What studio monitor is better and why?

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by Tonatiuh, Aug 25, 2010.

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  1. Tonatiuh

    Tonatiuh Guest

    First time purchasing a studio monitors.

    I have seen that (in the paper) the main difference is the range of frequencies they can play.


    1) Mackie HS624MK2: 45 Hz - 6 Khz
    2) Mackie MR5: 60 Hz - 20 Khz (± 3dB)
    2) Yamaha HS80M: 42 Hz - 20 Khz (-10 dB)

    What does this numbers really mean?

    What is the lowest frequency that I would need to reproduce? I only create backing tracks for my saxophone, and I think the lower frequencies would be for the basses, but I do not know what is the lower frequency that a bass can play in. Most of times, I get a midi and use VST sounds to create the final backing track (I use Cubase 5). My style is Smooth Jazz, Blues, Traditional Jazz and Love Pop songs.

    Any idea about this numbers or aditional data that I need to underestand and analyze about a studio monitors, is WELLCOME!
  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003

    This information will be more easily explained using Wikipedia. All my figures below are guesses/just plain wrong.

    The frequency response of a speaker system relates to the audible range it can reproduce. Humans can hear from something like 20Hz to 20,000Hz.

    An instrument may play *notes* in the region of 270-1000Hz but the frequency response needed to reproduce these is much higher, as the timbre of an instrument represents multiple harmonics impacting on each other.

    Most speakers will reproduce something like 40Hz - 20kHz. This is in most cases fairly immaterial to the timbre with which they reproduce those frequencies.

    The lower the bass response, the better for low harmonics and subwoofer-type activity.

    The numbers mean the response range, together with the variation to a flat EQ curve - all speakers have this variation as nothing is a perfect system. Incidentally either the mackie numbers are just wrong, or the MK2 is a subwoofer that goes with the 624s?

    Anyway, its all pretty meaningless with respect to what speakers to buy. Spend some time searching the forums and reading up on what the numbers mean to get a better impression of what you actually need to consider.
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    This Interactive Frequency Chart might help you understand what the fundamental frequency range is on a variety of instruments. But as Jeemy is saying, there is more to the timbre of an instrument than just the fundamental.

    Will your backing tracks use bass, piano, drums? They go pretty low.

    If possilbe take a CD of songs you are very familiar with and take them to a store that has monitors you can listen to - that's all that matters. Factor in the quailty - or lack of quality - their listening room has, and buy them with the condition you can return them if they sound terrible at your place.

    This is a case where numbers can be misleading, and in your example the Yamaha is saying that it can reproduce a note as low as 42Hz, but it will be at a level 10dB lower than it should be. The performance drops off pretty dramatically.
    While the MR5 lists 60Hz as the bottom of it's range, notice it's within ±3dB of being where it should be from 60Hz all the way up to 20kHz. If you play material below 60Hz, (which includes Smooth Jazz, Blues, Pop, etc.) the MR5 will try to produce 42Hz and lower, but it will be with reduced efficiency - most likely it would graph out very comparable to the Yamaha. So the specs are relatively meaningless.

    Good manufacturers will have details about how they took the measurements, 'budget-oriented' companies tend to exaggerate their specs by omitting certain details to fudge the specs to look good on paper. But in the real world, the maximum-before-meltdown spec isn't what you need.

    That's why it's worth the effort to go to a brick and mortar music store with a CD you know. Make your choice based on what your ears tell you. Bearing in mind, a good reference monitor should reveal detail - which isn't always flattering - it's brutally honest and accurate.

    A REALLY good studio monitor will go down to about 30Hz and stay accurate to within 2 or 3 dB (30Hz is a full octave below 60Hz), but very few of us can afford that kind of performance.

    So the manufacturers of reasonably priced monitors have to decide how truthfully they want to present the specs. This is a case where the graph for the specific speakers might be easier to comprehend how quickly the performance declines below a certain frequency. You can always add a separate subwoofer if low-end performance becomes an issue.

    This is the curve from my monitors spec sheet.


    You can see they're fairly accurate down to 50Hz, and by the time you get down to 40Hz it's performing at about -6. Material at 30Hz is performing at -15 and by 20Hz it's about -28dB below the pink noise or test tone it's being compared to. [ on the graph between 20 - 100 each vertical line represents 10 ]

    Good luck, hopefully that helps a little bit.
  4. Tonatiuh

    Tonatiuh Guest


    Your explanation was VERY helpfull.

    Thank you!
  5. BassFuzz

    BassFuzz Active Member

    Jul 13, 2010
    In the end the numbers while helpful won't tell you that much on how the monitors will sound in your environment. Speakers with similar looking specs (say 40hz-20Khz +-3db)can sound way different (if you have + - 3 db that means up to 6 db variance at any particular freq from one speaker brand to the next, say one brand is -3db at 3k and another is +3 at 3k they will sound different). Best thing of course is to audition and start learning what various speaks sound like.
  6. Steve@Russo

    Steve@Russo Active Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    I owned both mackies, the Yamaha's are surpassingly good for the money

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