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-   -   Getting serious about my audio- Studio Monitor Recomendations? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/33293-getting-serious-about-my-audio-studio-monitor-recomendations.html)

Sean McHenry October 13th, 2004 08:41 PM

Well, I have seen carpet used at a lot of stations, including the NBC station I was at for over 16 years but, it is true that unless you use calibrated foam batting, like Sonex, it won't "absorb" everythig that hits it so I suppose one can make a case for not using carpet.

Now we are back to the argument of how people at home hear the sound. Almost everyone sits in a thick shag carpeted room with soft plush furniture but mostly bare walls. So, the furniture and the carpeting as well as drapes, etc randomly cancel bits of the spectrum here and there but the walls add to the reflections that are left.

I still go for carpet as some sound deadening is, in my opinion only perhaps, better than none. The original audio booth at the NBC station actually still has peg board placed about 1" off the main walls. It might be odd but that's one of the deadest rooms I have ever been in.

Unless you are going to build an anechoic chamber, this is all a matter of degrees and how much money you want to sink into that end of your operation.

Some of the better sound stages I have been in have slab floor construction of poured concrete covered with wood flooring and then seemingly randomly placed small sections of carpeting. The floors actually float on large blocks of soft rubber to isolate the floors from enviornmental noiises like trucks and trains in the area.

There is a large neoprene gasket of several inches that seals the walls to the floors. They are extra thick with insulation between double walls of drywall. The ceilings are of plank hardwood construction that is spaced a scientifically placed distance below the actual ceiling and run at an angle to the walls.

In our old post facility, the original sound stage actually had suspended lead sheeting between the walls.

On occasion the back wall is actually made from natural stone in a random pattern to provide a very scattered bounce off the back.

Personally, that's a bit much to ask out of my basement so, I carpeted everything.

And don't forget to calculate your standing wave ratios out of your room dimensions. You can easily create a great big tank circuit if you don't watch those dimensions.

Douglas Spotted Eagle October 13th, 2004 09:00 PM

Carpet ABSORBS nothing. It deflects with nearly equal response. It has some small bandwidth absorption at very high frequencies IF it's not a nylon coated carpet, which most are.
Pegboard was, and is still common in professional houses. It's a totally different concept. TubeTraps are not terribly unlike pegboard in their functionality. Traps absorb to certain levels and frequencies.
While you might like your carpet, there are many, many reasons to not use it. Including legal ones.
Jeff Cooper has an excellent treatise on this very argument, and I can't find it on the web. He does an entire discussion on why carpet is a huge mistake. Having designed several small rooms professionally, and as a recording artist that has recorded in more rooms than I care to count, a properly treated room has never included carpeting on the walls. Floors in some areas, yes.

What environment people listen to audio in is inconsequential to a very real degree. Once you start making that sort of argument, you might as well argue that we should all mix on Auratones or worse. Yes, we should benchmark with low quality, but trying to put the argument forth that the same kind of an environment is a good thing is simply irresponsible to the majority of listeners. For example, most listeners have painted sheetrock walls with either hardwood or carpeted floors, with either leather or fabric sofas, and equipment ranging from Radio Crap to the sublime of very high end audiophile gear. You mix, prepare, and master for the audiophile, and it will sound good to very, very good on the average. Dumbing down the environment helps no one and hurts the production value.
I'm not sustaining the idea that a room has to be expensive to treat. We recently did the Metrostudio facility for a cost of less than 650.00 for an entire room.
On the other hand, my tracking room IS a floated piece of concrete with rubber blocks, channel strips, floated in a room where the walls are sand-filled cinderblock masticked together, with Sheetrock, 1/8" airspace, Celotex, 1/8" airspace, and then a layer of sheetrock. Then there is another 1/8 airspace and over that is Alaskan Cedar on the walls with air gapping every 4.5 inches. It is a small room with a very tight and even response, only a slight bright bump at 6K and a nice rolloff at 90hz. And since I know those numbers, if necessary I can compensate. That's on the recording side. My monitoring room doesn't have NEAR that sort of treatment because it's a monitoring room and I don't have to keep sound out, I only have to have balanced audio and keep sound from going out to the tracking rooms. It's a blend of unsquare walls, Auralex traps, TubeTraps, rubberized soffits, and waterfilled speaker stands. And again, I've measured the bounce and nodes, and have eq'd for that.
I don't expect folks will go this far either, but this is what I do for a living. I'd really hate to think I went to school for 2 years learning room design and acoustics only to find that carpet on a wall negates all that horrible math. :-)

Sean McHenry October 14th, 2004 06:51 AM

We mostly agree and as I didn't spend the years learning room acoustics but electronics and studio engineering, I can't and wouldn't argue the matter, especially with someone I respect, like Douglas. I don't know what could possible be a legal matter with putting carpet on your surfaces. Sounds interesting. If you find that link, send it along.

