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Which monitors should i purchase?

I am looking to purchase a pair of monitors to use with my mbox for recording adn also for gneral music listening purposes. . Here are my requirements for such.

1. I would like a pretty flat response as one would want in studio monitors. I would like them to have a decent amount of volume (at least enoguh to get obnoxiously loud in my teeny tiny dorm room (not a ahrd room to fill)).

2. I would like to spend no mroe than really $150 dollars (less than that if i could) I'm in school and hafve little money.

Ive seen some models such as the studiophile AV40s that have a bass boost switch in the back for when you want to listen to something with a bit of bass boost (not for recording purposes in other words). That seems cool for what its worth.

anyway. the two models i was looking at were the M-Audio Studiophile DX4's and the AV40's. I dont really know the difference between these models. Im somewhat new to desktop recording so i was hoping for some help. any reviews of these? whats the difference between the two? any other suggestions? thanks a lot (first time post btw...hopefully not the last.)


Link555 Tue, 04/03/2007 - 08:07
Hey products7074740,

I would leave the Mid-boost switch in the out position, for no mid boost. I think you might cause more ear fatigue if you use it. But like always try a few mixes with it on and off and compare. Test those mixes on every system you can, and see which one translates better.

Typically I turn the gain on the monitor themselves as loud I can without having hiss come from them. The only monitors I ever heard hiss from with the gain cranked was my old Mackie HR824's. Every other monitor was virtually noise less. Make sure if you have to turn down the monitor gain, that you make both monitors have the same attenuation. Do this with a mono signal playing through them and adjust them until the sound sounds like it is coming from in between the two when you are in the mix position.

Have fun!

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 04/01/2007 - 00:42
I would look for a good set of used monitors that may bump you up a notch in quality at the same price level. I have seen original NS10M's on eBay selling in the $150.00 price range (few and far between, but you can find them). Recently, I purchased a pair of Dynaudio BM5A's to replace my Tannoy Reveal passives. Before I disconnected them I did an A/B comparison and was quite surprised at how well the Tannoys kept up with the Dyn's. When I originally purchased the Tannoys I compared them to Alesis, Roland, Yamaha, and KRK monitors in the same price range. The Tannoys were the clear winner. I have seen them on eBay also selling in the $150.00 to $200.00 price range. In fact, mine will be on there in the near future.

Link555 Sun, 04/01/2007 - 01:25
Ok so here is the poor mans way to check your room frequency response.

Step one: Beg, borrow or steal a function generator. Nothing fancy, you just need a decent sine wave generator for 20Hz to 20 kHz. Something like this should do:

Step 2: Set your monitors up in a good position. Its best to keep them away from the walls by at least a few feet in all directions. Set them up in an equilateral triangle. With you ear in the center point and monitor at each point.

- -

Some books say 1 meter for each side of the triangle. That’s just to close for me, I like the monitors further apart to improve the stereo image. But it depends of the size of your mixing room. Also keep them off the console and try to remove any objects in between your ears and the speakers. This will help avoid comb filtering.

Step 3: Set up the monitor’s internal gain to be balanced (same gain in both speakers if they have a gain knob in the back). Do this with a mono signal playing through them and adjust them until the sound sounds like it is coming from in between the two when you are in the mix position.

Step 4: Set the gain of the playback system to be about 85dBA. Use a cheap sound meter for this. Something from radio shack will work fine. Put the meters microphone where about were your brain would be. If 85dBA feels to loud in your room then set it at a comfortable level.

Step 4: turn on a 20 Hz signal from the sine wave generator and slowly turn up the gain until you can just start to hear it.

Step 5: Record the gain, or voltage of the sine wave at 20 Hz.

Step 6: Repeat step 5 for 40hz, 60hz, 100Hz, 220Hz, 300Hz, 500Hz, 1kHz, 2kHz, 3kHz, 5kHz, 7kHz, 8kHz, 10kHz, 12kHz, 15kHz, 18kHz. And any other frequencies in-between 20Hz to 20kHz you like. Note frequencies that are dramatically louder or softer and find there levels.

Step 7: Graph your results Voltage or gain by frequency. The Graph represents your room, sound card, monitor and ears all in one. Now the hard part is to try and make that graph as flat as possible. This involve acoustics, and maybe some electronics.

To do this requires much more discussion….

I hope this helps.

Link555 Sun, 04/01/2007 - 01:32
Hey DCJ. I like Tannoy Reveal too, but I really happy with my BM15A's. I had bought ADAMS for a while but took them back, I found I keep turning down the upper mids in my mixes with them.

But in the price range. I think the Tannoy Reveals and decent power amp would get the job done.

All and all I think its how well you get to know your monitor thats important. No monitor is perfectly flat, just as no set of ears is perfectly flat either. The trick is to compare your mixes on every system you can.

Try to figure out how the song will translate from one set of speakers to another. Thats whats key.

