Why Don't More Folks Use Studio Monitors?

mrrodge

Active Member
Back to basics question for most here probably and I know it gets done to death on a regular basis, but:
  • Studio monitors are designed to give a flat response without colouration. Get it. But isn't that what we all want? To hear the recording how it was mixed/produced and how it was intended to be heard?
  • Isn't starting with a flat response and using EQ/DSP going to give better customisation?
  • How many folks are doing just this nowadays and using monitors in a living room environment?
  • I know monitors are generally active as well, but who cares if (in theory) the sound is completely flat/transparent?
Are we just buying audiophile 'home' kit because it looks quirky and gives bragging rights?!
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I am, see sig and here - Little DIY Project

The Buchardt A500/A700 are an interesting hifi example of actives with a dsp (at a price).


You could also ask why more people don't buid their own speakers - parts are egenrally 10% of the rpice of a shop bought speaker of teh same quality/sound. E.g. you could build the Buchardt A500 for around £1000 using Hypex plate emaps with dsp and some Scanspeak / Sb acoustic / Seas drivers. Or for £1500 same plate amps with Purifi 6.5 woofers and Be domes in wave guides for something that would rival £10k speakers.
 
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password1

Well-known Member
For many folks, cosmetics is important and is part of the decor.

From what Ive seen most studio monitors are ugly black boxes.

Also many folks have a surround system and prefer a dedicated centre and surround speakers.

Some prefer floorstanders.

Building speakers usually requires the time, skill and equipment, not everyone can make speakers to the same standard as a professionally or commercially manufactured cabinet.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
Those Buchardt actives seem to incorporate nearly all the DSP tech that's currently available. Progress is fast in this area. I suspect there's a steady increase in folk using actives. You never know, a pair of actives with sophisticated DSP may be able to convince with multi-channel media and therefore replace a physical multi-channel setup for many. Some sound bars have started on this road already. The possibilities with DSP seem limited only by the designers' imaginations. Looking forward to further developments over the next few years (and, of course, the inevitable trickle down into lower priced actives).
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
@dogfonos, iirc Buchardt are developing a surround version of their wireless hub which should be interesting.
 

larkone

Member
Sound is only flat and transparent until you use them in a room, then the room adds it's bit to the sound. Studio monitors are designed to work in a studio environment not a sitting room so may not always be a good match for home use. Also a lot of studio monitors are designed for Near Field Monitoring which also doesn't suit most home use, other than that they are fine.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
a lot of studio monitors are designed for Near Field Monitoring which also doesn't suit most home use
Indeed they are - but this is a concept I struggle with.

Seems to me that studio monitors (mainly active) and most good-quality passive hifi speakers are typically designed for a flat frequency response when tested with a microphone positioned 1 metre in front of the speaker (there are exceptions), so I don't understand why the studio monitor is particularly suited to near-field and the traditional hifi speaker more suited to typical hifi listening distances (say 2 to 3 metres). In fact, seems to me, if sonic accuracy is the aim, that both speaker types would be better suited to near-field listening!?

I suppose freq. response measurements could be taken in different acoustic surroundings but, generally, from what I've read, measurements of studio monitors and hifi speakers are taken in anechoic/free space conditions so as to minimise reflections from surroundings being picked up by the microphone.

From my admittedly limited experience, there is no significant difference in tonality between a quality near-field studio monitor and a quality passive hifi speaker at either a 1m listening distance, a 3m distance and anything in between. Indeed, there is the occasional example of a near-field studio monitor getting rave reviews from hifi press:


Conversely, an example of a hifi speaker (albeit active) getting a rave review from the pro. music press:


And here's an article (albeit old) from a pro. magazine that argues the case for near-field monitors to have a slightly different freq. response shape compared to traditional hifi speakers - mainly due to the near-field monitor's likely positioning - but subsequent testing of two hifi speakers and two near-field monitors gives mixed results. Small test sample though:

 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Studio Monitors tend to be on the smaller side, so they don't work well for all applications. Best for Near Field or small-ish rooms.

As far as Flat, yes for mixing, you don't want anything to color the music, because you will mix the music based on the coloration you are hearing in the speaker, then when someone listens on the home Stereo, the tonal color is going to sound off. So ...yes... you want Studio Monitors to sound neutral and flat.

But... that's not necessarily what people want in their home. If you look at the response graphs of many speakers, you will find that they have boosted the Bass slightly above flat. Why? Easy .... people like bass.

It is the difference between -

Speakers that sound generally good.

And ...

Speakers that sound good to you.

What sounds good, odd as it is to say, it not necessarily what sounds right.

Studio Monitor and other Active Speakers absolutely do have their place. And they are generally not that expensive ... all things considered. Though there are some pretty expensive Studio Monitors on the market.

While they have their place, they certainly don't serve the needs of all people all the time. But... they certainly do serve the needs of some people some of the time.

