Question Active Studio Monitors for HT/Stereo - what's the consensus?

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
My apologies if this has been addressed already, just something I've recently been giving thought to: it would seem to me that rather than hitting the sonic lottery partnering passive speakers to amps and hoping for a good result, are there merits in using actives and why aren't more people doing it? I've only ever heard desktop type actives e.g. XTZ Tune 4 and they've impressed me every time. How good are the large studio monitors for a dedicated cinema room and using actives all round? Anyone got any success/horror stories to share?
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
There's quite a few posts on this, so I will try not to repeat them...

Yes, good studio monitors make excellent cinema speakers. The only drawback is that they may have quite a small "sweet spot", so have a look for speakers with good dispersal .

You will find some seriously good bits of kit from Genelec, Meyer etc. for top money or for less budget any of the studio monitors will work well. You want a powerful sub ideally to match the dynamics and power that having all speakers with their own amplification and power supply brings :)
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
It works great! In the consumer AV arena options are a bit limited, especially looking at home cinema applications, but if you want to look at pro studio monitors your choices are abundant. So glad I got my AVI DM5s before AVI disappeared (splitting a pair with someone else to each use one as a centre), and they are tremendous. Couple of additional things to watch out for that I would add.

1) If you're doing an installation for actives then bear in mind that in the future your next set of actives might have different connection and power requirements, and for what little extra it will cost, it makes sense to have a basic speaker cable installed as well, 'just in case'. When I got my HC room done, I foolishly just had coax laid for signal, and I really hope that my electrician has got the earth wiring in there behind the faceplate because I just asked for fig-8 power cables. I was thinking only about my DM5s, and it has since dawned on me that many actives only have XLR input, and most active speakers use a kettle plug with earth for power.

2) Once you have active speakers you realise that there are a frustrating lack of pre-amp/processors at the affordable end of the market. The 'entry' level seems to be variations of mainstream AVRs, with the power amp section removed and a higher price charged, and from there it jumps up to the mega-bucks Lyngdorfs and Trinnovs etc. The most affordable dedicated designs seem to be Emotiva for low to mid 4 figures. Otherwise you're left looking at using an AVR as a pre/pro (which can be fine - happy with my Arcam now i've battled through getting it set-up and configured and learned to work around its quirks).
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
There's quite a few posts on this, so I will try not to repeat them...

Yes, good studio monitors make excellent cinema speakers. The only drawback is that they may have quite a small "sweet spot", so have a look for speakers with good dispersal .

You will find some seriously good bits of kit from Genelec, Meyer etc. for top money or for less budget any of the studio monitors will work well. You want a powerful sub ideally to match the dynamics and power that having all speakers with their own amplification and power supply brings :)

Regards to sweet spot, that was one of my concerns as the nearfield designation for a lot of monitors suggest. How would one know which ones have wide dispersal characteristics or is it a buy and try process?
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
Regards to sweet spot, that was one of my concerns as the nearfield designation for a lot of monitors suggest. How would one know which ones have wide dispersal characteristics or is it a buy and try process?
Well if you do find designs aimed more at the consumer AV market then they are likely to have a wider dispersion. For more pro oriented designs you may be able to ascertain that by reading their marketing blurb or looking at the specs.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
It works great! In the consumer AV arena options are a bit limited, especially looking at home cinema applications, but if you want to look at pro studio monitors your choices are abundant. So glad I got my AVI DM5s before AVI disappeared (splitting a pair with someone else to each use one as a centre), and they are tremendous. Couple of additional things to watch out for that I would add.

1) If you're doing an installation for actives then bear in mind that in the future your next set of actives might have different connection and power requirements, and for what little extra it will cost, it makes sense to have a basic speaker cable installed as well, 'just in case'. When I got my HC room done, I foolishly just had coax laid for signal, and I really hope that my electrician has got the earth wiring in there behind the faceplate because I just asked for fig-8 power cables. I was thinking only about my DM5s, and it has since dawned on me that many actives only have XLR input, and most active speakers use a kettle plug with earth for power.

2) Once you have active speakers you realise that there are a frustrating lack of pre-amp/processors at the affordable end of the market. The 'entry' level seems to be variations of mainstream AVRs, with the power amp section removed and a higher price charged, and from there it jumps up to the mega-bucks Lyngdorfs and Trinnovs etc. The most affordable dedicated designs seem to be Emotiva for low to mid 4 figures. Otherwise you're left looking at using an AVR as a pre/pro (which can be fine - happy with my Arcam now i've battled through getting it set-up and configured and learned to work around its quirks).


I'm not really considering anything in the AV arena although it might be worth just checking out a few to test the water. As you probably know anything with an AV badge seem to attract an audiofool premium. So yeah, really considering studio monitors only.

A good reminder about cabling, point noted.:smashin:

Totally agree with you about the lack of choice when it comes to quality processors. They do seem to jump from the budget AVR rips to the ludicrously expensive. The Emotiva I'm likely to avoid. This leaves just the Monoprice HTP1 priced at the reasonable end but their lack of availability and support in the UK should make anyone a little weary.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Well if you do find designs aimed more at the consumer AV market then they are likely to have a wider dispersion. For more pro oriented designs you may be able to ascertain that by reading their marketing blurb or looking at the specs.

