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Monitors for classical and jazz mastering

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by stax, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. stax

    stax Active Member

    Dear friends,
    I've taken the decision to change my main monitoring system but I don't really know what to do.
    Actually I'm using a very high quality italian passive loudspeakers set but the results are not good because I'm working in a small room and the speakers are very near a wall, on a desk, one is in a corner: the placement is completely wrong for this kind of speakers. The results are excessive bass, I could correct them with a equalizer but I really don't like all this digital dsq available today (I prefer not converting too much my waves...) and a really good passive eq is too expensive for my budget.
    I mainly record, mix and master classical (mostly small ensembles and solo music) and jazz music.
    My choice is between two brands, Klein+Hummel and Focal Professional, both active because in this way I think I can correct a little my acoustic. I'd like to attach the speakers on the wall, in fron of me and my listening point will be only 1 meter or less far from the front speakers baffle.
    Unfortunately here in my city is quite impossible to listen those monitors so I'm asking you an advice: I like very much the K+H O110 (it's been said in this forum that is very flat and natural) but on Pro Audio Review the Focal CMS50 got a slightly better review than the K+H. Last I also really like the Focal Solo 6BE (for their extended range 40Hz-40kHz) but they are quite deep (29 cm) compared with the O110 (19 cm) or the CMS50 (20 cm) so my listening point will be even more near the front oudspeaker baffle. And how can I put the Solo 6 on the wall? On the rear I don't see any suspension point.
    Thank you very much for your support and sorry fo this long post!
  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Hi Stax, monitoring in a small room with monitors near a mixing desk or any desk for that matter is asking for trouble.

    Bob Katz sits in a lounge type room on a couch with a wireless keyboard and mouse. The reason he does this is to get monitor radiation uncontaminated by reflecting surfaces.

    Can you organise a similar setup for yourself? I edit with headphones and then tweak mastering by listening in the lounge room.

    The other little secret is that the best monitors are dipoles, because of their lack of variation in frequency response with angle of incidence.

    Here's the good oil on it all.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I can tell you that from personal experience that if you don't have a good room no matter what speakers you chose they will not really make a difference. If you have a chance you should read this http://www.cardas.com/content.php?area=insights&content_id=41&pagestring=Listening+Room+Dimensions and this http://www.cardas.com/content.php?area=insights&content_id=26&pagestring=Room+Setup

    The information from Siegfried Linkwitz is good but applies more to home stereo than a monitoring system for recording and mastering music. There are lots of theories on how speakers and rooms should be set up and range all the way from LEDE to completely dead rooms. Here is another site that you may find interesting http://www.realtraps.com/art_room-setup.htm

    Best of luck!
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I'll echo what's already been said-
    Monitoring in a small room with speakers this close to you (especially for classical and jazz) is generally going to yield some significant issues and/or compromises.

    I have an approach similar to David's (and apparently Bob Katz) - I do critical editing either on cans or nearfields and then move to a larger space with a couch and wireless keyboard and full range, mid/far field monitors. In my case, I do use Focals, but they're from their Profile line using a B&K amp to drive them. I do absolutely LOVE the sound of the focals. They are brutally honest and perhaps the most natural sounding speaker I've ever used.

    For nearfields, I really like the Adam line. I use the A7 for a few reasons - portability (they fit into a large Pelican case so I can take them around easily), affordability and they sound great. I've really been itching to try the Focal nearfields, but where I could see a problem is with their tweeter. I chose the Profile line because it didn't use the Berylium tweeter. I found that tweeter to be so ruthless and forward (not brittle, just freightningly accurate) that even across a room, everything sounded as though it were etched in time. I couldn't imagine using that up close. The mid range though is the same between the units and that is where Focal's strengths are.

    I guess the moral of the rambling is -
    If you MUST stay in a small room with nearfields - Focals are great, but consider the Adams.

    Otherwise, consider moving to a bigger space.

