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Is it feasible to use a domestic hifi amp to power a pair of studio monitors? I'm currently using a multitrack recorder into my hifi system. I'd like to get my hands a pair of cheap, sorry, inexpensive studio monitors. The amp delivers 55w per channel.
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It is possible to use inexpensive gear, the most important thing is that you really get to know how to "translate" what you are hearing. Using quality monitors makes this process a whole lot easier and with greater resolution.

 

"cheap" does not nessesarily mean "useless". In my studio I use quality monitors but for my work room at home, I went the economical route and bought a pair of Wharfedale Diamond Series 8.1 - not the best speaker on the block, but amazingly good for the money. They don't reach very low in the bass register though, and my workaround for this shortcoming is to check bass content on headphones. I have recently bought a sub woofer to complement the Diamond's but have not yet installed it (next week, maybe).

 

I'm sure there's plenty of other speakers that could fit your requirements. Make sure that you get to try before you buy. And after you've decided, spend a lot of time getting familiar with their sonic character.

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I would agree with Mats.

 

I am currently using a Kenwood A/V 100-watt receiver and Yorkville YSM-1 passives that I purchased about ten years ago for US$200. That's cheap-ass stuff, but I've developed a rapport with them. I can get really good sounding mixes on these things, although I do reference other speakers (car stereo, boom box). When it sounds good on everything, then I know I have my mix.

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Down, at least, to a certain level, I'd rather use a cheap amp than cheap speakers.

 

But cheap consumer amps often have serious design compromises these days.

 

I bought a 40 watt Kenwood stereo receiver back in the mid-late 70s and it was, by and large, a very nice sounding unit (with great FM reception, to boot).

 

I was so happy with it, even though some of the switches were going out, that I went out and bought a more powerful, more-featured Kenwood in the mid-80s.

 

I hooked it straight into the system in place of the 70s unit and turned it on.

 

I was hugely disappointed. (And I really, really should have taken it back right then and there.)

 

Without doing a proper analysis, I can't tell you for sure, but it sounded to me like it had zero crossing point error up one side and down the other.

 

And the 80s unit died (cold dead) within 5 years, even as the 70s unit, almost all switches (and even the balance control) broken was still limping along and providing a full, rich, if not super highly detailed sound when I moved last year and stashed it in the garage. Just in case.

 

(I later bought a higher-end consumer Yamaha receiver. The FM reception isn't good at all but the sound is really solid. And it's got a 'straight-wire' switch that pulls out all the tone controls and even the L-R bal fader. In fact, I've got my old NS10m [retired] monitors on it and, with the passive loudness 'scoop' kicked in a bit, it sounds pretty darn good. Must be a Yamaha-family thing.)

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the important thing to keep in mind when mixing consumer and pro gear is sensitivity matching. Inputting a +4 balanced signal into a -10 unbalanced consumer receiver is not going to work, period. You need to properly match the input sensitivity. there are several devices out that are reasonably good quality and price that will do the job, converting that TRS +4 ot RCA -10.

Hope this is helpful.

 

NP Recording Studios

Analog approach to digital recording.

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Originally posted by where02190:

the important thing to keep in mind when mixing consumer and pro gear is sensitivity matching. Inputting a +4 balanced signal into a -10 unbalanced consumer receiver is not going to work, period. You need to properly match the input sensitivity. there are several devices out that are reasonably good quality and price that will do the job, converting that TRS +4 ot RCA -10.

It's certainly not ideal -- but there's a good chance you won't have any huge problems, particularly if you can control the output of your +4 dBu 'pro' device. It's 'only' a 14 dB diff. A lot of gear has sufficient headroom to give you a cushion. But, yeah, it's possible if you have close to 0 dB signal on your 'pro' source you might hit your consumer stereo hard enough to distort its input circuitry.

 

But -- anyway -- blackpig is using a standalone multitracker and it's highly unlikely that it's only got +4 outputs (or even has them at all).

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What you have to keep in mind is, you want to reproduce your recording as accurately as possible, from your recorder out thru your speakers. You don't want the speakers adding or subtracting anything from the frequency range. You want to hear what is on your recording. With a pro quality set of reference monitors what you hear is what you got. With home amps and speakers, sometimes the frequency response is different, Such as a boosted bass or high end, or it's all mid-range, or it'll poop out at 100 hertz,..every speaker and amp combo will be a little different...so what you need to do is determine what's going on with your system. A good way to do this is to run a Real Time Analyser test, which will show you the peaks and valleys of your system and where you need to either cut or boost your frequency range to get the flatest response possible. Sometimes you may have to experiment with various speakers and amp combo's to find an acceptable response. Sometimes adding an eq from the mixer to an amp, before the speaker will help to give you a flatter response. Some home style amps have a built in bass boost that would alter what you have recorded in comparison to what you hear. So you have to experiment with home amps to see what exatly they are putting out, not all amps are created equal. How are you going to mix something at 80 hertz if your system doesn't reproduce it, and you can't hear it ???

