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Help me choose a pair of monitors (budget max €3500)

dshreter

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Thanks. This is frustrating because there's so much to do and experiment, that I don't know if I'm actually making progress or not. And as I previously mentioned, it does not help that I'm also second guessing my choice of monitors, but that's simply related to their quite high cost.
The deeper the actual bass response, the stronger that the room interactions will be. A speaker that doesn't actually have much low-end response won't even strongly activate the room modes in the first place so it can seem easier to work with at a glance. When you have a microphone and test sweeps in hand the experimentation will become a lot more productive, and you can adjust things with purpose.

You'll measure, see the nulls and a peaks in the response. Then you move the speakers a bit closer or further, then move the listening position a bit closer or further. You'll then know exactly what is contributing to the current situation vs a scattershot approach. Get that UMIK asap.
 
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fmessier6

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The deeper the actual bass response, the stronger that the room interactions will be. A speaker that doesn't actually have much low-end response won't even strongly activate the room modes in the first place so it can seem easier to work with at a glance. When you have a microphone and test sweeps in hand the experimentation will become a lot more productive, and you can adjust things with purpose.

You'll measure, see the nulls and a peaks in the response. Then you move the speakers a bit closer or further, then move the listening position a bit closer or further. You'll then know exactly what is contributing to the current situation vs a scattershot approach. Get that UMIK asap.

I feel so grateful, you all chimed in and helped me understand this issue better and it would have taken me ages to figure out these things by myself. Thank you so much.

Tomorrow I'll have both speakers and I will finally begin to hear them at their full potential.

Get that UMIK asap.

I have a Rode NT55 that has both a cardioid and omni capsule, would that work anyway?

This guide will be my reference unless you have other suggestions.
 

caught gesture

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I feel so grateful, you all chimed in and helped me understand this issue better and it would have taken me ages to figure out these things by myself. Thank you so much.

Tomorrow I'll have both speakers and I will finally begin to hear them at their full potential.



I have a Rode NT55 that has both a cardioid and omni capsule, would that work anyway?

This guide will be my reference unless you have other suggestions.
People are going to recommend you buy a microphone with a calibration file. Calibration data is nice to have for a measurement microphone but not required for most room acoustics applications where relative and not absolute values are important. You’ll use the omni capsule.
 
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fmessier6

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One last, very interesting observation before tomorrow:

Seating position 1: Very little bass, all the bass is on the floor. Literally the area below my feet shakes, and that's it.
Position 2, standing behind my computer monitor, adjacent to the speaker: insane bass.
Position 3, sitting near the piano: decent amount of bass.

positions.jpg
position2.jpg


Note: in none of this positions the bass is as tight and as good as when everything was flipped 180° and the speakers were facing the projection wall. It's boomy and confused.

As a final track, I used this track by Hans Zimmer, halfway through until the end there is some nice gentle sub bass.

In position 2 I could hear it well, in position 1 there was none. Like... 0/10.
 
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Whatever monitors you get, for headphones you should definitely get Slate Digital VSX Headphones. Hands down the best headphones for mixing. They come with software that emulates speakers and gives you a sound that’s not “inside your head”.

I’ve owned Sennheiser HD650s for years and they are completely useless in comparison.

I’m using Amphion One15 monitors with VSX headphones and it’s the best of both worlds. A set of NS10 style mixing monitors with limited bass output and room excitement, and good accurate headphones for bass tuning.
 
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One last, very interesting observation before tomorrow:

Seating position 1: Very little bass, all the bass is on the floor. Literally the area below my feet shakes, and that's it.
Position 2, standing behind my computer monitor, adjacent to the speaker: insane bass.
Position 3, sitting near the piano: decent amount of bass.

View attachment 176508View attachment 176509

Note: in none of this positions the bass is as tight and as good as when everything was flipped 180° and the speakers were facing the projection wall. It's boomy and confused.

As a final track, I used this track by Hans Zimmer, halfway through until the end there is some nice gentle sub bass.

In position 2 I could hear it well, in position 1 there was none. Like... 0/10.
It’s going to be very hard to get a flat or honest bass response without some room treatment (bass traps in the corners at least) or some room eq software (such as sonar works). As you’re currently experiencing there are bass nodes and nulls all over the room.

That’s why you’re going to need a good set of headphones such as the VSX to get a second opinion on the bass levels.
 
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fmessier6

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I now have both speakers. I moved the KH310s to six different positions around the room, adjacent to each three walls and some variations.

