A General Statement on the importance of great monitors

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by sdevino, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    I know that on occaission I tend to push for very expensive monitors when the topic comes up, so I thought I might list some reasons to consider going for the very best you can.

    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">1. The most important reason to get great monitors is you will spend an amazing amount of time listening to them. Whether you do audio as a profession or as a hobby, you probably love music. Having monitors that do not cause ear fatigue will add to your productivity and your enjoyment.
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">2. How can you make microphone and preamp selections if you can't hear what they really sound like? In a good set of monitors it is very easy to hear very fine details that differentiate mic and preamp combinations.
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">3. Your mic placement will be better because you will hear subtle differences between one location or another.
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">4. You will make better use of the acoustics in your tracking environment, because you will actually hear subtle reflection and resonance issues. Then you can solve them before hitting record. Or even better you can take advantage of them to use natural acoustics to place instruments in a mix. (reducing the need for excess EQ and panning)
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">5. Mixing will need less EQ and you will really hear just how muddy that excess reverb makes the vocals etc. Having an accurate sound stage is 100% dependent on the accuracy of your monitors.
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">6. Your monitors will probably outlast you in the industry. Speakers are probably the cheapest and easiest thing to refurb when they get old. Any competent speaker reconing tech can rebuild a speaker to "like new" condition for $100 or even less. (I just had a 35 year old Altec driver for a Urei 813c repaired for $35). try that with any other piece of vintage gear!
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
    A good rule of thumb when starting out is to spend at least 40% of your total budget on the monitoring chain (amp + speakers). If you can spend more, then do it. You are better off with a great set of monitors and an SM57 then your are with a perfect U47 and a crappy pair of monitors. The reason is that with the good monitors you will clearly hear exactly what your current gear can do and you will know when it's good and when it sucks. You also be able to hear small differences in future mic and mic pre gear that you evaluate and make better buying decisions.

    Some of you might say "Oh but what about all the pro's out there using NS-10s?". You should note that most pro studios power NS-10s with an amp like the Bryston 4B per speaker. Thats $3000 of amplifier per channel! Oh and they also get to listen to the reference monitors that are probably $30,000 custom Westlakes or equivalents. The NS-10's are used for mix reference and not generally for tracking.

    By the way this advice holds for home stereo speakers as well.

    Good Luck and Have Fun!

  2. fetzir

    fetzir Active Member

    Nov 25, 2003
    I will say I just moved from Alesis M1MK-II's ($399/pr)to Adam P11A's ($1800/pr), and although they do not quite represent 40% of my studio budget, I AM amazed at what I wasn't hearing before...
  3. Barefoot Sound

    Barefoot Sound Active Member

    Dec 11, 2003
    San Francisco
    Home Page:

    I agree with everything you wrote except for the term "exactly".

    I guess you're more of an optimist than I am ;) , but I usually approach the argument from the opposite perspective. Speakers are by far the WORST performing audio gear. The very best speakers in the world have much worse distortion, compression, and impulse response characteristics than even mediocre electronic gear.

    So, if you think of you're entire recording system as a chain, the speakers are overwhelmingly the weakest link. Therefore, they require the greatest attention (and money, unfortunately) if you hope to come anywhere close to hearing an "exact" representation of what your recording, mixing, or mastering.

    Anyhow, I completely agree with your conclusions.

  4. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    Hi Thomas,
    I agree 100%. Exactly was way too strong a word.


  5. Tenson

    Tenson Active Member

    Dec 17, 2003
    Home Page:
    And, as I am discovering as I move up into more and more high-end equipment the room you have it all in is probably as, if not more important than the monitors!
  6. Edu Zappa

    Edu Zappa Guest

    Hi Steve... I know that hearing exactly what you're doing is the most important thing, ... well, I'm from Brazil, I'm building one Lab at home... I don't have too much money... but I wanna have good references... first, which "monitoring chain" do you advice for me??
    I'd like to work with 7.1 surround format... But I'd like to have diferent kinds of monitoring... actually what I whant is something like this:
    A really GOOD LR monitoring chain;
    A good 7.1 surround monitoring chain;
    client speakers, over a 5.1 system;
    a whole bunch simple audio references, like sound systems speakers, computer speakers etc...
    and I know that the best reference will be my car's sound system!!... (for comparing w/ those great and classic recordings) I know how that's important, but I'm not familiar w/ makers, price, diferences between them... etc... and over here, thing are much expensive, maybe twice the price in US... and things are more dificult to get.
  7. Dr.Blackwell

