Speaker Preferences


#1

I have a pair of Focal CMS 40s that I am fond of. Perhaps they could benefit from a sub.

I’m thinking about going quadrophonic. Should I just get another pair of the same speakers? Or I could repurpose the Focals elsewhere and consider 4 new speakers.

What speakers are you using? Are they powered or do you also have an amp and/or other gear in front of them? Do you use a subwoofer?

I’m thinking here about studio use obviously, but I suppose it’d be nice if my setup were portable for performance opportunities in places that do not have sound systems.


#2

After working on a pair of Focal Solo6 monitors for a couple years, I took a chance on a pair of Sonodyne SRP 400’s and am glad I did. I feel the clarity, detail, and balance of these monitors is easier to work on and they perform far beyond their price tag. I also bought the 10" subs, which cost a lot more, and made a poor man’s Guzauski Swist.

For me, the Sonodyne SRP 400’s were what I had wanted out of near-fields in the $3K price range, but at 1/4 of the price (not including subs). Since then, the Amphion line has came out and I would like to compare the 400’s to the One12’s.

Someday, when I have a well designed and acoustically treated room, the next step will hopefully be something like a pair of ATC SCM45A’s. but until then, there is no point in spending thousands more for speakers when the room treatment is the weak link. I also really want to audition a pair of those new Kii monitors.

So I highly recommend auditioning some SRP 400’s, but they may not be loud enough for quadraphonic performances. I’ve heard good things about the 800’s, which would certainly be loud enough, but I haven’t used them so I don’t know.


#3

i’m using genelec 8320 apm. probably buying a second pair for quad soon …


#4

I have a pair of JBL LSR305s


#5

highly recommend Neumann KH series. I’m using a pair of KH120A and they are very objective, and loud… No subwoofer since my home studio is a bit small and the sub is enough for me. I also use a shitty mono bluetooth amp to test phase problems when mixing, this one is super useful. Most of the time if the track sounds good on that mono amp it sounds good on pairs too!


#6

I have a pair of Focal CMS 50s that I love. Unfortunately I’m in an untreated room in a loft style apartment so my mixes do not translate at all. I do not have a sub as that would probably get me in trouble.

If you’re in a treated room I think adding 2 more CMS 40s would sound great. You would definitely benefit from a sub with speakers that small.


#7

Room treatment is a subject that just leaves me flummoxed. I’m just completely ignorant about it. How would someone start to wrap their head around what makes for good/bad room treatment?

The room where I play is probably acoustically terrible. The right wall is dominated by a sliding glass door. The left wall has the room door and a large closet. The back wall is dominated by a library card catalog that we use for the farm’s seed saving efforts, but also has a door leading to a bathroom, which has an additional door on its opposite wall. Both internal doors are usually open. The music gear is arrayed along the front wall. It’s a small room. About 10’ x 13’.


#8

You can get kits to seal the doors for about $150 a pop. You treat the rooms “professionally” with Owens corning 703 fiberglass insulation panels that you wrap up in fabric. The standard size is 4’x2’, but really you can make and or order them in any arrangement. You want these to ideally be 4" off the walls. The exact distance off the walls and thickness of the insulation determine what frequencies are absorbed.

Here are some basic tips.
You can use heavy theatre curtains for the glass door (probably the cheapest option). You want to start with bass traps 4" thick panels.Put these in every corner up to the ceiling. You also put one panel in the right angle between the wall you face when you mix and the ceiling. Behind you you ideally want a diffuser. A bookshelf or even the card catalog you mentioned works well. Diffursers are the most expensive, overpriced, and difficult to make things. In front of you at mix position you want one 4x2x2" think panel behind each monitor. You then want a few panels along the left and right side walls. How many depends on what issues you have with the room, and how dry you want it to be. Last would be to hang some 1" panels off 6" off the ceiling, covering about half the surface area ceiling. All the distances off the walls for everything are ideal. In the end you do the most you can given the room. The space is important as the sound punces off the walls and gets absorbed twice.

