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The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

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The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:15 am

Earlier this year, I replied to what appeared to be a straightforward question about using the ARC System but very quickly realized that there was a lot more to studio monitoring systems that one might imagine, so I embarked on a vast project to solve what for me is "the studio monitoring system problem", and now that there are new sections in the IK Multimedia FORUM, I decided to start a new topic by cloning some of my posts, since most of the posts are very specific to devising an affordable studio monitoring system and solving "the studio monitoring system problem" . . .

As an overview, these are a few key bits of information that I have realized in an immediately conscious way over the past two years:

(1) Musicians and singers who are proficient in at least one instrument or some style of singing tend to have the vastly mistaken belief that arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering are so easy to do that doing it requires nothing other than a bit of natural intuition . . .

(2) Loudspeaker manufacturers stopped designing and building woofers that have a flat, equal loudness response from 20-Hz to at least 500-Hz, which maps to the fact that there are no studio monitoring systems that reproduce the full range of normal human hearing (20-Hz to 20,000-Hz), although in some instances it is possible to extend the low-frequency response at least below the lowest frequency of the low-pitch "E" string of an electric bass guitar or string bass, which for reference at standard "Concert A" (440-Hz) tuning is 41.204-Hz, where doing the required low-frequency range extending necessitates adding two deep bass subwoofers, since adding just one makes the deep bass monaural and ultimately causes problems when one is focused on mixing for stereo and headphone listening . . .

This denial of the low frequencies is so pervasive that even the high-end JBL studio monitoring system has to be augmented with two deep bass subwoofers, bringing the total street price somewhere in the range of $7,500 (US) when the calibrating controller and other options are included, which might be great if one can afford it but otherwise is a "break the bank" proposition . . .

However, even though traditional loudspeaker designers and manufacturers in the music industry abandoned low frequencies decades ago, the folks who design and build car audio systems have stepped-up to the plate and produced some quite amazing deep bass subwoofers, so there are sources for subwoofers at the dawn of the early-21st century . . .

(3) Having beliefs and opinions is great, but focusing on facts also is important, and there are a few basic rules of acoustic physics that are central to making sense of studio monitoring systems, which among other things includes understanding equal loudness curves and sound pressure levels, as well as having a good but simple set of measuring devices, including a real time analyzer and a sound pressure level meter . . .

(4) Even though there are no commercial off the shelf (COTS) studio monitoring systems that reproduce the full range of normal human hearing (20-Hz to 20,000-Hz), which mostly is a matter of relegating the low-frequency range to add-on subwoofer units that double or triple the cost of a studio monitoring system, the lower frequencies are present but just not at equal loudness, hence in the US by law cannot be included in stated specifications, a reality that became so absurdly surreal that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had to make a special rule to force loudspeaker and amplifier manufacturers to use a standard set of measuring units in describing the frequency response and other parameters of their products, which over the years most of the manufacturers have bypassed by making everything specific to 1,000-Hz . . .

(5) As a general rule, people who do sound reinforcement tend to know enough about acoustic physics, measuring devices, and so forth not to be misled by marketing blurbs that suggest something is good solely because a popular musician or singer uses it, which has the direct consequence that audio equipment for DJ and PA work nearly always is both (a) much better and (b) less expensive than audio equipment for musicians and singers, which is a very important bit of information when one wants to get a stellar studio monitoring system for mixing and mastering without having to "break the bank" . . .

(6) If you want a "big" sound, then you need to listen to music on a "big" studio monitoring system when mixing and mastering, and more specifically you need to listen to it at a sound pressure level (SPL) somewhere in the range of 80dB to 85dB--at least some of the time--since this is the SPL at which the "equal loudness curve" essentially is flat over the entire range of normal human hearing, where the major corollary is that "big" maps to 15" woofers for the low frequency notes . . .

(7) The best way to make sense of all this stuff is to focus on the basic principles of acoustic physics, since this is the only way to get past all the vastly deluded marketing blurbs written by creative writers for whom providing factual information is the antithesis of their primary mission in life . . .

(8) You can and should trust your ears and what you hear, but you also need to trust correctly calibrated measuring devices, meters, and all the other acoustic physics tools and devices that are used in doing science, where for example with a bit of experience you should be able to tell intuitively when a studio monitoring system is playing at a sound pressure level (SPL) in the range of 80dB to 85dB, but it is both helpful and necessary to verify your intuition with an SPL meter, because by verifying the sound pressure level with a properly calibrated SPL meter, it becomes a fact rather than an intuitive belief . . .

(9) While there is great merit to George Martin's rule that "all you need is ears", if what you hear when listening to music played through your studio monitoring system is inaccurate, then you are spinning wheels and accomplishing nothing of value in the grand scheme of everything . . .

(10) And on a curiously related note, these are two examples of being able to hear something very subtle, which I provide as an example of the fact that there is more to arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering than just being able to hear stuff with remarkable, if not extraordinary, precision . . .

[NOTE: These example are easiest to hear when you listen with studio quality headphones like the SONY MDR-7506 (a personal favorite), although yet another basic and indisputable rule of mixing and mastering is that it must be done when listening to a properly calibrated studio monitoring system, even when the intended audience only enjoys music when listening with headphones or ear buds . . . ]

(10.1) This example comes from "Hound Dog" (Elvis Presley), which is a song I have been studying for over half a century and maps to listening to it over and over tens of thousands of times, but it was only this year that I heard something mind-boggling in an immediately conscious way, which to be specific is an instance of an uvular trill . . .

Uvular Trill (wikipedia)

Uvular Trill (wikipedia) -- OGG audio clip

[NOTE: Elvis does a uvular trill on the "h" of "hound dog" at approximately 1:59 in this YouTube monaural recording of "Hound Dog", and it sounds a bit like a snare drum roll or something similar, but it is a uvular trill done on an "h" rather than on the more common "r". I probably heard this in one way or another years ago, but I did not know enough about singing (a) to notice it in an immediately conscious way and (b) to be able to identify it specifically in technical terminology, but so what . . . ]

"Hound Dog" (Elvis Presley) -- YouTube music video

(10.2) This is an example of what at present I think is a tape splice of the word "and" augmented with a bit of electric lead guitar string bending, although I continue to ponder it along with several other possible hypotheses, and the song is "Maybe" (The Shangra-Las), featuring 15 year-old Mary Weiss on lead vocals and Shadow Morton doing the producing . . .

[NOTE: Again, this is easier to hear when you listen with studio quality headphones like the SONY MDR-7506 (a personal favorite), and the stellar "and" is heard at 0:19, 0:58, and 2:06 in the YouTube music video. I think the first "and" is the original moment of serendipity and that the two subsequent "and" instances are tape splices. It could have been a matter of Mary Weiss needing a bit of help to hit the note for "and" and one of the guitar players helping her at the suggestion of Shadow Morton by doing a string bend, which just happened to be a bit of true musical magic. I have no idea how it happened, but it is is there, for sure . . . ]

"Maybe" (The Shangra-Las) -- YouTube music video

SUMMARY

The general perspective here in the sound isolation studio--which I think is based on facts--is that I have been able to compose songs (lyrics and music), play lead guitar, and sing proficiently for a long time, but when I mixed my songs they sounded terrible, so after finally extracting my head from my arse approximately two years ago and realizing that the often vastly delusional and absurdly high self-esteem of a lead guitar player was interfering with my ability to do arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering, I embarked on a diligent effort to make sense of arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering, which in many respects is the direct consequence of discovering and using T-RackS, which nearly instantly made it abundantly obvious to me that I did not know much of anything about doing arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering in the digital audio universe, which among other things soon led to discovering IK Multimedia virtual instruments and NOTION 3 (Notion Music), although somewhat indirectly as the consequence of needing a way to do a complex Bulería drumkit pattern and recalling that IK Multimedia had an orchestra thing (Miroslav Philharmonik), which in turn led to focusing on getting up to speed on music notation for most of the past 18 months, with this moving everything forward, except that while the mixing is getting better, it needs improvement, hence the current focus on solving the studio monitoring system problem, which was helped considerably by calibrating the bookshelf studio monitors I was using with the ARC System, except that even with ARC System calibration, the mixes continued to have problems, which as noted is the reason for the current focus, where my perspective at present is that the ARC System will work best when it has a full-range studio monitoring system to calibrate, which simply is not the case with the bookshelf studio monitors I was using, really . . .

[NOTE: This is the Bulería song, which is the first complete "basic rhythm section" and melody that I did with NOTION 3 and IK Multimedia virtual instruments, and in addition to what as best as I can determine is a standard Bulería rhythm pattern for the verses and chorus, the interlude features a 36-beat rhythm pattern that I call "Surrealería", during which for the YouTube music video I plan to juggle unshucked ears of corn and make erotically suggestive hip gestures while wearing ballet tights with an impressive codpiece, point-toed bunny slippers, and a Venetian mask as part of a stellar Flamenco and Mime reenactment of The Mayan Story of the Creation of the World, since I have an odd sense of humor and entirely too much free time . . . ] ]

Image

"Maríta de la Luna y Pablito el Petardo (No Es Tanto Lo Que Es Como Lo Que No Es)" (The Surf Whammys) -- MP3 (7.8MB, 279-kbps [VBR], approximately 3 minutes and 40 seconds)

Explained another way, if I can hear Elvis Presley doing uvular trills and Mary Weiss singing "and" with help from an enhanced electric guitar string bend and some brilliant tape splicing, then I should be able to do stellar arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering once I get everything working accurately and correctly here in the sound isolation studio, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :D

P. S. Even if this current project does not solve the arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering problem, it will provide yet another part of the solution and then something else will become obvious, which is the way it works here in the sound isolation studio, where the key is to make progress, for sure . . .

For sure! :ugeek:
Last edited by Surf Whammy on Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:18 am, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:21 am

These are a few bits of useful information relative to studio monitoring systems:

(1) T-RackS 3 Deluxe: It is very important to use T-RackS 3 Deluxe for mixing and mastering, but more specifically to use one of the mastering suites on the Master stereo output track of your DAW, noting that the ARC System VST plug-in must be the last item in the chain, and it must be disabled before you do a "bounce to disk" . . .

The reason I included this as a possibility is that you did not mention it specifically, and if you are not using T-RackS 3 Deluxe, it is quite possible that several things are happening which can be vastly troublesome, and from your description of the problem it appears that you need to use the Brickwall Limiter on the kick drum to keep it under control but nevertheless "pumped" . . .

The Opto Compressor is another great processor for doing a bit of controlled "pumping", but it does it differently from the Brickwall limiter, and I much prefer the absolute control provided by the Brickwall Limiter for kick drum, snare drum, and other primarily percussive instruments that alternate from silence to maximum volume rapidly . . .

(2) Loudspeaker Frequency Response: It is possible that your current loudspeaker monitors do not have the ability to reproduce low frequencies adequately. Loudspeakers and headphones typically have a specified frequency range, which is useful, but it also depends on the amplifier, which for powered-loudspeakers can be a factor, as well . . .

For example, if there is a lot of activity in the 20-Hz to 35-Hz low frequency range but your loudspeaker monitors only go as low as 40-Hz, you will not hear it . . .

If you have T-RackS 3 Deluxe, you should be able to see this happening in the Spectrum Analyzer, although you might need to change the setting for faster updating . . .

