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Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused #1782874 11/04/11 04:46 AM
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Hi,

I would like to get a short intro into the world of speakers.

Here is my situation:

I have ordered a DP. I intend to use it with virtual instruments (running on a PC). Since my DP does not have a line it, to hear the sound, I will need to use either a headphone connected to the computer, or some speakers/monitors connected to the computer.

For now, I will (probably) go with an AKG-K240 headphone and no external speakers, but I would like to explore the world of speakers, too.

Here are my requirements:
- I don't intend to make any recordings for anybody else, only practice piano, and play it for my (and my families) pleasure.
- The DP will be placed in a 4x6m living room, full of bookshelves and carpets.
- The most important target is the player. Secondary target are the few other people in the room.
- I would like to sound it "like a piano".
- I don't intend to be lauder than a piano.
- Occasionally, I might play back other music on it, but that should not be a factor in the decision; these speakers are for the piano.
- Generally, I am on a tight budget. (Probably zero budget for amp/speakers now, and a modest amount later.)

Now, what kind of speakers do I need for this? Do I need monitors?
What are the price levels here? (I can not decide on the budget until I get a basic understanding of what I get on each price level.)

What do I get for 100$? 200$? 500$? 1000$? (The later is probably a theoretical question, since it's unlikely that I can ever spend more than ~300$)

Does it make sense to get used speakers?

Thank you for explaining:

Csillag

Last edited by Csillag; 11/04/11 05:25 AM.
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Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1783027 11/04/11 10:59 AM
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I am very happy with the M-Audio BX-5A powered monitors that I have. They sound great from the bench when I'm playing and do a nice job of filling the living room (about 12 by 15 feet). I believe they are around $200.00 when you find them on sale. I don't see why you would not be fine getting a gently used set of monitors, either, if you can find them.

Best of luck!

Here's a link to a description of the bX5A monitors:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/m-audio-studiophile-bx5a-deluxe-active-monitors


Lee
Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1783090 11/04/11 12:58 PM
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I'm actually real curious how these entry level-type monitors compare with relatively high end computer speakers for piano playing. For example, how would these sound relative to, say the Logitech z623 (or the old z2300) or equivalent in other brands.

Computer speakers are not generally recommended, but I wonder if at this price point nicer computer speakers beat out the lower end monitors. Because they are such different product, it doesn't seem like anyone compares them.

Anyone with experience?

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/04/11 01:00 PM.
Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1783102 11/04/11 01:22 PM
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A pair of good studio monitors will sound much like your K240 headphones. They are very acurate and have good bass. The m-audio Bx8a were recently reduced in price and a great value right now.

But if the goal is to simulate an acoustic piano. First notice that an acoustic piano does NOT send all of it's sound in one direction. It radiate in all of 360 degrees. So MOST of the sound is going away from you. This sound hits the walls and ceiling and so on and then is reflected back. With a real acoustic piano a listener can walk around the room and from any location it still sounds like a piano is in the room. The studio type monitors can create this ilusion of a piano only on about one place. Most people set it up so the illusion happens right over the piano bench. For practice this is all you need as you'd never be waling around the room while playing.

Simulating the acoustic piano is hard. The best way to do this is what Yamaha did with the Avent Grand. Then mounted speakers that face both up and down vertically and put them in a box the looks a bit like a tiny grand piano. You can't do that. the next best thing is a good home stereo system. Get a ppair of speakers that can play as low as at least 50Hz and have the tweeters near ear level. These are also the same kind of speakers you'd use for left/righ front channels of a home theater system.

These work reasonably well if you are on a budget
http://www.amazon.com/Polk-Audio-Monitor-AM5025-Floorstanding/dp/B0002Z240M/ref=pd_sbs_e_2
You need at least a 50WPC amp to drive these. Total price for amp and two speakers would be about $300

However to match the loudness of a large acoustic grand piano you'd need to more up to the M70 and 100WPC at least. But you really don't want a concert grand, those beasts are designed to be heard in 1,000 seat concert halls.


I have both kinds of speakers. I like the studio monitors for use with the computer for editing video and tweeking recorded sound. The Polk stereo speakers are best for playing the piano live when I want it to fill up the room. But mostly the K240 headphones get used for practice, one does not need to fill up the room with the sound of scales on every key and slow one hand at a time practice of new material.

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1783109 11/04/11 01:28 PM
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If you're on a budget, you could get:

- A used stereo amplifier on Ebay or Craig's List. You can get a 5-channel units at 75 to 100 watts per channel for $50 to $75.

- A pair of used speakers (either bookshelf-size or floor-standing, set on either size of the piano) for $75 to $150.

