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Good Midfield Monitors under $4k?

Is there such an animal?

Not worried about nearfields... but looking for a good pair of midfields in the sub $5k range...


grant Sun, 01/28/2007 - 15:35
Perhaps I need to become a reviewer.

I was in San Francisco last summer and almost hooked up with a guy from San Jose who was going to let me hear them. But even there, the monitors were difficult to find. Everyone's advice is to never buy something unless you've tried it. But unless a person lives in New York or L.A., it can seem impossible.

I want to buy new monitors this year and I want to hear the Lipinskis.

One great potential use of the internet and forums like this could be to enable people like me to find others in their area who might own certain equipment and allow one another to audition such equipment. Perhaps even for modest fees. I'm near Denver if anyone is interested.

Yeah--the Dynaudios; I have heard the Dynaudio BM15a speakers and like them very much. But I want to see if I can find something better. What Genelecs are good in that size and price range? I heard a couple of the small Genelecs with the curvy enclosures. They sounded nice but I didn't think they were adequate for production. The BM15s, though lacking the silken sexiness of the Genelecs, I found more usable. They felt excellent in the time domain but perhaps a little less exciting in the frequency domain.

Thanks, Joe.


grant Sun, 01/28/2007 - 15:44
One more thing: Many users/reviewers of the Lipinskis have said that the Lipinskis are impressive with monoaural material. If one considers the dearth of reference to this characteristic in other loudspeaker reviews, it raises a question: Is this comment a cliché due to one or two original reviewers or are the Lipinskis that striking? And I'm not patronizing anyone. I ask sincerely and respectfully.

Member Wed, 02/17/2010 - 07:46
I personally have not heard the Lipinski's first hand by what I have read and heard they sound great , sorry for the pun , we are a studio based in London England and we use Krk's V8 series 2 , but if we had 4000$ or about 3000£ we would invest in some Adam's namely the S2.5A , but your best bet is to buy your speakers keep them for a week , use them and then send them back and try another pair . Although the Adam's are slightly cheaper £2600 you should just have a listen to them if you can . I hope you guys don't think I am biased , because of our London location , how can we be if we use KRK's I even use them at my home studio (rp8 Rockits)!

JoeH Fri, 01/26/2007 - 12:05
Yes Grant, I own a pair of L-505's and they're truly wonderful, perhaps the best imaging I've heard for that size class of speakers. The L-707 is the big version; they recommend the L-505's for 5.1 surround systems, etc. (A bit cheaper, although both spkrs are considerably expensive. I could barely afford the two I have! :roll: )

Still, their center image is not to be believed, and I love them for their accuracy and no-bs sonic detail. Not sure how has showrooms (aside from what's online), and I realize how hard it is to at least try these things out before buying. (I had them for review, and then decided I was NOT going to give them back, no matter what the cost.) They're $3k per pair, (passive boxes, btw.)

JoeH Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:07
One more thing: Many users/reviewers of the Lipinskis have said that the Lipinskis are impressive with monoaural material. If one considers the dearth of reference to this characteristic in other loudspeaker reviews, it raises a question: Is this comment a cliché due to one or two original reviewers or are the Lipinskis that striking? And I'm not patronizing anyone. I ask sincerely and respectfully.

Hello again, Grant...this is the first chance I've had to really sit down and address your queston (which I find VERY important and not in the least patronizing, etc.)

Let me tell you right up front I was a total and complete skeptic about the Lipinski's - as much as any other speaker's claims out there. At the time, I was NOT interested in yet another speaker review....gad! I get a lot of things to review, many of which I don't have time to properly consider or give their due, and I often even turn some things down. I have also gotten some gear from my contacts at MIX and hated it, offering to pass on a particular review from time to time. I am by no means as brilliantly sarcastic as someone like, Mercenary, but I do have my moments of boredom, cynicism and outright hostility to some manufacturers claims. At my age, I've seen/heard a lot, and I often take the old adage to heart: "I'm from Missouri; SHOW me!"

Secondly, once I know I'm getting something to review, from then on I will not read anyone else's published review (if it's out there already, of course.) I want my own impressions and results to be as neutral (and arguably subjective) as possible. I don't want to be listening for things that others have discovered ahead of me, and I want the experience to be as fresh and unbiased as possible. Pass or fail, the gear should stand on its own merits or flaws.

Thirdly, I knew nothing of Lipinski's ahead of time, nor of anyone else's experience with them. I'd heard of him (Andrew, the father) as an engineer, and was vaguely aware of a line of speakers coming out some day. They were untried, unknown and completely new to me when I got them, and I was highly suspicious that I was perhaps getting some kind of gussied-up "Audiophile" speakers. (I am NOT, nor ever will be what one would call and "AUDIOPHILE" - I have way too much work to do, and I do not sit around all day splitting hairs over tweaked-out $15,000 power amps, etc.).

As it the case with all of these reviews, I get nothing in the way or endorsements or incentives (other than a small fee for the 900 word submission itself), so there's no reason to make something up or suck up to the manufacturers. Other than emails or phone calls to the tech support folks at the company in review, we're not encouraged to speak with anyone else during the reviewing process.

Allllll that said, the review in Mix is pretty much how it happened. They arrived (literally) shrink wrapped in their own travel cases, with protective/insulating foam inside, and zipped-waterproofed athletic-style black bag/cases for portable use. No big ugly wasteful cardboard boxes were a curious and nice first impression, I gotta say...someone really put some effort into this packaging.

You may have already read the review in Mix

or reprinted as a PDF file at Lipinski's site here:

but I'll revisit a few key points here:

After firing them up, I put on my usual 15-20 favorite CDs, expecting a few surprises and maybe some fresh nuances to what I already knew about them all. That's when the fun started, and when I noticed something was seriously different with them. I'm not talking about serious EQ changes or radical differences in sound, I'm talking about depth of field, easy (seemingly limitless) power handling, solid stereo imaging, and details that I'd never heard before, on any of my other so-called "good" systems.