    Dr.Blackwell Guest


    [ January 07, 2004, 08:53 PM: Message edited by: Dr.Blackwell ]
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Dr. Blackwell,
    Please turn off the caps lock. Writing in all caps is like shouting at someone.. and bad "nettiqute" . Thanks!
  9. Steve Devino,

    Thanks very much for this article - the content of which seems to have disappeared in subsequent posts (which argue about Behringer v. Mackie mixers and such, completely off-topic!)...

    Do you think the Genelec 1030A's are too sweet for tracking and do you think those would need a subwoofer?
  10. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    Genelecs are very popular with many successful engineers. I happen to find them irritating to my ears (too much high end) so I cannot work with them for very long, but this is just my experience, you may find you like them very much. To me they do not sound flat enough to be very efficient as reference monitors.

    Again using a sub-woofer is a personal choice. I find it hard to correlate the bass that comes from a subwoofer to that which comes out of speakers. Since most of my customers are musicians who do not use a subwoofer for music, I try to avoid them.

    I do like subwoofers on my home surround system though! :D
  11. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) Steve, I went to a friend’s home studio to check his system with some test CD's, analyzer, and sound level meter.

    When I pumped in the pink noise at first, and started to raise gain, there came a point where the top-end on the display completely flatlined, and the low end continued to rise. We trashed his set, and resorted to some old L-100's I picked up at a garage sale for $35 for the pair. Problem solved.

    So, I guess my question is what makes a good speaker good?

    His speakers were OK up to a point, then beyond a certain level were not linear anymore. It seems a quality reference speaker should have dynamic linearity at all levels.

  12. gonefishin

    gonefishin Guest

    My opinion, what makes a good speaker? Simply, one that a person is happy with (I make no reference to sound quality here. They may or may not like it because of the sound quality)

    For me, what makes a good speaker? While many speakers can sound good. Most of the time you are making compromises. You have to come up with a speaker that sounds right (to you), matches the rest of your equipment, and performs well in your room...all this for a price you can afford.

    While most of the time speakers are a compromise. Some of the main qualities I look for are...good tone, clarity, low distortion and the ability to play dynamics at both loud levels...and low.

    What qualities do you guys look for?

    thanks...take care>>>>>>>>

    [ January 15, 2004, 05:36 PM: Message edited by: gonefishin ]
  13. stalefish

    stalefish Active Member

    Jul 12, 2003
    Home Page:
    how come nobody talks about Quested monitors???

    i'm about to take over a pair of Q108s from a friend - am i heading in the right direction?

    where exactly do they stand compared to genelecs and such?
  14. hbj

    hbj Guest

    Quested have been around a long while and I know people say good things about them, but I must say in fairness I've never met anyone who actually uses them. They're still sold though by high-end audio shops, though how they keep up with the Adams, Genelecs, Dynaudios I don't know.
  15. stalefish

    stalefish Active Member

    Jul 12, 2003
    Home Page:
    the questeds are about US$5000+ when new at that time... or so my friend claims - should be a worth while deal if i get them for less than half the price right???

    the main reason why i am posting here is because he stores them in a controlled enviroment. He's out of the country and planning either to sell them or ship them over to where he's immigrating to- the later he doesn't like ; says that it's risky transporting this kind of equipment around...

    basically i can't actually have a listen to them so i'm asking you guys what're your impressions on Quested speakers-

    imaging, noise, mids, etc
  16. closer

    closer Guest

    whatever you spend your days listening to music on the most, mix with those.

    thats my advice. you can buy $3000000000 speakers but if you have no idea how they are representing the sound they're useless.

    i could do a better job mixing on flat panel monsoon speakers that i have at my computer than genelec's at a $2000/day studio.

    ... and i've done it.