(3) Listening Level for Mixing and Mastering: It is very important to do loudspeaker mixing at a sound pressure level (SPL) in the range of 80 to 85 dB, since the perception of all frequencies is most equal at this sound pressure level without being so loud that it is harmful . . .

This generally is explained by the "equal loudness curve", which first was defined by Harvey Fletcher and Wilden A. Munson based on doing a series of tests with a group of typical listeners using headphones in the early-1930s . . .

Since then, the "Fletcher-Munson Curve" has been revised and updated and now is an ISO standard . . .

Image

Equal Loudness Contours

Interestingly, Harvey Fletcher invented the audio meter and hearing aid, and did pioneering research in stereo sound, as well as being the Director of Bell Laboratories and a lot of other amazing things . . .

Harvey Fletcher (wikipedia)

In other words, if your loudspeaker monitors are fully capable of reproducing low-frequency tones but you are listening at a lower level, then you will tend to increase the volume level of the lower frequency instruments to compensate for lower frequencies typically being harder to hear a low listening levels . . .

In fact, this is the reason for the "Loudness" button on some home stereo amplifiers and radios, which basically is a combination of a bass boost and high-frequency boost so that it is easier to hear low notes and high notes at low listening volume . . .

For the folks who might not have had a lot of mathematics courses, decibels (dB) are logarithmic, which basically is the consequence of the general fact that for a sound to be perceived as twice as loud, the volume needs to increase 10 times, and using logarithms is a simple way to keep the various curves on diagrams from being too tall or whatever . . .

So, if you select a specific curve, where in this context "curve" will be a somewhat horizontal line, and examine it from left to right in the "equal loudness curve" diagram (see above), then as you go from left to right the pitch or frequency goes from low to high, and what the curve shows is that for low frequencies the volume level needs to be perhaps as much as 7 to 9 times higher than the volume levels for midrange frequencies, with something similar but not quite so extreme happening for higher frequency notes . . .

However, at the sound pressure range of 80 to 85 dB, the overall curve tends to be flatter or more horizontal . . .

[NOTE: Actually, "curve" is just a fancy name for what most folks intuitively call a "line", where a perfectly horizontal line is just a "flat curve" or whatever. Normal people do not call a straight line a "curve", but mathematicians are not so normal, and they prefer to call everything "curves", although this is a bit of a generality . . . ]

Another useful bit of information is that normal human hearing favors the midrange, with the result that midrange sounds are very easy to hear, which has the odd consequence of making them a bit troublesome, since they can easily dominate a mix . . .

It also is important to remember that most of what happens in a typical popular song occurs below 500-Hz, where for reference the 5th fret on the high-pitch "e" string of an electric guitar at standard tuning is 440-Hz or "Concert A", and the importance of this is that all the higher frequency stuff mostly is focused on introducing and providing clarity, crispness, and ambiance . . .

For example, you might think that Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney were sopranos, but they were and are baritones or tenors . . .

The curious aspect of Paul McCartney's voice is that he can sing soprano notes without needing to switch to falsetto (or at least does it in such a way that it is not perceived as being falsetto). In contrast, it is easy to hear when Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) switches to falsetto . . .

So, the key bit of information is that most of the action for male singers happens below 500-Hz, which technically is the standard frequency in loudspeaker crossover systems that separates "bass" from "treble", such that in a loudspeaker system with a woofer and a tweeter, everything 500-Hz or lower is reproduced by the woofer (the big, typically paper cone loudspeaker), but everything higher than 500-Hz is reproduced by the tweeter, which leads to the somewhat surreal analogy, metaphor, or simile that the important stuff is like email and the less important stuff is like Twitter, except that the mirror image of the analogy, metaphor, or simile is that you want the important stuff to be perceived as if it were an highly focused Tweet . . .

Yet another aspect of all this stuff is focused on what I think is a grand delusion that occurs among composers, musicians, and singers who are proficient in their abilities, and the grand delusion is that composers, musicians, and singers tend to think that arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering should be intuitive and easy to do without any actual knowledge or skills, which certainly was the case here in the sound isolation studio until approximately two years ago when I had what I like to call "THE EPIPHANY", at which time I realized that there probably was a lot more to arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering that I was aware at the time . . .

I am making progress, but even though I completed plenty of college level Mathematics and Physics courses and know about professional studio quality loudspeaker monitors, I have avoided actually getting a set of professional studio quality loudspeaker monitors, but so what . . .

So what!

The reality is that I am convinced that I should be able to create hit songs here in the sound isolation studio, but doing it requires working through a vast list of things that essentially are basic requirements, which is what I am doing, and I am making excellent progress . . .

The particular sequence for working through the list of problems and correcting them might not make a lot of sense to some folks, but it makes sense to me, and it maps to progress . . .

I devoted most of the past 15 months to becoming reasonably proficient in music notation and IK Multimedia virtual instruments in NOTION 3 (Notion Music), as well as mixing and mastering with T-RackS 3 Deluxe, which more recently included using the ARC System to calibrate the loudspeaker monitors here in the sound isolation studio, which is great, but so what . . .

So what!

Yet another reality is that currently I am using a pair of Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Loudspeakers, and they sound reasonably good . . .

Image
Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Loudspeaker

However, in the grand scheme of everything I tend to think that they basically are a piece of junk, and while I never would consider playing a lead guitar solo on a piece of junk electric guitar, my somewhat deluded thinking tends to suggest that mixing and mastering while listening to piece of junk loudspeakers is spanky, so I am working through this delusion toward the practical goal of getting a good set of loudspeaker monitors, which mostly is a matter of dealing with the fact that they are expensive . . .

Explained another way using a favorite example, I have been studying the European Single for "Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus) for quite a few months, and at this point I am reasonably convinced that I hear everything that is happening in the song, which for reference is a lot of stuff and might involve as many as 100 instrument tracks and at least as many vocal tracks, and (a) I know how to do all of it and (b) I am making a bit of progress on mapping it to specific techniques, signal processor VST plug-ins, music notation, IK Multimedia virtual instruments, and so forth, but there continue to be aspects that are troublesome . . .

"Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus) -- European Single -- YouTube music video

For a while, I had a bit of self-doubt which mostly was a matter of thinking that perhaps the folks who produce hit records for Miley Cyrus are smarter and more skilled than me, but after pondering this patently goofy thought for a while, I decided that it was nonsense, and if anything I am both smarter and vastly more skilled than all of them . . .

Hence, my most current realization is that "their" primary advantage is having really good professional studio-quality loudspeaker monitors, although having really good microphones probably helps . . .

In other words, it is not a matter of "their" being rocket scientists while in great contrast I recently fell off a turnip truck . . .

Basically, I have an Apple supercomputer and a virtual festival of high-quality digital audio production software; I play several instruments proficiently; I have more than enough college level Mathematics and Physics training literally to be a rocket scientist (which I actually was for a while); and so forth and so on . . .

But all that stuff does not get it if I cannot hear everything accurately, which maps to the current focus on getting a good set of loudspeaker monitors . . .

Without professional studio-quality loudspeaker monitors, it is like trying to mix and master songs while wearing a motorcycle helmet . . .

I know exactly what to get, but the problem is that it costs somewhere in the range of $3,000 to $5,000, which is a lot of money here in the sound isolation studio and is the primary reason that I have postponed it for as long as possible, but the reality at present is that this is one of just a few unresolved problems remaining on the list, so it needs to happen . . .

I might be able to devise a practical workaround, but until I get a SPL meter and determine accurately how an SPL of 80 to 85 dB sounds, all I can do is guess, really . . .

Really!

P. S. This the "inspired by" song that I am developing for my pretend musical group (The Surf Whammys) is based on being a tiny bit annoyed by "Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus), which mostly is a matter of the lyrical lines (a) "Is it love, or is it art?", which makes absolutely no sense even though it is a great line, and (b) "Are you feeling me?", for sure . . .

Image

[NOTE: I need to do the real lead guitar solos and a few other things, but so what. And for reference the original title of the song was "I'm Feeling You Feeling Me Feeling You", which is considerably more silly but a bit too long to be practical in a world where few people can focus for long enough to comprehend a Tweet . . . ]

"Feel Me" (The Surf Whammys) -- July 28, 2011 -- MP3 (8MB, 300-kbps [VBR], approximately 3 minutes and 38 seconds)

For sure! :)
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:24 am

OVERVIEW

If you cut all the frequencies below 45-Hz, then you will be missing a lot of very important information, where for example you will not be able to hear the open low-pitch "E" string of an electric bass guitar, string bass, or contrabass . . .

[NOTE: The names "electric bass", "contrabass", "double bass", and "string bass" all refer to the same range, but the latter three are acoustic orchestral instruments. There is an even lower acoustic bass that extends to the B below the low-pitch "E" string, and this is done in DISCO and Pop music primarily with keyboard bass synthesizers, but it can be done with some of the IK Multimedia basses in Miroslav Philharmonik, as well . . . ]

The Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Loudspeakers I am using at present have a frequency response of 40-Hz to 25,000-Hz, which is one of the reasons that I need to get better loudspeaker monitors, although 40-Hz is better than 45-Hz, as I will explain . . .

In contrast, the SONY MDR-7506 headphones that I use have a frequency response of 10-Hz to 20,000-Hz, which is one of the reasons I like them, since I can hear all the bass, except that mixing and mastering with headphones does not work, but so what . . .

So what!

As a mnemonic, it is easiest to remember that "Concert A" is 440-Hz, which for guitar makes the low-pitch "A" string 110-Hz and for electric bass guitar makes its low-pitch "A" string 55-Hz, so cutting everything below 45-Hz removes some of the more stellar bass notes that Paul McCartney played on early Beatles songs like "Tell Me Why", where the "walking bass" starts at the 3rd fret of the low-pitch "A" string of McCartney's Hofner "Beatle" bass and does a major scale "walk down" to the open low-pitch "E" string, which for reference at standard tuning is approximately 41.204-Hz . . .

"Tell Me Why" (Beatles) -- YouTube music video

One of the most important things to understand is the fact that a skilled bass player can make virtually anything sound good but most importantly can make a excellent singer sound great, where one of the more stellar examples is "Heartbreak Hotel" (Elvis Presley), which was the hit song that launched his career . . .

[NOTE: This song also open low-pitch "E" string bass notes, but it is a string bass rather than an electric bass guitar. String bass and electric bass guitar are tuned the same way, so it mostly is a matter of amplification and so forth, and at the time electric bass guitar was a new instrument, so most of the bass players continued to play string bass, although this changed very quickly . . . ]

"Heartbreak Hotel" (Elvis Presley) -- YouTube music video

From a practical perspective, the bass is playing counterpoint to the melody the vocalist is singing, but it varies, and sometimes a bass player will switch from playing a contrasting part to doing something that emphasizes the vocal melody, which basically is more of an art than a science and is one of the reasons that the low pitch notes are so important, where one way to understand the general concept is that the bass line is like a marshmallow and the vocal melody is like a candy cane . . .

And something similar happens with the kick drum, which is stellar when the bass player and drummer develop a synergistic system . . .