Think I should've been more specific in the title, goes to show how little I know in this area. By active speakers I was really meaning pro studio monitors. :facepalm:
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Anything with a horn loaded tweeter is likely to be more directional. Horn loading increases efficiency and "throw", but the compromise is a reduction in dispersal. Most studio monitors actually have quite a wide dispersion but there are exceptions.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Cheers @DT79 and @noiseboy72 with your input. Thread title amended.

Anything with a horn loaded tweeter is likely to be more directional. Horn loading increases efficiency and "throw", but the compromise is a reduction in dispersal. Most studio monitors actually have quite a wide dispersion but there are exceptions.

My ideal would be both good efficiency and wide dispersal. Something like claimed performance of these JTRs but with active circuitry would be pretty good.

I think I might need to listen to a few different options and see what fits. Do know of any good stores that demo studio monitors?
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Let`s put a few bumps..

@dms uses Neumann KH310? studio monitors in he´s cinema room! Plenty of models to look for.

@pressure swapped XTZ Cinema range to Genelecs.

@Smurfin talked highly of Genelecs for cinema use back in the days, not sure what he up to these days.

Check this intresting thread:

DTS used to have 7 of these in their demo room:
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Let`s put a few bumps..

@dms uses Neumann KH310? studio monitors in he´s cinema room! Plenty of models to look for.

@pressure swapped XTZ Cinema range to Genelecs.

@Smurfin talked highly of Genelecs for cinema use back in the days, not sure what he up to these days.

Check this intresting thread:

DTS used to have 7 of these in their demo room:

I recall seeing Smurfin's thread years ago, cheers for that. It was probably what planted the seed and has been lurking inside my subconscious all these years only to become activated now. Haven't seen the man on these forums for a while.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
I recall seeing Smurfin's thread years ago, cheers for that. It was probably what planted the seed and has been lurking inside my subconscious all these years only to become activated now. Haven't seen the man on these forums for a while.

Yeah, let`s hope he chimes in if lurking at the background still. He has heard most brands what i remember so always nice to hear comments from him. Also he made this great thread which should be sticky.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Yep the guy sure had a wealth of experience and is a credit to this forum. Maybe he's just having a break from all of this stuff, would totally understand.
 

dms

Active Member
Let`s put a few bumps..

@dms uses Neumann KH310? studio monitors in he´s cinema room! Plenty of models to look for.

@pressure swapped XTZ Cinema range to Genelecs.

@Smurfin talked highly of Genelecs for cinema use back in the days, not sure what he up to these days.

Check this intresting thread:

DTS used to have 7 of these in their demo room:

Given there is a ? in my line, yes I do use 3 Neumann KH310a for my l/c/r speakers. Very happy with them.

To be honest now I'd like to have active rears from Neumann too, something like the Neumann KH120A perhaps, but there would be major backlash from the Mrs because I'd not want them mounted high like my missions 77ds but rather at ear height.

I'd actually find it hard to actually get rid of my Missions 77ds... even though I can't use them for music anymore because using my Yamaha to play music from both front and rears (which I always did with my old Mission fronts) sound hideous (well just wrong somehow) with the Neumann up front and Missions at back... the Neumanns sound great on their own!
 

anjan

Active Member
I’m currently demoing genelec 8341a ‘the ones’ for music. They are amazing. Listening distance just under 3m and the incredible stereo imaging is maintained over quite a wide area width-wise.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Hi all

Yes I'm still here, rarely post but occasionally lurk. I've been a member on the forums for 18 years now :eek: - and in truth, I've lost interest in the endless upgrade itch that seems to overcome people (and used to overcome me). I think the interest went when I got divorced and sold my house. Been renting ever since so AV projects have not been a priority!

I also realised that once you get to a certain point, the endless upgrade cycle actually achieves very little other than depleting your wallet. People are so focussed on the hardware, they miss the fact that it's all in the room, and the differences in their AVRs/processors or one speaker to another can often be miniscule.

Now, I would rather spend £500 on an amazing piece of acoustic art rather than £5000 on different speakers....

I still love movies and audio, but I've never looked back since going down the route of ultra efficient horn based speakers. I run JBL3677s which are a commercial cinema speaker, and they knock spots off most domestic designs I've ever heard. I did love Genelecs, especially the big designs, but even they can't compete with the sheer, mind boggling effortlessness of these speakers.

I also run a modest Denon X4300H AVR (from memory, can't actually remember!). Buying a processor for twice the price is a pointless exercise imho. I do run off-board Dirac as well, so have a separate power amp, even though my speakers can run off a 10w amplifier easily.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Sorry to hear of your situation. I can't imagine what it must be like but I hope you stay strong.

Couldn't agree more with so much of what you've said. I've had a pretty good run just enjoying my system as I understood at some point the limits became the room itself. So although I'm in a comfortable place as far as my system is concerned the only significant and worthwhile upgrade will be a new place - which I'm working on.

