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I could use some help in scouting out active monitors for my fp-90 that I'll use in combination with the internal speakers (which aren’t very good) or, more likely, just by themselves. I’d like these speakers to serve not only this DP but also a future upgrade that may or may not have internal speakers and that I’ll undertake once COVID subsides (if it ever does) and stores have enough up-to-date models to compare. My set-up is in a 10 x 12 foot room. I’m willing to spend around $1,000 for a pair and am intrigued by Genelec 8020 and Focals, possibly the Focal Alpha 65. I’m wondering if anyone has thoughts on which of these might be better or whether it’s just a subjective toss-up -- and if I’m missing any important competitor for the money. I know there are scads of alternatives, but I’d like to zero in on just one or two and make a decision. I’ll be using these for playing solo or with a backup track or recorded music.


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I’m very happy with the 8020s on FP90x. I’ve not used the others.


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Hi Baltguy,

I would forget the Focal Alpha 65: the Focal Alpha 50's are just better for digital piano, and these are cheaper.
These articles may interest you:
https://gearspace.com/board/so-much...al-alpha-50s-now-im-really-confused.html

https://gearspace.com/board/low-end-theory/967700-focal-alpha-65-distortion-2.html


To go with the Focal, I think you'd need to opt for the Focal Shape Twin or better.

The following posts may interest you, and offer a few contenders (see second post):

RichieBill's hunt for best monitors for his piano
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2808886/focal-shape-or-neumann-kh120.html

Euphoria's hunt for monitors for his MP11.
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3118467/new-monitors-for-my-mp11.html

Last edited by Doug M.; 01/23/22 12:47 PM.

Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
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Thanks, Doug. But could you clarify: As for Focals, would you recommend the 50s or the Focal Shape Twin? And any thoughts about the Genelec 8020s and how they'd compare to either of those Focals? Or do you get to a level of discrimination that's so subjective that any comparisons should be taken with a large grain of salt?


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Originally Posted by Baltguy
Thanks, Doug. But could you clarify: As for Focals, would you recommend the 50s or the Focal Shape Twin? And any thoughts about the Genelec 8020s and how they'd compare to either of those Focals? Or do you get to a level of discrimination that's so subjective that any comparisons should be taken with a large grain of salt?

This all depends on budget, and the Focal Alpha 50's are well within budget (and recommended for users on a restricted budget); whereas, the Focal Shape Twin's are well outside your budget. The Genelec 8020s are also less competitive compared to the Neuman KH120A. However, the Genelec's are well respected in general: you should defintely consider a pair of Genelec 8030. If you can stretch, the Genelec 8040 are a match for the Neuman KH120A---with preferences being more subjective comparing the two. One guy purchased a new pair of Genelec 8030C's and a pair of 7040A's in 2019 (a subwoofer) and was pleased with the outcome (see below); however, this guy wasn't using his monitors for piano, whereas RichieBill brought his for piano use. In some ways, that adds more weight from my POV, as monitoring in a studio is completely different an activity to playing a piano through monitors.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/neumann-kh120a-or-genelec-8030c.11109/

We know that the Adam A7X are also great; however, they are not so easy to set-up, with one user having to go through some 'fettling' (set-up hassle) to get them to perform on his MP11SE.

https://gearspace.com/board/studio-building-acoustics/1190783-adam-a7xs-mp11-kawai-keyboard.html
https://gearspace.com/board/so-much...2-1300-spend-neumann-kh120-adam-a7x.html


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Just to answer your question about spend:

I think there is a big enough difference between monitors costing £250-350 per monitor and those costing £500-600 per monitor.
I wouldn't spend less than £350 on a monitor, as the result will be well below the quality of sound you'd get with good headphones.

Yes, you can spend £700-1000 per monitor, and they will sound better than a pair for £1,200.
However, I think that the gains you get buying the £600 instead of £350 monitors is much greater than the gain in quality you'll get by spending £1000 per monitor instead of £600.
Much like other technologies, the returns diminish as you get into the really high spend monitors.

