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Old 29th September 2008 , 11:13 AM
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Hi All,

It would be greatly appreciated if you had any suggestions for my first, entry-level, pair of studio monitors.

Mixing/mastering is the current craze for me at the moment, it's often the one primary thing I end up unhappy with after creating a track. All the inspiration and interest is there but I can never quite get the 'impact' from a track that I desire if that makes any sense.

I now own a Mackie mixer which I have started mixing tracks through. This has really helped and I have noticed a nice improvement in dynamic range and overall 'umphh' (to coin a technical term!) in my work.

I do have an accurate pair of headphones which I use to create music and reference with, I like working on headphones because I find I am much more intimately involved with what I am doing.

However, the only speakers I can 'monitor' through are my Creative Gigaworks 7.1. As a general setup these are fine, but the huge subwoofer means low end is greatly exaggerated. I have also noticed that in comparison to my headphones, they sound very 'muggy' and I don't hear as many frequencies.
Some of this I can attribute to my own mixing ability but i'm quite sure the speakers are not accurate enough for me to monitor with.

As such I would like to invest in a good pair of studio monitors. Money is a little tight at the moment, so I would rather look more to the entry-level end of purchasing, unless that is a profoundly bad idea and not worth the investment, in which case feel free to shoot me down!

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Jake
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Old 29th September 2008 , 11:19 AM
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Monitors (and acoustic treatment) are probably the most important thing in getting you to a decent mix. You haven't said what your budget is but, to be honest, you need to be shooting at the Adam A7 or Dynaudio BM5a as the minimum level if you can at all stretch to it. There are lots of other posts on monitors and treatment so I'd suggest yous tart by reading them.

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Old 29th September 2008 , 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by TrevCircleStudios View Post
yous tart

T
He was only asking!

Adam A5 or Dynaudio BM5. Are they good monitors? I'll be in the market for some soon, with any luck.
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Old 8th October 2008 , 08:12 AM
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I've heard that the BM5s are alright overall monitors, but don't like being driven very hard (they clip easily and shut themselves down). However, not having a pair of my own to verify this, take this with a LARGE pinch of salt.

I have the Samson Rubicon R6As - I love the ribbon tweeters, and overall their sound is really nice for the price, but I've had to take them back three times (I'm now on my third set!) The first set, which were an older build, started buzzing and humming fairly soon, took them back, got them repaired (but didn't fix the problem)... I also had problems with one of the units' ribbons just stopping working, and this happened several times across two different units (and through two repairs). The same problems happened again twice more, got brand new units in the end. These units have a differently designed body but once again, the same problem happened with one of the monitors.

I'm guessing from all the problems I've had (ribbons cutting out, excessive hum etc) that there's either a weak point in the manufacture of the monitors' amp stages, or possibly that they do not like being operated on UK 230v mains AC. (You do wonder!)

Anyway, touch wood this third pair has worked fine so far, although they're VERY sensitive to interference and will quite happily hum away regardless of the rest of your setup in certain circumstances. In my new place, the unwanted noise almost completely disappears if I unplug the audio cables from the back of the monitors, but in my parents place and my old house this only diminished the humming. I almost resorted to driving a spike into the ground and running them off that earth! but decided not to in the end.


(as an aside, DV Brum were *exceptionally* helpful and never once charged me for any of the shipping, even offering to pick up the faulty items and despatch once repaired/replaced - I felt quite bad about costing them money (as it would cost), so I ended up taking the monitors along in person (I considered it fair enough considering how helpful they were). I got the impression they wanted to ensure I got a satisfactory product however much it took, so top marks to them there! Sound Technology, the UK distributors, were the delaying factor usually - they took quite literally MONTHS in a couple of cases to turn around my repair or replacement, and both me and DV were left hanging on waiting for a response or update from them - and even then, didn't always repair the fault. My sub came back from its own repair (either the amp stage and/or the power stage almost completely broke one day without warning, really low level output even with the gain cranked, plus massive hum and buzz)... since then, it's not performed at full quality since; it's now more inclined to hum and always hums even with nothing connected except the mains lead - and the volume knob isn't flush with the other knobs or the main case, which indicates they've taken it apart and replaced some components but it STILL isn't working properly. Useless.

But never mind, this isn't DV's fault in the slightest, I can do nothing but recommend their after-sales support! so if you do have a problem with whatever you buy, don't worry about it - just get on the phone to DV and they will help you out.


