Studio Monitor Vs Hi-Fi Speaker

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snkumar

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Hi All,

I joined hifi-vision a few day ago. I am from Bangalore.

I started with the aim of putting together a budget music system. (speaker + amp + source). I am not interrested in the HT.

My budget would be around 50-60K.

I listen to :
60-70s rock - 40%.
ghazals/indian film music - 30%
indian classical (hindustani/carnatic) - 25%
western classical - 5% (just started)

After reading magazines and this site, i realize that the speakers and amp are more important that the source. So if the in this budget i can manage all 3 its good, but if i just manage to get speakers + amp, then also is it fine, provided i get something substantially better.

I have gone thru the threads of noobs-take (magma) and under 20 K speakers (pyscho). Found them extremely useful. Thanks a lot!.

As advised by many i have just started visting some dealers. Being a beginner in judging sound quality i do find this quite tough, hence i just go with what i feel. I have visited 3 dealers so far (Wharf, MS, Tannoy)

Now for the purpose of this post.

I went to the Tannoy dealer, to look at the F1 custom BS.

He instead demoed the Tannoy FS since the last F1 custom in stock had just been sold. The FS were good. The dealer said that the diff between the FS and the F1 custom would be the addition bass in the FS.

Next, the dealer demoed a Tannoy Studio Monitor called Reveal 6. (price 30k). They were of typical BS size.

To be frank, i found them extremely impressive, definitely better than the Tannoy FS.

Main question is:
How do the Studio Monitors compare with normal home/residential speakers (does any such clasisfication exisxt ?) ?
Atlest Tannoy's site lists separate set of products for these.

The wiki definition seem to suggest that Studio MOnitors produce sound "AS IS" and atleast as close to "as is" as possible, with possibly wider frequency ranges.
I think this seems to suggest that Studio Monitors are probably much better than normal home/residential speakers, bcos many folks in this forum often say that a key point to judge a speaker is its ability to produce music as close to the original as possible and not do any additions to it.

Is this interpretation correct ?

If yes, then why aren't such speakers not discussed/suggested in any of the forums or reviews ? Is it bcos of higher cost and hence less VFM ?

thanks
 

snkumar

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Thanks for the reply.

I noticed that the topic has been discussed before but only after i posted. Wonder why my initial search in this forum for Studio Monitor didn't reveal anything ?

Infact later i found even a posting about the Reveal 6 model itself.

sorry for generating redundant query.

thanks again.
 

Hi-Fi

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Having read the links already mentioned, here is something I could add

A perfect studio monitor is actually simply nothing more than a perfectly designed & built loudspeaker system which is suitable for studio or home hi-fi or surround use. What makes a perfectly designed loudspeaker system besides having flat frequency response and minimum distortion?
Wave guides for the hf/mf drivers to eliminate step response problems, minimize edge diffraction and provide constant directivity for proper on and off axis response
Drivers properly time aligned and phase aligned
Neutral detailed natural uncoloured sound properties with accurate properly balanced transient response (various complex technologies are needed to achieve this)
Room response controls to calibrate the loudspeaker to work in various acoustic conditions that different rooms offer
Complex and sophisticated active electronics purpose designed to achieve all the above with optimum results
Robust build quality that all good professional equipment requires to perform its intended function

All the above requirements are also vital for a perfect home hi-fi speaker system, but a lot of manufacturers dont have the capability to engineer such high technology or cannot afford to have all this high technology in their loudspeaker systems as they are too cheap to afford all that. A lot of cheap studio monitors are nothing more than ordinary normal speakers badged as studio monitors, simply to market them in the pro audio market place. A good studio monitor is not some strange device that's unsuitable for home hi-fi or surround use as many audiophiles describe them as. Many audiophiles claim all sorts of weird things about good studio monitors, but they never can explain how and why those things happen. Both studio monitors and hi-fi speakers use the same basic materials, components and principles, so its sometimes hard for people who properly understand the science of the subject to figure out why an audiophile feels that a two way Mackie studio monitor with 6 inch bass driver sounds great when you are close to it and terrible when you are far from it, but a two way B&W hi-fi speaker system with a 6 inch bass driver sounds great when you are close to it and even better when you are far from it. As more and more of these strange opinions rage on, its hard to answer them, as it all depends what is your level of understanding of the advanced science of the subject and what kind of answer satisfies you.
 
