, so it's a vacant space. I may move my music studio up there, and have the organ system in the bigger, living room.
I'm looking forward to composing in the tower, with a lightning conductor outside the window!
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:18 am

Arpangel wrote:...plans are in the making, for an organ only system, so as long as it sounds OK for that I'm not really worried about using it as a general monitoring system.

This doesn't really make any sense... either a replay system is accurate or it isn't. Either it can play different bass notes or it can't. Either the mid-range detail is clear or it is masked by LF distortions...

At the end of the day, you just need to find the best system you can for the available budget, being aware of the pros and cons of each approach to optimise the best compromise.
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:00 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Arpangel wrote:...plans are in the making, for an organ only system, so as long as it sounds OK for that I'm not really worried about using it as a general monitoring system.

This doesn't really make any sense... either a replay system is accurate or it isn't. Either it can play different bass notes or it can't. Either the mid-range detail is clear or it is masked by LF distortions...

At the end of the day, you just need to find the best system you can for the available budget, being aware of the pros and cons of each approach to optimise the best compromise.

Remember the basement issue? It didn't work out, so this is yet another opportunity to move and have a seperate dedicated control room. I'm not going to have space to optimally place a sub if I get one, and my studio gear, so a move has to be made, space is there now so...
The Blue Sky stuff isn't top draw I know, and I'm going to listen to a few others, but why not get it if it sounds good to me?
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Re: Sub Woofer monitoring systems for organ music.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:18 pm

I think you misunderstood my point.

I don't support the popular idea that different speakers systems are better for different kinds of music. I see it suggested quite often that a particular monitor speaker is great for rock, but not for classical, or vice versa...

Your comment about wanting a system that sounded good only for organ music struck that same chord -- and it's patently nonsense, of course. Either a monitoring system is accurate -- in which case it will handle everything equally well -- or it's not... in which case why waste money on it? Sooner or later you will want to listen to something other than a pipe organ, and any flaws of failings that may not have previously been obvious will then cause enormous frustration and disappointment.

The only specific requirement organ music imposes is an extended LF response -- that bottom octave or two really is important. And to achieve that you're either looking at physically very large stereo speakers, or a sat/sub system, with the latter often being the more practical solution in a domestic setting. However, the room acoustics will remain the dominant factor in achieving a satisfactory performance regardless of how much is spent on the speaker system.

I have no problem at all with the BlueSky stuff -- much of it has impressed me greatly. Their products cover a wide price range and the quality of each system seems to be very good for the price -- and you can't say fairer than that. Other systems are available...
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