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active monitor pair under 450 eur
Old 7th February 2016
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
active monitor pair under 450 eur

Hi,
I'm planning to buy a new pair o f active monitor for my computer, I'll have to put them on the corner of my desk, at a distance of 1.2m speaker to speaker, in a small room without any acoustic treatment.
Any suggestion?
Old 7th February 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Speeddemon's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
First and best advice: listen for yourself to what YOU think is important when you're bringing some test CD's to test the speakers with.
For instance, I loathe the Alesis Monitor One's, yet tons of people seem to enjoy them, but my guess is that they don't listen to distorted guitars as much as I do, and more towards beats/dance/hip-hop related stuff.

That being said;
2nd advice: Monitors are your most important 'translation to the outside world'. If you can stretch your budget up, do it. If it means saving up for another month or two, so you can afford some more, it's highly recommended.

I've done quite a few low/mid-end monitor listening tests and posted the reviews on GS.
Around your budget (maybe see if you can go to 500-600 euro's), personally I would be sure to check out at least:
-KRK RP5 G3 and RP6 G3.
-Focal Alpha 65 (and maybe the Alpha 50)
-ADAM F5 and F7
-Yamaha HS7 and HS8 (I personally DIDN'T like the older HS80's, but maybe they've improved them? They did have a good transient response though)
-maybe the Presonus Eris 8? Never heard them myself, but they seem a lot of bang for the buck.

For your room, I would look at speakers with woofers between at least 5" (anything less will sound thin without a sub), but no more than 8". 6,5" being the perfect middleground.

My own monitors are great; Focal CMS65, but way out of your budget alas.
Old 7th February 2016
  #3
Lives for gear
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
In order of price low to high, and in my opinion quality, low to high.

If you are in a very small space.

1.M-Audio BX5
2. Focal Alpha 50
3. Focal Alpha 65

Typical bedroom /small living room

1. M-Audio BX 8
2. Presonus Eris 8
3. Focal Alpha 65
4. Focal Alpha 80

The Focal Alpha 80 maybe slightly above your budget, for a pair.

I think the Focal Alpha 65, and the Presonus Eris 8's are really great choices. Quite decent for the price, and definitely the best picks for your budget from lots of auditions I have done on these monitors.

In a smaller room the Focal Alpha 50's are also very good.

Let me describe these.

Focal Alpha 50 - lovely tight sound but with not too much bass.

Focal Alpha 65 - excellent sound for the money, especially for a small room, without overemphasizing the bass. - This would be my safest recommendation, if you are buying new. - It has an excellent sound.

Focal Alpha 80 - Excellent bass - very real life image - like listening to the performer - could seem a bit dark depending on what you are familiar with listening to. The Focal Alpha 80 will definitely need careful placement to avoid room corners, or close placement to walls over emphasizing the bass. With these I do not think a sub woofer is necessary. I did not find the bass on the Focals extremely accurate, it was deep but not absolutely precise/tight in the bass.

Presonus Eris 8 - Not as much bass as the Alpha 80's, but this kind of sounds a bit more hi-fi, somewhat similar to some high end headphones that I have listened to such as the AKG 702's which do not have too much overblown bass. You may consider adding a sub-woofer at a later stage, if you think you need more bass. When played loud they are more than bassy enough though.

Overall the Focal Alphas, definitely have a "transparency", and in my opinion are the most undistorted monitors below 500 euros (approx). Which give you a level of insight into the music that is closest to "higher end professional monitors" which cost a lot lot more money.

Whatever you do, you will need to learn the speakers signature, no matter what you eventually buy. This takes a while. A good way to do this is to listen to a lot of music that you know very well or like from various artists and genres, so you know what "normal" sounds like on your monitors.

Far more important than the monitors is :

1. Learning their signature

2. Placement in your room, adjusting this to get the very best sound in your own environment. Where you sit(distance wise) in relation to the monitor is vital.

