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Monitors: price point, where to shop, how to shop

At some point in the not too distant future I want to upgrade from my current M-Audio BX8 monitors. I'd like to make a significant improvement rather than just an incremental upgrade. While you can buy monitors at just about any price you name, I assume that (as with most other equipment) there are certain price points at which manufacturers tend to cluster a general quality level. Is this correct? Can you recommend a good price range to target that would allow me to compare several brands of monitors that would be significantly better than my "prosumer" monitors without depriving my daughter of a college education?

Second question: I live in Blacksburg, Virginia which is "centrally located" (a three to four hour drive from anywhere). Can you recommend places to shop for monitors in D.C., Richmond, Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte, or Pittsburgh?

Final question: Other than taking source material that I know well to compare monitors, is there anything special I should be doing when shopping for monitors? I suppose I should have a different mind set than, "which speakers make Abby Road sound best?" but what, exactly, should be my criteria?


Pro Audio Guest Fri, 03/16/2007 - 08:16
Beyond taking a reference CD, the next most important thing is the all mighty RETURN POLICY. Most stores I've been in have a poorly set up "monitor display" to begin with - and even if they did have a good set-up, it's still not your set-up. You need to take a pair home to try them out.
Make sure that you are extra careful packing & unpacking them, and a good store shouldn't give you any hassle. You could also order from a mail order place. There have been a few times that I have ordered 2 or 3 items with the intention of keeping one, and sent back what I don't like for a refund. I'm out a little shipping, but it beats having to make these kind of decisions while little Joey is hammering out his latest opus in the drum room next door...
...As far as price - it seems that the $1000-$1500 range is the most popular with the Mackie 824s, JBLs, etc. Then you get into th $3000-ish range with Genelec and the like, and then things get pricey...

Good Luck!

bwmac Fri, 03/16/2007 - 10:43
the job of a monitoring speaker is to find the truth of a recording. If the truth is beautiful it will sound beautiful, but if the truth is ugly that will be revealed as well. What ever circumstances, a sound engineer needs to hear the inherent truth of a recording to know how to respond to it.

Boswell Fri, 03/16/2007 - 11:10
There have been lots of threads on these forums regarding monitors at various price levels. Use a search for "Genelec", "KRK" or "Dynaudio" to get ideas.

I remembered this one on Dynaudio BM6As vs KRK V8s, which curiously didn't draw much response: (Dead Link Removed)

When I last auditioned monitors, I was very glad that I had taken with me not only commercial reference CDs and a CD of typical material that I had assembled from my live recordings, but also a CD player that I trusted, as the one in the audition room at the store was not up to the job of providing accurate source material for A/B-ing these top-end monitors.