For a Desktop or Small Room, for modest TV/Movie systems, they have their uses. And the can do a very good job for those people or situations where you want to hear the music as closely as possible to how it originally sounded.

That's probably why the sell Millions of Active Speakers and Studio Monitors every year. Someone is buying them because they serve that person's needs.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Quad ESLs were used as monitors, e.g. by the BBC, since they "gave a flat response without colouration". But they weren't designed as studio monitors.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
IMO (therefore happy to be corrected) the near/mid/far field issues is bit erroneous. The sound does not know when to stop on its path to your ears. I believe it is more to do with the horizontal off axis frequency response, if this drops off heavily you have a very directional speaker that can only be listened to in a small volume (say 0.5mm cube), the other end of the scale is omni directional that has the same sound volume in all directions (of equal distance from the speaker). So-called hifi speakers are somewhere in the middle.

As many “studio” monitors use a waveguide tweeter these tend to be slightly more directional (But can be crossed lower) therefore lend themselves to listening in a defined position which is ok in the studio but not so much with a family of four on a couch.

Therefore I think the near field should be denoted as more directional than mid or far field.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
I believe it is more to do with the horizontal off axis frequency response, if this drops off heavily you have a very directional speaker
I agree that if the freq. response of a speaker drops away rapidly off-axis then you have a directional speaker and, usually, a narrow sweet spot for listening. However, in my limited knowledge of the subject, I always thought the main purpose of waveguides was to widen the sweet spot by increasing treble dispersion (i.e. better sustained off-axis freq, response - at least in the horizontal plane). A carefully designed waveguide can also make dispersion more predictable and smoother.

Typical physical waveguides, as fitted to many studio monitors and some hifi speakers, tend to horn load the tweeter, to a certain extent, thus improving efficiency too and thus reducing distortion for a given sound output (assuming the waveguide/horn adds no distortion of it's own). And, as you say Ugg10, allows the use of a lower crossover point if the designer so chooses. The often overlooked advantage of many waveguides is that they position the treble driver back from the front baffle and more in a vertical line with the bass/mid driver's voice coil - thus giving better time alignment, usually no bad thing - though some studio actives manage such time alignment by electronic means.
 

PaulDavidThomas

Active Member
I've been using active speakers for my home / office set up for the past 10 years. I'd never even consider a 'normal' pre-amp / amp / DAC / speaker set up. Digital from my MAC all the way into the DAC on the active speaker. It is not a 'Studio Monitor', but I would not have an issue with a Studio Monitor. If it's good enough for the pro's who don't worry about all the perhaps unnecessary rubbish that comes with HiFi and just want decent sound. Sure rooms add to the sound, but that's true of Active or not Active, Pro or not Pro. If you have a nice cabinet, you're going to be paying for it.
 

daytona600

Active Member
Recording / Mastering / Broadcast studios have not used passive speakers for several decades
makes sense to use the same speakers as used to produce the music originally
Used active studio monitors for years from Hedd & would never go back to passive speakers

 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Recording / Mastering / Broadcast studios have not used passive speakers for several decades
makes sense to use the same speakers as used to produce the music originally
Used active studio monitors for years from Hedd & would never go back to passive speakers

You really need to compare apples with apples in terms of studio audio. There's a huge difference between the studio stereo mix and the mastered, EQ and compressed track that will be commercially released in many cases. Put simply unless you are buying niche market music, it will not be the same as the studio master.

I've worked for a company with a recording studio - and also extensively with video editing, live events and large scale PA systems. Each requires a different type of speaker and in some cases the differences in application become clear.

I used to make a lot of video productions for use at live events. Other editors often asked me why I had a pair of M-Audio BX8 speakers - usually rocking at high levels in quite a small edit suite to mix the audio on. Simple answer was that they were the closest I could find in terms of voicing to the PA speakers we used on the events, so I was happy that if the audio sounded good on them, it would also be clear and intelligible at the event. The fact was a lot of material produced using headphones and small monitor speakers just did not work when exposed to a large PA system in a poor acoustic space.

In a home setting, it's not just about getting a flat sound. To enjoy music, you probably want to flatter it somewhat and make it sound better than it really is! Clean, slightly enhanced bass and a small lift in the vocal range will quite often give that illusion of quality. Listen to any movie with a lot of music - Guardians of the Galaxy is a good example and you will find the music tracks sound brighter and bigger than the original recordings as they have been treated and post produced, with more bass and an increased sound stage. It's the same technique.

I guess it will also depend on what you listen to. A diet of commercial, compressed 128K MP3s is probably not going to sound its best on a pair of Genelecs, but a Linn Studio recording of a simple acoustic track will no doubt sound stunning!
 