  5. stax

    stax Active Member

    Dear friend,
    really thanks a lot for the wonderful feedback!
    Of course room plays a fundamental role, and I'm also starting to improve the acoustic with some bass traps and other panels as Thomas & David suggested me.
    Unfortunately, at the moment, it's impossible for me mastering with mid/far fields so I have to try to find the best acoustic compromise. I'm starting to have some nice works and I would like to have some decent results. Of course I'm not charging like a pro for those works but I'd like to get sweet music :p .
    Cucco thanks a lot for your suggestion, I'll consider the Adams, but what about the new CMS series from Focal? They don't have the beryllium tweeter so maybe are quite similar to the Profile, what do you think?
    Last question: why across the world K+H are not named a lot? Here in Europe they have a respectable name but I don't see them very much used in the studios... Maybe someone of you had a chance to listen them and give me some impressions.
    Thanks again,

  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Sorry to come to the party late. (Been away, on vacation, etc.) As I usually ask folks when considering various speakers: Have you heard the Lipinski's? They're definitely worth considering for any serious mastering room. The L-505's are great for near-field monitoring, and (if you can afford them) the 707's are better for more distant work.

    I use the Lipinski L-505's (with Sub) for nearfield, close-up detail and general mixing/mastering, and after I think I'm done, I take a mix out to my living room and listen all over again on my Focal SM8's (also with sub). Interesting to note: I haven't used headphones for mixing since I got the Lipinski's a few years ago. I used to have a pair to pop on from time to time, but have never needed them since getting the 505s.

    As always, your mileage may vary.
  7. stax

    stax Active Member

    Hi Joe, thanks for the Lipinski's advice. Those are really serious speakers, but again, placed close to a wall will give me a muddy bass... How can I correct the bass response? I think with some eq but what brand? With active monitors everything should be easier because of the possibility of lowering the bass response.
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "I think with some eq but what brand?"

    EQ won't fix it. The bass still gets reflected off the wall, but at a lower volume - your bass will still be muddy.

    Also, active monitors will make no difference. Active means they have built in amplifiers - passive means they don't.
    If you mean a set of "clever monitors" that will try to compensate for bad acoustics, that works exactly the same way as the EQ - it hides the problem.
  9. stax

    stax Active Member

    Yes I agree with you but what about this ?

    "The solution is to put the monitor next to the wall and then compensate for the acoustical loading using the bass control. "

    It sounds like the best way to place a speaker is against a wall...

    My mixing room is definitively not bad sounding but unfortunately I can't locate a better place for my monitors than against a wall
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Except that the comment regarding placing the speaker near the wall had to do with phasing/notching and not the muddy buildup of the bass frequencies. It sounds like you need to treat your room properly so that you can then place your speakers properly.
  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    You've got to think about the room and its treatments instead of trying to trick it out with EQ. That's really the last thing to do. Lipinski's are passive boxes (and for very good reason). Andrew Lipinski found that the presences of an amp inside the box compomises the sound. He could never get what he wanted out of them in terms of accuracy with an amp shoved inside. (I totally agree, which is one of many reasons why I bought them). With a few feet of heavy guage cable, there's no loss by putting the amps on the floor near the speakers instead of inside them.

    Bass traps & sonex/auralex panels are always an option, so is placement itself. You just have to experiment and find what works. I had a JBL system back in the late 70s/early 80's that was all kinds of over EQ'd (with a graphic 30 band EQ!) and other manipuation. It was awful, but we didn't know any better at the time. Decades later, you'd never catch me putting an EQ in-circuit before my amp & speakers. If you need that kind of EQ, there's something else wrong somewhere else.
  12. stax

    stax Active Member

    that's true, thank you for the suggestions, I can even try to build some diy traps and some treatments for my walls but the problem still remain: placement of the monitors near the wall
  13. stax

    stax Active Member

    DEAR Friend,
    I know this post has been idle for a while... but I'm back :) Thanks to you I made incredible improvements in the room acoustics and now I'd like to upgrade my monitors.
    What about PMC DB1S+ or TB2S+ or ATC SCM 11 or 19? Keep in mind they're placed near a damped wall (let's say 10 cm far from the wall)
    Another options could be Klein&Hummel P110 but bass extension seems not very deep.
    I mainly record classical and jazz and I'm opened to other suggestions.
    Thanks again!
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Focal, take your pick.
    Focal Professional studio monitor loudspeakers
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hey Jeremy,

    I love your interpretation "etched in time" . I'm guessing you mean it would be hard to sit this close and accurately mix with this tweeter because the sharp freq imprint almost blinds our ears? Love that "etched in time"! Could you please explain this for me?

    I see your point with the A7. Tweeter helps solve this up close. I'm looking for three different sets. I see what the buzz is all about now.

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