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samal50

studio monitors, does size matter or specs beat size anytime?

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I've been looking into the Presonus Eris E35 3" Active Powered Studio Monitors and the Mackie CR-Series studio monitors to compare to what I have (the Alesis M1Active 320, which also has a 3" woofer). Do these all sound the same? Should I experiment with other speaker sizes? I also have the Tapco S5, which is a 5". From what I understand going bigger doesn't necessarily mean better so just how many speaker sizes do exist out there? As for music, I've seen anywhere from 1" to 15" speaker sizes. I want to use a studio monitor to mixdown EDM tracks, which I think requires a lot of bass or low frequency capabilities. Any suggestion what specs to look for or it all comes down to a separate subwoofer in combination with the studio monitors?

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If you're doing EDM I'd recommend at least a 5" plus subwoofers, or an 8". It depends a bit on the room size; but I assume you're considering near-field monitors.

 

Specs matter a little. If you like to listen loud, get something that can handle the volume. Freq response data is not readily available for most speakers; however the biggest limitation will probably be how well done the acoustical treatment of your room is. Every dollar you spend there will save you 5 or 10 dollars on speakers, for a given result... Especially if you have a small room. Here's a good place to start on that:

 

http://ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html

Edited by philboking

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I think I read a review of the Tapco S5 that it can't handle EDM mixes due to it not having enough low end (I must have interpreted what was said differently). Then again, I assume the low end should come from a sub, not the studio monitors.

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I've been looking into the Presonus Eris E35 3" Active Powered Studio Monitors and the Mackie CR-Series studio monitors to compare to what I have (the Alesis M1Active 320' date=' which also has a 3" woofer). Do these all sound the same?[/quote']

 

No. No two monitors of different design sound alike. They will all have similar deficiencies, however.

 

Should I experiment with other speaker sizes? I also have the Tapco S5, which is a 5". From what I understand going bigger doesn't necessarily mean better so just how many speaker sizes do exist out there? As for music, I've seen anywhere from 1" to 15" speaker sizes. I want to use a studio monitor to mixdown EDM tracks

 

The larger the cone area, the more air it will move and the lower frequencies it will reproduce. But a large diameter cone won't reproduce high frequencies, which is why most "full range" speaker systems use two or more speakers (which, in this context, are usually called drivers). However, when it comes to EDM or any other musical style which has a lot of low frequency content, you won't hear that accurately with any speaker smaller than 12" or some very specialized 7-8" speakers.

 

Assuming that what you're looking at is a function of your budget, rather than buy a new smaller full range speaker system, augment your Alesis speakers with a subwoofer. The Polk PSW10 and Monoprice 12" 150 watt models are both (just barely) under $100 have good reviews in that price range.

 

But - and there's always a "but" - the thing related to realistic low frequency monitoring that's most important and hardest to deal with is the room itself. Sound reflections between walls, floor, and ceiling can have a huge effect on what you're hearing down below 150 Hz or so. You can get a huge boost at certain frequencies and a huge null at other frequencies that will affect what you're hearing and how you mix. If you want to mix music that depends on the low frequency range, no matter what size speakers you have, you need to carefully position the speakers relative to the room surfaces and your listening position, and find reflection points and treat them with sound absorbent materials. If you just stick speakers in a room, unless it's a really large room, you won't have a good idea of what the lows will sound like in other spaces.

 

So, what I'd suggest is:

 

1. Add a subwoofer to your present speaker system

2. Optimize the room

3. Then, after mixing some projects, consider upgrading your main speakers. For a while, your Alesis speakers will handle the midrange and vocals adequately once you get the hang of what they sound like.

 

 

 

 

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I've been looking into the Presonus Eris E35 3" Active Powered Studio Monitors and the Mackie CR-Series studio monitors to compare to what I have (the Alesis M1Active 320' date=' which also has a 3" woofer). Do these all sound the same?[/quote']

 

Short answer? No, they don't.

 

Should I experiment with other speaker sizes? I also have the Tapco S5, which is a 5". From what I understand going bigger doesn't necessarily mean better so just how many speaker sizes do exist out there?

 

All things being equal (which they very rarely are) larger speakers and larger cabinets will tend to give you better bass extension.

 

3" monitors are nearly unheard-of in pro studios beyond monitors used to simulate what playback will sound like on bandwidth-limited consumer systems.

 

Studio monitors with 5" bass drivers are about the smallest that will usually be able to give you useful amounts of bass. Monitors with 6" and 6.5" woofers are fairly common. Monitors with 7" and 8" bass drivers are very common and some of the larger "nearfield" type monitors. Moving up from there, you will find some nearfields with 10" and even 12" bass drivers, but usually speakers with drivers in that size range are designed for midfield use - in other words, spaced and positioned further away from you than the typical 3-4' nearfield equilateral triangle arrangement. Monitors with 15" and even 18" drivers exist, but those are typically designed into wall soffit-mounted studio "mains" speakers.

 

As for music, I've seen anywhere from 1" to 15" speaker sizes. I want to use a studio monitor to mixdown EDM tracks, which I think requires a lot of bass or low frequency capabilities. Any suggestion what specs to look for or it all comes down to a separate subwoofer in combination with the studio monitors?

