Monitors for Mastering

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by covenant66, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. covenant66

    covenant66 Guest

    Ok, everyone loves Bowers and Wilkens for mastering, but what else are you guys using? Also, what are your preferred amps?

    I think it would be very useful if everyone listed them at different price levels, if you know of anything other than the most expensive that is still mentionable.
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    Well, as you mentioned, B&Ws are quite popular.

    Personally, I use:

    Rotel Amplification
    NHT 2.5i main monitors
    REL Storm III subwoofer
    MIT Interconnects and combination of MIT and Kimber speaker cables (I firmly believe cables make a pretty big difference...)

    The great news (IMO) is that the NHT's are now incredibly cheap. I've seen them go for <$500 on ebay!!! They are still amazingly awesome speakers (absolutely ruthless though...seriously. If you have crappy cables or amplification, you'll know it. If your CD sucks, you'll know it...)

    Also, Rotel amps are damned cheap considering what you get. Plus they sound friggin amazing. IMO, you'd have to pay considerably more to get anything that sounds even marginally better.

    As for other varieties of good mastering speakers -

    -Vienna Acoustics Beethovens
    -Vienna Acoustics Mahlers (I would gleefully remove my left nut with a pair of kitchen sheers if someone would give me a pair of these!!!)
    -Dynaudio Audience
    -NHT (whatever their new lines are called now)
    -Wilson Watt/Puppy (WAAAAYYYY overpriced though!!)
    -Paradigm (their entire 'Monitor' series is quite nice and damned affordable - thank you Canada for some damned fine gear at good prices!!)
    -PSB (see Canada remark above...I'm not AS big a fan of these as I am of the Paradigms, but their higher end line is quite remarkable for the $$$)

    The thing that ALL of the above monitors have in common is that they are all full range (with the exception of the smaller Paradigms - but they're damned close) and they are all dreadfully accurate (read:not euphoric) loudspeakers.

    All of these will demand only the finest sources whether it be components, cables or music. If there is a flaw, you will notice it.

    Also, I really prefer using a subwoofer while mastering. My personal preference is the REL line - I have yet to find a more accurate sub which does JUST that - only sub-bass. My Storm III kicks in for less than an octave, but damn is it worth it... Of course, the ST line is dreadfully expensive. Their entry-level stuff is still quite nice.

    Also Sunfire, Velodyne, SV, and a few others do make good sub-bass systems.

    Good luck on your quest. Unfortunately it may be the quest for the holy grail. Fortunately, however, you will not likely need to launch any crusades nor should you encounter any Knights Who Say "Ni".

  3. JerryTubb

    JerryTubb Guest

    I've been using the Paradigm Reference Studio/100 v.2 for a few years.

    Reportedly the v.2 sounds better than the new sleek v.3.

    Here's the review:

    Powered by a cherry McIntosh MC2500 (500w/ch).

    Cheers JT
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Alon IVs and Bryston amplifiers. No need for a subwoofer and they are very good at handling anything from Rock to Bach These are what we are using. Company is now called NOLA (ALON spelled backwards) but they have taken down their website and the new one is not yet online.

    B&Ws are good but you will need a good amp and a good space to use them in.

    Budget maybe the Mackie 824s with sub but you will have to do a lot of tweaking and making sure they are set up correctly.

    Genelec's with sub.


    Dunlevys (out of business but can still be found)


    Shopping for a mastering speaker is best done in person and after a long long listening session with them in your studio space.

    Best of luck!
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I've been using the Lipiniski L-505's for well over a year now. [url] [/url]

    Subwoofer is a BagEnd Infrasub-12 Pro.

    Power amps are QSC, for the most part.

    I also have a pair of Focal SM3 (powered) speakers, which I've been using for my keyboard rig and/or rear surround speakers.
  6. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Tampa Bay, FL
    Home Page:
    For mastering, I'm using a pair of K&H O300Ds, ADAM S3As, and PMC AML-1s. My primary reference is the K&H, but I switch between all pairs to get a better perspective. I also have a pair of 3 way home speakers with 12" sub that are running off a Bryston amp. Then there is the consumer Sony surround system I also check things on.
    I prefer to track on the ADAMs. I have a pair of Grado RS-1s for headphone reference. I really like them, the open ear design and foam cushions make them the most comfortable headphones I have found.
    It's probably overkill to have so many speakers, but every speaker tells you different information.
  7. headchem

    headchem Guest

    A general question: are the monitors for mastering considered the same as the monitors for mixing? I'm guessing that good is good for either use.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    Not at all.