- With a 5-channel amp, you could even have a 4-channel setup by adding a pair of small "satellite" speakers (set on top of the piano) for well under $50.

- You could even add a stereo equalizer for $20 to $50.

There are LOTS of bargains in used equipment here. (I don't know if that's true in your native Hungary.)

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: ChrisA] #1783411 11/04/11 10:31 PM
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Hi all,

Thank you for all the advice.

Now I know that if wanted studio monitors, I would probably go with M-AUDIO STUDIOPHILE BX5A DELUXE.

However, as ChrisA has said:

Originally Posted by ChrisA

I have both kinds of speakers. I like the studio monitors for use with the computer for editing video and tweeking recorded sound. The Polk stereo speakers are best for playing the piano live when I want it to fill up the room. But mostly the K240 headphones get used for practice, one does not need to fill up the room with the sound of scales on every key and slow one hand at a time practice of new material.


That makes sense. And since I already decided to get a headphone for practice, I guess the monitors are not that important. What I want is a pair of stereo speakers then, like the Polk.

Unfortunately, Polk speakers do not seem to be widely available in Europe.

Can you recommend some other models around a similar price point?

Thank you for your help:

Csillag

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1783983 11/06/11 01:30 AM
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I think you might take a bit more time to consider monitors vs hi fi. This has been discussed many times and generally people end up concluding that monitors are better for digital piano use.

I was just reading this thread from a few years ago and thought of you. There have been many other threads discussing the subject.

Basically, hi-fi is meant for sound that is already mixed and compressed (i.e., the dynamics are compressed) and doesn't do well with the high dynamic range and sudden attacks a digital piano puts out.

I mean, do what you think is best. But usually in such discussions the monitor people are the ones who sound like they understand the issue to me. Not that I'm particularly one of them, I just read the forums a lot.

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/06/11 01:33 AM.
Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1783987 11/06/11 01:53 AM
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Hi-fi speakers are sometimes made to sound euphonic, and used from far away, where the room does a lot to the sound. Studio monitors are made to be listened to close, like 1 meter. They are made to be accurate. And yes, they have built in amplifiers.


One111
Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: gvfarns] #1784271 11/06/11 04:58 PM
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gvfarns:

Thank you for the tip, I will read the thread you have referenced.

Just a quick clarification of my requirements:

I guess that most of my practice will happen during silent hours, when my children are asleep, so I will need to use a headphone anyway. That will take care of the the requirements of the piano player.

What remains to be solved is the situation when multiple people are listening in the room.

For that, near-field monitors are clearly not ideal, since they are (by definition) not that near, the the direction does not match, either. That is why I am starting to prefer the hi-fi route. (But since I am only staring to explore the domain, that can easily change with time.)

Is there a category of speakers that is like monitors, but the experience is not focused on one place, but can encompass a whole room?


Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1784275 11/06/11 05:09 PM
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Encompass a whole room? Two large floor-standing stereo speakers.
Or even four. That'll cover the whole room.

I have a pair of JBL floor-standing speakers on either side of the piano, supplemented with a pair of itty-bitty KLH satellites set on top of the piano.

I'm looking to add a pair of Paradigm Titans to be placed behind me. (Maybe Santa will buy some.) smile

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1784382 11/06/11 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Csillag
gvfarns:

For that, near-field monitors are clearly not ideal, since they are (by definition) not that near, the the direction does not match, either. That is why I am starting to prefer the hi-fi route. (But since I am only staring to explore the domain, that can easily change with time.)

Is there a category of speakers that is like monitors, but the experience is not focused on one place, but can encompass a whole room?



You could get PA speakers for performing.
On the monitors. Decent monitors will fill a room in a house ok. You'll lose detail behind them. But then, you might not want the people listening to hear it that well. smile Good monitors will reveal every detail and show you as bad as you are.
I bought a pair of Event Studio Precision ASP8 monitors, used on ebay for $500. They list new for ? $1,400 or $1,200? I'm happy with them. Use them for piano, voice, and listening to music. Right now got great ole funky blues playing.


Ron
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Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1785287 11/08/11 01:50 PM
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OK, so after some consideration, I bought a pair of used M-Audio BX8a monitors, for about 230 USD. (That might not sound such a great price in the USA, but the new price here is about 465 USD, so this is actually half of that.)

Those should suffice, for a while.

Now I am hunting for a user Presonus Firebox or Audiobox USB for D/A conversion....

Best wishes:

Csillag


Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1785303 11/08/11 02:26 PM
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Yeah those M-Audios are cheap and it sounds like you got a good deal. Congrats! Let us know how they work out for you.