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Hi-Fi

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Your first paragraph is probably in reference to certain studio monitor brands and models. A lot of speakers sold as studio monitors are nothing more than ordinary normal speakers badged as studio monitors, simply to market them in the pro audio market place. Many of these have basic deficiencies that completely disqualify them from the studio monitor category. Even many so called 'big brand names' make budget products that have high edge diffraction and horrible off axis responses. So it depends which studio monitors you are referring to.

Tweeter / Midrange step response compensation is only done on tweeters & midranges without waveguides that sit on a flat large cabinet baffle. This is an old fashion method of designing speaker systems. Modern designs simply incorporate special waveguides coupled with select crossover points for the Hf & Mf drivers which completely do away with the Hf/Mf step response problem and there is no necessity for any compensation.

A properly designed studio monitor lacks such basic problems that are commonplace even in most high end hi-fi systems. So its strange that you think that the performance of a proper studio monitor is disappointing in a home environment. I have used top class studio monitors in my home for long and I can tell you I am anything but disappointed. Infact these days I find it very amusing to listen to expensive hi-fi systems anymore as I personally think many of them belong to the dark ages of loudspeaker technology.

For studio use, we have a pretty well-defined norm for near- and mid-field monitors: 1-2m on mixer bridge, wall or stands and 2-5m on wall or stands or in-wall, respectively. The closest thing to 'hifi' speakers in a studio would be mains, but we're talking over 10 grand a pair there.

You are right about the nearfield loudspeaker monitor mounted on the mixing console meterbridge in a studio sounding like crap. Its not necessarily because the nearfield loudspeaker monitor is bad, but by mounting it on top of the mixing console meterbridge, you are putting it in a horrible location. If you put any speaker in that location it will sound terrible. Ask someone to rest his chin on the meterbridge and speak to you and hear how different they actually sound. Actually just try putting a nice big book touching under your chin and listen to your own voice as you speak. That's what happens when you place a superb nearfield studio monitor on the mixing console meterbridge. All you get is sound reflected from the mixing console interfering with the direct sound from the speaker. The main monitors sound better simply because they are further away from the mixing console and encounter less reflections from the mixing console.
 
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nocrapman

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One can debate ad-infinitum about what setup is better, and I am by no means an expert in that area.
I did however want to comment on the OP.
To setup a good music only basic rig, you need:
- A good high quality source - other wise it will be garbage in and garbage out.
- Some good amplification.
- A good pair of speaker... ones that sound good to your ears.

For a source a good sound card, a decent CDP/ turntable or a streaming device will do.
For an amplifier, you might consider an integrated amp to start with. NAD and Cambridge has some really good bang for buck unit.
For speakers... this is where I would put the most money... as the quality of a speaker will affect the sound most. A close second will be your room acoustics.
All the best in your search!
 

Hi-Fi

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Thanks vj box & biyer, but cranky already posted those links in his initial post. Although the conclusions at the bottom of those Sound On Sound & Wikipedia articles clearly say there is no obvious split between studio monitoring loudspeakers and hi-fi home speakers, it is unlikely to convince the audiophiles! But its an interesting discussion anyway. :)
 

Hi-Fi

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I thought as much you were using Dynaudio, KRK, Quested etc. They dont use waveguides for their Hf & Mf drivers so they have the typical problems you describe. You should try out Genelec's sometime. Its quite in a different league. I had old Dynaudio BM6A's earlier, but now I have the latest Genelec DSP system which comes with a measuring and automatic calibration system. I run the digital AES/EBU output of my Lexicon RT10 disc player straight to the digital inputs on the speakers to keep the source signal path clean and short. Volume control done in the speaker (post DSP just before amplification) from the remote control GLM software. Its really something you should try out if you have the opportunity. I am sure you will change your opinion about studio monitors for home hi-fi use after that :)
 
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Hi-Fi

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BSC is a trivial issue in active speaker design. It is easy to overcome in active loudspeaker design. When you position the crossover point right in the middle of the step, the calibration level & tilt controls help adjust it perfectly to the acoustic environment the loudspeaker is placed in. So a special BSC filter is not really required in a properly designed active loudspeaker system

The Genelec DSP system comes with a diffused field measuring microphone with a supplied calibration compensation file. The GLM ( Genelec Loudspeaker Manager ) has a pseudo swept sine wave room analyser with an inbuilt automatic calibration system for the Genelec DSP active loudspeaker system. The autocal does a 'complete' calibration
Genelec Oy - AutoCal Fast, easy and consistent acoustic self-calibration

I corrected the error in my my previous post - thanks for pointing it out
 
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snkumar

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Thanks a lot for your replies.