I did not place the speakers on the wall where the shelf is positioned for practical reasons (I would have been sitting in front of the AC unit, the shelf is also really heavy to move, and the wall is shorter and has a window).

For some unexplicable reason the best position for them is... the one I had from the beginning (old image attached).
Decent stereo image, tight bass.

Studio.jpg


I am totally fine with this arrangement except that the idea of projecting on a wall and creating a hybrid writing room / home theater goes down the drain. Plus the concerns you all had about reflections and being too close to the wall behind me, but I worked with the HS8 for two years and I didn't notice anything that preoccupied me.

But I am especially worried about the fact that I don't seem to notice a drastic difference between the KH310 and the HS8.
There's a difference of course (bass in particular), but I'm not sure if it justifies spending €3800.
I thought they would blow my mind, but it didn't exactly happen, but maybe it's just me.

Maybe I should look into some slighly cheaper speakers and a 10/12'' sub, since bass is so crucial for me.
 

caught gesture

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I now have both speakers. I moved the KH310s to six different positions around the room, adjacent to each three walls and some variations.

I did not place the speakers on the wall where the shelf is positioned for practical reasons (I would have been sitting in front of the AC unit, the shelf is also really heavy to move, and the wall is shorter and has a window).

For some unexplicable reason the best position for them is... the one I had from the beginning (old image attached).
Decent stereo image, tight bass.

View attachment 176623

I am totally fine with this arrangement except that the idea of projecting on a wall and creating a hybrid writing room / home theater goes down the drain. Plus the concerns you all had about reflections and being too close to the wall behind me, but I worked with the HS8 for two years and I didn't notice anything that preoccupied me.

But I am especially worried about the fact that I don't seem to notice a drastic difference between the KH310 and the HS8.
There's a difference of course (bass in particular), but I'm not sure if it justifies spending €3800.
I thought they would blow my mind, but it didn't exactly happen, but maybe it's just me.

Maybe I should look into some slighly cheaper speakers and a 10/12'' sub, since bass is so crucial for me.

At the end of the day they are a tool in your line of work. If they don’t make a difference to the quality of your work, reduce fatigue from the hours listening to them, generally make getting good results easier, then you are right, why spend the money? If more bass is all that is needed, then try a couple of subs with the HS8s. There is a lot to be said for familiarity with the tools we use in our work. We get to understand their strengths and weaknesses over time.
The room still needs treatment though for optimum results, no matter what monitors are used .
 
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Also, the point of studio monitors is not simply to sound mind blowing.

Try mixing on them. Do they help you make decisions faster? Can you hear what you are doing better? Do your mixes sound better when played back on other speakers??

When I replaced my Neumann KH120S with Amphion One15s I wouldn’t say the sound blew my mind either. But they were way more useful to me for making decisions and making mixes that translated well.
 

dominikz

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Maybe I should look into some slighly cheaper speakers and a 10/12'' sub, since bass is so crucial for me.
My 2c - once you get any reasonably well-performing speakers most of the additional sound quality increase IMHO comes from room EQ and proper subwoofer integration. This is where IME very large performance gains can be achieved.
I have a Rode NT55 that has both a cardioid and omni capsule, would that work anyway?
IMHO Rode NT55 with the omni capsule will likely work just fine for basic room EQ in low frequencies (though I would still suggest to get a properly calibrated measurement mic if you can afford the additional expense).
May I suggest to have a look at this post where I compared how a Rode NT2A large-diaphragm condenser in omni mode compares to a calibrated measurement microphone for in-room response measurement. Even though the microphones are very different in construction, you will see the measured responses match really well in the lower frequencies - which is anyway the part of the spectrum where you'd normally apply room EQ.
This guide will be my reference unless you have other suggestions.
As a basis for calculating room EQ filters I'd suggest to use the moving microphone method (MMM) instead of doing sweep measurements.
The rough procedure is:
  • Use the "Generator" tool in REW to play full range Noise/Pink Periodic signal through one of your loudspeakers:
    1641300184241.png
  • You should be measuring at the main listening position with the microphone held in your hand, always pointing the microphone capsule vertically (to the ceiling or floor; use 90° microphone calibration file), and slowly moving the mic in random spiral motions with a radius of say ~50cm around where your head would normally be while listening.
    Ponting the microphone vertically is important as that way you get the same amount of reflections from all side walls.
    It is good practice to try to keep the microphone not too close to your body (or other obstacles) while measuring, and there should be no obstacles in the direct sound path between the microphone and the loudspeakers being measured.
    This article is IMO also a nice read on the MMM method.
  • Use the "RTA" view in REW to record the signal with your microphone, use the following settings:
    1641300483945.png