Lets just say that all those carpet fibers then lead to a jumbled bounce and breakup (by deflection I suppose) in mostly the highs. Still, breaking up the direction of the reflections keeps from having in phase returning sound at your ears or the mics.

Same reason you have the air gaps in the woodwork I should think. Partially as a trap and partially as a multiplane reflective surface?

I suppose some bright engineering type could make a peg board material with varying sized holes in it to dampen the reflections of various frequencies? Odd that nobody ever went that route that I am aware of.

I think for the average small, and I'm talking less than living room size, workspaces I have seen some of the folks using here, a look at TecNec or Markertek and the various offerings from Sonex, etc., are a good starting point. Corner traps, acoustic blankets, Sonex and house brand foam sheeting, etc.

If they are really interested in the right way of doing it for a professional workspace, maybe they should consider hiring someone with experience that will take into account the purpose of the room, the shape and dimensions and materials. Seems like there is enough interest here that perhaps Douglas should consider a laymans article?

For me, I just need less reflections hitting me from behind in my space and a good flat monitor system. At least for now.

I'm not really advocating the approach that we all use a TV for Q&A. I still would recommend a good flat sound system with enough punch to propperly handle transients without stressing and inducing a higher THD factor on the amps and loud speakers.

It is interesting that you can have quality "discussions" with the Producers that come back complaining that their last spot just didn't sound quite the same on their mothers 5" mono B&W set in the kitchen last weekend.

At least folks should be aware and conscious that there is a vast array of sound systems out there folks are watching their evening news on.

I have a 5.1 system in the living room and the 37" Plasma hung like a picture but occasionally only use the 2 speaker system on the plasma. In the bedroom I have a 21" LCD on the wall and only use the smaller 4" or so speakers in the set. In the offices I have various small TVs and normally use their in set speakers. Some mono some stereo and all of dubious clarity. Things are going to sound better on some systems.

We used to advocate either the small Roland series MA8 or MA12c but lately we have been telling people about the Tapcos and Tannoys. I haven't really read the specs on them. I have been trusting the editors on staff to this point to find something they like and let us sales staff know about it. Probably a bad idea but so far, no complaints on that end.

See you guys.

Jeff Patnaude October 14th, 2004 08:30 AM

I just bought a pair of Behringer 2031A's, and I really like them. I use the Mackie THX speakers at work, but they are wayyy out of my price range.

For a fairly decent set of speakers at a modestly affordable price (both of these go hand-in-hand for this reccommendation) get the Behringers.

They cost $339 for the pair- they are self powered, which iliminated my crappy speaker amp. For the price, they are great.

Check out spec's online. Good luck,

Jeff Patnaude

Glen Elliott October 14th, 2004 03:23 PM

Hmm I dunno about all this- I'm not a musician mastering an album or anything. Maybe the whole idea was overkill. I'll probably go with a nice pair of Klipsch 2.1's and call it a day.

Carl Bradshaw October 15th, 2004 01:16 AM

The new Blue Sky Media Desk looks interesting:


It's a serious step up from normal computer speakers, but perhaps not so esoteric to be too far removed from the HiFi quality of your target audience. They also offer a 'Pro Desk' solution which is the same 2.1 solution used at 47 editing stations in Skywalker Ranch, according to their literature.

Douglas Spotted Eagle October 15th, 2004 11:15 AM

We used the BlueSky system on the VASST tour. Call Danny at CalAV and tell him you're a VASST discountee to get a better price.
I hope you realize that the Klipsch speaks are just logitechs with a different name stashed on them. In other words, overpriced plastic.

Glen Elliott October 15th, 2004 12:40 PM

Well the Promedia 5.1's and Logitech Z680's are THX certified and the highest rated PC speakers. Granted that isn't in the "studio monitor" realm but ask anyone that has heard them if they can call them "overpriced plastic".

I'm not claiming to know more about audio than Douglas Spotted Eagle, however I don't know how this is helpfull to someone that is curious as to the benefits of having studio monitor speakers over "overpriced plastic" Klipsch- considering the particular involvement audio has in my video production workflow.

Matthew Cherry October 15th, 2004 12:53 PM

I think the benefits of studio monitors over "computer speakers" have been pretty well addressed? You might even think that the Klipsch speakers sound better. And in certain instances they will, because the don't offer a flat response, but that doesn't make them good speakers to mix on.

When you mix a video and it sounds great on your computer and then you burn a DVD of it and give it to your buddy and it sounds like crap, with no or too much bottom end or whatever, you will realise the benefit of nearfield monitors.

I just read the above paragraph and perhaps it comes off in a way I don't intend. I'm not trying to be mean or argumenative. Everything we do is a compromise of desire, knowledge and resources, so for you maybe high end plastic is the way to go, but there is certainly a difference between those Klipsh speakers and Mackie nearfield monitors.

Now, I have a pair of Fostex NFMs and I love them. Not as much as the Mackies but they're real nice none the less and the wont break the bank. Maybe you should look into those.


