Recording - January 2013 - 42
The most famous of all minis is the Auratone. Auratones are small 1-way speakers, covered in fake wood paneling similar to a typical 1970s television set. Now long out of production, Auratones can still be found cheaply used. Often called “horror-tones”, Auratones do not sound good, as they lack bass and are brutish in the midrange. Complaints aside, Auratones and other small speakers are essential when mixing to ensure translation between multiple system sizes. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to improve your mixes, acquiring small “real-world” monitors can really help out. With this market in mind, Auratonelike monitors have returned to the pro-audio world, with both Avantone and Behringer offering highend and inexpensive alternatives. If you decide to hunt down an Auratone or purchase a modern substitute, consider buying only one speaker. If your monitor controller lets you compare your mixes in mono, what better way to check compatibility with the rest of the world than through a single crappy-sounding speaker? You’ll be a lot closer to knowing what your work will sound like on an old TV, a beatup car stereo, a kitchen radio, or a distributed speaker system in a shopping mall. Last month, this column investigated the attributes that make a loudspeaker a monitor, how crossovers and driver spacing affect sound quality in multi-way monitors, and why active 2-way monitors have become the norm in most control rooms. Continuing forward, this month’s edition will discuss the various sizes of monitors found in professional studios, the legacy of a few famous models, and how different enclosure designs affect a loudspeaker sonics. Rise of the Nearfields In the late 1970s, a new type of monitor began to appear in control rooms. Called nearfields, these medium-sized loudspeakers sounded better than minis but without the issues that plagued By Eric Ferguson
Chapter 13: Monitors Part 2
Is bigger better? In the 1960s and 1970s, two sizes of loudspeakers were typically found in a control room. Most obvious were the studio mains. Often built into the wall itself (a process called soffit mounting), mains were big, loud, and proud. Typically custom constructed for each room and often 3-way in design, studio mains were impressive, providing ear-shattering playbacks for excited artists and budget-watching label execs alike. Keeping the tradition alive, mains are still common today in big-budget studios. Checking a mix on large speakers will always be important, as every engineer wants their work to successfully translate to sound systems of all size. Unfortunately, quality issues plague studio mains. Their physical size and crossover complexity trigger the phase issues discussed last month. Their often custom-built existence means that each pair sounds different, making their use for reference monitoring (comparing a mix to a known reference) nearly impossible. Perhaps the biggest issue with mains is their relative size compared to the room they are placed in. Big speakers work best in large acoustic spaces. When large speakers are mounted in a small studio, significant interaction with room acoustics is inevitable. Walls resonate, air conditioning ducts vibrate, and phase interactions between direct and reflected sound (called standing waves) become more problematic. Conclusion: Mains, while impressive and sometimes useful, are usually not worth their expense in the small project studios of today. Minis Returning to the 1960s and 1970s, another type of monitor was commonly found in studios: minis. Minis were small speakers, offering a completely different perspective than the studio mains. Minis, typically three to five inches in driver diameter, represented the reality of most music listeners. Engineers relied heavily on minis, as mixes had to sound good on little speakers since few people actually owned large sound systems and most listening occurred in cars or on small radios or television sets; for all those reasons, minis were essential for real-world comparison.
RECORDING January 2013
larger studio mains. The logic behind nearfields, at least in comparison to mains, is that the engineer sits close to them, perhaps a few feet away. Mains, on the other hand, are typically much farther from the mix position and engineers are exposed to a greater proportion of phasey reflections off the control room walls, ceiling, and floor. Thus nearfields offer a much more accurate fullrange monitoring solution. The rise of the nearfield also coincided with changes in the record business. By the late 1970s, independent engineers who focused on mixing were beginning to gain notoriety. Since these “mixers”, as the engineers were called, often moved from studio to studio, a portable set of reference monitors became essential to delivering consistent quality in a variety of acoustic environments. This is how one of the most famous mixers of the era (and still to this day), Bob Clearmountain, became associated with the now legendary Yamaha NS-10M monitors. The NS-10M The NS-10M story is fascinating and deserves its own telling. (Search the web for journalist Phil Ward’s work on the subject.) In short, the speakers were developed for consumer applications and it was by happenstance only that they gained notoriety in pro audio. Designed by Akira Nakamura and first sold in 1978, the loudspeakers were
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - January 2013
Recording - January 2013
Table of Contents
2012 AES Convention Report.
Universal Audio Apollo.
ADAM Audio F5 and F7 Monitors.
Earthworks ZDT 1022 Mic Preamp.
Trident HG3 Close Field Monitoring System.
AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition Headphones.
Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amplifier.
Monitors & Monitoring.
Lauten Atlantis FC-387 Condenser Microphone.
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 13: Monitors Part 2.
PreSonus BlueTube DP V2.
Getting Into Your Head.
Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones.
iOS Music Tools: Last-Minute Audio Gifts!
Sennheiser HD800 Headphones.
2012 Annual Index.
Recording - January 2013 - Recording - January 2013
Recording - January 2013 - Cover2
Recording - January 2013 - 1
Recording - January 2013 - 2
Recording - January 2013 - 3
Recording - January 2013 - Fade In.
Recording - January 2013 - 5
Recording - January 2013 - Table of Contents
Recording - January 2013 - 7
Recording - January 2013 - Talkback.
Recording - January 2013 - 9
Recording - January 2013 - 2012 AES Convention Report.
Recording - January 2013 - 11
Recording - January 2013 - 12
Recording - January 2013 - 13
Recording - January 2013 - 14
Recording - January 2013 - 15
Recording - January 2013 - 16
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Recording - January 2013 - 18
Recording - January 2013 - 19
Recording - January 2013 - Universal Audio Apollo.
Recording - January 2013 - 21
Recording - January 2013 - 22
Recording - January 2013 - 23
Recording - January 2013 - ADAM Audio F5 and F7 Monitors.
Recording - January 2013 - 25
Recording - January 2013 - Earthworks ZDT 1022 Mic Preamp.
Recording - January 2013 - 27
Recording - January 2013 - Trident HG3 Close Field Monitoring System.
Recording - January 2013 - 29
Recording - January 2013 - AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition Headphones.
Recording - January 2013 - 31
Recording - January 2013 - 32
Recording - January 2013 - 33
Recording - January 2013 - Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amplifier.
Recording - January 2013 - 35
Recording - January 2013 - Monitors & Monitoring.
Recording - January 2013 - 37
Recording - January 2013 - 38
Recording - January 2013 - 39
Recording - January 2013 - Lauten Atlantis FC-387 Condenser Microphone.
Recording - January 2013 - 41
Recording - January 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 13: Monitors Part 2.
Recording - January 2013 - 43
Recording - January 2013 - PreSonus BlueTube DP V2.
Recording - January 2013 - 45
Recording - January 2013 - Getting Into Your Head.
Recording - January 2013 - 47
Recording - January 2013 - 48
Recording - January 2013 - 49
Recording - January 2013 - Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones.
Recording - January 2013 - 51
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Recording - January 2013 - 53
Recording - January 2013 - 54
Recording - January 2013 - 55
Recording - January 2013 - Readers’ Tapes.
Recording - January 2013 - 57
Recording - January 2013 - iOS Music Tools: Last-Minute Audio Gifts!
Recording - January 2013 - 59
Recording - January 2013 - 60
Recording - January 2013 - 61
Recording - January 2013 - Sennheiser HD800 Headphones.
Recording - January 2013 - Advertiser Index.
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Recording - January 2013 - 2012 Annual Index.
Recording - January 2013 - 71
Recording - January 2013 - Fade Out.
Recording - January 2013 - Cover3
Recording - January 2013 - Cover4