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Really great interview with Alex Sterling, owner and engineer at Precision Sound in NYC. BTW, he has an impressive roster of clients.

http://precisionsoundstudios.com/

I find this interesting for a few reasons I feel are valuable to participants on this forum:

1) Many here will buy "monitors" (powered speakers) for our keyboard setups and will have to make decisions
2) The piano sounds from our keyboards, or computer software, is supposed to sound like a real, acoustic piano and we want this sound reproduced accurately
3) Some feel that as long as a monitor has a flat frequency response, they will sound the same,,, Mr Sterling has some interesting comments here
4) Many feel "monitors" are superior to home stereo speakers given different use cases... interesting comments from Mr Sterling about what he wants in a monitor
5) He mentions the headphones he uses....

I will post my opinions after we get some discussions going on here. As many know, I am an audiophile nerd with a high fidelity home stereo and spent some time, effort, and some cash putting together a speaker system for my Roland RD 2000 keyboard. One opinion straight out: Knowledge of sound reproduction systems is transferable between home audio and keyboards.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Posted By: napilopez Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 01:28 AM
I watched this video about a year ago =]. To address the point of 'do they all sound the same,' the answer is, of course no. However, flattish studio monitors should sound roughly similar in terms of timbre, and they share some important similarities.

The big reason even flattish studio monitors don't sound the same isn't just frequency response, but rather directivity -- how they radiate sound into a room. Same way a piano sounds different depending on where you're listening from, a speaker will radiate sound differently in different directions. This will fundamentally affect how they interact with a room and the spatial presentation. Distortion has a small effect in most cases. Rom treatment and listening nearfield lessens the effect of directivity but unless you are in an anechoic chamber, it is still going to have a significant effect.

That said, we are also very sensitive to small changes in frequency response. One paper showed we can detect broad deviations in frequency response as little as 0.1 dB, and just a little more makes it obvious.

It's also worth noting that although different rooms will make speakers sound different, contrary to popular belief the research suggests people do tend to prefer the same speakers regardless of the room. Above 300-500Hz or so, we have a remarkable ability to hear a speaker "through" the room. Quite same way you can identify a friend's voice whether you are in a concert hall or a restaurant.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 03:51 AM
The point of a flat monitor for a piano monitor is so that the alteration of the piano's voicing is minimized. That's it. There is no other benefit.

When you shape a melody dynamically, you are using the dynamic level of what you hear to feed back into your playing so that you produce a melody or inner line with a given dynamic phrasing. If you have inaccurate feedback, you will shape the melody based on what you hear so it sounds correct through the monitors. If you are recording, and the monitors accentuate a frequency causing you to compensate with the dynamic level, the compensation will be "correct" through the monitors but incorrect in the recording.

This is a more complex issue because the recording may be played back on an inaccurate system, but the goal is always to minimize the inaccuracies introduced at each stage.

Of course with organs there is no compensation possible, and inaccurate monitors can produce uneven scales with no recourse available to the player.
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 06:58 AM
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Really great interview with Alex Sterling, owner and engineer at Precision Sound in NYC. BTW, he has an impressive roster of clients.

http://precisionsoundstudios.com/

I find this interesting for a few reasons I feel are valuable to participants on this forum:

1) Many here will buy "monitors" (powered speakers) for our keyboard setups and will have to make decisions
2) The piano sounds from our keyboards, or computer software, is supposed to sound like a real, acoustic piano and we want this sound reproduced accurately
3) Some feel that as long as a monitor has a flat frequency response, they will sound the same,,, Mr Sterling has some interesting comments here
4) Many feel "monitors" are superior to home stereo speakers given different use cases... interesting comments from Mr Sterling about what he wants in a monitor
5) He mentions the headphones he uses....

I will post my opinions after we get some discussions going on here. As many know, I am an audiophile nerd with a high fidelity home stereo and spent some time, effort, and some cash putting together a speaker system for my Roland RD 2000 keyboard. One opinion straight out: Knowledge of sound reproduction systems is transferable between home audio and keyboards.

Peace
Bruce in Philly


I just listened to the first 30 seconds of this video and stopped watching it...

My humble guess is that the entire video can be summarized in under a minute
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 07:04 AM
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
The point of a flat monitor for a piano monitor is so that the alteration of the piano's voicing is minimized. That's it. There is no other benefit.

When you shape a melody dynamically, you are using the dynamic level of what you hear to feed back into your playing so that you produce a melody or inner line with a given dynamic phrasing. If you have inaccurate feedback, you will shape the melody based on what you hear so it sounds correct through the monitors. If you are recording, and the monitors accentuate a frequency causing you to compensate with the dynamic level, the compensation will be "correct" through the monitors but incorrect in the recording.

This is a more complex issue because the recording may be played back on an inaccurate system, but the goal is always to minimize the inaccuracies introduced at each stage.

Of course with organs there is no compensation possible, and inaccurate monitors can produce uneven scales with no recourse available to the player.

Monitor speaker's purpose is to reveal the sounds and voices in the mix so that you can adjust (EQ, pan) them correctly. That's the only purpose.