Last edited by Doug M.; 01/23/22 02:39 PM.

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Originally Posted by Baltguy
I could use some help in scouting out active monitors for my fp-90 that I'll use in combination with the internal speakers (which aren’t very good) or, more likely, just by themselves. I’d like these speakers to serve not only this DP but also a future upgrade that may or may not have internal speakers and that I’ll undertake once COVID subsides (if it ever does) and stores have enough up-to-date models to compare. My set-up is in a 10 x 12 foot room. I’m willing to spend around $1,000 for a pair and am intrigued by Genelec 8020 and Focals, possibly the Focal Alpha 65. I’m wondering if anyone has thoughts on which of these might be better or whether it’s just a subjective toss-up -- and if I’m missing any important competitor for the money. I know there are scads of alternatives, but I’d like to zero in on just one or two and make a decision. I’ll be using these for playing solo or with a backup track or recorded music.

Originally Posted by Doug M.
Hi Baltguy,

I would forget the Focal Alpha 65: the Focal Alpha 50's are just better for digital piano, and these are cheaper.
These articles may interest you:
https://gearspace.com/board/so-much...al-alpha-50s-now-im-really-confused.html

https://gearspace.com/board/low-end-theory/967700-focal-alpha-65-distortion-2.html


To go with the Focal, I think you'd need to opt for the Focal Shape Twin or better.

The following posts may interest you, and offer a few contenders (see second post):

RichieBill's hunt for best monitors for his piano
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2808886/focal-shape-or-neumann-kh120.html

Euphoria's hunt for monitors for his MP11.
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3118467/new-monitors-for-my-mp11.html

I just wanted to point out that focal recently launched the Focal Alpha Evo, which are a completely different and superior design to the regular alpha. These feature a different woofer design and material, as well as an improved tweeter waveguide. The speaker measures quite differently, and therefore it will sound quite different too.

So unfortunately those links are no longer relevant if OP opts for the Evos. I'd also argue the Evos are superior to the Shapes -- focal has a tendency to make it's newer cheaper models better than some of it's older, higher end stuff. And I say this as someone who currently has a pair of Solo 6 Be's. I think the budget Chora 706 are better than those, for example.

I'd personally say you can't go wrong with either the Focals or the Genelecs, but the Focals are the better option simply because they are larger and otherwise similar quality (Again, I'm referring to the alpha Evo). The Focals have 6.5 inch woofers while the Genelecs have 4.25-inch woofers. The Focals have nearly twice the effective woofer area, and barring dramatic difference in materials, it's hard to argue with physics.

Based on the measurement data and my experience with other similar models from both companies, I'd sum it up as this: the Genelecs are likely to have slightly more neutral timbre, while the Focals will have a more expansive and arguably preferable spatial presentation. Both are totally fine for your room size, but the focal is simply larger and will have more dynamic capability given similar woofer quality. It will also have far more bass extension, assuming your aren't planning to use a subwoofer.

In terms of timbre, measurements for both indicate tonality I'd deem 'neutral overall,' however the genelec are likely to sound slightly laid back relative to the Focals... Or the Focals are likely to sound slightly bright, especislly around the presence region (they have a slight emphasis from roughly 3-7khz). These differences could likely be accounted for by the rear controls on both speakers.

Third party data shows focals have bass extension of roughly -6dB at 38Hz, while the Genelecs are -6dB at 58Hz. Bass extension aside, this will also translate to less bass distortion and superior dynamics on the focal.

Given identical positioning, the Genelecs should offer a sharper, more pinpoint soundstage, while the focals will offer a slightly more diffuse soundstage that is more expensive.

Also, just an FYI that what's far more important is your distance from the speakers rather than the actual room size.

If both speakers were the same size, I'd say it's a wash and that you should choose based on your preference for spatial presentation But considering the size difference the Focals are simply more likely to sound better.

