[music-dsp] [ot] ultra-close-field monitoring?

James Chandler Jr jchandjr at bellsouth.net
Fri Apr 20 13:38:02 EDT 2001

> I just
> don't know which brands/models of speakers would fit my needs, as there
> zillions of them and no good comprehensive review site (especially the
> is often neglected).

Just some random ramblings. Sorry for the wasted bandwidth if this is

Since you are cramped for space, would it be possible to wall-mount the
speakers to find enough space for larger nearfield speakers? Never liked the
sound of speakers with woofers smaller than 8", even when helped out by a

You could perhaps mount some larger monitors either halfway up the wall,
tilted down to aim at your head. Alternately, get them all the way up to the
boundary between wall and ceiling, pointed down.


If your cramped space is a typical sheetrock living space, might consider
some acoustic treatment. Markertek, www.markertek.com, is a big audio-video
outfit that sells pretty affordable "generic" 3" eggshell foam. Foam on the
forward wall and ceiling above the listening position can help a lot on
midrange/hi-freq room resonances. If you don't wanna glue or staple to walls
and ceiling, you could put the foam on light board, and mount the board.
That would make it easy to take down if you move.

Markertek sells pretty cheap sound-absorbing blankets. To minimize flutter
reflections in a typical living space, you could put a few screw-hooks in
the ceiling a few feet behind the listening position. When doing audio work,
hang some acoustic blankets hooks behind you and perhaps to the sides. Other
times, you can take them down so they don't look ugly and alienate
girlfriend/wife or guests (G).


This may be in the "masochistic mixing" vein, but IMO a good monitor doesn't
necessarily sound "fabulous." It should have pretty flat freq response and
low distortion, of course.

Some monitors seem to sound good with a wide range of mix settings. But when
you take the mix somewhere else, many of the "good sounding" mix settings
suck on other systems. The JBL monitors from the 70's and 80's were like
this, IMO. They were very flattering to music, which made it easy to make
mixing mistakes.

For years I used old EV Sentry 100a two way monitors. These guys weren't
perfect, but were not noticeably worse than other mid-price alternatives.
Only speakers I heard that were obviously better than the Sentry's, always
costed many thousands of dollars, stuff like the big Genelecs.

The Sentry 100a's sounded good on well-mixed commercial CDs. But it was
damned difficult to make my own music sound good on them. After struggling
long enough, could eventually find mix settings that sounded good. The
advantage of this masochism, was that the resulting mix would translate well
to other playback systems.

Dunno what makes a monitor "selective" like this. Maybe its just my
imagination. But it seems desirable to have a speaker which emphasizes the
warts in a bad mix, to help zero-in on the good mix. Have to keep fiddling
with the knobs until the sound doesn't suck (G).

After about 20 years, the Sentry 100a drivers' foam rotted out, sent em back
to EV for rebuild. EV still makes that model (it remains popular in TV and
radio broadcast studios). EV has great service. They fixed the old Sentry's
back to factory spec with a two week turnaround, for about $300.

Didn't know beforehand how long the Sentry's would be gone. For interim
backup, bought a couple of JBL 4208 monitors on an American Musical Supply
closeout for the absurd price of $250 a pair. The 4208's sounded almost
identical to the Sentry 100a's, except a little cleaner and flatter.

Am still using the 4208's in the studio (along with a 12" powered
subwoofer), and installed the reconed Sentry 100a's on the TV in the

Am very happy with the JBL 4208's, driven by an older JBL/Urie amp. In a 25'
X 25' room, with carpet on walls and foam on part of the ceiling. Probably
won't be buying speakers again for a long time, but if I was in the market
for something more expensive, would put JBL LSR speakers on the top of the
list. Several acquaintances have LSR's, and love em. They say the LSR's
don't have a "characteristic sound", but are just very neutral and

James Chandler Jr

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