Speakers and Subs: What's in YOUR wallet, er...studio?

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by JoeH, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Here's another topic for consideration.

    What are you monitoring/mixing on, and do you have a sub as well? Any favorites? (Any LEAST favorites?)

    Is there any kind of standard you work from? What about low-end, and subwoofer bass management? Do you address that at all, and if so, what is your real-world reference? (Existing recordings - Commercial or otherwise, Test CDs, etc.)

    Stereo? 5.1?
  2. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    NS-10's and Tannoy DMT-12's.
    But most importantly, a $29 Panasonic boombox.

    Adcom and Urie Power amps

  3. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    I have acoustic multitrack clients as well, so my setup has to do more than classical. That said:

    I have Mackie 824's, Sennheiser HD600s (phones), and a $59.00 Sony boombox that I know well.

    For classical, I use the HD600s for noise and rumble chasing, as well as for close, critical listening. To check mixes and spot mic levels, I spend a lot of time on the boombox- at very low volumes. I have a really quiet CR with no fans or noisemakers, and I monitor very conservatively.

    I spend VERY little time on the Mackies-- I would love some other 'large' monitors. If anyone has an extra pair of HD1's around, it might be an excellent idea for you to send them to me! Unfortunately, I do not have much money to spend right now, but on my list is much better speakers coupled with some professional room-tuning.

    Meanwhile, I am busily proving that great mixes are the result of knowing one's monitors and room very well. Even with much better monitoring, I'd still have to learn what the speakers and room are telling me.



    Oh-- I'd also happily accept a nice pair of ADAM monitors. As far as the individual model, go ahead and suprise me! 8)
  4. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    LOCATION: Tannoy 800A

    BACK HOME: B&W Matrix 801 III with Northcreek Crossovers, driven by Bryston 3B ST

  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I don't use subs here...

    My monitor chain is as follows- Benchmark DAC-1, Coleman Audio M3P passive attenuator. One output goes to my Haffler 9505 which is hooked to my Norberg Model 28's. The second output goes to a pair of Genelec 1031A's that I use as secondary reference. The Genelec's also have a set of anvil cases for them that I use for hauling them out into the field.

  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Monitoring Chain

    Z-Systems AES/EBU Router

    Benchmark DAC-1

    Bryston 4-B Power Amp

    Alon IV speakers

    Grado SR-60 Headphones plugged into the Benchmark for editing.
  7. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Nice rig Tom... Forgot to mention, I have a Z-sys router but it is only partially implemented right now because I haven't had time to make cables for it... (My deal of the century- a Z-sys 32.32r that I got for $250 :D )

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Who the hell did you mug to get that price?

    Personally, I have:
    Rotel Amplification x 5 channels, HK Amplification x 5 channels (Yukk! Soon to be upgraded - HK=Hyped Krap!)
    NHT 2.5i bi-amplified
    REL Storm Sub x-ed over at 32 Hz.

    Audix PH5s, with recently redesigned amplifier for locations.

    I just got rid of a couple pairs of mini-monitors, cuz they didn't do justice.

  9. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    I can ALMOST top that "new price vs transaction price" ratio-- I found these B&W Matrix 801 Series III ($6000 new) with Northcreek Crossovers ($1700 new) and SoundAnchors ($400 new) for a total of $1200 on eBay.

  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I'm a little surprised at not seeing many (any?) subwoofers listed.

    I admit I always avoided them (mostly due to fear of the unknown and/or "gimmicks"). But adding a home 5.1 entertainment system got me re-thinking the whole thing a few years back. (I was hearing more low-end material in my entertainment system than on my "pro" editing/mixing system...hmmm.....something had gotten out of whack here.)

    My goal was never floor shaking ultra-bass, but I do a fair amount of 5.1 mixes as well as traditional stereo, so I knew I had to upgrade my mix environment a bit. Of course, the fear is also that with all that extra bass, you may over(or under)-do it when your mixes are heard elsewhere. I began asking a lot of questions about crossover points, low end dispersion and placement, as well as listening to a lot of models.

    My first 5.1 mix (in 1998 or so) on a friend's project studio with a subwoofer in NYC was a revelation. I had mic'd & tracked it (on a prototype Studer 24bit ADAT format recorder)at the time with an idea towards 5.1, but was still pleasantly surprised what he could do for me with proper bass management and a good sub. (Suddenly my rather everyday classical/choral/orchestral recording sounded more like a big production, literally and figuratively.)

    From then on, I started thinking about 2.1 as well as 5.1. I've had a variety of models here, but finally settled on the Bag End Infrasub 12 (which I reviewed and would NOT give back!)

    What I can tell you is that occasionally what you can't hear CAN hurt you (well, your mixes, anyway)

    Again, I'm not looking for gimmicks or cheap thrills, I just want accuracy, all the way down the audible spectrum. Before the Bag End sub, I THOUGHT I knew what sub woofers could do; but the Infrasub 12 truly goes down to the lower octave- 20-40hz (and arguably down to 8 HZ as well - although I disable that option...truly not worth the power lost).

    But concert bass drums, pipe organs and double bass violins really sound quite different with all the frequencies present. (and yes, that Guitar Sub-harmonic/overtone (undertone?) issue that was discussed elsewhere here is much more obvious with a good sub.