Last edited by napilopez; 01/23/22 02:45 PM.
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Originally Posted by napilopez
Originally Posted by Baltguy
I could use some help in scouting out active monitors for my fp-90 that I'll use in combination with the internal speakers (which aren’t very good) or, more likely, just by themselves. I’d like these speakers to serve not only this DP but also a future upgrade that may or may not have internal speakers and that I’ll undertake once COVID subsides (if it ever does) and stores have enough up-to-date models to compare. My set-up is in a 10 x 12 foot room. I’m willing to spend around $1,000 for a pair and am intrigued by Genelec 8020 and Focals, possibly the Focal Alpha 65. I’m wondering if anyone has thoughts on which of these might be better or whether it’s just a subjective toss-up -- and if I’m missing any important competitor for the money. I know there are scads of alternatives, but I’d like to zero in on just one or two and make a decision. I’ll be using these for playing solo or with a backup track or recorded music.

Originally Posted by Doug M.
Hi Baltguy,

I would forget the Focal Alpha 65: the Focal Alpha 50's are just better for digital piano, and these are cheaper.
These articles may interest you:
https://gearspace.com/board/so-much...al-alpha-50s-now-im-really-confused.html

https://gearspace.com/board/low-end-theory/967700-focal-alpha-65-distortion-2.html


To go with the Focal, I think you'd need to opt for the Focal Shape Twin or better.

The following posts may interest you, and offer a few contenders (see second post):

RichieBill's hunt for best monitors for his piano
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2808886/focal-shape-or-neumann-kh120.html

Euphoria's hunt for monitors for his MP11.
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3118467/new-monitors-for-my-mp11.html

I just wanted to point out that focal recently launched the Focal Alpha Evo, which are a completely different and superior design to the regular alpha. These feature a different woofer design and material, as well as an improved tweeter waveguide. The speaker measures quite differently, and therefore it will sound quite different too.

So unfortunately those links are no longer relevant if OP opts for the Evos. I'd also argue the Evos are superior to the Shapes -- focal has a tendency to make it's newer cheaper models better than some of it's older, higher end stuff. And I say this as someone who currently has a pair of Solo 6 Be's. I think the budget Chora 706 are better than those, for example.

I'd personally say you can't go wrong with either the Focals or the Genelecs, but the Focals are the better option simply because they are larger and otherwise similar quality (Again, I'm referring to the alpha Evo). The Focals have 6.5 inch woofers while the Genelecs have 4.25-inch woofers. The Focals have nearly twice the effective woofer area, and barring dramatic difference in materials, it's hard to argue with physics.

Based on the measurement data and my experience with other similar models from both companies, I'd sum it up as this: the Genelecs are likely to have slightly more neutral timbre, while the Focals will have a more expansive and arguably preferable spatial presentation. Both are totally fine for your room size, but the focal is simply larger and will have more dynamic capability given similar woofer quality. It will also have far more bass extension, assuming your aren't planning to use a subwoofer.

In terms of timbre, measurements for both indicate tonality I'd deem 'neutral overall,' however the genelec are likely to sound slightly laid back relative to the Focals... Or the Focals are likely to sound slightly bright, especislly around the presence region (they have a slight emphasis from roughly 3-7khz). These differences could likely be accounted for by the rear controls on both speakers.

Third party data shows focals have bass extension of roughly -6dB at 38Hz, while the Genelecs are -6dB at 58Hz. Bass extension aside, this will also translate to less bass distortion and superior dynamics on the focal.

Given identical positioning, the Genelecs should offer a sharper, more pinpoint soundstage, while the focals will offer a slightly more diffuse soundstage that is more expensive.

Also, just an FYI that what's far more important is your distance from the speakers rather than the actual room size.

If both speakers were the same size, I'd say it's a wash and that you should choose based on your preference for spatial presentation But considering the size difference the Focals are simply more likely to sound better.

