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How to drive well and cheaply a pair of monitors?
Old 23rd November 2009
  #1
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
How to drive well and cheaply a pair of monitors?

Hello to everyone !
My congratulations for this very beautiful site indeed
I decided to set up a cheap monitoring system
Then I bought these Behringer 2031A (I intend to mod replacing that plastic woofer with two 8" from JBL)
Is there a good balanced line driver to drive these monitors properly ?
I do not need mixing ability.
My set up is stereo, a dvd player and these new monitors, my first experience with self powered speakers
But I do need something in between not too expensive but good enough, something nicely "transparent" sound wise
If must be a mixer I would like better sliding volume controls
Thank you very much indeed
Kind regards,
gino
Old 25th November 2009
  #2
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
just wanted to say that (a) I don't understand your question but (b) replacing the "cheap plastic woofer" with a jbl will very likely give you a much less accurate and poorer performing speaker.

the jbl is a better drive PROBABLY, but it won't be suited to that enclosure perfectly. Say what you will but behringer did put some R&D into the design of that enclosure and suiting it's amps to the drivers.

So it's possible but very unlikely that you'll get as good sound afterwards, and in fact you will quite possibly get worse sound afterwards.

But maybe you'll do well - I'm not saying don't try it, but be prepared to go back to how it was. I'd only swap one woofer first and then do plenty of thorough a/b testing between the two speakers, sleep on it and do that again. Just to make sure you're making the right change here...

I don't like those monitors much but that's being really picky - I don't always like what other people like in monitoring setups. The truth monitors DO translate fairly acceptably and once you learn them you can do great things with them.

cheers,
Don
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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aof21's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
+1 Dkelleys comments on replacing the woofer and if I understand your question correctly it sounds like you are looking for a DAC / Monitor Controller?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ginetto61 ➑️
Hello to everyone !
Is there a good balanced line driver to drive these monitors properly ?
If the speakers are powered they don't need to be "driven" I don't think. You can feed any line level source into them, the problem is that you won't have control over the volume, except for an inconvenient trim on the back of the speaker probably.

Quote:
I do not need mixing ability.
My set up is stereo, a dvd player and these new monitors,
Is the DVD player going into the stereo, or are those two separate things? Is this for a studio set up, or home listening? When you say "stereo" do you mean a home stereo system, or a stereo signal coming out of a DAW?
You don't need "mixing ability" but you do need the ability to choose between different sources (e.g. the stereo vs. the dvd player) right?

Quote:
But I do need something in between not too expensive but good enough, something nicely "transparent" sound wise
If must be a mixer I would like better sliding volume controls
Thank you very much indeed
Kind regards,
gino
Not sure what your definitions of "not too expensive but good enough" or "transparent" are, but there are things like Mackie Big Knob, PreSonus Central Station which are fairly transparent, but not exactly Behringer-cheap. Those would give you the ability to hook up a couple different sources and would "drive" the speakers nicely.

Since I"m thinking maybe you want cheaper than that, you might just be looking at one of those small Behringer mixers, like the 502, it will give you a couple inputs and a stereo output to feed the speakers. If you want a slider for volume rather than a knob (which seems like a strange choice, but to each his own...) then some of the other Behringer mixers or one of the small Mackie mixers have a fader for your L/R mix or control room volume.
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelley ➑️
just wanted to say that (a) I don't understand your question but (b) replacing the "cheap plastic woofer" with a jbl will very likely give you a much less accurate and poorer performing speaker.
the jbl is a better drive PROBABLY, but it won't be suited to that enclosure perfectly.
Say what you will but behringer did put some R&D into the design of that enclosure and suiting it's amps to the drivers.
So it's possible but very unlikely that you'll get as good sound afterwards, and in fact you will quite possibly get worse sound afterwards.
But maybe you'll do well - I'm not saying don't try it, but be prepared to go back to how it was. I'd only swap one woofer first and then do plenty of thorough a/b testing between the two speakers, sleep on it and do that again. Just to make sure you're making the right change here...
I don't like those monitors much but that's being really picky - I don't always like what other people like in monitoring setups. The truth monitors DO translate fairly acceptably and once you learn them you can do great things with them.
cheers,
Don
Thank you very much Don for your kind and helpful reply.
First problem is that I have a digital source with RCA outs and I have been told that It would be better to drive the monitors with XLR cables
Then I need a balanced line preamp
And I am looking for a nice performance/price ratio, with price under let's say the equivalent of 300 USD ? but I do not know if this price is too low for a nice pre

The second problem is that i have the feeling that the power amps part of these speakers is good enough
Even Genelec adopted the same National chip amps LM3886 for an old model
The very cheap part I strongly think is the woofer, an expensive part usually
As I have these 2 JBL from an old L19 I am very tempted to try them in the Behringers.
The JBL must be a better part I think
In any case I will follow your kind advice to replace just one and listen for difference in sound

Thank you very much again
Kind regards,
gino
Old 25th November 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
+1 Dkelleys comments on replacing the woofer and if I understand your question correctly it sounds like you are looking for a DAC / Monitor Controller?

Good evening !
Well that would be great but not cheap indeed. I have an humble digital player
A Dac-preamp would be very interesting, but also expensive I am afraid
But it could be a very tempting solution
I know of Benchmark dac 1 ... but it is too expensive for me
I do not think dac preamps come cheap
Maybe I should stick with a simple analog controller/line preamp

If the speakers are powered they don't need to be "driven" I don't think. You can feed any line level source into them, the problem is that you won't have control over the volume, except for an inconvenient trim on the back of the speaker probably

Well I do prefer to have a volume controller for the speakers
A balanced line preamp I think it is called
But they usually are quite expensive
Maybe the sound of a cheap mixer can be good enough ?

Is the DVD player going into the stereo, or are those two separate things? Is this for a studio set up, or home listening?
When you say "stereo" do you mean a home stereo system, or a stereo signal coming out of a DAW?
You don't need "mixing ability" but you do need the ability to choose between different sources (e.g. the stereo vs. the dvd player) right?


I mean home listening with the source being a dvd player
No DAW for the moment unfortunately

Not sure what your definitions of "not too expensive but good enough" or "transparent" are, but there are things like Mackie Big Knob, PreSonus Central Station which are fairly transparent, but not exactly Behringer-cheap.
Those would give you the ability to hook up a couple different sources and would "drive" the speakers nicely


Thank you very much for your valuable suggestion. Which is the better sounding between the Mackie and the PreSonus ?
If the sound is really good I could save money and buy it.
It will become a permanent piece in my set-up

Since I"m thinking maybe you want cheaper than that, you might just be looking at one of those small Behringer mixers, like the 502, it will give you a couple inputs and a stereo output to feed the speakers.
If you want a slider for volume rather than a knob (which seems like a strange choice, but to each his own...) then some of the other Behringer mixers or one of the small Mackie mixers have a fader for your L/R mix or control room volume.


I wonder if the improvements between a cheap mixer and the above mentioned controllers could be heard on cheap monitors like the Behringers
My belief is that amps' contribution to the sound is lower than that of the transducers (W e TW) and that between the two the part that usually costs more is the woofer. So the woofers must be of a very poor quality
I listened them at the studio that sold me the pair.
I heard a confused low end while the upper end seemed fine enough
So the modding idea came to me.

Thanks a lot and kind regards,
gino
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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aof21's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
I wonder if the improvements between a cheap mixer and the above mentioned controllers could be heard on cheap monitors like the Behringers
yea, there is definitely something to be said for the fact that it would be a little stupid to spend $500 on a controller for a $500 pair of speakers (or whatever the behringers are...)

Here are the respective pages for the Big Knob and the PreSonus,
Mackie - Big Knob
PreSonus

I think both of those are probably overkill though because you only have 1 source and 1 output right? So you just literally need something to convert from consumer output level to line level?

I just did a google search and found these:
Balanced / Unbalanced Line Level Converter | MCM Custom Audio | 555-8485 (5558485)
Samson | S-CONVERT - Stereo Line Level Converter | SASCONV | B&H
ART CleanBOX | Sweetwater.com

Those are all relatively cheap and should do the trick, although none of them have the "slider" for volume control that you desire. Most of those just have a really small cheap rotary pot.

I think the question is really what do you see yourself doing in the future? If you think you are going to expand your set up to get multiple inputs and outputs, maybe you are better off investing in a mixer or monitor controller, even if you aren't using the extra inputs right now, it will be helpful if down the road you want to add a couple different sources of inputs and outputs.

And almost undoubtedly, even though I have not heard any of the above units with the exception of the PreSonus, you're not going to get exactly "transparent" audio with any of those, but I'm pretty sure the Mackie Big Knob or a Mackie mixer is gonna sound a hell of a lot better than any of the cheapie converter boxes.

We hooked up a converter box (not any of the ones I linked to, it was another brand, I can't remember what it was) to the mini headphone jack on our G5 and there was a real audible noise when you boosted the gain, so I don't know if that was our specific box (or the fact that it was the headphone jack) but you'll probably just have to test some of them out, or maybe someone else here can shed a little light on it.
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Get a cd player with volume control built-in, and plug the active speakers directly into the cd player.

Oppo makes very nice units with remote control volume. I have their dvd player, and am planning to buy their blueray too.
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Good evening to Everyone !
first of all let me say that my first impression was just right
This is an extremely informative forum and thank you very much for all your very valuable advice

[QUOTE=aof21;4823668]
yea, there is definitely something to be said for the fact that it would be a little stupid to spend $500 on a controller for a $500 pair of speakers (or whatever the behringers are...)


Good evening ! Thank you very much for your kind and helpful reply,
Yes I have got the Behs for 300 euro here in Milan-Italy
I bought them from a little studio recording
The sound engineer of course was willing to sell them. So I do not know how honest was his opinion of these speakers
But he told me that they are of a reasonable quality

Here are the respective pages for the Big Knob and the PreSonus,
Mackie - Big Knob
PreSonus


I did some research on the Mackie controller and found very positive review from different audio magazines
It seems very well built and good sounding too.
It is more or less the same price of the 2 speakers actually.

