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So, I finally bought myself a pair of new studio monitors                                               Updated 2/3 2013

I have been a "Genelec man" (is that a term?) for almost 30 years. There are few Genelec models I haven’t use, except for the
very large ones. I have been very happy working with all of them, they have served me well.

So why change? You know the expression:

"If it’s not broken, don’t mend it".

And Genelec is certainly not “broken”....... But (hopefully) you also know:

“If you can’t make it better, mess it up”.

I’m not going to throw away the Genelec:s I use, only the ones in my home studio (they go back to my office 5.1 system).

Even if my home studio is far from a fully professional working environment, I enjoy working there, and the coffee is excellent
(I'm not joking)

This is how it looks like.















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As you see it’s a really small place, and small places have bad acoustics for listening to music.

Genelec and room compensation
Setting up speakers, so that they sound god enough for critical listening, in a room a small as mine, is definitely a challenge. It’s very hard (read impossible) to get an even, flat frequency response in such a small room. I used to have Genelecs 8240. They have an automated room compensation program, GLM, that works really well. It makes adjustments in the lower frequencies, but that’s where it is usually most necessary.   Its the very low frequencies, below 1000 Hz, that's causes most problems.

PSI M17A
I have been searching for a new set of monitors for the last 3-4 years.
Here is some of the monitors I have tested (in my own working plac(es))

- Klein&Hummel O 300
- ATC SCM25A Pro
- Adam Audio A77
- JBL LSR4326P
- KRK PROKIT RP8
- Dynaudio Acoustics BM 5A
- Genelec 8260A
- PMC DB1S
- Dynaudio Acoustics BM 5A

I have listened to (but not fully tested)
- Barefoot MicroMain 35
- Acoustic Energy AE22-04

There are several studio monitors that I probably should have tested. To name a few:
- Sonodyne SM 100K
- Neuman KH1200
- EVE Audio SC207/208
- BLUE SKY SAT 5.25 MKIII
- Equator Audio D5

I would also have like to test Focal 6Be or the 6 twin. I heard them at the Frankfurt music exhibition this year (2012) and was impressed. But here in Norway it is impossible to get these. The Focal distributor has been bought by a large company and professional services are simply none existing. Calls are not returned………………(1/3 2013 this may have changed)

Mess it up
In the last couple of years I have made a couple of mixes that I’m not very happy with. I used to be happy with all my mixes, so something went wrong? I think I didn’t challenge myself enough. I went into a comfort zone, and that is a bad thing.
To get out of that I started to challenge the way I work.
I have been a mouse man (sorry…) for ages, only using a mouse and computer keyboard as input device. To mess that up I bought a Euphonix MC Control, MC Transport and a Mix unit. It’s hard for me to use faders even if that’s where I come from (SSL 4000 mixer:s), but the transition back to faders is hard, but challenging.

The importance of really good loudspeakers
The next step was the studio monitors. My advice to any aspiring music technology person is, to get the best monitor that you can afford. If I have to be specific, buy Genelec 8030/40 or even better, 8240.
A god studio monitor is the most important tool when you start your career, especially if you are like me, not very interested in large microphone recording sessions. I’m an electronica guy. If you are into recording bands, god microphones may be of equal importance, but this is a completely different subject……

You don’t have to change monitors that often. I still use Genelec 1024A and they are 23 years old. So spending money on loudspeakers is a god, and economically wise, thing.

Terminology
What sounds good to you is not necessary god for someone else. There are however some common factors, some criteria's that most of us can agree upon.
The hi-fi guys have developed a listening terminology that is much more detailed compared to what a professional sound engineer usually talks about. Take a a look at this links as an example:

http://www.linkwitzlab.com/Loudspeaker%20evaluation.htm

The professional sound engineers I know seldom uses these types of scheme. Deciding what you like, what suites your working style is seldom articulated as specific as in the link above. It’s a matter of experience and taste, what is often called “silent knowledge”.

What works for the Hi-fi buffs seldom works in the profession sound studio environment. I only know one sound engineer that uses  Hi-fi speakers (he is in the process of changing that). The Hi-fi word usually thinks the professional studio monitor is un engaging and to “neutral”.

What do I look for in a studio monitor?
- neutral sounding, not emphasis parts of the spectrum, like enhancing base and treble
- doesn’t  change sound quality at different listening levels
- be able to produce a very stable center image, that is when something is mono, and paned center (like main vocal)
  it should be dead center
- revealing, tells you what’s there is, and doesn’t “beautify” the sound
- reliability, you are a professional, then you need professional tools, tools that work
- professional support. If they brake professional support is available (that is you get to lend    another speaker   free
  of charge)
- flexibility. Independent off what kind of music you are working on, studio monitor should   
  sound accurate on all kinds of music
- compatibility with other users,  It’s not a bad idea to have what many other uses, these
  days it …Genelec:s

What is so special with the PSI M17A?
They don’t sound like Genelec:s! One of the things they do better than Genelec:s is that they force you to work a little bit harder when you mix. A god friend of mine says that with Genelec:s you come to a finished mix much too fast. They are easy to mix on, and that’s a bad thing, he says. I have started to agree with him.
There are studio monitors, like Klein&Hummel Q 300, which I find very hard (to hard?) to work on but they work well in a mix situation, if you get used to them. I would actually call them, dull. The once that I tried allso screed hair…..
PSI M17A is not as “dull” as the Q 300, far from, they can actually sound quit exiting, but they are harder to work with, in a mix situation, than Genelec:s. More demanding and less flattering. They sound a bit softer in the upper frequency range but very detailed overall. They give a very god feedback of space and placement of sound sources. Actually, it’s there where they shine compared to Genelec:s
There is also a problems with Genelec:s, and that is that they tends to exaggerate the sibilant frequency range. On vocals Genelec:s can sound like they need De-essing when they on almost any other speakers sounds fine. Strings can sound hard and nasal. It’s not a huge thing but a friend of mine pointed that out and…..I couldn’t let go, it started to annoy me.