DETAILS

One of the more interesting bits of information that I discovered in the GuitarZone.com FORUM during a discussion about TONE was provided by a fellow who at the time was getting his undergraduate degree in Music, and even though I probably knew all the ranges if I thought about it for a while, I had not realized in any immediately conscious way the vast importance of the notes from the low-pitch "E" string of an electric bass guitar or contrabass through the "High C", which actually is above "Concert A" (440-Hz) and is at the 8th fret of the high-pitch "e" string of an electric guitar at standard tuning, where for reference "Middle C" is the note at the 1st fret of the high-pitch "b" string of an electric guitar at standard tuning, although guitar is one of the instruments that typically has a relative clef or staff, where what actually is "Low C" is represented on the treble clef by what for piano is "Middle C", which has the curious consequence of leading electric guitar players to believe quite incorrectly that "Low C" is "Middle C" . . .

This bit of vastly important information was a chart that showed the ranges of various instruments and voices mapped to the keys of a grand piano and additionally showing the frequencies of the notes, where it becomes quite obvious that most of what happens in popular hit songs occurs below 500-Hz or 500 cycles per second, if you prefer . . .

Image

[SOURCE: The Frequencies of Music (PSB Speakers) ]

There is a similar chart at wikipedia that shows the standard scientific (US) octaves, which is the easiest way to be precise with respect to note on a grand piano (88 keys), where for example "Middle C" is C4 and "High C" is C5, while "Low C" is C3 . . .

Musical Ranges (wikipedia)

Scientific Pitch Notation (wikipedia)

This is an excellent chart, and it is available as a larger size poster from the Independent Recording website , as well . . .

Image

[SOURCE: Frequency Chart (Independent Recording) ]

T-RackS 3 Deluxe

There are quite a few reasons that T-RackS 3 Deluxe is vastly important, and one of the reasons it is Metering Suite, which is a set of meters that let you see visually what is happening with a mix, which is vastly important because the perception of loudness is a bit strange, since for something to be perceived as being twice as loud its volume level needs to increase by 10 times, which is the reason that decibels (dB) are logarithmic rather than linear . . .

Image
Metering Suite ~ T-RackS 3 Deluxe

A lot of times, if you move a volume slider up or down a tiny bit, it is virtually impossible to determine if it makes any difference, but when you have the various meters, you can see how it affects everything, and in some instances you will discover that you can increase or lower the volume of an instrument and cause significant changes in the way other instruments sound, which in particular happens with bass and midrange when you are mixing at lower listening levels . . .

My current strategy is to focus on a specific instrument by temporarily increasing its volume until I hear it clearly, at which time I gradually lower its volume until I do not hear it, at which time I increase its volume in tiny increments until I hear it again, where my current logic is that just enough volume to be heard is good, since with a lot of instruments it is important to leave enough room for all the instruments to be heard . . .

Yet another vastly important use of the various T-RackS 3 Deluxe processors is for constraining and compartmentalizing specific instruments, which is an excellent way to get clarity, where the general idea is to create unique spaces, cubicles, partitions, or locations for each instrument that to the extent it is practical do not interfere or interact excessively with the other instruments, and this also is very useful when doing what I call "sparkling" an instrument, which is a technique for putting the notes of an instrument into motion within what I call the "Spherical Sonic Landscape", which is best heard when listening with headphones and maps to notes moving to different locations within the "rainbow panning arc" and other geometric shapes, where the simple version of the "rainbow panning arc" is an arc that goes from far-left to top-center to far-right or on a clock goes from 9:00 to 12:00 to 3:00, respectively . . .

This is an example of "sparkling" the Psaltery Harp virtual instrument in the Xpansion Tank 2 "World Instruments Collection", and the notes at first move back-and-forth along the "rainbow panning arc" but later in the song move in different patterns, where you will note the importance of the deep keyboard bass synthesizer notes . . .

"Sparkles" (The Surf Whammys) -- MP3 (4.2MB, 298-kbps [VBR], approximately 1 minute and 55 seconds)

For reference, there is a "rainbow panning arc" equal loudness curve in the same way that there is an equal loudness curve for frequencies, but it is an inverted bell shape, where the notes at top-center (12:00) are heard most easily, but notes at far-left and far-right need to be louder, while the most troublesome locations are between the outer edges and top-center, where the rules are more geometric than logarithmic, which is particularly strange and makes placing a note at 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, or 11:30 or 11:00 very difficult on the left side, as is the case on the right side for 12:30, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, and 2:30, where for all practical purposes eight locations ranging from far-left to top-center to far-right is the maximum that can be done easily without using a lot of highly-specialized reverberation, echoes, and phasing . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

P. S. If you got the ARC System as a qualifying purchase for the 15 Year Anniversary Group Buy, you can get the T-RackS 3 Deluxe Crossgrade as the second "free" product when the 15 Year Anniversary Group Buy goes to 3x1 . . .

P. P. S. The best way to understand Elvis Presley and the Beatles is to listen to the vinyl records on a system with vacuum-tube amplifiers and 15" woofers, where a Wurlitzer jukebox is one way to do this, since some very fascinating things happened in this particular analog high-fidelity sound reproduction environment, especially with bass and drums, but also with singing, where this is a reaonsably accurate representation of the way an early Beatles song should sound with respect to TONE if you listen to it with studio-quality headphones like the SONY MDR-7506 (a personal favorite) . . .

[NOTE: This is a stellar example of bass guitar and kick drum synergy, and part of what happens generally is called "vacuum tube blur", which makes the bass guitar and kick drum sound a bit like happy marshmallows . . . ]

"I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" (Beatles) -- YouTube 45 RPM record

However, perhaps the best example of the importance of bass, drum, and vocal synergy is "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson), for sure . . .

"Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson) -- YouTube music video

For sure! :)
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:25 am

I did a bit more research, and it appears that studio monitors have changed a bit over the past few decades, where among other things there appears to be a tendency for the lowest frequency in the range to be higher, where the low end of the range typically is 40-Hz to 55-Hz, which from my perspective is a bit strange, really . . .

Really!

I checked the JBL Professional website and got a lot of information on their studio and broadcast monitoring systems, and JBL does the same thing as KRK, so I think this is the industry standard at the dawn of the early-21st century, at least for packaged systems . . .

And after a bit of research at the KRK website, as well as some information I found at the JBL Professional website, I think that part of the solution is to get a subwoofer, which for the KRK Rokit 8 studio monitors will be the KRK 10s subwoofer, which looks to have a discounted price of $399.99 (US) at several web music stores . . .

KRK 10s Subwoofer (KRK)

Most of the Beatles albums were mixed with Altec 605A duplex loudspeakers in Altec 612 cabinets, and the frequency response for these studio monitors was 20-Hz to 22,000-Hz . . .

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[SOURCE: Recording the Beatles (Curvebender Publishing) ]

Image
Altec 605A 15" Duplex Loudspeaker

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Altec 612C Cabinet with 605A 15" Duplex Loudspeaker with Decorative Front Grill Cloth

For reference the Altec 605A 15" Duplex Loudspeaker was a more compact version of the 15" woofer and midrange and high-frequency horn in the Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" system, where the idea was to put the metal midrange and high-frequency horn in the center of the 15" woofer, which works nicely for smaller rooms . . .

In contrast, a large movie theater might have two Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" units in back of the movie screen, which would be plenty for an audience of 500 to 1,000 people . . .

[NOTE: The Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" had a range of 35-Hz to 22,000-Hz, and I have heard these in use, and they are stellar for deep bass, but the Altec 605A Duplex Loudspeakers had a range of 20-Hz to 22,000-Hz, and they were the loudspeakers used in studio monitors. For reference the dimensions of the Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" bass reflex projector cabinet are 30" wide' by 24" deep by 54" high. The midrange and high-frequency metal horn can be mounted inside the port of the bass reflex projector cabinet, which makes it a bit more compact . . . ]

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Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater"

So, it appears that the strategy at the dawn of the early-21st century in the reasonably affordable studio monitor arena is to augment the bookshelf size studio monitors with a single subwoofer to get extend the range into the 20-Hz to 55-Hz deep bass region, which makes sense to me . . .

This article at Musician's Friend provides a bit more detail on the KRK 10s Subwoofer used with KRY Rokit 8 Studio Monitors, which looks to be a very nice combination . . .

KRK Rokit 8 Studio Monitors and 10s Subwoofer (Musician's Friend)

Using the ARC System will get the studio monitors and subwoofer calibrated, and this should map to a very nice monitoring system . . .

At present, I am pondering the KRK Rokit 8 Studio Monitor and 10s Subwoofer system, as well as the JBL LSR 2300 studio monitoring system, but I also am getting information on active PA loudspeaker systems, since in some instances they cost less and can be adapted easily for use as studio monitors . . .

The basic problem I have with the new types of studio monitors is that they have a lot of stuff, and I am not convinced that a loudspeaker system needs a lot of stuff . . .

In other words, I tend to think that it makes more sense to pay more for a good loudspeaker than to pay for a bunch of fancy stuff and a not so good loudspeaker . . .

And it might be the case that what I need to do is get two 15" duplex loudspeakers and a Crown stereo power amplifier, since I can build loudspeaker cabinets here in the music workshop and TOP SECRET research laboratory, which is located next to the sound isolation studio . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

P. S. This is what really bothers me about most of the studio monitoring systems I am finding, which specifically is the pitch of the lowest note on an electric bass at standard tuning which is 41.204-Hz:

Image

[SOURCE: Bass Guitar Tuning (wikipedia)

If the studio monitors cannot reproduce the low-pitch "E" string on an electric bass at standard tuning, then how can anyone mix correctly for a musical group that has a bass guitar player who plays the low-pitch "E" string open every once in a while?

It is patently illogical, and from my perspective "bass" is everything down to 20-Hz, while "sub-bass" is the stuff below 20-Hz, typically down to perhaps 10-Hz, which is one cycle every 100 milliseconds and for reference maps to the slower speed range of Heavy Metal double-kick drumming, where a really skilled double-kick drummer can play 20 notes per second, if not considerably more, really . . .

Really! :ugeek:

P. P. S. I also am not so comfortable with the idea having only one subwoofer, since this requires combining stereo channels, which is yet another arbitrary bit of "stuff", so if there is a way to get two subwoofers, then I will have a higher level of comfort, but overall this is a clue that I need to get more information on what is available in the professional quality 15" duplex loudspeaker market . . .
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:26 am

I did even more research and found some intriguing 3-way studio monitors that are not very expensive ($259.99 [US] for the pair, with free UPS Ground Shipping):

[NOTE: Sensitivity is 94dB with 25-30,000 Hz Frequency Response. And the woofer is a 15" diameter loudspeaker. Height 30.25" x width 18.5" x depth 12.75" per speaker cabinet. The free UPS Ground Shipping is only for the 48 continental states, but so what. And I called the company and verified that the $259.99 (US) price is for the pair (2), which maps to approximately $130 (US) per 3-way loudspeaker cabinet . . . ]

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Podium Pro Audio 15" DJ Loudspeakers (Pair) ~ OnlyFactoryDirect

Podium Pro Audio 15" DJ Loudspeakers PPB15 (OnlyFactoryDirect)

Crown makes a nice power amplifier that Musician's Friend sells for $299.99 (US), and it is has a "Stereo Bypass Mode", which bypasses the built-in crossover system and maps to the two channels functioning as full-range Left and Right stereo channels rather than having one monaural channel for low frequencies and another monaural channel being high frequencies, where the separation is done based on the type of crossover specified . . .

[NOTE: With the crossover, this amplifier can be used to split a full-range stereo channel into two separate outputs, where one goes to the regular studio monitor for the channel but the other goes to a subwoofer for the same channel, in which case a stereo studio monitoring system requires two of these amplifiers. This has the advantage of having each stereo channel output to regular studio monitor and a subwoofer, which avoids the problem of using a single subwoofer and having to combine the low-frequency output of both channels into a single signal (monaural), which can mask or hide phasing issues and other stuff . . . ]

Image
Crown XLS1000 DriveCore Power Amplifier

Doing the arithmetic, this maps approximately to $560 (US), which is only $60 (US) more than one (1) KRK Rokit Powered 10-3 Studio Monitor (which is the KRK studio monitor that I like, because it has a frequency response of 35 Hz - 25 kHz +/- 2dB), which essentially makes it half the price of a pair (2) of KRK Rokit Powered 10-3 Studio Monitors . . .

OBSERVATION

It appears that over the past few decades, the level of sneaky weaseling in audio amplifiers and loudspeaker systems has reached new levels of absurdity, which one might suppose in part is the consequence of few people taking the time to study Mathematics and Physics, so it generally is a good idea to "wear boots", which is a Texas colloquialism for what one should do when walking through a cow pasture . . .

In 1974, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a regulation that requires the output rating for amplifiers to be specified in Root Mean Square (RMS) watts, because the audio industry was using such absurd specifications that it was virtually impossible for consumers to have any idea what the amplifiers and loudspeakers actually were doing, but it appears that the sneaky weasels have decided to ignore the FTC regulation at the dawn of the early-21st century . . .

As an example, the Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" system shown in my previous post has a vastly conservative rating of 35 watts RMS, yet two of them are more than sufficient for the sound system of a movie theater with an audience capacity of 500 to 1,000 people . . .

The reason is that 35 watts RMS of audio run through a bass reflex projector cabinet with a huge metal midrange and high-frequency projector horn on top generates an incredible amount of sound . . .

The apparent problem is that "35 watts RMS" does not appear to be a lot of power in the minds of most people, while "550 watts" is like "totally awesome or something", even though "550 watts" with no specified explanation of how or what it represents basically is like what folks in Texas call a "cow pie" . . .

Yet another useful bit of information is that amplifiers with reasonably good RMS power ratings literally are heavy, since the transformers need to be big, which maps to a lot of iron and significant weight, so considering that the Crown XLS-1000 power amplifier weighs approximately 8.6 pounds, it might be outputting perhaps 10 watts RMS, which is fine with me . . .

[NOTE: Among other things, I had a pair of Crown 250 watt RMS power amplifiers in the early-1980s, and each one weighed approximately 50 to 75 pounds, and it required two people to carry the rack-mount Anvil case when it was not possible to roll the case . . . ]

And the Podium Pro Audio 15" DJ Loudspeakers actually are rated at 350 watts RMS (each), which is encouraging, except that it indicates these loudspeakers are a bit inefficient, although for studio monitor use this is not really a problem, especially here in the sound isolation studio, which is 7' wide by 12' deep by 7' high, which basically is the size of a nice walk-in clothes closet . . .

[NOTE: The Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" system is approximately 30 percent efficient, which is at the upper level of what currently is possible in terms of loudspeaker efficiency, so it is not a problem for the Podium Pro Audio 15" DJ Loudspeakers to be more in the range of 5 to 10 percent efficient in this context, because for use as studio monitors in a small mixing room, you do not need the loudspeaker to be able to project the sound several hundred feet, and yet another reality is that as the efficiency of a loudspeaker system increases, the cost also increases but at geometric rate, which in simple terms maps to the reality that if the Podium Pro Audio 15" DJ Loudspeakers were 30 percent efficient, then they probably would cost at least 10 times as much, where for reference the Legacy A7 was priced at $4,000 (US) per unit or $8,000 (US) a pair, plus $300 (US) per unit for shipping in 2003, but rather than being rated at 30 watts RMS, they were rated at 100 watts RMS, which tends to suggest that they were a bit less than 30 percent efficient, since the original A7 "Voice of the Theater" was rated at 30 watts RMS, but so what . . . ]

Another useful bit of information is that loudspeakers actually reproduce lower frequencies than are specified in the stated frequency response range, which also is the case with the Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater", since while it is rated at 35-Hz to 20,000-Hz, the bass woofer is rated at 20-Hz to 1,000-Hz, so the lower bass frequencies are there but not at the sound pressure level (SPL) used for the frequency response specification, which is an elaborate way of explaining that the 20-Hz to 35-Hz bass is there but just not so loud as the 35-Hz to 20,000-Hz frequencies . . .

One way to understand this is to press and release the head of a kick drum one time very rapidly every second, which maps to a tone of 1-Hz and is inaudible. If you do this 20 times per second, or 1 time every 50 milliseconds, then it maps to a tone of 20-Hz, which is within the audible range for some listeners, and it is possible send a 20-Hz alternating current pulse to a bass woofer, even if the bass woofer is not specifically rated to reproduce 20-Hz tones at a specific SPL or whatever, where the key bit of information is to be very careful, since it can be an excellent way to set a loudspeaker on fire, literally, which I know for a fact since I did it one time (a vastly stupid but truly memorable moment) . . .

And yet another reality from the Amazing World of Physics is that bass maps to "big" and "heavy", which has the direct consequence of mapping to big and heavy woofers, as well as large volume cabinets . . .

[NOTE: Headphones certainly are able to produce "big" bass, but everything is relative, since while the loudspeakers are "tiny", they are adjacent to the ears, which fully satisfies the requirements and rules, since it is all relative in one way or another . . . ]

So, while I have a bit more research to do, I am quite intrigued by the combination of (a) the Podium Pro Audio 15" DJ Loudspeakers (Pair) and (b) the Crown XLS1000 DriveCore Power Amplifier, since I already have verified that the ARC System will be able to calibrate it reasonably well, and if necessary I can get a external stereo equalizer, pink noise generator, and SPL meter, and then use the ARC System microphone to set the frequency response the "old way", since it already works nicely with the Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Speaker System that I currently am using (which for a desktop studio monitor system is pretty good, really) . . .

And while I am wandering into tangents, the reason that the you can hear and feel the audio output of the high-power subwoofers of a vastly enhanced and customized car audio system when someone is playing typically Hip Hop songs at least two city blocks before the car drives by the house is that the length of one cycle of a 20-Hz pure sine wave, which is called the "wavelength", is approximately 53.84 feet, which basically maps to each cycle of a 20-Hz bass note traveling approximately 1,000 feet in 1 second at the speed of sound, and the reason lower frequency bass notes are heard at a distance when vastly amplified is that the wavelengths are so long that they literally travel through pretty much everything (shrubbery, trees, walls, houses, and so forth), although when they are below 20-Hz they are felt rather than heard, which is one of the reasons that a listening room is greatly enhanced by having a fully-floated floor, as is the case here in the sound isolation studio, where the floor is fully-floated by virtue of sitting atop 5/8" compressed ground tire rubber mats on top of several layers of 30 lbs. tar paper, which is the most inexpensive way to float a floor, where the key is that the floor sits atop the rubber and tar paper mats rather than being nailed or screwed to the underlying subfloor. In great contrast, the wavelengths of high-frequencies are so short that the leaves of dense shrubbery will absorb and dissipate them easily, so high-frequencies do not travel so far, which is the reason that emergency response vehicles have the vastly deep "fog horn" thing, which literally vibrates the other vehicles at busy intersections when folks are listening to music at high volume or with earbuds . . .

And from this perspective, highly-customized car audio systems with massively amplified subwoofers are in the same general category as tattoos and multiple body piercings, where it is both (a) a personal artistic expression and (b) an early warning system for "normal" people like me, so that we can run away and hide . . .

Lots of FUN! :ugeek:

P. S. I like the idea of doing the $560 experiment, since intuition strongly suggests it will work, but if not, I have two Fender Custom Shop 300-watt RMS Rumble Bass rigs, but the amplifiers weigh 70 pounds each and consume a lot of electrical energy, to the point that each one has several high-volume cooling fans to dissipate the heat generated by the 15 vacuum tubes (six 6550WA’s, four 12AX7’s, three 12AT7’s and two 12BH7’s), which makes the Crown XLS1000 DriveCore Power Amplifier attractive, so the only variable aspect is the loudspeaker units, where if they work like I expect will be great, but otherwise I can use some of the high-quality loudspeakers I already have in a custom-designed cabinet, or I suppose that I can use the cabinets of the Podium Pro Audio 15" DJ Loudspeakers units, which is easier than designing and building new cabinets, where the overall strategy is to do the research and then to decide which option makes the most sense, because in the grand scheme of everything, the nearer I get to being able to hear everything as accurately as George Martin heard it when he was producing the Beatles, the better my stuff will sound, really . . .

Image

[NOTE: This was done several years ago before I realized that I needed to focus on arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering until it made sense (which is starting to happen), and it is a headphone mix done with real instruments, some of which buzzed and distorted a bit, but I was young and had no sense, hence so what . . . ]

"Big Red" (The Surf Whammys) -- MP3

Really! :D
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:26 am

I did a bit more researching and pondering, as well as remembering a few things that I did when I was doing sound reinforcement for a Heavy Metal band, which was interesting for a while . . .

(1) The frequency range and frequency response of a loudspeaker unit tends to be based on an equal loudness curve at a specified sensitivity, sound pressure level (SPL), or output level, which has the curiously confusing consequence of obfuscating the fact that the loudspeaker unit components probably are able to reproduce frequencies below and above the stated specifications . . .

In other words, if the specified frequency range is 45-Hz to 20,000-Hz for the loudspeaker unit, this does not arbitrary exclude the possibility that the loudspeaker unit can reproduce lower frequencies in the 20-Hz to 44-Hz range. Instead, it simply suggests that the volume level for these lower frequencies will be lower, which is the reason that are not included in the specified frequency range . . .

(2) For the most part a 15" woofer should be able to reproduce low frequencies in the range of 20-Hz to 500-Hz, although the relative loudness levels can vary significantly, where the general rule is that being able to reproduce deep bass at the same loudness level as higher-bass and low-midrange tends to map to significantly greater manufacturing costs, which is the most probable reason that nearly every loudspeaker manufacturer stopped doing it, although this also is the consequence of vast sneaky weaseling, since essentially (a) by pretending that nothing musical occurs below 45-Hz to 100-Hz and (b) by not designing and building loudspeaker units that support it, this reduces manufacturing costs and at least conceptually increases profits, but it comes at the expense of having to trick people who never take the time to understand what they actually are doing, which is vastly annoying, since it is a sneaky weasel trick, and the fact that both Electro-Voice and JBL are doing this is virtually mind-boggling . . .

[NOTE: Electro-Voice and JBL continue to make subwoofers, but they sell them separately and generally focus them on specific uses like motion picture theater sound systems, which basically requires an acoustic engineer who knows about all this stuff having the intuitive sense to specify it and to verify that it happens. In other words, if you do not know to ask, then it probably will not happen . . . ]

As noted in my earlier posts, the facts of the matter are (a) that the low-pitch "E" string of an electric bass guitar is 40.204-Hz, (b) that electric bass guitar players play notes on the low-pitch "E" string, which includes playing the low-pitch 'E" string "open" and (c) that if you expect to be able to hear these deep bass notes, then the studio monitors need to be able to reproduce them accurately . . .

