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Topic: Speakers and monitors

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  1. #1

    Question Speakers and monitors

    Okay, here's a real bone-headed question for y'all ("senior moment" from a senior member ):
    What is the difference between speakers and monitors?

    All respondents are invited to be as snarky as they want considering the nature of this question!

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  2. #2

    Re: Speakers and monitors

    Hifi speakers are the ones you put in your living room. They should give a pleasing replication of the recording, at a variety of loudness settings, from a variety of listening angles. They tend to have a frequency response that's called the smile: the lower and higher frequencies are slightly boosted.

    Studio monitors (which of course could just as well be called speakers) are meant for monitoring recordings, are expected to be put in rooms with some decent acoustic properties, and should give a very, very detailed replication of the recording, at a limited range of loudness setting, but portray the true dynamic range from the recording. They can have a limited "sweet spot" (the place where your head has to be in order to hear properly). They should not change the tonal balance of the sound (so no smile, although there are some monitors that do color, but these usually have a specific function) and should be useable for long periods (8 to 16 hour mixing sessions seem to be a normal thing), so anything that makes you tired (sound fatigue) is considered bad. Nearfield monitors are monitors to be used a close distance.

    There are "units" that can function both as speakers and monitors.

    There is a lot of information on the net, e.g. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun0...s/monitors.asp and http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul0.../monitors2.asp

    Finding a good monitor is like finding a good synth or car: there are a lot of personal preferences, and the rest is a matter of money.
    Theo

  3. #3

    Re: Speakers and monitors

    Quote Originally Posted by FLWrd View Post
    Hifi speakers are the ones you put in your living room. They should give a pleasing replication of the recording, at a variety of loudness settings, from a variety of listening angles. They tend to have a frequency response that's called the smile: the lower and higher frequencies are slightly boosted.

    Studio monitors (which of course could just as well be called speakers) are meant for monitoring recordings, are expected to be put in rooms with some decent acoustic properties, and should give a very, very detailed replication of the recording, at a limited range of loudness setting, but portray the true dynamic range from the recording. They can have a limited "sweet spot" (the place where your head has to be in order to hear properly). They should not change the tonal balance of the sound (so no smile, although there are some monitors that do color, but these usually have a specific function) and should be useable for long periods (8 to 16 hour mixing sessions seem to be a normal thing), so anything that makes you tired (sound fatigue) is considered bad. Nearfield monitors are monitors to be used a close distance.

    There are "units" that can function both as speakers and monitors.

    There is a lot of information on the net, e.g. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun0...s/monitors.asp and http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul0.../monitors2.asp

    Finding a good monitor is like finding a good synth or car: there are a lot of personal preferences, and the rest is a matter of money.
    Thanks, Theo -- your response clarified the matter for me quite nicely.

    My reason for asking the question (maybe not so bone-headed after all) is that I'm looking to replace a pair of Altec Lansing ACS340 computer speakers. I wanted to make sure that the choice I select is suitable for the audio work I'm doing with GPO4. Based on your explanation, I'll be looking for a pair of nearfield monitors. My two criteria are that a. they can run off my computer (either USB or plugged into my sound card), and b. the cost isn't going to be a budget-buster for me. Around $100-$150 is manageable, $200 would be pushing it. More than that, no way.

    When I posted a thread on headphones vs. speakers, one of the moderators recommended the Alesis M1Active 320 and 520 USB monitors. They fit both of my above criteria. Do you have any other recommendations? The Alesis monitors seem to be a solid choice, but I'd just like to see what others may be out there for me to look into.

    Thanks again!

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  4. #4

    Re: Speakers and monitors

    There are so many factors, and the most important one is your ears. Try to listen before you buy, and preferably in your own environment. Remember that monitor speakers sound different. Studio engineers judge them on their capability to reveal nasty details, so your first thought may be that they sound worse than what you're accustomed to.

    So a good test is to listen to them using "reference materials", recordings that you like and sound good to you, made by professional engineers. It may not sound nice, but avoid amateur material, such as mine and other stuff from the Listening Room. Not that it's bad music, but most of it has not been mixed on professional equipment (although e.g. DPDAN's mixes might be an exception), and you will be judging sound quality, not composition or orchestration skills. Start with super-high-quality material; the rest should wait until your ears have become accustomed to the sound and know how to interpret it.

    The Sound-on-Sound site I mentioned before also has reviews online (provided they're older than 6 months). While there are more reviews online, these are reasonably trustworthy, made by decent journalists with a lot of studio experience, and they do take things like price-performance ratio into account: http://www.soundonsound.com/search?u...42&Summary=Yes
    Theo

  5. #5
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Re: Speakers and monitors

    If you have a music store in your area like Guitar Center you might consider a pair of used monitors if they're not too old. You'll can usually get them for about half the price of new.

    I bought a used pair of Event TR8's years ago and have had good luck with them although I have had to replace a woofer in one of them for $100.


    Phil

  6. #6

    Re: Speakers and monitors

    Quote Originally Posted by fastlane View Post
    If you have a music store in your area like Guitar Center you might consider a pair of used monitors if they're not too old. You'll can usually get them for about half the price of new.

    I bought a used pair of Event TR8's years ago and have had good luck with them although I have had to replace a woofer in one of them for $100.


    Phil
    Actually, there's a Guitar Center about 5 miles from where I live. I went in there for the first time back in December when I purchased Sonar 8.5 Studio. That's a really good idea, especially since I could probably get a test listen of whatever used monitors they have available in the store. Think this route would definitely be worth a try, so thanks much for the suggestion, Phil!

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

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