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Tiny monitors

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Tiny monitors

Postby deejayen » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:45 pm

Until now I've been recording and mixing using headphones, but I'm thinking about buying a pair of small monitors. I'll be using them in my small home office which is fairly cube-shaped at around 2.4 x 2.4 x 2.4 metres! It has some fitted office furniture, so there's not anything I can do to add significant acoustic treatment. Also, my desk is positioned across a corner, which might not help things! There's a corner computer screen riser, with small wings either side on which I could sit a tiny pair of monitors.

I'm thinking about either the Eve Audio SC203 or the Genelec 8010A. Are these worth having, and if so, which one of the two is likely to be more suitable for my room?

I've also considered removing the corner computer screen riser to give some flexibility in speaker positioning (and maybe allow for larger speakers) but they'd still have to be positioned close to (almost touching) and at an angle to the side walls. Also, larger monitors tend to be quite deep, so their front panels would be relatively close to me, and encroaching on my desk space.

I thought a sealed box design might be best, and saw mention of the Unity Audio Mini Rocks, but I suppose "Mini" is relative - these seem to measure up as fairly hefty speakers.

Anyway, I'd appreciate some advice. I've been putting off monitor purchase for a few years because I can't decide on which way to go! My headphone 'system' is a Prism Lyra interface, Little Labs Monotor headphone amp, and Sennheiser HD-600 headphones. An alternative to monitors might be to upgrade the headphone system, but that would also appear to involve some difficult choices!

For what it's worth, I'll mainly be recording and mixing electric guitar-based music with an old-style country flavour. Some tracks will have a standard 4-string electric bass, and acoustic drum loops.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:48 pm

I've recently got some iLoud Micro monitors and they're something - especially in a small room. The only down is that they look like some early 90's Creative or Logitech computer speakers, so they won't have an street cred with your friends.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby John Egan » Mon Jan 20, 2020 4:41 pm

CS70 wrote:I've recently got some iLoud Micro monitors and they're something - especially in a small room. The only down is that they look like some early 90's Creative or Logitech computer speakers, so they won't have an street cred with your friends.

+1 for the iLouds.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby John Egan » Mon Jan 20, 2020 4:47 pm

John Egan wrote:
CS70 wrote:I've recently got some iLoud Micro monitors and they're something - especially in a small room. The only down is that they look like some early 90's Creative or Logitech computer speakers, so they won't have an street cred with your friends.

+1 for the iLouds.
Regards,John

Paul White reviewed them here :
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/ik ... loud-micro
Regards, John
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby deejayen » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:13 pm

Thanks very much. The iLouds were on my original list, but I read a comment by someone who owned both the iLouds and Genelecs saying that they preferred the Genelecs. However, Paul White's review is positive. Having said that, the SOS reviews for the Genelecs and Eves are similarly positive!

I've also come across comments about all these tiny monitors implying that they might not be ideal for mixing by dint of their size and limited low frequency response.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:34 pm

There's probably something here about mixing and matching your tools for the job in hand.
If you're checking the low end then stick to your headphones (unless you happen to have a nice set of full range speakers kicking around and a well treated room ;) ) but I find things like assessing reverbs and stereo placement much easier on speakers.
So I think there are benefits to having a small set of monitors, but don't trade in your headphone set up to pay for them! :)

Also, they might be a bit too large, but I am very enamoured with my Neumann KH80s. They're not as small as the others mentioned but they're still pretty compact.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:04 pm

I bought a pair of second hand 8010a's for my wife to use. They're decent speakers, look good and punch well above their (literal) weight. However, maybe I've become used to my main monitors but I wouldn't want to mix on them, they just don't have the range of the larger speakers. I think Drew's advice is on the nail.

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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby deejayen » Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:31 pm

Thanks for that. In one way it's helpful to know the smaller monitors might not be all that useful for mixing.

The problem is that my room limits my options, and I'm not sure it's worth trying to squeeze-in a large and expensive pair of monitors.

If the tiny monitors will only give me an alternative 'view' to my headphones, then perhaps any of them would do. The iLouds are a bit cheaper than the others...

