Why don't we use Pro Monitors in our Homes? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
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So this has been bugging me:

The sound engineers, the mixers, the guys in the recording studios who are actually putting the recordings together - they use Professional Monitor speakers. Typically self-powered, bookshelf sized speakers from companies like Genelec, Focal Professional, KRK, Tannoy, etc.

Many of these companies also have "consumer" speakers, but there is typically a pretty clear distinction between the "Pro" speakers and the "consumer" speakers.

What are the real differences?

If the professionals who are actually making the music recordings are using certain speakers, why do we not use the exact same speakers in our homes?

It isn't price, because professional speakers often cost a lot less than "consumer" speakers and they are usually self-powered to boot!

I would just like to understand what is going on here. Do "consumer" speakers really sound different from "Pro" speakers? If so, in what way do they sound different and why would we want a different sound than what is actually being used to make the recordings?

Thanks for any enlightenment

Jon
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post #2 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 05:45 PM
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For starters they aren't using them in the same kind of rooms or using them in the same way. Plus having one AVR is simpler and cheaper.

Another thread that's partly about this

Search on powered and you'll turn up more discussion. Some people do use them.
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post #3 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 05:53 PM
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its just more difficult to run an active setup. Pro monitors are powered and use xlr inputs, you cant just get a cheap pre/pro or even receiver with xlr outputs, you cant even get a cheap receiver with regular preouts
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post #4 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply.

Perhaps I should clarify my question a little more because it isn't the self-powered part that really interests me. Not all professional monitors are self-powered anyway and that whole issue doesn't really change the sound - it's just a matter of where the amplifier(s) reside.

I'm talking more about the sound qualities: what makes pro speakers different from consumer speakers when it comes to the sound they produce?

buzzy_ mentions that recording studio rooms are different and that mixers/sound engineers etc. aren't using their speakers in the same way? Could you clarify on that a bit for me? The room being different - that I understand...but what does that mean for the speakers? Do they actually produce a distinctly different sound from consumer speakers in order to compensate for the room in some way? And in what sense are the mixers/engineers using their speakers in a way that is different from a consumer at home?

I'm just trying to wrap my head around why or even if we are hearing something different at home than what they heard when they made the recording
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post #5 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Teller View Post

Thanks for the reply.

Perhaps I should clarify my question a little more because it isn't the self-powered part that really interests me. Not all professional monitors are self-powered anyway and that whole issue doesn't really change the sound - it's just a matter of where the amplifier(s) reside.

I'm talking more about the sound qualities: what makes pro speakers different from consumer speakers when it comes to the sound they produce?

buzzy_ mentions that recording studio rooms are different and that mixers/sound engineers etc. aren't using their speakers in the same way? Could you clarify on that a bit for me? The room being different - that I understand...but what does that mean for the speakers? Do they actually produce a distinctly different sound from consumer speakers in order to compensate for the room in some way? And in what sense are the mixers/engineers using their speakers in a way that is different from a consumer at home?

I'm just trying to wrap my head around why or even if we are hearing something different at home than what they heard when they made the recording

The vast majority of studio monitors are active, very few good ones are not. Its not just an amp in a speaker, its and active, equalized, partially adjustable crossover. Good studio monitors will be adjustable to their environment (with that active crossover) so placement and room issues are greatly reduced.
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post #6 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 09:43 PM
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First off, not all studio monitors are active. It depends on the studio and their needs.
There is basically nothing different, in my opinion between monitors and non monitor speakers except quality, durability, ability to play loud and clean, all the things regular speakers should do.
In my opinion, people should listen more to monitors, they might be very surprised at the sound quality available with out all the marketing b s attached.
I use monitors and non monitors.
Monitors sometimes are not designed with good looks in mind.

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post #7 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone215 View Post

First off, not all studio monitors are active. It depends on the studio and their needs.
There is basically nothing different, in my opinion between monitors and non monitor speakers except quality, durability, ability to play loud and clean, all the things regular speakers should do.
In my opinion, people should listen more to monitors, they might be very surprised at the sound quality available with out all the marketing b s attached.
I use monitors and non monitors.
Monitors sometimes are not designed with good looks in mind.