Anyway, back on point. I'm running both the monitors and the sub (a Resolv 120a) off my old UPS now, in an attempt to provide as clean as possible an AC source and have all the speakers and the mixer driving them earthed to a common ground... With a little cable rerouting nearly all of the unwanted noise has gone, but I'm hoping that by using balanced XLR-TRS cables (arriving this week, hopefully) that will help shield further. I may buy some ferrite rings too. If you have a poor ring main or crap earth wiring resulting in some kind of ground loop in your house though, nothing will save you. (in my parent's house, there's so much stuff hooked up in the living room that I just get AC hum on my Rubicons almost constantly, regardless of how they're set up and connected!)


When the Samsons work, they're great value for the price and their treble response is just fantastic, which is what you'd expect from ribbons. The midrange drive is also alright, although you do need a sub to pair them up with for low end stuff. On balance, I don't think I'd buy them again if I needed absolute trouble-free performance, I might consider the Adams (or maybe some KRKs, which also sound pretty good but I've read about the various hissing problems they can also encounter). Then again, if at all possible then you may as well spend that little bit more and go to the 400-600 price range. That said, for someone on a budget who can put up with a little trouble here and there perfecting their routing and setup to avoid any possible interference, they're well worth it. And I suppose it helps you learn some of the tips and tricks to get your studio audio setup working as well as you possibly can


Again, regarding sound quality, the Rubicons are fairly transparent - not as detailed as a Genelec system and (of course!) nowhere near even the more modestly-priced ATCs, but heck, they'd certainly be a useful addition to your studio even if only used as A/B references. SACD and DVD-A material sounds reallllly nice on them, with exceptionally crisp and pure high frequency response (there's nothing worse than a tweeter which introduces horrible distortion into high frequencies) - but you should pair your room up with some good acoustic treatment (particularly bass treatment) so you can balance the room response out nicely. Music Tech mag, in their review of both the R5a and the R6a remarked that maybe you'd consider buying the smaller R5a over the R6a as the bass response was slightly less 'wooly' - although they were in a controlled professional studio environment, and my home studio doubles as my bedroom, so make up your own mind. However, my next step is to get some rockwool and fab some cheap bass traps!


Samson have also released the R8a now - I've not had a chance to listen to them, but I may amble down to my local DV with some test material and audition the R8a along with some other monitors in the same price range when I make my next purchase. I will definitely keep the R6as in my gear collection as they would certainly make excellent rear or side monitors in a surround setup.
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Old 8th October 2008 , 08:59 AM
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Quote:
I've heard that the BM5s are alright overall monitors, but don't like being driven very hard (they clip easily and shut themselves down). However, not having a pair of my own to verify this, take this with a LARGE pinch of salt.
I have a pair in my edit room. Never had such a problem. They are in another league from the Samsons. If budget is not tight enough to reach for Adams (Frank says the A5 is useable though I havent heard it) look at Tannoys
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Old 8th October 2008 , 09:50 AM
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You know when you've got decent monitors when you prefer them to your headphones.

The cheaper end never sound as good - usually unclear/muddy bass.

Once you get the clarity - then you only use headphones when you have to be quiet.

You'll be looking around 400+ a pair to get that sort of mixing clarity.

It's worth it!
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Old 8th October 2008 , 10:00 AM
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i have to say i used the bm5a's and they where lovely, i did listen to some adams too and KRK's for that matter, imo for mixing, adams, dynaudio and the krk's added too much colour in the mix, low end in particular. the adam's where just unbelievabley clear esp for the price
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Old 8th October 2008 , 10:48 AM
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The ADAM A7s are reasonably priced, at a little over 500.

Anyone used the Mackie HR824s MKII? They sound great for dance music - I've mixed on these.

I personally have the little Genelec 8020As and they're lovely.
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Old 8th October 2008 , 11:18 AM
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The ADAM A7s are reasonably priced, at a little over 500.

Anyone used the Mackie HR824s MKII? They sound great for dance music - I've mixed on these.

I personally have the little Genelec 8020As and they're lovely.
funnily enough i prefer the mkI Mackies, and genelecs are lovely sounding a great monitor through out the range
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Old 9th October 2008 , 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Woods View Post
I've heard that the BM5s are alright overall monitors, but don't like being driven very hard (they clip easily and shut themselves down). However, not having a pair of my own to verify this, take this with a LARGE pinch of salt.

