• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

A Quick, Totally Subjective, Definitely Not Blind Studio Monitor Comparison

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
Within the last two to three days I had the opportunity to compare some very big name (and some of them just plain very big) studio monitors. Here are my thoughts. This is not at all scientific; no controls were present, so you'll just have to roll with it. My reference speakers are my home studio's KH310s. I used the same music with all of them as a reference point - in particular, Leprous's 2019 album "Pitfalls".

The speakers tested are:
- ATC SCM25A Pro
- ATC SCM200ASL Pro
- Griffin Design G1.5
- Focal Trio11 Be
- Barefoot MM27

Okay, so:
SCM25A Pros: Consistently good sounding. Slightly mid forward, but only a very little bit. Not much low end extension, but extremely clean as low as they went (ballpark 40hz). Reminded me of the KH310s but with a slight mid bump. May be my upgrade path from the KH310s if that ever is in the cards. Reverb tails were very easy to pick out, bass:kick relationship was immediately evident. Lots of mixers using these makes perfect sense to me. They're super quick to get mixes sounding great on.
SCM200ASL Pros: These are absolute monsters, and they should be for the money. Effortless, endless volume, great extension, and super even sounding. Tons of detail, but not the hyped presence kind of false detail.
Griffin G1.5s: Really didn't like these! They have a presence bump that makes them instantly grating sounding, and very quickly. Gobs of low end extension though... In that room, I would be mixing on the SCM25As and maybe checking super low end information on the Griffins. Kind of remind me of the Adam house sound a bit?
Trio11 Bes: These are cool! The low end does not mess around either - it's super clean down to below 40hz easily at sane listening volumes. A bit of the "cheap hifi boom and sizzle" going on, but not in such a way that mixes would be off-course. Be a fun pair to produce on for sure.
Barefoot MM27 (1st gen, with the dome tweeter instead of the ring radiator): These didn't do it for me. Treble was sharp and harsh, bass was kind of boomy. Exciting to listen to at first, but I got tired of them quickly. I see why people like them, but... not for me.

Ones I didn't listen to yet:
ATC SCM150 ASLs: I don't trust the room these are in, the room has a very obvious high frequency up-tilt from reflections.
 
Last edited:

Pearljam5000

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
2,200
Likes
2,331
Within the last two to three days I had the opportunity to compare some very big name (and some of them just plain very big) studio monitors. Here are my thoughts. This is not at all scientific; no controls were present, so you'll just have to roll with it. My reference speakers are my home studio's KH310s. I used the same music with all of them as a reference point - in particular, Leprous's 2019 album "Pitfalls".

The speakers tested are:
- ATC SCM25A Pro
- ATC SCM200ASL Pro
- Griffin Design G1.5
- Focal Trio11 Be
- Barefoot MM27

Okay, so:
SCM25A Pros: Consistently good sounding. Slightly mid forward, but only a very little bit. Not much low end extension, but extremely clean as low as they went (ballpark 40hz). Reminded me of the KH310s but with a slight mid bump. May be my upgrade path from the KH310s if that ever is in the cards. Reverb tails were very easy to pick out, bass:kick relationship was immediately evident. Lots of mixers using these makes perfect sense to me. They're super quick to get mixes sounding great on.
SCM200ASL Pros: These are absolute monsters, and they should be for the money. Effortless, endless volume, great extension, and super even sounding. Tons of detail, but not the hyped presence kind of false detail.
Griffin G1.5s: Really didn't like these! They have a presence bump that makes them instantly grating sounding, and very quickly. Gobs of low end extension though... In that room, I would be mixing on the SCM25As and maybe checking super low end information on the Griffins.
Trio11 Bes: These are cool! The low end does not mess around either - it's super clean down to below 40hz easily at sane listening volumes. A bit of the "cheap hifi boom and sizzle" going on, but not in such a way that mixes would be off-course. Be a fun pair to produce on for sure.
Barefoot MM27 (1st gen, with the dome tweeter instead of the ring radiator): These didn't do it for me. Treble was sharp and harsh, bass was kind of boomy. Exciting to listen to at first, but I got tired of them quickly. I see why people like them, but... not for me.

Ones I didn't listen to yet:
ATC SCM150 ASLs: I don't trust the room these are in, the room has a very obvious high frequency up-tilt from reflections.
How much better were the ATCs than the KH310? Do they justify the price difference?
 
