Following on from last month's studio console showcase, S&S takes a look at some of the best studio monitors available on the market today.
The announcement of its merger with legendary guitar manufacturer Gibson at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, capped an important week for the well-known loudspeaker manufacturer, in which it also launched a significantly revised range of professional studio monitors.
Taking advantage of advances in digital speaker measuring techniques such as Klippell symmetry and non-linear distortion analysis, laser scanning interferometry, acoustic CAD simulation and the company's own acoustic technologies, Tannoy's latest additions to its Reveal and Precision ranges include passive and active models in a variety of sizes and outputs.
The latest active monitors in the Reveal range boast a comprehensive calibrated EQ facility for optimising mid/near/close field monitoring in full/half/quarter and eighth space environments.
Balanced analogue inputs are provided on all Reveal active models allowing either XLR or three-way jack plugs.
Additionally, Reveal D active versions accept a standard SPDIF digital input, retaining the signal in the digital domain.
The new Precision range combines the latest Tannoy Dual Concentric driver and WideBand technology to deliver near-field monitoring speaker designs that boast superior bandwidth, low levels of distortion, smooth response, accurate phase control and high sensitivity levels.
The monitors also display the benefits of Tannoy's approach to dealing with the acoustic effects of mid-, near- and close-field listening distances, in order to compensate for the relative size and distance of the acoustic source and resultant spherical/plane wave dilemmas.
A set of DIP switches on the rear control panel of the Reveal D and Precision D Active monitors allow the selection of an optimum speaker response for the most challenging monitoring situations, ensuring the frequency response is always as linear and flat as possible.
Optimisation can be preset for far-field (>2m), mid-field (1~2m), near-field (~1m) and close-field (<0.5m) situations in combination with free-space (4pi), half-space (2pi), quarter-space (pi) and extreme eighth-space (pi/2) corner situations.
As a result, the Active D monitors can be optimised for varying listening distances in challenging acoustic spaces; varying meter bridge positions, against and adjacent to walls or reflecting surfaces, in corners, in corners on shelves or brackets, table top / space-restricted PC/Mac-based sound editing environments and stand-mounted or soffit-mounted configurations.
Rigid cabinet designs, a choice of discreet or Dual Concentric point source, constant directivity drivers, WideBand technology and a powerful calibrated EQ facility, contribute to creating an impressive line-up of studio monitors.
Middle East distributors: Triad Technical Services (Jordan/Bahrain); Mansour Electronics & Techologies (Egypt); Pardis Trading (Iran); Delta Vision (Lebanon); Hitec Centre (Oman); Halwani AV Professional (KSA); Thomsun Trading (UAE).
Behringer's latest professional reference studio monitors to hit the market are the B3030A and B3031A.
Unveiled at last year's Prolight & Sound exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, the speakers represent the latest additions to the company's Truth series of active monitors, and supersede the B2030A and B2031A models respectively.
The loudspeakers boast a range of enhancements over the outgoing models. In the case of the B3031A, these include ultra-high resolution, two-inch velocity ribbon transducers, long-throw woofers with Kevlar cones and deformation-resistant aluminium die-cast chassis.
It also includes 225w bi-amped technology and an ultra-linear frequency response.
Other features include an active crossover network with fourth-order Linkwitz-Riley filters; separately controlled limiter for low- and high-frequency overload protection; an automatic standby mode (defeatable); servo-balanced inputs with XLR and ¼-inch TRS connectors; and magnetic shielding which allows the speakers to be placed adjacent to computer monitors.
The B3030A includes many of the same features, but is powered by 110w bi-amped technology. Additional features include a long-throw 6.75-inch woofer with deformation-resistant Kevlar cone and aluminum die-cast chassis.
Middle East distributors: Media International Trading (Egypt); Ertebat Sedaye Bartar Co (Iran); Loriana Audio Visual (Jordan); Triangle Sound & Image (Lebanon); The Specialists Establishment (KSA); Techniline Electronics (UAE).
Established in 1994, US company KRK Systems has rapidly established a reputation for manufacturing quality studio monitors.
The company's VXT series studio monitors, which made their debut at last year's Musikmesse tradeshow in Germany, includes next-generation proprietary woofers and tweeters, a newly designed curved face plate for excellent imaging, and a new cabinet design that KRK claims ensures low-resonance, improved structural integrity and extended low-end and slotted ports that greatly reduce port turbulence.
Quality inclusions include a tweeter dome made of silk, as opposed to cloth, which ensures fast transient response, excellent imaging and extended frequency response; and a redesigned woofer consisting of a stiffer, lighter cone that KRK claims provides very low distortion and extended low-end.
Other features of the VXT series include tamper resistant switch covers to protect against other users altering the primary settings, integrated Omni Mount support for easy wall or corner mounting, ground lift, defeatable limiter and auto mute controls, and high and low frequency adjust switches on the VXT6 and VXT8.
The model range also boasts a number of features first seen in KRK's flagship Exposé E8B studio monitor, including a wide sweet spot, excellent imaging and extended frequency response.
Unique features of the Exposé E8B include the addition of two discrete Class A/AB power amplifiers - one each for HF and LF - with symmetrical heat sinks built into the sides for cool, reliable operation.
KRK claims the inclusion of a beryllium and aluminum (AlBeMet) tweeter boosts high frequency performance, while a Kevlar/rohacell woofer ensures superior reproduction accuracy.
The company also markets the four-model Rockit powered monitor range, which features one-inch neodymium soft dome tweeters with Ferrofluid for increased thermal power handling and damping performance.
Middle East distributors: Rag Time (Lebanon); VV & Sons (UAE).