Douglas Spotted Eagle October 15th, 2004 12:58 PM

My point is, you can buy the Logitech, Alesis, or Klipsch and have the same speakers with different labels. Buy the Alesis, save a bundle. Buy the Logitech, save even more. It's just a name and a little paint slapped on the plastic to make them look sweeter. I took several classes from Paul Klipsch, he'd roll over 3 times in his grave if he knew his name was being licensed to lowgrade computer speaks. If you think I'm being snobby, you should read Paul's writings on speaker systems.
THX for consumer playback is different than THX certified for authoring.

I don't mean to be snobby about it, but the point that irks me is that guys will go out and spend 2K on a broadcast monitor and spend 200.00 on speaker monitors. Ears are more important than eyes in a very real sense.
Do you need a perfect room to monitor audio for video? No. Will you gain a lot by choosing to perform some basic room treatments? Absolutely, IF you have decent monitors. A good pair of monitors beats a low grade 5.1 system any day, and a good pair of monitors are much easier to manage than a 5.1 system any day.
My main thrust/point is this:
If you're doing work for $$ from clients and you don't have a good broadcast monitor and good playback monitors, you're doing them a grave disservice and harming yourself in the end.
There is more to great sound than just speakers, but they are a big part of the equasion.
I meant no offense, but you asked about great audio/improved audio. And plastic Klipsch speakers aren't gonna cut it. Any more than the new plastic/licensed JBL's or DCM's are gonna cut it.

Bruce S. Yarock October 15th, 2004 01:04 PM

I use Event 20/20's in my home studio with pretty good results. When I want to get really critical, I take the mix to my friend's studio and listen through the Genelecs.
Bruce yarock

Glen Elliott October 15th, 2004 02:34 PM

Spot, I don't know what dealings Klipsch and Logitech have or even if they are the same company but I can assure you the Promedia 5.1's from Klipsch and the Logitech Z680 5.1's are different hardware. Just look at the specs. Heck they even sound different.

To be honest I don't quite grasp the concept of studio monitor speakers. I understand how it's important to have a NTSC Studio Video Monitor to help judge your footage visually based on a controled example. The "control" is achieved through a universal calibration where the colors and luminance are judged from a set standard. That way you won't get possible skewed results from using a monitor that isn't properly calibrated. Now....does this concept carry over to the audial realm in terms of using studio monitor speakers? If so I don't quite understand. How is the sound your hearing from the studio monitors "accurate"...by what means is it controlled or calibrated to a known standard?

I started to back off the idea of investing in studio monitors because I honestly am starting to feel it's like getting wheelie bars for a stock Ford Tempo. It's just overkill- and I won't reap the benefits that they offer. As I said my sole involvement with audio is usually speech....Church readings, Surmon from the Officiant, Vows from the Couple, etc. My audio has never neccessarily been a problem in my video production as I have a nominal knowledge of some audio filters....most of which I use being Sony Noise Reduction. Now if I were to ditch these $500 Klipsch speakers and go with a real-deal bonified set of studio monitor speakers....how will that help me? Am I not getting an accurate representation of the sound I'm editing? Is it the same as trying to color correct on a cheap old television compared to a properly calibrated NTSC monitor?
After all we must consider the source in which the audio is going to end up...on a Television.

Douglas Spotted Eagle October 15th, 2004 02:46 PM

[I}Am I not getting an accurate representation of the sound I'm editing? Is it the same as trying to color correct on a cheap old television compared to a properly calibrated NTSC monitor?
...by what means is it controlled or calibrated to a known standard? ....[/I]

It's absolutely the same thing. You understand the visual but apparently not the aural.
Audio monitors are even easier to calibrate than video monitors, because with audio monitors you have electronic devices that are very inexpensive, that can determine what flat response is, which is EXACTLY what you want from monitor speakers. As opposed to a video monitor, that while tools exist, most folks use SMPTE bars, a blue gel, and eyeball it. It's a little more complex than audio to calibrate the video monitor.

Flat is the absence of enhanced or detracted frequencies, with all frequencies being at equal value across the aural spectrum. Monitor speakers should be as flat as possible to achieve accurate representation of what is on tape or coming off the hard drive. What sounds great for listening to a DVD likely isn't going to be accurate in an authoring room. Consumer speakers aren't made to be flat, they're made to be enhanced.
Make sense?

Matthew Cherry October 15th, 2004 03:08 PM

And Gene for $500 you can get a pair of NFMs, maybe not great ones, but ones that will serve your purpose better than what you have. Hell, I was at Sam Ash yesterday and there were a nice pair of Mackies for six and change.


Glen Elliott October 15th, 2004 03:09 PM

So how would one calibrate studio monitor speakers? And does the soundcard play a large part in the accuracy....in other words is it impossible to get accurate flat responce from an Audigy 2?

Lastly- I see most studio monitors only have a midrange driver and a tweeter. What about the low frequencies?

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