High End monitors vs mid-range - worth it?

I have a pair of Adam A3X which are very good, mid priced, near field monitors.

On more demanding mixes I sometimes feel like I am lacking a bit of low end and imaging. My first reaction of course is always to blame my ears/experience and try to get by using a mix of my Adams, headphones and cheapo monitors.

Is there a noticeable difference between such monitors and slightly more expensive ones with extended LF response? E.g the Adam A7X or the Focal Shape 65?

It may be an easier fix than you think. You didn’t mention a sub. Do you have one? If not, I’d recommend it. That may be all you’re missing in this case. Those monitors are pretty dang good.

I definitely couldn’t work without a sub. It doesn’t need to be loud at all, it just needs to fill in that low end that 5 or 8" monitors don’t. I’d definitely go sub before upgrading monitors. You have to make sure you set it up correctly, but it’s not that hard to do.

Cheers. No I don’t have a sub. Any recommendations?

Oh man! You’ll notice an instant difference!
In my experience (not that I’m any authority), there doesn’t seem to be a need to spend a ton of money on the sub. As long as you can adjust the crossover point (between the where the monitors end and your sub begins), you’ll be in good shape. Just having those lows there will help immensely.

Never tried A3s, but I like the A7s. A local university uses them in their control room along side NS-10’s. I like what the A7’s do.

What’s the situation in your room?

Moving up from a 4.5" cone? Certainly. And even if you don’t have them close to maxed, you also have more power with the A7’s, and that power is necessary to create your low end image.

I don’t know if this will help, but there’s a big difference between the Focal 65’s, the Twin 6’s, and the sm9’s. I would take the A7 over the Focal 65.

Keep in mind (regarding extended LF response), I really don’t think you can know based anything on the specs. Certain monitors act way different based on how their built. I have JBL’s that spec out close to the same as the SM9, but they’re even close. Is there any way you can get to a guitar center or somewhere that has a bunch of monitors set up you can try?

@ColdRoomStudio uses Yamaha’s. HS8’s? Those are worth a listen as well. When I A/B’d them when I considered buying a second pair, I really liked them when I heard them next to the KRK’s and Dynaudios.

Again, depending on your room and your needs, I might slightly disagree with Bryan and Boz there and recommend upgrading to the 7" or 8" monitors before trying to add a sub to 4 1/2" monitors. No wrong way to do it. But I would try and get a set of 8"s to work first.

Mine are actually HS50Ms (older HS series model, 5" woofers) paired with a HS10 sub. HS8’s probably would have enough low end extension in a smaller room to not need a sub.

I found the secret with a sub is to get the level right in proportion to your monitors. When I moved houses, I must have bumped the volume control on my sub, and I really struggled in my new room until I got the level right. I keep the sub level quite low.

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Hm well, so some conflicting opinion.
An upgrade to e.g A7Xs would be an outlay of about 1000 euros vs a cheaper subwoofer. E.g Ive been looking at a Presonus Temblor at ~350 euros.
This doesn’t necessarily matter since I am after high end (well; ‘mid to high end’) and don’t mind saving for a bit to achieve it.
So I guess the question is what will make the biggest difference.
As for the room…I can give more precise dimensions a bit later, but it is basically a fairly large L-shaped room (very rough guess of 24 feet by 18 feet). And it of course have other uses so listening positions are a little constrained.

Wait…do you mean 24x18’ at the longest stretch of the L-shape? I think you’re gonna need bigger monitors. I’m no acoustics expert, but I’ve been told over and over by room designers that it takes power to form a usable low end image in a large space, because your speaker (and built in amp) have to have the ability to move air.

I posed this question to Wes Lachot when I was talking to him about building a facility: He was talking about the reason large mix rooms install $50,000 Augspurgers and the importance of accurately tuning them all the way down to 40hz. Figuring I had nothing to loose by asking him, I said ‘can’t you just use smaller monitors and sit closer to the speaker’? If I understood him correctly, he explained that with bass response, the low end image, and more importantly the accuracy of the low end image, it has less to do with your relative proximity to the speaker and more to do with the cubic volume of the room. And beyond there proper treatment and a good design.

Mid-high quality range, I really think JBL LSR’s and Yamaha HS series should be considered here. Both are moderately priced have subs that are tuned to match the system.

If you want my opinion on some of the higher end ones, I’ll share it, but it may not help much if you’re under $2,000 budget wise.

…about the original question ‘high end vs midrange’, the worth of it depends on what you’re doing. It depends on your client base, your workload, your genre (Broadcast, Film, Gaming, Music, Theater, Foley). High end Barefoots, ATCs, and Focals, and Genelecs, and Adams sound different. They’re distinctly more detailed, clearer, and make use of some pretty cutting edge technology. But (assuming you can afford them) are they better for you? Not necessarily.

A subwoofer, properly set up in the room, would definitely be your best bang for the dollars spent. The main things to get right are that #1 your monitors are reasonably flat down fairly low in the frequency range. You don’t need them to move air in the kick drum range, but they need to be solid below 100. The subwoofer you are looking at needs to have an adjustable crossover point, which the grand majority will have. If you have room correction software, it will show you where the sub should be working, and what the level should be.
If you don’t have room correction software, you can use pink noise and a visual display of the eq curve a mic is seeing in your room, or at least you can listen to music you are very familiar with, and listen for spots where the subwoofer is doubling the monitor, and then turn the crossover on the sub down a little more until it doesn’t double anything.
From there, positioning of the sub will have a big effect also. It will be much more efficient in a corner, but you don’t want that. The shape and size of your room will determine where cancellations and higher levels will occur. The optimal thing is to optimize the position of the sub for your listening position when you are mixing, and you may find that small movements change the bass response, so get used to the way the sub responds to the room.

So the room is more or less like this

A square with a corner chopped out. Ceiling is approx 8ft.

Hi Ramshackles - looking at your room dimensions and depending on the other furniture and stuff stored there, you could place your desk in the far corner to the right and away somewhat from the corner just to equalise the reflections of the walls. Even so where your desk is now pull it back from the wall a couple of feet. A sub woofer would make a big difference but as mentionned a large room needs bigger monitors to drive the sound waves properly. try borrowing a pair of larger speakers to actually hear the difference. I have Yamahas’ HS-50 and HS-80’s. Big difference between the two and there’s nothing shabby about the HS50’s. A larger speaker cone gives a fuller tone reproduction.:wink:

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Ok. That changes things. Is there any conceivable way your desk might be able to move?

You may wanna try that sub. That’s really different than the space I was envisioning when I replied.

Well I’ll go for a sub I guess.
The only conceivable location for the desk would be one on the left of your pic. Moving it will require a lot of careful negotiation :smiley: