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Old August 27th, 2006, 05:17 PM   #16
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The problem with speakers made for entertainment instead of speakers made for monitoring is the entertainment speakers are made to sound pleasing (or in the case of computer speakers, made to sound 'cool' to gamers). But for mastering audio, whether we're talking about music recordings or flim/video soundtracks, you need accuracy. Let's say you have a system that hypes the bass to give that extra ooomph to games. If you mix on that system and are seeking muical balance you'll pull down the base a bit in the equalizer to smooth it out. But that means the resulting mix is going to be weak in the bass when played on a good full-range system. Or let's say you picked up a lot of sibilance when your dialog was recorded or some high frequency noise crept in somehow - you might be able to fix it a bit in post, but only if your monitors are good enough for you to hear it and realize it's there. Or you're cutting a dialog scene made up of long shots and a series of closeups recorded on different days and with different mics, say a boom in the MS and lavs in the CU. Again, you can match the audio qualities to a certain extent to help make them sound like they all recorded at the same time but only if your monitors are good enough and accurate enough for you to actually hear the difference as you work.

If you're just shooting for your own enjoyment it doesn't matter. But if you're shooting for almost any professional purpose, you need to insure the quality your output isn't compromised by trying to work with inferior tools.

My idea is if you can't afford a surround system made up of professional quality monitors all the way around, at least go with a stereo pair of top quality professional monitors for your main mixing tasks and use a secondary surround setup of good quality consumer speakers to check the positioning of the resulting mixes in the surround environment. But actual sound editing and mixing tasks need to be done on a pair of studio quality monitors, there's no two ways about it. I'd definetly NOT try it on any "multimedia" or gamers speakers as they're designed to hype certain sounds and hide problems with others ... for mixing you simply must have speakers that will let a crappy sounding mix sound like crap so you can fix it and willl let a good sounding mix come through. Your mixing environment is a musical instrument and when you're wearing your engineer's hat your a msucian performing on it and you need an instrument that's up to the task. You want to hear the mix, not the system. There are a lot of monitors on the market at various price points - I haven't decided on mine quite yet but I've been doing a lot of shopping and listening over recent months - and my general impression is it's going to be hard to find any active speakers under about $400 per speaker at the very bottom end that are sufficiently accurate to use for professional purposes.
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Old August 27th, 2006, 06:29 PM   #17
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Bobson
If I can get a set of inexpensive speakers that give me 80%, as opposed to expensive speakers that give me 100%, I'll take the eighty.

everybody should want to do the best job they can for their clients, but I can't afford a $50k system right now.
I understand, and to some point agree with you. For my money (even for fun listening) they're junk. For others, they'll be gold. Remember that one man's ceiling is another man's floor.

Plastic speakers can't reproduce anywhere near the spectra of sound that's there, and they're also not "tuned" for professional audio monitoring. Monitors need to be flat. It's like color correcting on a video monitor that is overly red or green. You can't tell what you have.

Where did the figure of $50K come from? For that much these days, you can outfit an entire suite with a high def monitor or projector, sweet Rosetta front end, THX certified surround system, software with which to mix, and have enough left over for a nice cushy client couch. You can get a "serviceable" system for around 800.00, and a kickin' system for around 5k, and an industry top standards system for around 10k. If your room isn't properly tuned, then there is little sense on spending a lot of money on a super high end system.
By way of example, if Logitechs get you "80%" of the way there in your lexicon, I'd say they'll get me 20% of the way there in mine. If you've never heard a good system, then you'll likely be happy with whatever you find at whatever price. Heck, some people are happy mixing on small Bose systems. And *that* is scary.

