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Thread: Will the real mans's studio monitor please stand up ...

  1. #11
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    It's about time to have another solid wander around the the ambitious audio shops, to see what's currently held up as "good sound": doing this monitor exercise has emphasised that many people prefer a dulled or flattened sound, drained of energy. Meaning of course it will very difficult for them to achieve "live" sound, since one of the key ingredients for the liveliness is discarded at the first hurdle.

    It also means that quite a number of audiophiles would consider what I listen to as being very trebly, but that's the point I keep making: real sound has lots of high frequency content as part of its intrinsic makeup, but if it's reproduced poorly it's extemely unpleasant to listen to. So dump it, or deaden it to make it more palatable, but as far as I'm concerned then it's game over for having it worthwhile to listen to ...

    Saying that, I'll be doing another round of checking out studio monitors tomorrow; hopefully an ambitious Mackie model will put up a good show, a low end unit, driven poorly, was a non-starter the other day.

    I've seen a circuit diagram of a possible unit: it's full of obvious compromises and weaknesses, purely in the overall design let alone the implementation, so has great scope for major tweaking and improvements -- I'm sure all the brands have a similar design philosophy, so using the value for money one will be the way to go ...

    Frank

  2. #12
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    A bit tired at the moment, it was a solid run chasing up monitors most of the day, I need to refresh before elaborating in detail. But overall the results were what I was expecting before I started this whole exercise, which is midway between very impressive and highly disappointing.

    But one fun bit to throw out straightaway, is that I managed to kill a Mackie HR824! Well, not really, but ... . As usual, I was running it into the red zone, but the left unit seemed to not be fussed, not showing any overload red. Changed CD, became aware sound was unbalanced, no left speaker! Sales chappie did the usual cable limbo: back, forth, behind, under shelves and supports, and it finally resolved that the left unit had gone bye byes! Salesman was disappointed, the pair had been running well for 6 months -- possibly the protection circuitry itself had gone faulty, and the heavy driving triggered a more major fault. I was somewhat surprised when he said they were snowed under with warranty issues on monitors -- simply a result of pro gear leading well less than comfortable lives, perhaps ...

    Frank

  3. #13
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    A good night's sleep helps a lot! It was a solid workout yesterday, but very worthwhile doing -- I've found that if you blitz an area where you need some key understanding, the sheer rapidity of trying one thing versus another very quickly brings things to light, patterns of behaviour and differences gell very strongly, perhaps not so much at the time, but frequently in hindsight.

    First of all, I would appraise that the monitors in fact were doing a very nice job in of themselves; but suffered from the complexity and the dirtying of the signal by all the circuitry that was chaining the audio from the CD to the drivers. The simpler the route from the audio track to the speaker drivers, the better the sound, this pattern was consistent. In particular, switching boxes were a killer, each place that used one of these had the worst sound by far. A good example: I heard a Mackie MR8 in 3 different places, and the sound ranged from almost putrid to pretty damn good: where I had a chance to listen to MR8 and HR824 side by side the overall flatness of the sound made choosing between them a curate's egg: my wife preferred the MR8s here in fact, but it was possible, just(!), to hear that the HR824 were doing better in the treble.

    So what was wrong with the sound, where it was wrong? Well, any audiophile who chances upon "pro" sound knows what it's like, there's an overall flatness and dreariness to the quality; it sounds "small". Small? Yes, it completely lacks the "bloom", as a meaningful word to use, of decent audio. What it does have going for it is the ability to go loud: that dull and uninteresting sound which is there at low volume does not change as you up the dBs, right up to maximum volume, the quality of the sound does not alter, it just gets louder -- most monitors went to their full power without overly showing any overt strain. The subjective impression is of watching a musclebound midget showing off, very impressive in one sense but totally not so in another.

    So, the best sound heard was achieved with the simplest hookup, and the smallest box. This was still well below what I get at home of course, but the nature of the configuration of the monitor and superior quality in key areas meant that it was doing some things better as is. And it can only improve, by a big factor, after solid sorting out. Next step will be to get a pair and condition them thoroughly, to eliminate the duds, before pulling them apart ...

    Frank

  4. #14
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    Frank, you are pretty awesome man!