Napilopez makes valid points.
The one problem with buying studio monitors is that they do get regularly upgraded; however, that doesn't much help the digital piano player: we can only go off what we know other users have had success with, whereas, most buyers of these monitors are studio engineers, who aren't exactly looking for what we need.
That's why I kind of limited my suggestions to past models: as a community, these models are understood. I'm quite sure the newer models might well be worth checking out. If you can, take a test of these models with a digital stage piano or something.


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If you are not into playing organ sounds the Genelec 8020 are just fine.

Very handy: the bottom thread for a mic stand.


-Rhodes74

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Thanks for all your helpful comments. It's too bad the retail outlets don't have sufficient inventory for customers do side-by-side testing and that I feel uncomfortable about spending much time in stores where people have their hands over everything -- a COVID concern. It's likely I'll eventually just order a model and see if I like it.

However, if I may throw an additional variable in the mix, what are your thoughts about using a hifi system? I've heard arguments on both sides. Just fyi, I have quite a nice system, but it's in another part of the house and thus inconvenient to use with my digital piano. So I'd have to buy one, possibly used. In any event, I'm curious what you and others think about this option as compared with studio monitors.

Last edited by Baltguy; 01/25/22 08:20 AM.

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Originally Posted by Baltguy
Thanks for all your helpful comments. It's too bad the retail outlets don't have sufficient inventory for customers do side-by-side testing and that I feel uncomfortable about spending much time in stores where people have their hands over everything -- a COVID concern. It's likely I'll eventually just order a model and see if I like it.

However, if I may throw an additional variable in the mix, what are your thoughts about using a hifi system? I've heard arguments on both sides. Just fyi, I have quite a nice system, but it's in another part of the house and thus inconvenient to use with my digital piano. So I'd have to buy one, possibly used. In any event, I'm curious what you and others think about this option as compared with studio monitors.

I wouldn't buy a new one especially, but if you have one or can find an awesome used deal, the results could be good. I hooked my MP7 up to a hifi for demoing. The Denon speakers were wall mounted, so the sound acoustics weren't optimal, but it sounded good. FYI, I played a V-piano on KRK ROKIT RP5 G4 monitors (or the ones beliw, can'trecall now) , which sounded awesome. I think the bottom line is that you need good components and good setup using HiFi. If you're prepared to tinker a bit, bet that great results are possible. There must be dozens of posts here on using HiFi.

Last edited by Doug M.; 01/25/22 09:04 AM.

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Originally Posted by Baltguy
Thanks for all your helpful comments. It's too bad the retail outlets don't have sufficient inventory for customers do side-by-side testing and that I feel uncomfortable about spending much time in stores where people have their hands over everything -- a COVID concern. It's likely I'll eventually just order a model and see if I like it.

However, if I may throw an additional variable in the mix, what are your thoughts about using a hifi system? I've heard arguments on both sides. Just fyi, I have quite a nice system, but it's in another part of the house and thus inconvenient to use with my digital piano. So I'd have to buy one, possibly used. In any event, I'm curious what you and others think about this option as compared with studio monitors.

I've said this before around these parts, and not everyone will agree with me, but there is no meaningful difference between hifi speakers and studio monitors other than their connectivity options and design trends. Acoustically you need the 99% the same ingredients to make the best hifi speaker as for the best studio monitors, at least if the manufacturers are following published science of acoustics (and many hifi manufacturers prefer not to) .

The only is that hifi speakers and studio monitors might make somewhat different compromises (in theory). For example, in a nearfield or midfield listening setup like most studios, it is a bit more important to balance for a flat direct sound, whereas in a far field listening setup (like a living room), a bit more weight goes toward the early reflections and overall in-room response.

But I must emphasize that this difference is minimal and that if you're buying a good speaker anyway, manufacturers will try to optimize for both.

Take Genelec and hifi maker KEF for instance. Both companies make coaxial speakers, Genelec mostly on the studio side, KEF on the Hifi side. Yet despite their purported categories, their measured performance for recent speakers is extremely similar, and indeed, having tested some of their speakers in quick successions -- they *sound* very similar. Both very good

Or take Focal's studio monitors and Hifi speakers. I toured Focal's factory a couple of years ago and interviewed their engineers for a report. Their studio monitors and their hifi speakers use the same principles and very similar drivers. In both cases, the same design principles apply: a flattish on-axis (anechoic) response and wide, fairly smooth directivity. The only meaningful difference is that their studio monitors have built in amps and XLR connectivity.