Pretty sure I didn't say they were....
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post #8 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 10:17 PM
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Most of the studio monitors are also meant for nearfield listening, within 3 feet. I believe. They will sound different further away in a living room.
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post #9 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Okey Doke...so I think that what I am really asking is:

Is there any reason - in terms of sound quality - that I should avoid using professional monitors as my speakers at home?

If I don't care about looks, I'm able to run an XLR connection from my pre/pro to the speakers and all I care about is getting accurate, high-quality sound reproduction...is there something about professional monitors that will totally ruin the sound?

One thing that has crossed my mind is that virtually all professional monitors are designed for near field listening...where the listener is only 1-2 meters away. If I were, say, 8-10 feet away, is there something about the dispersion from a pro monitor that would adversely affect the soundstage or the imaging?

Finally, if pro monitors can be used at home; if they can be used while sitting 8-10 feet away: what exactly do these $10,000+ "consumer" speakers really provide that is "better" in terms of sound quality? The looks part - I can understand. But I can literally get the exact same speakers that they use in professional recording studios for, what, about $3000-$4000/pair? And there are many pro monitors that don't cost even nearly that much!

It just seems to me that pro monitors could potentially provide a very high value. But if they can only be used for near field listening, then that would explain things somewhat at least

Edit: ifor - I must have been typing as you posted your reply Can you explain in what way they will sound "different" from further away?
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post #10 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Teller View Post

Okey Doke...so I think that what I am really asking is:

Is there any reason - in terms of sound quality - that I should avoid using professional monitors as my speakers at home?

NO

If I don't care about looks, I'm able to run an XLR connection from my pre/pro to the speakers and all I care about is getting accurate, high-quality sound reproduction...is there something about professional monitors that will totally ruin the sound?

One thing that has crossed my mind is that virtually all professional monitors are designed for near field listening...where the listener is only 1-2 meters away. If I were, say, 8-10 feet away, is there something about the dispersion from a pro monitor that would adversely affect the soundstage or the imaging?

Finally, if pro monitors can be used at home; if they can be used while sitting 8-10 feet away: what exactly do these $10,000+ "consumer" speakers really provide that is "better" in terms of sound quality? The looks part - I can understand. But I can literally get the exact same speakers that they use in professional recording studios for, what, about $3000-$4000/pair? And there are many pro monitors that don't cost even nearly that much!

It just seems to me that pro monitors could potentially provide a very high value. But if they can only be used for near field listening, then that would explain things somewhat at least

The complication in running a pro setup, the looks, and the lack of hifi hype are the only major reasons pro monitors are not commonly used.

Near field simply means the speaker will work up close, that's why you only see 2-way's for this app. They will work further away just like a hifi 2-way. Mid fields are larger multi ways, they need space for all the drivers to sum. None of this is specific to pro sound, they just simplify it for the end user, there's no hifi voodoo involved.

If you want something deadly accurate and user friendly, with no frills, go for it. I've recommended JBL and Mackie studio monitors several times on this forum to people, most just glance over for the next hifi hype train.
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post #11 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 10:48 PM
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Hey Jonathan, good point and post as there's some distinct advantages to powered monitors. First off, no need to purchase an amp, a good preamp will do the trick or an AVR with Pre outs. NOT ALL monitors have XLR only, quite a few have RCA's. Second advantage is the active crossover, which allows for steep slopes and notch filters WITHOUT the associated cost or inherent drawbacks of passive components. Most monitor have a very flat frequency response which IMO is a good thing, holding true to what the engineer intended. Most are Bi-amped as well whcih is a BIG plus as the seperate amplifiers don't have to deal with sweeping impedance changes across their passband allowing for stable current supply. Mackie has some great offerings as Jay suggestedbut musicians friend is running a great deal on M-Audio EX66 MTM active monitors at 50% off. I've demoed these several times at my local GuitarCenter and i must say they are really impressive..even more so at $299

http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com...tor?sku=603710
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post #12 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 11:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Teller View Post

Okey Doke...so I think that what I am really asking is:

Is there any reason - in terms of sound quality - that I should avoid using professional monitors as my speakers at home?

