HiFi speakers vs Studio monitors - myth ?

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by speakeasy, Apr 8, 2006.

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  1. speakeasy

    speakeasy Guest

    :!: Here's an interesting one for you. Opinions welcomed but please be polite. For some 5 years now I've held the belief that for the purchase of studio "monitors ' in the price range of around $1,000 - $2,000 you'll be waisting your money.
    I've been using Alesis Active mark Ones. They sound good but that's as far as it goes. Unfortunately ACCURACY is where they fall short. Bias to bass in my opinion. That means that bass is DOWN when I check my final mixes on a range of Hi Fi speakers where ultimately, my work will be heard.
    Pardon my ignorance, but what would at all be wrong with using high quality bang & Olufsen Hi Fi speakers for my work ? After all B&O are reknowned for the quality of thier speakers and when it gets down to it, in the end THAT is where music is LISTENED to - and NOT on studio
    " monitors " My theory : If my work is going to sound good on B&O Hi Fi speakers - it's surely will translate relatively to ANY other speaker.
  2. twon

    twon Guest

    Hi-Fi speakers are engineered to sound "nice". they are hyped in certain frequencies that sound nice. for monitoring your mixes you want to hear exactly what is going on. this may not necessarily be "nice" but if it sounds nice on accurate monitors, then your mix should translate to any system. by all means use the hifi speakers as a "b" set to listen on but i wouldnt use them as my primary monitors

  3. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Active Member

    Feb 13, 2006
    I use my near field monitors to mix with, and my headphones are my "B" reference. After a mixdown I use my car stereo as my "C" reference. And I enjoy using different friends home stereo systems to judge my mixes on as a last test.
    If it sounds good on all 4 or 5 references then I'm happy.
    just my 2 cents
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    Polite... right.

    At any rate, the deal with "el' cheapo" $1k-2k monitors vs "quality" hi-fi myth is a valid argument... to a point.

    As twon mentioned, (as will others I'm sure) it's all about the accuracy. The bottom line. Does your mix translate well to virtually every other system?

    I purposely went to one of the big chains and bought a set of mid-range Polks and a typical sub along with a typical Harman AVR and stuck it in my livingroom.

    I do a mix and bring it to the livingroom. If it passes there, the truck, the car and an iPod, it's probably good enough to take to the client or send to mastering.

    The accuracy thing works like this IMO...

    If your conrtol room environment is acoustically neutral, then it's the monitors that will make or break what you hear. If your control room environment is colored, it along with the monirors will be what make or break the mix.

    The argument then becomes are there monitors that best fit the environment you have?

    Assuming that acoustically neutral environments are virtually non-existant in the vast majority of the "prosumer" market, you have to know the coloration of the room to empower one with the ability to select an appropriate set of monitors. e.g. If your room is suffering from too much low frequency, then you should consider monitors that have a low frequency deficiency in as close proximity as your room's over efficiency.

    All too often, purchases are made exclusively on recommendations and not with the ears of the purchaser... waaaa to those who make a bad decision.

    So, in many cases I'd argue that a good set of hi-fi speakers can (operative word) be just as effective as a cheap set of monitors. The goal of getting a mix that translates is dependant upon so many factors. The environment being the greatest influence, the monitor being next. However, as needs to also be given the same weight as both of these, is the set of ears listening.

  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    CHEAP HiFi speakers are "hyped" - "Real" audiophile-grade stuff is anything but hyped... Most of what is considered "studio monitos" by today's standards are small, narrow-dispersion, short-throw, nearfield boxes that are made to sound "reasonably" accurate from a yard away - Thus making the room less of an issue. Most are physically incapable of producing "true" accuracy across the spectrum.

    In a reasonably well-treated room, I'll take quality hi-fidelity loudspeakers and components over almost anything that says "studio monitor" on it.

    To a point, most "studio monitors" today were designed to BE the "B" set against a pair of full-range, wide dispersion, standard-throw loudspeakers.

    Of course, once you get into the larger (wide dispersion, standard throw, full range) Genelecs, ADAM's, Quested's, etc., that pretty much goes out the window...
  6. speakeasy

    speakeasy Guest

    Re Studio "monitors a myth " Thanks to all.

    :) Brilliant !! At last a forum where intelligent and meaningful comment prevails. Thankyou all for the helpful and interesting opinion !
    My Alessis Active Mk Ones will have to do me for a while. I do as many of you do, and check my work on a number of speaker types. I've kind of adapted to these monitors by often increasing the bass level in my mixes and final mastering. It seems to be working.

    Cheers, I look forward to conversing.
  7. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    Personally, I've never understood the argument to pop coin on "studio monitors". And if you aske 'who likes what' in any forum you'll absolutely see negative comments about every line manufactured (including the beloved Yamaha NS-10's). You'll see experienced comments talking about how the high's are hyped on this pair, the lows are too hyped on that pair and how some monitors really fool you on mids.

