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Monitors positioning
#2964473 04/07/20 05:15 PM
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I'm looking into getting some monitors for my ES8, possibly a set of Adam T7Vs and have a couple questions (never heard monitors in person, and dont have access to do it now due to the stay-at-home orders.

Do they sound much different than HiFi speakers in regards to "ouch these are 4 feet from my ears and are piercing my eardrums" pleasantness?
How crucial is positioning for sound quality?
If I have these pointed nicely at the player position, will it sound much less pleasant elsewhere in the room, or is it similar to HiFi speakers where it you dont really notice being in different positions around the room, it always just sounds pretty good?

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2964570 04/08/20 01:29 AM
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Monitors have a narrower listening sweet spot, but at a given price point, are generally more accurate than stereo speakers in their supported frequency range. I would not personally want Adam monitors for keyboard monitors. They are quite excellent monitors, but are designed for audio engineers to use to evaluate mixes they are working on, which has deferent design requirements. But there are people who use them as keyboard monitors and are happy with them.


My chronological list of the top 20 composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.
Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2964575 04/08/20 01:59 AM
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Yes, you will really notice the difference in sound quality between when monitors are directed towards you and when they are not.

Re: Monitors positioning
Sweelinck #2964628 04/08/20 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Monitors have a narrower listening sweet spot, but at a given price point, are generally more accurate than stereo speakers in their supported frequency range. I would not personally want Adam monitors for keyboard monitors. They are quite excellent monitors, but are designed for audio engineers to use to evaluate mixes they are working on, which has deferent design requirements. But there are people who use them as keyboard monitors and are happy with them.


Are there different "types" of monitors? I thought the benefit of them was that they colored the sound as little as possible, thus reproducing the piano samples as cleanly as possible.

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2964643 04/08/20 09:57 AM
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When we talk about “monitors” on this site we’re usually talking about monitors created for recording studios. And more specifically, nearfield monitors. These are designed for a very specific placement, which is like an equilateral triangle, about 3 feet per side, and with the tweeters at ear level and pointing inwardly directly at the (one) listener. The goal of the studio monitor is to accurately play the sound without adding any ‘personality’ from the speakers themselves.

Why are they placed this way? Because this placement is extraordinarily easier to achieve the goal of accuracy than others. First, by keeping the monitors really close the effect of the room itself on the sound is reduced. Without having to redesign and treat the room. This saves a lot of money. Along with this, because the monitor is close it doesn’t have to be as loud, so it can be smaller, use less power, and be cheaper. The second reason is that when the listener’s ears are directly in the axis of the speakers cone, the speaker design doesn’t have to worry about different frequency responses as you move off axis. This makes a very high quality nearfield studio monitor much cheaper than a hifi speaker of equal quality which has to spread that same accuracy to a whole room. And of course real hifi speakers need precise placement and room treatment.

So my answer is, for an equivalent sound quality you can spend $200 on headphones or $1k on nearfield monitors or $10k on equivalent hifi speakers. It’s a given that whatever DP or VST you use, it was recorded, developed, and finally tweeked on nearfield monitors and high quality headphones.

You have some concern that listeners in the room might hear a less beautiful sound. I’ll point out that my grand sounds remarkably different from my players position to the sound when I’m across the room with another player at the piano. At the bench, with the lid up and the desk removed I hear everything. No smoothing from the room. Very much like a close-miced VST might sound with properly positioned nearfield monitors. That’s the way a real piano sounds when you play it.

Meanwhile, out in the room the listeners of the real piano are hearing a sound that has been influenced greatly by the room itself. A great piano room burnishes the sound in a positive way. A bad piano room makes a great instrument sound like crap. Now picture yourself sitting at your piano with nearfield monitors pointing at your ears. You hear sound of the keyboard itself, with minimal room influence, just like playing a real grand. And your listeners hear that piano, but ‘in the room’, just like a real piano would be, good or bad depending on the room itself.

I hope this helps.

Re: Monitors positioning
PianoMan51 #2964854 04/08/20 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoMan51
When we talk about “monitors” on this site we’re usually talking about monitors created for recording studios. And more specifically, nearfield monitors. These are designed for a very specific placement, which is like an equilateral triangle, about 3 feet per side, and with the tweeters at ear level and pointing inwardly directly at the (one) listener. The goal of the studio monitor is to accurately play the sound without adding any ‘personality’ from the speakers themselves.

