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  • Sizing an NFM speaker for a room?

    Hey all,

    There have been quite a few threads about monitoring lately, and I figured I would ask a question of my own.

    Does it make sense to size an NFM for a room? In other words, if a room is smaller, would a studio be better suited with a smaller NFM?

    I have Event PS-8's in my studio (a powered 2-way monitor with 8" drivers), and I have the input trims set all the way down, and even then I have to pull back on the master faders in my Hammerfall control panel to achieve a reasonable sound level. I like to mix softly, and frankly the speakers put out a lot of power for what I need.

    I would think speakers perform optimally within a certain power and output range, and if I'm constantly pulling the power down, I'm not sure that I'm hitting the sweet spot.

    I'd like to get new speakers at some point, and maybe a 6" driver is a better fit than an 8".

    Input is appreciated. Thanks in advance.





    144 dB
    Just Finished: Two Button Press
    Working on: Condensation, The Jupiter Bluff
    Main Axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurzweil PC361

  • #2
    Originally posted by 144dB View Post
    Does it make sense to size an NFM for a room? In other words, if a room is smaller, would a studio be better suited with a smaller NFM?
    Usually the size of the room determines how much space you have for the speakers. If they're too big for the room, you won't be able to place them properly. They'll either be too close to walls or too close to you in your normal working position. Either will not sound like the designer intended for the speaker to sound.

    I have Event PS-8's in my studio (a powered 2-way monitor with 8" drivers), and I have the input trims set all the way down, and even then I have to pull back on the master faders in my Hammerfall control panel to achieve a reasonable sound level. I like to mix softly, and frankly the speakers put out a lot of power for what I need.

    I would think speakers perform optimally within a certain power and output range, and if I'm constantly pulling the power down, I'm not sure that I'm hitting the sweet spot.
    That has nothing to do with the physical size of the speakers, it's all about gain structure. It's been a long time since I've seen Event PS-8s, but as I recall that for its day, was a very good speaker in the project studio price range. The speaker and amplifier are nicely matched and there's no particular "sweet spot" for the signal level feeding the speakers. There's nothing wrong with turning the input level down to get them to a comfortable level.

    But there are a couple of considerations. If you're listening at an unusually low sound level, you could be missing something in the mix, but that's a function of how you hear, not the signal level feeding the speakers. And if the only place they'll fit puts them so close to you that you have to turn them down, they won't have enough space to fully develop their sound.

    I'd like to get new speakers at some point, and maybe a 6" driver is a better fit than an 8".
    If you have the space, there's no reason not to use a larger speaker. There are many companies that make a series of speakers that are pretty much the same with exception of the size of the woofer. The main difference among them is what's usually called "bass extension" or, in plain language, the lowest frequency that it will reproduce accurately. If you're mixing music with a healthy bass content, you need speakers that will let you hear it.
    --
    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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    • #3
      Correct me if I'm wrong; I was under the impression that the idea behind NFMs was that you could be close enough to the speakers so the level would be low enough that it wouldn't excite acoustic standing waves in the room.

      >>>I have Event PS-8's in my studio (a powered 2-way monitor with 8" drivers), and I have the input trims set all the way down, and even then I have to pull back on the master faders in my Hammerfall control panel to achieve a reasonable sound level.

      If it is a really small room, such as the OP suggests, maybe it would be better to add acoustic treatment than to replace speakers, which is a different (and superior) way of avoiding standing wave problems.

      Comment


      • #4
        I can't see how it could make any difference (given reasonable the same sized speakers).

        Acoustics are based on distances and wavelengths and 100 Hz form a small box is the same as from a big box. So unless you are talking abut the difference between Auratones and A7's I wouldn't worry about it much.
        Don Boomer

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        • #5
          Originally posted by philboking View Post
          Correct me if I'm wrong; I was under the impression that the idea behind NFMs was that you could be close enough to the speakers so the level would be low enough that it wouldn't excite acoustic standing waves in the room.
          The principle isn't about loudness, it's about placement. Loud or soft, at any given point in the room, you get the same proportion between direct and reflected sound. It's about trigonometry.

          The idea behind NFMs is not that they're closer to your ears, but rather that they're further from the walls. This makes the direct sound arrive enough sooner than the reflected sound (which, incidentally, will be quieter due to the longer path length) so you'll have less interference.
          --
          "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
          Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey all,

            Thanks for the replies.

            Space isn't a concern. The difference in cabinet size is pretty minimal between a 6" driver and an 8" driver. The room itself is 14' x 11' with a 7.5' ceiling.

            I've also got plenty of acoustic treatment in the room, as the photos below show. There are a total of twenty 4'x2' broadband traps in that room. Most of them are six inches of Owens Corning 703 on a wood frame with Guilford of Maine Fabric, but I also have a handful of Real Traps (those are Mondo traps and 2'x2' MiniTraps in the corners). The ceiling cloud uses 4"-thick absorbers (Owens 703 with GoM fabric). The monitors themselves sit on QuikLok stands that were filled to the brim with BBs (about 60 to 70 lbs. per stand), and I also have Primacoustic recoil stabilizers under the monitors. I always lay-out my home studios to make the listening area obstruction-free (similar to how Bob Katz lays-out his rooms). My keyboards and computer are at the rear of the room, and when I monitor, there is nothing between me and the speakers. It theoretically reduces comb filtering and unwanted reflections, and I've become accustomed to working this way.

            The Events were the best speaker I could afford at the time, but one day I would like to upgrade to Focals, ADAMs, Genelecs, or even Mackies. In a year or two, I'm going to renovate my basement, which will become my new work area (much larger than 14' x 11'). Even with trapping, it's very difficult to get the bottom end right in a home studio.