In other words, it's not so much that my mixes on previous speakers (Adam, Tannoy, KRK, JBL, etc.) were BAD or out of whack, it's just that so much detail was now available to me.....not sure if that makes sense, but it's one of the strengths of these speakers. Projects I had "in progress" also sounded better and more information was there, sonically.

Mixes created on the 505's proved to be EXTREMELY transportable (My days of remixes for clients who take the work home and find out something is too low or too loud) seem to be over as well. (Note/Caution: I mix Jazz, Classical & generally Acoustic Material on these. As always: YMMV!!!!) I have had next to ZERO remixes or complaints since switching to these speakers in early 2005.

Your original comment was about mono material and imaging. What struck me full force was how they handled any mono material WITHIN a stereo soundfield. Anything clean & dry, panned to the middle was RIGHT THERE, literally in your face, while the rest of the soundfield was in its normal, natural proper soundfield. For a while, I played a little game with my assistants and friends: I'd sit them down & put them in the sweet spot, put on a CD of Alison Kraus or Tony Bennett, and have them close their eyes before starting the track. The almost 3-D holographic effect made people laugh (or cheer) with delight. The singer (or any mono source) would seem to appear within about 1-2 feet in front of their noses, literally.

Now, my setup and mix area may be a little more high end than most, but I followed their advice (strong, solid base for the speakers to sit upon, and proper angle, spacing, etc.) and got these results almost immediately with no special tweaking or adjustment. I also use a sub with my system, so a lot of the very low end would be mono as well. (although that probably did NOT contribute much to the superb stereo/mono imaging.)

I was initially somewhat skeptical of the value of the materials used to build them (see their website), but after hearing what I'd heard, and speaking with them on the phone about design techniques and methodology, I was convinced it was no fluke. Also, I must confess something that endeared me to them right away: NO AMPS INSIDE THE BOX. Andrew himself (the owner/designer/namesake) has felt all along that sticking an amp INSIDE a sealed enclosure is a compromise, and I agree. In all of their geeky testing and calibration, the amp proved to be a detriment to getting the results they have with the 505 and 707's. (Who am "I" to argue after hearing what I heard? Besides, how big a deal IS it to run 3 or 4 feet of 12 or 10 guage wire from an amp to the speaker terminals, anyway?)

Perhaps the only downside of the 505's is their somewhat limited top-to-bottom soundfield (as opposed to the Left to right.) The sweet spot is somewhat short; you can lose a lot if you stand up too high; they are best experienced sitting down, right in the middle of the soundfield. (Which is fine for two-person work; mastering with the client present, etc.) However, if you stand up and walk away, the stereo imaging decribed above doesn't remain quite as astonishing; they become almost "Normal" - like other speakers. I keep mine right at a comfortable sitting height.

I could go on and on as most fanatics do, but you really sould simply go hear them for yourself and see if you agree. I realize I get the kind of opoportunities that few others do when gear is delivered to my studio for evaluation over time, with no risk at all on my part. You can email me privately for any more info, if you'd like.

One last point to make: Only after I'd written the review did I look around on the web to see what others thought of them, and I was shocked (and happily surprised) to see what others (including Bob Katz at Digital Domain) were saying about them - almost identical comments.

I can only add that I was bored and quite burned out with speakers and monitoring in general before I heard these. (Yes, I'll admit things had gotten stale for me up till then...) The L-505's were such a serious kick in the ass for me that they almost quite literally jump-started my interest in listening for PLEASURE again, instead of just work-related stuff.

Sorry to ramble on, but I've been thinking about your question since you posted it, and wanted to reply in depth for you.

Cheers, and good luck in your search for speakers!

MadMax Thu, 02/18/2010 - 03:53
Wow... a blast from the past into this thread...

I tried to find a local/regional dealer for the Lipinski's, but didn't have any luck, and never did hear back from them after emailing them several times. I guess they must have sold enough product that they didn't want or need my business. I really did want to audition them after reading Joe's review. But you can't audition what you can't physically get in the room.

I auditioned Proac's and they sounded ok, but I found a lot of stuff just seemed a bit too flat, and the highs were a tad harsh. The stereo imaging is probably where they fell short in my mind. Everything was accurate, but they seemed to compress everything to the middle a bit more than I expected.

I've heard too many horror stories about Adam's and the phase issues with flexing ribbons and the undefined low mids. So, I passed on auditioning them.

KRK's aren't anything I could listen to for any longer than about a minute without having to walk away. They just plain over accentuate lows and the highs are like ice picks in my ears.

I listened to several Genelec's and while I know they're one of the industry standard monitors, I just don't care for the way they present that all too critical range of 2k to 4k. They're very fatiguing. The stereo imaging is ok, but not any better, or any worse than my Alesis M1 Active's, at a fraction of the price.

JBL's just drive me nuts with that boomy 400Hz sloppiness... unacceptable.

Then I auditioned a set of Focal Twin 6be's...

They're tight in the lows and low mids, even at extremely low listening levels. The high frequency drivers are smooth and extremely detailed, yet, they aren't at all harsh. Quite the opposite. They are without a doubt, the least fatiguing speaker I've ever listened to. The sound field and imaging are amazing in their clarity and detail. Usually, you don't hear slight or subtle positional changes in every speaker, somewhere in their sound field generation. Not true with the Focal's. They present the widest, most accurate stereo imaging I've experienced.

So, I stopped shopping and kept them.

I guess I could have auditioned a pair of the Barefoot's, and probably should have, but I fell in love with the Focal's and don't want to give them up.