Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

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Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

Long time no visit, hi all.

I've been using my trusty Genelec 1030As for nearly 20 years and I think it's time for an upgrade.

What are the current favourites for a noticeable upgrade in quality? I'm particularly interested in getting tighter, lower bass. I toyed with the idea of a sub but everything I've read, by Hugh in particular, has dissuaded me from this route. I'm not mixing dance stuff so no need for super sub-bass but I would like a cleaner, tighter response where bass drums and bass guitars like to fight. I tend to switch to my Sennheiser HD600s to get an idea of what's going on down there and would like my monitors to give me a better idea.

The ones I've been thinking about are Neumann KH120s or Eve SC307s or maybe APS Klasiks (although the latter seem to have production quality issues?). Would those be a worthwhile upgrade? I'm open to all suggestions.

Budget? Up to around £1500, maybe more if I can get a trade on the Genelecs?

Thanks everyone!
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Stu Pendous Music »

I happen to be a big fan of the Neumann KH line. I am the proud owner of a pair of KH 80s and the KH 750 DSP. I have also used the KH 310s. Mike Senior and I are both fans, and I actually got to test the KH 80 with KH 750 before he did, but he got to test the KH 80s alone before I did. If you go to Mike's Patreon page, he did a few different gear reviews on the KH 80, 120, and 310.

I have to agree with Hugh here regarding the "need" for a sub. I have mine connected, and given the type of music I usually mix, there isn't enough information below 50 Hz or so, for the sub to really reveal anything; it often doesn't even reproduce any sound or vibration. I say 50 Hz, because this is the lowest frequency of the KH 80s, which actually are quite revealing in the bass; more so than other monitors—especially of their small size—that extend lower. This is using both the factory default setting of the monitors, and with the DSP software "correction".

Using headphones in conjunction with you monitors is always a good tool help check what's going on down below; additionally, the use of a single Mixcube or Horrortone should not be dismissed, as it will definitely tell you how your mix "stacks up".

The Sennheiser HD 600 is an excellent headphone, that is actually an audiophile/Hi-Fi headphone, that happened to find use with pro audio professionals. It has a noticeable midrange lift, and also only extends down to 100 Hz; hence, it is not a neutral headphone by any means. Some FYI: I spoke to someone at Sennheiser-Neumann in Germany, and that person told e that the new HD 400 has the same driver as the HD 600, but repackaged for the professional market.

My headphone of choice for mix purposes is the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro. It is dead neutral, and has a range fro 5 Hz all the way up to 35,000 Hz! (OK, I know: we humans can't really hear below 40 Hz or above 16 Khz.)

While you're considering which monitors to purchase, also consider the size of your mixing space.

This is just my take on things. I hope it helps. Let us know what you decide.

If anyone wants to discuss this more, or "school" me here, I'm more than open to expand my horizons. :crazy:
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Your budget won't move you very far up the quality scale, simply because the Genelec was a pretty respectable monitor in its day.

I'd recommend s DSP-equipped monitor as the best step up with the benefits you seek. KH80s are remarkably good for the price. KH150s will give more low end but push the budget.

But you could also try speaker correction software like Sonarworks which might give your Genelecs an extended lifespan by improving their accuracy for relatively little outlay.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Arpangel »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Tue Feb 07, 2023 2:54 pm Your budget won't move you very far up the quality scale, simply because the Genelec was a pretty respectable monitor in its day.

^^^^^
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

Thanks chaps. My setup is already Sonarworked up, I did this when I installed all my treatment so I think I’ve optimised the Genelecs as far as they can go. Which is why my first thought was to add a sub just to give me a little extra bass clarity? Hugh, is this another option in light of your comments?
I’ll have a look at those other Neumann you suggest, thanks.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

A sub will certainly extend the range downwards and potentially give your main speakers more headroom.

Whether the cost of buying a decent sub and the challenge of optimising the setup is worth the benefit is a harder question to answer.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then!
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

:D

The end result depends heavily on the acoustics of the room. If you've already got well optimised bass trapping a sub will work well. If not, it will almost certainly make the bass unevenness even more uneven.

I say almost because a sub can potentially be positioned optimally in terms of not exciting the room modes, depending on room furniture, doors, etc. — something you can't generally do with normal stereo speakers.

...and if you do opt for a sub, it does take some effort to optimise the crossover frequency and slopes, the phase, and the level. Buying a manufacturer's sub specifically matched to the satellites helps, of course, as does speaker correction dsp.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by RichardT »

Dr Huge, I wonder if it’s worth exploring what’s going on in your room at low frequencies? Confused bass is a common symptom if you haven’t got quite enough bass trapping in place.

It might be a lot cheaper to enhance your treatment! In my case, I found getting a couple of traps tuned to a particular resonant frequency made a big difference to bass clarity.