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 04/01/2007 - 02:54
Hey Link555,

Yeah, I tried the Adams out too and had the same problems you're describing. I then checked out a pair of 824's. They were definitely at the bottom of the list compared to Dyn's or Adams. Everything I did kept leading me back to the Dyn's. As for the Reveals, I'm surprised that they never caught on more than they did. I think that the active Reveals actually detracted from the passives. I knew a lot of people that were unhappy with the actives. Truth be known, they didn't even compare to the passives using a decent power amp. Tannoy has always been a fairly decent speaker manufacturer, but I think they're lacking when it comes to amplification.

On the topic of flat monitors, I wrote an article for Producer Pro outlining the importance of flat monitors. Unfortunatley, speaker manufacturers aren't on a quest to design flat monitors as much as they are to make money. They tweak to taste hoping to sound better than the next guy to draw customers. Before you know it, the concept of near field monitoring using a flat reference source is out the window. So, now we all make choices based upon individual taste just like we would with any other speaker purchase. The only principal still intact that justifies a "monitor" classification is that of the nearfield theory. In the end, we all need to get to know our monitors intimately, and compare mixes on as many different systems as possible. However, there's still one major problem.

The concept of flat monitors, or should I say, as close as you can get to flat monitors still needs to be of importance. In a large working studio, producers and engineers don't have the time or energy to take mixes all over town for analysis. Many have there own personal sources they use, but not as many as they would like to have if time or money wasn't of consequence. Producers and engineers also travel from studio to studio for various sessions and each studio may employ a different set of monitors. Are they all intimately familiar with every monitor choice in every setting they happen to be in? No. They all rely heavily on their trained professional hearing and experience. Secondly, they rely on a form of selective obsolescence regarding every monitor in front of them. A strange game of technical evolution that keeps everyone in the ballpark. NS10M's were considered a standard within the industry at one time, but were they really a flat monitor, or did they simply translate well? Does it even matter? The industry essentially dictates it's own translation guidelines and then waits for the technology to catch up. Is it all merely a big chicken and the egg story? You decide....get back to me.

Link555 Sun, 04/01/2007 - 09:47
LOL. True true. However I still to strive to mix with a flat frequency response. But not all rooms are created equal. And yes the room affects even near-fields. My rule of thumb is fix the acoustics first. But you are completely correct; no near field is ruler flat, but honestly it wouldn't matter that much unless you were mixing in an anechoic chamber. Now that would be an interesting experience.
Check this out, if you haven't already:

Oh and NS-10s, or horrible-tones, as I call them. Were definitely not flat, they had no upper end and no lows. So you end up blindly mixing frequency smile, which translate well I suppose.
They are very good at telling me what my mix sounds like on book shelf speakers.
In fact that’s what I do right now I have 3 set of monitors. My main Dynaudios, a pair of Hitachi stereo speakers, and a pair sony boom box speakers. I connect all three to the outputs of my Avocet, and check mixes on three different setups, my customers love it. It really shows them. their song warts and all.

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 04/01/2007 - 13:05
Hey Link,

I was reading an article the other day that analyzed the evolution of audio technology. (When I find the link, I'll post it.) In the article every aspect of the signal chain from mic thru monitor was evaluated. Each evaluation was based upon specific technological improvements over time in each of the covered areas. The one catagory that was literally decades behind every other catagory was that of loudspeaker design. Of specific interest was the sub-catagory of flat nearfield monitors. It suffered form the least number of technological improvements over time towards the ultimate goal of a flat response. The overall concept of an electro-mechanical engine producing a flat response across the entire spectrum is obviously flawed by it's own design. Still, no one seems to be chasing the rainbow as one would think they should. It is similar to DAW's when they first arrived on the scene. It was thought by many that the user interfaces should have evolved with the technology. But, when you powered things up, you still had a virtual mixer in front of you faders and all. It may have made for an easy transition, but it was definitely nowhere near the innovative thinking that led us to the moon and beyond.

Link555 Sun, 04/01/2007 - 17:06
Hi DCJ, Yep actually speakers are a pretty simple and dated technology. And yes you can make flat monitors. There are lots of ways to that. Mackie deals with it electronically, some choose mechanical methods. Bottom line it can be done to whatever standard you set. However there is the real problem, monitors are not all designed and tested to a uniform standard. Every manufacturer can set there own standards of testing. Those test in the end all seem to show that the monitors have a flat frequency response, so why do all monitors sound unique? Because each company got that flat frequency through there own set of tests.

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 04/01/2007 - 20:31
hey guys...i just picked up the DX4's. For me, a beginner studio comp major, i think these will do. Not to bulky, good for the price, and a pretty uncolored tone.

two things:

What should the mid-end in/out switch be used for? i don't really understand. Which should i leave it on?

I have two levels. The monitor level on the mbox2 and the level on the monitors themselves. Should I adujsut them simultaneously or should one be raised higher than the other?