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Near Field Studio Monitor FR vs Real World Medium to Far Field Use

Audiofanatik

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Dear ASR brains trust,

I've had a couple of years of quite successful home recording, but I'm still confused by translation between studio monitoring and listening in the domestic environment.

In a home studio we usually listen to our monitors in the near field, aiming for a flat frequency response at this listening position. It seems many of the most respected modern studio monitors are voiced accordingly. Many studios go a step further and apply custom EQ to correct for room artifacts, again aiming for a flat in room EQ at the near field seating position. In my case, monitors are Kali LP6 v2 with SoundID Reference room EQ correction.

In the world outside, listening to speakers in the near field is perhaps one of the less likely use cases. In a domestic environment, most of us listen to speakers in the mid to far field, where treble is attenuated by the distance. If we mix with flat FR in the near field, our mix will sound completely different in the lounge at medium/far field.

It seems to me the flat studio sound is always going to be much brighter than the medium/far field sound at home. I find this equalised flat, near field studio sound unpleasantly bright relative to the sound through good speakers in the lounge. We could attenuate the treble in the studio and end up with a studio sound which is more "natural" or comparable to the far field. But if we do so, we know for sure the far field sound in the home will be dark.

At the moment I'm trying to deal with this by:
i) mixing to my flat EQ'd studio monitors, accepting that the near field sound is supposed to be bright and
ii) cross-checking this bright sounding mix with a -6dB tilt ( total, not per octave ) from 100Hz to 20kHz, attempting to replicate the far field sound

Am I on the right track?

Why are aren't near field studio monitors voiced to sound like full size speakers in the medium to far field?

Welcome your thoughts! :)

Nick
 
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Ellebob

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Our brains have an incredible ability to realize what is natural sounding for material we are familiar. An example would be someone that is sick and might have a sore throat or sounds nasal. Even if we've never met that person we can usually tell this whether we are right next to them or across the room. So if you're mixing in the near field it may be bright or in the middle/far field may have reduced highs, but either way our brains will pick up what is natural. Modifying the sound we will often recognize that it is no longer natural. Sounds we are not familiar, we have no reference and would have no idea if it is accurate.
 

MaxwellsEq

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Although they can't articulate it, hunting animals that depend on sound must be intrinsically wired to detect distance through changes in HF and delay/echo (as well as triangulation for near prey). Close to, HF is proportionally greater, far away, it's proportionally less. So at the lowest brain functional level, we don't find it strange that being closer to a source means greater HF.
 

Snarfie

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I'm made a trade off listening to my IMF monitors an Vandersteen speakers both more or less near field. Both corrected by Mathaudio room EQ.
The trade off is listening to the Vandersteen speakers on a short distance. Space between Vandersteen speakers is 1,80 meters sitting on a 2 meter distance.
Compared to the IMF monitors the Vandersteen speakers creat a imaging staging far beyond the IMF monitors who are more precies an used for mixing purposes. Both speakers types disappear when listening to well recorded music.

1000003854.jpg
 
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NTK

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...
In the world outside, listening to speakers in the near field is perhaps one of the less likely use cases. In a domestic environment, most of us listen to speakers in the mid to far field, where treble is attenuated by the distance. If we mix with flat FR in the near field, our mix will sound completely different in the lounge at medium/far field.
...
You have far overestimated the effect of the frequency dependent sound attenuation by air for domestic listening distances.

Calculator at Sengpiel Audio:
Wolfram Alpha:
 

AnalogSteph

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Yeah. It is less the distance itself but rather a combination of speaker dispersion and absorption by materials in the room that does it. (*) Which is why some speakers will go to great lengths to keep their dispersion constant to as low frequencies as possible e.g. by implenting a cardioid in order to avoid the resulting response tilt (and reduce the number of room modes involved). Good speakers for use at large distances may be closer to the nearfield scenario than you might think...

*) In a room full of hard surfaces with nothing absorbing in sight, I've had to dial in a silly amount of house curve dropoff on the high end in REW (like -2 dB per octave starting at 1 kHz) before the treble started sounding normal. For my nearfield setup at home, it's just -0.5 dB per octave.
 
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A

Audiofanatik

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Our brains have an incredible ability to realize what is natural sounding for material we are familiar. An example would be someone that is sick and might have a sore throat or sounds nasal. Even if we've never met that person we can usually tell this whether we are right next to them or across the room. So if you're mixing in the near field it may be bright or in the middle/far field may have reduced highs, but either way our brains will pick up what is natural. Modifying the sound we will often recognize that it is no longer natural. Sounds we are not familiar, we have no reference and would have no idea if it

You have far overestimated the effect of the frequency dependent sound attenuation by air for domestic listening distances.

Calculator at Sengpiel Audio:
Wolfram Alpha:
You have far overestimated the effect of the frequency dependent sound attenuation by air for domestic listening distances.

Calculator at Sengpiel Audio:
Wolfram Alpha:
Thanks for your thoughts NTK but these are all open air equations. Not relevant to domestic use where reflections from multiple surfaces are in play.
 
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Audiofanatik

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I'm made a trade off listening to my IMF monitors an Vandersteen speakers both more or less near field. Both corrected by Mathaudio room EQ.
The trade off is listening to the Vandersteen speakers on a short distance. Space between Vandersteen speakers is 1,80 meters sitting on a 2 meter distance.
Compared to the IMF monitors the Vandersteen speakers creat a imaging staging far beyond the IMF monitors who are more precies an used for mixing purposes. Both speakers types disappear when listening to well recorded music.