Back in the '60s and '70s and may be '80s we didn't have such a standard and a lot of recordings from that era just sound muffled or bad. That's why we sometimes find remastered versions of old songs these days.
Posted By: peterws Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 07:55 AM
And we have near-field minitors. I've not heard of far-field stuff, but I imagine there must be some. One might wonder just where to draw the line. . . .2 feet? 3? 6" speakers? 8"?
I like my speakers to be heard and not seen.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 05:01 PM
Originally Posted by Abdol
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
The point of a flat monitor for a piano monitor is so that the alteration of the piano's voicing is minimized. That's it. There is no other benefit.

When you shape a melody dynamically, you are using the dynamic level of what you hear to feed back into your playing so that you produce a melody or inner line with a given dynamic phrasing. If you have inaccurate feedback, you will shape the melody based on what you hear so it sounds correct through the monitors. If you are recording, and the monitors accentuate a frequency causing you to compensate with the dynamic level, the compensation will be "correct" through the monitors but incorrect in the recording.

This is a more complex issue because the recording may be played back on an inaccurate system, but the goal is always to minimize the inaccuracies introduced at each stage.

Of course with organs there is no compensation possible, and inaccurate monitors can produce uneven scales with no recourse available to the player.

Monitor speaker's purpose is to reveal the sounds and voices in the mix so that you can adjust (EQ, pan) them correctly. That's the only purpose.
That's the purpose of mixing monitors. It is not the requirements for piano monitors, mastering monitors, floor monitors, or general purpose monitors.

Monitor vendors don't always position their products front and center for a particular niche, so as not to limit sales. No studio monitors are sold as piano monitors. It is left to the buyer to determine which products best meet the requirements of piano monitors, which generslky are not the best monitors for mixing.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 05:15 PM
The majority of studio monitors are marketed with the claim that they will reveal in detail what is going on in a mix but not all are very good at doing so. Some are actually designed as general purpose monitors. General purpose monitors with a reasonably flat response and enough bass extension for a piano will make good piano monitors.

The cheapest studio monitors are not high quality as would be expected. Then there is a price range of mediocre mixing monitors some of which are good general purpose monitors. Some of these are very good piano monitors.

Very good mixing monitors are expensive, and often make poor piano monitors because they may sacrifice balanced sound to improve midrange detail. Very good mastering mains are very expensive (acoustic piano price ranges), but would make excellent piano monitors if you can afford them.
Posted By: drewr Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/21/21 11:29 PM
Originally Posted by Abdol
I just listened to the first 30 seconds of this video and stopped watching it...

My humble guess is that the entire video can be summarized in under a minute

Agreed.

I got/get - every speaker / monitor “is different”, depending on _______, and sometimes the same speaker/monitor does not sound the same one day as it did a previous day.

This seems to mirror the obligatory “ all APs are different (feel/sound/room-space & other subjectivities) .... even the same one on different days....” ... and all DP brands & models are different ..... and headphones.

Did i leave out any of the big particulars? ... oh, yeah, we are all different albeit similar. 🙂

How about you Bruce; main take aways?
Bruce is an expert on subjective audiophilia, and has no desire to learn what the objective audiophiles has learned in the last 40 years about anechoic frequency measurements, directivity, and human sound perception in a reflective room.

"Studio monitors" are just speakers. They are no more "accurate" than other random speakers. *Some* studio monitors are designed *for* accuracy, and neutrality, like Genelecs, Neumanns, JBL, Kali and some others, just as *some* speakers are designed for the same.

Below is one of many good websites that do good measurements.

https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/loudspeakers/
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/22/21 08:58 PM
Quote
"Studio monitors" are just speakers.
Sort of. Some studio monitors have internal DSP to equalize and voice the speakers. The amps, DSP, and drivers all work together as one system. This is a very different philosophy from fully analog speakers which have to have drivers designed and manufactured to a tight tolerance to work with the crossovers that also are precisely designed to produce a good sounding speaker. These have the amp as a separate, standalone system whether or not it is mounted in the speaker enclosure.

I would also note that particular quality points occur at very different price points when comparing the two types of speakers.
I guess to summarize, there is a ton of mystery regarding how to playback your keyboard sounds and powered monitors are a common approach.... the most common? And a ton of misinformation... like the only thing that is important is flat frequency response or how a speaker can play in the low registers.

So, IMO, speaker/monitor selection can have a really big impact on the sound of your keyboard, how a piano sound from a vendor can sound, and consequently, the emotional attachment you will have with your playing.... and with your audience if you have one. It is worth spending time and money to get it right.

I still look for used, high-dollar monitors even though I have a great sounding rig right now. The higher-priced and quality monitors usually have frequency response contour controls on their rear to tailor the sound to your liking or situation... I like this.

