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Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:14 pm

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

This is 'self noise' Bluedot and it annoys the **** out of me when I read of people being plagued with it!

The fact that only one monitor is noisy shows a lack of quality control. "We" have been able to make solid state amplifiers that are subjectively silent at the listening position for over 50 years..Shoot! Even valve amps were pretty good! I must have read hundreds of reviews of amplifiers over the years but I cannot recall a one that mentioned audible noise in domestic surroundings, even from the phono section. The technology has existed for at least a decade now to make 100W+ power amps with noise levels so low that almost any active device connected to their inputs makes them noisier!

Putting Mk1 lug to the tweeter should deliver the merest whiff of a hiss. Always used to!

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:13 am

ef37a wrote:This is 'self noise' Bluedot and it annoys the **** out of me when I read of people being plagued with it!

Thats been the issue with these active, inexpensive monitors - and I just want to do something sustainable. At least with passives, the elements are broken into 3, allowing an amp replacement without monitors, or vice versa. I still have home stereo speakers (Klipsch) that are decades old with no noticeable degradation - with their 3rd receiver.

It would break my heart to spend $2k on a new set of active monitors and find they fall to the same "self noise" within a few years of warranty.

I often wonder if I am just finicky, and can hear this stuff and they all do it? Lord knows I've had work with folk that couldn't hear things that were glaring to me.

At least with a separate power amp - a repairable brand could be sourced, and hopefully last.

So, that begs the original question - which passive systems have we had good luck with?
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:00 am

From a cursory varder it seems to me that passives tend to break into two camps?

Cheap 'prosumer' types and 'grotboxes' and very expensive models that often need a recommended in house amplifier. The latter defeats your object of course.

I do however feel you have been both very unlucky and been fishing in a rather murky pond!
I am sure, once you get into the $2k+ ppr monitor area of the names mentioned, self noise will no longer be an issue plus much of the gear in this class comes with a 5 year warranty.

Do look for a figure for self noise in specifications or at least a statement such as "....Inaudible at one metre" . SOS 'did' not (seem to do so now) always comment upon self noise but I have been assured that IF it was a problem it would have been highlighted.

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Arpangel » Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:36 am

I’ve had problems with mechanical hum on some monitors, something to look out for on active types. It’s really surprising how manufacturers think that it’s acceptable, in an audio environment. It’s a bit like buying a video monitor that has black spot right in the middle.
I’ve had monitors in the mid price bracket that have had this hum, and a friend paid around £5,000 for his and had the same issue, after contacting the manufactures all he got was "a slight hum is quite normal" I know we all have different tolerance levels, and you may not notice it standing on the other side of the room, but at my normal position it used to drive me mad.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:01 am

All amplifiers produce some constant level of hiss -- it's inherent in the nature of electronics. The more powerful the amplifier and the nastier the electronic design, the more prominent that hiss may be. That hiss will (almost) always be audible from tweeters if you place your ear directly next to the tweeter. (Poor gain structuring of the rest of the monitoring signal chain can also make the problem much worse, of course).

Ideally, though, the self-noise hiss really shouldn't be audible at the correct listening position and, with the majority of professional speaker designs, it isn't -- even when using nearfield speakers... I'm sat roughly a metre away from Neumann KH310s and there ain't no audible hiss here!

Sadly, though, there are a few brands and models -- often American ones, actually -- where self-noise his is very audible. JBL was a common offender over the years...

So if you can hear constant self-noise hiss at the listening position -- and you're sure it is speaker self-noise and not incoming noise from the rest of the monitoring signal path -- then send the speakers back and try a different brand that has been designed properly.

When it comes to other noises such as your 'little pops' and other stuff they are likely to be caused by some form of interference -- either radiated RF or via the mains grounds. Lots of things generate RF interference, such as people switching lights on and off, or fridges cycling on and off... Good system grounding and the use of good quality balanced cables will keep most of it out of the system perfectly well.

It's astonishing how many people have ground-loop problems in their monitoring system and don't recognise it as such!

Also, I should point out that just disconnecting the speaker/amplifier input isn't a fair test. The input should be properly shorted (hot and cold legs strapped together) so that any external RF interference and ground noise can't get in.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby Arpangel » Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:29 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:All amplifiers produce some constant level of hiss -- it's inherent in the nature of electronics. The more powerful the amplifier and the nastier the electronic design, the more prominent that hiss may be. That hiss will (almost) always be audible from tweeters if you place your ear directly next to the tweeter. (Poor gain structuring of the rest of the monitoring signal chain can also make the problem much worse, of course).

Ideally, though, the self-noise hiss really shouldn't be audible at the correct listening position and, with the majority of professional speaker designs, it isn't -- even when using nearfield speakers... I'm sat roughly a metre away from Neumann KH310s and there ain't no audible hiss here!

Sadly, though, there are a few brands and models -- often American ones, actually -- where self-noise his is very audible. JBL was a common offender over the years...

So if you can hear constant self-noise hiss at the listening position -- and you're sure it is speaker self-noise and not incoming noise from the rest of the monitoring signal path -- then send the speakers back and try a different brand that has been designed properly.

When it comes to other noises such as your 'little pops' and other stuff they are likely to be caused by some form of interference -- either radiated RF or via the mains grounds. Lots of things generate RF interference, such as people switching lights on and off, or fridges cycling on and off... Good system grounding and the use of good quality balanced cables will keep most of it out of the system perfectly well.

It's astonishing how many people have ground-loop problems in their monitoring system and don't recognise it as such!