As an example, this is an excellent rendition of Paul McCartney's stellar electric bass guitar for "Tell Me Why" (Beatles), and it is not difficult to see that a lot of the notes are on the lowest pitch strings, which is the reason that hearing deep bass accurately when mixing and mastering is vastly important . .

[NOTE: The way this fellow is playing the bass part looks and sounds perfect to me, including all the fingering and picking nuances and so forth, and while he is playing the bass part, you hear the song, so it is the song with the bass part a tiny bit louder, which makes it a stellar example for this particular discussion . . . ]

"Tell Me Why" (Beatles) -- Bass Guitar Tutorial -- YouTube music video

I examined the specifications for every studio monitor and PA loudspeaker unit Musician's Friend sells, and some of them only go as low as 100-Hz, which is higher than all the strings on an electric bass guitar, which is patently ignorant, because if you use these units, then you do not get to hear what Dusty Hill (ZZ Top), Flea (Red Hot Chile Peppers), Paul McCartney (Beatles), and Sting (Police) are playing on their electric bass guitars . . .

Image
Electric Bass Guitar ~ Standard Tuning

And it is not just a matter of missing all the electric bass, because when studio monitors only go to 100-Hz, you also miss the low-pitch "E" string of an electric guitar at standard tuning . . .

Image
Electric Guitar ~ Standard Tuning

(3) In a small studio, like the RAE Multimedia sound isolation studio (7' wide by 12' long by 7' high), it is not necessary to run a pair of 100-watts RMS loudspeaker units at loud volume, which is vastly important, because it suggests that with a bit of external equalization a reasonably well-designed loudspeaker unit can be boosted in the deep bass range without risk of damaging the 15" woofers. In other words, it should be possible to boost the deep bass in the 20-Hz to 44-Hz range to extend the frequency range or frequency response of the loudspeaker monitors so that the full equal loudness range is 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz, and if doing this maps to blowing the 15" woofers, Celestion has some 15" woofers that will be able to handle it, although they cost more, but so what . . .

(4) There are external stereo equalizers and some of them have pink noise generators, as well as real-time analyzer (RTA) capabilities when augmented with a calibrated microphone . . .

(5) The ARC System has a calibrated microphone, although I have no idea regarding how is specifically is calibrated, but even if it is calibrated specifically for the ARC System but not in a way that makes it good for other uses, there are calibrated microphones for use with RTA and so forth . . .

(6) It appears that a budget of $500 to $600 (US) is not a huge problem here in the sound isolation studio . . .

So, one of the things I noticed is that Musician's Friend has Kustom 15" two-way powered loudspeaker units on sale for $129 (US) each, and they have a specified frequency response of 45-Hz to 20,000-Hz . . .

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Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speaker

Another I discovered is that Behringer has a very nice Ultra-High Precision 24-Bit/96 kHz Equalizer, Analyzer, Feedback Destroyer and Mastering Processor that has a pink noise generator and does RTA if you provide a calibrated microphone, and this unit costs $299.99 (US) at Musician's Friend, but they are having a sale, which can map to a $100 price reduction if managed correctly . . .

Image
Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor

I continue to be intrigued by the Podium loudspeaker units, but I have no experience with the brand and have not examined them in person, which is different for the Kustom loudspeaker units, which I have seen and examined at a local Guitar Center store (which is the "brick and mortar" part of Musician's Friend universe, although Guitar Center also has a website), so at present this is the strategy I am contemplating (a pair of Kustom 15" two-way powered loudspeaker units and the Behringer equalizer and RTA unit, along with something else to get the total just above $600 [US] to qualify for the $100 [US] discount) . . .

The other key aspect of this current strategy is that after I get the Kustom loudspeaker units equalized via the Behringer equalizer, pink noise generator, and RTA stuff, I will switch to the ARC System and do what essentially will be the fine-tuning calibration of the entire system, which is important, because the Behringer equalizer, pink noise generator, and RTA method probably involves a good bit of manual adjustment, although perhaps not, but regardless I like the idea of using the ARC System as the final step in the loudspeaker monitoring system configuration to ensure that everything is as accurate as it can be, because yet another fact is that the more accurate the sound reproduction, the better my mixes sound, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :)

P. S. This is the best strategy I have devised so far, and it actually might work . . .
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:27 am

I decided to get the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers, Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor, and Behringer ECM8000 Ultra-Linear Measurement Condenser Microphone, which is designed specifically for use with the Behringer DEQ2496 for Real Time Analysis (RTA) . . .

I need to get a sound pressure level (SPL) meter, and I am pondering either (a) the Extech 407730 40-to-130-Decibel Digital Sound Level Meter or (b) the Extech 407732 Type 2 35 Decibel to 130 Decibel Digital Sound Level Meter, since I need to be able to determine when the volume level of loudspeaker monitors is in the 80dB to 85dB range, and I am leaning toward the Extech 407732, since it is a bit more precise . . .

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Extech 407730 40-to-130-Decibel Digital Sound Level Meter

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Extech 407732 Type 2 35 Decibel to 130 Decibel Digital Sound Level Meter

The current plan is to move the Really Bigger Drumkit™ out of the sound isolation studio and then to mount the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers on the far wall, since this provides enough room to build a plywood mixing desk for the computer display so that the loudspeaker cabinets are several feet in front of where I will be sitting . . .

Image
Really Bigger Drumkit™ ~ March 2010

Obviously, the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers are vastly overpowered for a mixing and mastering room with a total volume of 588 cubic feet (7' wide by 12' long by 7' high), but my thinking is that this makes it more likely that I will be able to use the Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor to get the 80dB to 85dB frequency range flat from 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz without destroying the loudspeakers, since the stated frequency range of the two-way loudspeaker units is 45-Hz to 20,000-Hz, and I am reasonably certain that the 15" woofers will reproduce lower frequencies with a bit of very specific boosting . . .

The combination of (a) the Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor and Behringer ECM8000 Ultra-Linear Measurement Condenser Microphone, (b) one of the Extech SPL meters, and (c) the ARC System will provide several ways to use a bit of science to get everything configured as accurately as possible so that I can hear the music in the most accurate way possible on a pretty much significantly limited budget . . .

The overall goal is to have a studio monitoring system that has a perfectly flat response from 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz at 80dB to 85dB, but based on my current understanding of the Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor, I also should be able to configure the studio monitoring system for a perfectly flat response from 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz at lower listening levels by compensating for equal loudness curve behaviors at lower listening levels, which in some respects is a bit mind-boggling to contemplate, although I understand the mathematics and physics sufficiently well to know how to do it . . .

The "mind boggling" aspect is that doing it at lower listening levels probably requires doing a bit of calculus or at least working with logarithms and algebra, which I can do but is not one of favorite activities in the grand scheme of everything, which is one of the reasons that I postponed doing all this stuff for so long. In fact, I probably never would have decided to do it, except that the fact of the matter is that not doing it virtually guarantees that mixes sound terrible, which is one of the things that became abundantly clear after I used the ARC System to calibrate the Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Speakers . . .

I am an aficionado of the scientific method, but I also have other ways to put everything into perspective, and one of the more abstruse ways is based on the fact that I have quite a few long-time friends who like me are narcissistic ego maniacs with respect to doing music stuff, and while nobody actually admits it, we all keep tabs on what everyone is doing, which is a competitive thing that goes back to garage band days, which has the curious but useful consequence that when whatever someone is doing truly sucks, then they easily are ignored, but the instant something moves from "truly sucks" to "does not suck", there is a bit of sua sponte interest, and while this is patently odd from a sociological perspective, it is a useful way to get a sense of how everything is going, and what happened over the past month after I did the ARC System calibration and then did the new mix for "Feel Me" (The Surf Whammys) is that a few of my long-time and somewhat toady musician friends started making a few inquiries through the grapevine, which is a surreal variation of "my people will call your people", since in many respects we are so competitive that the idea of actually complimenting anyone directly simply never occurs . . .

The entire thing is a bit surreal, which should be obvious by observing that I write short novels about everything I am doing on a daily basis and often have conversations with myself, since I am a totally fascinating person, for sure . . .

For sure! :D

The important thing is making progress, and the reality is that I need to be able to hear what I am doing as accurately as possible, which basically maps to being able to hear everything in the entire audible range of human hearing, which for people with normal hearing is 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz, and while this might be abundantly obvious to everyone on the planet except me, yet another reality is that I tend to have great difficulty with some amazingly stupid concepts, where for example I made essentially no progress for the first two years when I decided to teach myself how to play lead guitar until I had the epiphany that every lead guitar solo ever recorded from the beginning of the early days of Edison wax cylinders until the mid-1970s was played by lead guitarists who for the most part had four fingers and a thumb on each hand . . .

Most people realize stuff like this pretty much without even needing to watch the 30 minute training cartoon, but it was a big deal for me, since for me it was the "I can do this!" moment that typically occurs with an apple bounces off your head and you connect the dots correctly, which is fabulous . . .

[NOTE: These two songs are from a few years ago, and they are headphone mixes done before I started focusing specifically on arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering, but the important thing is that the lead guitar solos were composed on the fly in real-time which were the first and only times I played them, with the key aspect being that this was around the time my ongoing project to rewire the frontal eye fields (FEF) region of my brain to do lead guitar solos was starting to produce tangible results, since the only practical way to be do these types of lead guitar solos is to rewire the FEF region of the brain, since it is the only way to increase the speed of thinking and playing to the 24 milliseconds to 65 milliseconds range, and while it might sound like a lot of guitars, there are only two electric guitars, one playing the rhythm guitar chords and one playing the lead guitar solos. It sounds like a lot of guitars, because I ran the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster through two sets of stereo effects pedals, which maps to four tracks for the rhythm guitar but even more tracks for the lead guitar, since there are heavily cascaded echo units in the two sets of lead guitar effects, as well as a pair of DigiTech Whammy pedals for doing rapid octave jumps . . . ]

"Dreamwalk" (The Surf Whammys) -- Instrumental Version (2007) -- MP3

"Starlight" (The Surf Whammys) -- Instrumental Version (2008) -- MP3

[NOTE: The FEF region of the brain is the area bounded by Brodmann's areas 4, 6, and 8, which literally is the "top of your head", which is makes a lot of sense when you ponder it for a while, because literally if you want to be able to play lead guitar solos off the top of your head, then one of the key steps to rewire the top of your head, which you do by thinking about it a very specific way that basically requires you to suspend all of what appears to be logical and rational conscious thought, since it is done by the unconscious part of your mind, and in many respects the most difficult aspect is discovering how not to think about it in any immediately conscious way, because the fact of the matter is that the conscious parts of the mind simply are too slow, and it is very important to "think about it" visually, since what you are doing is reprogramming a primarily visual part of your mind to do auditory stuff . . . ]

Image
Lateral Surface of the Brain with Brodmann's Areas Numbered

[SOURCE: Frontal Eye Fields (wikipedia) ]

Fabulous! :)

P. S. If this works, it will cost about one-third as much as half of a pair of the best JBL studio monitors and matching subwoofers, where to get the full range you have to augment the JBL LSR 6328P Near Field Active Studio Monitor with a JBL LSR4312SP 12" Linear Spatial Reference Powered Subwoofer, and you have to do this for each side (left and right), otherwise you have the deep bass running monaural, which creates another set of problems. In other words, at current discount prices, getting a reasonably decent JBL studio monitoring system costs approximately $5,000 (US), which in some respects might appear to be reasonable, except that having to add the subwoofers to be able to hear the notes on the low-pitch "E" string of an electric bass guitar is just so patently goofy from the perspective of acoustic physics that I question the validity of the entire concept, since with the subwoofers the entire system only goes to 27-Hz . . .