OP
D

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
Even sighted it helps to level match. Did you do anything about that?
As close as I could by ear; unfortunately, Android phones have pretty piss-poor SPL meter capabilities unless you can match them with a known volume, so no hard numbers testing.
How much better were the ATCs than the KH310? Do they justify the price difference?
I will say this: I would way rather casually listen to the KH310s, but I'd rather mix on the ATCs. The ATCs have something special going on in the mids that makes picking out vocal/guitar/horn/whatever midrange instrument relations quick and easy, something not nearly as easy on the 310s (they are not by any stretch of the imagination bad, though!). The big difference to me was the way the low mids held together. Neumann crosses their midrange much higher than ATC does (though this is something of a unique ATC thing, that they cross as low as they do with a dome), so they have the bass and low mids (up to ~700hz) just on the bass driver where ATC crosses about an octave lower.
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
14,316
Likes
23,057
For speakers I think Toole suggested pink noise filtered with 2nd order roll offs below 500 hz and above 2000 hz. When I've done this myself I've found 250 or 300 hz on the low side to maybe be better. This is also good if you are using a phone SPL meter as phones aren't too bad, they usually droop in response below 200 hz and some droop above 8 or 10 khz. So with filtered pink noise most phones can work pretty well for this purpose. Of course REW and Umik-1 for the spl make this all easier to do with some precision.
 
OP
D

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
On the entire other end of the spectrum from these expensive 3-way monsters... I was in a Guitar Center today. Their monitor selection was extremely poor, but I did still listen to some stuff.

- Kali LP-6: These sounded good! No obnoxious peaking, surprisingly excellent bass extension, generally just nice sounding. Reminded me favorably of my Neumann KH310s, albeit minus the bass extension and the insane midrange detail. If the Neumanns are a 10, these would rate ballpark a 7. That's a massive compliment.
- Yamaha HS7: Really nasty hissy presence region and just a freaking mess otherwise. These don't sound like NS10s at all - NS10s are midrangey to a fault, but they still sound cohesive and "mostly right" if you correct for that midrange hump - these did not. Simply awful. 0/10.
- Yamaha HS8: Considerably better than the HS7s, but still pretty messy sounding. Probably like a 4/10.
- JBL 308: Far inferior to the LP-6, IMO. Not bad, but not great. Probably like a 5.5/10.
 

kyle_neuron

Active Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
145
Likes
241
For speakers I think Toole suggested pink noise filtered with 2nd order roll offs below 500 hz and above 2000 hz. When I've done this myself I've found 250 or 300 hz on the low side to maybe be better. This is also good if you are using a phone SPL meter as phones aren't too bad, they usually droop in response below 200 hz and some droop above 8 or 10 khz. So with filtered pink noise most phones can work pretty well for this purpose. Of course REW and Umik-1 for the spl make this all easier to do with some precision.
The reported levels for a vast majority of Android devices were inconsistent from unit to unit even within the same brand, in a whole bunch of tests and studies over the past decade.

That means the absolute values can’t be trusted, but using band-limited pink noise like you suggest to set relative SPL at a fixed position for this purpose is just fine :)

Ignore the actual number shown, just make sure each speaker auditioned is within a 1 dB window of the ‘master’ system for the majority of the vocal range.

Doing that can really cause some shifts in perceived favourites, in my experience.

Make sure the phone doesn’t move between setups, of course. Even an inch can make a massive difference, so either tape it to something or use one of those grip stands such as you’d find for mounting the phone to your car dash.
 

DSJR

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
1,399
Likes
1,713
Location
Suffolk Coastal, UK
I've got to stop reading these threads as, here in exile, I can't get to listen to monitors like this...

I was reminded back in the day when I owned ATC 100A's, hearing a domestic setup of the original 200A's which were there for a few days before a studio needed them. I drove to the sales manager's house to hear them (AVI pre and CD player, so that'll identify the culprit and how long ago it was :D ) Lord, these things were awesome, with dynamics that almost all domestic boxes just cannot do at all and my 100A's couldn't do either really. This brand EATS power (7 and 11 are better here but not the same market) and the big amp blocks plus twin 12" drivers working half as hard for the same output really showed I felt.

I'm greatly saddened the 19 in all forms it seems has garnered such negativity here. The response will work just fine in tight-to-wall situations where 'flatter' speakers will thud and boom, but they're obviously not for the Klippel fans here.
 
Last edited:
OP
D

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
A new one today!

PMC 8-2 (6-2? one of the two.): Not a fan. Too much bass, mids are scooped and indistinct, imaging sucked. Listened to SCM25As right after and they were far superior.
 
Last edited:

Pearljam5000

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
2,200
Likes
2,331
Within the last two to three days I had the opportunity to compare some very big name (and some of them just plain very big) studio monitors. Here are my thoughts. This is not at all scientific; no controls were present, so you'll just have to roll with it. My reference speakers are my home studio's KH310s. I used the same music with all of them as a reference point - in particular, Leprous's 2019 album "Pitfalls".

