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Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
#1790197 11/16/11 07:49 PM
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I'm a little disgruntled about speakers for digital pianos. Specifically, I have yet to find a speaker combination that matches the quality of sound from a good set of head phones. I'm using Senn 595 headphones I've tried several types of speakers, but the headphones always sound better.

I've tried several sets of computer speakers (crap), KRK RP8 with a 10S woofer, M-Audio BX5, and now Behringer 3031a. The best sounding of the lot was the KRK situation--though the Behringer is quite similar--but the piano sounded much better through the headphones than through any of these. Studio monitors sound detailed but harsh and cold. And while they seem to have a lot of detail, somehow I can hear the sounds of the resonating soundboard and other such things much easier through headphones.

Isn't the difference between studio monitors and headphones mostly about the former having a flat response, while the latter is tuned to sound good? If so, then I could theoretically tweak the sound on my computer (within Kontakt, when playing Galaxy) in order to make my monitors sound as good as headphones, right? I took a stab at this, dropping the high end a bit and boosting bass, but it sounded hollow and boomy. I'm not sure if I'm going down a wrong path, or whether I have just not yet successfully found the right EQ curve.

I realize that part of the issue is the room acoustics, but these monitors are only a few feet from my head. How much of a problem can acoustics really be? I would be willing to treat my room, if that was the difference.

I've considered buying higher end monitors, but I'm not convinced that they won't just be flatter and more analytical, without sounding better. Maybe Hi Fi instead of studio monitors would be the solution?

So my questions:

1. Is it possible tweak an EQ in order to make studio monitors sound better, like headphones? Has anyone done this?

2. Does anyone have a set of speakers or monitors that makes their DP sound better than it does through high quality headphones? Let's not worry about price for now.

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/16/11 07:50 PM.
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790204 11/16/11 07:56 PM
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gvfarns,

How close to the wall(s) are your monitors?

You are correct that the monitors are supposed to have a flat output for near-field listening. As long as the monitors are closer to you than they are to the wall, then they should produce a fairly flat output, which may well sound harsh, since that isn't what you are used to hearing. If you are starting from a flat output, it shouldn't take too much equalizing to get to a sound that you like.

Good luck.


Regards,
Bob

NY Steinway A 1907, FP-7F wi RPU-3
HW: GA-X58A-UD3R, i7-930, 6GB & 2ea WD2002FAEX, 1ea WD1001FALS1TB, UA1000, Yamaha 2.1 HSM80M/HS10W, DPA SMK4061, Mackie LM3204
SW: Win7 Pro x64, Sonar PE 8.5.3, NI Komplete 8 Ult, Ivory Grand Pianos II
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790209 11/16/11 08:02 PM
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They are pretty close to the walls, unfortunately, and to my head. Unfortunately with my setup I'm not sure that's something I can easily change. I could put sound absorbing stuff on the wall behind them, if that helps.

So it sounds like an EQ and proper room arrangement should be able to get monitors to sound warm, intimate, and nice, like headphones? That being the case, why don't studio monitor-makers just produce a non-flat sounding speaker, measure it's response curve, and then put some hardware in it that modifies the EQ so that the output is perfectly flat?

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790210 11/16/11 08:04 PM
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Welcome, gv, to the mysterious world of speakers. I've been trying for years to figure out the same thing.

The native sound from my Clavinova is just so-so from headphones. But it's worse from speakers.

I tried Ivory and the sound is much better than the Clav. But still, the speakers can't match the headphones.

I use Vintage D now ... same thing. The headphones sound superb, and Vintage D is truly excellent. But once again, the speakers don't do it justice.

These are large, floor-standing three-way speakers. I augment them with a pair of small satellite cube-speakers. I have a ten-band equalizer tied in, and I've monkeyed with that. But no dice.

If you figure it out, let me know. (Let us all know. You and I are surely not the only ones facing this dilemma.)

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790324 11/16/11 11:00 PM
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Well, right now I am enjoying the giant leap I made in my sound just by moving into the piano software world.

You guys are working on the next stage of improvement. I will be watching this thread for something promising but for right now ... I'M GOOD !!!

Good Luck


Don

Casio PX-S1000, Focal Professional CMS 40 near-field monitors, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs (Seldom Used), Focus Rite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface, Yamaha MG06 Mixer
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
MacMacMac #1790485 11/17/11 09:19 AM
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I guess it would help to get some objective data here.

I consider doing some sort of calibration to measure the frequency response of my complete setup (audio interface, monitors, room) against a calibrated reference microphone.

This way, I should be able to see the actual response graph, and check how flat it is, right?

Then, as a next step, I could introduce some (software) EQ to compensate for the anomalies, and the re-do the measurement to see if the response is really flattened out.

I guess high-end monitors do this automatically, but entry-level stuff (like my pair of M-Audio BX8a) does not have anything that fancy.

Can someone recommend a calibration kit / tool / software that is working good, from the pianist's point of view?

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790499 11/17/11 10:02 AM
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hi Csillag,

Check this site:
http://www.ikmultimedia.com/arctdm/features/

They say: "The ARC System is the first (and only) acoustic room correction plug-in, and delivers the most advanced solution to acoustical problems for any Digidesign® Pro Tools® TDM-based studio."

Maybe you can calibrate all your hadwares and acoustic rooms.

Best Regards,

Beco smile


Kawai CA63
Yamaha CLP 300
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790510 11/17/11 10:35 AM
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couple of 1960/s 70/s valve amps will give a warmer less harsh sound, this seems to be a problem with lots of modern speakers, harshness! believe it or not sourcing valves aint a problem as well.
Then EQ in DAW...




Rise like lions after slumber,in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew
which in sleep has fallen on you. Ye are many,they are few. Shelley

Founder and creator ofRostoskys 13th crystal skull project
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790515 11/17/11 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
why don't studio monitor-makers just produce a non-flat sounding speaker, measure it's response curve, and then put some hardware in it that modifies the EQ so that the output is perfectly flat?


What would that achieve? You are talking about making something flat either way. Decent monitors are already flat - the purpose of which is to accurately represent the input source. If you aren't liking the sound you are hearing, it's possible you don't like the actual sound you are using. If the headphones you are using are colouring the sound in a way that is pleasing you, you could try to emulate the frequency response of your headphones with EQ. But suggesting that monitors should be anything other than flat in their response would be a contradiction in terms.

There are mastering programs which simulate different speaker setups. There are also hardware boxes that do this. The purpose of these is to make sure that a recording that is set for release to the public will sound decent on a variety of playback gear, ie, large bassy stereos, tiny mono radios, headphones, portable boom-boxes etc. Maybe you need to look at such a speaker emulator if the EQ isn't doing it for you.

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
Beco #1790559 11/17/11 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Beco
hi Csillag,

Check this site:
http://www.ikmultimedia.com/arctdm/features/

They say: "The ARC System is the first (and only) acoustic room correction plug-in, and delivers the most advanced solution to acoustical problems for any Digidesign® Pro Tools® TDM-based studio."

Maybe you can calibrate all your hadwares and acoustic rooms.

Best Regards,

Beco smile


Not bad, but costs a little too much for me.
(I guess I should just borrow one.)

Now I am looking at http://www.hometheatershack.com/roomeq/

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790568 11/17/11 12:12 PM
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There's more to sound than EQ curves. Phase and time-of-arrival issues with real-world speakers in a real-world room are wicked complex. Most of those are replaced with a much more tractable set of ear-shape-related issues when we're talking headphones.


Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790576 11/17/11 12:21 PM
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Well, I know nothing about this EQ stuff but I do have some settings on the back of my Yamaha Monitors and I would appreciate some insight into the settings that are available to me.

I see a setting for MID EQ of +2dB, 0, or -2dB

I see a setting for ROOM CONTROL of 0,2, or 4 dB

I see a setting for HIGH TRIM of +2, 0, or -2 dB

I see a setting for LOW CUT of Flat, 80 Hz, or 100 Hz


Any insight into the probable effect will be appreciated.

Right now, all I can do is just fool around with different settings and listen to see what the effect is.

With 4 switches and 3 options on each one, that is quite a few combinations (81) so any additional insights would help.

Thanks.


Don

Casio PX-S1000, Focal Professional CMS 40 near-field monitors, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs (Seldom Used), Focus Rite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface, Yamaha MG06 Mixer
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
ando #1790577 11/17/11 12:21 PM
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FWIW, I've been shopping around for acoustic panels for awhile. If you decide to go that route, www.acoustimac.com seems to have a reasonably priced product. They make panels out of the common Owens Corning fiberglass insulation, but for a few bucks more you can get their Ecoustimac product that is acoustically superior and also a "greener" product.

I'm probably going to order some of the "suede" Ecoustimac panels in a few days. I should be able to give my room a treatment for under $400.

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
ando #1790581 11/17/11 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by gvfarns
why don't studio monitor-makers just produce a non-flat sounding speaker, measure it's response curve, and then put some hardware in it that modifies the EQ so that the output is perfectly flat?


What would that achieve? You are talking about making something flat either way. Decent monitors are already flat - the purpose of which is to accurately represent the input source. If you aren't liking the sound you are hearing, it's possible you don't like the actual sound you are using. If the headphones you are using are colouring the sound in a way that is pleasing you, you could try to emulate the frequency response of your headphones with EQ. But suggesting that monitors should be anything other than flat in their response would be a contradiction in terms.