As I have mentioned before in my posts, I spent time at one of the big music equipment retailers in NYC listening to well recorded music on their "wall 'o monitors" and was amazed at how different they all sounded. And, of course, the most expensive (Adam monitors) they had were the best sounding to me. Unfortunately, given the rise of the internet and fall of brick-and-mortar retailing, it is difficult if not impossible to go to a store and listen to this stuff. So... we are left with asking questions and for opinions on forums such as this... and then listen to a ton of mixed messages, some informed and some not so much. Anywho.... I thought I would present the experiences of a successful professional who simply said even his very expensive professional equipment all sounds differently from each other. Notice, he did not say all that matters is flat frequency response.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Posted By: EB5AGV Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/23/21 02:33 PM
Which Adam monitors did you listen to?. I use a pair of A7X and love them.

Jose
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/23/21 09:44 PM
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
I guess to summarize, there is a ton of mystery regarding how to playback your keyboard sounds and powered monitors are a common approach.... the most common? And a ton of misinformation... like the only thing that is important is flat frequency response or how a speaker can play in the low registers.

So, IMO, speaker/monitor selection can have a really big impact on the sound of your keyboard, how a piano sound from a vendor can sound, and consequently, the emotional attachment you will have with your playing.... and with your audience if you have one. It is worth spending time and money to get it right.

I still look for used, high-dollar monitors even though I have a great sounding rig right now. The higher-priced and quality monitors usually have frequency response contour controls on their rear to tailor the sound to your liking or situation... I like this.

As I have mentioned before in my posts, I spent time at one of the big music equipment retailers in NYC listening to well recorded music on their "wall 'o monitors" and was amazed at how different they all sounded. And, of course, the most expensive (Adam monitors) they had were the best sounding to me. Unfortunately, given the rise of the internet and fall of brick-and-mortar retailing, it is difficult if not impossible to go to a store and listen to this stuff. So... we are left with asking questions and for opinions on forums such as this... and then listen to a ton of mixed messages, some informed and some not so much. Anywho.... I thought I would present the experiences of a successful professional who simply said even his very expensive professional equipment all sounds differently from each other. Notice, he did not say all that matters is flat frequency response.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

You still are insisting on adding qualifiers that materially change the meaning of content I've posted. Flat frequency response matters for piano monitors. When you change that statement to flat response is the only property that matters for how a speaker sounds, it is a very different statement.
Scientific research (double blind tests) has shown that there is poor correlation between perceived sound quality vs price of speakers.

And nobody has suggested that flat frequency response is the ultimate goal.

Here are some additional knowledge, backed by science [1]:

* Sound arriving at your listening position is the sum of direct sound from the speaker PLUS the reflected sound from your walls, ceiling, and floor.

* In a large population study, flat frequency response at the listening position results in sound that is "too bright", and not preferred.

* The most preferred frequency response at the listening position is a smooth downward slope from low to high frequencies.

* The speakers that generate the preferred frequency response had flat frequency response in anechoic conditions, and smooth directivity.

* Smooth directivity is hard to achieve, because high frequencies "beam" and not "disperse". Well designed wave guides can "disperse" high frequencies.

* Companies like Genelec, Neumann, JBL, Kali and a few others make monitors that follow the above science.

* These characteristics can be presented in a standard format, CEA 2034 [2].


[1] https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reprod...892136X/dp/113892136X/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

[2] https://speakerdata2034.blogspot.com/2019/02/spinorama-cea-2034-2015-ansi-data-format.html
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/24/21 10:14 PM
I won't claim that everything below is scientifically accurate, but it is what I've experienced or learned by trial and error having actually used a variety of speakers for digital keyboard monitors-- active and passive studio monitors, home stereo speakers, PAs, and keyboard amps. This is not based on scientific measurement, but also is not from just listening to my favorite music over monitors at a noisy big box store.

I have an acoustically treated studio space including bass traps, but it is not an anechoic chamber. I did the acoustic treatment primarily so that I could use a subwoofer for a digital organ without bass buildup from room resonance and standing waves. It was not to support audio engineering work, although the enhanced clarity of monitors in the space is noticeable.

The requirements for a speaker to render the stereo illusion effect for a mix of instruments, placing each instrument into a perceived 3D soundstage, and the requirements to render a single instrument well are not identical sets of requirements, though they have substantial overlap.

Evaluating speakers for suitability as piano monitors by listening to a recording of mixed music is an inferior method relative to hooking them up to your piano and playing scales and other music. It is the mirror image of trying to choose general purpose speakers for a home stereo by hooking them up to a digital piano and assuming they will sound good for all purposes if they work well as piano monitors.

Studio monitors have additional pitfalls when used as general purpose speakers or as piano monitors. Some are designed with reduced dispersion giving them a very narrow listening sweet spot. I believe that this is to cut reflections of sound so that they convey more information about a mix. Some also reduce bass response likely deliberately, sounding out of balance, I believe to enhance midrange clarity, again to provide more information about what is going on in a mix.

Monitors designed this way are marketed to professional audio engineers who know what they are looking for in a monitor, which is for the monitor to provide the information they need to do their work. These types of monitors may make mediocre piano monitors, and I believe that this should be independent of price point. Paying attention to bass extension and width of listening field is a way to avoid these as piano monitors.

