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Avantone CLA-10 (Yamaha NS-10M Clone) Review

Rate this studio monitor

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 153 90.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 7 4.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 4 2.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 6 3.5%

  • Total voters
    170

dasdoing

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there are pictures where only the Auratones are in the setup:

the-girl-is-mine-session.jpg


quincy-bruce.jpg



in an interview he said he probably uses them "80% of the mix".
It seams he used the JBL's a lot for his ambience creating method where he would let them play recorded instrument tracks into a room to record first reflections.
And obviously he would finish the mixes on them; but it seams the "backbone" of the mixes was done on the Auratones
 

Travis

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there are pictures where only the Auratones are in the setup:

the-girl-is-mine-session.jpg


quincy-bruce.jpg



in an interview he said he probably uses them "80% of the mix".
It seams he used the JBL's a lot for his ambience creating method where he would let them play recorded instrument tracks into a room to record first reflections.
And obviously he would finish the mixes on them; but it seams the "backbone" of the mixes was done on the Auratones
He wrote two books about his mixing methodology. One a general book on being an engineer, an autobiography.l, then he wrote a second book specifically about making Thriller.

He was clear in his books that everything was done with his JBLs, and he would do fine tuning and checking vocals on Auratones (mentioning that Quincy called them “truth tellers “) He also said that he had very little to do on MJ’s vocals . It was more to do with doing multiple tracks of MJ at different distances and all tracks in stereo. Westake had custom mains, by Hidley himself, but he didn’t use them.

I have read probably a half a dozen interviews with him and he pretty much said the same thing, but I’m sure that varied song to song, vocalist to vocalist, producer to producer. I would be interested to see the interview where he said the Auratones were about 80% of the mix as this would be a fundamental shift of what he wrote in his book, along with wearing out three pairs of JBLs and having to switch to Westlakes.
 

dasdoing

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DSJR

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Unfortunately no detailed anechoic measurements of the 4321G or SE but the JBL L100 classic which is the home/more luxurious version of those measures neutral as any good modern loudspeakers:

jbl-l100-classic-lautsprecher-stereo-53079.jpg

Source: https://www.hifitest.de/test/lautsprecher-stereo/jbl-l100-classic-17278
1970's JBL 4310's were terribly coloured on voice, with an AWWWWW kind of sound irrespective of the control settings. I gather the later 'versions' of this speaker were rather better, although I never got the chance to hear the L100 Classic in recent times as the UK is full of galloping apathy as regards 'retro inspired' products like this and JBL has such patchy and variable distribution here :(


P.S. May I politely repeat that I don't believe NS10's were EVER used for balancing or full-on mixing, but as a magnifying glass to help engineers in *part* of the mixing procedure. I do get the vibe (apologies if I'm wrong) that peeps here think NS10's were the only monitor used most of the time in studios - surely not?
 

goat76

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He is being cited here: https://www.soundonsound.com/people/bruce-swedien-recording-michael-jackson
though this was when he already worked in his own studio, so the late Swedien. I also saw him say that over time he would use "the big speakers less and less". both infos might be true therefore

In that interview, he says:
"Probably 80 percent of the mix is done on the Auratones, and then I'll have a final listen or two on the big speakers".

That statement is probably true as many things done in mixing are not related to EQ adjustments, and therefore not tasks that are highly dependent on monitors with a flat frequency response. The same goes for the use of the NS-10s.
 
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Travis

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He is being cited here: https://www.soundonsound.com/people/bruce-swedien-recording-michael-jackson
though this was when he already worked in his own studio, so the late Swedien. I also saw him say that over time he would use "the big speakers less and less". both infos might be true therefore
Yes, that was my recollection exactly from what he wrote in the book about thriller to later interview. He sort of went more and more to the Auratones after he had to switch to the Westlakes. But remember, as I mentioned earlier, he see's sound as colors, and so it's hard to say anything about him. This interview of Bruce Swedien is from Bobby Owsinski's book on Mixing (which was cited by Dr. Toole in his book and caused him some dismay in that the engineers who were interviewed all described how they did things differently (no standards)):

For the recording nerds like me, you can read them all here: https://bobbyowsinski.com/interviews/

What level do you usually monitor at?