BTW we were discussing USB interfaces in another thread and made a list that seemed kind of useful.

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/08/11 02:27 PM.
Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1793525 11/21/11 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Csillag
OK, so after some consideration, I bought a pair of used M-Audio BX8a monitors, for about 230 USD. (That might not sound such a great price in the USA, but the new price here is about 465 USD, so this is actually half of that.)

Those should suffice, for a while.


Well, this did not turn out the way I hoped it would.

While trying to devise a mounting solution for them, I was explained that since I will have to place them on the wall, and the BX8a have back-facing ports, they are totally wrong for my current requirements.

So, I'm back at square one with this one.

Oh well.

So, can anyone recommend me some monitors that
- are designed to be wall-mounted
- sound good with DPs
- can be hunted down (in pairs) around USD 250, used?

Thank you for your help:

Kristof

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1793577 11/21/11 08:00 PM
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I previously used KRK RP8 (front ported, version 1) and liked them ok...better than what I have now. I read some good reviews of Behringer 2031a's in the context of digital pianos, and they are very cheap. I currently have the Behringer 3031a's. I like them better than the M-audio, not as well as the KRK.

If I had it to do again I would have gotten the cheaper 6-inch KRK model. I ended up getting the 10S subwoofer anyway as even 8 inch monitors can't really do very well on the low notes--they can't do justice to piano sounds in that range. After I got the woofer I was pretty happy. But the woofer can wait.

None of these are designed to be wall-mounted, but they are front ported.

Maybe if you had a subwoofer you could move the cutoff for the high-pass filter up and put the woofer on the floor away from the wall...then you wouldn't have to change monitors. Just an idea.

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: gvfarns] #1793621 11/21/11 09:15 PM
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Quote
Logitech z623 (or the old z2300) or equivalent in other brands. Anyone with experience?


A few months ago I purchased the Logitech z2300 off craiglist for $50. I had heard good things about them here in the forum.

They are great playing from my MP3 device.

Good from my FP7 ... better than internal speakers, not as good as my headphones.

Guitar center nearest me have all digitals connected to M_Audio BX5's.

From what I heard there, I believe they would be better than the Logitech z2300 for digital piano.

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1793626 11/21/11 09:23 PM
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I recently tried Logitech X-230's and Klipsch ProMedia 2.1's on my digital piano. They were both horrifying. Basically they had the same problem: the bass sounded super muddy, like hearing a giant woofer in someone's car as they drive by. And there was no mid-range presence in either case. A flat-sh response curve doesn't make too much of a difference when jamming out to music, but when playing scales up and down the piano it's omission is quite obvious.

The Klipsch have all sorts of good reviews as being more balanced, less boomy, and more appropriate for classical music than Logitech's in general, and they aren't particularly low end. They still made me sad.

Bottom line, I think computer speakers won't cut it. Of course, I have yet to hear any onboard speakers that cut it either.

As I mentioned in a recent thread, nice headphones appear to be transcendently better than almost any speaker for piano playing.

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/21/11 09:27 PM.
Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1793812 11/22/11 06:23 AM
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Has anyone heard how bad these sound?

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/CE500A-WH.aspx

I have given up on really good quality monitors; for that, I will use headphones (for now).
So I only want something for the times when I playing for others.

How horrible would these be?

Thank you:

Kristof

Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: Csillag] #1793816 11/22/11 07:05 AM
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1. Behringer is not the best name (to put it kindly).
2. That web page says the speaker has a "powerful 5-1/2" woofer with ...". So don't count on getting any bass response.
3. Is there a reason you're focusing only on monitors?


Re: Monitors, Hi-Fi Speakers, price levels ... confused [Re: MacMacMac] #1793822 11/22/11 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
1. Behringer is not the best name (to put it kindly).

I am aware of that; I would be glad to know if someone could suggest a better name competing on the same price levels.

Quote
2. That web page says the speaker has a "powerful 5-1/2" woofer with ...". So don't count on getting any bass response.

Sigh.

Quote
3. Is there a reason you're focusing only on monitors?


You mean as opposed to other kind of speakers?
If yes, then no, not really.

Earlier I was looking at monitors because I was advised that they can reproduce the sound of piano more faithfully than generic Hi-Fi speakers. But now that I have given up on my hopes for really faithful reproduction (except for headphones), I am open to any suggestions.

My remaining requirements are
- available in Europe, preferable also in Hungary. (For example, the Polk ChrisA is always suggesting is not available here.)
- can be mounted on the wall (I have no other place to put them)
- can be had for about 250 total

Thank you:

Kristof

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