21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

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21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

Not exactly a recording post, but applicable to DAW mixing - so I thought of picking the collective brains of the forumites, which I know do much more than only music.

I currently have a dual 27" screen setup that I use both for mixing (typically, DAW console or editors in one window, all the rest in the other) and video editing. One of the two monitors starts having issues, and instead of replacing it with a new one, I'm thinking about getting a single good, high-refresh rate, high resolution (definitely over 1080p) curved screen. Something like the BenQ EX3501R (but I have an nvidia card, so there's some setup work with that it seems) or the Asus MX38VC, which is far more expensive though.

Without going into reference monitors (which are unnecessary for what I do with video), good blacks, high contrast, no color washout and good gamut are important.

Anyone have hands-on experience with moving from two monitors to a single, ultra-wide one? Pro/cons?

I've made my research so not looking for generalities, but stuff that you didn't expect when you actually did the move.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by The Elf »

I did try a wide TV for a while, but went back to dual 27" monitors. Since I work with my Cubase Project window maximised on one screen and mixer window maximised on the other this actually makes working easier than having to size two windows on one large screen.

Personally I can't get on with curved screens, but that's just preference.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by The Red Bladder »

We have a 'scope' monitor but I never use it - I too edit videos and a 21:9 'scope' monitor is just not suitable - though thre guy that edits some stuff here on Premiere Pro uses it, but I've never asked him why - and since the lockdown, he's been working from home, using two 27" screens.

The BenQ thing you mention costs £600 and does not give you as much realestate as two 28" screens that are considerably cheaper. I have two calibrated AOC U2879VF 4K screens in front of me as we speak and I use one side for the programme and the other for the film monitoring and final colouring. They cost just £200 each - cheaper and a better solution! A more expensive and better quality screen is the 27" ViewSonic VP2768 which cost £350 each.

We have some 18-year-old 4:3 Viewsonics here that have been in daily use and they are performing as if I bought them yesterday!

Remember that a 21:9 aspect ratio is not true 'scope' which is the cube of 4:3, i.e. 64:27, which has become 2.39:1 or 2.4:1. As nearly all video is viewed on a 16:9 screen, going 'scope' means black-bars and that displays on a 21:9 as having black bars all the way around.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by ManFromGlass »

I have an LG ultrawide (Non-curved) plus a 21” BENQ just off to the side. This works great for audio writing to video with video on the BENQ.
I am still learning about video so have no idea about the colour accuracy of the LG and if it is suitable for accurate video use.

I find the LG crisp enough for working with Logic. I also like that I don’t have 2 monitors bezels dead centre in front of me. My mind may change as I learn more of the requirements for getting accurate colours etc for video editing.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

Thanks all, good stuff!
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Zukan »

I use a 42" Hisense TV (from Tesco) and it serves me fine.

Never gone down the dual monitor route. I should though.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by ManFromGlass »

Quick irrelevant -
Seems a number of composers here are up to 5 screens connected. Some are turned vertically so they can see score notation. Still scratching my head why. Gives new meaning to Studio Tan.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Forum Admin »

A few years ago I looked into rotating my Apple Thunderbolt 27" display and my 4K, 27-inch Philips monitor (a £400 bargain in the PC World Black Friday sale five years ago) so that both were in Portrait mode.

While this gave exceptionally deep screen estate for simultaneously viewing horizontal tracks, I had to split the Studio One arrange window over the two monitor screens, which worked fine in Apple OS X. After a few days, though, I found I couldn't live with the more restricted width that meant I could see fewer Console (mixer) channels in S1. I also got neck ache quickly from physically moving my head up to look at the top tracks, then back down to tweak settings on the Console.

So back to using both monitors butted together in landscape mode. I dislike the bezel up the middle, but my brain tunes it out after a decent length session. Though I still think one of those ultrawide monitors 8-) would be cool to have.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by muzines »

While I'm reduced to only my single MBP screen as my graphics chip is dead meaning I can't use an external monitor (which does tend to slow down my workflow, and is annoying), my ideal preference is to have one largish main monitor for working space, and another secondary monitor (which can be smaller) to the side for secondary things (plugins, meters, Netflix etc).

I used to have two main monitors back in the day, but it is annoying to have the dual-sized bezel right in your main working view when you look straight ahead, and shifting both monitors over to the side to compensate doesn't really work either.

I'm not too fussed about ultrawide or curved monitors, it's a bit too much of a good thing that you can't really use that effectively unless you really need to constantly watch/monitor a ton of things.