  17. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    I went with ATC SCM-20 pros,,,( 6100.oo)list US why? cause of the user list on them, if i can post it let me know, it's quite long

    I'll be demoing them at L&M against 3 or 4 pairs they carry, will post the results when i do this,,

    I liked them so much I became a dealer for ATC ..

    Sanity Inn
  18. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    lol sorry , too impatient, here's a list of ATC studio monitor users..

    05-11-02: Hifying

    EMI Abbey Road Studios
    CBS/Sony UK Disc Mastering and Quality Control
    Nippon Columbia Tokyo Main monitors in three control rooms
    Warner Bros Burbank CA Main monitors
    Polygram - Wiseloord Studios
    Holland Main monitors
    Yamaha Research and Development Dept London Main Monitors
    BBC Maida Vale, Broadcasting House, TV Centre Music Studios, Transcription Recording Unit, Pebble Mill Studio 2, Wood Norton, Radio 5 and several OB Trucks
    Thames TV (The Bill and Poirot)
    Danish Radio OB Trucks
    Swedish Radio
    SBS Television Australia
    Video Tape Recording TV Production Company
    M2 Video
    Nimbus Records lots of ATC's
    Sain Records
    Sentinel Records
    Mute Records Depeche Mode, Erasure
    Birmingham University
    City University London
    Essex University Dr Malcom Harksforda
    University College San Diego
    Royal College of Music
    Royal Opera House
    Covent Garden
    Sydney Opera House Recording Studio
    Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club Recording Studio
    Pink Floyd's Studio and Dave Gilmore's Home.
    Konk The Kinks Studio
    The Real World Peter Gabriei's Studio
    The Church The Eurythmics Studio
    Neneh Cherry
    Juni Morrison
    Julio lgiesias's Producer Ramon Arcosa
    10 cc
    Lou Reed
    Surrey University Francis Rumsey etc
    Eliabu lnhal Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra
    The The
    The Waterboys
    Tears for Fears
    Rainbow Studios Norway ECM Records
    Kenny Young songwriter "Under the Boardwalk" and "River Deep Mountain High"
    David lord Producer Peter Gabriel, Jean Michel Jarre, Van Morrison, Ice House, Kissing the Pink
    Greg Walsh Producer Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Eikie Brookes
    Peter Walsh Producer - Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Scott Walker
    Rupert Hine/Steve Taylor
    James Guthrie Producer Pink Floyd, Toto, Chicago, many films
    Curtis Schwiartz Producer
    Hans Zimmer Film Music Composer
    Mike Oldfield
    Carl Wallender World Party
    Robert Plant
    Mark Sayer Wade Sound Sculpture
    The Tale Gallery
    Bob Ludwig Masterdisk N.Y.
    Ted Jensen Sterling Sound
    Joe Gastwirt Ocean View Digital Mastering Greatful Dead etc.
    Cold Sweat
    Joseph Magee Freelance Classical Record Producer attached to the LA Philharmonic, Telarc
    Bruce Leek Telarc, Wilson Audio, (Mastering, recording, editing)
    Autograph Sound Recording Studio English Meyer Distributors
    Airforce Music Radio Jingles
    Shawn Murphy Top Hollywood Scoring Mixer, Hook, Cape Fear, Silence of the Lambs, Dancing with Wolves, Dick Tracey etc.
    Dave Harris Freelance Classical Recording Engineer Noteworthy Music
    Stuart Brown Freelance Classical Recording Engineer
    Peter Bronda Welsh National Opera
    Trygg Tryggvasson Freelance Classical Producer, Recording Engineer Virgin, Hyperion, Chandos, etc.
    Anthony Howells Freelance Classical Engineer, Pickwick, Hyperion, Virgin, etc.
    Paul Barmer BBC and Freelance Classical Recording Engineer
    Steve Portnoi BBC and Freelance Classical Recording Engineer
    Tony Wass BBC and Freelance Classical Recording Engineer
    Budapest Radio Film Music Studio
    John Richards Evergreen Studios L.A. (Film Music Studio)
