Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Final two?

Again with the speakers.

I think I've narrowed the field down to two potentials. The M-Audio Studiopro 4s, and the ESI nEar 05s. They're roughly in the same price-range (a difference of about 30€ at, but the nEars don't have RCA-in, only 6.3mm TRS (I think that's the same chord as most guitars, for those more familiar with it from that) and XLR. The audio-out on the computer is a regular 3.5mm headphone connector, and 3.5mm -> 2xRCA are common; to hook up the nEar 05s I'd need a 3.5mm -> 2x6.3mm, and those have prooved very tricky to find. It seems my best bet would be a 3.5mm -> 2xRCA and then a couple of RCA -> 6.3mm adapters. But that does seem like a roundabout way to connect them.

But the extra 30€ does seem to give me a bit more bottom, [according to the manufacturers] the Studiopro 4s go down to 70Hz, while the nEar 05s go down to 60Hz*. I've read feedback that they're both quite good for their price-range, but I've seen a bit more praise for the nEar05s than the Studiopro 4s.

But the Studiopro 4s also have an extra headphone jack, meaning I can easily attach a pair of headphones without pulling out/plugging in wires.

It might be that the nEar 05s are a bit better, but I'm leaning heavily towards the Studiopro 4s, since they seem a bit more suited for my setup (ie. easily connectable, requiring only one power-cable).

*The information is a bit split here. The product info pages states 60Hz while the downloadable manual states 33Hz...

Update: After further reading, and finding a list where the ESI nEar 05s ranked pretty high, my previous conviction of getting the Studiopro 4s has been shaken.I found the list on some German forum (translation via Google), no idea who did the test... But if that list is even somewhat accurate, that would put the nEar 05s quite high on the price-to-quality scale!


Jonas said...

Have you visited any online forums and asked opinions on what you should get within your price range?

That's the first thing I'd do.
Manufacturers and dealers praise their products to make sales. That's why it's best to get outside opinions.

When I bought my electric guitar I found that I knew *more* about the brand that I was interested in than the sales person. Especially if you plan on buying them from Unisound you should have done your homework beforehand.

Jacke said...

Of course I've read around. The problem is that noone will recommend speakers in that price-range, instead saying you should save up for a better pair at around 3-400€. Which feels a bit like an awfully big investment for something that's still just a hobby.

Jonas said...

Fuck that! Tell you what, I'll ask the question on one of MY forums where i know people and I know they'll give PROPER answers.

So...umm...what's the budget...and what are you looking for? Shoot me an e-mail with the details.

Jonas said...

If you wish to read the thread I posted; go to and click the catch gate. There is a thread there called "monitors".

Got some replies you may find useful.

Jacke said...

Yeah, I checked it out already. I'm a bit sceptical towards Logitech... I asked about them on the Studio forum and here's the initial response.

Jonas said...

I don't know the guys on that forum but I do know the guys on my forum. The guy that answered the question about the monitors is very knowledgable and I trust he knows what he is saying and not just being a brand snob or anything.

Ainu said...

So you have a birthday coming?!?


Jacke said...

Yep, on Wednesday!


Sho Fukamachi said...

No real studio monitor has freaking RCA. RCA is unbalanced, which means that if you run it any decent length you will start picking up hum. You might not have anything capable of doing balanced signal out right now, but surely in the future you will, and you'll consider the RCA plugs a complete joke. I actually think their presence on the m-audio is a negative indicator of a non-serious product. I don't like m-audio and that just confirms it.

I used a 3.5mm -> double mono 6.3mm TS at first. You should have no trouble finding the adapter at Radio Shack or whatever you have there. Hell I can send you one if you're really desperate. You only need to buy it once.

That ranking of monitors looks very suspect to me. My own monitors (Mackie HR824s) aren't on it, for one, although they're great. If you're not sure of your ear's ability to judge it, there's only one piece of data worth considering and that's the frequency output graph. It should be as flat as possible. The monitors should also be fast - and that goes for the speakers and the built-in amp if you're buying that - and have plenty of capacity. And unless you plan on sending the power company a nice big cheque every month, get ones with the power switch on the front.

Hm .. all those statistics like "frequency response down to 18Hz!" are complete BS. Even my iPod headphones probably play something at that frequency, just not very well. The graph is the important thing.

Another thing to consider is where you'll be putting them. If you're just gonna stick them on your desk there's no point worrying about all this accuracy shit as your desk will colour the sound significantly as it resonates. To actually get any kind of good curve out of the speakers you choose you'll have to mount, place and tune the room carefully anyway.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's just not that important. People go on and on about "monitor sound" but it's the music that actually matters. The quality of the monitors, if it matters at all, only matters at the very last stages of mixing and mastering. An awful lot of good music has been produced using terrible monitors, and an awful lot of bad music has been made using the best monitors money can buy.

So yeah .. don't fret too much about it. Buy something simple, clean-sounding, fast and fairly neutral across the frequency range and you'll be fine. To put it off too much sounds to me a lot like "gear-itis", the common musician's syndrome of using a perceived lack of "gear" as an excuse for not actually, you know, making music.

Jacke said...

Hey Sho, thanks for the input! As it happened, I've decided to go for the nEars, and also pick up an external FW audio interface too to get a balanced signal.

I've researched acoustic treatment and quickly realized it was pretty much out of my price-range... Just gonna make do with the listening environment I have.

Gear-itis, yeah that's exactly what I suffered from. "Gear blindness", I called it. Eventually after like the fifth day in a row that I had done nothing but drooling over monitors I realized I had to draw some kind of line. Decided I'm gonna save up 'til I have enough and get the nEar 05s (and the FW audio interface). Been playing a bit every day ever since :)

James said...

Hey, as a follow up to this way old post: i'm actually in the market for some cheap monitors too now! Those 824s I mentioned are thousands of miles away, and I'm getting sick of headphones.

The ones I'm looking at are the Tapco S5s (top contender at this point, I like Mackie) and also the Fostex PM0.5. Both are under 40,000 yen which is my cutoff. My friend bought the Fostex PM0.4 the other day, I was *amazed* by how good they were for such an incredible price!!

So .. have you bought yet? Any first impressions? Have you considered the PM0.4s?

Jacke said...

Nope, haven't bought anything yet as I'm saving up to get both the FW-interface and the monitors in the same order. (Being a poor student sucks.)

The PM0.4 are indeed in my price range, but I'm having problems finding reviews on them... The nEar 05 classics have a pretty good reputation (at least in Europe) for the price, so I'm definitely leaning towards those.