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Studio monitors for VO - in a window bay
Old 5th February 2021
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Studio monitors for VO - in a window bay

Hi, been trawling these forums for a couple weeks now and have picked up loads to help me zero in on some new studio monitors. Now looking for some use-specific tips to make a final selection.

I'm a voiceover artist and don't make or mix music. There's a chance I need to add music or SFX to a recording occasionally, but I wouldn't be the one mixing the music itself. The room I work in is very multi-use as well, so as much as I'd love to have a highly capable and acoustically optimised mixing station, once we go beyond the basic range of spoken voice frequencies I likely have other priorities.

So I've been looking at 5"(ish) monitors, particularly ones where users/reviewers have praised their mid-range definition. I really need to hear mouth clicks, breaths, plosives, etc. and the Mackie CR4 monitors I've got don't give me any detail at all really - as far as I can tell, they're just a heavy set of computer speakers. I've been doing all my editing on headphones instead. Time for a modest upgrade.

Have narrowed it down to:
  • Yamaha HS5 - seems like maybe the most detailed?
  • JBL LSR305 - cheapest of the bunch in the UK right now and well-loved by many
  • KRK RP5 G4 - I know folk slate the older versions, but I still see a lot of VO artists using them. Is that because they're detailed in vocal frequencies or just because they're trendy?
  • Kali LP6 - Seem like incredible VFM and also well-loved

No opportunity to A/B demo due to the pandemic, and I'm not sure it would make that much difference given my usage anyway.

My inclination was towards the Yamaha, but I've got my desk in a pretty terrible acoustic location in a window bay (position dictated by a different contract that requires loads of video-conferencing). I wonder if that makes it more important to focus on the front-ported ones (KRK, Kali, and I also ran across Presonus Eris E5 again today and can't remember why I'd previously dismissed them). Or are there just so many hard surfaces that it doesn't really matter?

Image attached for what the setup looks like. I can get a heavy roller blind or some honeycomb blinds into the window, but more treatment isn't terribly practical here - whatever it is needs to be able to be removed multiple times per day to let light in or open the window.


Finally, anything in particular I want to consider in terms of monitor stands? Ear level is about 1/3 of the way down the iMac from the top of the screen. Seems like I could go wall-mounted pretty easily given there's enough good timberwork on the window trim, but I'm not sure if that's any better than a pair of desk stands with some foam on top. Wall mounted would open up more desk space, but I guess the right type of desk stands could do the same.

Any thoughts appreciated, cheers!
Attached Thumbnails
Studio monitors for VO - in a window bay-img_9113.jpg  
Old 6th February 2021
  #2
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Elevate your speakers to eye level. I’d go with the Kali because of price and what I’ve read, although I’ve never heard them. If you can jump up to their IN model you should get better detail and coherence because of the concentric mid and high drivers. You seem to understand that you are in a very compromised acoustic space, but if you get close to the speakers and don’t pump a lot of level or bass into the room, you might achieve your goal of hearing the mouth noises you need to deal with.
Old 6th February 2021
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Thanks Bushman, that's helpful. Just did the long read of the SoS review for the IN-8 and I see why you recommend them. Literally double the cost for me though, which suddenly puts a whole other range of possibilities in the running, right? Or are the IN-8 actually just giant-killers at the moment? (I confess I haven't done much reading on that price range as I hadn't intended to go there).

Yes, the space (and especially the mix position) isn't great. It's not that I never intend to make changes there, just that I'm prioritising improvements to my recording setup first. It's that curtained/blanketed-off area on the right of the photo, and while it's pretty dead, outside room noise still gets in, so I'm currently focused on knocking down the room as a whole. Approx 3.3m/11ft ceilings and there's currently almost nothing on the walls above about 2.5m/8ft, so my next step is to DIY some Rockwool panels and cover a good bit of the ceiling and upper walls. Guessing that will help the monitors' performance as well, even though it won't do loads for direct reflections.

Depending where that gets me, my mid-range aim may be to build a full isolation booth, and it's only at that point that I'd really begin to focus on my mix position. Hopefully by then we'll have moved to a house with a garage and I won't have to use the room as a bicycle mechanic's workshop on top of everything else (priority there is on smooth, hard surfaces that are easy to wipe down )!
Old 7th February 2021
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Since you're looking for definition in details I would suggest to look at something a bit more refined, like the Genelec 8030. The monitors from your list are definitely an upgrade compared to the Mackies, which are not even monitors, but they don't take you as far as you hope for either. And by integrating some acoustic treatment you'll get a decent environment for you to record and mix vocals.

