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active near field monitors

Postby erkperk » Tue Jan 26, 2021 7:03 pm

Hi,

I would like upgrade the active nearfield monitors I use for production and mixing in a small room (l w h = 3,7 x 3,8 x 2,7m) . Currently I have the KRK Rokit RP5. Part of the budget will go to Sonarworks Reference 4. Because of the current Covid situation I can't go to a shop and listen to a bunch of speakers... So now I am considering buying without listening first (I can of course wait if you think this is a terrible idea). I selected a couple of speakers with fine reviews. Do you have any advice here? Something that is definately value for the money? Something I'd better stay away from?

Sorted by price:
ADAM T8V // 259 € // 33 Hz - 25 kHz // (SOS 2000 reward)
Focal Alpha 80 // 339 € // 35 Hz - 22 kHz
Dynaudio BM5 MKIII // 399 € // 42 Hz - 24 kHz
Kali Audio IN-8 // 399 € // 37 Hz - 25 kHz
Focal Shape 50 // 499 € // 50 Hz - 35 kHz // (ok for bass monitoring?)
Genelec 8030C // 518 € // 47 Hz - 25 kHz // (ok for bass monitoring?)
Adam A7X // 529 € // 42 Hz - 50 kHz
Focal Shape 65 // 699 € // 40 Hz - 35 kHz
Genelec 8040C // 779 € // 41 Hz - 21 kHz


Thanks for the help!

Best
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 26, 2021 7:51 pm

You could add Neumann KH120s at around €570? It must be better to listen and compare a shortlist of speakers but to make a properly informed choice it would be best done in your own room. But if it was me I wouldn't consider myself the best judge and would be happier relying on recommendations from a trusted source (these forums). In my room, about the same size as yours, I think I would buy the KH120s and learn to use them knowing that they are capable of producing first class results.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby blinddrew » Tue Jan 26, 2021 8:52 pm

Usual question with any 'which monitor' thread, what acoustic treatment do you have in your room? If none, can you fit any, and if so, you need to factor that into your budget to get the best out of any new monitors.
You may well find that investing in treatment brings a much greater level of usefulness from your current speakers, and will definitely allow you to make a more informed choice on new monitors further down the line.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby RichardT » Tue Jan 26, 2021 11:13 pm

I don’t know any of those monitors myself, though I do own and respect the KH120s, but my advice would be to get the very best you can afford, i.e don’t go for a model lower in the range when you can stretch to one higher in the range. The quality of monitors is vital in producing good mixes.

As is room treatment. I would prioritise room treatment over Sonarworks (this is based on my experience of both).
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby Zukan » Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:17 am

Sam Spoons wrote:You could add Neumann KH120s at around €570?

That's for a single monitor not a pair.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:03 am

There’s nothing there that I’d say "stay away from" or particularly get excited about! :)
As others have said, and will continue to say, this is so personal, but I wouldn’t spend thousands on a monitor in an untreated room, you have to use your judgement here.
Just an example, if I was making music in an untreated space, a typical home studio, Pre Sonus Eris would be my first choice, anything beyond that it’s always been ATC for me, but that’s high budget, and they need a decent room to perform at their best.
But that’s just my taste, there are loads of monitors out there, and to buy any of them without listening first, preferably on sale or return, would be a major disaster IMO.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby AlasdairEaston » Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:40 am

I've just come through a similar process although my budget was slightly smaller. In the end I went for the Focal Alpha 65's and I'm really pretty happy with them. I don't imagine I could have gotten anything much better for my budget. Of course I wish I had 4 times the budget and I'm sure I'd be even happier with the results, but we all need to work with what we have. That applies to rooms too. I've treated mine with deep Rockwool traps along the junctions between the floor and some of the walls. The room still has a bit of a bass problem but it's much less, and if I hadn't done that then I wouldn't be getting the most from the Alpha 65's. Crucially though, I'd have been wasting money on more expensive monitors, especially ones that go down to sub-40Hz. The Alpha 65's go down to 40Hz (+/-3dB) and in this room that gives me plenty low-end, to the point in fact that I don't want anymore. It would just become a problem.

In many situations I could probably have gotten by just as well with the Alpha 50's but having v-Drums here that I like to bash, and being a bass player who'll use these instead of a home bass amp at times, I wanted the extra power on tap.