    Hammon Studios Tel Aviv Denon Tokyo
    Windmill lane Dublin, Terrence Trent D'Arby, U2, etc.
    Pioneer Japan
    Eastcote Productions Transvision Vamp
    E Spy Studios Melbourne
    Broxmead Studios Film and TV Music Studio
    Beethoven Street Seal, Sandy Shaw
    Chapel Studios ELO, Motorhead, Saxon, etc.
    Barbra Streisand
    Moles Studio Gail Ann Dorsey, Andy Davis
    DB Studios Ghostbusters etc.
    Boogie Sound Hamburg
    Chateau Du Pape Hamburg
    Slippery LA Lethal Weapon 11 etc.
    Lansdown Group CTS - Largest independent studio in Europe, Film Music for James Bond, Batman, Superman, Passage to India, Baron Munchhausen, Jazz Don Lusher, Stan Tracey, Charlie Watts, MOR Miss Saigon, Roger Whittaker, Des O'Connor and many more
    Ground Control LA Madonna, Robbie Robertson, Julio lgiesias, Arif Mardin, Phil Ramone etc.
    Exit Lisbon
    El Alamo Madrid
    Estuidos Eurosonic Madrid
    Estudios Azul Cadiz
    Estudios Alfaguara Seville
    Kash Productions Madrid
    The Mill Cookham
    Gareth Jones Producer
    Magmasters Soho Film, TV, Pop, you name it!
    Nick Whitaker Internationally renowned acoustician
    Voyageur 11 Mobile Europe's biggest Mobile
    Rhinocerous Sydney INXS
    Greene Street New York
    Blackwiing Basle
    National Recording Studios Canberra
    Polygram Hong Kong
    Chipping Norton
    Edinburgh University Music Dept
    Fred Vogier Koch lnti, Whoopie Goldberg,
    Steve Martin
    Australian Institute of Music
    Yamaha Japan
    Apocalypse Australia
    Rich Studios Sydney
    Mark Forester (Prince and Kate Cerbrano)
    Dutch National Broadcast NOB Soho
    Beijing Radio and TV
    ABC Australia
    Sony Australia
    Institute of Sound Production Sydney
    Cold Storage
    Eden Studios Jackson Recording Co Ltd
    University of East Anglia
    The Mill Soho
    Fleetwood Mobile
    Mark Angelo
    The Paris Bastille Opera House
    Disney World
    The Pope
    Dire Straits
    Simple Minds
    Suzanne Vega
    The Apollo Harlem
    San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
    A String Studios - Taipei
    Level 42
    Hugo Records Hong Kong
    Wirra Wilia Studios Australia
    Castiesound Studios Scotland
    Euphonia Freelance Classical (Chop 'em Out)
    Todd A.0. The USA's largest film scoring Stage
    CBS/Sony Sydney Australia
    Paramount Pictures Hollywood
    The Chippendales!
    Expo '92 mobile studios and PA
    John Williams- Classical Guitarist
    Hugh Padgham producer Genesis and Phil Collins
    SCI- Tokyo
    M.0.D. Brass Band Recording centre
    Cariton Television
    Copymasters London
    Divided Studios Chicago
    Polish Radio
    London College of Music
    Roger Taylor - Queen
    Gateway Mastering Bob Ludwig
    Gilbert O'Sullivan
    Freddy Star - Comedian
    Crazy Sound Guadeloupe
    Evelyn Glennie - Percussionist
    Toshiba-Tokyo Digital Mastering
    University of York
    NRS Sydney
    The Blue Nile (Linn)
    York St Studios NY
    Athens Concert Hall
    DEP INT'L UB40
    Status Quo
    Hessinger Rundfunk
    Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Taipei Symphony Orchestra - Principal Violinist
    London Weekend Television
    Dinemec Sound - Dinemec Classic Label
    Sony Music, New York
    Albert's Music, London
    Pearson Television
    Angel Studios, London
    Fast Floor Productions 2 pairs main monitors
  19. stalefish

    stalefish Active Member

    Jul 12, 2003
    Home Page:
    gee i wonder what would happen if someone from genelec were to list all their clients as well... :D
  20. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    no doubt a substantial list aswell,

    but considering I never heard of ATC til i bought them it's nice to know I'm not the only one with a pair,, :)

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