In the future, if you'll find a better room and wish to upgrade your monitors even more, remember to take a look at Ocean Way monitors, it's the best you can get in your field of interest.

Hope this helps,
Andrei
Old 7th February 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Here for the gear
 
Really helpful Andrei, thanks! 8030s push the budget out another level again. Any mileage in the smaller ones? 8010 or 8020?

If 8030 is the real ideal here then maybe my best course of action is to stick to my original spend, buy Kali LP6 so I'm off the Mackies ASAP, then look at Genelec in 6 months time when I can justify the spend a bit easier. I'm sure I'd have no problem either selling or repurposing the LP6s at that point (I think I've seen quite a few people say they ended up using them as general listening or TV speakers).

Or is something like an LP6 a false economy and not enough improvement to do good work on? Am I better just staying on cans until I can make the leap to something like an 8030?



Ocean Way look great, but as you say, definitely for a totally different level of studio build!
Old 7th February 2021
  #6
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
In your last post you have boiled it down to the essential questions. If you buy Kali, I do think the IN would give you more clarity in the vocal range, which is most important in your case.
But, I haven’t heard either Kali, so my opinion can be regarded as hypothetical, and freely disregarded if you go in another direction or stand pat.
Old 7th February 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiciVoice ➡️
Really helpful Andrei, thanks! 8030s push the budget out another level again. Any mileage in the smaller ones? 8010 or 8020?

If 8030 is the real ideal here then maybe my best course of action is to stick to my original spend, buy Kali LP6 so I'm off the Mackies ASAP, then look at Genelec in 6 months time when I can justify the spend a bit easier. I'm sure I'd have no problem either selling or repurposing the LP6s at that point (I think I've seen quite a few people say they ended up using them as general listening or TV speakers).

Or is something like an LP6 a false economy and not enough improvement to do good work on? Am I better just staying on cans until I can make the leap to something like an 8030?



Ocean Way look great, but as you say, definitely for a totally different level of studio build!
The Genelec 8030 are the smallest Genelecs that I've heard, so I can't vouch for the 8010 and 8020. Yes, they're not cheap, but we're talking about professional monitoring already, and once you hear them, you'll instantly understand why and forget how much they cost.

The entry level for monitors starts at about $500-600, anything below usually has some sort of compromises in quality and definition, and is actually targeted towards people that are just starting out in need for some speakers. However, you can find some hidden gems here and there, like I discovered the Tannoy Gold series (have their 5'' model), and while they're incredible for the asking price (natural voicing, very low levels of distortion, great imaging, accurate), I don't get the same level of detail I find in my other pair, the ATC 20s.

What I'm trying to say is that mixing vocals is probably the most complicated thing to do for an engineer, and for that he needs the absolute best tools he can get, including solid monitoring. So, it's quite important to hear well what's going on if you're interested in delivering quality material.

I think it's a good idea to save some coins and wait until you can put your hands on a pair of Genelecs, but if you're in absolute hurry, for your task, most likely the 8010 or the 8020 are a better option than the monitors from your list. The only problem is that the smaller they are, the less detailed they get, that's why, for your room, I think the 8030 is a solid bet, not large at all, but not the smallest either.

However, you can't go wrong either way, you will definitely get an upgrade from your media speakers that you have right now, how much of an upgrade...it's up to you to decide. If you'll be treating the room as well, it's going to help even more, so it's all good, happy hunting!

,Andrei
Old 7th February 2021
  #8
Gear Guru
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiciVoice ➡️
There's a chance I need to add music or SFX to a recording occasionally, but I wouldn't be the one mixing the music itself. The room I work in is very multi-use as well, so as much as I'd love to have a highly capable and acoustically optimised mixing station, once we go beyond the basic range of spoken voice frequencies I likely have other priorities.