One of the biggest names in studio monitoring technology, Finland's Genelec manufactures a comprehensive range of products, including DSP, two-way, three-way and large-scale main monitors.
In December, the company expanded its range of active monitoring solutions with the launch of the SE (Small Environments) DSP monitoring system.
Designed primarily for small-scale installations, the SE DSP system combines the company's new SE7261A 10-inch DSP subwoofer with 8130A digital input active monitors, for easy configuration into sub-assisted stereo or multichannel reference systems.
Software control is relatively simple with the SE7261A DSP subwoofer providing all necessary network connections to the host computer and supplying extensive DSP resources through its high-pass AES digital outputs to the 8130A.
New GLM (Genelec loudspeaker manager) SE software provides the familiar graphic interface to speed users through system setup and AutoCal acoustic calibration.
The new SE7261A active DSP subwoofer includes eight-channel AES/EBU bass management; four notch filters applied to sub channels and an AutoPhase sub integration.
Higher up the price range are the 8200 and 7200 DSP Series monitors, both of which boast the company's proprietary DSP, GLM and AutoCal (automated calibration software) technologies. The 8200/7200 Series will accept sampling rates ranging from 32 kHz to 192 kHz.
Middle East distributor: Thomsun Trading (UAE).
Yamaha's new top-of-the-line MSP7 Studio powered monitor speaker carries on the tradition of the company's venerable NS10M Studio monitor speaker, which achieved iconic status as a near-field monitor during the 1980s.
The MSP7 boasts a 6.5-inch cone woofer driven by an 80-watt power amplifier, while its one-inch dome tweeter has its own 50-watt power amplifier. Yamaha claims this combination results in an ideal balance between the low-mid and high frequency ranges.
The frequency ranges are divided via an electronic crossover before the power amplifier inputs, featuring steep 30-dB/octave roll-off curves in both the low- and high-pass filters.
The company claims the steep roll-off minimises inter-modulation between the frequency bands at the crossover point, achieving significantly smoother, cleaner crossover performance in the critical midrange.
The unit's woofer features a specially treated polypropylene cone with low-damping rubber surrounds for smooth response. Low-reflection high-rigidity die-cast magnesium baskets both maximise mechanical precision while minimising unwanted colouration of the speaker's output.
The tweeter features titanium domes that offer the perfect combination of light weight and rigidity for precise reproduction up to 40 kHz.
The MSP7 features a balanced XLR-type connector for input. This enables the use of balanced lines for maximum audio quality even where long cable runs are required.
Rear-panel control includes a continuous input sensitivity controller and trim switches that enable users to adjust the bass and treble in four and three positions, respectively (+1.5 dB/0 dB/-1.5 dB/-3 dB at 50 Hz and +1.5 dB/0 dB/-1.5 dB at 10 kHz), so that the system's response can be quickly matched to the room.
There's also a low cut (FLAT, 80 Hz, 100 Hz) switch that is useful when the MSP7 is used in conjunction with Yamaha's SW10 Studio subwoofer.
Like the larger MSP7, Yamaha's MSP5 Studio is a two-way bi-amplified bass-reflex system that delivers impressive monitoring precision for digital or analogue production.
The MSP5 features a five-inch cone woofer driven by a 40-watt amplifier and a one-inch dome tweeter driven by a 27-watt amplifier. Other than woofer size, enclosure size, and amplifier power, the MSP5 utilises the same design technology as the MSP7.
Middle East distributor: Yamaha Gulf (Dubai based).
Released in 1996, Mackie's HR824 high resolution studio monitor remains one of the benchmark products available on the market and is favoured by producers including Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nelly Furtado) and Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park).
The HR824 boasts onboard FR (fast recovery) amplifiers which send 150w of power to the 8.75-inch German-engineered MF/LF driver (woofer) and 100 watts to the waveguide-loaded HF driver (tweeter).
The result is a smooth, accurate transition from lows to highs, with an ample 100dB SPL@1m output.
Frequency response is flat from 39Hz to 20kHz, with a 3dB down point at 37Hz.
This extended low frequency response is achieved, in part, by a mass-loaded six-inch x nine-inch honeycomb passive radiator that fires out the rear of the enclosure.
This passive radiator works in concert with the high-precision LF driver to deliver extended low-end response without resorting to a ported cabinet design.
Mackie also markets a compact version of the HR824 known as the HR624, which is designed specifically for desktop applications requiring a smaller-footprint.
Its high output, wide frequency response and compact physical size also make it ideally suited for rear surround channels in home theatre installations.
Frequency response is an impressive ±1.5 dB from 51Hz to 20kHz, while for applications requiring even more bass, the speaker can be linked to Mackie's HRS120 Active Subwoofer system.
The speaker boasts 100w and 40w FR series amplifiers, providing enough power to generate an SPL of 115dB@1m when coupled in pairs.
For recording studios mixing to 5.1- and 7.1-surround sound, Mackie offers the HR626 - a THX-approved, two-way active reference monitor that provides the same accuracy of Mackie's HR824.
When placed vertically, the HR626 boasts a similar frequency response to the HR824, but with a smaller footprint.
Also, due to its symmetrical left-right sound field, Mackie claims the HR626 is perfect as a centre channel monitor for surround sound mixing.
The speaker boasts 100- and 40-watt FR amps and a commendably flat frequency response from 42Hz to 20kHz, with a 3dB down point at 40Hz. Mackie claims the speaker is ideal for users who require a strong bottom-end and high-resolution midrange.
Middle East distributors: Venuetech (Bahrain/Qatar); Adawliah (Kuwait/KSA).