 

To give you an example, in my system I'm running an Alesis RA-100 for my main monitors, my monitors are Yamaha Home Theater Speakers & NS10's. I achieve a flat response from them by having Rane 30 band EQ between the mixer and amp. I'm able to fine tune what the speakers put out, and according to my Real Time Analizer graph & I'm getting a very flat response, and they sound great !! So I know what I'm hearing is what is recorded, and usually sounds great on other systems.

 

On the other hand, I also have a 5.1 system that I am using two home style amps, a Carver and a Kenwood. According to the Real Time Analizer checks I've done, the Carver puts out a very flat response, but the Kenwood really boosts up the bass, and has to be toned down to be usuable.

 

Although my system is a hodge podge of speakers and amps, it sounds great, crystal clear, no hums, and is the result of trial and error of many different speakers and amps to get the best possible system with the equipment available to me. For a personal home studio it works for me, but for a pro studio, if you have the budget to work with, go with pro gear, if you can. If you don't have a big budget, then use whatever ya got, and keep an eye out for upgrades as time goes on.

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i used to use a set of paradigm speakers and a marantz amp for my setup. these sound great and are quite useful. they have been retired to the home stereo where they function beautifully. i like the speakers/amp very much and they do sound quite good.

 

the problem is you can only go so far with a setup like that before you exceed the system. i guess a good analogy would be vhs tape. we've al seen a movie on vhs that looked pretty decent right? maybe not perfect but good enough. vhs is an "ok" presentation medium. but as soon as you start to WORK with vhs everything goes to hell, i.e. home movies recorded on vhs do not look like star wars. you can only go so far with vhs before you exceed what it can do.

 

i really like my consumer setup. but everything i mixed on it back in the day has a certain sound to it, like a limitation imposed on the mix. like things are missing, transients, punch, things like that. sounded great on those speakers though, still does.

 

i'd say if its all you cn afford, use what ya got. but realistically studio equipment is priced about the same as good consumer equipment. my parents wanted a new amp/speakers a few years back, and i helped them look at them. i bought them powered mackie speakers and a small mixer for their stereo. all together less than two grand, much less than anything aceptable as high end consumer gear, plus i think it sounds much better than anything at bestbuy. probably last longer too.

 

i think my monitor ones and ra100 were under $600 new, and this is less than what my paradigm speakers alone cost. the paradigms dont hold a candle to the alesis even though they cost more. the wood paneling is starting to come apart too. still sound great listening to cd's though.

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I still use a consumer setup with great success in my studio work. It's not a "cheap" setup, by current standards, but my Onkyo M-5000 amp, coupled with a pair of JBL S38 speakers, are what I do everything on.

 

The key to making a setup like this work? You must know the system and how it responds. The only way to do that is to spend a couple hundred hours listening to a variety of material with which you are intimately familiar. A good pair of true full-range speakers (+/- 6dB 35-20Khz) will tell their own version of the truth. Once you learn what version that is (by listening to a LOT of material on them) you'll have no trouble getting your material to translate on them.

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Using EQ to tune a room is NOT the way to go about it. You must tune the room, not the speakers. If your room iss not reasonably flat, eqing out the "problem" frequencies with an eq doesn't change that, and gives you an even more inaccurate mix.

 

Lowering the output of a +4 device to match that of a -10 device (Whcih FYI is about 11.2db, not 14db) will completely change the sound. Match the sensitivitly properly.

Hope this is helpful.

 

NP Recording Studios

Analog approach to digital recording.

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Originally posted by where02190:

[QB]Using EQ to tune a room is NOT the way to go about it. You must tune the room, not the speakers. If your room iss not reasonably flat, eqing out the "problem" frequencies with an eq doesn't change that, and gives you an even more inaccurate mix."

 

Actually it's a combination of both tuning the room and the speakers so the end result is what you're hearing is a flat response. The adjustments I've made are very fine, within just a few db's, and barely noticable except on the graph. The big thing about doing the Real Time Analizer test is to see where your frequencies drop off, in my case, around 45 hertz for the Theater Speakers, and 100 for the NS-10's, which indicates the need for a sub-woofer, to handle frequencies down to 20 hertz. The addition of a sub-woofer, really does make a big difference. My dome tweeters are a little bright, so cutting them just a tad, also seems to help, but you must remember, these are are very fine adjustments in relationship to the total sound.

 

I have no apologies for scoping out the Kenwood amp and dropping the bass boost, as this amp is used only for the center-channel speaker & sub, for directional purposes in the 5.1 realm, rather than sonic mixes, which I do using the front mains only.

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If you speaker response isn't flat you should consider better speakers, not compensating with eq, which will also add phase inconsistancies.

 

If you ask ANY profession audio designer (you knwo the guys who desing and build studios for a living) they will vehemently dissagree with you. Never tune the speakers. Tune the room.

Hope this is helpful.

 

NP Recording Studios

Analog approach to digital recording.

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I have considered JBL 4412A's, a very similar cabinet, design, and frequency response to my Home Theater Speakers. The JBL's would be my first choice if money were no object, as I loved the sound of them. But at $1,200-1,500 a pair vrs $200 for the Home Theater Speakers, I stay with what I have for the time being. The Home Theater Speakers were purchased for my living room stereo and stayed there for a couple of years, just by chance and for fun, I tried them out in the studio, and they sounded fantastic to me. They blew the NS10's away, because they had a good sounding low end, not found in the NS10's. So I kept them in the studio. Using them in conjunction with the NS10's, also works well for me. I have them on a switched circuit, so I can revert back to NS10's only, if I choose, with the flick of a switch.

 

For additional reference, I also use an old Panasonic Table Radio with a single 4" speaker, to get an idea what my mix would sound like on a standard office setting type radio, with all signals summed to a mono output.

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Another factor to consider in choosing speakers is definitily the room. I have a small room, and also a 5.1 system. Buying 5 JBL's to have matching speakers would cost around $3,000+, which is out of the question , number one, and two, ridiculous for a small room such as mine. The setup I have works well for me, and my room. If I hit the lottery and get a bigger room, then maybe I'll consider different speakers.

 

The smaller pro monitors I have listened to, sound awful to me, and I cannot justify the expense.

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In the meantime, I'm very happy with what I've got because of what it sounds like. When I record an acoustic guitar for example, the recording and the actual live sound is about as identical as possible, and that's what I want.

 

With 5.1 recordings, such as David Crosby's "Live At The Front Row", it sounds just as if I was in the same room with him, so as far as I'm concerned, that's all one can hope for. :thu: To describe my system another way, I'd have to say it's very transparent. Very easy to work with. If I want to kick things up a bit, I run my mains thru a BBE 462 Sonic Maximizer. Great for listening, but I don't use it for mixing.

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Testing it with what?

 

IT takes more than jsut an RTA to properly tune a room, you need to see phase distortion, and other acoustic anomilies that are the cause of the frequency response. It also requires a very well calibrated mic and interface. specific levels of tones need to be read at specific points in the room.

 

It's much more than just putting up an RTA mic. Yes that's a good start, but you can also create mor eproblems that you cure if you're eqing speakers to compensate for room acoustics, as eqing the speakers is not the solution, correcting the room acoustics, no matter what size the room, is the solution.

Hope this is helpful.

 

NP Recording Studios

Analog approach to digital recording.

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Okay mr expert, the guy wants to know if he can use home speakers for his system, far from being a professionally tuned studio... okay ??

 

Doing a RTA test of his system that he intends to use will help. Confusing him with tons of info on tuning the room, is not the question. I offered a simple solution to help get the guy started. We're talking HOME STUDIO HERE, NOT Peter Gabriel's Real World Studio with a million dollar budget. I doubt the guy wants to invest $2,000-3,000 for monitors and having his bedroom professionally tuned by acoustics expert fresh out of college, to "do it right", by your standards.

 

The point is most home stereo speakers of a decent quality can work, but are not always the best choice. It all depends on the speakers and amp in question. There's a zillion different types of speakers out there that people have and use. The selection should be determined by many factors, including the size of the room. Will 2" cubes fill up a 20' x 20' room ?? No !! Does he need 18" subs for a bedroom studio ?? No !!, Must a 15 year old kid have nothing but Adams's ??

 

I try contributing something to this forum, and this is the garbage I get.... get lost jerk !!!

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I'll make no apologies. My studio sounds great as it is, that's what's important to me. It also scopes out very well, which demonstrates a very flat response, thru-out the entire system, from computer, thru a Mackie Mixer, thru the EQ, thru the amps, and finally the speakers, I hear the music, not the speakers, not the mixer, not the amps, not the computer. Just crystal clear music, and I don't need any stinking $1,000 monitors to do that.