This is a general setup I would advise. I built panels for this setup for about $500. I made wooden frames, bought the fiberglass (you will most likely have to do that at a special insulation retailer), and wrapped it in 100% polyester cloth. The polyester is more fireproof than cotton as it just melts instead of catching fire. You can buy specific cloth made for sound transparency and that are fire rated but it will nearly double the cost of making the panels.

You can find videos about hot to build these panels on youtube.

I honestly never want to work with the fiberglass again. There’s a company here in Seattle that makes insulation for room treatment out of recycled denim. Rockwool is also an option. I would use that. And instead of making would frames, I would use those long right angle cardboard pieces you get in packages. And wrap everything in polyester just the same as before. I haven’t yet tried this method, but I think it would be so much easier.

In the end you really want to treat problems in your specific rooms. If anything do the bass traps and panels behind your monitors. Unless you are in a room of at lease 30’ you have bass problems because the bass waveforms never finish their cycles before hitting a wall. This is assuming you are going to be recording and mixing in you space. For a jam space u can get away with less. In my jamspace right now, there is just a 1" thick piece of rockwool about 4’ tall wrapped around the entirety of the room and 4 panels up higher one on each wall. That will make the room less live. But it doesn’t really treat the room.

To fully tread the room, you use the room dimensions to find you standing waves and go from there. You then adjust where the panels are and how far they are off the wall to fix certain frequencies. then you get a measurement mic and some software. You then blast the room with pink noise and sinewave sweeps and get your frequency response. getting a good mic and the measuremt sofware sets you back at least a few hundred on the cheap side.

There are also the monitor controllers by JBL and stuff that come with mics and some software, it then EQ’s the speakers to fix the problem with you room. A lot of studios use a physical treatment setup in conjunction with this, for a mixing room. A live room (the recording room) just has to be treated properly. If you have the two rooms in one, just treat it physically.

If you buy door kits, panels, curtains, etc… You can treat the room for <$1000. IMO better than any piece of gear or software you could buy for mixing/recording at that price. I’d rather have a treated room with an SM57 recording to a portastudio. .

This book helped me a lot: http://www.amazon.com/Build-Budget-Recording-Studio-Scratch/dp/0071782710

It goes more in depth about soundproofing as well which is a completely different beast. I would recommend starting with high density vinyl sheets and door kits for cheaper soundproofing options.

Owens corning has some great info about acoustic treatment on their site.
http://commercial.owenscorning.com/products/pipe/fiberglas-700-series-insulation/

Here’s some good instructions I was going to use to build quality diffusers out of bamboo. I ended up moving though.


Studio treatment
#9

oh yeah that foam you can buy at guitar center sux. Overprice garbage. Really only good for things like treating flutter echos.


#10

Thanks @Tyelr, very helpful advice!

My wife will be sad if I keep the doors shut all the time, but I’m sure she’d understand if it happened on occasion.

I’m going to prioritize at least some minimal treatment over any more speakers. Just bought the book you recommended.


#11

A lot of you guys have really good monitors

A sub would be good. Like @analoguejunkie said your woofers are pretty small you are likely missing lowend info. If you want other speakers get something bigger like 8" woofers. You don’t necessarily need a sub anymore if you do that. You only need a sub, if your music really focuses on low end or if you plan on playing out on big systems and want to hear a better representation of how they will handle your lows.

I have Yamaha HS50’s, because I like the philosophy behind mixing on NS-10’s. I will buy NS-10’s eventually and use a separate amp. These “remakes” are a bit noisy. I believe it is probably due to cheap amps. In my case a sub is ideal because my monitors only go down to 55hz. Yours go down to 60hz. You are missing at least one octave of sub.

Focals are good. Especially their higher end stuff…

If you like your monitors, I would say stick with them. After you treat the room, you will hear closer to what they actually sound like.