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JBL LSR 6328P Near Field Active Studio Monitor ~ $1,509 (US)

Image
JBL LSR 4312SP 12" Linear Spatial Reference Powered Subwoofer ~ $999 (US)

Explained yet another way, in terms of pure sine waves or fundamental pitch, the important stuff happens in the range from 20-Hz to 500-Hz, yet this frequency range is the most difficult to hear at low to medium listening levels, which is a bit of a paradox in some respects, but it is the key to being able to create auditory illusions, since it establishes the foundation upon which auditory illusions are created, where the important bit of information from this perspective is that a "hit record" essentially is an especially fascinating auditory illusion packaged as a Gestalt, where for example it is useful to consider the normal pulse rate when one is pondering various strategies for using primordial sounds and rhythms to elicit specific behaviors and responses, really . . .

[NOTE: If you read the columns from oldest to youngest, it maps generally to the normal pulse rates for the various stages of the activity that makes babies, which is a useful bit of information and a clue that God has a truly stellar sense of humor . . . ]

Image
Image
Normal Pulse Rates ~ Beats Per Minute (BPM)

[SOURCE: Normal Pulse Rates (wikipedia) ]

[NOTE: The BPM values are approximate for the original hit songs, not the versions in the YouTube videos, so the tempos in the YouTube videos might vary a bit. The actual tempos typically are not arbitrarily truncated integers, so using an integer number metronome can be a bit annoying, where for example the real tempo might be 117.029 BPM, but 117 BPM is the nearest value on an arbitrarily truncated integer metronome . . . ]

"Heartbreak Hotel" (Elvis Presley) -- 96 BPM -- YouTube music video

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" (Beatles) -- 131 BPM -- YouTube music video

"Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson) -- 117 BPM -- YouTube music video

"Can't Get You Out Of My Head" (Kylie Minogue) -- 126 BPM -- YouTube music video

"Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga) -- 119 BPM -- YouTube music video

Really! :ugeek:
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:28 am

Everything arrived yesterday, and the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers look great, but the user manual states that the frequency response is 60-Hz to 20,000-Hz, which is different from the frequency response stated at the Musician's Friend and Kustom websites, so it is difficult to determine which one is correct, since there is no mention of the frequency response on cabinets, themselves . . .

At present, I am inclined to think that the user manual is incorrect, since it is not unusual for English to be translated to Japanese and then from Japanese to Chinese, with some patently strange results . . .

Regardless, I am not overly concerned about it, since at the practical volume level in the sound isolation studio, it should not be a problem to boost the deep bass whether it is below 45-Hz or below 60-Hz . . .

These are very nice looking cabinets, for sure . . .

For sure! :)
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:28 am

I moved the Really Bigger Drumkit™ out of the sound isolation studio and did an quick test with the new Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speaker units, which at present are sitting on the floor approximately 6" from the back and side walls . . .

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Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers ~ RAE Multimedia Sound Isolation Studio

The main output of the MOTU 828mkII is set to -24dB, and the volume levels of the loudspeaker units are set approximately to 4, which is a nice listening level . . .

These loudspeakers sound great! :D

But they need to be equalized, since at present they are a bit hot in the low-midrange, but otherwise they are reasonably balanced, and there are no boomy spots in the sound isolation studio, so everything is crisp and I can feel the deep bass, since the floor is fully floated, which is a good sign that the overall strategy will work the way I expect it to work . . .

At the current listening level, which actually is a bit low, songs played via iTunes sound better when I have the iTunes Equalizer set to "Rock", which boosts the bass and high frequencies and is similar to the way a "loudness" setting works in general, since it compensates for the behavior of the equal loudness curve at lower volume levels . . .

[NOTE: My best guess is that I am listening at a sound pressure level (SPL) in the range of 50dB to 60dB, except that the sound isolation studio has some fascinating acoustic characteristics, so after pondering this for a while I decided to order a Nady DSM-1 SPL Meter, since I need to know the SPL in addition to all the other stuff to get everything as near as possible to the way it is in a recording, mixing, and mastering studio where everything is specified, configured, and calibrated by a licensed professional acoustic engineer, which in some respects is like tuning to Concert A (440-Hz) in the sense of being somewhat optional, except that everything works better when you do it . . . ]

Image
Nady DSM-1 SPL Meter

"Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson) and "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga) sound good, and if I sit on the floor approximately 4 feet back in the center, there is a nice stereo image, and the loudspeaker units definitely have dry punch without being boomy, so even though the sound isolation studio is only 7 feet wide, this will work, and it sounds vastly better than the Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Speaker System units . . .

The most recent mix for "Feel Me" (The Surf Whammys) sounds monaural and muddy, but the vocals are nice, and except for the vocals not being nearly so dominant it sounds more like "Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus), which is interesting, since "Feel Me" is "inspired by" the Miley Cyrus song . . .

"Who Owns My Heart" sounds better than the most recent mix for "Feel Me", but it does not sound better than "Billie Jean", which also is interesting . . .

"Heartbreak Hotel" (Elvis Presley) and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (Beatles) sound good, and with the iTunes Equalizer set to "Rock" there are good bass levels . . .

"Hold It Against Me" (Britney Spears) sounds great, and it is as nice as "Billie Jean" and "Bad Romance", and I hear deep bass, so I am confident that the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speaker units can be set for flat response from 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz both at a lower listening volume and at the higher 80dB to 85dB listening level, which avoids the equal loudness curve behaviors, since the equal loudness curve at the 80dB to 85dB range essentially is flat . . .

"Hold It Against Me" is a tiny bit "pumped", but it is a DISCO ~ Pop song, and it is done in a punchy way . . .

The basic rhythm section for the Surf Whammys "inspired by" song for "Hold It Against Me" sounds pretty good, although it is a tiny bit muddy, but so what . . .

Image

"Put It O' Me" (The Surf Whammys) -- Basic Rhythm Section -- MP3 (8.2MB, 301-kbps [VBR], approximately 3 minutes and 33 seconds)

So what!

From another perspective, these loudspeaker units are excellent for getting the sound of a DISCO nightclub sound system in a listening room that has been tuned reasonably well, where one way to reduce the boominess of a typical room in an apartment or house is to stack a few rolls of fiberglass insulation in the corners of the room, which is probably the easiest way to do it . . .

The sound isolation studio is tuned using a different strategy, and while it is not visually obvious there are Helmholtz resonating panels, air spaces, fiberglass insulation sections, and so forth inside the triple walls and ceilings; the various corner angles are not exactly orthogonal; and none of the opposing sides (ceiling, floor, and walls) are exactly parallel, so stuff bounces around asymmetrically, with the result that even though it is not a large sound isolation studio, it works nicely . . .

Another key bit of information that is abundantly clear is that these loudspeaker units sound big, which simply is not going to happen with bookshelf units, and there definitely is deep bass that might be below the normal audible range, which puts it in the 10-Hz to 19-Hz range, where it is felt as physical body vibrations rather than being perceived as sound, per se . . .

I am quite curious, if not a bit excited, to hear the way the loudspeaker units sound once they are equalized and calibrated with the Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor and Behringer ECM8000 Ultra-Linear Measurement Condenser Microphone, but I need to ponder the best way to do the platforms for the loudspeaker units, although I probably will do it with an "island" style design, since I think it is important for the low frequencies to be able to travel through the platform to the fully floated floor, and I do not want the platform to vibrate in a way that absorbs any of the low frequencies, and I need to build another platform for the computer display, keyboard, mouse, and so forth . . .

Once all that stuff is done, I will do the ARC System calibration and then do a bit of mixing and mastering, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous!

P. S. One might suppose that at least in theory I could go directly to doing the ARC System calibration, but as noted in nearly all my posts in this topic, it truly annoys me that nobody on the planet appears to make studio monitors that have a frequency response that matches normal human hearing (20-Hz to 20,000-Hz), so the additional step of equalizing and calibrating the loudspeaker units separately with the Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor and Behringer ECM8000 Ultra-Linear Measurement Condenser Microphone is done to ensure that the loudspeaker units are doing what they are supposed to do, which then makes it possible to use the ARC System to focus specifically on what the room is doing, and it also provides a second perspective on everything, which I think is very important . . .

If there is an high level hypothesis, it is the inference that (a) I can listen to a superbly mixed and mastered hit song like "Billie Jean" and hear everything, hence (b) I should be able to devise a way to make my songs sound as good, at least within the constraints of the sound isolation studio, hardware, and software with which I am doing everything . . .

And while there probably are subtle aspects to the $5,000 state-of-the-art JBL studio monitoring system and all the stuff one typically finds in a multimillion dollar state-of-the-art recording, mixing, and mastering studio, it probably is entirely too subtle at present for me to notice or to know what to do with it if I noticed it . . .

[NOTE: For example, the JBL literature makes a big deal of "near field", which was a new term here in the sound isolation studio and appeared to be very important in an esoteric way, but after a while I decided to get a definition for it, and the reality is that it is a fancy way of explaining that you need to sit close (or "near") to the studio monitors so that what you hear in the general vicinity (or "field") is what you hear when you sit directly in front of loudspeaker units. From this perspective, the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speaker units are "far field", but this is where the Behringer stuff and the ARC System come into play, along with the custom-designed sonic behaviors of the sound isolation studio and a bit of common sense based on a few handy principles of mathematics, physics, and auditory perception, which in the grand scheme of everything tends to suggest that "near field" is more a matter of overly creative marketing blurb writers, although there probably is a bit of sense to it in one way or another, but so what, because for all practical purposes the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speaker units are not so different from Altec 612C Cabinets with 605A 15" Duplex Loudspeakers when used specifically in a small sound isolation studio, especially when I am very careful to keep the various levels within bounds, since this maps to everything having sufficient headroom to handle dynamics without clipping and distorting, where the "headroom" aspect refers for example to running a 100-watt RMS power amplifier at a volume level setting of 1 where the range on the dial is 1 to 10, which maps approximately to 90 percent or more of the power handling capacity of the power amplifier being unused, hence readily available for instants in time when there are jumps in dynamics, which is very different from running the power amplifier at its maximum output level and then needing a note to be twice as loud, which is impossible for the power amplifier to do, so clipping and distorting occur, although the RMS rating tends to allow a bit of headroom depending on how it is done, where as best as I can determine the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speaker units are rated at 100-watts RMS at 1,000-Hz, and there is no way they can handle 100-watts RMS at 20-Hz, but it does not matter, because I am not going to run them at a high level, which overall is a cool way to get two power amplifiers with a lot of headroom and matching two-way loudspeaker units on a vastly low budget, which is where staying awake in mathematics, physics, and auditory perception classes becomes a truly stellar activity, because if you do not know at least something about this stuff, then it is entirely too easy for people to dazzle you with gobbledygook. And for reference, it is very useful to understand that there is an unspoken rule about amplifiers and loudspeakers, which specifically is that it is difficult for manufacturers and marketeers to play games with primitive DJ and PA equipment, because they know that folks who do sound reinforcement understand the basic principles of acoustics and physics, with the consequence that the least expensive good stuff nearly always is found in the DJ and PA equipment section, because the folks who do sound reinforcement for the most part are not dazzled by anything and only care about everything sounding good and not blowing-up . . . ]

I have enough formal university training in mathematics, physics, and auditory perception to make sense of everything in one way or another if I work at it for a while, and the more test equipment and meters I have, the better everything sounds . . .

The most recent "Feel Me" mix continues to suck, but it sucks considerably less than the mixes I was doing last year, two years ago, and so forth and so on, all of which maps to slow but steady progress as I work through the virtually mind-boggling list of stuff that simply cannot be avoided when you are doing everything by yourself, really . . .

Really! :ugeek:

P. P. S. I have been listening primarily to "Billie Jean" and "Hold It Against Me" for about 10 hours at the same volume level, and my ears are not ringing, so this is yet another clue that this strategy will work. It is a little bit louder than normal conversation, so if you were talking with someone in the same room and they were eight feet away, you would need to raise your voice a little bit but not a lot . . .
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:29 am

I am getting everything ready in the workshop to start building the platforms for the new Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers, and I was pondering the idea of using a narrow platform, but the idea of angling the loudspeaker units to create an equilateral triangle makes sense, so I will make the platform deep enough that I can experiment with different angles . . .

The low frequencies should be less directional, but the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers have a projector horn, and it is directional . . .

I also like the idea of being more precise in the positions where the calibration measurements are taking during the ARC System measuring step . . .

The NADY DSM-1 SPL Meter should arrive in a few days, and I am quite curious to discover the actual level of what I consider to be a comfortable listening volume . . .

At present, I am listening to a small set of hit songs that I consider to be definitive in one way or another, with the current selection being "Aserejé" (Las Ketchup), which is very similar to "Livin' la Vida Loca" (Ricky Martin) and "She Bangs" (Ricky Martin), two more personal favorites here in the sound isolation studio--and all of them sound great with the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers sitting on the floor as shown in the photograph . . .

[NOTE: I like these three songs, because they have a lot of Latin percussion instruments, horn sections, and backup harmony vocals, along with stellar twangy electric guitar lines, although "Aserejé" has subtle synthesizers rather than a horn section, and I add "Bulería" (David Bisbal) to get a string section and Flamenco acoustic guitar . . . ]

For reference, I worked on the design of the sound isolation for nearly a year, and it has a lot of fascinating stuff behind the visible walls, which basically maps to not needing to do additional acoustic treatments inside the interior working space at comfortable listening levels, although depending on (a) how the loudspeaker units sound after I equalize and calibrate them with the Behringer equalizer and RTA and (b) how "comfortable" 80dB to 85dB happens to be, I might need to do a few textural treatments for diffusing higher frequencies and to put some fiberglass rolls in the corners, but perhaps not, since the electric bass and drumkit notes are dry and punchy, and it is easy to tell when the electric bass notes end quickly as contrasted to when they sustain, which is a good clue that the low frequency behavior of the sound isolation studio is where it needs to be . . .

The high frequencies are a bit hot, but I think the Behringer equipment will get it balanced, so perhaps the ARC System calibration will be sufficient to make any adjustments necessary for the room acoustics . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

P. S. One of the more curious things I discovered is the apparent rule that if sound is anthropomorphized, then "it" does not like to travel through asymmetric and disparate media, where for example a layer of 5/8" gypsum board on top of a layer of 3/8" gypsum board is better for absorbing sound energy and converting it to heat than two layers of 1/2" gypsum board, so this is one of the things I did . . .

"It" also does not like traveling through mostly solid stuff and then encountering an air space, so there are air spaces between the triple walls, and I used a lot of fiberglass insulation in the inner and outer walls, floor, and ceiling, as well as doing a bit of cross-bracing in the wall frame to create different sizes of Helmholtz resonating panels, which included drilling small sets of holes in a few locations to make some of the otherwise fully enclosed spaces function as Helmoltz resonators for low frequencies, which does not require very large diameter holes, which is easy to understand if you blow across the top of an empty two-liter soda pop bottle, really . . .

Really! :ugeek:
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:35 am

The Nady DSM-1 SPL Meter arrived this afternoon, and after installing the 9-volt transistor battery and reading the user manual I did some measurements of the sound isolation . . .

There are two weighted frequency range scales (dBA, dBC), as well as a two time measurement rates (Slow, Fast) and two SPL ranges (Lo, Hi):

    dBA ~ general
    dBC ~ acoustic (for checking low frequency content)

    Slow ~ averages the SPL over time
    Fast ~ instantaneous SPL, changes rapidly with dynamics

    Lo ~ 30dB to 100dB SPL
    Hi ~ 60dB to 130dB SL

The first thing I measured was the ambient SPL in the sound isolation studio with the door closed, and it was approximately 55dB with dBA being a tiny bit higher than dBC, which tends to suggest that the 2.8-GHz 8-core Mac Pro makes a bit more noise than I would have guessed . . .

[NOTE: I used iTunes on the Mac Pro to play the test song, and the iTunes Equalizer was set to "Rock", which boosts the bass and high frequencies and is similar to what the "Loudness" circuit on a home or car audio system does, so the results actually are better than they appear to be with respect to putting "flat response" into perspective. The sound is processed by Core Audio (Mac OS X) but a good bit of the computational work is done externally by the MOTU 828mkII, with the overall result that the combination of the Mac Pro and the MOTU 828mkII FireWire audio interface is better than native Core Audio and the onboard Apple hardware and firmware . . . ]

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iTunes Equalizer ~ "Rock"

Then I played "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson) with the volume at what I consider to be at the high side of "comfortable" with the following results, which were consistent for both Slow and Fast time measurement rates:

    dBA ~ 80dB to 85dB
    dBC ~ 90dB to 95dB

So, apparently without an SPL meter, I somehow decided that 80dB to 85dB with a bit of deep bass boost is a "nice" and "comfortable" listening level, although if I listen to the same song over and over I tend to lower the volume a tiny bit, but I think this is due to the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers being a tiny bit hot in the upper-midrange and high frequency ranges . . .

And there is no doubt in my mind that anything higher than this SPL not only (a) is too loud but also (b) is a bit sonically annoying . . .

At this point, I am getting a nice "warm and fuzzy" regarding the success of this strategy, and it appears that the Behringer DEQ2496 Ultra-Curve Pro Mastering Processor will be cutting the low-frequencies and upper-midrange and high frequencies a tiny bit but not a lot, with the result being a flat equal loudness frequency range of 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz . . .

This also provides a clue to the reason that the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers sound so good, since with the MOTU 828mkII main output level at -24dB and the volume level for the loudspeaker units at approximately 4, the loudspeaker units have abundant headroom, hence very little total harmonic distortion or whatever it is called . . .

[NOTE: The main output level meter for the MOTU 828mkII has five vertical LED dots, and 80dB to 85dB SPL maps to the lowest two LED dots being lit constantly with none of the higher LED dots being lit even momentarily. At a slightly lower listening level where the higher of the two LED dots flash in response to the dynamics of the "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson), the sound is very crisp, with deep bass and plenty of punch, all without being boomy or blurred, and there is excellent clarity, as well . . . ]

In contrast, the Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Speakers begin being stressed long before the 80dB to 85dB SPL level is achieved, and the louder the Advent AV570 70-Watt 2-Way Powered Multimedia Speakers are driven, the worse they sound, and for reference they are sitting just to the left and right of the computer display, approximately 2' from my ears in an isosceles triangle configuration with the back line being perhaps 4', which makes the dimensions of the isosceles triangle (2' by 4' by 2') . . .

There are a lot of experiments that I can do, but first I need to design and build the platforms for the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers and the "mixing station" (computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, and so forth), where the general strategy at present for the loudspeaker units is to position them at a height similar to the height of the Altec studio monitor shown in the photograph of the mixing room at Abbey Road Studios (EMI), which makes a bit of intuitive sense if you think about it for a while, since low frequencies are less directional than midrange and high frequencies, hence the 15" woofers need to be a bit lower in height, although I am designing the loudspeaker platform so that I can do some experiments with the height of the loudspeaker units once I get more information on the various hypotheses regarding optimal placement of loudspeaker units for studio monitoring . . .

Summarizing, the total cost excluding the lumber and stuff for building the loudspeaker and "mixing station" platforms is approximately $700, which includes the Nady DSM-1 SPL Meter and two pairs of monaural TRS cables (a.k.a. "guitar cords"), and it sounds great so far, for sure . . .

For sure!

Is this studio monitoring system going to be better than the $5,300 JBL top-of-the-line studio monitoring system and Room Mode Correction (RMC) unit?

There might be a few differences, one of which is that the $700 system has a range of 20-Hz to 20,000-Hz, while the JBL system has a range 27-Hz to 20,000-Hz, but nothing that from my perspective maps to being worth an additional $4,600 . . .

In fact, after measuring everything with the Nady DSM-1 SPL Meter, I am somewhat inclined to hypothesize that the Behringer equipment might not be so necessary, although regardless of practical necessity the Behringer equipment has plenty of uses for doing a virtual festival of experiments, as does the ARC System . . .

Overall, I tend to do better when I have lots of measuring equipment and meters, which is one of the things I like best about T-RackS 3 Deluxe (v3.5), since a few things that are very important are not so easy to hear after I work on a mix for several hours, which is where meters become vastly helpful here in the sound isolation studio . . .

Is it going to sound as good as this multimillion dollar mixing and mastering studio?

Image

Probably not, but so what . . .

So what! :roll:

For all practical purposes I am a pretend garage band, and I will be very happy to get everything sounding as good when mixed and mastered as it sounds in the garage, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :D
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:35 am

I found some information on dBA and dBC weighting for SPL measuring, and it looks like dBC (C-weighting) is better for including the low frequencies . . .

Image

SPL Measurement (wikipedia)

It also is useful to note that the Nady DSM-1 SPL Meter has a range of 32-Hz to 8,000-Hz, so it is not measuring the full range of normal human hearing (20-Hz to 20,000-Hz), but this is the way SPL measurements typically are done with less expensive equipment and is fine with me, since most of what happens in a song occurs in this range, while everything above this range is focused on harmonics and overtones . . .

[NOTE: I use both terms ("harmonics" and "overtones"), but harmonics are a subset of overtones . . . ]

An overtone is any frequency higher than the fundamental frequency of a sound. The fundamental and the overtones together are called partials. Harmonics are partials whose frequencies are whole number multiples of the fundamental (including the fundamental which is 1 times itself.)


[SOURCE: Overtones and Harmonics (wikipedia) ]

For example, as shown in the pitch range charts for instruments and voices (see previous posts, above), most of what happens on an electric guitar at standard tuning has fundamental pitches below 500-Hz, which covers all the notes on all the strings up to the 7th fret, and this also is the case with baritone and tenor singers . . .

