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VERY small onsite monitors?

Member for

16 years 8 months
Folks-

Do any of you have speakers that you use on very small setups? Clearly, My phones will provide a very detailed sound, but it is good to have speakers as well...

For larger gigs, I have nice ADAM S2.5a that please the clients and I like them too! But what I would like is a small alternative that can just fit into the rear lid of my SKB 4 space case. I would love to step up from my Radio Shak Minimus-Sevens, (h 7", w 4.5", d 4.25").

What are you using? Are there any suprise solutions out there that I don't know about? Has anyone tried the smallest Genelecs (the 8020a model)?

thanks!

Exsultavit

Comments

Member for

16 years 8 months

Simmosonic Tue, 02/19/2008 - 21:02
Cucco wrote: I don't recall them being THX certified or equalized (or really any speaker being eq'ed for THX - other than M&Ks), but I could be wrong.
Actually, it's more likely that I am wrong...

For a *cinema* to meet THX standards, and therefore be able to promote its features as being presented in THX sound, the sound system in the cinema must satisfy five criteria, one of which is a "calibrated frequency response to match a standardized response curve, the X-Curve, typically accomplished by means of loudspeaker design and one-third-octave room equalization, which helps to standardize timbre perception" [quoting Holman there].

BUT that's for cinema, and I just realised that I have no idea if the same rules apply for THX certification for studio monitors or domestic speakers! But here's what happened in the hi-fi shop all those years ago, which put me onto that thinking (warning: long, boring and potentially pointless story coming up):

I had just sold a small audio mastering business and had a nice sum of money to play with and rather switched-on hearing. Being a typical audio guy, there was no way I was going to invest that money in something sensible like a house deposit or shares or a hydroponic dope kit. No sirree, I was buying AUDIO STUFF! I had this misguided notion that I could buy a 5.1 system, and use the L and R speakers as a good stereo system - after all, the ITU recommendation puts them in the same 60 degree equilateral triangle as required for stereo. And I'd heard about this THX certification business, thinking it meant the speakers would be super-cool. How wrong was that!

So I went to a very reputable high end hi-fi shop in Sydney, where they had a number of purpose-built home cinema rooms set up with good acoustic treatment and so on.

I sat in a room and watched numerous excerpts of movies being played through 5.1 sound systems from NHT, B&W and others. The sound was consistently wonderful. Then I put on my well-worn reference CDs; how disappointing. The sound through all of these home cinema sound systems was dull and boomy. Too much sub? I doubt it. These weren't silly 5.1 toy systems using five matchboxes, a shoebox and that ridiculous concept of bass management - each of the speakers was largish and pretty much full range. I even got the guy to turn off the sub, but it was still dull, as expected. This was quite plainly dullness due to a lack of HF energy, not due to excessive LF.

When I asked the salesman how come, he said it was probably the THX certification I was hearing. To prove it, he dragged another pair of high end speakers into the room, from one of the same manufacturers, like an identical speaker but without THX certification (I seem to recall they were B&Ws, but perhaps not, I am sure they had the kevlar LF driver however). The sound was how it should be, especially when AB'd against the others. It was definitely brighter and *right* for music.

At that point I became incredibly disgruntled about the whole idea of buying a surround speaker system that could double as a great hi-fi system. So I bought a huge Grundig television instead, and sat my ATC SCM20s (passive model at that time) either side of it, far enough away to prevent magnetic interference with the tube.

Gee it sounded good, and I didn't miss any of that surround stuff at all...

Member for

16 years 8 months

Simmosonic Tue, 02/19/2008 - 21:31
Cucco wrote: Ken Kantor, one of the original designers and owners of NHT is a frequent visitor of these boards under a psuedonym, perhaps he'll peak in.
But then he'll blow his cover!

Cucco wrote: They have the side-mounted woofers and a front baffle which is angled 21 degrees (mostly for the purposes of combating standing waves - one of the first companies to address this through box design).