That’s one area where I think I’ve relegated it to a science. For the nearfield speakers, I use Westlake BBSM8s, and I try not to exceed 85dB SPL. On the Auratones I try not to exceed 83. What I’ve found in the past few years is that I use the big speakers less and less with every project.

Are you listening in mono on the Auratones?

Stereo.

Do you listen in mono much?

Once in a while. I always check it because there are some places where mono is still used.

. . .

Is your approach to mixing each song generally the same, then?

No. That’s the wonderful part about it. I’ll take that a step further and I’ll say it’s never the same, and I think I have a very unique imagination. I also have another problem in that I hear sounds as colors in my mind [this is actually a neurological condition known as synesthesia]. Frequently when I’m EQing or checking the spectrum of a mix or a piece of music, if I don’t see the right colors in it I know the balance is not there.

Can you elaborate on that?

Well, low frequencies appear to my mind’s eye as dark colors, black or brown, and high frequencies are brighter colors. Extremely high frequencies are gold and silver. It’s funny, but that can be very distracting. It drives me crazy sometimes.

What are you trying to do then, build a rainbow?

No, it’s just that if I don’t experience those colors when I listen to a mix that I’m working on, I know either that there’s an element missing or that the mix values aren’t satisfying.

How do you know what proportion of what color should be there?

That’s instinctive. Quincy has the same problem. It’s terrible! It drives me nuts, but it’s not a quantitative thing. It’s just that if I focus on a part of the spectrum in a mix and don’t see the right colors, it bothers me.
 

Travis

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1970's JBL 4310's were terribly coloured on voice, with an AWWWWW kind of sound irrespective of the control settings. I gather the later 'versions' of this speaker were rather better, although I never got the chance to hear the L100 Classic in recent times as the UK is full of galloping apathy as regards 'retro inspired' products like this and JBL has such patchy and variable distribution here :(


P.S. May I politely repeat that I don't believe NS10's were EVER used for balancing or full-on mixing, but as a magnifying glass to help engineers in *part* of the mixing procedure. I do get the vibe (apologies if I'm wrong) that peeps here think NS10's were the only monitor used most of the time in studios - surely not?
Swedien has a polor opposite view. He loved his three sets of 4310s, and he has written about wearing out all three sets, sending them to JBL for repair and they returned them to him with 4311 components. He hated them, in interviewed described them as 'dog poo." He switched to Westlakes, kept his Auratones, and over time said he relied more and more on the Auratones (80% in the interview to SoS @dasdoing quoted).

I think he is the exception to the rule on how he used nearfield monitors (regardless of brand/model). He was also very clear that he really didn't need to use any eq at all on the recordings he tracked (like Thriller, etc.).
 

Travis

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A little context is required. At that time, most studios still had multiple full range, high quality "main" speakers built into the wall above the window into the studio. These were used for making eq and mike position decisions while recording.

The outside pair were way too close together to get much of an idea of a stereo balance. The workaround was to place "bookshelf" speakers on the console. Studios chose a pair of whatever was the biggest selling bookshelf at the time. The first used were KLH-6s followed by the JBL 4310 which was sold as a "pro" version of the L-100. (Any measurement needs to include the effect of the console placement on the response.) Most of us turned the midrange on the 4310s way down to the point there was a problem with blowing out the pots. These, along with the Auratones, were used to set the musical balance between instruments and voices. Any serious audio decisions had already been made and committed to tape using the "mains."
Nice to see you, Mr. Bob, you don't remember, but we met at an AES convention years ago. You are certainly one of the "Rock Star" engineers. Love hearing and reading about your involvement with "What's Going On" one of the greatest LPs ever produced, IMHO. But what I really like hearing about is your perseverance as a professional (trying to work, go to college, moving from Detroit to Boston, and being called back to Detroit - very inspirational).

One thing I don't think I have ever seen you talk about is the half-speed cutting lathe they had at Hitsville when you first arrived. Would love to hear what advantages that had over the regular speed lathes of the day, and what challenges that brought (which I understand were that it avoided the limitations of 33.3, but created new limitations on the other end. So it's a mixed bag based on what the music is).