On the other hand, it is the harmonics and overtones that make an electric guitar sound different from a kazoo or violin, so the midrange and high frequencies are important, as well . . .

Lots of FUN! :ugeek:
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:36 am

I did a few experiments with different heights for the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers and decided that approximately 24" above the studio floor is a good height for the platform, since with the "mixing station" platform at approximately 33" above the studio floor, this puts the midrange and high frequency projector horn at a good height and is approximately the height of the Altec 612C Cabinet with 605A 15" Duplex Loudspeaker in the photograph of the mixing room at Abbey Road Studios (EMI), which probably was when the primary focus was monaural mixing, since there appears to be only one studio monitor . . .

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While I was building the platforms, I did some room measurements and discovered that the sound isolation studio is a bit more narrow than I remembered, where instead of being 7 feet wide it actually is 6 feet and 3 inches wide, but so what . . .

So what!

If the loudspeaker units need to be higher, I can build smaller platforms on top of the larger platform, which is another reason for starting with a lower platform since it is easier to add height than to reduce height, but for now I like the lower height, since it puts virtual top-center in a good location, approximately 18" to 24" above the top of the loudspeaker units, and the horizontal spacing is nice for the distance to where I will sit at the "mixing station" . . .

Explained another way, there is a distinct "rainbow" panning arc or whatever one wants to call it, where the lower frequencies are like a wall of deepness running horizontally but the harmonics and overtones of the bass appear in the middle to top-center area, which appears to be a standard pattern in the songs I like (mostly DISCO and Pop, at present), where the lead vocals are either top-center or spread far-left and far-right depending on whether it is a verse, chorus, or bridge, and it is very easy to hear this at 80dB to 85dB, so I think the new studio monitors will improve my mixes, so long as I can discover how to put everything in the correct locations spatially, which I should be able to do . . .

Switching to the platforms for a moment, there are different ways to build platforms and workbenches, but I use a system based on rectangles made with 2" by 4" framing studs and Deckmate wood screws, where everything is cut at right angles, which makes the work easier and faster to do without a lot of elaborate equipment, although I have a professional electric miter saw. The general strategy is to build for strength and utility rather than to make furniture . . .

For the sound isolation studio this strategy has the advantage of creating "frames" for Helmholtz resonating panels, where for example I can put fiberglass insulation in a "frame" and cover it with thin plywood or masonite to make a Helmholtz resonating panel, but it is just as easy to put less fiberglass insulation in the frame and then to cover it with thicker plywood with a small hole drilled in the plywood, which makes it a Helmholtz resonator, where the drilled hole typically does not need to be very large to reduce a small but specific low frequency range . . .

[NOTE: I call everything "Helmholtz" something, since Helmholtz discovered so much stuff that I like to remind myself how important he continues to be in acoustic physics. Whether what I call "Helmholtz resonating panels" actually are just "resonating panels" is another matter, but whatever one calls them, (a) they resonate, (b) they "absorb" sound by converting it to heat, and (c) Helmholtz did the basic physics on this stuff in the 19th century, which works for me, although actually understanding everything Helmholtz discovered requires at least an advanced degree in Physics, as well as being a medical doctor, so I get most of my information from the drawings and some of the written descriptions, since the mathematics are vastly deep, and it takes too much time to understand when you focus on the calculus and so forth. As is explained in the following article on low frequency traps, the plywood platforms are "resonating panels", and without anything sitting atop them they make distinct notes, where thumping or tapping on them is an easy way to determine the specific resonating frequency, with the key being to have all the joints tight, hence the Deckmate wood screws, where the overall goal is to be able to hear the sound reproduced by the loudspeaker units without any spurious sounds created by the room, with yet another aspect of the sound isolation studio being its ability to function as a semi-anechoic chamber with respect to blocking external noise . . . ]

Low Frequency Traps (wikipedia)

A recording studio may utilize a semi-anechoic chamber to produce high-quality music free of outside noise and unwanted echoes.


[SOURCE: Semi-Anechoic Chambers (wikipedia) ]

There are 13 possible "frames" in different sizes in the two platforms, and another possibility is to make the framed area underneath each loudspeaker unit a big low frequency absorber simply by stuffing it dense fiberglass or by putting a small roll of fiberglass in each of the two corners of the far wall, but at present I do not think any of this will be necessary . . .

Another thing I do is to hand guitars on the wall, so the strings of the guitars also do a bit of very specific frequency absorbing, where for example the "Flying Purple People Eater" semi-acoustic guitar is a Helmholtz resonator as well as having strings, but the Hofner "Beatle" Bass guitar is a Helmholtz resonating panel augmented with strings, since it has a sealed cavity rather than a ported cavity for its guitar body, although there might be tiny openings where the volume, tone, and switches mount, which I suppose would make it a higher-pitch Helmholtz resonator . . .

[NOTE: The ESP Eclipse Semi-Acoustic Guitar is a bit rare, and they only were made in this style for a few years, since Gibson filed a lawsuit about the guitar body shape being too much like the shape of a Les Paul Standard, which resulted in ESP changing the body shape. I got it around that time for not a lot more than the price of a guitar case, since for all practical purposes it was an "illegal guitar" in the sense of being prohibited by law, which actually makes it vastly cool as well as a bit anarchistic, because it is one of the few guitars that officially are banned by the federal government, and I really like the color and wood. It stays in tune and sounds great, and I like it . . . ]

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The "Flying Purple People Eater" ~ ESP Eclipse Semi-Acoustic Guitar

[NOTE: Nice snare drum rimshots! ]

"The Purple People Eater" (Sheb Wolley) -- YouTube 78 RPM record

For all practical purposes, everything resonates and vibrates, so the strategy is to use acoustic physics when it makes sense but to try different things to see whether they do something useful, and because the inner room of the sound isolation studio is fully floated on a thick rubber mat made of ground truck tires, everything is free to vibrate, which in some respects makes it more of a Tesla sound isolation studio, in the sense that as best as I can determine Nikola Tesla was acutely attuned to the fundamental vibrational nature of the universe, which in some respects is the perspective presented in "The Matrix", "The Thirteenth Floor", and "Dark City", where "reality" is an elaborate and vastly complex set of vibrations or something, which is an interesting perspective, for sure . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

P. S. At this point, with the loudspeaker units mounted on the platform, it is very clear to me that there is no way for me to mix correctly using bookshelf loudspeaker units, because bookshelf loudspeaker units sound "small", and I need to hear how everything sounds "big", which basically is the way things sound when you go to a club or concert and listen to a live performance, and I think that hearing the music "big" is very important, since for me it is more immersive, although within the maximum sound pressure level constraint of 80dB to 85dB, for sure . . .

For sure! :ugeek:
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby Surf Whammy » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:36 am

For a while, I was thinking that the Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers had a Class D power amplifier, but I found a detailed article about these loudspeaker units at the Musician's Friend website, and it makes it clear that these loudspeaker units have a Class AB power amplifier, which is useful to know . . .

Hands-On Review: Kustom KPC Powered PA Speakers (Musician's Friend)

Another key bit of information is that the midrange and high frequency projector horn has a 1" diameter driver, which is consistent with the "big" aspect of the way these loudspeaker units sound in a small room . . .

[NOTE: By running the loudspeaker units at a low volume level, the current hypothesis is that everything is well within the "no stress" zone, which is easy to understand if you ever have observed the way a 15" woofer in an electric bass amplifier rig moves back and forth at high volume, which depending on the specific type of 15" woofer can be significant, perhaps as much as 1/4" to 1/2" or more in each direction. Depending on several factors, when the woofer cone makes larger motions and there are a lot of harmonics and overtones, the paper or other material of the cone tends to deform in various ways, and this can introduce physical distortion that is not present in the music, where one way to understand how this works is to observe the way sand on a metal plate responds to different vibration frequencies . . . ]

It might be possible that I am the only person on this planet who uses Kustom KPC15P 15" Powered PA Speakers as studio monitors in a small sound isolation studio, since it is a vastly unusual strategy, but it works very nicely, and at $129 (US) for each loudspeaker unit the price is outstanding, even when you add the Behringer equipment, ARC System (IK Multimedia), Tripp-Lite premium surge suppressor, and a pair of guitar chords or whatever . . .

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Tripp-LIte ISOBAR6 ~ Premium Surge Suppressor

Lots of FUN! :)
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Re: The Fabulous Affordable Studio Monitor System Project

Postby carstenf » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:18 pm

I am sorry if i didn´t get all right, because i didn´t read through this whole thread.. but as far as i read you want to create a Studio Monitoring Setup out of a pair of cheap PA speakers and Digital EQs, right?

Your main reason you do so seems to be "studio monitors don´t have a (flat) frequency Range from 20Hz to 20kHz".

But Studio Monitors are not just "speakers with a flat response". There are so many other parameters that count: How the speaker cabinet resonates or DONT resonate, how the sound gets "distorted" at the edges of the baffle, how the different speakers allign in phase... and so many others. The pricetag of good monitors are not just because the manufacturer want to earn more.. they are expensive because they are trimmed to play sound while adding a minimum of "errors".
These Hi-frequency-horns in PA-speakers are designed to be LOUD and reliable, not to be EXACT. These big (15"?) Woofers may play lower Hz-es, but will perform weaker on the critical midfrequencies...

Your PA monitors + eq may have a flat response on the graph in the end, but i´m 99.9% sure that if you invested the same ammount of money in one reasonable pair of monitors, you could have judged your mixes a thousand times better. Said in another way: what use has a low cutoff-frequency when everything you hear sounds like crap? When you are not able to hear details like the reverb behind all those instruments, a false tone of the Bass at one time etc?

One more thing: The Room the monitors are standing in is having a HUGE ammount on what you hear. In a untreated listening room you can have up to +/-30dB (!!) dips or peaks at specific frequencies and spots within the room.. because of addition/cancelation of reflecting waves. ..

P.S.: A LOT of good records on the market was produced and mixed using nearfield monitors. I miself mixed two records on nearfields. And a LOT of times i intentionally switched of my subwoofer to judge the mix.. or switched to my NS10 monitors. Those have literally NO subbass.. but are a good tool to hear if a mix falls appart without those "boomy" frequencies... like when someone listens to the music on his cellphone, or kitchen Radio. A low E-string of a e-bass is audible even your speaker can´t play 20 Hz.. because of the harmonics, and the ability of your brain to "add" the base frequency if the higher harmonics are there... (there are even plugins that use that fact.. MaxxBass from Wave for example)

P.P.S: If a monitor is cutting of at 35Hz, all that means is that at 35Hz the level is half of the level at 1kHz. But it will for sure play even lower frequencies.. just not THAT loud. And you won´t be able to raise the volume endlessly, but you will be able to hear sub-bass...

I dont want to tell you what you do is useless.. but perhaps it would be a good thing to try out a pair of professional Monitors against your current speakers.. and have a second look at the room you´re using them. Professional Studios often pay more money for Room Optimization than they pay for Monitors... NO Monitor can perform in a crappy listening room. Imagine trying to mix in a church.. get it? ;)

edit: ARC can´t fix everything your room is destroying. So even with ARC it is a VERY good idea to treat the listening room. ARC can lower the ammount that is needed, and/or raises the final result, but can´t replace a room treatment..
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