The speakers tested are:
- ATC SCM25A Pro
- ATC SCM200ASL Pro
- Griffin Design G1.5
- Focal Trio11 Be
- Barefoot MM27

Okay, so:
SCM25A Pros: Consistently good sounding. Slightly mid forward, but only a very little bit. Not much low end extension, but extremely clean as low as they went (ballpark 40hz). Reminded me of the KH310s but with a slight mid bump. May be my upgrade path from the KH310s if that ever is in the cards. Reverb tails were very easy to pick out, bass:kick relationship was immediately evident. Lots of mixers using these makes perfect sense to me. They're super quick to get mixes sounding great on.
SCM200ASL Pros: These are absolute monsters, and they should be for the money. Effortless, endless volume, great extension, and super even sounding. Tons of detail, but not the hyped presence kind of false detail.
Griffin G1.5s: Really didn't like these! They have a presence bump that makes them instantly grating sounding, and very quickly. Gobs of low end extension though... In that room, I would be mixing on the SCM25As and maybe checking super low end information on the Griffins. Kind of remind me of the Adam house sound a bit?
Trio11 Bes: These are cool! The low end does not mess around either - it's super clean down to below 40hz easily at sane listening volumes. A bit of the "cheap hifi boom and sizzle" going on, but not in such a way that mixes would be off-course. Be a fun pair to produce on for sure.
Barefoot MM27 (1st gen, with the dome tweeter instead of the ring radiator): These didn't do it for me. Treble was sharp and harsh, bass was kind of boomy. Exciting to listen to at first, but I got tired of them quickly. I see why people like them, but... not for me.

Ones I didn't listen to yet:
ATC SCM150 ASLs: I don't trust the room these are in, the room has a very obvious high frequency up-tilt from reflections.
If you had to choose just one - Trio 11 or SCM25A?
 
OP
D

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
If you had to choose just one - Trio 11 or SCM25A?
Depends, am I mixing or just listening?

Mixing, SCM25A, but with subs. Then Trio11.
Listening, Trio11 any day.

However, in a room your size, I wouldn't recommend the Trio11s. They're big and need a fair amount of space to integrate.
 
Last edited:
OP
D

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
A new one today!

PMC 8-2 (6-2? one of the two.): Not a fan. Too much bass, mids are scooped and indistinct, imaging sucked. Listened to SCM25As right after and they were far superior.
Update to this:

They sound better in a room that doesn't sound awful. That said: Still not my bag. Too bright and the low mids/upper bass were weird. Bass did extend for ages, though - well below 40hz without trying.
 
OP
D

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
Further fun...

Genelec 8050B (I think? Might be 8050A): Nope! Exactly what I don't like about this series of Genelecs. Bass is wrong, not punchy and rather muddled sounding. Did have good extension though. Distortion is very low, but someone else described Genelecs as having the "wrong center of excellence", which I'm inclined to agree with. The mids are pleasant, and I 100% understand the appeal of listening on these, but mixing? I'd make a mess of things.
 

Digby

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
492
Likes
307
I wonder what is going on here? It would be interesting to see what differences the measurements show between the models where you perceive the bass as 'right' and 'wrong'. I doubt this is purely imagination on your part or mine (referring back to my experience with the 8030c).

Here's a question, do any of the aluminium cabinet Genelecs you've heard sound correct in the bass to you or do they all exhibit this indistinct quality?

Since bass is such a large part of perception/preference, I think it warrants further investigation.
 

Pearljam5000

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
2,200
Likes
2,331
Further fun...

Genelec 8050B (I think? Might be 8050A): Nope! Exactly what I don't like about this series of Genelecs. Bass is wrong, not punchy and rather muddled sounding. Did have good extension though. Distortion is very low, but someone else described Genelecs as having the "wrong center of excellence", which I'm inclined to agree with. The mids are pleasant, and I 100% understand the appeal of listening on these, but mixing? I'd make a mess of things.
But it's not Headhunter
Further fun...

Genelec 8050B (I think? Might be 8050A): Nope! Exactly what I don't like about this series of Genelecs. Bass is wrong, not punchy and rather muddled sounding. Did have good extension though. Distortion is very low, but someone else described Genelecs as having the "wrong center of excellence", which I'm inclined to agree with. The mids are pleasant, and I 100% understand the appeal of listening on these, but mixing? I'd make a mess of things.
I'm not sure how much is mixing relevant out of gearslutz, as most of us here just listen to music on them
 
OP
D

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,931
Likes
2,628
I wonder what is going on here? It would be interesting to see what differences the measurements show between the models where you perceive the bass as 'right' and 'wrong'. I doubt this is purely imagination on your part or mine (referring back to my experience with the 8030c).

Here's a question, do any of the aluminium cabinet Genelecs you've heard sound correct in the bass to you or do they all exhibit this indistinct quality?

Since bass is such a large part of perception/preference, I think it warrants further investigation.
I can't speak on the Ones as I've never used them but all the 80 series speakers I've used do.

I'm inclined to say it has something to do with Genelec's design goals - i.e., as much low distortion LF extension as they can get, and that's done by intentionally aiming for a longer decay time. Think of the Qtc of a speaker as a resonant HPF - the higher the Q value, the further down you can go for a given F3/F6/whatever, but the more ringing you will have, and vice versa. All filters ring - be they electronic or acoustic.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom