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Q. Are front-ported monitors better in poor rooms?

By Hugh Robjohns

My room is not ideally treated, especially in the corners near my monitors, which have no bass traps. Would it help to use monitors with bass ports on the front (as with some KRK and Tannoy models) instead of my Yamaha ones, which have bass ports in the back, or do bass ports distribute spherically, which would mean there’s no benefit in this? I don’t have the opportunity to test monitors before buying them, so I’d appreciate your advice on this, as well as any words on the bass port concept more generally.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with ported monitors and many high-end designs are ported. However, many manufacturers of budget and entry-level speakers abuse the characteristics of ports to give the impression of larger speakers with deeper bass — at the expense of accuracy.There’s nothing inherently wrong with ported monitors and many high-end designs are ported. However, many manufacturers of budget and entry-level speakers abuse the characteristics of ports to give the impression of larger speakers with deeper bass — at the expense of accuracy.

SOS Forum post

SOS Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: As long as the rear bass ports are not pressed up against the back wall, it really won’t make a lot of difference. There’s nothing wrong with porting as a concept; any problems come down to the implementation by the manufacturer. Some of them deliberately ‘abuse’ the characteristics of porting to try to make small speakers sound bigger (and, in particular, bassier) than they really are. Such models might sound impressive on a first listen, but this approach can seriously compromise the time-domain performance — in other words the speakers don’t stop making sound as quickly as they should. But well-designed ported speakers can be very good indeed and most (though not all) models from high-end speaker manufacturers such as ATI, Genelec, Focal, Dynaudio — and many more — are ported types.

Published October 2015