Of course, I have no idea what treatment you already have so I may be way off the mark.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

As I said, I did a full evaluation of the acoustics via Sonarworks and trapped it to the extent that it’s pretty good.So I don’t consider there to be anything seriously out of kilter with my system but I know I would like a little more transparency at the lower end. It’s a bit ‘if it ain’t broke’ etc but I’m sure it could be better and the old Genelecs owe me nothing! 😀
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Arpangel »

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote: Tue Feb 07, 2023 7:05 pm I’m sure it could be better and the old Genelecs owe me nothing! 😀

It might not be better, my decision would be do nothing, unless you’re willing, or in a position to spend big money, the the advantages are going to be minimal, not worth the effort, or expenditure.
This has been said, I know, just trying to save you money.
I’ve been in this position many times, but I’ve learnt sometimes, things are good enough, and not worth bothering with.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

OK, so all that being said, let's explore the sub route again. What's a recommended sub for around £500? My room is about 6m x 3m with a vaulted ceiling and is heavily acoustically treated.

Focal Sub One? KRK S10? JBL LSR 103?
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Of the three, the Focal unit appears to be the most versatile from a configuration point of view.... but I don't have direct experience of any of those, I'm afraid. The JBL doesn't appear to be flexible enough to match with non JBL mains speakers.

If you're sticking with the Genelecs as main monitors, why not go down the Genelec sub route? The 7040A is only a little over your budget, but at least it's crossover slopes are designed to work with the 1030s.

https://www.andertons.co.uk/recording/s ... ngle-unit
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

Genelec don’t recommend the 7040 for the 1030s ‘if you want to play loud’ according to their now-closed forum. Not sure what this means really? What was your thinking on the crossover slopes?
Its crossover is fixed at 85 whereas the 1030s are optimistically rated down to 52, although they’re struggling well before that.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Wonks »

Peak SPL output from the 7040A is given as 100dB, whilst the 1030A is 115dB.

So either the sub will leave the 1030s behind at high volume, or more likely, the sub will limit the output signal to the 1030As to keep things balanced, so you loose the ability to go louder (which the 1030A could do on its own).

I can't see you wanting to go that loud, so I think you'd be fine, but I'm only guessing.
Last edited by Wonks on Thu Feb 09, 2023 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote: Thu Feb 09, 2023 1:34 pm Genelec don’t recommend the 7040 for the 1030s ‘if you want to play loud’ according to their now-closed forum. Not sure what this means really?

Do you want to play (really) loud — meaning peaking regularly over 100dB SPL? If so you would need a larger sub as the 7040 has only an 8-inch driver and can't quite match the max SPL of the 1030s. But with more realistic peak levels in a modestly sized room, it would be fine and isn't too far off your notional budget.

What was your thinking on the crossover slopes? Its crossover is fixed at 85 whereas the 1030s are optimistically rated down to 52, although they’re struggling well before that.

The idea is to use a HPF in the sub (or sat) to reduce the amount of LF the sats need to handle. That increases headroom and reduces distortion in the sats. Doing it that way also means the crossover slopes are engineered to integrate properly which is unlikely to be the case if you rely on the sat speaker's natural roll off.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

Thanks Wonks/Hugh,
No I mix at fairly modest levels, so lack of volume wouldn’t be an issue. The Genelec sub doesn’t actually have a volume control which seems odd? It seems to have sensitivity switching only? Is this an issue?
Also, if you switch it off I presume the LP filter is taken out of circuit and your maim monitors go back to their full range operation?
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote: Thu Feb 09, 2023 3:35 pmThe Genelec sub doesn’t actually have a volume control which seems odd?

It does... they just labelled it 'Sensitivity' instead.

Also, if you switch it off I presume the LP filter is taken out of circuit and your main monitors go back to their full range operation?

I imagine if you switch the sub off everything goes quiet as the high-pass filters feeding the satellites are active. It has an auto shut-down/start-up facility (which can be bypassed) as a power-saving feature, but I doubt it has relay bypass...

The sub is designed to form a permanent part of the monitoring system, extending the bandwidth downwards. From Genelec's point of view, if you've 'improved' your monitoring system by integrating a sub-woofer, why would you then want to degrade the system by running without it? That's what 'grot boxes' are for, surely? ;-)

Some other manufacturer's subs are designed with bypass facilities. What that says to me is that some users want to turn the sub off because it doesn't integrate very well and gets annoying! :think::silent::shifty:
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Wonks »

The 1030A has a ±6dB sensitivity/volume control and the 7040A has a -6dB to +12dB sensitivity/volume control. That gives you up to 18dB of adjustment between the two units to get the relative volumes to match. But both have the -6dBu position of those controls as generating 100dB SPL with a -6dBu input signal, so there shouldn't be much (if any) disparity between the outputs of the two units if set to the same sensitivity.
Last edited by Wonks on Thu Feb 09, 2023 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Time for a monitor upgrade.Which to get?

Post by Dr Huge Longjohns »

Ok I’m with you. Thanks for all the input, both, really interesting.
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