    I monitor nearfield through a surround set of Altec Lansings setup so when I move to a different area of the room I don't loose the highs that you normally loose from nearfield tweeters (which is why ribbon monitors are so coveted). And my "Big's" are nothing more than solid Infinity RS series reference monitors powered by an excellent Sansui integrated amp from the 70's that has a built-in switch to flip to a Mono mix. I can honestly say I don't have problems with my mixes translating and am very rarely disappoint when listening to my mixes on other test systems.

    Monitoring, of course, is a personal preference; like everything else in this world. Would I like to have a pair of Adam S2's? Hell yeah! Can I acheive the same results with a decent pair of reference speakers? Hell yeah! I just so happens my budget absolutely restricts me from having a pair of S2's.

    Just remember one thing I guess: mixing on the most expensive monitor's in the world will never guarantee that people are going to like the music or the mix.
  8. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Could you use home speakers. Yes. Of course, why not? I'd love to have a set of Thiels, here... I have no way to know how "accurate" they are, nor, in my situation, does it matter in the slightest, but I wouldn't care - they're just so darned cool... One can learn to use any speakers - you have to "learn them all" in any event, but, with luck, some are easier to learn(We must hope - or test to see/hear) that they don't try to FORCE things to sound good -- or -- more to the point "different" than things really are!!! We have enough troubles to contend with without making them up with, fer shure, innaccurate speakers Still, the point of "which speakers are best" is completely moot, without -----

    I think someone already said this, but I would echo same...

    To expect any kind of "accuracy", certainly to spend any kind of "big money" on speakers before taming the room is just plain silly... If you have just got to spend money, spend it on hiring an accoustics engineer to tell you what you need to do -- do it as you can(Or, hire it done! NO SHAME in not being an accoustician OR a carpenter -- if you can afford it- and can you not? - have someone do it for you - you'll pat yourself, gently, on your ears for the rest of your studio career.) -- have him back, often, to check-up, then, maybe, invest in some good speakers that both of you agree will work with the room and your needs(He/she will likely design the room around particular speakers?). Until then, "checking around" for an average(Likely a bad average - gee, just like home!) by going from room to room and car to car(You hooker, you!) to get a feel for what you're doing, then, "learning" the speakers/room you DO have, and how your mixes HAVE to sound IN your room to sound OK elsewhere, will have to do...... Actually, long after you have the perfect room and speakers, you'll still be out there in your Ford 500, "makin' sure"....

    I try to buy speakers that "just fill the space" - my "nearfield space" I'm in, listening at high-levels to edit, MUCH lower to actually "listen" to what I've done, in an attempt to avoid as much of "the room" as I can(Sort've impossible - but I try), using reviews from people that seem to know more than I do to pick them out - I can't even audition "a few pairs" in my own space... along with their color, which must be pretty, of course...... I think I'd like my Thiel's, in fine Cherry veneer, if you've a mind to spend some more money - on me(I'm a hooker , too..!).

  9. TheArchitect

    TheArchitect Active Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    This is where these type of dicsussions get difficult from the get go. I use those same speakers and I find them to translate exactly opposite. Even with a lot of time and money spent on acoustic treatment I find my mixes done on the Mk1's trend towards bass heavy on other systems. There is no way to plug the human aspect into this type of discussion
  10. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Active Member

    Feb 13, 2006
    I do believe what he is referring to is what we American's used during prohibition. When you wanted some demon rum or some liquor, you needed to go downtown to the "speakeasy". After you knocked on the door you softly speak a code word(s) that would let the man behind the door know, you are cool and you are looking.
    Speakeasy's are still in use today. But you don't need 'em for beer and liquor. Just hard drugs for the Presidents son to do, so he can oneday be President.
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    I was polite... wasn't I?

    Speakeasy was possibly expecting some rabid responses? I dunno.

    He asked for responses to be civil, and I was just confirming that I was going to be polite.

  12. Cucco

    Cucco Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Loudspeakers are truly one of my favorite discussions!! I am, afterall, an audiophile and a musician first and a recordist second. If I had a choice whether to do only one thing all day - record music or listen to the music which you all recorded, I would definitely choose the latter given a good listening setup.

    So, that being said - here are a few comments.

    GOOD studio monitors are forced to pigeon hole themselves. As John indicates, nearfield monitors are intended to sound good up close - from about 1 meter. Get them into the mid or far field and UGGGHHH. HiFi speakers are generally NOT nearfield. They are typically voiced for mid or far field.

    Given that - I personally prefer a mid-field monitor for my studio work. I need to here how the sound opens up from the monitor (since I do a lot of classical work, I need to know how the sound interacts with a well tuned room.) I also really like good hifi speakers.

    Sorry, Bang and Olufsen are NOT good hifi speakers. They are glorified Bose speakers at best. Their mics are a different story. However, I would NEVER mix on B&Os just as I wouldn't on Bose. The key to both of their sounds is based on compromise, not reality.