    Since then, I've heard some startling things in commerical recordings (to be fair, a lot were done long before subs were used much at all), from plosives to footsteps and scrapes (yes, in major label recordings) as well as subway and truck/street noises from some of my own stuff. (Philadephia's Academy of Music is 100 feet away from the Broad St. Subway line, and to this day, subway rumble creeps into anything recorded there.) Without the sub, these things do creep into the mix, and rob amplifier power, cause mysterious things to happen in the rest of the mix, and even sometimes affect the "Max level" available.

    Since limiting low end content isn't as critical for making CDs as it used to be for LPs and 78s, it doesn't mean we can forget about the infrasonic material. I keep it all lined up (and tamed) nicely with the sub. After sorting out the rolloff points (and getting the subwoofer crossover point to kick in right where the mains roll off), I'm finally comfortable with mixes that I know aren't lying to me.

    I often take CD'rs out to anything and everything I can try, to check the mixes, etc. The real proof is hearing bass guitars, drums, etc. that still sound "OK" on non-subwoofer'd systems, but also open up and kick it when there IS a sub. The low end material is there with the subs, but don't sound strange without a sub present on other systems. (As long as that's what's happening with my mixes, I think I'm ok.)

    Jeremy pointed out elsewhere that it's a good idea to mix as if everyone going to hear it has the best system in the world, and will be able to hear everything....including 20-40hz. If you're on the fence at all about a sub or the need for it, give one a try. I doubt you'll be sorry.
  11. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    The reason I'm not running subs is that my B&Ws are flat to 20Hz. I confess to NOT missing the business of seamlessly adjusting the x-over shape and rate.

    The only surround project I have done was an orchestral thing for a label that demanded it. Knowing I was in over my head I planned ahead to go down and have Bob Katz master the surround (to AIT tape ass demanded by the client.) He advised doing 5.0 rather than 5.1 as the sub channel is subject to different playback gain depending on whether or not it is THX or Dolby andother factors. (I THINK that is how he explained it.) Because the .1 is usually for FX I was fine with that. The rear channels were extracted using the ZK-6 surround processor and it worked very well.

    Now that Minnetonka has made it possible to burn DVD-A, more folks will need to knwo what is happening down there, but I almost always aplly a 1st order rolloff below 30Hz. If the muck down there is being heard then the sub gain is too high. I have yet to meet the person who actually notices they have been cheated of the bottom 1/2-octave!

  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I wouldn't say "any." I mentioned above, I use a REL Subwoofer for the bottom 6 notes or so. (The NHTs are linear to 29 Hz and down -2 dB at 25 Hz - in bi-amp mode with proper acoustic treatments and placement of course)

  13. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    << I confess to NOT missing the business of seamlessly adjusting the x-over shape and rate. >>

    Good point, Rich. <G> It's tricky getting it just right, and sometimes impossible depending on room size, placement, etc. None of my speakers ever really did much below 80hz, so the sub was a nice improvement. But it wasn't until recently that I got rid of a few hotspots and resonances. Sounds like your B&W's take care of that nicely.

    << I mentioned above, I use a REL Subwoofer>>

    Oops, yeah, I missed this one, Jeremy. Which model do you have? I've seen their stuff, but haven't had the chance to hear 'em in use.

    With the mics we use and the way we record, (classical, jazz, folk, etc.) low-end stuff does creep in that we'd not be aware of otherwise. In many cases, I use my sub to make sure i've gotten rid of the gunk. (I"m often dialing in steep rolloffs below 40 hz, for example, in the software. I prefer to do it that way, and I try not to use any rolloff with the preamps when I'm recording, at least not on main pairs and other full range mics.)

    There's plenty of instances where there's no usuable (sub)low-end content anyway (solo violin, etc.) but it's good to know what's going on down there...esp if it's gotta go.

    Another question I've had for a long time is "Standards". (As in: does ANYONE adhere to 'em? ;-) ) It's rarely a problem in classical and other serious recordings, but there's a ton of things on the pop and rock side that are all over the road (subfreq content-wise) and I've found it's sometimes a mess down there.

    Long after I've setup my system to be as smooth and balanced as I can, I still come across a CD here or there that's darn near unplayable for all the deep low end stuff, with bumps and honky/squanky low end, so I have to EQ or cut the playback level (which I'd rather leave flat and KEEP it that way). I'm doing a little unofficial research on who these engineers are, and what their workflow involves, and ya know what? More than a few brag that they DONT work with subwoofers at all, (or speakers that don't go much below 60-80hz).

    Well, alrighty then. :shock:
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    I use the Storm. It's their entry level sub, but it has usable levels to well below 20 Hz. The reason I chose that particular sub is b/c it has a few REALLY cool options.

    First, it has both high and low level inputs. Second, it allows you to select between LFE in, High-level in or both. For most stuff I use the "both" option, but when I need to check an LFE mix, I switch it over to LFE only.

    Of course, I think their crossover is one of the best designed (and consequently one of the hardest to set up) on the market. Instead of being continuously variable, there are 20 steps with frequencies indicated.

    It is interesting to hear peoples work when they profess to not having used a sub or full range speakers (aka - nearfields) . The low end is ALL over the place - usually bloated and tubby. (Of course, this is probably pretty obvious.)


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