Nice to see another legend here.

Travis
 

Travis

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May I throw another idea into the mix (so that everyone hates me)? I think we are missing/neglecting the cultural aspects at play. Work/professional culture.

Engineers communicate with each other via standards. It is a lingua franca that's understood by all degreed engineers (and scientists). I am talking about engineers who've passed through engineering school, not those who've picked up learning on their own and call themselves engineers. These degreed EEs tend to have worked at tech companies (as have Amir and I; I have an EE). and this further inculcates one in the value and utility of standards and how standards enable one to share knowledge/bring it forward cleanly and correctly

Musicians, (many, not all) recording, mixing, and mastering engineers tend NOT to be degreed engineers. Recording "engineers" very often learn their craft by doing and by being "apprenticed" to studios and within the music industry. They are NOT steeped in the value of standards. They are not quantitative folks. They are subjectivists (in a good sense, not the Stereophile cable elevator sense).

THESE TWO GROUPS -- the degreed engineers on the one hand and the recording industry ppl on the other -- SPEAK DIFFERENT LANGUAGES.

I think this is the root of the disconnect.

An analogous situation (with which I'm less familiar) is how now there are many tech people (e.g., at Apple and Amazon, et al) who are now in this new streaming era at the top of the TV/cable/streaming content creation chain. They are the ones greenlighting movies and TV series. They too speak a different language from the traditional Hollywood types. I'm sure there is a huge cultural disconnect at the interfaces between these two groups, too.
I think you have hit on a very key point. Some audio engineers have degrees in music production from places like Eastman, Berklee, Full Sail, most do not. Bob Ludwig and Phil Ramone are two that stand out from the crowd in that regard. The rest, as you say, tend to have a strong music background, not all, and all of them apprenticed.

You are missing one leg of this three-legged stool, however. The studio designers. Remember, Dr. Toole has advocated for standards for studio monitors, but also studio control rooms (as has Dr. Olive). So now you have Acoustic Engineers, the ASA who figure into this mix. The two giants in that regard are George Augspurger and Tom Hidley.

"George Augspurger is recipient of the Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal in Architectural Acoustics and Engineering Acoustics of the Acoustical Society of America “for contributions to design of recording studios, performance venues, and loudspeakers, and for decades of patent reviews.” The Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal is presented to individuals for contributions to the advancement of science, engineering, or human welfare through the application of acoustic principles, or through research accomplishment in acoustics. George Augspurger is President of Perception Inc. Consultants in Acoustics. He served previously as Manager of the Professional Products Division, then Technical Director, of James B. Lansing Sound, Inc. Mr. Augspurger received an M.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Fellow of the ASA and the Audio Engineering Society. In 2020 he was the recipient of a Technical Grammy Award from the Recording Academy with the citation “pioneering audio engineer and designer George Augspurger—for contributions to the film and recording industries. Mr. Augspurger has designed recording studios, mix rooms, mastering rooms, and dubbing theaters for scores of clients including MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, RCA Records, and Walt Disney lmagineering. He has served as a Patent Reviewer of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America since 1981 authoring about 4800 reviews covering loudspeakers, microphones, digital signal processing for surround sound and 3D sound, noise control, and other topics."

Attached is a paper by George Augspruger that goes into the history of the design of studios and control rooms from an acoustics point of view. It's only about two pages but discusses how he and others like Hidley advanced design and that de facto standards emerged. Dr. Toole is mentioned as part of that mix as well.

The history and standards associated with acoustic treatments for sound rooms, and an interview with the leader in research and standards for that endeavor (Peter D'Antonio) can be found here:

 

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boxerfan88

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Interesting points raised …

 

fineMen

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"George Augspurger is recipient of the Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal in Architectural Acoustics and Engineering Acoustics of the Acoustical Society of America ... He is a Fellow of the ASA and the Audio Engineering Society. In 2020... 3D sound, noise control, and other topics."

... de facto standards emerged. Dr. Toole is mentioned as part of that mix as well.
The first point is self-referential. I could get medals and that would only document my best adoption to the given culture in my camp.