Why are they placed this way? Because this placement is extraordinarily easier to achieve the goal of accuracy than others. First, by keeping the monitors really close the effect of the room itself on the sound is reduced. Without having to redesign and treat the room. This saves a lot of money. Along with this, because the monitor is close it doesn’t have to be as loud, so it can be smaller, use less power, and be cheaper. The second reason is that when the listener’s ears are directly in the axis of the speakers cone, the speaker design doesn’t have to worry about different frequency responses as you move off axis. This makes a very high quality nearfield studio monitor much cheaper than a hifi speaker of equal quality which has to spread that same accuracy to a whole room. And of course real hifi speakers need precise placement and room treatment.

So my answer is, for an equivalent sound quality you can spend $200 on headphones or $1k on nearfield monitors or $10k on equivalent hifi speakers. It’s a given that whatever DP or VST you use, it was recorded, developed, and finally tweeked on nearfield monitors and high quality headphones.

You have some concern that listeners in the room might hear a less beautiful sound. I’ll point out that my grand sounds remarkably different from my players position to the sound when I’m across the room with another player at the piano. At the bench, with the lid up and the desk removed I hear everything. No smoothing from the room. Very much like a close-miced VST might sound with properly positioned nearfield monitors. That’s the way a real piano sounds when you play it.

Meanwhile, out in the room the listeners of the real piano are hearing a sound that has been influenced greatly by the room itself. A great piano room burnishes the sound in a positive way. A bad piano room makes a great instrument sound like crap. Now picture yourself sitting at your piano with nearfield monitors pointing at your ears. You hear sound of the keyboard itself, with minimal room influence, just like playing a real grand. And your listeners hear that piano, but ‘in the room’, just like a real piano would be, good or bad depending on the room itself.

I hope this helps.



Thank you, I appreciate the explanation. I know the comparison isnt quite accurate, as the piano is sort of omnidirectional, but yes it makes sense.

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2964855 04/08/20 10:33 PM
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Im still curious to know why Sweelinck recommended against the Adam monitors.

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2964860 04/08/20 10:45 PM
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He gave an explanation: "They are quite excellent monitors, but are designed for audio engineers to use to evaluate mixes they are working on ..."
Originally Posted by JoeThePro
I'm still curious to know why Sweelinck recommended against the Adam monitors.
But that strikes me as regurgitated marketing speak. I don't know whether he feels the same way about other brands of monitors. But I wonder whether he's tried any monitors at all ... or whether, perhaps, he has avoided them based on the notion that monitors are for production use only.

I think the whole thing is a red herring.

Re: Monitors positioning
MacMacMac #2964863 04/08/20 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
He gave an explanation: "They are quite excellent monitors, but are designed for audio engineers to use to evaluate mixes they are working on ..."
Originally Posted by JoeThePro
I'm still curious to know why Sweelinck recommended against the Adam monitors.
But that strikes me as regurgitated marketing speak. I don't know whether he feels the same way about other brands of monitors. But I wonder whether he's tried any monitors at all ... or whether, perhaps, he has avoided them based on the notion that monitors are for production use only.

I think the whole thing is a red herring.


This is what confused me as well. People specifically use monitors over hifi speakers because they produce the original sounds faithfully. I'm just confused.

Re: Monitors positioning
MacMacMac #2964871 04/09/20 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
He gave an explanation: "They are quite excellent monitors, but are designed for audio engineers to use to evaluate mixes they are working on ..."
Originally Posted by JoeThePro
I'm still curious to know why Sweelinck recommended against the Adam monitors.
But that strikes me as regurgitated marketing speak. I don't know whether he feels the same way about other brands of monitors. But I wonder whether he's tried any monitors at all ... or whether, perhaps, he has avoided them based on the notion that monitors are for production use only.

I think the whole thing is a red herring.


It’s not regurgitated marketing speak. It’s not that they won’t work for the purpose, but that you are spending extra to meet requirements you don’t have with monitors for a digital piano, and which make them less convenient. Not only have I tried a number of monitor brands, but I have compared them in my acoustically treated studio. I have owned JBL passive and active monitors, Alesis passive monitors, KRK active monitors, Equator Audio active monitors, and have listened to Yamaha, Adam, and Genelec monitors.

There are many dimensions of accuracy of monitors. Monitors (or stereo speakers) with enough dispersion not to have to listen in a very narrow sweet spot will have some phase distortion from reflected sound. It will be worse in a small space than in a large space. For piano monitors, a little blurring is fine. You are not trying to evaluate the placement of 6 instruments in a mix. What is important (at least for me) is having as flat a frequency response as possible so that the monitors do not introduce voicing issues. For evaluating a mix, you want clinical accuracy, and can get it without paying a small fortune by having a very close range and very narrow listening field. This means optimal listening and getting the accuracy you paid for requires keeping your head in a narrow field that is approximately a sphere 1 meter in diameter.