If I don't care about looks, I'm able to run an XLR connection from my pre/pro to the speakers and all I care about is getting accurate, high-quality sound reproduction...is there something about professional monitors that will totally ruin the sound?

One thing that has crossed my mind is that virtually all professional monitors are designed for near field listening...where the listener is only 1-2 meters away. If I were, say, 8-10 feet away, is there something about the dispersion from a pro monitor that would adversely affect the soundstage or the imaging?

Finally, if pro monitors can be used at home; if they can be used while sitting 8-10 feet away: what exactly do these $10,000+ "consumer" speakers really provide that is "better" in terms of sound quality? The looks part - I can understand. But I can literally get the exact same speakers that they use in professional recording studios for, what, about $3000-$4000/pair? And there are many pro monitors that don't cost even nearly that much!

It just seems to me that pro monitors could potentially provide a very high value. But if they can only be used for near field listening, then that would explain things somewhat at least

Edit: ifor - I must have been typing as you posted your reply Can you explain in what way they will sound "different" from further away?

Check out this post about the JBL 6328p studio monitors, some of the best speakers on the planet:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post16679968

Notice they are using 'studio monitors' in a home theater reference setup.

Good speakers are good speakers, and these are among the best of the best.
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post #13 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 11:10 PM
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there are quite a few guys using powered pro-monitors in theaters over in the $20,000 plus forum.
Genelec seems to be the preferred choice over there.

But everything would depend on space beeded and budget. I am thinking about using pro-monitors myself. I am currently running M&K speakers with a Velodyne sub.
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post #14 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 11:12 PM
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Studio monitors may not image as well as standard speakers in normal (i.e. non-studio) circumstances.

"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."
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post #15 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 11:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

Studio monitors may not image as well as standard speakers in normal (i.e. non-studio) circumstances.

Why?
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post #16 of 513 Old 06-22-2009, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Why?

Well................... you had to go and ask for clarification, didn't you?!?!?

Because they are not (necessarily) made with that in mind. Now, for HT, how well your speakers image may or may not be important to you.

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post #17 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 01:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Interesting! My thanks to everyone

The whole distinction between "Pro" gear and "Consumer" gear has puzzled me for a long time. It would be one thing is "Pro" gear were always more expensive, but that is certainly not the case! Video Monitors are the same situation in many ways: they offer more calibration control and can be dialed in to near perfection and many do so for a lower price than the "consumer" models! But they forego things like pretty looks and "simplicity". No one can really argue that "consumer" models produce a "better" or more accurate picture. It's just that you normally can't buy the "Professional" model in a big box store!

If Professional Audio Monitors are to "consumer" speakers what Professional Video Monitors are to "consumer" displays, then I would rather go for the "Pro" monitors! I want accuracy! I want to see and hear what I am supposed to see and hear! I want to see and hear what was intended by the people who made the recording!

So my final question: other than looks - what justification is there for these outrageously expensive "consumer" speakers? I read these reviews and see these comments from people claiming such amazing performance. The whole time, I'm thinking to myself, "but these are not the speakers that were used by the recording engineers. Are these mega-buck speakers somehow improving upon the sound that was heard in the recording studio? Doesn't it make more sense to use equipment that approximates the same performance as the equipment that was used to make the recording? And if that idea is correct, what could be better than using the exact same equipment as what was used to make the recording?"

I think that, however, I am well aware the the equipment is only half of the equation. The room itself is the other half and most of us are not watching and listening in a room that mimics a recording studio. That said, as Jay1 said, professional audio monitors include active cross-overs that can be adjusted in order to compensate for room and placement acoustics. Combine that with pre/pro and outboard equalization and I have to believe it is possible to closely approximate the "studio sound" without actually building a "studio" as one's home theatre.
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post #18 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 01:44 AM
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Why do you keep bringing up "outrageously expensive 'consumer' speakers"?
There are just as expensive pro models as well.

Consumer vs. professional models do need not be expensive to perform well.
JBL makes very well regarded pro speakers that are under $1000. look at the LSR line of speakers.
Genelec also makes a wide range of speakers.

Also, keep in mind that even though the recording engineers us pro model speakers, most of the upper end masterers use audiophile speakers and amplifiers to finalize the recordings.


eg. Abbey Road Studios use almost exclusively, high end consumer rated speakers and amps for all of the studios.
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post #19 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 01:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

Well................... you had to go and ask for clarification, didn't you?!?!?

Because they are not (necessarily) made with that in mind. Now, for HT, how well your speakers image may or may not be important to you.

Awww, but they are! How do you think precise imaging is placed in a soundstage...
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post #20 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 02:52 AM
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Even in a fairly large room of a typical house I would only consider Pro monitors if they were nearfield. Those JBL 6328p's look pretty interesting. Still, they are only 2-way. I can usually hear the difference between 2-way and 3-way speakers, but I have not heard the JBL 6328p though.
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post #21 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 03:46 AM - Thread Starter
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ifor - I bring up "outrageously expensive "consumer" speakers" because of the skepticism-inducing claims I have read in reviews and comments of such speakers. Remarks about "retrieving detail" or "lifting a veil" or other remarks that basically imply that $20,000+ "consumer" speakers are superior to the very speakers with which the recordings were made! I just wasn't buying it and I wanted to know what could possibly be "wrong" about simply using the exact same speakers at home that were used to make the recording in the first place.

For me, it was the same sort of logic-based question as it was with cables and wire. If bulk Belden cable is good enough for the studios that make the content, why on Earth would it be necessary to spend multi-thousands of dollars per foot for exotic cables?

It's a similar thing for video too: if the pros that make the content adhere to strict, clear video standards, doesn't it make sense to also adhere to those calibration standards at home?

So applying that same logic to speakers, I wondered why we do not look to the very same speakers that are used to make the content when it comes time to play back that content at home. It seems to me that it has always been a greater divide between "pro monitors" and "consumer speakers" than it has been with cables or video displays. We pretty much all came around to accepting that broadcast quality cables - as inexpensive as they are - are perfectly well suited to home use as well and we also came around to the idea that adhering to the same video calibration standards as the pros made sense at home as well.

But with speakers, it seems to be, "Pro Monitors in the studio; Consumer speakers at home. And never shall one trade places with the other!" That just didn't make logical sense to me, but I did not know for sure...perhaps there really was a clear difference in design that would make professional monitors unsuitable for the home for some reason.

In the end, from what everyone has said here, it seems as though my suspicions were correct and there really is no reason why pro monitors - the very same ones that are used in professional recording studios - cannot be used at home as well. A great-sounding, accurate, flat frequency response speaker - whether labelled "Pro" or "Consumer" - is a good speaker regardless...just like cables...just like video displays.

And much like video displays, it seems to be mostly a matter of looks and user control options, with the "Pro" versions worrying less about looks and giving more potential control, while the "consumer" versions worry more about looks (understandably) and "simplifying" (ie. reducing) calibration control so as to avoid consumer confusion.

I may still be wrong though - perhaps there really is something to this "near field" design that makes pro monitors unsuitable for a listening position that is further away. Genelec's website seemed very helpful in this matter though where it appeared rather clear that the only major distinction came from maximum undistorted output. Their larger and more powerful speakers were suggested for ever increasing room size and distance from the speakers. That implies that professional monitors can, indeed, be used at longer seating distances, provided they simply have the undistorted output capabilities to handle the greater distance.

All of it makes sense to me and is in line with what logic would suggest: that there really is no reason we cannot use pro monitors at home. My personal preference is to adhere to standards and aim for utmost accuracy, so I feel greatly confident now that I can use professional speakers at home, just as I can use professional cables and a display that adheres to the same standards as a professional display
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post #22 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 08:01 AM
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Genelec has it right. If the monitor can play at reference levels from your seating position in your room then it can be used for film. I used cheaper behringer monitors and they did a great job. They would clip sometimes during peaks but I watch at reference levels.

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post #23 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 08:11 AM
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I can think of a few reasons 'Monitors' aren't as popular and NONE of the reasons has to do with performance.