Looking at your list, some of those are relatively big speakers, like the Focal Alpha 80's, and the bass response numbers are pretty heavyweight (30-something Hz). If it was me, I'd be tempted to re-balance my priorities, tilting towards high quality but smaller speakers rather than slightly lesser quality but larger ones.

Cheers,
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:59 am

I would like to challenge the premise "can't go to a shop and listen to...."

Are/were there eversuch shops where they have a whole stack of speakers readily wired up to some impeccably source and readily switchable for your listening?

Given the cost of such a pile of even modest monitors and the cost in labour and cabling setting up such a 'Comparater' I doubt many exist outside major cities if at all these days?

There is also the fact that, as mentioned, the room is unlikely to be optimized. One of the most important parameters for monitors is their stereo imaging capability, if a speaker pair is buried among or even adjacent to others, imaging will be severely compromised.
I think the best one can do, even in the best of times! Is read the reviews avidly and then ask around for any hidden problems . The "pay more" advice is top hole. Most of the signal path of a home studio can be very cheap these days, but you keep monitors for years, decades in some cases, a few £1000 amortized over that period is not that bad.

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Re: active near field monitors

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:09 am

AlasdairEaston wrote:I've just come through a similar process although my budget was slightly smaller. In the end I went for the Focal Alpha 65's and I'm really pretty happy with them. I don't imagine I could have gotten anything much better for my budget. Of course I wish I had 4 times the budget and I'm sure I'd be even happier with the results, but we all need to work with what we have. That applies to rooms too. I've treated mine with deep Rockwool traps along the junctions between the floor and some of the walls. The room still has a bit of a bass problem but it's much less, and if I hadn't done that then I wouldn't be getting the most from the Alpha 65's. Crucially though, I'd have been wasting money on more expensive monitors, especially ones that go down to sub-40Hz. The Alpha 65's go down to 40Hz (+/-3dB) and in this room that gives me plenty low-end, to the point in fact that I don't want anymore. It would just become a problem.

In many situations I could probably have gotten by just as well with the Alpha 50's but having v-Drums here that I like to bash, and being a bass player who'll use these instead of a home bass amp at times, I wanted the extra power on tap.

Looking at your list, some of those are relatively big speakers, like the Focal Alpha 80's, and the bass response numbers are pretty heavyweight (30-something Hz). If it was me, I'd be tempted to re-balance my priorities, tilting towards high quality but smaller speakers rather than slightly lesser quality but larger ones.

Cheers,
Alasdair.

I was also looking for a pair of similar monitors in the Focal 65 area of the market.
I tried the 65’s, and had an issue with the high end, I liked their overall sound, great, no problems, but on certain sounds, piano, choirs, they exhibited a nasty "aliasing" sound at the top end, and on some electric piano sounds, which really aggravated them.
Because of this I sent them back, tried another pair, but they were the same.
I find that in this area and price range, there’s always a little aggravation, as much as I like the sound of the Eris, they had an annoying mechanical hum, that was audible at a normal listening position.
I eventually got a pair of KRK Rokets, they were OK, no niggles, but then a friend bought his Behringer Truths round and they sounded great to me, with no side effects, so I settled on a pair of those for my synth studio, and I still have them.
I’m going to have to look for another pair of monitors soon, and I’m not looking forward to it.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am

ef37a wrote:I would like to challenge the premise "can't go to a shop and listen to...."

Are/were there eversuch shops where they have a whole stack of speakers readily wired up to some impeccably source and readily switchable for your listening?

Given the cost of such a pile of even modest monitors and the cost in labour and cabling setting up such a 'Comparater' I doubt many exist outside major cities if at all these days?

There is also the fact that, as mentioned, the room is unlikely to be optimized. One of the most important parameters for monitors is their stereo imaging capability, if a speaker pair is buried among or even adjacent to others, imaging will be severely compromised.
I think the best one can do, even in the best of times! Is read the reviews avidly and then ask around for any hidden problems . The "pay more" advice is top hole. Most of the signal path of a home studio can be very cheap these days, but you keep monitors for years, decades in some cases, a few £1000 amortized over that period is not that bad.

Dave.