While paying more for a product means getting a higher quality product in general, in the case of studio monitors it may mean better meeting requirements you don’t have.

As I mentioned, some people use Adam monitors for keyboard monitors and find them satisfactory. They would not be my top choice. I have two pairs of JBL LSR305’s, one pair attached to an LSR2310sp subwoofer and find them to work very well as a piano and organ monitor. Some people prefer other monitors.


My chronological list of the top 20 composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.
Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2964875 04/09/20 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeThePro
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
He gave an explanation: "They are quite excellent monitors, but are designed for audio engineers to use to evaluate mixes they are working on ..."
Originally Posted by JoeThePro
I'm still curious to know why Sweelinck recommended against the Adam monitors.
But that strikes me as regurgitated marketing speak. I don't know whether he feels the same way about other brands of monitors. But I wonder whether he's tried any monitors at all ... or whether, perhaps, he has avoided them based on the notion that monitors are for production use only.

I think the whole thing is a red herring.


This is what confused me as well. People specifically use monitors over hifi speakers because they produce the original sounds faithfully. I'm just confused.


I would ignore this whole discussion of monitor speakers vs. Hi-Fi speakers. I don't know of many people who have done a true double blind A/B comparison of Piano VSTs between monitor speakers vs. Hi-Fi speakers which are 'price matched'. Note that most Hi-Fi speakers are passive and they must be paired with pre-amps and amps. So, one will have to come up with a configuration of Hi-Fi speakers+preamps+amps which cost about the same as monitor speakers and do an A/B comparison. Such a comparison might have been done for listening to recorded music (though I don't know of one) but it is unlikely that it has been done for Piano VSTs. Even if such a comparison has been done for Piano VSTs, I haven't seen any reports on the internet. So, we just don't know the answer as to which is better in a price range.

Re: your other questions:

Originally Posted by JoeThePro
Do they sound much different than HiFi speakers in regards to "ouch these are 4 feet from my ears and are piercing my eardrums" pleasantness?
I don't know but note that the sound will also depend on the pre-amp and amp driving the HiFi speakers.

Originally Posted by JoeThePro
How crucial is positioning for sound quality?
Positioning is very crucial and will make a big difference. And, this is why many prefer near-field monitors as they are designed to be listened to at a close distance. Typically for Piano VSTs, the speakers are placed within 5-6 feet of the player. So, near-field monitors are a good match for this usage.

The general recommendation for positioning is to make sure that:
  • You form an equilateral triangle with the 2 speakers and the listener.
  • Tweeter is directed at the ear. You may need to tilt the speakers to achieve this.
  • Avoid sound bouncing off any hard surfaces, such as tabletops if possible.
  • Stay far away from wall as possible, and especially corners. I have read recommendations that they should be 1-2 feet away from walls or corners - but this is often impractical for most DP placements in a home.


Originally Posted by JoeThePro
If I have these pointed nicely at the player position, will it sound much less pleasant elsewhere in the room, or is it similar to HiFi speakers where it you dont really notice being in different positions around the room, it always just sounds pretty good?
This will depend a lot on your room and how well treated it is acoustically - for either the monitor speakers or HiFi speakers. In my room, the monitor speakers sound fairly pleasant anywhere - and I certainly don't notice anything particularly troublesome.

Osho


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Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2964943 04/09/20 08:56 AM
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Thank you all for the clarifications. Really helps!

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2965033 04/09/20 01:07 PM
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I am so Caronavirus bored I actually read thru all this.....

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2965234 04/09/20 09:12 PM
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I would ignore this whole discussion of monitor speakers vs. Hi-Fi speakers. I don't know of many people who have done a true double blind A/B comparison of Piano VSTs between monitor speakers vs. Hi-Fi speakers which are 'price matched'.
If you mean an “audiophile’s” A/B listening test where some music source is compared to decide which sounds better, I will just say that I do not consider that the correct test for piano monitors. That is a great test for which will give you the most enjoyment listening to your favorite music.

What I care about for piano monitors is that they don’t introduce voicing issues into the piano sound. Many keyboard amps and some PA’s do that in very obvious ways. Studio monitors are much better in that regard.


My chronological list of the top 20 composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.
Re: Monitors positioning
Sweelinck #2965238 04/09/20 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
...What I care about for piano monitors is that they don’t introduce voicing issues into the piano sound. Many keyboard amps and some PA’s do that in very obvious ways. Studio monitors are much better in that regard.

But earlier you said you wouldn't want to use monitors because they are designed for audio engineers to evaluate mixes! Or were you specifically talking about Adam monitors? If so, why?