The early ones I heard had the angled baffle. I always saw that as being an advantage aesthetically when trying to achieve a higher SAF (Spouse Acceptance Factor), because the speaker enclosures themselves could remain perpendicular to the wall behind them, maintaining a very slim visual profile, compared with 'toeing in' the box, which makes the whole thing look bigger.

However, I can't see an angled baffle making any difference with standing waves, either in or out of the box. Internal reflections between the front and back panel of the enclosure, yes. First order reflections within the listening space, yes as well. But standing waves? According to Everest and others, angling walls does little to help with standing waves, it just curves them and makes them a bit harder to predict. And such a narrow baffle would be insignificant at any frequency where standing waves are likely to be a problem.

But I'll stand corrected if necessary! With standing waves we're talking about frequencies where the sound is behaving as a wave, rather than a ray. Perhaps that is relevant inside the enclosure, where the small internal volume (relative to a listening room) means the critical frequency (the point where sound behaviour transitions from wave to ray) would be quite high and so perhaps that baffle size is significant? Perhaps there is some validity there; a curved front baffle would 'curve' any front-to-back panel resonant energy into the enclosure's side wall where it could be absorbed (the side panels, being quite large, could hold a fair bit of absorptive material). Hmmm...

But I do like the aesthetic reason I assumed above, as well. Otherwise, why not angle the rear panel instead and make it look a bit more 'normal' and therefore have less chance of polarising purchasers?

Cucco wrote: Anyway - now that I sound like a salesperson for NHT, I'll try to go collect my commission check.
They owe you a beer, at least!

Member for

16 years 8 months

Simmosonic Tue, 02/19/2008 - 21:36
rfreez wrote: i don't think THX certification implies that the 'x-curve' is applied on the monitors. if so, the mackies, blue skys and hella lot of other popular models would be unfit for music mixing.

Right. I think the list Jeremy put in his post at 3:06pm (above) clarifies that...

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Tue, 01/01/2008 - 14:31
I've used the M-00s. I assure you - they sound fabulous without a sub. (Granted, low stuff ain't there. But, on location gigs, the room is such that I'm never keen on low end information anyway.)

You might want to check out Audioengine (Model 2 and 5)

The AE 2 was reviewed in Stereophile last month and got a pretty darned good review. The AE5 is a bit bigger but both seem incredibly small. I've considered getting them myself for smaller remotes and if they suck (since I know nothing of them other than the review), I'll relegate them to computer speaker duty...

More info on AE:
Line6 amp modeling boxes.

Member for

16 years 8 months

Exsultavit Fri, 01/04/2008 - 09:30
Cucco-

Yes, you are correct in thinking that the Emes Pink is too large for me. They are larger than the Genelecs or NHTs, and I have already said that THEY are almost too large.

Just to clarify: I have nicer, larger monitors for setups that allow for that luxury. I am always trying to downsize my smaller 'day to day' setup, though. I am willing to sacrifice some fidelity/ low end in the monitors (but not, of course, in the recording chain!) in order to make my small setup fast and easy.

The monitors need to be small enough to be transported inside the back lid of a 4-space SKB case. That case already has gear and some cables in it. So height: 9.5' is a true limit. Width: 4" or 5". After that, the stored speakers 'reach" too deep into the case and hit the other gear's back-end.

Right now, I am unwilling to add another case to my small rig. I'm actually trying to get RID of one!

Exsultavit

The A2's, if they sound OK, will make this dimension with ease!

Member for

16 years 8 months

Exsultavit Fri, 01/04/2008 - 16:37
Cucco-

Yes, I ordered the A2B yesterday. I'll let you know!

The K&H may be very nice, but I won't go there unless the A2 is not good enuf.

Price- at 1,700 per pair (or 2,400 per pair for the 52D model), I hope very, very much that the A2 ($200 per pair) pleases me!!!

Exsultavit

Member for

16 years 8 months

Exsultavit Sun, 12/30/2007 - 10:02
Have you used these? Do you use them? Can you describe your experiences with them?

Also- I have found the "NHT M00 mini monitors". These are the same size as the Genelecs- actually a bit larger. Almost too large for me. Also- they seem to require a sub.