The second is more interesting. It raises the culture to something one can reasonably depend on. Go figure, the industry didn't care about standards for so many decades!** Alas, what still comes up once in a while is the missing relation to the consumer.

** reason is, that the producers don't acknowledge the fully (!) artificial (=abstract) nature of their product. If they do, it's lips service. Maybe with the exception of really educated personnel, which seems to be rare. I'm tempted to emphasize that this is not the least about 'science', but, again, a culture thing and maybe even art. Recording, may I say, is not engineering, but a free wheeling creative process.

Interesting points raised …

Exactly! Minute 1:00 and following: the consumer is asked to change. That's the self-referential stance of an artist, actually :p Nothing more to say ... ... the notoriously pedantic audiophile I am.
 
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boxerfan88

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That’s why standards aren’t likely to be adopted, he relies heavily on his NS10 tool…

 

Mr. E

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There was no mastering engineer involved in making these monitors, however one of the biggest mix engineers in pop and rock was, hence the name CLA-10. Chris Lorde Alge is the CLA in the name. CLA has mixed thousands of songs on these, you already heard on the radio.
I haven't tried the CLA-10 but I do mix on NS10m daily. They're not a great listening experience, but they do help in translation to other speakers and they have been used on thousand and thousand of records for that reason. I don't enjoy them - they're a tool to get the job done.
Thanks for the review.. :)
 

kelesh

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Since these Avantone clones generated a 50+ page discussion and many who are familiar with the originals pitched in, I wonder if I may go a bit off-topic and ask if anyone has, or is familiar with the NS-40M. These were rarer and never reached the popularity of the NS-10M, they were like an "extended" version, using two (probably the same) LF drivers, the HF placed center low and a "supertweeter" on top of that. I remember hearing them briefly 30+ years ago in a showroom and if I recall correctly they were clean, detailed and precise. Maybe someone will resurrect these next? Can't hurt to have extra choices :)

NS-40M.jpg
 

mhardy6647

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^^^ jeepers.
I am intrigued and repelled, all at the same time.
;)
 

dasdoing

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Since these Avantone clones generated a 50+ page discussion and many who are familiar with the originals pitched in, I wonder if I may go a bit off-topic and ask if anyone has, or is familiar with the NS-40M. These were rarer and never reached the popularity of the NS-10M, they were like an "extended" version, using two (probably the same) LF drivers, the HF placed center low and a "supertweeter" on top of that. I remember hearing them briefly 30+ years ago in a showroom and if I recall correctly they were clean, detailed and precise. Maybe someone will resurrect these next? Can't hurt to have extra choices :)

View attachment 324369

too much bass for the pourpouse hahahah

1699285016169.png


source https://de.yamaha.com/files/download/other_assets/4/323244/NS40MSTUDIOE.pdf
 

DiN

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If it sounds good on there, it will sound great at home - Avantone Marketing Dept.
Can you point to an online reference in which Avantone actually used that as a slogan or marketing line? In a Google search, only your use of the line is given as a result. However, if it was an actual marketing line, I doubt it was targeted at home speaker buyers, but studio speaker buyers. There are plenty of examples given in this thread as to why the Avantone CLA-10 & Yamaha NS-10M make that possible. Those speakers are tools, used by both professionals & novices, to complete their work. Just as every carpenter doesn't use the same hammer, from home studios to record label or movie studios, not every studio uses the same monitor speaker combination. But it appears one thing is certain, the Avantone CLA-10 & Yamaha NS-10M will sound more consistent across a broader range of studios than any other speaker commonly used for such purpose.
 

DiN

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Has anyone combined the Avantone CLA-10 or Yamaha NS-10M with a Super Tweeter & subwoofer (both crossed at the 10's roll-offs), how does or would that combination perform for home use? Or would the mids still be too inferior for music end-users on the 10's compared to more modern speakers of similar price range like the Elac DBR62 or Klipsch RP-600m/I/II?
 

rocksteady

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I heard the original plenty of times in the early 90’s in the radio station I worked at. “Sucked” is an understatement. However, the Technics SP-10’s we used were marvelous.
SP-10s? That model does not exist…
 
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