Why is everyone so interested in running a quadraphonic system? Why not just buy an extra speaker on top of that and a sub then run 5.1?

I would rather have 2 separate pairs of monitors and at least 1 sub. that way you can compare.

Near field monitors are not suited for playing out very well. You will have “bad” coverage. Maybe just get a sub for what you have and a pair of speakers and an amp for playing out.


#12

I agree it doesn’t make any sense to take these near fields out.

As for “why quads?”… Perhaps no especially good reason, but there’s always “because we can”.


#13

Certainly you can relate. . . When making a recording, a performance is the most important component, followed by the space the recording is made in. Microphones and preamplifiers, though important, play a secondary role to performance and room acoustics. Never have I come home from a location recording gig wishing I’d chosen a different preamplifier. The shortcomings are always in the room sound and (hopefully not) in the performance.

Similarly, your monitoring chain is only as good as your room. Bass traps, treating room modes, and hopefully diffusion for higher frequencies, will have a bigger impact on what you hear than the brand of monitoring speakers (were talking about similar price ranges here). Still, monitor choice is personal yet critical. Auditioning a few worthy candidates in your own studio is always the best option. The more the room sound comes into play (mains as opposed to nearfields) the more important acoustic treatment becomes.

Most of us, especially we who live in expensive cities, use nearfields in smallish rooms and hope to someday have a well treated, good sized room in which to put some nice mains. Someday!


#14

Some very good advice here @Tyelr and @christopher_wilson. My main goal, once I’m somewhere I know I’ll be for a few years, is to get some bass traps for the corners, a few broadband panels to go behind my speakers and above my desk (and anywhere else they need to go depending on the room), and a skyline diffuser for the rear of the room.

This is a good site for moderately priced treatment: http://www.gikacoustics.com/

For now I’ll stick with having my music mixed in a professional studio so I can focus on the music and not have to deal with mixing in my problematic room.


#15

rockwool panels are very cheap considering how effective they are. i bought a pack of both 2’x4’ rockwool panels and wooden frames from acoustimac and they shipped them all put together, which was nice. covered them with cacao bean bags from a friend’s chocolate factory. super easy and cheap.

https://www.acoustimac.com/acoustic-insulation-materials/acoustic-insulation/mineral-wool-acoustic-insulation


#16

i really like using amplifiers for their ease of setup and portability. been very curious about this … anyone ever tried it? reviews seem very positive, but i wonder how useful it would be for modular synth use.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Spacestation3?adpos=1o1&creative=55670685481&device=m&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=CLr-lN6R4csCFcYfhgod3OcG0g


#17

I use Focals as well. But, primarily for mixing - they have a very flat, transparent sound. For listening to records they don’t sound nearly as good as my stereo setup. I don’t understand why you would want to set up a quad set-up - where would you even be able to play quad mixes other than a custom setup?


#18

Genelec 8030s in my studio.

I used to have Focal Twins, but had to sell them because the high end was driving me crazy. I swear there was something weird with tweeters on those monitors, and they were emitting a constant super high hiss, and the high end was so harsh on those for my ears that just drove me nuts.
Super happy with the Genelecs and once I got those, my search for perfect studio monitors was over.


#19

I do a lot of work as a studio engineer and have my own small home studio too, were i do my music and stuff for commercials. I currently own Unity Audio’s The Rock MKII and have to say they’re the best speakers i’ve ever owned. I even bring them to some studios when i don’t feel confident of what i’m hearing. They go really low (they claim 38Hz…) plus they deliver the same response at lower levels, that’s something very important for me because i don’t like to work at very high SPLs, specially when working for long periods.
That being said, i agree with all of the above stated about room treatment.


#20

Using a pair of good old genelec 1029A here, without a sub (i check low frequencies on appropriate headphones).
If I were to replace them, i would go either with genelec 8020 or focal cms 40.
In your case, i would just buy another pair of cms40.
As for performing in places without sound systems, well, make the place rent (or pay for the rent of) what is needed.