There are mastering programs which simulate different speaker setups. There are also hardware boxes that do this. The purpose of these is to make sure that a recording that is set for release to the public will sound decent on a variety of playback gear, ie, large bassy stereos, tiny mono radios, headphones, portable boom-boxes etc. Maybe you need to look at such a speaker emulator if the EQ isn't doing it for you.


This was actually a tangential question. I'm under the impression that a major difference between high end and not-so-high end monitors is that the former are flatter. But if that could be corrected using firmware or something, it would seem that flatness would not be an area in which monitors compete.

To clarify, I'm not interested in flattening the response curve on my monitors...just in making them sound nicer. If I could emulate the response of my headphones, I'd be happy. My major question is whether changes to the EQ would be sufficient to achieve this objective (within the limitations of my room acoustics).

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
dmd #1790584 11/17/11 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by dmd
Well, I know nothing about this EQ stuff but I do have some settings on the back of my Yamaha Monitors and I would appreciate some insight into the settings that are available to me.


there are also room compensation switches on my Behringer, but as I understand it, they are just particular tweaks to the EQ curve, and not very adjustable.

Within kontakt if you click on the wrench looking thing near the top on the left side of the screen it opens up more advanced options. Somewhere down there is a set of EQ's you can use, which give you a graphical indication of what changes you are actually making, and I think give you a little more granularity. I've chosen to leave my hardware switches at the defaults and try to do things in the software.

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790592 11/17/11 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns

To clarify, I'm not interested in flattening the response curve on my monitors...just in making them sound nicer. If I could emulate the response of my headphones, I'd be happy. My major question is whether changes to the EQ would be sufficient to achieve this objective (within the limitations of my room acoustics).


Assuming you don't have any destructive acoustical phenomena happening in your studio, I don't see why you couldn't get close to an emulation of your headphone experience from your speakers using EQ. You might need more bands than what you are currently using though. The only limitation would be how good your monitors are. The better they are, the more variation you should be able to extract from them. In the same sense, it would not be possible to totally flatten out the response on all monitors because they may be incapable of responding that way on a physical level. That's why you are always better off having monitors that are naturally very flat rather than trying to flatten them later.

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790598 11/17/11 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
Within kontakt if you click on the wrench looking thing near the top on the left side of the screen it opens up more advanced options.


I can't find a "wrench" but I see what looks like a couple gears. That opens up a window of INSTRUMENT OPTIONS. Is that what you are referring to ?


Don

Casio PX-S1000, Focal Professional CMS 40 near-field monitors, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs (Seldom Used), Focus Rite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface, Yamaha MG06 Mixer
Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790602 11/17/11 01:04 PM
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Ok, so let's assume that my monitors are flat for the moment.

What would be needed to make a sweet-sounding response curve? Boost the bass, I assume. Anyone have a graph that would be appealing to the ear, something I could try and emulate in Kontakt (it has three bands available...though I don't understand the software well enough to know whether I can do more or not).

Speaking of destructive audio phenomena, is it the case that even without wall reflection, I'd be getting interference inasmuch as the same stuff is coming out of both speakers? Would increasing the stereo width help this?

I recall a few years ago Logitech was touting technology in their speakers that perturbed the audio through one of their speakers in a way that is not audible, but that minimizes interference (I got this from mass marketing, so I don't know how true or unique it is). Is this what a dsp monitor is?

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
dmd #1790608 11/17/11 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by gvfarns
Within kontakt if you click on the wrench looking thing near the top on the left side of the screen it opens up more advanced options.


I can't find a "wrench" but I see what looks like a couple gears. That opens up a window of INSTRUMENT OPTIONS. Is that what you are referring to ?


Ooops. Dang versions of Kontakt. Anyway, yes gears. And there is a section called "insert effects" hopefully? In there one of the effects is a 3-band EQ.

Re: Making studio monitors sound as good as headphones. EQ?
gvfarns #1790615 11/17/11 01:24 PM
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No speaker is perfectly flat. Even the most expensive studio monitors have deviations, which is one reason that even high quality studio monitor will sound different from another, as the deviations, as relatively small as they may be, are by different amounts and in different places. Although there are also other differences between monitors... how low in frequency you can go while staying relatively flat, how loud they can go before objectionable distortion, etc., even before getting into the things like time alignment and such.

Even 31-band equalizers can't make one speaker sound like another, much less three bands.

Whatever you do, though, if you get away from near-field monitors, the acoustics of the room can become an enormous factor.

Assuming you like the sound of an actual acoustic piano, the ideal would be to use neutral sounding headphones to find a digital piano you like the sound of... at least then you know you're starting with a source that you're happy with. It's not impossible that the piano sound coming out of your keyboard is not one you really like, and you "lucked into" headphones that manage to somewhat compensate for that, and when the speakers again let you hear more of what it "really" sounds like, you're disappointed.

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