I have the Samson Rubicon R6As - I love the ribbon tweeters, and overall their sound is really nice for the price, but I've had to take them back three times (I'm now on my third set!) The first set, which were an older build, started buzzing and humming fairly soon, took them back, got them repaired (but didn't fix the problem)... I also had problems with one of the units' ribbons just stopping working, and this happened several times across two different units (and through two repairs). The same problems happened again twice more, got brand new units in the end. These units have a differently designed body but once again, the same problem happened with one of the monitors.

I'm guessing from all the problems I've had (ribbons cutting out, excessive hum etc) that there's either a weak point in the manufacture of the monitors' amp stages, or possibly that they do not like being operated on UK 230v mains AC. (You do wonder!)

Anyway, touch wood this third pair has worked fine so far, although they're VERY sensitive to interference and will quite happily hum away regardless of the rest of your setup in certain circumstances. In my new place, the unwanted noise almost completely disappears if I unplug the audio cables from the back of the monitors, but in my parents place and my old house this only diminished the humming. I almost resorted to driving a spike into the ground and running them off that earth! but decided not to in the end.


(as an aside, DV Brum were *exceptionally* helpful and never once charged me for any of the shipping, even offering to pick up the faulty items and despatch once repaired/replaced - I felt quite bad about costing them money (as it would cost), so I ended up taking the monitors along in person (I considered it fair enough considering how helpful they were). I got the impression they wanted to ensure I got a satisfactory product however much it took, so top marks to them there! Sound Technology, the UK distributors, were the delaying factor usually - they took quite literally MONTHS in a couple of cases to turn around my repair or replacement, and both me and DV were left hanging on waiting for a response or update from them - and even then, didn't always repair the fault. My sub came back from its own repair (either the amp stage and/or the power stage almost completely broke one day without warning, really low level output even with the gain cranked, plus massive hum and buzz)... since then, it's not performed at full quality since; it's now more inclined to hum and always hums even with nothing connected except the mains lead - and the volume knob isn't flush with the other knobs or the main case, which indicates they've taken it apart and replaced some components but it STILL isn't working properly. Useless.

But never mind, this isn't DV's fault in the slightest, I can do nothing but recommend their after-sales support! so if you do have a problem with whatever you buy, don't worry about it - just get on the phone to DV and they will help you out.


Anyway, back on point. I'm running both the monitors and the sub (a Resolv 120a) off my old UPS now, in an attempt to provide as clean as possible an AC source and have all the speakers and the mixer driving them earthed to a common ground... With a little cable rerouting nearly all of the unwanted noise has gone, but I'm hoping that by using balanced XLR-TRS cables (arriving this week, hopefully) that will help shield further. I may buy some ferrite rings too. If you have a poor ring main or crap earth wiring resulting in some kind of ground loop in your house though, nothing will save you. (in my parent's house, there's so much stuff hooked up in the living room that I just get AC hum on my Rubicons almost constantly, regardless of how they're set up and connected!)


When the Samsons work, they're great value for the price and their treble response is just fantastic, which is what you'd expect from ribbons. The midrange drive is also alright, although you do need a sub to pair them up with for low end stuff. On balance, I don't think I'd buy them again if I needed absolute trouble-free performance, I might consider the Adams (or maybe some KRKs, which also sound pretty good but I've read about the various hissing problems they can also encounter). Then again, if at all possible then you may as well spend that little bit more and go to the 400-600 price range. That said, for someone on a budget who can put up with a little trouble here and there perfecting their routing and setup to avoid any possible interference, they're well worth it. And I suppose it helps you learn some of the tips and tricks to get your studio audio setup working as well as you possibly can


Again, regarding sound quality, the Rubicons are fairly transparent - not as detailed as a Genelec system and (of course!) nowhere near even the more modestly-priced ATCs, but heck, they'd certainly be a useful addition to your studio even if only used as A/B references. SACD and DVD-A material sounds reallllly nice on them, with exceptionally crisp and pure high frequency response (there's nothing worse than a tweeter which introduces horrible distortion into high frequencies) - but you should pair your room up with some good acoustic treatment (particularly bass treatment) so you can balance the room response out nicely. Music Tech mag, in their review of both the R5a and the R6a remarked that maybe you'd consider buying the smaller R5a over the R6a as the bass response was slightly less 'wooly' - although they were in a controlled professional studio environment, and my home studio doubles as my bedroom, so make up your own mind. However, my next step is to get some rockwool and fab some cheap bass traps!


Samson have also released the R8a now - I've not had a chance to listen to them, but I may amble down to my local DV with some test material and audition the R8a along with some other monitors in the same price range when I make my next purchase. I will definitely keep the R6as in my gear collection as they would certainly make excellent rear or side monitors in a surround setup.
Chris I have to say...that is a great post.