When I lived in London I went to Pro Audio Europe, they had a great dem room like you describe, my god, was that an interesting experience. The differences between some monitors was so extreme, it was like chalk and cheese, but you’d never get that impression from the reviews, or the prices! Some sounded terrible to my ears, really bad, and others that I’d never considered sounded fantastic. I’m just highlighting this to the OP, I still think you have to go and listen, even if it means travelling, or, as I said, buying on sale or return. But having those direct comparisons, all in one room, was really enlightening.
I almost bought a pair of Acoustic Energy AE22’s on the strength of that demonstration, they seemed the only affordable, relatively uncoloured pair of speakers in the room! apart from some high end ATC's.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:29 am

Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:I would like to challenge the premise "can't go to a shop and listen to...."

Are/were there eversuch shops where they have a whole stack of speakers readily wired up to some impeccably source and readily switchable for your listening?

Given the cost of such a pile of even modest monitors and the cost in labour and cabling setting up such a 'Comparater' I doubt many exist outside major cities if at all these days?

There is also the fact that, as mentioned, the room is unlikely to be optimized. One of the most important parameters for monitors is their stereo imaging capability, if a speaker pair is buried among or even adjacent to others, imaging will be severely compromised.
I think the best one can do, even in the best of times! Is read the reviews avidly and then ask around for any hidden problems . The "pay more" advice is top hole. Most of the signal path of a home studio can be very cheap these days, but you keep monitors for years, decades in some cases, a few £1000 amortized over that period is not that bad.

Dave.

When I lived in London I went to Pro Audio Europe, they had a great dem room like you describe, my god, was that an interesting experience. The differences between some monitors was so extreme, it was like chalk and cheese, but you’d never get that impression from the reviews, or the prices! Some sounded terrible to my ears, really bad, and others that I’d never considered sounded fantastic. I’m just highlighting this to the OP, I still think you have to go and listen, even if it means travelling, or, as I said, buying on sale or return. But having those direct comparisons, all in one room, was really enlightening.
I almost bought a pair of Acoustic Energy AE22’s on the strength of that demonstration, they seemed the only affordable, relatively uncoloured pair of speakers in the room! apart from some high end ATC's.

I suppose it depends on who's reviews you read Arp! When Hugh did speakers (not so much these days?) IIRC he used to set them up alongside his 'reference' set and compare. I am sure if any "C&C" differences were noticed he would have mentioned them in the article?

Phil Ward now seems to cover most of the monitor work and I am sure he too would give us the full SP if he found any glaring differences?

Dave.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:35 am

ef37a wrote:
Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:I would like to challenge the premise "can't go to a shop and listen to...."

Are/were there eversuch shops where they have a whole stack of speakers readily wired up to some impeccably source and readily switchable for your listening?

Given the cost of such a pile of even modest monitors and the cost in labour and cabling setting up such a 'Comparater' I doubt many exist outside major cities if at all these days?

There is also the fact that, as mentioned, the room is unlikely to be optimized. One of the most important parameters for monitors is their stereo imaging capability, if a speaker pair is buried among or even adjacent to others, imaging will be severely compromised.
I think the best one can do, even in the best of times! Is read the reviews avidly and then ask around for any hidden problems . The "pay more" advice is top hole. Most of the signal path of a home studio can be very cheap these days, but you keep monitors for years, decades in some cases, a few £1000 amortized over that period is not that bad.

Dave.

When I lived in London I went to Pro Audio Europe, they had a great dem room like you describe, my god, was that an interesting experience. The differences between some monitors was so extreme, it was like chalk and cheese, but you’d never get that impression from the reviews, or the prices! Some sounded terrible to my ears, really bad, and others that I’d never considered sounded fantastic. I’m just highlighting this to the OP, I still think you have to go and listen, even if it means travelling, or, as I said, buying on sale or return. But having those direct comparisons, all in one room, was really enlightening.
I almost bought a pair of Acoustic Energy AE22’s on the strength of that demonstration, they seemed the only affordable, relatively uncoloured pair of speakers in the room! apart from some high end ATC's.

I suppose it depends on who's reviews you read Arp! When Hugh did speakers (not so much these days?) IIRC he used to set them up alongside his 'reference' set and compare. I am sure if any "C&C" differences were noticed he would have mentioned them in the article?

Phil Ward now seems to cover most of the monitor work and I am sure he too would give us the full SP if he found any glaring differences?

Dave.