Another important point concerns how close you will sit to the monitors. If you want monitors on the other side of the room, or to fill a living room adequately to play for others, you are looking at a midfield application. Most home stereo speakers are designed as midfield speakers, but some are nearfield speakers. If you sit too close to midfield speakers, sound from different drivers will be on different axes, and imaging will suffer.

For any instrument monitor, response should be linear enough to play an even scale without some notes being louder than their neighbor or exhibiting a shrill tone from accentuation if some frequencies in the notes overtone series. I have experienced these types of problems with some of the speakers I have used as piano monitors, and consider it unacceptable. It is particularly common with keyboard amps and some PAs, but I experienced it with some vintage stereo speakers as well.

The cheapest and a very effective way to get flat enough response is with monitors that equalize the sound using a DSP tier in the design. These will have a noise floor that I believe is the result of broadband distortion from the DSP tier, but the cause may be different. It may be noticeable if you place your ear an inch or so from the tweeter. Some are more objectionable than others. If you sit at a distance from the monitor where this is fully attenuated, these are a very cost-effective solution. You may pay triple the cost to get comparable performance without a DSP tier for speaker voicing. This may be worth it to some.

Another question is subwoofer integration if monitors will be used for organs, bass synthesizers, etc. Some monitors integrate more easily with subwoofers than others. I'm not fully certain what the issues were with monitors I had that did not integrate well with a subwoofer.

If I were to use a digital instrument to perform for a group of people in home living room, I'm not sure what speakers I would want to use, but most likely not nearfield monitors.

There may be material or technical errors above, but it is my $.02 worth.
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/25/21 03:14 PM
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
I guess to summarize, there is a ton of mystery regarding how to playback your keyboard sounds and powered monitors are a common approach.... the most common? And a ton of misinformation... like the only thing that is important is flat frequency response or how a speaker can play in the low registers...
Bruce in Philly


Hi-Fi and passive speakers are dead and are for the hobbyist. Forget about the flat frequency. The consistency and the fact that you won't be doing a random mix n match with active (monitor) speakers are far more important than what you're talking about.

Just google active and passive speakers and read their advantages and disadvantages. A professional high-end monitor speaker is an asset. The internals (amps, cones, crossovers etc) are all designed to deliver a solid and predictable performance for a reasonable price.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/25/21 05:55 PM
Quote
Hi-Fi and passive speakers are dead and are for the hobbyist.

Passive monitor:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M2System--jbl-m2-reference-monitor-system
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/26/21 05:34 PM
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote
Hi-Fi and passive speakers are dead and are for the hobbyist.

Passive monitor:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M2System--jbl-m2-reference-monitor-system

I see zero value in terms of music production in them, including what you just posted

Reading my post thoroughly seems much harder than a search on the internet and fetching an irrelevant link/argument to what I said.



Let me depict the future for you and maybe you can see the grand scheme of things:

Given the wireless technology taking over, there will be a -0- chance for passive systems to survive, both in consumers and prosumers markets.

I should also reiterate the other added benefits of active systems '.'
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/26/21 05:47 PM
The importance of the flat frequency response is something beyond the silly videos posted here. Not that it is rocket science, but it is a form of standardization of a sonic experience.

If you are in music production, you need a baseline for the mix. Something that gives you the coordinates of your music and its mix. This is a twofold problem as we are speaking today: the software aspect and the hardware aspect. Both HW and SW should work hand in hand. If your set the levels properly but your speakers deliver crap freq response, you will EQ your mix inappropriately and your mastered work will not sound as you expect on other audio systems.

It took decades for the industry to get here where we are today and if you are listening to music that is not too loud or doesn't sound like it's coming out of a time machine it's because of the advancement in technology and standardization.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/27/21 08:04 PM
Originally Posted by Abdol
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote
Hi-Fi and passive speakers are dead and are for the hobbyist.

Passive monitor:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M2System--jbl-m2-reference-monitor-system

I see zero value in terms of music production in them, including what you just posted


The market for the M2 reference speakers would be as main monitors in a mastering studio. Mastering is different from mixing and has different requirements.

These are not efficient speakers and the recommended amp power is 1200 watts/channel. While such amps could be mounted in the speaker enclosure in principle, heat dissipation likely would be inadequate. It also is more convenient to access amplifier controls with the amp mounted in a rack than having to use controls at the back of the speaker. Then you can operate the controls while in the listening position of the speakers to hear the effect of a change from that position. Some will have that preference.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/27/21 08:09 PM
Quote
The importance of the flat frequency response is something beyond the silly videos posted here. Not that it is rocket science, but it is a form of standardization of a sonic experience.

If you are in music production, you need a baseline for the mix.
When you are doing mix engineering you need that. The skill set and equipment for mixing and mastering is different enough that there are mixing studios and there mastering studios. The mastering engineer needs monitors that are high dynamic range to make compression and gain level decisions, and that are full frequency range and as flat as possible to make equalization decisions.
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/27/21 09:42 PM
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Originally Posted by Abdol
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote
Hi-Fi and passive speakers are dead and are for the hobbyist.