[edit] Steve House sums it up more succinctly than I do.
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Last edited by Chris Hurd; August 28th, 2006 at 11:13 AM. Reason: addition
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Old August 27th, 2006, 11:45 PM   #18
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bose

I have a medium sized Bose system. Strictly for listening, not critical mixing. And that's scary!
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Old August 28th, 2006, 05:14 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
There are a lot of monitors on the market at various price points - I haven't decided on mine quite yet but I've been doing a lot of shopping and listening over recent months - and my general impression is it's going to be hard to find any active speakers under about $400 per speaker at the very bottom end that are sufficiently accurate to use for professional purposes.
What speakers have you narrowed it down to, Steve?
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Old August 28th, 2006, 06:26 AM   #20
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I can't afford a full surround suite just yet - so going to start off with a base stereo pair only. Most likely candidates are Genelec 8030a (~$1250), DynAudio BM5a (~$900), JBL Pro LSR4326p (~$1000) or JBL Pro LSR4328p (~$1200). I haven't auditioned the JBLs yet but really am attracted to their Room Mode Correction feature that automaticly equalizes them to the room - as proper acoustic treatment is going to be difficult in my present quarters I'm hoping that can help offset some of the room problems. If it turns out I can manage the extra cash when I'm ready to purchase, I might go up to Genelec 8040a, DynAudio BM6a, or ADAM but now we're starting get up there into hefty $$ and any extra money I can free up at the time might be better spent on a sub since I don't anticipate doing a lot of critical music recording and mastering - kinda teetering on the fence as to which route would be better to go. Phase 2 would be a matching sub for the starter speakers and finally surrounds would be phase 3. Until then I'll be using my cheap-a** Dell surround system to check the positioning when I do a surround mix but only after the tracks themselves have been finalized in stereo on the "real" monitors, with a final QC crosscheck on my home theatre system which has a pair of 25 year old biamped ADS L1230 floor-standing midfield monitors as its mains (no longer made - they're ancient but still some of the nicest sounding speakers I know - I understand they were originally designed for the Deutche Gramaphone recording studios - set me back about 1.5 kilobucks way back in 1981) and a David300 15" sub.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 07:56 AM   #21
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So, I take it you've auditioned the Genelecs and
DynAudios. How do they sound? About the same?
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Old August 28th, 2006, 08:07 AM   #22
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Quote: I haven't decided on mine quite yet but I've been doing a lot of shopping and listening over recent months - and my general impression is it's going to be hard to find any active speakers under about $400 per speaker at the very bottom end that are sufficiently accurate to use for professional purposes.Quote
__________________________________________

For anyone who does videography or sound for a living then i think Steve has got a pretty good handle on the minimum spend. I would be surprised if any good professional has monitoring speakers that cost less than the above figure.

Douglas has given pretty good advice for any pro out there who wants to take that advice. However there are others ranging from mad keen on videography as a hobby and are willing to spend money on their equipment to others who reckon they can get perfectly good monitoring speakers for $39.00. Now if you are doing your videoing from a cell phone $39.00 speakers would be more than adequate to cover your needs.

It really depends on how far up the ladder you want to go in terms of what you spend and what you get. I am only starting on my filming project (not yet, but at the end of the year) so i don't have any monitoring speakers. But i can give some input that might possibly put things into perspective

I am a home cinema buff i spent three years researching before i bought my system and i looked for value for money. You learn a lot about sound with different speakers and amps and how things change with different set ups etc.

The law of diminshing returns suggested to me that for home cinema speakers anything over $10,000-$12,000 and you start to get a very slight improvement for spending a LOT more.

Take subwoofers as an example. I live in the UK (Scotland) and you could spend anything up to 5,000 for a quality subwoofer speaker. Once i got the speaker system i liked, i tested it with a variety of different priced subwoofers. The cheap makes are just like glorified computer subs, boomy without substance. I settled for a near top of the range REL which cost 1200 (about $2,000) For me there was no significant difference in the even more expensive speakers to justify the extra money, but there definitely was when i sepnt less! You have to be right into listening to appreciate the differences in speakers at varying price points.

Heres an example i well remember. The start of the film Gladiator when the fight begins and they fire those big canon balls of fire out into the distance. You see them land and with a cheap subwoofer you hear a boom and thats it. With my REL subwoofer the boom is different more real AND you feel the canon ball right down at your feet just as you would in real life, a controlled boom at that. If you strive for something really good you will achieve what you want. Many of my friends loved their home cinema system and raved on about it for months. I said nothing but once they came over and heard my system i never heard another word from them. They paid hundreds for their system, i paid a lot more and got value for money without going over the top.