I do rely heavily on Spaces/virtual desktops though, which became essential to me a long time ago...
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by MOF »

With Logic why not use screensets and just one big screen?
https://support.apple.com/kb/PH24713?lo ... cale=en_US
I presume (but don’t know) that other DAWs have something similar.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

ManFromGlass wrote:Quick irrelevant -
Seems a number of composers here are up to 5 screens connected. Some are turned vertically so they can see score notation. Still scratching my head why. Gives new meaning to Studio Tan.

Ahah, I would actually add a third screen , but I've designed my desk so that there's around 5U of outboard in front of me and another 2U layer over, on top of which rest the screens.

A screen over them and everybody will be thinking I'm praying to god... :D
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

Forum Admin wrote:A few years ago I looked into rotating my Apple Thunderbolt 27" display and my 4K, 27-inch Philips monitor (a £400 bargain in the PC World Black Friday sale five years ago) so that both were in Portrait mode.

While this gave exceptionally deep screen estate for simultaneously viewing horizontal tracks, I had to split the Studio One arrange window over the two monitor screens, which worked fine in Apple OS X. After a few days, though, I found I couldn't live with the more restricted width that meant I could see fewer Console (mixer) channels in S1. I also got neck ache quickly from physically moving my head up to look at the top tracks, then back down to tweak settings on the Console.

So back to using both monitors butted together in landscape mode. I dislike the bezel up the middle, but my brain tunes it out after a decent length session. Though I still think one of those ultrawide monitors 8-) would be cool to have.


Thought actually of having 3 portrait, but it really doesn't work with the 16:9 video editing.

I must say the curved ultrawide is tempting just because of the toy factor. Plus, only ONE screen to calibrate! :D
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by muzines »

MOF wrote:With Logic why not use screensets and just one big screen?

I've been using screensets since Logic 1, but they are not an alternative to a decent monitor (or multiple monitors) - just a good way to automatically switch between different window and tool configurations on whatever monitor setup you are using...
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by muzines »

CS70 wrote:A screen over them and everybody will be thinking I'm praying to god... :D

"Oh, the ceiling needs painting again..."
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by MOF »

With Logic why not use screensets and just one big screen?

I've been using screensets since Logic 1, but they are not an alternative to a decent monitor (or multiple monitors) - just a good way to automatically switch between different window and tool configurations on whatever monitor setup you are using...

I find multiple monitors a real pain, friends have gone down that route and there’s a lot of head turning and moving the mouse from one screen to the other to get to the dock and then back to the first monitor.
My iMac 27” screen is sharp enough and big enough, especially once you use screensets since different editors/windows can take up the whole screen or several arranged and sized how you like on one page.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by James Perrett »

I had three screens for a while and found that one of them simply didn't get used much so I reverted back to two which just seems right to me.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by ManFromGlass »

A studio owner friend just switched over to an ultrawide curved. He loves it.

You think there would be a study about eye/head/neck movement related to monitor viewing. I liked the idea of a small tv setup in the studio corner that has regular tv playing on it while one mixes (no volume). Supposedly the way it pulls focus now and then is healthier for the eyes.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Luke W »

I’ve got a 21:9 monitor which I intended to run on its own, but I really missed having a second screen quite quickly and added a TV above. The extra screen space is very nice though, I can open up a few plugins while working on an edit and still see enough of everything without dragging windows around. The one I’ve got came with some software that splits the screen into cells so that windows can snap to areas of the screen which can be really useful.

If I had the space I’d probably go for the best of both worlds approach and have two of them side by side :lol:
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Zukan »

James Perrett wrote:I had three screens for a while and found that one of them simply didn't get used much so I reverted back to two which just seems right to me.

Which ones James?
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Forum Admin »

MOF wrote:...and moving the mouse from one screen to the other to get to the dock and then back to the first monitor.

Isn't that where Mission Control (F4) comes in handy?

Actually, desmond's comment has reminded me about SPACES - I have 17 available and currently use only one - crackers! Now I have somewhere to put Chrome browser when doing GMeets.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by The Elf »

I know a couple of people who had curved TVs and regretted it when they realised just how wonky everything looked.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Folderol »

I've only seen them in shop windows. They look weird to me. I suspect you would need one to completely fill your field of view, otherwise your brain will be fighting to differentiate this from the real surroundings.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Forum Admin »

Curved screens are probably really best for immersive games where you want to feel "in" the action but can live with peripheries being out of focus (like real life).
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by muzines »

Forum Admin wrote:Actually, desmond's comment has reminded me about SPACES - I have 17 available and currently use only one - crackers! Now I have somewhere to put Chrome browser when doing GMeets.

The approach I've settled on over the years is to basically have 8, two rows of four. For me, having too many spaces just becomes a mess too easily, and I don't need them. It's like being in a massive room - there's always free space available to put something so it doesn't enforce any structure or consistency.