Passive monitor:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M2System--jbl-m2-reference-monitor-system

I see zero value in terms of music production in them, including what you just posted


The market for the M2 reference speakers would be as main monitors in a mastering studio. Mastering is different from mixing and has different requirements.

These are not efficient speakers and the recommended amp power is 1200 watts/channel. While such amps could be mounted in the speaker enclosure in principle, heat dissipation likely would be inadequate. It also is more convenient to access amplifier controls with the amp mounted in a rack than having to use controls at the back of the speaker. Then you can operate the controls while in the listening position of the speakers to hear the effect of a change from that position. Some will have that preference.

The speakers you introduced have two independent receivers. They aren't passive in reality. If you remove the guts of any active speaker it's a passive speaker + an amp.

That said, those Crown I-T5000 HD amplifiers must have some extraordinary capabilities to drive these speakers to their full. It is not like you buy these JBL speakers and throw in any amps and expect an exceptional output from them. In fact, if they are chosen poorly the entire setup can sound pretty bad.

Try hooking these "passive" speakers with your own (custom-made hi-fi etc) receivers and see how they sound
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/27/21 09:43 PM
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote
The importance of the flat frequency response is something beyond the silly videos posted here. Not that it is rocket science, but it is a form of standardization of a sonic experience.

If you are in music production, you need a baseline for the mix.
When you are doing mix engineering you need that. The skill set and equipment for mixing and mastering is different enough that there are mixing studios and there mastering studios. The mastering engineer needs monitors that are high dynamic range to make compression and gain level decisions, and that are full frequency range and as flat as possible to make equalization decisions.


thanks...
Posted By: Abdol Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/27/21 09:59 PM
So I quickly took a look at the Crown I-T5000 HD amps. They are worth around 12000-13000 USD. And to my understanding, the crossover is adjustable in addition to some other fancy but necessary features through software.

So technically speaking (if I understood the manual correctly) you can pair these with many different speakers.

So you are paying quite a lot of premium for something that an active pair of speakers don't really need: adjusting hardware parameters.

The amp that comes with an active speaker doesn't need adjustment, as it is already tailored to the drivers and tweeters.

This is independent of mixing, mastering, nearfield, far-field, or mid-field usage.
Posted By: David Lai Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 10/28/21 01:32 PM
Ever since my positive experiences with a pair of powered speakers, I've since had a soft spot in my heart for them. The separate amp and speakers take extra desk space if going for passive, and I feel like someone who has a stable sound signature they are looking for, a powered speaker is easier for me to get to that kind of sound. If you have the time and hobby to research and build your passive system, glory to you! But for me, a simple desktop set up that has good enough bass is enough. smile
The hard part for me is to get my monitors to sound a lot like my headphones, so I could switch between silent practice at night and monitors in the morning. I play mainly out of my desktop with VSTIs and SFZs. Hopefully I could find a good EQ with the ability to save user presets
Maybe some of you would like to comment on how stage monitors perform at assorted distances. Can I use small monitors (6 or 8 inch) if I place them very close, just like we do with studio monitors? Or will the bass end disappear all the same?

Without first buying some small speakers I can't really test these things. Any tips on what sort of nominal bass end (Hz) I should shop for to reproduce piano patches would be welcome. I play jazz in assorted styles, so I need quite a lot of the bass notes, but I want them to sound incisive. I don't want them to boom as they do on so many (cheap?) speakers with large woofers, and for me the mids are crucial.

So should I fuss over some optimum speaker size? Or is it all about quality?

And can anyone comment on the Yamaha DBR10 and the DXR10? Good candidates?
Posted By: napilopez Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 11/10/21 06:01 PM
Originally Posted by josh_sounds
The hard part for me is to get my monitors to sound a lot like my headphones, so I could switch between silent practice at night and monitors in the morning. I play mainly out of my desktop with VSTIs and SFZs. Hopefully I could find a good EQ with the ability to save user presets

This is one of the reasons why the standardization of a flat frequency response and smooth directivity is important -- it would also give something for headphones to aspire to. In any case, it is easier to find headphones that can sound like a good pair of speakers than the other way around. In general, for *most* people, a headphone that follows the 'harman curve' or harman target will have similar tonality to a flat pair of speakers in a good room. There's some variability due to individual anatomical differences and preferences, but this has been demonstrated to be true for a majority of listeners in multiple papers.

Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
Maybe some of you would like to comment on how stage monitors perform at assorted distances. Can I use small monitors (6 or 8 inch) if I place them very close, just like we do with studio monitors? Or will the bass end disappear all the same?

Without first buying some small speakers I can't really test these things. Any tips on what sort of nominal bass end (Hz) I should shop for to reproduce piano patches would be welcome. I play jazz in assorted styles, so I need quite a lot of the bass notes, but I want them to sound incisive. I don't want them to boom as they do on so many (cheap?) speakers with large woofers, and for me the mids are crucial.

So should I fuss over some optimum speaker size? Or is it all about quality?

