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What defines a good near-field speaker?

Mystical Boar

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I've seen a lot of threads about near-field listening, but I struggle to find a concrete info about what exactly makes a speaker good for near-field listening in terms of measurements.

Is it mostly linear on-axis response combined with early reflections and good directivity, or is there something more to it? Or, to reverse the question, when a speaker is not suitable for near-field listening?

When I compare, say, Genelecs to Revel m106 or even ELAC DBR62 I see no obvious difference that would suggest particular listening distance. Is it true that when it comes to near-field listening one can manage to "censor" the room to a high degree (as in non-early reflections become less of an issue)?

Also, what's the difference between a "monitor" and a non-monitor? My personal theory was that the term originally referred to speakers meant for professional use - for monitoring mixing and mastering process in a studio, but I may be wrong.

Thx
 

Sancus

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Nearfield(NOT the acoustic definition), as typically used on this forum and in other pro audio/audiophile spaces, has no fixed definition. It most frequently means "Within 1-1.5m or so of the speakers", but sometimes it also means within the critical distance(where direct sound is dominant, as opposed to reflections) which depends on your room and can be much further than that in large rooms.

The only real limitation on how close you can listen is the distance at which the speaker's drivers sum correctly. Genelec, for example, tells you the minimum distance below which their speakers won't sum correctly. For coaxials, this distance is typically very short, 0.5m or even less. For speakers with significantly more driver spacing, it's farther.

There is no such thing as a speaker that is ONLY for nearfield listening though. You can use nearfield speakers at any distance, so long as they have enough SPL output for your needs/preferences. There is often a misconception that "nearfield" speakers somehow have a different frequency response for those specific distances, but this is not true. Good nearfield monitors are flat on-axis and smooth off-axis the same way as farfield ones.

P.S. For the acoustic definition see this post, it is complicated and varies by frequency, and this version of the term is rarely used in discussions.
 

Duke

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In addition to the minimum listening distance considerations described in Sancus's post, to me the term "near-field speaker" can imply that the designer's priority was weighted towards optimizing the first-arrival sound, with correspondingly less priority being given to the off-axis sound, as near-field listening inherently reduces the relative contribution of the off-axis sound at the listening position.
 

kongwee

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Where you need to listen to speaker 1.5 meter away or less. That the distance that you often see in studio. Of course omit that in wall full range monitor. You can treat like a desktop speaker but build more larger. Or you likely to sit on desk chair than sofa.
 
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Mystical Boar

Mystical Boar

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Genelec, for example, tells you the minimum distance below which their speakers won't sum correctly. For coaxials, this distance is typically very short, 0.5m or even less. For speakers with significantly more driver spacing, it's farther.
What about two-way speakers of regular size, what would be the minimal listening distance (give or take)?
 

Sancus

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What about two-way speakers of regular size, what would be the minimal listening distance (give or take)?
I would say 0.75m for smaller ones(<=5"), 1m for larger ones (6.5", 8"). It depends, but there is often a manufacturer recommendation. The Genelec ones are above, and for example Neumann states 0.75m min for the KH120 and recommends 1-2m. For very small ones(<=4") you can maybe get away with 0.5m. Closer than 0.5m is a bad idea for any non-coaxial, IMO.
 

radio3

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It also depends on their directivity. The more directive a speaker is the further away you can be while still mostly getting direct sound.
 
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