Cranky and Hi-FI,
I could follow a very low % of your discussion, neverthelss, i think i have decided that studio monitors is definitely not what i need. Especially the point about studio monitors sounding very good near the speakers and not so good further away.

I am targeting the music system for my living room, which is a 21x12 room. Though my typical listening distance will be 12 feet i would definitely want to be able to listen even at distance of 18 feet (dining seating).

Also being the living room, its unlikely that i will have the best possible room acoustics. More the reason not to go for studio monitors.

So far i liked Wharf 9.2. Clapton's "I am Yours" sounded really great and differnet in 9.2. The Tannoy FS were also ok.

I will be going tomorrow to listen to Ushers at Arn Systems, Frazer Town. Though their web-site says that they also deal with MA (BR2) and Dali (lektor series), the person i spoke to (Mr Ali) says that they do not the have BR2 and Dali in stock. :-(.

Does anyone know of any other dealers in Bangalore for DAli and MA ? I would want to cover as much ground as possible this weekend.

Lakozy has just opened a setup in Bangalore. But they do not have a showroom yet. They agreed to demo the PSB Image 15 and 25 at my place with a NAD amplifier. I guess that is the best possible demo! Not sure if i can convince other dealers (Wharf/Ushers) to do the same.

Let's see how it goes.
 

arj

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snkumar, please do not compromise on the source. it is also an equally important link in the chain and a not so good source will only pull down the potential of the system as a whole. I would rate the source a bit more higher on the agenda and budget than even the amp
 

suri

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@snkumar - you are right re your plan not to use studio monitors. and please let us know your impressions of the speakers you are going to listen to, and then, buy.

@ all thread participants -

i suspect that owners and listeners who are besotted with the idea of using studio monitors (high-end or not) at home, are the ones who work at their computer or correspondence on a desk, and wish to listen to music while doing so. Here, in this situation, especially at low volumes and the mind on more important things, these monitors can sound good and not interfere with the thought processes of the user.

i suspect also, that such users are the norm (80% of loudpseaker owners)

For persons who listen with a view to recreate a life size (auditory) image of the original - for them, the room has to be of a specific (minimum) size,
the concerned person has to be seated at a particular position (farfield) in relation to the speakers, and the speakers must play at specific ampiltude to produce adequate SPL levels (across the frequency spectrum) in that room.

Here, studio monitors (high-end or not) just do not cut the ice.

and yes, i have listened to high-end studio monitors critically - and in the (farfield) environment described above, they just do not cut the ice.

computer users have another option - a pair of good Sennheisers, which can recreate the original auditory event in the middle of the user's head.

and pretty sure that most of those same guys who record and mix down the original event, using studio monitors, will prefer the farfield listening environment to listen to music at their respective homes - and will not use studio monitors for such purpose
 
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Hi-Fi

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Well, I hope you have a tweeter that goes down to 350 Hz :)

Moving the Lf/Mf crossover point to the middle of the step applies to three-ways, but for two-ways its a longer story. As you can see no one else really cares about this BSC discussion so lets leave it at this. :)

So well, the simple point I was trying to make was that properly designed active studio loudspeaker monitors are not as bad as many audiophiles make them out to be. Their overall design coupled with active filters and controls form a variable system response control which fixes such problems. Infact properly designed active studio loudspeaker monitors fix more problems than their home hi-fi counterparts can with their design limitations. Their overall package provides more benifits than most high end home hi-fi speakers can provide. That will determine the future trend as more and more high end home hi-fi brands choose the active route in time to come.
 
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Hi-Fi

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If you look at the data sheet of the Genelec active monitors, you will notice that they specify the free field frequency response which is flat. You cannot get a flat response in free field without baffle step compensation. It is a simple setting done in the crossover where all the compensations are done and there is no special BSC filter. It is a very basic part of the design considerations in active monitors and not some rocket science. The bass tilt control is anti-bsc which removes baffle step compensation incase the monitor needs to be flush mounted (infinite baffle). This last explanation might be food for thought if you are open to it. :)
 
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neo

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@ OP I've heard the reveal's many times & agree they sound best when the listening distance is arnd 5-6ft. However i've heard them a few times at distance of 15ft & would say that it the price it does have it's merits when compared to speakers in this price range. But would like i've not heard a whole lot of entry level spks of late, So try for a home demo & take a call for yourself.
All the best.
Cheers
 

sonosphere

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Hi H-Fi & Cranky,
Thanks for the pains taken to clarify matters known to you.