    You can stop recording when you reach 30 or so averages in the bottom left corner (the response usually settles even before that):
    1641300530274.png

    Then you can save the current measured response by clicking "Current":
    1641300582809.png

    After which it will show up on the left side of the main REW window.
  • If all went well, you should be getting a frequency response that looks something like this:
    1641300756832.png
  • Now repeat the same steps to measure the in-room frequency response of the other loudspeaker, and you can also do a third run to measure L+R together by selecting both outputs in REW 'Generator' window:
    1641300873842.png

  • After you measured L and R in-room responses with MMM you can proceed to calculate PEQ filters to fix main resonance peaks. You do this by clicking on the appropriate measurement in REW left-hand side and then clicking on the "EQ" tool.
  • To generate the PEQ filters you should select the desired response smoothing, configure your target and the parameters for filter generation.
    If you're listening in nearfield I'd suggest to start with:
    • Flat target (Target type 'none', room curve deselected), level will depend on your measurement level
    • Smoothing set to "Var",
    • Filter tasks configured to only generate corrections below 350Hz or so, boost filters not allowed. Note that this will not fix response dips - these are better fixed by tweaking loudspeaker/MLP position (and subwoofer integration, if you have a sub), so if you have significant dips in the raw measured response first find positions that shows the least severe dips (peaks are OK as you can easily knock those down with negative EQ) - this will likely require remeasuring several times before actually calculating PEQ filters.
    • You calculate required PEQ filters by clicking 'Match response to target'. See an example of EQ generation settings below:
      1641301337423.png
    • You'd need to generate a similar set of filters for each loudspeaker individually, and then apply them with a PEQ-capable SW (e.g. Equalizer APO) or through a dedicated DSP unit with PEQ capability (e.g. various miniDSP units) to each loudspeaker playback channel.
Hope this helps and good luck!
 
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dominikz

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You should be measuring at the main listening position with the microphone held in your hand, always pointing the microphone capsule vertically (to the ceiling or floor; use 90° microphone calibration file), and slowly moving the mic in random spiral motions with a radius of say ~50cm around where your head would normally be while listening.
Ponting the microphone vertically is important as that way you get the same amount of reflections from all side walls.
@fmessier6 One more comment here - if you're using an uncalibrated microphone to measure (like e.g. your Rode NT55 in omni mode) then you can also try pointing the microphone capsule directly toward the loudspeaker.
This is because 0° angle usually gives the flattest response for a mic and will likely give you a nicer looking measurement - i.e. error introduced due to misrepresented front/back wall reflection influence when measuring at 0° angle will be less than the error introduced by capturing direct sound off-axis if measuring at 90° angle. I refer again to this post for an example of this.
 
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fmessier6

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Thanks. This is my very first measurement, with my NT55 pointed directly at the left loudspeaker.

Both KH310 positioned in the middle of the room in what I believe is the best solution.
This afternoon, before installing REW, I run a sine sweep using this video and there was audible volume decrease from 50 to 89/90 Hz.

Then I did my first measurement with REW:

Cal1.jpg


I don't know how to interpret the graph yet, but I'm still learning.

This is my second measurement, mic in my hand, listening position, pointed towards my computer monitor, both speakers playing.

REW2.jpg


And the right speaker alone:

rspeaker.jpg
 

dominikz

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Thanks. This is my very first measurement, with my NT55 pointed directly at the left loudspeaker.

Both KH310 positioned in the middle of the room in what I believe is the best solution.
This afternoon, before installing REW, I run a sine sweep using this video and there was audible volume decrease from 50 to 89/90 Hz.

Then I did my first measurement with REW:

View attachment 176666

I don't know how to interpret the graph yet, but I'm still learning.

This is my second measurement, mic in my hand, listening position, pointed towards my computer monitor, both speakers playing.

View attachment 176667

And the right speaker alone:

View attachment 176668
Good that you started measuring - this is an important step towards optimizing your setup!

My suggestion is to set the graph vertical scale to 50dB (e.g. from 40 to 90dB) and use smoothing (e.g. 1/12 octave) when posting graphs - that way they will be more comparable to what other members are posting.
The HF rise in response around 10kHz in your measurements is most likely due to the Rode NT55 characteristic frequency response (from NT55 datasheet):
1641315295581.png


IMHO the MMM measurements (explained in my post above) will be easier to interpret than the sweep measurements. MMM measurements are usually nicer-looking due to their inherent spatial averaging, they don't show as much comb filtering effects.