Ironically when it comes to monitoring i am not at all sure what speakers i will get. Most people in UK probably dont have a good home cinema setup. Those that do mostly have ones that either come with their tv or are sold in the large consumer type stores where cheap brands at cheap prices are for sale. But things are improving particularly in this last year or two. Looking to the near future i doubt i could justify the price of a 5.1 system for monitoring. I will probably look at a decent pair of speakers rather than a 5.1 or 7.1 setup. If money is tight i think it would be wiser to spend your money on a pair of speakers than a 5.1 system.

How much to spend might well depend on what you spend right down the line from camera to microphone to mixer recorder to NLE to computer etc.

The guy that has spent $30k to $50 k certainly won't be buying computer gaming speakers to monitor with surely. The other end of the scale might find the computer speakers packages just right for what he has relative to what he spent.

One interesting thing i did notice was that sound tracks on DVD films are inferior to sound tracks you might purchase as a CD. Again take the film Gladiator as example. I liked the music in the film so bought the CD. The difference in sound when played it on my hi fi system was like night and day. Shocked i then played the CD on my home cinema system and it was still much better than the dvd film itself, but not nearly as good sounding as my hi fi stereo system. Was my home cinema system flawed? No i tried it on a 100,000 home cinema system in a specialist shop in Glasgow, much the same difference. The guy in the shop told me that the film tracks on a DVD are compressed so you dont hear everything as it should be heard in a good hi fi set up.

Music and film are made different so you require different types of speakers for film as you might wish for music. Comprimising as always takes place.

Amps can make a significant difference to the sound of your film or music. Most cheap home cinema system amps are terrible for playing CD on. Proper stereo AMPS are better suited for listening to music. DSE covers this slightly in his post by telling you that even if you have poor hearing you can still tell the difference. You can if you know what to listen for or have heard good sound and you then hear poor sound straight after that. I loved the first half of Jay Roses book on sound (the rest became ever so complicated for the stage i am at) but i would say to those who might think that somehow they can skimp on monitors ( and i mean really skimp) then listen to the CD that comes with Jay Roses book. In particular listen to the recordings made by 16bit 12 bit 10 bit and 8bit. Do that on your computer speakers THEN do it on a good pair of hi fi speakers. After that you might just appreciate what Steve said in my Quote at the start of this post.

I hope i have not bored the pants off everyone? i probaly went on much too long. Sorry but its my wee way of returning the good avice i got from you guys on things i knew little about.

Michael
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Old August 28th, 2006, 08:57 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Largent
So, I take it you've auditioned the Genelecs and
DynAudios. How do they sound? About the same?
To my ears they're pretty close - a slight edge to the Genelecs in bass response but both are very detailed and transparent throughout. I really like the Dynaudio BM6a but now we're getting to the >$2000 a pair category and the price makes it iffy. A very close second to them would be the Genelec 8040a or slightly older 1030a for just about the same price. Also ADAM (forget the model number) are very clean and smooth sounding but the price is even higher then the BM6's, >$2500, and just not in the cards any time soon. I also auditioned Mackie's 624 and 824, various KRK's and several others and they just didn't sound right when A/B'ed with the Genelecs and Dynaudios.

My audition technique was to take a number of CD tracks that I particularly like and am familiar with, in a variety of styles - DSE's "Tenaya", "The John Dunbar Theme from Dances With Wolves" the soundtrack to "Moulin Rouge", Kraftwerke "Tour de France" (lots of subtle high-frequency detail), Dire Straits "Money for Nothin'", Diana Krall "The Girl in the Other Room" and "Live in Paris" and Sarah Brightman's "Harem" CD - the last one I heard her perform live in concert on the Harem Tour so it gave an especially good reference point (our seats were right behind and just above and to one side of her sound guy - was great fun looking over his shoulder at the very impressive array of sound gear and computers they were using). Before going to audition I'd pick a couple of those discs and listen again on my main home system just to re-acquaint myself with their sound, then take them to the store and A/B various combos of monitors. Didn't try to do them all at once of course, made several trips with different discs over the course of my research.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 10:05 AM   #24
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Steve i reckon you are on the right tracks for speakers with good stereo response and all three are good makers of speakers for home cinema use as well. The Dynaudio that i listened to some years ago offered excellent value for money. I suspect they continue to do so.