I request do continue this discussion even if majority of the forum members may not be able to understand it properly. There is a silent minority that is always reading the details (irrespective of understanding it fully/partly) and getting enlightened in process;)

Regards,
 

snkumar

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Not sure if i should continue this thread, nevertheless...

I listened to the Ushers s520 for around an hour and a half at Arn Systems., with NAD ampl and Usher CDP.

The positives:
The clarity was realy excellent, probably the best i heard amongst the the other budget speakers i heard so far (Wharf 9.1,9.2/Tannoy FS/Maudaunt Short 9.2i). The clarity was probably as good as the Tannoy Reveal.
The bass was also nice and precise. Indian classical (Mansur) also sounded really good.

The doubts and issues:
This is where i need some help and answers:
1) I listen to a lot of Beatles. I listened to "Drive My Car" on the Ushers. Clarity was great but towards the end of the song i could feel my ears were slightly hurting. I also felt the same for some Clapton songs. The speakers somehow sound bright on the treble. The studio expert (Mr Sridhar) suggested reducing the treble in the NAD ampl and on doing so i felt the speakers were more listenable. Probably Beatles songs are a bit treble heavy. But i would like to other opinions ?

2) I next heard some old songs of Lata Mangeshkar. Specifically "Aja Re Pardesi" from Madhumati. Every time Lata's voice would hit a high note, the sound was really "SHRILL", again rather ear-hurting!! Sridhar attributed this to the "mono" nature of the original recording (Vs modern stereo recordings). Since i did not listen to Lata while demoing other speakers i cannot have a reference. Maybe the volume was a bit loud... not sure.. ...Nevertheless i really would want some feedback about this :Is this really true that high notes of mono recordings do NOT sound good on stereo speakers ?

To summarize my thoughts were: The Ushers speakers are really great in clarity, the bass is also nice, I liked them a lot. But i am not sure how "listenable" they are for long hours...

I would be great to know the feedback of Psychotropic on these points, since he choose these speakers.
 
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odyssey

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Not sure if i should continue this thread, nevertheless...

I listened to the Ushers s520 for around an hour and a half at Arn Systems., with NAD ampl and Usher CDP.

The positives:
The clarity was realy excellent, probably the best i heard amongst the the other budget speakers i heard so far (Wharf 9.1,9.2/Tannoy FS/Maudaunt Short 9.2i). The clarity was probably as good as the Tannoy Reveal.
The bass was also nice and precise. Indian classical (Mansur) also sounded really good.

The doubts and issues:
This is where i need some help and answers:
1) I listen to a lot of Beatles. I listened to "Drive My Car" on the Ushers. Clarity was great but towards the end of the song i could feel my ears were slightly hurting. I also felt the same for some Clapton songs. The speakers somehow sound bright on the treble. The studio expert (Mr Sridhar) suggested reducing the treble in the NAD ampl and on doing so i felt the speakers were more listenable. Probably Beatles songs are a bit treble heavy. But i would like to other opinions ?

2) I next heard some old songs of Lata Mangeshkar. Specifically "Aja Re Pardesi" from Madhumati. Every time Lata's voice would hit a high note, the sound was really "SHRILL", again rather ear-hurting!! Sridhar attributed this to the "mono" nature of the original recording (Vs modern stereo recordings). Since i did not listen to Lata while demoing other speakers i cannot have a reference. Maybe the volume was a bit loud... not sure.. ...Nevertheless i really would want some feedback about this :Is this really true that high notes of mono recordings do NOT sound good on stereo speakers ?

To summarize my thoughts were: The Ushers speakers are really great in clarity, the bass is also nice, I liked them a lot. But i am not sure how "listenable" they are for long hours...

I would be great to know the feedback of Psychotropic on these points, since he choose these speakers.

Hi
thanks for post. Just a clarification here - I didnt (my apologies if you understand it that way) say that the shrillness has to do with the mono nature. Its a separate thing that the recording is mono, but I didnt link these two points. What we can easily do is to try the recording on other speakers to see if the result is the same. My belief is that its in the recording, otherwise the other tracks we played should all have a bit of the same sound. Psychotropic or others with S520 experience can chime in here but as you mentioned the Ushers are revealing speakers and they are showing whats in the recording.

cheers
Sridhar
 
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