    Best of best,
    Bob
    All the Very Best, - Bob --------- "And it stoned me to my soul" - Van Morrison --------- AudiophileAudition

  5. #15
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    Thanks, Bob ...

    I'll take this opportunity to mention something else: in 2 of the stores the older guys there wanted to know what the material was that I was using, they were highly appreciative of having decent music to listen, rather than the "usual junk" the kids bring in ...

    To kick off I used live Peter Green, Splinter; if getting somewhere then Peter Hurford on full pipe organ, and once gave a live Hendrix track a spin -- the last was being rather cruel ...

    Frank

  6. #16
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    Some more meanderings: many have probably thought, hello, Frank's jumped tracks again -- where's the 2.4kW amp? Well, one thing my time on this forum has shown me, amongst much other, is that audiophile folks are pretty stubborn, even cocky shall I be so bold so say -- as soon as you mention a slightly different concept the deafening roar of contradiction is quite something to behold, you have to work 10 times as hard to get something across as you should need to -- a sort of "glass ceiling" in the audio world. So what's the point of busting a gut, this amp will have to be so spectacularly good, 10 times that of a Krell, before anyone will grudgingly admit it's OK -- I've got better things to do in life.

    So much better to address a market far more receptive, the pro crowd -- the quality of sound they put up with is pretty atrocious a lot of the time, so not too hard to rise well above the herd. And the turnover in gear shames the hifi world -- a much better place to play.

    So what have we got? The studio monitors can do loud well, but they also do dreary well. Why the latter is analogous to the photocopy syndrome. Do a single copy, looks almost perfect ... but then do a copy of that copy, and a copy of that copy, and continue ad nasueum. By the 30th generation it will look pretty hideous; the pro gear circuitry is chock full of this type of pathway, say 30 opamps one after the other, in series, before the sound hits the speaker driver: no wonder it sounds totally disposable. So the aim is to do something about that ...

    The other thing is volume: as said in a previous post, they can all hit the bump stops cleanly or close enough to it. The pro crowd "cheats" as well as anyone in audio, they always quote max SPL for a pair, thus automatically adding 6dB to the figure for a single. Anyway, using that rule the standard monitors go from 113 to 125 at full accelerator, and the latter is what I really want to get to, to handle that notorious drumkit. But that means serious money to buy the raw monitor, so I'll start small: the law of diminishing returns figures just as much in pro monitors as anywhere else, certainly in the area of volume. If truth be known, the "best" monitor I listened to was subjectively no louder than the cheapest when it hit the red line, the "tininess" of the sound made sure of that ...

    Frank
    Last edited by fas42; 05-02-2012 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Typos

  7. #17
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    At the moment I'm trying to determine which decent quality active monitors can output the maximum SPLs: so far the leader is Dynaudio M3XEs, capable of 133dB peak per pair at 1 metre. But mighty pricey! And not really actives in the normal sense, separate amps coming with the package. Anyone do better than this?

    Frank

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by fas42 View Post
    At the moment I'm trying to determine which decent quality active monitors can output the maximum SPLs: so far the leader is Dynaudio M3XEs, capable of 133dB peak per pair at 1 metre. But mighty pricey! And not really actives in the normal sense, separate amps coming with the package. Anyone do better than this?

    Frank
    Wow, that is just amazing Frank!
    All the Very Best, - Bob --------- "And it stoned me to my soul" - Van Morrison --------- AudiophileAudition

  9. #19
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    I'm repeating myself here, but this is an aside to the comment about replay at the "correct volume", mentioned in the other active thread. What monitors don't have is such a handicap: if they sound mediocre, they remain the same if you drop the volume to whisper level, and then push to maximum. Likewise, the better units, with a less taxing environment, retained their good qualities irrespective of the slider setting.

    Again, studio environments are places where you don't get "veils lifting", but adding: layer upon layer of electronic gunk smears the sound so that it ends up feeling like you're listening through a curtain of Vaseline ...

    Frank

  10. #20
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    "Curtain of Vaseline"? ...Is that an accepted audio term Frank?
    All the Very Best, - Bob --------- "And it stoned me to my soul" - Van Morrison --------- AudiophileAudition

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