The PSI M17A is not the answer to all questions but, it is something else than Genelec and they will hopefully keep me on my toes.
And by the way, they are able to produce an center image that is extremely stable.

They are a bit expensive…….

ATC SCM25A Pro
Let me tell you something that was very interesting to me. ATC SCM25A Pro studio monitors was the ones that I really looked forward to try. They are almost 3 times as expensive as the PSI. I heard so many god things about ATC from people I know have “golden ears”.
I tested them in my office at the Norwegian Academy of Music which has reasonable god acoustics, for almost a week. I compared them with Genelec 8240.
I’m sorry to say that they were very disappointing. There were a small difference compared with the 8240. They where a bit “clearer” but not that much. The bas response was not god, indistinct and slow compared to Genelec:s. But the worst thing was that they changed character when pushed. On a “normal” mix sound level they sounded….okay, but when you played just a bit louder they started to over focus on the midrange and sounded harsh.
And then there is the build quality. The ATC almost fell apart when I tried them. I don’t know how it happens but they got dents and scratches just by looking at them, even the paint fell of. Absolutely appalling. My Genelec:s 1030 that’s 10 years old and cost a fourth of the ATC:s, has been moved around A LOT and they are close to spotless, but just moving the ATC:s from my car and into the studio was too much for them. They have to be handled with gloves and have a protecting grid around them…..
The ATC SCM25A Pro may not be the best ATC:s there is (I certainly hope not) they are crazy expensive. I would definitely prefer most of the other speakers I have tested, t. You have been warned. They are seriously hyped!

Eq your studio monitors
So, I started to work with the PSI speakers in my small home studio/room, putting them at the spot where the Genelec 8240 used to be. And to be honest, they didn’t sound that good. I had tested the PSI for several weeks, but in two other, much larger rooms, with far better acoustics. And I knew ther potentials.

You often read in forum’s and elsewhere that you should avoid using eq on your studio monitor as it will degenerate the sound because of, amongst other things, eq:s introduce distortion and bad phase response.
There is almost unanimous consensus that one should first try to solve problems with the room before doing any eq:ing of the loudspeakers. I couldn’t agree more, but I guess that many of us is more or less forced to work in rooms where the size of the room is far from ideal. Just have a look at the SoundonSounds Studio SOS column. I would guess that loudspeaker eq:ing is a necessity for most of us (strangely, that is not a theme in the SoS columns).
I have done a couple of things with the acoustics in my home studio and I could have done more
At ears position I have absorbers
Vicoustic Premium Flexi A50 The blue things on the wall in the pictures at the start of this text. They got rid of a disturbing flutter type echo. An at the rear I have two bas absorber also from Vicoustic that I filled with Roockwoll. I could definitely have something absorbing and defusing behind the speakers.



















   

     Rear of my room (one side)

I have not done much of this Eq:eng of monitors myself. So far, for the last 4-5 years, I have relied on the Genelec GLM system and before that I used professional assistance. That is until now.

What I did.
I started by finding a program that would analyze my loudspeakers frequency response in the room. After a few tries I settled for Audionet CARMA V3.0 which has a god user interface and a very helpful tool for equalizing.
It analyzes the room/loudspeaker response and gives you a 5 parametric eq setting/suggestions that you can program into a eq of your choice. The five eq settings contains ,frequency, gain and Q factor.

It uses a microphone input to analyze an audio signal that the program provides. At my first test I used an Neumann KM183 microphone witch has an omnisphre characteristic.

I placed the microphone at the exact spot where I’m sitting and in same ear height.

This is how my room “sounds”.
As you can se from the plot I have an absolutely terrible low frequency room response, with a
-12 db notch at 80 db and then a huge bump around 135 Hz, + 11 db
The blue line is the room response and the yellow is after using the programs 5 equalization. This is actually not a corrected plot, it’s a calculation of how the frequency response will look like when using an eq.

The five filter suggestions/settings I got from Audionet was programmed into a 8 band eq from PsP, Neon. I really like the VST pluggins that PsP makes and the Neon equalizer has proved very transparent. There are probably Eq:s that are better but, they have a price tag that’s not within my reach.

When I used the extra tree bands from the PsP Neon I was able to get a frequency response that looked like this:

Not so bad (its actually very good), but it didn’t sound that god. There was an obvious ringing around 135 Hz and the low midrange sounded a bit “muddy”. So I went buy ear and settled for something that gave a less flat response but sounded better (more accurate).


PSP settings
         Hz     Gain       Q
1       61      4,61    0,85
2     134   -14,50     6,80                    
3     434     -4,09    3,27
4     280      2,78     9,75
5   1000      -2,50    4,01                  
6       82     12,50    8,04                  
7   7482      -2,86    2,00
8     474       3,84    5,04




















 There are much to be improved. Im not fully happy with the low midrange yet but, Im on my way
J

If I hadent use a program like the Audionet I would never have been able to get the result I got, or to put it an other way, It chalanged me and provided feedback so I could make judgnent on a more knowlage and objective basis.



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matsc@matsclaesson.net