    If I had to choose a hifi speaker to mix on, I would go with (probably in this order)

    B&W 802
    Paradigm Monitor 20
    Paradigm Monitor 40 (or higher)
    NHT (so many to choose from)
    Vienna Acoustics (Mozart or Beethoven)
    Wilson Audio

    So many more...

    Another note - I don't run around checking my mixes out on other systems. I find this to be a giant waste of time. I know my monitoring set up inside and out. In my system, if the voice sits in the mix just right or is a little low, on a regular system, it will be drowned out. (My monitors have a far better than average phantom center). Also, if the bass is out of control heavy on my system, on home systems with subs, the foundation will shake.

    For me to run from here to there to my car to my buddy's house just to see if my $3000 studio monitoring system is okay, to me seems like a huge waste of time and effort... If it's not okay, what do I do?? Shall I take notes? Ie. "The bass is too big and the voice is buried" ......Then I bring all of my notes into my studio again, try to fix it and take it back out to my car, my buddy's house and so on....it just doesn't make sense.

    Spend good money and good effort on maximizing the quality of your room. Then, get monitors you like and you trust. Then, sit down and make or listen to music.

    To me, listening to music on a good playback system is like a drug. You can tell when it's been cut with asprin or baking soda (in other words - you can tell when something's off). The trick is spotting what's off and fixing it.

    If HiFis are what you want - go get them and be happy. Just make sure you have enough room for them in your monitoring system - they'll take some space to open up.

    Good luck!!!

  13. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Active Member

    Feb 13, 2006
    I just report the facts. You decide.
    Where have I heard that before? :roll:
    As far as monitors are concerned. As long as I have more than 1 set of reference(s). I can get a good mix. No matter weather it's a pair of headphones and a set of monitors or whatever. It's when I "trust" ANY one set of speakers and rely ONLY on that set to give me the total picture. That's where the Truth becomes more like a "white lie".
    O.K. I'm heading down to the local speakeasy to get my head straight.
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Well-Known Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Anyone with the ability to alter individual tracks to suit their tastes in any sonically acceptable environment can use ANY set of speakers,phones,tincans,etc etc. as monitors.

    There are no rules.

    Okay there is ONE rule. And I just mentioned it.

    There are those who would strive for accuracy at any price and would and COULD spend hours upon hours explaining the nuances and reasons for this. And they would be absolutely right.

    There are others who require a wide stereo field in order to accomplish their magic and have documented proof of the need for this. Their reasoning would be faultless and true.

    Still others would opt for an environment where the level of reproduction has to be one in which their particular style of clientele live their lives and a quiet accurate room would never allow them the ability to mix in rage and bombastic nihilism particular to their art. And ,again, they would be completely right.

    Not to mention those with a budget and a love for this game.

    Achieving translation to other forms of media and different sets of reproduction equipment is first and foremost to those who do this for the coin. This fact alone makes their choices of monitors tend towards accuracy over sweetness in playback.

    Its all about choices, but nowhere in this discussion has anyone concluded that each individual can choose whatever they wish to use, but MUST expect a learning curve of some time in order to begin to hear and understand the subtle nuances of ANY set of speakers available. Obviously, as ones experience grows, this timeframe will alter as will ones abilties to shorten this time by simply knowing what to hear and how to translate it properly.

    What I mix on in my room: Genelec 1029 nearfields with the matching sub....I check mixes from the bridge on Celestion Model 3's powered by an old stereo tube amp of custom built construction (think MacIntosh)....I check on the house system with B&O's (very very old ones) an NEC receiver(has a large transformer in it) as the front speaks, AR15's as the rears and a BIC sub in a vaulted room....When I go to the big studio to mix for real I use Genelec 1031's in front 8050's in back the big Gene sub and 1031 as the center for any 5.1 kinda mixes. The room is neutral with a bit of cloudyness in the uppermids.

    I have spent many many hours on 4311's, 803's,Westlakes, Yamahas ....whatever. Each time out, I had to 'learn' the room and how the monitors reacted at certain volumes to it. When I found the sweetspot it was time to get busy and do the work.
  15. speakeasy

    speakeasy Guest

    Re : Quality Hi Fidelity speakers.

    :) Hi Massive Mastering. Your comments I find very interesting.
    I have a pair of old B&O 901 hifi speakers that I used years ago for my recording work. I still use them, and I swear they have a truer ratio Bass, to mid to tops than my " studio monitors" Not to say that I'm against studio monitors. Given the right choice, no doubt they are as effective.
    In regards room acoustics , I've found that I've adapted to the room acoustics and most of my work now seems to be turning out fine, but its another area that I really need to learn more about.

  16. speakeasy

    speakeasy Guest

    Hi Steve.
    My "speakeasy" nickname I thought of relating to sound speakers.
    A la speak /sound speaker / speaker / at forum etc..
    Cheers and thanks for your comments
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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