And can anyone comment on the Yamaha DBR10 and the DXR10? Good candidates?

There are two things to consider: the speaker's frequency response and its output capability, which is basically how well it can maintain that frequency response at higher volume levels.

Think of it this way: You can get a 1-inch driver to output bass all the way down below 20Hz... that's basically what headphones do. The difference is that they are right next to your ear, so the absolute output requirements are much lower than, say speakers meant for a living room.

So more to the point of your question, distance isn't going to change the bass output capability of the speakers. What might be affected is that these speakers can play their low frequencies more cleanly because their absolute decibel requirements. But if they can't get down to 30 hz -- which describes most speakers of any size -- they aren't going to be able to at close distances either. In theory, you could attempt to EQ the speakers to have more bass at close distances, but this is unlikely to lead to good results.

The simple solution: get a subwoofer. Subwoofers are often misunderstood as being tools for excessive bass, but that's just one way of using them. Their more important roles in a high fidelity system is to 1)increase bass output in a linear, realistic fashion and 2) to help minimize the effect of room nodes that lead to an uneven sound below 400ish Hz or so in almost every room. Multiple subwoofers can dramatically help with this, in fact, but for a listener in a single position as you would be at the piano, this isn't too essential.

The addition of a properly integrated subwoofer will allow you to use smaller primary speakers and/or lessen the burden on those speakers, allowing themto play more cleanly at high volumes. Of course, they will also extend frequency response into the sub-bass, which IMO is essential for properly replicating the physical sensation of being in front of any instrument with low bass content.

Yamaha tends to be rather inconsistent with the performance of their speakers, but the DXR10 and DBR10 appear to be decent from the measurements I've seen.

I wouldn't trust any manufacturer provided frequency response range unless they actually have graphs measured in an anechoic chamber or using an equivalent method. There is no standard for how these ratings are achieved and that can alter results dramatically depending on the whims of the individual manufacturer . The only time a simple "X hz to X kHz" metric is useful is for comparing speakers from the same manufacturer, but even with this I've seen inconsistencies.

If anechoic data is available, I'd say extension down to ~45 Hz (-6dB) as a minimum, which should mean that in a room, which will add a bit of extra bass, you should have audible frequencies into the mid 30s.

Lastly, and I know this is a long post, but the most important thing for clean bass notes is proper room calibration (which a subwoofer will help with too). The fact of the matter is that in any typical room(as in, smaller than a large venue like a concert hall), the room itself begins to dominate how frequencies are presented below 400 Hz or so. Without room correction, *very* extensive room treatment, and/or a very unique and rare type of speaker, you simply cannot get an even response below these frequencies. At best, you can hope a speaker matches your individual room's characteristics, but the problem is much more effectively and reliably solved with room correction.
Hi Napilopez,

Thanks for all the input. We were talking about monitors and distances and solutions that don't lose the bass end, but I had trouble quoting your post (it got very messy with assorted nested quotes) so I'm just replying from fresh.

Remember that I'm looking for stage monitors/speakers - a solution for playing at gigs rather than for home use. I don't think I need lots of raw volume since there will be a PA too (at least on the bigger gigs) but my music is largely improvised, and dependent on what other musicians do too, so hearing what I play in detail through the din of a big show or a small but noisy public is vital if I'm to play the right voicings and expression. But it's not just a functional need for clarity - I really want to enjoy the sound of my instrument too and have it sounding well for others. I have even considered using a studio monitor on my right (for definition) plus whatever on my left to make the sound bigger and warmer. I used to do that with my P80, since it has no monitors at all.

But I'll reconsider subwoofers after what you said. The combination of small speaker(s) plus sub(s) should guarantee strong mids, and I might get better bass results too. I just hope that there wouldn't be an adverse change in note character, such as a loss of tone or definition on those low piano notes. I'm sure, however, that sub(s) would be particularly useful on any occasion that I need to play a "bass" patch on the piano or from a backing track. My piano's bass patch is very hard to hear sometimes, partly (I imagine) because it needs to be felt too.
Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
Remember that I'm looking for stage monitors/speakers -

I know you are looking for stage use... FWIW, I looked, and listened to stage monitors for home use. I did this at Sam Ash and Guitar Center. In short, I found stage systems to just sound awful... just awful. I really don't know why they do. Maybe they require a monster EQ job for wherever you use them, but I really don't know. They all sounded... well... like I was in the audience at a big concert. Honky is about the best description I can come up with. Just awful.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Posted By: mwf Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 11/11/21 06:07 PM
Just to add to this thread, i bought a pair of jbl 305p for my kawai es920 few months ago, they were decent sounding for the price, but some keys near top of keyboard were distorting slightly, tried vsts through them also and was an even better experience, but still several notes didn't sound right.

Anyway i decided to return them and took a risk on a pair of iloud mtm monitors. This turned out to be a very great idea indeed. I played American concert D ivory 2 and garritan cfx through them and its almost like they're made for the speakers, they are very honest and detailed. I actually prefer a hi-fi sounding speaker to a flat monitor one for music listening, and i also thought for piano playing they'd be better, but i can't think of anything else I'd rather play piano and vsts through than my ilouds now. They are something else.