I have been seriously considering getting a pair of Rubicons after reading reviews and the results of a shootout. Your feedback above is excellent. I currently use a pair of Samsons (very happy with them) they have never given me a problem so I am sold on the Samson brand but I still might consider Rubicons at some point in future. I am surprised you had so many issues with your speakers. Your comments raised a few doubts for me about Samson build quality. But my own experience remains 100% good so far.

Good to read about DV support being so helpful! That mirrors their input on the forum
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Old 16th November 2008 , 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by I_Am_Bic_Pentameter View Post
You know when you've got decent monitors when you prefer them to your headphones.

The cheaper end never sound as good - usually unclear/muddy bass.

Once you get the clarity - then you only use headphones when you have to be quiet.

You'll be looking around 400+ a pair to get that sort of mixing clarity.

It's worth it!
1.Really? I do know that you usually get what you pay for, but would it be a total waste of money to buy cheaper (<1000.00/pair) active monitors? (let's say around 500.00/pair)

2. 5's - 6's - 8's ? Is an 8"-Woofer too much for a room without acoustic treatment? Should I just stick to the 5" and be happy ? or...

3. ...just buy a pair of (e.g. )BEYER DT770-Pro until I improve the environment (and my mixing skills)..



PS:I wasn't sure if I should start a new thread or just post/ask in this one, but anyway.
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Old 17th November 2008 , 12:58 AM
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Someone like Trev on here will know what is good in that price range and will know about sizes and why X is better than Y etc.

My costing was low end of Pro ranges and even then a bit conservative. You only notice the difference when you step up. It's like your ears have been flushed out.

Here's the specs of the Adams a7 - they are 600 a pair - but at least it gives a flavour of what is in a good set.

The A7 matches the A.R.T. tweeter with a state of the art 6.5" woofer that introduces a new cone material combining high rigidity and high internal damping with low weight, resulting in an extremely accurate monitor with all the clarity, detail and spectacular imaging traditionally associated with the ADAM name.

The A7 is powered by two 50W RMS amps (one per driver). The front panel sports both a power switch and volume control. The rear panel houses controls for tweeter level and two shelving filters for high and low frequencies. The unit also features both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) input connectors, allowing it to be used in almost any audio application.

ADAM's A7 features the unique A.R.T. (Accelerated Ribbon Technology) Transducer, which is the main contributor to the success of ADAM studio monitors. The A.R.T. Transducer is what sets ADAM's A7 nearfield monitors apart from other monitors in this price range. The A7's A.R.T. Transducer sports a 4:1 velocity transformation between folio and air which improves the transient response, and the larger diaphragm allows for greater volume.

A7 Specifications

* Woofer : 165mm, Rohacell / Carbonfibre sandwich
* A.R.T. tweeter : A.R.T. Technology
* Freq.response(+ 3 dB) :46Hz - 35 kHz
* Panel (rear-mounted) : Input/HF gain, Hi/Lo EQ
* Power : 50W (sin), 80W (RMS)
* Inputs : balanced XLR + unbalanced RCA
* W x H x D : 180 x 330 x 280mm
* Weight : 8.1kg
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Old 17th November 2008 , 07:13 AM
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Good post IABP, if my budget was around the 500 mark give or take a ton i would go with the ADAM's all day long as referance mix down monitors
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Old 17th November 2008 , 02:40 PM
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I was not going intrude then I saw the Tannoys mentioned.

We have the 5a's and like them a lot. Someone mentioned that smaller, cheaper monitors tend to have peaky overblown bass? Not the T 5a's, in fact a bit too lean for some tastes I warrant but the "heft" IS there WHEN it is there (IYSWIM!).

Won't go loud, won't go low(very) but for my Bach and sons' jazz just the ticket.

If the 8d's keep the family cleanliness and give more grunt I would have a pair like a shot had I the need, the "pony" and the space.

Dave.
PS. a quintet of 5a's would make, IMHO a killer home theatre system along with a good sub. Bet DV's would do a deal?
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Old 18th November 2008 , 08:32 PM
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If you're on the entry-level end of the fiscal scale, then the Adam A5's are, as Trev so accurately put it, "usable". They are not great, but you can get work done on them. The A7's are good along with the BM5A's. Just to throw yet another contender in the mix, I use the JBL 4328's in my control room and love them. The "Room Correction" mode is stupid, but I just turn it off and forget about it.

Frank
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