Some shops here in UK offer older speakers that have been superseded by newer makes. Many of these bargains are not really bargains since the speakers were never really that good in the first place. That said there are genuine bargains to be got if you do your homework. For those who want a cheap pair of speakers that also look really nice the Quad speakers that came out about six years ago were suprisingly musical and detailed. They cost around 200 each then, so you might pick a pair up for 300 or less now.
Though they are not ideal for the lower frequencies (don't go low enough). They are highly laquered and very well finished in black or mahogany and look much more expensive than they are. They are eight ohms so are easily driven by almost any amp which is also a consideration. 4ohm speakers require a pretty powerful amp to drive them.

Years ago many of the big film studios used M & K speakers for monitoring. I tried these for home cinema and to my ears they were no better than other speakers that cost signifciantly less.

I wonder if most people that purchase monitoring speakers concentrate on top to mediem range frequencies and largely ignore the really low frequencies. It would be very difficult (and more expensive) to get a pair of speakers that could go as low as any good sub. So do most guys settle for something that goes down low but not in the 20hz or even 30hz level.

Steve keep us posted on what you finally decide on.


Michael
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Old August 28th, 2006, 10:22 AM   #25
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What was the main difference you noticed
between the Genelecs/DynaAudios and the
next level down in the KRKs/Mackies?
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Old August 28th, 2006, 10:37 AM   #26
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Largent
What was the main difference you noticed
between the Genelecs/DynaAudios and the
next level down in the KRKs/Mackies?
Can't speak for Steve, but IMO the Gennie's have a slightly smoother edge in the harsh ranges, IMO. The KRK's are somewhat similar to older NS10's where we used to put tissue over the high frequency driver/tweet to smooth it out.
We have Hothouse and Mackie systems in our A room, and I really like the smoothness of the 626 with the 180 sub, but it took quite a bit of time to get them properly balanced. The 624's are smoother in the high end than the Gennie's, but the low mid is muddy, and bottom is a tad flappy by comparison.
We have Gennies in our B room, my personal "desktop" monitors are the 624. Wish I had the sub for the Genelec, but it's not necessary.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 10:51 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dave Largent
What was the main difference you noticed
between the Genelecs/DynaAudios and the
next level down in the KRKs/Mackies?
It's hard to describe precisely - what I look for is natural sounding voices where the individual voice's characteristics come though - Diana Krall, Sarah Brightman, and Charlotte Church all have very different voices and I want to be able to identify them as individuals, not generic "female vocal" and I think it's more of a challenge for speakers to reproduce female voices well than it is for male voices. I look for piano that is rich in overtones and the different parts of the notes - the hammer strike, the primary tone, and the tail-off - are all natural sounding, like a piano was in the room. On complex orchestral pieces I want to hear the various instruments distinctly without the various sections getting lost in each other. I used the Kraftwerke because there are some high pitched winds sounds and the "swish swish swish" of the bicycle's chains on their sprockets underlaying the music and complex male vocals. In "Tenaya" I was listening to the breath sounds in DSE's flute and the tonality of the percussion, again looking for the natural sounds of the instruments. The Mackies were good, just not as good. The KRKs, both their higher priced series and their budget line, sounded very coarse and harsh in comparison, not at all musical and the subtle details I could hear in the others were completely absent.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 11:09 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
Can't speak for Steve, but IMO the Gennie's have a slightly smoother edge in the harsh ranges, IMO.

What do you think of the DynAudios?
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Old August 28th, 2006, 11:14 AM   #29
 
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I only have heard the DynAudio in a showroom, not in our own place or room I know well. They sounded good where I heard them, with program material that I wasn't intimately familiar with. Since I wasn't shopping for monitors, I can't say I gave them the critical listen that I should/could have.
The same room had the Gennie's set up, and I already knew them since we've had 1029's and now 1030's. I liked the Genelec better, but that could be prejudiced because I already own them.
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Old September 4th, 2006, 06:37 AM   #30
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thanks to all for the advice and opinions.

I'm going with the M-Audio LX4 2.1 System - I'll upgrade to 5.1 when I get some more money!

Bob
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