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Old October 19th, 2005, 08:09 PM   #1
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What's the optimal monitor placement in a small room?

I'm building a combination bookshelf/editing desk for my G5 setup. Basically it's a bookshelf, 80" by 80", with a 30" deep desktop coming out and a keyboard shelf sliding out from that. The monitors will sit in niches within the bookshelf. I've been advised that I want to get as far back from the audio monitors as possible. About the most I can do in this room is 5' from the wall, and that's a stretch (14" deep bookshelf, 30" deep desktop, 16" deep keyboard shelf). BTW, the room is 9.5' by 13', and the desk is against one of the short walls. Given these conditions, how far apart should the monitors be, and is there an advantage to smaller ones such as the bx5's over bx8's? Thanks in advance.
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Old October 20th, 2005, 06:55 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Lubkin
I'm building a combination bookshelf/editing desk for my G5 setup. Basically it's a bookshelf, 80" by 80", with a 30" deep desktop coming out and a keyboard shelf sliding out from that. The monitors will sit in niches within the bookshelf. I've been advised that I want to get as far back from the audio monitors as possible. About the most I can do in this room is 5' from the wall, and that's a stretch (14" deep bookshelf, 30" deep desktop, 16" deep keyboard shelf). BTW, the room is 9.5' by 13', and the desk is against one of the short walls. Given these conditions, how far apart should the monitors be, and is there an advantage to smaller ones such as the bx5's over bx8's? Thanks in advance.
A triangle in which the distance between the speakers is slightly less than the distance from any speaker to your ears.

You need speakers with large enough drivers to hear the low end. Usually that's a minimum of 8". Ten or 12 is better.

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Old October 20th, 2005, 07:11 PM   #3
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Thanks Ty. So just to clarify: Even in a small space with relatively close proximity to the speakers, bigger drivers are better?
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Old October 20th, 2005, 07:29 PM   #4
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Check out the mackie 824 and 624. They have passive radiators in conjunction with the smaller drivers that keep the low end alive. Pretty nice stuff actually.

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Old October 21st, 2005, 12:02 AM   #5
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Depending on the monitors, getting them as far away as you can is the best. when the monitors are right on top of you, you will tend to mix the midrange down as the ear is most sensitive to this area. You will also be more prone to height. When you move them back, you will have a bigger sweet spot and will tend to be more natural in your eq'ing. you also want to go for a triangle configuration, again depending on the dispersion of your tweeters and the acoustics of your room, you may have to modify this. If you can get the monitors around 6' from you, you'll have much better translation. drivers larger than 8" is not a big concern with audio for video as the mics generally used don't capture large amounts of low end. Also a well built 8" speaker can reproduce well below 80hz.
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Old October 21st, 2005, 01:02 AM   #6
 
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Originally Posted by Michael Fossenkemper
Depending on the monitors, getting them as far away as you can is the best. when the monitors are right on top of you, you will tend to mix the midrange down as the ear is most sensitive to this area. You will also be more prone to height. When you move them back, you will have a bigger sweet spot and will tend to be more natural in your eq'ing. you also want to go for a triangle configuration, again depending on the dispersion of your tweeters and the acoustics of your room, you may have to modify this. If you can get the monitors around 6' from you, you'll have much better translation. drivers larger than 8" is not a big concern with audio for video as the mics generally used don't capture large amounts of low end. Also a well built 8" speaker can reproduce well below 80hz.
I'd have to dispute virtually everything you just said, Michael.

1. Monitors as far away as possible? Not hardly. We're discussing near-fields, all of which have a max distance of 8'. As far as better translation at 6'...that ENTIRELY depends on the monitor, room, and setup.

2. Um...mics used for video production are often the same mics used in the studio. 4053's, BK 4011's, various Shoeps, Sanken, Sony, Rode, AT, EV....few people in this forum actually use their on-camera microphones.

3. "more natural in your EQ'ing..." I'm really baffled by that comment. Your tendency to add, subtract, or not use EQ at all is dependent on the room, distance, objects surrounding monitors, how the audio was recorded, volume of monitoring, and personal taste. Suggesting that being "on top" of the monitor vs distance will be a primary factor is a pretty specious comment. If you want to suggest a specific volume level at which this would be an accurate statement, I'd probably agree, but there are just too many factors at play to make a blanket statement.
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Old October 21st, 2005, 06:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Fossenkemper
Depending on the monitors, getting them as far away as you can is the best. when the monitors are right on top of you, you will tend to mix the midrange down as the ear is most sensitive to this area. You will also be more prone to height. When you move them back, you will have a bigger sweet spot and will tend to be more natural in your eq'ing. you also want to go for a triangle configuration, again depending on the dispersion of your tweeters and the acoustics of your room, you may have to modify this. If you can get the monitors around 6' from you, you'll have much better translation. drivers larger than 8" is not a big concern with audio for video as the mics generally used don't capture large amounts of low end. Also a well built 8" speaker can reproduce well below 80hz.

Hmm.... where do I begin...

There are two recognized deployments of audio monitors; nearfield (small and close) and point source (big and further away). And, yes, there are those that are somewhere in the middle.

Big audio studios and mixing stages use both to check their mixes because they are in big rooms. No monitor tells the truth. Every studio I have ever seen has at least two sets of monitors; one small, one big.

The proximity to monitors and the the sensitivity to midrange (Look up the Fletcher-Munsen Curve on your own) are not really related. The ear is a non-linear device. It is more sensitive to frequencies centering around 3 kHz.

As you turn down the volume on your monitors. You lose the upper and lower frequencies more quickly than the 3 k range. That's why there are "loudness" controls on preamps. They compensate for this loss by increasing top and bottom at low levels. How far you are from the monitors is not a factor.

Having said that, many recording studios exhibit more bass at the back wall of the monitoring position than at the sweet spot. That doesn't have anything to do with hearing sensitivity. That's about the acoustics of the room.

The naturality of EQing really isn't impacted by how close you are to the monitor unless you mean really big differences in distance where diffusion by air tends to attenuate higher frequencies first. While such a difference exists between near field and point source monitors. The monitor to monitor variations themselves can have more of an effect than your distance from them.

Then too, the further away from the monitors you are, the more the acoustics of the room come into play. Near field and point source are both appropriate ways to go. With Point Source, however, the acoustics of the room are much more important.

The triangle is the way to go. Position the monitors as I mentioned before.

I wrote a book called "Advanced Audio Production Techniques" back in the 1990. I spent a chapter on monitor placement. The book is still around in small quantities.

Mics can certainly capture lower frequencies that muddy up a mix. In addition, if you have music and effects, you need to know what's going on not only at the bottom but at the top.

Each monitor has a dispersion angle for high frequencies. Think of a flash light in a dark room. The light represents the high frequencies. Some monitors have wider dispersion angles than others. That MAY allow you to position them so that you have a wider sweet spot. A lot depends on the proximity to walls and other room acoustics issues like having two hulking 17" CRT computer monitors between your audio monitors.

Getting a good audio monitoring environment is not trivial. You can screw up. When you do, your mixes don't translate well. That means what you hear in YOUR studio doesn't sound the same elsewhere.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Last edited by Ty Ford; October 21st, 2005 at 06:51 AM.
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