Does anyone use these without a sub?

I appreciate the product name, but it would really help if you wrote a bit...

thanks!

Exsultavit

Member for

16 years 7 months

moonbaby Sun, 12/30/2007 - 10:36
Anything that small is going to require a subwoofer for deep bass. You posted this question on the "Acoustic Music" forum. Many who record acoustic material on remotes do not require a sub, especially for tracking.
Yes, I have a pair of the M00s. I use them regularly to track live dates of jazz big band performances, some blues and rock remotes, too. They are very accurate and linear. Mixes done on them translate pretty well to other systems. No, the bottom end doesn't extend as far as a bigger box, that is a given. I'm sure it doesn't on the Genelecs, either. But the NHTs are a great small speaker, worth 3 times their price.

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Mon, 02/25/2008 - 06:44
Just FYI -
since I just picked up another pair of M-00s for location work, I also got a Pelican case that they can fit in. Surprisingly, it's the tiny 1510. Here are some pics of the speakers nestled in their cozy beds:

(Dead Link Removed)

and

(Dead Link Removed)

The coffee mug is there just to show perspective. It's a small mug.

In addition, since taking the pics, my wife has kindly made some velvet bags with satin lining that the speakers get placed into prior to going into their nests.

In all, it's a VERY compact arrangement. Make no mistake though, this case is not light. The M-00s are heavy making this case a few pounds over 30lb total weight.

Cheers-
Jeremy

Member for

16 years 8 months

Exsultavit Sun, 12/30/2007 - 13:19
Thanks for that info, Moonbaby. I certainly understand the need for a sub with any small spkr. Some, though, are designed to use a sub and never without them. Those sound useless without a sub. I am glad to hear that you use them onsite without one.

Have you compared to the Genelecs?

Ex

Member for

16 years 8 months

Exsultavit Mon, 02/18/2008 - 00:08
Update-

Well, it's been a month or so, and I want to say that these Audio Engine 2 speakers rock! For their size, I cannot imagine better.

To make them work well for me, I just had to set up an EQ (part now of my computer template) that knocked down the bass hump the manufatcurer put in. About -12db at 120hz at a pretty narrow bandwidth.

If you have need for a very small pair that do better than anything that size (for $200!), these babies have my recommendation. But the low hump needs to go.

The irony here is that little monitors like this usually lack in bass. With the 120hz cut, it actually is pretty smooth down to maybe 90hz!

Exsultavit

PS: I did uncover the bass ports in the end.

Member for

16 years 8 months

Simmosonic Mon, 02/18/2008 - 03:43
Exsultavit wrote: If you have need for a very small pair that do better than anything that size (for $200!), these babies have my recommendation. But the low hump needs to go.

I think that many speakers designers get off on the challenge of getting good bottom end out of a small box, while also maintaining efficiency. So, they end up building small ported boxes with high Q ports, giving an increase in bottom end, rather than trying to keep it flat (a Q of 0.7, if I remember correctly, produces a flat response through the port's resonance). I have not heard the AE2s, but my experience with similar small speakers is what I call 'thump factor'. You know there is bottom end there but it all sounds the same, because any frequency close to the port's resonance sets it off (rather like talking while sitting at a drum kit, you hear the highly resonant drums resonate).

I prefer to let the bass roll-off, it is usually the least important thing for me when monitoring because I'm making direct-to-stereo recordings (not mixing microphones) and there is usually an 'article of faith' implied with my microphones: I kind of know what response they're going to give me if I'm standing roughly where they are. From time to time I get bitten, but not often.

That's for chamber music, choirs and acoustic folk music. For pipe organs and larger orchestras, different rules apply!

Even preferable is to have a smooth and extended response from a small speaker that is highly inefficient. You can get good low frequency performance from a small enclosure if you're willing to sacrifice efficiency. Very few manufacturers, with the possible exception of ATC, do this; probably because it seems weird to have a tiny little box with over 500W of amplifier inside! Then there is the problem of keeping it cool...