With that said I've always wanted a dedicated theatre room so thought it a good idea to start looking into options. I look forward to the journey and hope you'll be around to sprinkle some of that wisdom if I go astray. :D Enjoy your me-time, no pressure. :smashin:

All the best matey
 

stainless-steel

Active Member
I think you’d do well if you achieve a consensus on this topic, or most others for that matter! 😊
FWIW I’m a big fan of monitors for HT, I think the dynamics and consistent voicing really suits a HT. For me loosing the power amplifier, cables and the need for careful matching was a bonus. If you find a brand you like they really are plug and play.
Smurfin made a really valuable point about room treatment, hanging round the pro audio forums while I was researching monitors really highlighted the need to treat the room first, then worry about the speakers.
I’ve seen so many high end speakers installed in the most atrocious acoustic environments their owners are clearly in it for the wow factor first, and the audio a distant second.

To get the best of any speaker you really need to sort out the bass absorption, reflection points and reverb times. Get that right and then your speakers will shine, even more so a good set of actives.
Regardless, the point I’m trying to make is yes, actives are awesome. But put them in the right environment and they’ll really blow your socks off.

if you have the luxury or a dedicated room, or even the willingness for some strategically placed treatment in a dual use room you’ll be setting yourself up for a genuine upgrade.
I’m lucky enough to have recently moved to a place that gives me a good sized dedicated room, I’ll be sorting out the acoustics before I spend a penny on more speakers for an atmos/DTS X upgrade. 😉
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
I think you’d do well if you achieve a consensus on this topic, or most others for that matter! 😊
FWIW I’m a big fan of monitors for HT, I think the dynamics and consistent voicing really suits a HT. For me loosing the power amplifier, cables and the need for careful matching was a bonus. If you find a brand you like they really are plug and play.
Smurfin made a really valuable point about room treatment, hanging round the pro audio forums while I was researching monitors really highlighted the need to treat the room first, then worry about the speakers.
I’ve seen so many high end speakers installed in the most atrocious acoustic environments their owners are clearly in it for the wow factor first, and the audio a distant second.

To get the best of any speaker you really need to sort out the bass absorption, reflection points and reverb times. Get that right and then your speakers will shine, even more so a good set of actives.
Regardless, the point I’m trying to make is yes, actives are awesome. But put them in the right environment and they’ll really blow your socks off.

if you have the luxury or a dedicated room, or even the willingness for some strategically placed treatment in a dual use room you’ll be setting yourself up for a genuine upgrade.
I’m lucky enough to have recently moved to a place that gives me a good sized dedicated room, I’ll be sorting out the acoustics before I spend a penny on more speakers for an atmos/DTS X upgrade. 😉

Smurfin make good points period! :D

It’s funny you should mention room acoustics.

Although my room would be considered a spare living room, the OH has been generous enough to donate it to me, albeit, I just settled there without any objection. So I have pretty much full autonomy to do anything I like but I try to keep it within reason (won’t paint the ceiling black etc) as we still use it for the odd overflow of family gatherings, the kids love it for its tranquillity when they’re on tablet time etc. Don’t worry, I’ve trained them well from birth to never touch the equipment, real angels! It irks me when I visit family and friends and see tiny greasy fingerprints all over their TVs and soundbars.

Arguably the biggest upgrade I did was to treat the room. However I understand the limits of the room since its on suspended floors, almost a square shape, small(ish) and to top it a window bay with its own sonic peculiarities. Don’t get me wrong despite all these setbacks, it still sounds incredible with the treatment, eq and all the other tweaks I’ve done. A couple of neighbors came over recently for a demo and they were blown away. As you probably know, the usual benefits of room treatment: we could have a conversation despite the system playing at very high levels, no fatigue, crystal clear imaging, accuracy, nuance etc. It sounds like a bigger space than what it is, like the boundaries melt away.

When we do finally move to a detached property (currently semi) I might split the system for stereo and cinema if the opportunity presents itself. So I can focus on speakers that specialise in their own areas rather than having to compromise. But let’s face it, it's nice to listen to different systems in different rooms. In fact I'm on my desktop setup right now with minimal room treatment and listening to these little active speakers I'm amazed every time how nice they sound despite costing a tiny fraction of the main system downstairs. I see a lot of people here use man caves out in the garden for their cinema, that seems like a project I would love to undertake. Built from ground up, perfect dimensions, construction etc. Lets see how it goes.:)
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Here's an interesting comparison I've found of some studio monitors. The Adams sound the best to me. I wonder how similarly priced Genelecs would perform?

 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Sorry to hear of your situation. I can't imagine what it must be like but I hope you stay strong.

Thank you! Was a long time ago now so all good :)

Still not reignited my same passion for AV though...I've just hit that plateau where I'm happy that I have kick ass sound :)
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Thank you! Was a long time ago now so all good :)

Still not reignited my same passion for AV though...I've just hit that plateau where I'm happy that I have kick ass sound :)

Well I hope you will find a kick ass lady friend so we can get back to business :D

Speaking of kicking as, the more I look into it the JBL 3677s sound like the ideal set of speakersfor a dedicated space.

Unsure if Jag Epic Home Cinema is still in business or if he can still supply them. The speakers seem to have been discontinued :(
 

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