 

You can go with a sub, but depending on your room, what you're doing, and what other speakers you're using, you may not really need one. The best sub to get will depend on the main monitors as well as the size of your room.

 

Can you please tell me more about what types of music you tend to work on, as well as your approximate budget, and the approximate size / dimensions of your room?

 

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Most likely you won't be able to do or afford these three things that pro studios do as a matter of course:

 

1. treat the monitoring room for sound control, particularly for controlling bass resonances so you can actually hear what's coming out of the speakers without a host of distortions caused by the room itself.

 

2. spend $1500 - $5000 for a pair of quality nearfield monitors with at least 8" woofer.

 

3. or spend at least $1000 for a decent sub and go with 5" nearfield woofers.

 

But don't despair - all of us home-studio types are typically in the same boat. There are workarounds - here are some suggestions:

 

Get a good pair of headphones, such as the Sony MDR-7506 model, which sells for around $100 and specs out at the low end at 10hz.

 

Use a decent spectrum analyzer and simply look at the bass content. You will see things you're not hearing unless you have a super expensive monitoring setup. You might already have one in your DAW. And there are lots of free ones like Voxengo SPAN you can just download.

 

Take your mixes around and play them back on a variety of systems - in cars, through friend's systems, a boombox, the TV setup, even take one to a hi-end stereo place and ask to check out a big-bass system using your own CD.

 

Post your music on some place like Soundcloud, get the word out and ask people to comment on the mix, particularly on the bass. You can do this on Harmony Central - see Phil's "In The Studio Trenches" sticky thread "is your recording/mix any good? Find out here!"

 

Use your MIDI and synth chops to produce basslines with very steady volume and transient control. Again, look at the spectrum analyzer to see what you can't hear.

 

Bass is the trickiest part of almost any mix, believe me. Others will verify this. Take your time, learn as much as you can, you'll get the hang of it over time.

 

nat

 

 

 

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Great advice here (and prior posts, of course). One thing about Voxengo - it defaults to a slope of 4.5 dB/octave. If you use it, be sure to set it to 3dB (the slope of pink noise) and save it as the default preset. Otherwise your mixes will be bass-heavy on other systems.

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Music would be EDM (and others as well).

 

Budget varies.

 

I do have the Polk PSW111 sub.

 

The room is under 500 SQF or maybe smaller. High ceiling, cathedral windows type.

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am I going to be looking for levels of the bass at the spectrum analyzer?

Edited by samal50

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Is the room acoustically treated? Any significant modal issues - IOW, does the bass disappear on certain notes or go off like a cannon on certain low notes and at certain locations within the room?

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What are the actual room dimensions? Based on that, I can figure out what sort of low frequency room modes you're probably going to be dealing with...

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No, they're not recommending that you mix based on what the screen is telling you (although a spectrum analyzer can be helpful to reference occasionally), but that you should analyze the room to get an idea of how it's influencing what you hear.

 

Just adding a sub to a room with a lot of low frequency issues can cause more problems than it solves. Low frequency room modes - which all rooms have - can reinforce some frequencies while canceling out others. A well-designed room will have good dimensional ratios (L x W x H) that will spread those modes out more evenly, and it will have fewer modes that "stack up" at the same frequencies due to room dimensions that are the same, or troublesome ratios of the same dimensions. Acoustically, the worst thing you can have is a square room that is the same height, width and length, because all of the modes will be stacked, with large gaps in between. That will cause certain bass notes to go off like crazy, while others will basically disappear, making accurate low frequency monitoring next to impossible unless you use some of the work-arounds (headphones, listening on a variety of playback systems in other locations, etc. etc.) that Nat mentioned.

 

Without knowing the actual layout and dimensions of your room, and what it's made of (plasterboard, drywall, brick, etc.) and what acoustical treatment is in place (if any), it's really hard to give you good, useful advice on how to best optimize your monitoring environment - especially when it comes to the low frequencies.

 

 

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I see. My room isn't all the same size, it actually varies. I'd say it's rectangular-ish, some area have 15' ceiling or higher, others 12' then 10', etc. in less than 500 SQ FT.

 

Just wondering if I were to daisy chain studio monitors would that give different outcome or just volume power?

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I have the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO.

 

If you so choose you can use those to verify bass content and dispense with the monitoring subs. You'll still need at least one sub for live.

 

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The Tascam VL-S5 Powered Studio Monitor described itself as :

 

"The high-quality Kevlar driver allows TASCAM to set the crossover higher without distortion for truer reproduction of rock, hip hop, EDM, acoustic, or any other music genre."

 

It's going for $80 brand new. It is certainly lighter than my Tapco S5. It's only about 12 pounds:

 

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Tascam/V...#productDetail

 

I'm surprised studio monitors these days have gotten cheaper. When I bought my Tapco S5 when it first came out I think it was $300 and it weighed a ton!

 

I guess my Tapco S5 doesn't have the Kevlar driver, huh?

 

I might trade it in for the Tascam.

Edited by samal50

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