3. Some acoustic treatment, and here I do not mean expensive panels or panels only. Soft furnishing - drapes, carpet, can help tame reflections/echos in your room, to give you a more direct sound, from your monitors, with less of the reflected sound muddying things up.

4. Playing your audio at the right volume due to Fletcher Munsen effects on how humans percieve frequency....

If you ever get a perfect good pair of secondhand Alesis M1 MK 2's (they are no longer available new), and block the ports, amongst other tweaks, those come well within your budget. I would still recommend these over all of the above, because its easier to block their ports, and there is very little internal equalisation the manufacturer has put in to attempt to improve the sound, i.e what you hear is predominantly the effect of excellent physical design and materials rather than DSP/EQ tricks, and they use soft dome rather than metal tweeters like the Focals, for less fatigue on your ears. There is no EQ at the back of this so you are forced to use placement to derive a good sound. i.e rather than put a plaster on your room sound by using EQ controls, with the Alesis I was forced to sort out whatever problems my room had, cos it had absolutely no EQ adjustment.

It took me a while to learn how to setup the Alesis properly, but it was absolutely worth it eventually.

I restate - you will need to learn every speaker, no matter which one you buy.

I warn though, unless you are playing them at a volume which is a bit louder than you should, the audio you will get from all of the aforementioned monitor is not one with a lot of Chest thumping, room shaking bass.

For that level of deep bass, you will need a sub woofer. For a small room, not advised. So you will need to learn how good bass sounds in your room, without it thumping you in your torso.

I have left out some monitors, the KRK's - just not in the same league of accuracy as the Focals, The Alesis when set up properly, and definitely not as good as the Presonus Eris.

The Yamaha's had this smiley EQ "signature" - slightly heavy bottom and a bit of sizzle at the top, even when EQ's are set to flat. They are ok if you like that hi-fi sound, it helps some people, but I value absolute neutrality. The last thing I need is my monitors clearly altering the sound. As much as I wanted to like the Yamahas - great price, their slight sizzle was obvious especially on acoustic instruments and voices, and I felt I was not being told the truth. Sounds like some PA's... They were great in comparison to what monitors sounded like in the mid noughties, but the Focals have clearly moved things up a notch.

If I had enough money, I'd get the ERIS 8's, Focal Alpha 65's and the Focal Alpha 80's - as well as the Alesis, in addition to one really high end monitor, and use these lower end monitors as part mixing or reference in other rooms, as they give a really good representation of what mid range to good music systems, will sound like, and I would expect that if anything sounded outstanding on all five, there's a very high probability it would sound good anywhere else. - Wishes!
Old 7th February 2016
  #4
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
@ Speeddemon @ kodebode why no mention of jbl lsr305 or 308?

ALESIS M1 ACTIVE MK2 due to the review are not a very good speakers, I'm wrong? (used are for 150 eur pair)

room dimension is 2.5x3.5 meters and I stay 1m or less in front of the speaker

Focal alpha 65 or 80 is out of my budget if I can't find them used
Eris 8 and also yamaha hs8 or adam f5 are in my budget

the problem is that there isn't any shop near where I live, so I can't listen before the purchase
Old 7th February 2016
  #5
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
If it hepls I can attach photos of this room

I will use the speakers not for registration but only for listen music
Old 7th February 2016
  #6
Gear Head
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
The JBL LSR305s are pretty decent entry-level monitors. They have a slightly-forward sound and are good for working out the all-important midrange. They use DSP to hype up the bass a bit, but this can be controlled with the rear tweaking switches. I found that my mixes done on the LSR305s translated pretty well, too. These are also dirt-cheap: Guitar Center is the US was selling them (in a garish red paint scheme) for $99 each over the Holiday season. Used these can be found for around $200 a pair.

Now you may ask yourself, "Why are these so inexpensive?" Well, the reason is that JBL built these for good sound, but not for good quality. They are very lightly constructed with audibly-resonant cabinet, baffle and wave guide materials (thin plastic and MDF). The money went into the drivers, which are of OK quality, but the mid/low speaker tends to round out transients a bit (drums sound a bit "plummy"). The waveguide makes the speakers sound bigger than they are, but again, the transient response is a bit rounded off. And if you pull these apart, you will find a Class D amp/DSP board that looks pretty damn sloppy (random jumper wires, random sploctches of epoxy, cheap electrolytic capacitors, etc.). Oh, and the Class D amps have NO over-current/clipping protection. This means you can easily fry a driver if you are not careful.

Okay, I know, not much of a sell job. As for me, I recently moved up to a pair of Yamaha MSP5 Studios.
Old 7th February 2016
  #7
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
so, now the competitors under 500 euro are

Yamaha HS8
Adam F5
M-Audio BX 8
Presonus Eris 8
JBL LSR 305/308
Alesis M1 Active mk2
Focal Alpha 50

now, wich of these? Or other suggestions?
I repeat, the use is only for listening music
Old 7th February 2016 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by daid1 ➑️
@ Speeddemon @ kodebode why no mention of jbl lsr305 or 308?

ALESIS M1 ACTIVE MK2 due to the review are not a very good speakers, I'm wrong? (used are for 150 eur pair)

room dimension is 2.5x3.5 meters and I stay 1m or less in front of the speaker

Focal alpha 65 or 80 is out of my budget if I can't find them used
Eris 8 and also yamaha hs8 or adam f5 are in my budget

the problem is that there isn't any shop near where I live, so I can't listen before the purchase
You will notice that I mentioned that with the Alesis - there are very special setup changes that you have to do to get them up to about 70% of their potential, and most people do not take the time to do this, which is why many who use it think that they are not good monitors. I have owned mine for almost 14 years, and for 12 of those years did not set them up properly. When I finally took the time (also when I had the time and inspiration, and it was time to take my studio pursuits a lot more seriously) I did the changes I described earlier to set them up properly, and now I actually stopped listening to music on headphones - when I am at home. That good. Most of the changes I did are described in the Alesis manual. Some others are based on my knowledge of acoustics, which I've also built up over time - many of these changes I have used are also unorthodox, but effective. If you have the time and knowledge, the Alesis match speakers costing well over 1000 euros per pair.

I think the Eris 8 will suit you perfectly if the Focal 65 is out of your budget.

If your music is not too bass heavy, the Focal 50 should definitely be within your budget.

Please do not go anywhere near the Adam F5's. I found the Adam F's to fall short, and were a reduced quality version of the Adam A series, and the reduction in quality was not worth the reduction in price. My challenge was once I heard the Adam A7X, there was no contest, I lost interest in the F series, especially as the Focals were definitely clearer, more authoritative. The Adam F's - when played loud, had too much bass, and not very clear bass... I actually did some research and discovered there is a distinct relationship between the ratio of amplifier power between the woofer and tweeter, that has a direct correlation to how these monitors all sound. In the Adam F's the tweeters (and you can check this by looking up their amplifier specs and comparing with others), the tweeter amps are relatively underpowered compared to the woofer amps.

In the sub 1200 euro market, if you were buying new. the monitors that stood out for me were :

Adam AX7 - I think it is a very capable monitor, not too bass heavy. Has a slightly clearer top end than the Focal Alphas, at the very top end of the frequency spectrum. (ribbon tweeters)....

Focal Alpha 65 and Alpha 80 - slightly dark in sonic presentation, but the most realistic of all those on this shortlist.

Eris E8 - very capable, different sonic signature, not quite as dark as the Focal Alphas. When you compare the amp specs, you discover that the Eris 8 has a bit more power - by ratio, in the tweeter amps, which explains why they sound a bit more trebly compared to the Focal Alphas....