Similar with JBL. Their studio and home speakers show very similar performance. Sometimes the home speakers have a bit of an added bass emphasis because some people prefer that but that's the only meaningful acoustic difference.

Of course, then you have hifi companies like Bowers and wilkins which have all the engineering chops to make a speaker that follows the scientific consensus on frequency response and directivity, but prefer to make something that sounds 'unique' and that will stand out in a showroom. (They used to make much more science-y speakers until the late 90s when Laurence Dickie left the company).

I don't begrudge people who like such speakers -- you like what you like -- but I bring it up to point out how meaningless the hifi distinction is.
KEF, Wharfedale, Harbeth, and Quad, are all renowned British speaker companies, like B&W. Yet the former 4 have more in common with Genelec, Neumann, Adam and Focal monitors than they do with B&W, acoustically. Likewise some studio monitors aren't great, although in my experience studio monitors *are* usually a bit of a safer bet in terms of sound quality.

So the point of all of this is to say: judge the individual speaker's sound and see how its features fit into your lifestyle. There are plenty of hifi speakers that could fit the bill if you have an amplifier, as well as some options with built-in amps. They won't necessarily be better than equivalent studio monitors, but it would open up options a bit.

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Great comments, everybody. I'll let you know what I decide. Thanks!


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In my quest for a pair of monitors I have tried: Focal Alpha 50 and 65, Neumann KH120A, Genelec 8020 and 8330.

I liked the Focal timbrically but they had some rattling noises (likely inside cabling) I could not get rid of.

The Neumann are great speakers but on the dark side of neutral.

The Genelec combined the fantastic build quality of the Neumann and the neutrality/euphony of the Focals. The 8020 were a bit less natural than the Focals. The 8330, which I settled for, are an all out winner.

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Interesting. Based on my reading and comments in this forum, I'm leaning toward the 8030s and might just order a pair and see how they sound in my room. I've got to set a price limit somewhere, and the 8330s are just a bit above. I'm intrigued by the hifi option, but monitors seem a simpler and relatively fuss-free way to go. Thanks again to all. The comments have been extremely helpful.


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Originally Posted by napilopez
I just wanted to point out that focal recently launched the Focal Alpha Evo, which are a completely different and superior design to the regular alpha. These feature a different woofer design and material, as well as an improved tweeter waveguide. The speaker measures quite differently, and therefore it will sound quite different too.

Hi everybody, new in the forum, just wanted to say thanks for the info and to inform you that I have similar problems with my new Focal Alpha 50 Evo that other have reported about their Focal 65's and 80's: there's a kind of distorted noise when playing in the lower octaves of the piano. I'm returning them and will try something from Genelec instead.

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May be too late to matter, but another enthusiastic vote for KRK Rockit monitors. I use a pair with my DP and another pair (for backing/accompaniment) with my acoustic.

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Andeekap: Let me know how that goes. Do you have your eye on a particular Genelec pair?


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What I find interesting about the active monitor world is that it's not at all easy to compare all the competition, and even less easy to test monitors with your piano. Therefore, unless you've got a lot of money and a monitor fixation, it's really hard to know which are the best for the price bracked. Too much variety for every price bracket.

I guess although it might not help much, it would be usefull to have comparative tables of stats, as apart fromt that, there is no baseline unless you get many monitors in one store.

Last edited by Doug M.; 04/07/22 06:36 PM.

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Hi guys,

I have a question for you guys

I have a CA79. been thinking about monitors.

If I understand, I can hook them up directly to the piano or do I really need a sound card or mixer to make it worthwhile.

The sound is pretty good on a CA79, so not looking for louder sound as much as better sound.



Ron

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