Years ago I heard the same story about NS-10's, "Oh you have to have NS-10's or else you're not cool", "NS-10's are in 90% of all studios, you have to have them", "But these are especially designed for precision reference monitoring", ...what a crock !! They have no low end !!! The only reason I keep them is because they look cool. My Home Theater Cabinets rock !!

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Hmmm....very interesting stuff, most of which is WAYYY over my head. I think perhaps I'll stick with the domestic stuff for the time being - if other music in the same genre (acoustic folksy stuff) sounds good on it, and then my own stuff sounds good on it, I'm probably doing something right.
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Originally posted by Ken/Eleven Shadows:

I would agree with Mats.

 

I am currently using a Kenwood A/V 100-watt receiver and Yorkville YSM-1 passives that I purchased about ten years ago for US$200. That's cheap-ass stuff, but I've developed a rapport with them. I can get really good sounding mixes on these things, although I do reference other speakers (car stereo, boom box). When it sounds good on everything, then I know I have my mix.

That's exactly how I work.

I use a technics home-system which costet me $1600 about 13 years ago.

Together with that I listen to my mixes on a transistor radio,..discman,...carradio and in a club.

I usually burn 7 or 8 mixes on CD and choose the best each time I listen. I end up with a good track like that.

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Blackpig: Starting out, that's not a bad approach - but you really need to make sure you're working with a pair of speakers that really gets down into the low regions. If the woofers aren't at least 6.5", they really won't have any usable frequency response below 80Hz. My S38's dig right down to 20Hz at -10dB, which is very solid for a home bookshelf speaker. If you don't have this kind of range, you're not going to hear the potential glitches that happen in the subharmonic range that can really spoil an otherwise good mix.
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Originally posted by djwayne:

I'll make no apologies.

I don't recall anyone asking for one. We all use what works for us, and what is one man's dream setup is anothers disaster.

 

However the basic principles of audio and the physics behind it cannot be changed, they are the governing mathematics of the science. the better understanding an engineer has of them, the better he/she can then apply them ot the particular environment they are working in.

 

Bottom line is it doesn' tmatter what you're suing for monitors, 450 el cheapos or the most expensive, perfectly tuned ones in the world, in an improperly tuned room the quality of the monitor is almost meaningless.

 

If you don't think you're hearing your room, speakers, electronics, IMHO you have alot ot learn. they all have an affect on what you hear, You cannot fight physics.

Hope this is helpful.

 

NP Recording Studios

Analog approach to digital recording.

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Of course that all plays in the total sound, but you don't want to scare off anybody from doing recordings with a bunch of nerdish facts and figures, making it so complicated a college degree is required to turn on a tape recorder. There's plenty to learn, and I can assure you my studio is not a disaster, but a very well thought out collection of various items, all of which that works very well, thank you.

 

I don't need anymore hype from poindexters with slide rules telling me I have to buy this, I have to buy that. Ain't nothing worse than a sleazy salesman, disguised as an audio engineer.

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dude, smooth out your feathers. I'm not trying to sell you anything, and I'm not a slesman, I'm an engineer.

 

However as previously stated you cannot just ignore the rules of physics and audio. If you wish to remain ignorant that's your choice, but these laws will remain constant, you can fight them or you can educate yourself and understand them, thus understanding more indepth the principles behind recording.

 

would you let an amatuer rebuild your transmissionw ithout knowing the basics behind the mechanics?

 

I didn't think so.

 

This isn't a p*ssing contest, and I'm not saying what you're doing is wrong, only that by better understanding of the principles you can achieve even better results.If you think there's no room for improvement and your room is perfect then fine have a wonderful time.

 

You seem to always want to engage in these chest puffing contests with me. I'm simply rpoviding infomratin on the subject. what you do with it is your choice, but don't strut like your poop don't stink and your way is the perfect way. I'm refereing to rules regarding audio, physics and the science of recording. To my knowledge these rules have not been changed, nor will they ever.

 

Education is key, ignorance they say is bliss. You choose which path is for you.

Hope this is helpful.

 

NP Recording Studios

Analog approach to digital recording.

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Nothing wrong with education. I've even gone to college on music production myself, but there comes a time when you have to concentrate on making music, and not being bothered with arrogant jerks telling you your equipment isn't up to snuff, because you don't have the latest and greatest invention of the week. Use whatever ya got for recording, and if it's a really great song, it'll probably get re-recorded on better equipment later. Just a few years ago, the DA-88 was the Holy Grail of recording equipment, worshiped by all the pro's, now you can find them on E-Bay dirt cheap.

And remember, amateurs built the Ark, and Pro's built the Titanic.

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