It could be I've not played through a proper pair of studio speakers before and it's new to me, but i can vouch for their quality, i have mine on mic stands, and i find them amazing, I've not even calibrated them yet to my room.

For digital piano playing and clarity/detail of the original sample these are ridiculously good, oh and you get more than enough bass too so no need for sub woofer.
Posted By: stevedoz Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 11/12/21 11:16 AM
Originally Posted by mwf
Just to add to this thread, i bought a pair of jbl 305p for my kawai es920 few months ago, they were decent sounding for the price, but some keys near top of keyboard were distorting slightly, tried vsts through them also and was an even better experience, but still several notes didn't sound right.

Anyway i decided to return them and took a risk on a pair of iloud mtm monitors. This turned out to be a very great idea indeed. I played American concert D ivory 2 and garritan cfx through them and its almost like they're made for the speakers, they are very honest and detailed. I actually prefer a hi-fi sounding speaker to a flat monitor one for music listening, and i also thought for piano playing they'd be better, but i can't think of anything else I'd rather play piano and vsts through than my ilouds now. They are something else.

It could be I've not played through a proper pair of studio speakers before and it's new to me, but i can vouch for their quality, i have mine on mic stands, and i find them amazing, I've not even calibrated them yet to my room.

For digital piano playing and clarity/detail of the original sample these are ridiculously good, oh and you get more than enough bass too so no need for sub woofer.

Interesting. I have an ES8 with no monitors. I would really like to try some before committing but that doesn't seem possible. Definitely a different league to the Es920 internals? Thanks
Posted By: mwf Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 11/12/21 05:31 PM
Originally Posted by stevedoz
Originally Posted by mwf
Just to add to this thread, i bought a pair of jbl 305p for my kawai es920 few months ago, they were decent sounding for the price, but some keys near top of keyboard were distorting slightly, tried vsts through them also and was an even better experience, but still several notes didn't sound right.

Anyway i decided to return them and took a risk on a pair of iloud mtm monitors. This turned out to be a very great idea indeed. I played American concert D ivory 2 and garritan cfx through them and its almost like they're made for the speakers, they are very honest and detailed. I actually prefer a hi-fi sounding speaker to a flat monitor one for music listening, and i also thought for piano playing they'd be better, but i can't think of anything else I'd rather play piano and vsts through than my ilouds now. They are something else.

It could be I've not played through a proper pair of studio speakers before and it's new to me, but i can vouch for their quality, i have mine on mic stands, and i find them amazing, I've not even calibrated them yet to my room.

For digital piano playing and clarity/detail of the original sample these are ridiculously good, oh and you get more than enough bass too so no need for sub woofer.

Interesting. I have an ES8 with no monitors. I would really like to try some before committing but that doesn't seem possible. Definitely a different league to the Es920 internals? Thanks

I really like the internal speakers of the es920, i dont see a need to play it through my ilouds, but obviously they lack bass so ilouds are good for that, I've always played vsts through cabinet speakers of other digital pianos and didn't like the sound, so I'm glad i got some monitor speakers that are not biased towards any particular sample sets.

For recording purposes i never use hardware dp samples now as they all sound poor, i only use vsts because they are far superior for recording. So my ilouds are mainly for playing good vsts through, I'm very happy with them for this purpose alone, i doubt i could do much better if I'm honest, not without spending double or triple the amount.
Posted By: stevedoz Re: Monitors! Do they all sound the same? - 11/12/21 05:58 PM
Originally Posted by mwf
Originally Posted by stevedoz
Originally Posted by mwf
Just to add to this thread, i bought a pair of jbl 305p for my kawai es920 few months ago, they were decent sounding for the price, but some keys near top of keyboard were distorting slightly, tried vsts through them also and was an even better experience, but still several notes didn't sound right.

Anyway i decided to return them and took a risk on a pair of iloud mtm monitors. This turned out to be a very great idea indeed. I played American concert D ivory 2 and garritan cfx through them and its almost like they're made for the speakers, they are very honest and detailed. I actually prefer a hi-fi sounding speaker to a flat monitor one for music listening, and i also thought for piano playing they'd be better, but i can't think of anything else I'd rather play piano and vsts through than my ilouds now. They are something else.

It could be I've not played through a proper pair of studio speakers before and it's new to me, but i can vouch for their quality, i have mine on mic stands, and i find them amazing, I've not even calibrated them yet to my room.

For digital piano playing and clarity/detail of the original sample these are ridiculously good, oh and you get more than enough bass too so no need for sub woofer.

Interesting. I have an ES8 with no monitors. I would really like to try some before committing but that doesn't seem possible. Definitely a different league to the Es920 internals? Thanks

I really like the internal speakers of the es920, i dont see a need to play it through my ilouds, but obviously they lack bass so ilouds are good for that, I've always played vsts through cabinet speakers of other digital pianos and didn't like the sound, so I'm glad i got some monitor speakers that are not biased towards any particular sample sets.