The other one I've had in the back of my mind is the Ruark MR1 Mk2 - these aren't 'studio monitors' but they seem to be nicely designed with Class A/B amps, custom drivers, analogue and digital inputs, and supposedly a neutral/warm sound. I think they're ported on the bottom, so I'm not sure how that would affect things if I wanted to raise them to ear level using something like the ISO-Puck Minis on blocks.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby Luke W » Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:57 pm

deejayen wrote:The problem is that my room limits my options, and I'm not sure it's worth trying to squeeze-in a large and expensive pair of monitors.

You're right, without having the option of treating the room then you'd almost certainly not see the benefit, and with more power over a larger range you could easily end up worse off than with something smaller!
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby deejayen » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:06 pm

Thanks for confirming that, Luke.

Do you think that a mono speaker, such as a Fostex 6301, might be of more value to me than a pair of tiny monitors?
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:57 pm

I'd say that stereo imaging is better evaluated on speakers than headphones so, if you're going for speakers at all, a pair would be more use. You can always mute one to check mono compatibility.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby cboshuizen » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:35 pm

I have the smaller ilouds, and they have served me well.

As mentioned, they look like PC speakers and don't impress anyone. I always have to explain they are OK, which is bothersome.

Also, the bass in the smaller models is not good enough. If you are doing dance music, the bass port flutters too much. I was talking with IK folks at NAMM this weekend and they recommended getting the larger MTM's if doing dance/pop.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby wdsteele » Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:57 am

I’m using the smaller i-louds in a largely untreated room and find them to be a crucial part of how I assess my mix , they can sound a little boxy to me , usually because my mix is actually sounding boxy (I use Beyer closed back ) , when I tweak to resolve that on the i-louds things usually translate well to other systems ; they are a very useful tool to have around if the quality of your space is less than ideal : funds permitting I’d have picked the smaller Genelecs but only because of their professional heritage , no idea how they actually sound in comparison.
Anyhow , I’d say they help me get the mid range to sit nicely , especially for guitar and If I can smooth things out on the i-louds I’m generally happy .
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby Zukan » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:00 am

The Eris 5 is worth a look too but both will be adequate.

Between a half decent set of cans and reference monitors you'll be fine for now. Not ideal but workable.
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Re: Tiny monitors

Postby Hazebloom » Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:49 pm

Reviews and preferences/recommendations from others are a helpful starting point. But you need to listem to them on your own, side by side. You'll be impressed by the differences. Recently in the market for a 3rd pair of monitors in my studio (a tiny one to place on the meter bridge from the console, around 120 cm from my listening position) I drove 3 hours 1 way to a shop with a good selection.

Tested following side by side:

- Neumann KH120
- Neumann KH80 DSP
- Tannoy Gold 5
- KS Digital C5
- Genelec 8030
- JBL LSR305
- Dynaudio BM5
- Presonus Eris E5

Here is my (very personal) (and very briefly described) assessment:

- Presonus: out, lacking much of clarity, sounding muffled like there is a cloth over the speakers.
- JBL: out, the 305 is definitively not playing in the same leage (although I have very positive pre judgment towards JBL, actually my main monitors are JBL LSR6328 & LSR6312 and they're fantastic)
- Dynaudio: out, too harsh and bright to my ears
- Genelec: out. Like the JBL305, the Genelecs 8030 sounded cheap, plasticky, middy ... to my big surprise, given the brands reputation.

Now to te winners, in order of preference:
- Neumann KH80DSP - wow, what a speaker, very very clear and balanced from bottom to top. Very defined stereo image. In combination with the sub they can get very loud, more than I will ever need. They sound stunningly close to the -also great- KH120
- KS Digital C5 - very close to the Neumanns. Sonically just great in all aspects. A bit pricey. Nice square format and good included bracket/stand which allows to incline them horizontally and makes totally sense.
- Tannoy Gold 5 - incredible newcomer, very well balanced, crisp clear and punchy over the full range, well defined stereo image. At that price point: absolutely unbeatable. I need to invent a use for them somewhere to get them in the house.
Special mention: Neumann KH120: fantastic, but the 80s sound just as good, and they're smaller hence better meet my requirents.

(My) conclusions:
- KH80 on the meter bridge
- go and listen to them side by side (or order a small selection in a shop with good return policy).

Just my 2 cents, right?

Cheers.
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