    Mix monitors are really good for just that - mixing. Most (if not all) "monitors" are nearfield and/or midfield, which are generally regarded as mastering grade. Most mastering suites are large rooms (3000 cubic feet or larger...) in which nearfields just won't cut it.

    However, I do feel that you could easily mix on a mastering set up.

  9. headchem

    headchem Guest

    To clarify: near-fields and mid-fields are best for mixing, while far-fields are best for mastering? Is it just a matter of convenience and budget that mixing rooms are smaller, or is it really better to mix in a smaller room with near / mid-fields, and really better to master in a bigger room with far-fields? Or is that question like asking what the best compression settings are...
  10. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    It has more to do with the room than the size of the speakers. You can use larger monitors and move them back if the room is good. If the room is designed around production and has a bunch of stuff in the room etc. You will have a much harder time dealing with the problems of the room, so put up a small set of monitors, move them close to your head and you reduce the effect of the room. But if you want to get a nice balanced presentation of what the music sounds like, use large full range monitors, move them back, that is if your room sounds good.
  11. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    WY / CA
    Home Page:
    What is a mix monitor suppose to be? What quality does a mix monitor have that's separates it from a tracking, mastering or adr monitor?
    Many monitors are indeed near-field, but certainly not all (PA speakers for example). Of those speakers which are near-field (inferring less than full range), I would qualify that the vast majority are NOT "mastering grade".
    One purpose of near-fields is actually to minimize the room's influence on the monitoring, so I am not sure how rooms size enters into it.

    Maybe you shot this post off in haste, but your comments strike me as erroneous and confusing. Maybe you would clarify?
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    hmm...I don't see how it's erroneus and confusing at all. perhaps you missed the title of the thread or the previous responses. we are not referring to pa speakers or other types. the topic here is about using tracking (or mixing or whatever other term you would like to use for the $500 guitar center special nearfields) as monitors during mastering.

    which is precisely why I brought up room sizes. mastering monitor chains obviously usually use full-range systems which are typically NOT nearfield.

    furthermore, if you'll notice I used quotation marks around the term monitor. the reason I did was because monitors in the sense of this discussion mainly refers to monitors as the aforementioned gc special.

    please pardon any poor punctuation or caps - I'm typing this on a pda on 95 just outside phillie...

  13. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Sheeesh! And you didn't call or stop by?!?!? :twisted: I could have at LEAST put you on my wireless router and let you post that from here. 8)

    As for separate mixing vs. mastering monitors, I agree there can be differences. For recording and tracking, I prefer a bigger image, wider sweet spot, and the ability to play back for a room full of musicians, either on location or in a studio. While I don't like to EVER work "loud"; there are speakers that are good for this. (The Adam SA3's are a good speaker for this; you can work with them louder in general, and from a larger distance out, instead of nearfield.)

    For mixing and mastering, I prefer to work alone, or with ONE artist or rep (conductor, music director, etc.) working with me, in my own space where I know the room and am comforatble and understand what I'm hearing. I ask for one rep for a reason; someONE has to be the final decision maker. (Or "Decider" as Dubya would say....) I mix and master at lower levels, and do critical listening sitting dead center, among other things. I also can work better with one to one interaction (instead of trying to please a whole group of folks). The Lipinski's are an incredible speaker for this (and IMVHO, the Adams are NOT.) However, the "Sweet Spot" for the Lipinski's is smaller, and they sound better when seated in front of them (at ear level) as opposed to standing. (Which only helps to reinforce the idea of working alone or with one other client present.)

    And for final mastering, I'd never work without a sub, either. Not for knocking down the wall with super low bass, but for making sure I've caught it all.... You'd be amazed at what even some "Pro's" miss down there....
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    Sorry. I actually was going to Jersey for a couple days and then coming right back. Unfortunately I had no spare time on this trip, otherwise, I'd have called you and gone out to one of Philly's finer restaurants (I'm dying to try Morumoto's!)

    Perhaps next time... I swing up to Jersey on at least a monthly basis...


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