Here are the comparisons of Amp power

Eris 8 - Tweeter 65 watts, Woofer - 75 watts - 87%
Focal Alpha 65 - Tweeter - 35 watts, Woofer - 70 Watts. - 50%
Focal Alpha 80 - Tweeter - 40 watts, Woofer - 100 Watts. - 40%
Adam AX7 - Tweeter - 50 watts, Woofer - 100 watts. - 50%
Adam F7 - Tweeter - 40 watts, woofer - 60 watts - 67%

The higher ratios will lead to a more treble intensive sound, so as my ears also confirmed, the Eris 8 sounds most like many headphones and hi-fi speakers I have heard.

The Focal Alpha 80 - clearly has the least overall treble and in my opinion sounds more bassy than all the others, at normal listening levels.

The Focal Alpha 65 and AX7 probably have the most balanced sound overall, which in my listening proved to be about right, if you are not too interested in deep bass.

By the way, my impressions were already formed when I did lots of demos, and as an amateur student of all things acoustic I was trying to understand why these speakers sounded different, then I stumbled upon this simple ratio, which explained it. Like science, observation first which then led me to dig deeper and develop a theory, to explain the observation.

To compare - The Alesis has 25 watts for the tweeter, and 75 watts for the woofer - a ratio of 33%, which explains why most people think it sounds quite bassy, which it does, unless you set it up properly!!!!. Once again the science and my theory corellate quite well with the observation. In my case, my tweaks significantly control the bass, to rebalance these speakers, to something much more ideal.

Shhhh . please keep this simple theory a secret...! And definitely do not let the manufacturers realise that we now understand a lot more about the science of monitors.

I do sincerely hope all this helps especially as you do not have the opportunity to listen to these yourself.

Last edited by kodebode; 7th February 2016 at 10:59 PM..
Old 7th February 2016 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by daid1 ➑️
@ Speeddemon @ kodebode why no mention of jbl lsr305 or 308?

ALESIS M1 ACTIVE MK2 due to the review are not a very good speakers, I'm wrong? (used are for 150 eur pair)

room dimension is 2.5x3.5 meters and I stay 1m or less in front of the speaker

Focal alpha 65 or 80 is out of my budget if I can't find them used
Eris 8 and also yamaha hs8 or adam f5 are in my budget

the problem is that there isn't any shop near where I live, so I can't listen before the purchase
I have not listened to the JBL's which is why I have no personal opinion of these. I have read the reviews, and the only thing that keeps popping up is that they are good for the price....

I am usually more interested in the good, not really the price, cos monitors are probably the most important things in your studio/home, that will have the greatest influence, also in your listening environment.
Old 7th February 2016 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by daid1 ➑️
If it hepls I can attach photos of this room

I will use the speakers not for registration but only for listen music
Yes please photos, and better still measurements of the three dimensions, width, height, and breadth of the room, would help, cos photos are not easy to "measure".

Now that you mention that you will use these monitors for listening to music, here are my additional opinions.

Monitors also have a factor called dispersion, some are narrow, which means that they sound good only when sitting right in front of them. The Alesis are narrow dispersion monitors. Once you get up and move to the side or out of the room, they change significantly, and the upper frequencies are quite significantly diminished, until you go back an sit right in front of them. Even moving your head a few feet changes the impression of the sound on the Alesis. Therefore they are definitely not recommended for your casual listening, cos that is not what they a meant for. Nevetheless, this narrow dispersion of the upper frequencies can be an advantage in a studio environment.

Of all the monitors, in the shortlist I have discussed earlier, the Eris 8 and the Focal Alphas, had the best dispersion.

Considering you budget, just go ahead and buy the Eris 8. Job done. For casual listening, it's the best, at an excellent price.

For surgical listening, like an audiophile get one of the Alphas, but of course you will pay a bit more.
Old 7th February 2016
  #11
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
here some image of the room
sorry for the poor image quality
Attached Thumbnails
active monitor pair under 450 eur-1454882778877.jpg   active monitor pair under 450 eur-pano_20160207_224432.jpg   active monitor pair under 450 eur-nuovo-documento-41_1.jpg  
Old 7th February 2016
  #12
Lives for gear
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
If I invoke another theory, you will find consensus that the newer designs such as the Eris 8 and the Alphas, have the advantage of new research, while older designs - KRK, Yamaha, are simply re-hash of older designs. New skin on old wine.

The Eris and Alphas are new technology, new model monitors, which needed to be really good to take market share from the KRK and Yamaha's.

Probably the most unappealing speakers I ever listened to were the KRK's. They did not work for me at all.

Enough said.
Old 7th February 2016
  #13
Lives for gear
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Thanks for the photos.

I assume you are going to place the speakers by the side of the Display monitors, of your computer, if so your monitors will be pointing across the short end of your room, instead of the ideal, where they should be pointing towards the long end, to avoid/reduce/delay reflections, from the wall behind your head:

If this be the case:

1. I would definitely not recommend the Yamaha's cos they are rear ported, and will sound too bassy cos they need quite a bit of space between them and the rear surfaces, cabinets/walls......

I would also not recommend the M- Audio BX's for the same reason, they will sound too bassy in your environment, as they are rear ported.

2. You therefore need a front ported speaker, and the only ones in your budget are the Focal 50's, which are very good quality if you are sitting quite close less than 1 meter, or the Eris 8 if you want a bit more bass. The deciding factor is how loud you want to listen. If you will occasionally listen loud, then the Eris 8 will go as loud as you want now and well into the future, even in a larger room.

3. If you could spend a bit more, I would strongly recommend the Focal Alpha 65, so that you buy something that you will enjoy for probably another 15 years and may never need to sell them, simply reuse them in a bedroom or another room as your finances and needs increase, or give away to a very happy recipient. There is a clarity to the Focal Alphas, that supercedes the Eris, if critical listening is your priority.

On another note, in what format do you listen to your music.

If its just MP3's, and music streaming at average quality, through an iphone or smartphone, then there is probably no point in spending too much, cos the limitation is your audio source/format, a better speaker may not improve your listening pleasure significantly. An Eris E8 will be more than adequate.

But if you listen to high quality MP3 (above 200 Kbits/sec) or better, or CD's then its better to have a higher quality monitor, I would suggest the Focus Alpha 65.

Last edited by kodebode; 7th February 2016 at 11:50 PM..
Old 8th February 2016
  #14
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks , well, I think I'll buy the Alpha 65 if I can find them within the budget, if not, I will go with the Eris or the Alpha 50

PS
I don't listen music very loud, is loud enought not to disturb the others and sometimes at low volume. I listen mainly CD or mp3 well recorded at high bitrate or Flac
Old 8th February 2016 | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daid1 ➑️
Thanks , well, I think I'll buy the Alpha 65 if I can find them within the budget, if not, I will go with the Eris or the Alpha 50

PS
I don't listen music very loud, is loud enought not to disturb the others and sometimes at low volume. I listen mainly CD or mp3 well recorded at high bitrate or Flac
Go with a 6.5 tops for that space, its too short a distance to let the bass open up and it will give you all kinds of issues using a 8". That throw is really short

OR, get an Eris 8 and turn down the bass on the back of it
Old 8th February 2016 | Show parent
  #16
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Speeddemon's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by daid1 ➑️
@ Speeddemon @ kodebode why no mention of jbl lsr305 or 308?
Don't know those at all.

With Focal, Yamaha, KRK, Alesis and ADAM I have some experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daid1 ➑️
ALESIS M1 ACTIVE MK2 due to the review are not a very good speakers, I'm wrong? (used are for 150 eur pair)
I personally didn't like them, because TO ME they didn't translate distorted guitars (hardrock/metal) as good as other speakers.
Also the low-end, while big, sounded quite 'smeared'. Not very clear and precise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daid1 ➑️
Focal alpha 65 or 80 is out of my budget if I can't find them used
Eris 8 and also yamaha hs8 or adam f5 are in my budget

the problem is that there isn't any shop near where I live, so I can't listen before the purchase
Regarding the Focal Alpha 65, that's why I suggested saving up a little!
I mean, they're available at various shops for about 600 euro per pair!
You're telling me that you can't save an extra 150 euro's? Wait a few months, ask for money for your birthday, don't smoke/drink for a while, do a paperboy job for a few weeks, etc.

We're talking monitors here, not a pair of Calvin Klein boxers.

(in all seriousness, I can't look into your wallet, but it sometimes amazes me how people get to budget X and then sometimes X+20 or 30% is deemed impossible...then I wonder "how did you get to X in the first place?!" )


The SOS review is very positive about them:
Focal Alpha 65

As are others.

Mind you, I read such reviews with a grain of salt; advertisement has to be paid, blabla, but still...

The JBL review is slightly less positive for instance:
JBL LSR305 & LSR308

Oh, and a European shop like Thomann.de will let you try the monitors for 30 days or so.

Eris SOS review is also quite positive:
PreSonus Eris E5 & E8

So I stand by my original recommendations.

The reason I would lean towards the Focals more is that Focal is a speaker-company, whereas Presonus is an electronics-company that happens to have started building speakers a few years ago. So, Focal's expertise and experience with speaker-building is most likely a lot higher.
Old 8th February 2016
  #17
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Anyone here can tell me how does the Focal Alpha series compare to JBL LSR?
Old 9th February 2016
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I would recommend you to go with professional studio monitor brands, for whatever products you can afford from them. To name a few: Yamaha(HS5 or HS7, not HS8, because of your location. Remember, the smaller the room = the smaller the speakers), Adam(F7, A3X), Genelec(8010), Focal(Alpha50). All this are very good options for your room, again, pro brands. This companies are proven to manufacture good monitors for studios, meaning they provide quality under stress for lots of hours, build to last, being supportive in your journey to deliver valuable audio to your listeners. If you want to become a Pro then think like a Pro, and go with the Pros.

I wouldn't recommend Akai-Alesis-Avantone-Behringer-Eve-KRK-JBL-M audio-Presonus-Samson, unless you're willing to experiment, have some fun or looking for a 2nd pair of monitors/speakers for checking how your mixes translate to other audio systems.

In the end it depends on what your expectations are...do you want your mixes to be accurate and to sound well everywhere(car, phone, hifi, etc), or to sound just ok and have some fun in your spare time. For instance, you can be fine with a pair of Samson SE5/6, that are brilliant for what you pay(around 280euro for a pair), simply get your thoughts clear regarding expectations, and if you are serious on composing and mixing pick the pro brands. Simple as that.

Good luck!
Old 10th February 2016
  #19
Lives for gear
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I discovered that the trick to improve many of the lowend monitors, was to use them non-ported - i.e block the ports.

You do not get as deep a bass, but you get a more accurate bass, than when they are ported.

On the Alesis that's how I use them and this is one of the options recommended in the manual.

I guess as with many things, people do not RTFM (read the F manual), and blame the manufacturer, when the root cause of the poor sound is improper use/placement of the monitors.

I would not recommend any of the newer Alesis, and the Alesis monitors I recommend, the M1 MK2 Actives, are no longer in production. If you ever use these please block the ports.... It significantly improves the overall sound, and tames the over blown bass... And it's simple to do - all you need are two pairs of socks! I also have some custom room treatment..... I've had mine for 14 years, and they are reliable if treated well - not played too loud, cos they do not have any limiter, or protection. Buying second hand is a risk, cos many atimes, the tweeter is blown....

On another note, the lack of any protection, and limiting on the Alesis, if you use them at sensible volumes, is what makes them sound so good....No compression of the signal.
Old 10th February 2016
  #20
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adam_w's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've never had issues with a 5" woofer in a small room. It tends to be all about the room, not the cone size when it comes to how the low end works out!
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