Also, I should point out that just disconnecting the speaker/amplifier input isn't a fair test. The input should be properly shorted (hot and cold legs strapped together) so that any external RF interference and ground noise can't get in.

Hugh, I had exactly the symptoms the OP is describing when I told you about swapping a balanced lead for an unbalanced one on my patch bay, and the noises went away.
Completely different scenario of course, but it may give a clue as to what’s causing his issues, in my case it was defiantly earth related.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:59 am

Just as a very rough test, yesterday I had finished setting up a pair of Mission 774 speakers and an Arcam Alpha 6 50W pch amplifier in my living room. After posting my diatribe (!) I set them to produce an average of around 80dBC in the middle of the room on some Radio 3.

I then switched to another input source and put the SPL meter some 10mm from the tweeter and got 28-30dBC. I doubt anyone would hear that a mtr and a half away? I can't of course!

So even pretty old kit can be subjectively silent if it is well designed, even on the phone input, unloaded at that!

Regarding noise tests and balanced line inputs. In fact the common form with 4 resistors around an op amp is quieter when open rather than shorted as a rule but can be different for other circuit configurations. Certainly plug in an 'empty' shell to keep out possible RFI.

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:48 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
It's astonishing how many people have ground-loop problems in their monitoring system and don't recognise it as such!

Also, I should point out that just disconnecting the speaker/amplifier input isn't a fair test. The input should be properly shorted (hot and cold legs strapped together) so that any external RF interference and ground noise can't get in.

Thank you Hugh. You gave me a few things to run on today.

I am using balanced (XLR) connections, and a Cyberpower sine wave converter/battery backup. https://www.cyberpowersystems.com/product/ups/smart-app-sinewave/pr1000lcdrtxl2ua/.

I have not had any RF interference in the studio, via outboard gear or patchbay. The hiss is not usually audible at my 3' listening position but the pops and gremlins are. I will jump this and see if the gremlins stop.

I found these articles to assist:
https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-what-ground-earth-loop
https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-how-can-permanently-stop-mains-noise-my-studio
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Thu Oct 15, 2020 6:13 pm

"But I am totally ignorant of a ground loop, and implementing this. Is there any articles that you can recommend for implementing this in our studio?"

Oh! I am sure Hugh will come up with one or two!

I doubt however that you have ground loops? They tend to be a constant noise, usually a low, 50/60Hz hum but can be a buzz with harsh harmonics and might be variable as say a mouse is moved or function on a PC are changed. But they are almost always there at some level.

Clicks, swooshes, even bangs can be fridges clicking on and off or other devices using thermostats. This is still in reality 'RFI' and often the mains filters you see on sale everywhere do jack to stop it when connected to the audio kit. They can however help a lot if attached to the offending fridge, whatever.

Of course, the interference might come from outside of your premises? If the guy over the road mig welds go-karts for a hobby you are a bit stuffed!

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:23 pm

Just to close this up, I jumped the pins on the JBL 308 as suggested, and yes - it is self noise out of one. Two years old.

I am gravitating towards a set of Adam A8x, as they have a 5 year warranty and will assume (hope?) their quality is much better as active monitors.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:55 pm

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/adam-a7x

Don't seem to have ever done the 'eight' but I doubt there is much difference?

Adam monitors have been around quite some years and always get a good rep in SOS. Never read of any reliability problems ever.

I am holding out for a pair of Result Sixes...Had to buy another car dint I !...One day.

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:30 pm

I have the Adam A8X.

There is no audible self noise.

These produce everything you put into them. There is no want for a subwoofer.

The tweeters sound superior to everything else I have been able to compare to in regards to detail and clarity.

Built like a tank. Mine was hit with a power glitch from a downed power line. Burned out the sub amp. Adam fixed them on their nickel even though I was out of warranty.

Great monitors.

I recommend you plug them into a UPS system to protect them.
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby ef37a » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:41 am

"Built like a tank. Mine was hit with a power glitch from a downed power line. Burned out the sub amp. Adam fixed them on their nickel even though I was out of warranty. "

And there ^ you have it. IF a company builds a reliable product, charges a fair price for it (so the get a decent margin) they can afford to be generous and flexible about out of warranty repairs. So long as the device has not suffered obvious abuse or been 'got at' by a 'wannabe tech' many firms will charge little or nothing.

Such service does wonders for a company's goodwill and street cred and in this world of instant communication it is odd that their are so many snotty, grabby b'std firms still around!

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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby bluedot » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:45 am

Great to hear about the Adam support. Yes, I learned my lesson years back when I lost a RAID array from a power issue. I live rurally, and the power company stated that I *must* use one. It was a tough lesson. I run all my pro audio gear, computer, synths and monitors on the ups.

I ran a Sonarworks calibration today with the JBL LSR308's and have some graphs to share. Other than the noise, and the longevity - doesn't calibration even the playing field?

First one with my sub. This was the 3rd attempt at calibration with the sub. My first "normal" listening was off the charts. I ended up having to turn it almost off, and away from me to get it into spec. I've had successful mixes that translate well with this calibration.
Image

This is without the sub.Image

Do you think the Adam's will change this calibration graph dramatically? And if the intention of this calibration is to make it flat, why will we continue to use high end monitors? If it remains flat through calibration - would one hear the difference between a $200 monitor and a $900 monitor?
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Re: Passive Monitors / Amp under $2k

Postby blinddrew » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:33 am

Because frequency domain is only one aspect of a loudspeaker's performance. Time domain is another side of it, off-axis response is another, as is polar pattern.
I'm sure i've forgotten a few other things as well. :)
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