First off, aesthetics.
PA monitors are generally plain, black boxes.
Personally, I can appreciate their utilitarian beauty. Form definitely follows function. But I can see why some would look at a pair and think they're hideous.
OTOH, you've got 'audiophile' speakers being wrapped in furniture-grade wood veneers. They're designed to look good and, hopefully, sound good.

Second is availability.
You can't just walk into a Hi-Fi shop and get most PA speakers. You can't walk into a big box store and get PA stuff.
Generally, you need to actually look around for PA equipment.

Next up: ignorance.
Most people don't even know PA exists. Sure they may have seen some speakers at a concert or club, but the thought of those types of speakers in their homes...

Lastly is the fact that this industry is influenced more by the 'audiophile' side. So you're, naturally, going to hear (no pun intended) a lot more about audiophile/consumer-grade stuff than pro audio stuff.
I mean if Wilson Audio announces a new speaker (which 99.9% of us can't even afford) you're going to see and hear about it all over the place.
OTOH, if QSC announces a new speaker you're going to hear crickets from those same sources.

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post #24 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifor View Post


eg. Abbey Road Studios use almost exclusively, high end consumer rated speakers and amps for all of the studios.

I wonder if they pay for any of it...

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post #25 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 10:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Teller View Post

No one can really argue that "consumer" models produce a "better" or more accurate picture.

And if that idea is correct, what could be better than using the exact same equipment as what was used to make the recording?"

Studios are not the last word in fidelity. As in consumer audio, pro audio should be judged speaker by speaker. There are plenty of crappy speakers in studios just like there are crappy speakers in consumer listening rooms. For this reason, it is indeed possible to have higher fidelity in the home than was achieved in the original recording process for a given recording.

Your other points are well taken, that is that if sound quality is your #1 objective, then you are smart to consider pro audio. If you buy a pair of LSR 6328p's, you have just purchased two speakers and FOUR purpose-built amps (they're biamped) as well as a parametric equalizer (they have a 1-band peq for smoothing out one bass irregularity). The on and off axis frequency reponse is phenomenally flat (i.e., neutral and ACCURATE), and at 360 watts per side you have more than enough punch to make your eyeballs bleed or whatever you want to do. It's hard to get better than that.
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post #26 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Awww, but they are! How do you think precise imaging is placed in a soundstage...

They do it nearfield. Studio speakers are not designed to cast the type of soundstage most people want in larger rooms.

"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."
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post #27 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwriter View Post

Studios are not the last word in fidelity. As in consumer audio, pro audio should be judged speaker by speaker. There are plenty of crappy speakers in studios just like there are crappy speakers in consumer listening rooms. For this reason, it is indeed possible to have higher fidelity in the home than was achieved in the original recording process for a given recording.

Your other points are well taken, that is that if sound quality is your #1 objective, then you are smart to consider pro audio. If you buy a pair of LSR 6328p's, you have just purchased two speakers and FOUR purpose-built amps (they're biamped) as well as a parametric equalizer (they have a 1-band peq for smoothing out one bass irregularity). The on and off axis frequency reponse is phenomenally flat (i.e., neutral and ACCURATE), and at 360 watts per side you have more than enough punch to make your eyeballs bleed or whatever you want to do. It's hard to get better than that.

How would you say the JBLs you mentioned compare against JTR 8s or 12LFs?
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post #28 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 11:34 AM
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The JTR's are not really studio monitors. They play at the PA speaker level, as in live performance. I use passive pro stage monitors for LCR duty (JBL MRX512). They are great for speach and sound reinforcement...very dynamic. I wonder why more people don't use stage monitors.
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post #29 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

They do it nearfield. Studio speakers are not designed to cast the type of soundstage most people want in larger rooms.

Thats hogwash. Linear on and off axis performance at 2 feet is still linear on and off axis performance at 10 feet. There is nothing about a near field monitor that causes it not to work further away.
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post #30 of 513 Old 06-23-2009, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

There is nothing about a near field monitor that causes it not to work further away.

Suit yourself. There is a reason we don't use them at home and it is not because of aesthetics or the way they're marketed. If there was no difference and the performance was identical, there'd be no such thing as a studio monitor. But there is. The two types of speakers exist because they fill very specific, particular, and different niches (literally).

"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."
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