For general laptop/single monitor use, the top row 1-4 are main working environments.

The next row down 5-8 are mostly communication & admin - stuff I need open but don't want getting in the way of the work - so 5 (directly underneath 1) is generally Mail, 6 is Slack, 7 and 8 are various utility things like FTP, Versions, Itunes and other stuff.

I have things set up so certain apps always go to certain spaces - so eg when I run Mail, it always goes to space 5, my SQL tool always goes to 3 and so on so it enforces some structure and consistency in use.

Key commands are CNTRL+ALT + arrow keys let me move left/right/up/down, and I can also go directly to spaces 1-8 using CNTRL+ALT+COMMAND+ 1-8 number keys.

For me, nothing ruins workflows more than juggling multiple windows around, or trying to find which window you want in a sea of windows, moving and resizing things around just to see other things and so on.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

James Perrett wrote:I had three screens for a while and found that one of them simply didn't get used much so I reverted back to two which just seems right to me.

Two screens is fine for mixing, but I find I miss a third screen when editing video.

Conceptually I keep separate three zones - timeline, preview and a working area, ideally center, left and right. With two screens, the "working area" (trimmer, file system, plugin, external player etc) is always overlapping something else (and in Windows the interaction between the file explorer, Vegas preview window and returning from a full screen player is always annoying - as it alters the Z-order of the windows requiring one additional click).

So a horizontal three screens configuration would be great.

But since I use the same desk for both video and audio processing, it just doesn't fit... it would make it impossible to have the nearfields anywhere near a reasonable position. Already with two screens my head is a little "inside the triangle" and the stereo image is not as clear as it could be.

Compromises... :D
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

Folderol wrote:I've only seen them in shop windows. They look weird to me. I suspect you would need one to completely fill your field of view, otherwise your brain will be fighting to differentiate this from the real surroundings.

I guess, as many things, you need to get used to them, trying for a while without preconceptions, before deciding if they're good or not.

They're definitely different, and we always instinctively equate "different" with "bad"..

The question is whether or not to go to the pain of purchasing, recabling, recalibrating and testing only to find out that it's not! :)
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

Luke W wrote:I’ve got a 21:9 monitor which I intended to run on its own, but I really missed having a second screen quite quickly and added a TV above.

Thanks, yeah, that's what I'm fearing as well :)

A plus is that I'd need to color-calibrate only one monitor instead of two, and just to something that I perceive as a reasonable setup, instead of having to use a lot of time to color match two panels every month that drift in slightly different ways. I'm still pretty slow at color calibration.

The extra screen space is very nice though, I can open up a few plugins while working on an edit and still see enough of everything without dragging windows around. The one I’ve got came with some software that splits the screen into cells so that windows can snap to areas of the screen which can be really useful.

If I had the space I’d probably go for the best of both worlds approach and have two of them side by side :lol:

Yeah I've tried the cell-splitting software at the shop and it's really completely removed one of my main concerns (I hate resizing windows)
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by ManFromGlass »

Justification #253B -
At least 2 is good because One could break so there will be a “spare” until the new one arrives. And they only break just before a deadline or a producer is coming over.

If you ordered a curved one from amazon or such you could always return it no questions asked.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by CS70 »

ManFromGlass wrote:Justification #253B -
At least 2 is good because One could break so there will be a “spare” until the new one arrives. And they only break just before a deadline or a producer is coming over.

If you ordered a curved one from amazon or such you could always return it no questions asked.

Ahah yeah I have plenty 27" monitors at home. Could have one up per room.

What I usually do is that I buy used and resell in case. New costs too much for anything that's obsolete after a couple years imho.
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Re: 21:9 screen vs. dual monitors

Post by Drew Stephenson »

CS70 wrote:
James Perrett wrote:I had three screens for a while and found that one of them simply didn't get used much so I reverted back to two which just seems right to me.

Two screens is fine for mixing, but I find I miss a third screen when editing video.

Conceptually I keep separate three zones - timeline, preview and a working area, ideally center, left and right. With two screens, the "working area" (trimmer, file system, plugin, external player etc) is always overlapping something else (and in Windows the interaction between the file explorer, Vegas preview window and returning from a full screen player is always annoying - as it alters the Z-order of the windows requiring one additional click).

So a horizontal three screens configuration would be great.

But since I use the same desk for both video and audio processing, it just doesn't fit... it would make it impossible to have the nearfields anywhere near a reasonable position. Already with two screens my head is a little "inside the triangle" and the stereo image is not as clear as it could be.

Compromises... :D

Raise the monitors over the screens and point them downwards?
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