So I've been looking at 5"(ish) monitors, particularly ones where users/reviewers have praised their mid-range definition. I really need to hear mouth clicks, breaths, plosives, etc. and the Mackie CR4 monitors I've got don't give me any detail at all really - as far as I can tell, they're just a heavy set of computer speakers. I've been doing all my editing on headphones instead.
I guess my first intuitive inclination would be to keep using headphones as the primary tool for editing/cleanup if they currently are good enough. So if that currently works at least you'll have that.

For sound effects I would argue that you might need less precision if you're pulling stuff from great libraries and are creating sounds using VST instruments for example. Final balancing as you say would be done by someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BiciVoice ➡️
Image attached for what the setup looks like. I can get a heavy roller blind or some honeycomb blinds into the window, but more treatment isn't terribly practical here - whatever it is needs to be able to be removed multiple times per day to let light in or open the window.

Finally, anything in particular I want to consider in terms of monitor stands? Ear level is about 1/3 of the way down the iMac from the top of the screen. Seems like I could go wall-mounted pretty easily given there's enough good timberwork on the window trim, but I'm not sure if that's any better than a pair of desk stands with some foam on top. Wall mounted would open up more desk space, but I guess the right type of desk stands could do the same.

Any thoughts appreciated, cheers!
My thoughts based on the image is that at the very least imaging might get a bit messy, and some ranges smeared, simply because of not just wall/window reflections but from the two screens. I'd say especially your right large monitor makes the room far more asymmetrical and squeezing a speaker in between the iMac and that screen is likely no good in my opinion. You'll have some frequencies bounce off both of those reflective surfaces. So I think imaging and probably also clarity will suffer.

I'm not sure how practical this would be but if you could move the desk into the room just enough to allow for the iMac to lower so that the bottom of the actual screen (above the apple logo) is essentially flush with the desk then you could possibly elevate the new speakers to have at least the tweeters above the screen - and then lower the right one as well. Perhaps you could wall-mount the speakers as you suggested. No real suggestions on other acoustic treatment that is easily moveable right now...

My setup at home has an ultrawide 34" set up so that I always look somewhat down onto the screen, and my monitors are then above it on a 'console' bridge. Even the woofers are above it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BiciVoice ➡️
Just did the long read of the SoS review for the IN-8 and I see why you recommend them. Literally double the cost for me though, which suddenly puts a whole other range of possibilities in the running, right? Or are the IN-8 actually just giant-killers at the moment? (I confess I haven't done much reading on that price range as I hadn't intended to go there).
I have both the Kali LP6 which I use for surrounds, and the Kali IN-8 which I use for Left/Center/Right in a surround setup.

here are my thoughts on the IN-8.

To add to that review I'd say that after having used them for some time I do have some questions about QC. I don't want to scare people off, but I did notice that the tweeter mounted in the midrange isn't exactly aligned the same in all speakers. I would say there's the possibility that there's a slight difference in tonal balance between individual speakers, but I'd need to look into that more before I'd say that that's a real thing, or even an issue.

I'll say there's definitely a big difference between the LP6 and the IN-8. The off-axis response is quite different first of all. I find that as you move your head off-axis on the IN-8 the general tonal balance remains the same for a longer period of time than on the LP6. With the latter I feel there's a shift sooner that's also bigger. So I'd say the LP6 are in a sense less 'forgiving', meaning they have a narrower sweet spot for listening. The IN-8 also sound a lot bigger, with a wider and deeper sound stage, not to mention a bit more headroom when it comes to dynamic range.

Lastly, I just listened to some dialog (center channel only) on the IN-8 and LP6 and I think the IN-8's are a bit less forgiving and hide less. Not sure if that's the coax design though I'm inclined to think it is.

Also;

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreiPiatra ➡️
The Genelec 8030 are the smallest Genelecs that I've heard, so I can't vouch for the 8010 and 8020. Yes, they're not cheap, but we're talking about professional monitoring already, and once you hear them, you'll instantly understand why and forget how much they cost.
My experience with Gennies is that the cheaper smaller ones don't really do that well when you push them. Now, if we're talking mainly recording and editing VO then I doubt that it matters, and they're a really good brand that's in use pretty much everywhere. So it's hard not to recommend them. But I will say that if you push them with a bit of volume and some low end heavy SFX then you're likely to get some distortion. It's not entirely annoyingly unpleasant distortion, but they really start sounding 'constrained' pretty early I think. The larger ones are much better for SFX work... but... also $$ of course. (I believe the smaller ones I don't care for that much are the 8020 4-inch ones)