Yes, it must be really difficult reviewing monitors, without using your "personal" ears!
My way of dealing with all this is to look at it holistically, what type of music is it, where are they going to be used, how important is the end result which is related to what type of sound and market your aiming at, how much you’re prepared to spend.
And bottom line "do you actually like them"

:)
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:51 pm

Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:
Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:I would like to challenge the premise "can't go to a shop and listen to...."

Are/were there eversuch shops where they have a whole stack of speakers readily wired up to some impeccably source and readily switchable for your listening?

Given the cost of such a pile of even modest monitors and the cost in labour and cabling setting up such a 'Comparater' I doubt many exist outside major cities if at all these days?

There is also the fact that, as mentioned, the room is unlikely to be optimized. One of the most important parameters for monitors is their stereo imaging capability, if a speaker pair is buried among or even adjacent to others, imaging will be severely compromised.
I think the best one can do, even in the best of times! Is read the reviews avidly and then ask around for any hidden problems . The "pay more" advice is top hole. Most of the signal path of a home studio can be very cheap these days, but you keep monitors for years, decades in some cases, a few £1000 amortized over that period is not that bad.

Dave.

When I lived in London I went to Pro Audio Europe, they had a great dem room like you describe, my god, was that an interesting experience. The differences between some monitors was so extreme, it was like chalk and cheese, but you’d never get that impression from the reviews, or the prices! Some sounded terrible to my ears, really bad, and others that I’d never considered sounded fantastic. I’m just highlighting this to the OP, I still think you have to go and listen, even if it means travelling, or, as I said, buying on sale or return. But having those direct comparisons, all in one room, was really enlightening.
I almost bought a pair of Acoustic Energy AE22’s on the strength of that demonstration, they seemed the only affordable, relatively uncoloured pair of speakers in the room! apart from some high end ATC's.

I suppose it depends on who's reviews you read Arp! When Hugh did speakers (not so much these days?) IIRC he used to set them up alongside his 'reference' set and compare. I am sure if any "C&C" differences were noticed he would have mentioned them in the article?

Phil Ward now seems to cover most of the monitor work and I am sure he too would give us the full SP if he found any glaring differences?

Dave.

Yes, it must be really difficult reviewing monitors, without using your "personal" ears!
My way of dealing with all this is to look at it holistically, what type of music is it, where are they going to be used, how important is the end result which is related to what type of sound and market your aiming at, how much you’re prepared to spend.
And bottom line "do you actually like them"

:)

Hmm? Of course the 'perfect' monitor would handle all forms of music and sound with equal fidelity and a large, commercial studio has to cope with whatever **** comes in!

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Re: active near field monitors

Postby AlasdairEaston » Wed Jan 27, 2021 2:34 pm

Arpangel wrote:
I was also looking for a pair of similar monitors in the Focal 65 area of the market.
I tried the 65’s, and had an issue with the high end, I liked their overall sound, great, no problems, but on certain sounds, piano, choirs, they exhibited a nasty "aliasing" sound at the top end, and on some electric piano sounds, which really aggravated them.
Because of this I sent them back, tried another pair, but they were the same.
I find that in this area and price range, there’s always a little aggravation...

That's an interesting point, Arpangel, and another thing to throw into the already complex "how to decide" equation: personal perceptions or maybe personal hearing characteristics. I suppose our own individual hearing systems are slightly different, like we have an individual frequency response "chart" for our own hearing that would be different to everyone else's. For example, on the Alpha 65's, if you forced me at gun-point to answer either "too harsh" or "too smooth" on the treble, I'd probably say too smooth. I'm not saying I'm right, of course. I guess I'm just pointing out yet another factor that makes this whole "which monitor" decision complex. Like it wasn't complicated enough already! :)
It's no wonder it's a regular topic with no clear winner.

Cheers,
Alasdair.
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Re: active near field monitors

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jan 27, 2021 3:12 pm

ef37a wrote:I would like to challenge the premise "can't go to a shop and listen to...."

Are/were there eversuch shops where they have a whole stack of speakers readily wired up to some impeccably source and readily switchable for your listening?

I don't know about nowadays but certainly when I bought my first hifi speakers from Guildford Hifi they set up a few different contenders in their demonstration room so that I could compare them. I'm fairly sure they had some kind of custom speaker switch at the time.
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