Dynaudio provide small foam port plugs with some of their speakers, allowing you to tame the bottom end if desired. The plugs pretty much fill the port, look neat and tidy, and tighten up that bottom end considerably. I have always liked that idea, although that's probably because I'm not a big fan of ported designs anyway, unless they are very well implemented and maintain a tight and punchy bottom end that is still detailed - not just 'thump factor'.

I'm glad to hear that you're happy with the AE2s. I will soon be on the lookout for something similar. The tiny little Genelecs are my preference at the moment. I am well-impressed with them, which is strange because they're the only Genelecs that I've actually liked. All the others I've heard invariably make *everything* sound good, which is a bit like sprinkling sugar on everything you eat - it tastes good at first, but after a while your teeth start to hurt.

Member for

18 years 3 months

Randyman... Sun, 12/30/2007 - 17:50
We use the 8020a's in a temporary Master Control Suite setup - and they still fill the room with sound! The low-end is obviously a bit weak, but the mid-bass on up sounds fantastic to me...

Placing them in a corner will obviously help them couple with the room, and give you more low-end for free...

:cool:

Member for

16 years 8 months

Exsultavit Thu, 01/10/2008 - 23:41
Well, I got the AE2's today.

Very nice! I will need to experiment more with them to learn all their strengths and weaknesses, but I will say that they are a good/ great speaker for their size, and very impressive for the money.

Nice quality construction and very polished surfaces. Nice little drawstring bags for the speakers and accessories. The bags are not real useful for my purposes, but I get a real feeling that the manufacturer cares and is proud of their work.

The sound is not what I expected from this size speaker (6"H X 4"W X 5.15"D). I was concerned that the top end might be to sizzly, but it is absolutely not hyped or zingy. I actually could use a bit more top, but when I plugged in an EQ, I wound up only adding 3 db @ about 8k.

In a speaker this size, the lows are usually the big question. For my uses, little monitors are acceptable and useful if they put out a good representation of the midrange and maybe the top. Little speakers can allude to the low end, but they have no business trying to actually state it. If little speakers try to provide lows that they really shouldn't try for they wind up with "strange bass syndrome".

With this speaker, I feel the manufacturers could have gone for a bit less lows and I would like the AE2 more. There is a bump at 95-100hz that is pronounced. There is also a 'wooly' sound that I think is a bit much. I find I can tame this somewhat just by putting a piece of tape over the bass ports. This tightens it up some- though there is still more 'pump' than I think is right.

On the good side, the mids are very clean and easy to get used to- and though I wish for a bit more top, I find my ears can adjust pretty quickly to the sound of these speakers. And though the lows are a bit much, I get used to them too. There is plenty of overall power in the amp, though I wish the volume knob was mounted on the front for easier adjusting.

So- I really do think that the AE2 is good, especially for it's size. No one can repeal the laws of physics, so great, 'real' lows are just not on the menu here. I would love a way of taming the bandwidth around the 100hz region, but that is just my desire.

Would love to hear other folks' thoughts!

Exsultavit

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Mon, 02/18/2008 - 13:27
Simmo -
Have you tried the NHT M-00's?

They are a VERY revealing little speaker - quite amazing regardless of price and size, but given both of those factors, they should be considered one of the wonders of the world.

While NHT Pro reports an output that rolls off significantly below 100Hz, You will easily get solid, usable output down to 60 Hz with a sharp rolloff below that point. Granted, I wouldn't want to throw these over my shoulder and trek through the Himalayas with them since they're about 15lbs each!

I'll actually be using them as location monitors for a big pipe organ recording this Friday. This one's not for commercial release, so I'll leave the sub or the larger Adams at home, but I have full confidence in them to be able to handle the whole mix. And of course, there's that level of trust in the microphones for the LF stuff. When I do the full-blown commercial release recording later this year of that same organ, I'll be bringing out bigger monitors and likely a sub, but shy of that, I'm confident in these little boogers.

Oh...and they're a sealed design....Just FYI.
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