Speaking of smaller speakers: There is the rumor that Kali might introduce a smaller IN series speaker, which I'm guessing would likely be a 5" model. That's just a rumor though.
Old 8th February 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Here for the gear
 
Cheers all, some really great stuff in here. I can picture some Genelecs in a studio I used to go record in a lot pre-pandemic, and they've definitely got that clarity I'm looking for. Sounds like waiting to spend on the 8030 or the IN-8 is probably my best course of action. Of course if that rumour about an IN-5 proves true then that could be a really great option (I probably would have pulled the trigger on those already if they existed).

I looked at stretching budget to that point now, but just couldn't justify it. I've just ordered LP6 because the online retailer that had the cheapest price here is doing an extra 5% discount code this weekend for their birthday. Pair for £260 and they have a 120 day try-and-return policy. I'll hook them up and see how much I'm getting from them compared to headphones. If they seem useable then I'll work with them for a few months til a couple big invoices get paid and I can step up. If not I'll return them and stick to cans in the interim. I reckon even if I keep them I could probably sell on for more than half of what I paid, so they're not setting me back appreciably from savings progress towards a more 'proper' set, and if they get me even one extra job then they'll pay for themselves.

It does mean the search is still on and I'll have to come back and update here when I'm nearer to pulling the trigger on the better ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➡️
My thoughts based on the image is that at the very least imaging might get a bit messy, and some ranges smeared, simply because of not just wall/window reflections but from the two screens. I'd say especially your right large monitor makes the room far more asymmetrical and squeezing a speaker in between the iMac and that screen is likely no good in my opinion. You'll have some frequencies bounce off both of those reflective surfaces. So I think imaging and probably also clarity will suffer.
That's a TV which is actually mounted so it can swing into the ideal viewing position for a bicycle on a turbo trainer. (Oddly, this is all connected into my work in various ways - somehow every hobby finds its way into your job when you're an actor!) It actually makes a kind of terrible second monitor - 32" 1080p is surprisingly low resolution close up. I've been using it for a videoconference training gig where it helps to have my screen-share media on a different screen than the one with the delegate videos. Works just fine given that I've already seen all that media dozens of times and don't have to look at it closely.

That's a long way of saying that I don't really need the second monitor for most of the audio work I do (or intend to do). TV is on a multi-pivot mount and can swing way out of the way (but will obviously still be present against the wall, and may be employed from time to time for various purposes)


Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➡️
I'm not sure how practical this would be but if you could move the desk into the room just enough to allow for the iMac to lower so that the bottom of the actual screen (above the apple logo) is essentially flush with the desk then you could possibly elevate the new speakers to have at least the tweeters above the screen - and then lower the right one as well. Perhaps you could wall-mount the speakers as you suggested. No real suggestions on other acoustic treatment that is easily moveable right now...

My setup at home has an ultrawide 34" set up so that I always look somewhat down onto the screen, and my monitors are then above it on a 'console' bridge. Even the woofers are above it.
Are you talking about putting the iMac on a separate table behind/underneath the desk? Desk is already pretty deep, so I suspect that takes me into a new furniture or custom-build project. Not out of the question, but not really an immediate option.

Mac has a fixed height stand, so the only way to adjust is to change the height of the surface it sits on. Desk legs have grub screws and can change height though, so that's an option. And I ordered K&M 26774 desktop stands which are adjustable and should give me some flexibility (though I may well eventually go wall-mounted).

If I'm honest I'm still trying to work out the ergonomics of this 27" iMac in general. I only just got it for the videoconference gig. I was previously doing all my admin work on a 12" Macbook so I'm really not used to having to look around quite so much. It feels simultaneously too high, too low, too far away, and overwhelmingly close. (I'm also a bit miffed that I ended up having to buy it so close to the launch of the new Apple Silicon ones - but at least I can still fill it with RAM for cheap). Maybe it would be good to lower the whole desk a bit?