Captain Col

Novice Member
The purpose of a studio monitor is perhaps different from a hifi speaker - in some respects it's the opposite. At it's simplest, you could argue that a studio monitor is designed to highlight the flaws in music. A lot of mixing in the past was done on Auratone 5C's (Avantone Mix Cube would be a modern equivalent) because they provided such transparency (mono, single driver etc) that you could more easily identify flaws in the recording and mix. The idea was that something that sounded good on a "horrortone" would sound good on anything. Many studios will have "grot boxes" that are deliberately bad, e.g. testing mixes through the multi CD hifi systems you could buy from Argos 30 years ago. Studios will also use different monitors and headphones for the recording and mixing stages as you want to hear different things - at the recording stage, you'd probably be using something that sounds very tinny but is hugely transparent.

I'm taking this to the extreme of course but mainly to highlight the principles of mixing vs listening.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
Recording / Mastering / Broadcast studios have not used passive speakers for several decades
makes sense to use the same speakers as used to produce the music originally
Used active studio monitors for years from Hedd & would never go back to passive speakers

Ah, my current fantasy speaker.🌈
 

daytona600

Active Member
Goals are both the same on Pro / Hifi speakers
low distrortion , wide bandwidth , flat frequency response
Pro market uses active in plain box & Hifi market uses passive in fancy box
Best active monitors like Hedd & ATC make most Hifi speakers sound flat and lifeless
friend has a recording studio & uses Hedd main towers & also a pair in his house
These are simply faultless speakers with endless low frequency extension , staggering dynamics
and massive scale almost live a live event

.
TowPP.jpg
 

mrrodge

Active Member
Goals are both the same on Pro / Hifi speakers
low distrortion , wide bandwidth , flat frequency response
Pro market uses active in plain box & Hifi market uses passive in fancy box
Best active monitors like Hedd & ATC make most Hifi speakers sound flat and lifeless
friend has a recording studio & uses Hedd main towers & also a pair in his house
These are simply faultless speakers with endless low frequency extension , staggering dynamics
and massive scale almost live a live event

.View attachment 1320256
A bit off topic but looking at those they don't look too dissimilar from the axiom floor standers. How is it physically possible (regardless of what a spec sheet says) that something with multiple smaller drivers can play lower than a single large driver? I mean, on paper floor standers go lower than book shelf, but many floor standers claim to go as low as sub woofers with 12 inch cones. Is it BS, or all in the cabinet?!
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Put simply bass extension is all down to the amount of air you can move and that means excursion and cone area.

We see lots of speakers now with more cone excursion and larger magnets so that the driver can handle more power. This gives greater bass output, so a smaller driver does the job of a larger one from 10 years back. Stack a few smaller drivers together and the increased cone area gives you the same output as 1 larger speaker.

That being said, a well tuned sub will always go deeper and louder than a conventional speaker not least because it probably has a significantly more powerful amplifier and all that power is concentrated into a limited power band.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Plus if they are active then they may have some bass shelf applied to boost bass.
 

daytona600

Active Member
8 x 9inch drivers per side with 8x400wpc amps probably same as output as twin 18inchers
take it from me bass is no problem they can rearrange your internal organs
also superb speed , clarity & timing not just sheer output
 

dcjs01

Standard Member
I know plenty of people who use LS3/5a or Spendor BC1, as examples, which are BBC designs for studio monitoring.
 

T N Args

Standard Member
Sound is only flat and transparent until you use them in a room, then the room adds it's bit to the sound.
But not to the direct sound, i.e. first arrival sound, which will still sound flat and transparent, and which, Toole says, the human listener can distinguish from late-arrival energy. So, it is important to be flat and transparent in the anechoic chamber, because the mind will always appreciate that, irrespective of room contribution.
Studio monitors are designed to work in a studio environment not a sitting room so may not always be a good match for home use.
If it has an axial frequency response that is smooth, flat and extended, and has good directivity control, it will always be a good match for home use.
Also a lot of studio monitors are designed for Near Field Monitoring which also doesn't suit most home use, other than that they are fine.
A good near field monitor will never be unsuited to home use. The reason some speakers are labeled 'near field' is simply to assure buyers who need to sit close to them, that they are not going to cause problems in that usage, for example, vertical lobing is well controlled even up close, and the drivers are not so far apart that the perceived point source will not start to break up and sound like it is coming from separate bass and treble (and mid) drivers.

So, some speakers are suited to near and far field, and are usually labeled 'near field' to distinguish them from speakers that are unsuitable for near field, and hence limited to more distant listening.
 

Julian Stevens

Well-known Member
As noted above, studio monitors are designed to be ruthlessly accurate and revealing in studio environments and aren't necessarily what you'd find at all comfortable for long term listening at home with an infinitely wide variety of recordings monitored and mastered in different studios. For that reason, designers of speakers for the domestic market usually tune in a bit of warmth in the upper registers. Speakers with a dead flat frequency response may, in a totally uncoloured listening environment, be accurate, but they're also a lot less easy on the ears.

I have a pair of PMC IB2's which are of studio heritage and, believe you me, it's taken me a long time and a lot of fine tuning to get the system sounding "right" (however you choose to define right).
 

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