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2965251 04/09/20 10:36 PM
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Nearfield monitors (usually 5"-7") are good for player only. Their greatest feature is they pretty much allow to ignore the room acoustics (except very close walls behind the monitor).
Midfields are more expensive, throw more power and are usually in 8"-12" range, some are 3-way (not counting subwoofer) and are really expensive.
Some 8" monitors (Adam A8X, etc.) are marketed as near-mid.
Usually near field monitors should be placed at 1-1.5m from listener, midfield - at 2-4m.
The best place for monitors - behind your keyboard corners. If you have space, move them 1-2 feet further back from keys, so you and monitors create a equilateral triangle. If you place them too wide you will get a feeling that sound is coming not from your piano, it will be more wide/surrond. Too narrow - quazi mono.

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Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2965593 04/11/20 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeThePro
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
...What I care about for piano monitors is that they don’t introduce voicing issues into the piano sound. Many keyboard amps and some PA’s do that in very obvious ways. Studio monitors are much better in that regard.

But earlier you said you wouldn't want to use monitors because they are designed for audio engineers to evaluate mixes! Or were you specifically talking about Adam monitors? If so, why?
Expensive studio monitors have clinical accuracy in a very narrow field. Aside from the inconvenience of keeping your head in the sweet spot to achieve that accuracy, you don’t need it for a single instrument. Less expensive studio monitors have wider dispersion, do not have a very tight sweet spot, and will work fine for piano monitors. There is nothing wrong with using Adam or Genelec or Neuman or Dynaudio monitors but you will pay more for properties that are not necessary for piano monitors.

The LSR305’s I have are not clinical enough to use for mixing without a treated space (which you should have anyway if you are mixing). But they work well as piano monitors.


My chronological list of the top 20 composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.
Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2965599 04/11/20 05:16 AM
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What is clinical accuracy?

Re: Monitors positioning
Sweelinck #2965711 04/11/20 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Expensive studio monitors have clinical accuracy in a very narrow field. Aside from the inconvenience of keeping your head in the sweet spot to achieve that accuracy, you don’t need it for a single instrument. Less expensive studio monitors have wider dispersion, do not have a very tight sweet spot, and will work fine for piano monitors. There is nothing wrong with using Adam or Genelec or Neuman or Dynaudio monitors but you will pay more for properties that are not necessary for piano monitors.

The LSR305’s I have are not clinical enough to use for mixing without a treated space (which you should have anyway if you are mixing). But they work well as piano monitors.

I see what you are saying now. I have been looking at the Presonus Eris XT7/XT8, they have a tweeter waveguide that is supposed to provide a wider sweetspot. They seem to be well reviewed, might work well in this application.

Re: Monitors positioning
JoeThePro #2965766 04/11/20 02:13 PM
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The problem is that there are different types of studio monitors but the monitor vendors do not distinguish which type a particular model would be because they don’t wish to limit sales to customers looking for one particular type.

Some studio monitors are designed to monitor/hear what is being produced by a source on a line. The cheapest studio monitors will do this, but you may get better sound quality by stepping up some in price. This is the category you want for piano monitors. You want them to have as flat a frequency response as possible down to about 55Hz to avoid voicing problems. This type of monitor may be more in between a nearfield and midfield monitor in listening field.

Some studio monitors are designed for mixing audio. They should have as flat a response as possible as well, but additionally will be designed for the most accurate phasing between drivers as possible. Slight phase shifts between drivers causes a little blurring of the sound, which will reduce the ability to hear precisely what is going on in a mix. Very accurate phasing requires manufacturing drivers to a very tight tolerance. This increases cost, but by limiting the listening field the cost increase is not astronomical. Mixing monitors may have bass roll off at a higher frequency (less bass response) with the idea that if a mix engineer cares about the lowest octave (give or take) they will have a subwoofer and if they don’t care about it don’t need the monitors to produce it. Having small drivers handle somewhat lower material makes it harder/costlier to achieve phase accuracy. These types of monitors may work fine as piano monitor but may be overspec’d for what you need, or they may be too bass light to be suitable for piano monitors (and sound out of balance when listening to music for enjoyment). That is not their purpose.

There is a third category which is very accurate midfield monitors that might be the mains in a mastering studio. These will be very similar to very high-end stereo speakers, and very expensive. This type of monitor would be overkill for personal piano monitors, but if you have money to burn, they will work well. There also are some midfield powered studio monitors that are less expensive. They may be suitable for piano monitors. I’ve not used them.

This also raises the question of less than very high end stereo speakers. They may work, but typically have a less flat frequency response than studio monitors, as that is not the most important property for speakers designed for general listening to sound good. But it is beneficial to avoid introducing voicing issues in a piano.


My chronological list of the top 20 composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.
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