Perhaps time for more backstory: the iMac was the catalyst for this whole studio improvement chain reaction. I was previously recording on a 2011 Macbook Air on a different table in a slightly better acoustic location but a way more cramped space. The computer couldn't handle much in the way of plugins or multiple tracks in ProTools, and it was uncomfortable to work on for long sessions. It's why I never bothered to fix any of the other issues in the room. It was good enough for auditions and when clients approached me, and I earned some really decent money with it, but I wouldn't have wanted to really increase my volume of work with that setup (voiceover maxed out at about 1/3 of my income and I wasn't struggling for other work).

So, now everything is consolidated into this iMac and the single desk space. It's a mixing nightmare but has drastically improved my computing capability, both in terms of power and ergonomics (once I sort positioning!). And once I get rid of the table the other computer was on then I'll also have enough room to build out a full isolation booth if I want.

There are big compromises, but I think overall I'm still better off than I was.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➡️
I have both the Kali LP6 which I use for surrounds, and the Kali IN-8 which I use for Left/Center/Right in a surround setup.

here are my thoughts on the IN-8.

To add to that review I'd say that after having used them for some time I do have some questions about QC. I don't want to scare people off, but I did notice that the tweeter mounted in the midrange isn't exactly aligned the same in all speakers. I would say there's the possibility that there's a slight difference in tonal balance between individual speakers, but I'd need to look into that more before I'd say that that's a real thing, or even an issue.

I'll say there's definitely a big difference between the LP6 and the IN-8. The off-axis response is quite different first of all. I find that as you move your head off-axis on the IN-8 the general tonal balance remains the same for a longer period of time than on the LP6. With the latter I feel there's a shift sooner that's also bigger. So I'd say the LP6 are in a sense less 'forgiving', meaning they have a narrower sweet spot for listening. The IN-8 also sound a lot bigger, with a wider and deeper sound stage, not to mention a bit more headroom when it comes to dynamic range.

Lastly, I just listened to some dialog (center channel only) on the IN-8 and LP6 and I think the IN-8's are a bit less forgiving and hide less. Not sure if that's the coax design though I'm inclined to think it is.
I had read some bits of your review which I found useful, but this addendum is incredible! Exactly the kind of info I needed, thank you!



Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➡️
My experience with Gennies is that the cheaper smaller ones don't really do that well when you push them. Now, if we're talking mainly recording and editing VO then I doubt that it matters, and they're a really good brand that's in use pretty much everywhere. So it's hard not to recommend them. But I will say that if you push them with a bit of volume and some low end heavy SFX then you're likely to get some distortion. It's not entirely annoyingly unpleasant distortion, but they really start sounding 'constrained' pretty early I think. The larger ones are much better for SFX work... but... also $$ of course. (I believe the smaller ones I don't care for that much are the 8020 4-inch ones)

Speaking of smaller speakers: There is the rumor that Kali might introduce a smaller IN series speaker, which I'm guessing would likely be a 5" model. That's just a rumor though.
Good to know - sounds like 8020s would probably be fine but I might as well go for 8030 if it's coming out of future budget. Don't know how much their rear-porting would exacerbate my acoustic problems though. Potential argument in favour of the IN-X (depending which version(s) are available at the time).
Old 8th February 2021 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiciVoice ➡️
Are you talking about putting the iMac on a separate table behind/underneath the desk? Desk is already pretty deep, so I suspect that takes me into a new furniture or custom-build project. Not out of the question, but not really an immediate option.
Yes, I was thinking to put its stand on something lower which would then move the iMac front further back and the entire device lower. I looked again at the picture and I think maybe I'm not seeing exactly how deep that desk is and exactly where it ends (toward the window).
Old 10th February 2021 | Show parent
  #11
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cheu78's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiciVoice ➡️
Cheers all, some really great stuff in here. I can picture some Genelecs in a studio I used to go record in a lot pre-pandemic, and they've definitely got that clarity I'm looking for.
Good to know - sounds like 8020s would probably be fine but I might as well go for 8030 if it's coming out of future budget. Don't know how much their rear-porting would exacerbate my acoustic problems though. Potential argument in favour of the IN-X (depending which version(s) are available at the time).
Look at the Hedd 05 mk2, if you're looking for clarity without shredding your ears off, these will be a good buy, or even a pair of used mk1, which might be found on the market, since they just came out with the new mk2 versions.

on lower budget, the kali is probably your best bet.. I'm not a big genelec fan myself.



Cheu
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