View attachment 367311
Wow that’s a novel approach! I think I get your logic, but not always easy to implement in a domestic environment with partner approval LOL.
 

NTK

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Thanks for your thoughts NTK but these are all open air equations. Not relevant to domestic use where reflections from multiple surfaces are in play.
So are you proposing an anti-"BBC dip"?
 
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Audiofanatik

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Although they can't articulate it, hunting animals that depend on sound must be intrinsically wired to detect distance through changes in HF and delay/echo (as well as triangulation for near prey). Close to, HF is proportionally greater, far away, it's proportionally less. So at the lowest brain functional level, we don't find it strange that being closer to a source means greater HF.
Thanks Maxwell. If the brain auto “corrects” HF for distance, how come the near field sound is so obviously brighter? Easily detectable even if I roll my chair back from 1m to 3m.
 
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A

Audiofanatik

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Our brains have an incredible ability to realize what is natural sounding for material we are familiar. An example would be someone that is sick and might have a sore throat or sounds nasal. Even if we've never met that person we can usually tell this whether we are right next to them or across the room. So if you're mixing in the near field it may be bright or in the middle/far field may have reduced highs, but either way our brains will pick up what is natural. Modifying the sound we will often recognize that it is no longer natural. Sounds we are not familiar, we have no reference and would have no idea if it is accurate.
Thanks Ellebob. I wish my brain was sufficiently objective to recognise what was “natural” in the near field and how this will translate into the far field. On the contrary I find my brain quickly habituates to small changes in FR, which become obvious again only through A:B comparison. Perhaps I’m just rubbish at listening LOL?
 
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Audiofanatik

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Yeah. It is less the distance itself but rather a combination of speaker dispersion and absorption by materials in the room that does it. (*) Which is why some speakers will go to great lengths to keep their dispersion constant to as low frequencies as possible e.g. by implenting a cardioid in order to avoid the resulting response tilt (and reduce the number of room modes involved). Good speakers for use at large distances may be closer to the nearfield scenario than you might think...

*) In a room full of hard surfaces with nothing absorbing in sight, I've had to dial in a silly amount of house curve dropoff on the high end in REW (like -2 dB per octave starting at 1 kHz) before the treble started sounding normal. For my nearfield setup at home, it's just -0.5 dB per octave.
Thanks Analogsteph! I think you’ve nailed it. I also raised the issue with the EQ software manufacturer Sonarworks and they confirmed their “flat” EQ was valid based on the near field measurements only, with no “behind the scenes” corrections for far field. Any simulation of far field requires custom tweaking as you are doing.
Separately they advised around 2/3 of their users make no corrections to the nearfield EQ at all. I wonder if all these users understand how this translates for end users listening in medium/far field?
 

MaxwellsEq

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Thanks Maxwell. If the brain auto “corrects” HF for distance, how come the near field sound is so obviously brighter? Easily detectable even if I roll my chair back from 1m to 3m.
Presumably because you are listening for it and using higher brain functions.
 

Snarfie

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Wow that’s a novel approach! I think I get your logic, but not always easy to implement in a domestic environment with partner approval LOL.
Yes it is the WAF. So created my attic mancave ;)
 

Smaestro

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At the moment I'm trying to deal with this by:
i) mixing to my flat EQ'd studio monitors, accepting that the near field sound is supposed to be bright and
ii) cross-checking this bright sounding mix with a -6dB tilt ( total, not per octave ) from 100Hz to 20kHz, attempting to replicate the far field sound

Am I on the right track?

To put it bluntly, no. You are doing two detrimental things:
1. Mixing on a sound that you dislike.
Mixing with displeasure will chew through your energy and good mood. Subconciously you will do weird things to the mix to make it sound more to your liking. References are also of no help if you don't enjoy listening to them. Considering mixing is listening to the songs on repeat for 8hrs, you just have to make it enjoyable.
2. Checking on a single arbitrary room emulation. Out of thousands of possible rooms, cars, clubs, phones where your songs could be heard, all with an extreme EQ curve, cutoff, and reflections, it follows that a simple tilt is barely a 'check'.

What I recommend you do:
1. Set your monitoring in a way that you love. Listen to all your reference songs them. These should be songs that sound great, that you love and also recognised by the industry and public.
Get ingrained with how they sound. Keep doing small adjustments on speaker positions, level and EQ until you're happy.
Try to not change the level the whole time until you are ingrained on that particular level. And don't go above 85dB SPL, or 80 just to be sure, if you value your ears.
Do proper training on them, invent your own or do Soundgym for example.
The goal is to really know what a great record sounds like on that setup, so you know whats missing in the mixes you work on.

One caveat: you need to make sure you have a smooth (no sharp dips and peak) sound, no matter your preferences on EQ curves.
And your system needs to be as full range as possible. Can't mix what you cant hear.
Measurements help, ear training is better.

2. Over time you'll realise that you'll still have blind spots, systems where your mix falls flat compared to references. Check your mix on your phone, car, living room, etc. Then invent checking mechanisms that are particular to your weaknesses.
If normal living rooms aren't an issue, dont check your mix on a downward correction tilt.

Hope this helps, good luck!
 
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