            Thanks again.
            144 dB
            Just Finished: Two Button Press
            Working on: Condensation, The Jupiter Bluff
            Main Axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurzweil PC361

            Comment


            • #7
              Get them farther from the walls, if possible. Ideally, closer to your head than to the walls. The higher the ratio of shortest reflected distance to direct distance, the better. The baffles reduce this but don't eliminate it, but since they don't treat all frequencies the same, it might be even more important to maximize that ratio.

              At least you don't have them against the walls! I can't count the number of times I've seen someone post a picture of a lovely studio with lots of expensive gear that everyone drools over, but with the monitors against the wall!

              Mike's posts are totally on-point. However, I've posted before about the advantages of doing most of your mixing at (relatively) low levels:
              1) It reduces ear fatigue, so you need fewer ear-rest breaks
              2) It forces you to make hard choices: making sure all important elements are audible even at low levels.

              Of course, periodic checks at high levels are necessary; as Mike says, there may be nasty stuff in there that you just don't notice at lower levels. I like to crank it up just before a break or calling it quits for the day, partly because it's just plain fun!

              Bob Katz recommends calibrating your studio to a standard; he recommends the time-tested Dolby standard recommended for movies, 83 dB SPL(C). That's a great idea, since you minimize the impact of fletcher-munson without having to resort to loudness compensation. That's not what I'd call "soft" but it's also not terribly loud. I confess I've never calibrated, but I would if I was setting up a studio half as nice as yours.

              In any case, I doubt speaker size is a big issue other than the obvious one of having space to put them, which you have. It's more important to make sure that subwoofers are well-matched.
              learjeff.net

              Comment


              • #8
                I tried the Bob Katz calibration and found it too loud for the music I work with, but if I was listening to pop music, it was OK. But then, Bob masters some of the same kind of music I work with, so maybe he's just used to it. He does good work however he does it.

                I worked with an engineer once who used the term "Kentucky voicing" which was to set the monitor level to where it's comfortable and then leave it there, don't go turning it up or down. The idea is that once you get accustomed to a certain listening level, changing the level gives you a different frequency balance that can throw you off. He didn't know why "Kentucky" - that was what someone else told him. Or maybe it was Tennessee (Nashville?) and someone got the state wrong.
                --
                "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 144dB View Post
                  Hey all,

                  There have been quite a few threads about monitoring lately, and I figured I would ask a question of my own.

                  Does it make sense to size an NFM for a room? In other words, if a room is smaller, would a studio be better suited with a smaller NFM?

                  I have Event PS-8's in my studio (a powered 2-way monitor with 8" drivers), and I have the input trims set all the way down, and even then I have to pull back on the master faders in my Hammerfall control panel to achieve a reasonable sound level. I like to mix softly, and frankly the speakers put out a lot of power for what I need.

                  I would think speakers perform optimally within a certain power and output range, and if I'm constantly pulling the power down, I'm not sure that I'm hitting the sweet spot.

                  I'd like to get new speakers at some point, and maybe a 6" driver is a better fit than an 8".

                  Input is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
                  I had 8" Mackie NF monitors for years… the bass was never right. In 2011, I decided to try the Equator D5s. The moment I listened to something through them, I put the Mackies aside and never touched them ever again. I think the room had a lot to do with the loose low end. The room I`m in is a bit awkward in shape, its not a square, its not a rectangle…. its a rectangle with a cut out in it… my studio is in the cut out portion of the room. So those low end notes were always bouncing around in weird ways. Now with the smaller NFs, my mixes come together a lot better/easier.







                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post

                    The principle isn't about loudness, it's about placement. Loud or soft, at any given point in the room, you get the same proportion between direct and reflected sound. It's about trigonometry.

                    The idea behind NFMs is not that they're closer to your ears, but rather that they're further from the walls. This makes the direct sound arrive enough sooner than the reflected sound (which, incidentally, will be quieter due to the longer path length) so you'll have less interference.
                    So... if I understand your response, you're saying that if you put your head in an equilateral triangle with the speakers 1 foot apart, and your head 1 foot from both speakers, you'd get the same mix of direct vs reflected sound than if you put the speakers 10 feet apart, with your head 10 feet from each speaker? And that the loudness level needed to get 80 dB at your ears in both situations would cause exactly the same proportions of direct to reflected sound at the point where you are listening?
                    If I misunderstood what you said please clarify and elucidate.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      NO, I didn't say that at all. It might be close to that if you were in an anechoic space, but when it comes to real world acoustic acoustics, nothing is "the same as"

                      Think about it. When you're in a room that's 10 feet wide and you have your speakers 10 feet apart and 10 feet from your ears, reflections are going to be nearly as loud at your ears as the direct sound. Move the speakers so they're 1 foot apart and 1 foot from your ears, turn down the level so that you have the same level at your ears, and it will be nearly all direct sound. These won't sound the same.

                      You might have been thrown off by "Loud or soft, at any given point in the room, you get the same proportion between direct and reflected sound." What I meant by that at any position where you measure direct and reflected sound, assuming that you could, that ratio would be the same, changing the level doesn't change the ratio of direct to reflected sound. That's determined only by the relative position of the speaker, the reflecting surface(s), and the measurement point.

                      The idea of near field monitors is that by putting them close to the measurement point, and (given that we're in a real room and we have a pretty symmetrical setup)) further from the walls, the ratio of direct to reflected sound will be greater, and at any volume, that ratio will stay constant.

                      So the idea is not simply that you can turn down the monitors, you can turn them down because they're closer to your ears. Since that will hopefully put them further from reflective surfaces, you're ahead of the game. .
                      Last edited by MikeRivers; 01-12-2015, 07:12 AM. Reason: A thousand more words is worth a picture, which I didn't feel like drawing and posting
                      --
                      "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                      Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for clarifying. I agree completely.

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