EDIT: @fmessier6 I digitized and attached the Rode NT55 frequency response so you can use it as a calibration file in REW. It will still not be as precise as using a properly calibrated microphone, but it should at least help reduce the 10kHz boost visible in your measurements.
 

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fmessier6

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Thank you for your suggestions, encouragement and for the frequency response of the NT55. I loaded it in REW.

For the graph vertical scale, I tried using the "Limits" button, but I'm not sure if that's the right one (second picture).

This is a single reading, microphone pointed forward, both speakers playing. Volume for the measurements a little low because it's late.

Meas3.jpg

Meas3scale.jpg
 
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fmessier6

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The speaker placement I'm using at the moment, back to the original position I was using with the HS8. I measured with this placement.

The results in terms of bass presence are very underwhelming. Positioning the speakers one meter further away results in a stronger bass presence, but also the bass feels too boomy, not tight, and too present.

placement2.jpg
 

dominikz

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For the graph vertical scale, I tried using the "Limits" button, but I'm not sure if that's the right one (second picture).
It is better, but now you're using 40dB vertical scale (75dB-35dB=40dB), which is now stretching the graph a little. You can use the following 'Limits' for the current measurement to get a nice view:
1641338918618.png

It is also not bad practice to select 25 dB/decade aspect ratio when capturing the image:
1641339089529.png


This is a single reading, microphone pointed forward, both speakers playing. Volume for the measurements a little low because it's late.

Meas3.jpg

Meas3scale.jpg
It seems like to have a pretty severe suck-out between 50-80Hz. This is where a lot of the kick drum and bass energy will be in a mix - no wonder you feel like bass is not enough. It looks like SBIR null to me, possibly due to the wall behind your chair. Are any of the walls/floor/ceiling ~1,45m away from the front of the speaker?
I'm afraid you'll most likely have to move speakers around some more if you want to fix this.
The speaker placement I'm using at the moment, back to the original position I was using with the HS8. I measured with this placement.

The results in terms of bass presence are very underwhelming. Positioning the speakers one meter further away results in a stronger bass presence, but also the bass feels too boomy, not tight, and too present.

View attachment 176813
Note that boomy bass is much more easily fixable by EQ than deep nulls such as this one.

If you'd like you can also share your REW measurement mdat file here (ideally with measurements of the left and right loudspeaker individually, and left+right together) - it will make it easier for people to help you analyse the data and generate EQ corrections.
 
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fmessier6

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I'm afraid you'll most likely have to move speakers around some more if you want to fix this.

I would do this for a week if it meant getting to a point where I'm satisfied. I've tried a total of ten positions before sitting down and measuring the last one (thanks for the tips!).

I should have done that from the beginning, but I can start again tomorrow with the ones that I remember were more decent.

Speaking of which, the only two positions where the monitors have a strong bass presence is when I sit at least two/two and a half meters from them, pretending they're midranges. They are positioned 50-80 cm from the walls.

But the bass is very, very headache-inducing, almost unbearable.

A.jpg
B.jpg


Moving them towards me or me towards them, bye bye bass.

c.jpg


Now, this might be a silly question, but worst case scenario before treatment: a strong 10''/12'' subwoofer could help these issues, or would it acerbate them?

I could always go back to my HS8 (which I know really well since I've worked with them for seven years) and add a sub.
 
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The problem is that you are sitting in a null, so the bass has seemingly disappeared. If you move your chair back half a meter you will probably find the sound is completely different. You don’t want to sit in a null or a node. Move your mic back and forth to remeasure and find the flattest location.
Moving the speakers will change where the nodes are.

Usually you want to sit at 38% of the length of the room (as a rule of thumb). Try that.

Alternatively set up a very nearfield setup. Try a 1.2m triangle and sit really close. The best way to avoid hearing room problems is to monitor super near field (or treat the room of course). If there’s no bass then again you’re in a null so shuffle around to get out of the null. 20cm forwards or backwards can make a significant difference.
 

G-rig

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Those Neumann kh 310 look fancy, bet they'd sound good. My mate has the smaller ones on his desktop setup.

I've got the Yamaha HS80M, can't say I've felt the need to upgrade. I've got them about a foot or less to the wall so plenty of bass, and sit a few metres back. Perhaps a sub is what you need for more deep bass.
 
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