For recording purposes i never use hardware dp samples now as they all sound poor, i only use vsts because they are far superior for recording. So my ilouds are mainly for playing good vsts through, I'm very happy with them for this purpose alone, i doubt i could do much better if I'm honest, not without spending double or triple the amount.

👌
Originally Posted by stevedoz
Interesting. I have an ES8 with no monitors. I would really like to try some before committing but that doesn't seem possible. Definitely a different league to the Es920 internals? Thanks

I guess you mean with no separate monitors because I understand that the ES8 was supplied with at least 2 internal speakers. This was one of the factors which separated it from the MP7 stage piano. My P-255 came out a bit before the ES8, and the two were close rivals.

While I respect the speakers on my P-255, I know that I get a much richer sound in my studio (especially mids, curiously) when I hook up my MSP5 studio monitors. But, while the combined sound is glorious, I know it would be even better with a richer bass. Maybe the solution for me (and for you?) is combining a subwoofer with 5" studio monitors. You might get away with just the 5" monitors if you buy ones that are rich in bass, such as Presonus Eris5. I'm looking at the Presonus Eris Sub8 to combine with my MSP5 monitors.

Another interesting option is the Swissonic T204 combined studio monitor. Each compact cabinet has 2x4" woofers, 1x1.25" tweeter and 2x5.25" passive membranes (pseudo-subs) in the sides. Seems like an ideal spec for piano, but it's hard finding reliable reviews. Just having one of these (ideally not drowning your built-in stereo speakers) might revolutionise your sound.
Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
Originally Posted by stevedoz
Interesting. I have an ES8 with no monitors. I would really like to try some before committing but that doesn't seem possible. Definitely a different league to the Es920 internals? Thanks

I guess you mean with no separate monitors because I understand that the ES8 was supplied with at least 2 internal speakers. This was one of the factors which separated it from the MP7 stage piano. My P-255 came out a bit before the ES8, and the two were close rivals.

While I respect the speakers on my P-255, I know that I get a much richer sound in my studio (especially mids, curiously) when I hook up my MSP5 studio monitors. But, while the combined sound is glorious, I know it would be even better with a richer bass. Maybe the solution for me (and for you?) is combining a subwoofer with 5" studio monitors. You might get away with just the 5" monitors if you buy ones that are rich in bass, such as Presonus Eris5. I'm looking at the Presonus Eris Sub8 to combine with my MSP5 monitors.

Another interesting option is the Swissonic T204 combined studio monitor. Each compact cabinet has 2x4" woofers, 1x1.25" tweeter and 2x5.25" passive membranes (pseudo-subs) in the sides. Seems like an ideal spec for piano, but it's hard finding reliable reviews. Just having one of these (ideally not drowning your built-in stereo speakers) might revolutionise your sound.

PS I have another reason for wanting a subwoofer. A member here suggested I get one so I can hear my bass better on gigs - I hope he meant gigs. I might even use my MSP5 monitors as gig monitors again (but with the sub this time) and buy other monitors (Swissonic?) for my studio. The MSP5 and the Eris Sub8 both have speaker grills fortunately, and I have 16mm mounting brackets attached to my MSP5s already.
Originally Posted by mwf
Just to add to this thread, i bought a pair of jbl 305p for my kawai es920 few months ago, they were decent sounding for the price, but some keys near top of keyboard were distorting slightly, tried vsts through them also and was an even better experience, but still several notes didn't sound right.

Anyway i decided to return them and took a risk on a pair of iloud mtm monitors. This turned out to be a very great idea indeed. I played American concert D ivory 2 and garritan cfx through them and its almost like they're made for the speakers, they are very honest and detailed. I actually prefer a hi-fi sounding speaker to a flat monitor one for music listening, and i also thought for piano playing they'd be better, but i can't think of anything else I'd rather play piano and vsts through than my ilouds now. They are something else.

It could be I've not played through a proper pair of studio speakers before and it's new to me, but i can vouch for their quality, i have mine on mic stands, and i find them amazing, I've not even calibrated them yet to my room.

For digital piano playing and clarity/detail of the original sample these are ridiculously good, oh and you get more than enough bass too so no need for sub woofer.

This is very interesting. I'm not surprised that you've transitioned to a type of studio monitor now. HiFi amps/speakers tend to be coloured, distant sounding and lacking in definition IMO. The perspective of performing should be different to that of a listener 50 metres away from the piano.

The iLoud MTM speakers aren't the cheapest monitors, so the components and build should be really good. It surprises me that a 3.5" speaker can fill the bass properly, but at least there are two of them in each unit. While the bass is described as very good in several places, it is also said that they won't give the bass feel, like a subwoofer can.

I'm considering the Swissonic T204 combined monitors for my studio. The speaker spec looks very interesting for a pianist: 2x4" driver plus 2x5" pseudo-subwoofer, and a 1.25" tweeter, all in each unit. They had one rave review, but it wasn't exactly a pro review. The price is very modest. Dunno whether that's a good or bad thing.
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