I think both of those are probably overkill though because you only have 1 source and 1 output right?
So you just literally need something to convert from consumer output level to line level?


That's almost right. I have three line sources (dvd player, digital receiver and digital video recorder) going to a selector and then to a hifi preamp, all unbalanced

I just did a google search and found these:
Balanced / Unbalanced Line Level Converter | MCM Custom Audio | 555-8485 (5558485)
Samson | S-CONVERT - Stereo Line Level Converter | SASCONV | B&H
ART CleanBOX | Sweetwater.com

Those are all relatively cheap and should do the trick, although none of them have the "slider" for volume control that you desire.
Most of those just have a really small cheap rotary pot.

I think the question is really what do you see yourself doing in the future? If you think you are going to expand your set up to get multiple inputs and outputs, maybe you are better off investing in a mixer or monitor controller, even if you aren't using the extra inputs right now,
it will be helpful if down the road you want to add a couple different sources of inputs and outputs.
And almost undoubtedly, even though I have not heard any of the above units with the exception of the PreSonus, you're not going to get exactly "transparent" audio with any of those,
but I'm pretty sure the Mackie Big Knob or a Mackie mixer is gonna sound a hell of a lot better than any of the cheapie converter boxes.
We hooked up a converter box (not any of the ones I linked to, it was another brand, I can't remember what it was) to the mini headphone jack on our G5 and there was a real audible noise when you boosted the gain, so I don't know if that was our specific box (or the fact that it was the headphone jack) but you'll probably just have to test some of them out, or maybe someone else here can shed a little light on it


Thank you so much again for your very helpful advice
I feel that the Mackie controller/mixer solution should be the best one
I will search for info/reviews on the Mackie units
I will have a separate switch for video signals
But I really think that a mixer would be the best solution after all.

Kindest regards,
gino
Old 26th November 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dakine ➑️
Get a cd player with volume control built-in, and plug the active speakers directly into the cd player.
Oppo makes very nice units with remote control volume. I have their dvd player, and am planning to buy their blueray too.
Good evening !
I forgot to mention that I have other 2 line souces, a digital video receiver and a digital HD recorder that I would like to connect
So a good mixer should be the most reasonable solution
Thanks a lot and kind regards,
gino
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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aof21's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
I feel that the Mackie controller/mixer solution should be the best one
I will search for info/reviews on the Mackie units

yeah, you really can't go wrong with any of the mackie mixers. in that price range, they are pretty much "industry standard" for a cheap little mixer that has a relatively clean sound and will last a while. I have been using a Mackie 1402 for many years now for pretty much the same purpose you are describing (just having a few inputs feed to a pair of powered monitors) and it does the trick. Plus, depending on which model you get, the one I have has a fader for control room volume, which you said you would prefer to a rotary pot -- so you'll get what you want there.

The pots will get a little scratchy after a few years of heavy use, but they are pretty easy to take apart and clean and it sounds like you have a comfort level in some basic maintenence type stuff. The other bonus, is I think the resale value will remain relatively high because most of the mackies have been around a while and there's always people who want one for basic PA applications or home studio set ups.
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by aof21 ➑️
yeah, you really can't go wrong with any of the mackie mixers.
in that price range, they are pretty much "industry standard" for a cheap little mixer that has a relatively clean sound and will last a while.
I have been using a Mackie 1402 for many years now for pretty much the same purpose you are describing (just having a few inputs feed to a pair of powered monitors) and it does the trick.
Plus, depending on which model you get, the one I have has a fader for control room volume, which you said you would prefer to a rotary pot -- so you'll get what you want there.
The pots will get a little scratchy after a few years of heavy use, but they are pretty easy to take apart and clean and it sounds like you have a comfort level in some basic maintenence type stuff.
The other bonus, is I think the resale value will remain relatively high because most of the mackies have been around a while and there's always people who want one for basic PA applications or home studio set ups.
Thank you very much again Mr Alden for your very kind and valuable advice
Mackie brand is very famous in Italy as well and their products have usually a very high performance/price ratio
I think that it will be just fine for my needs that are basic indeed
Nevertheless the Big Knob is very tempting expecially now that I have read all those very positive reviews on different audio mags
I will think aboout it seriously.
I could always keep it even for upgraded set-ups.
Thank you so much again and kind regards, heh
gino
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Passive

Take a look at SM Pro Audio: Monitor Controllers
They are very well built, don't be fooled by the price. The sound is impeccable, they are passive. I chose the MPatch 2 over very high end options and am very happy with it.
There are passive hifi products to provide the extra line inputs.
DD
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I agree with the monitor controllers from SM pro audio. With SM pro's reputation I probably wouldn't touch most of their other gear but the Nanopatch is very nice. Passive and doesn't degrade the signal as far as I can tell. Simple and dirt cheap if you only need to hook up one pair of monitors and don't need talkback integrated.
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Thank you very much for all your kind advice.
I have read of possible driving problem with passive preamps (my speakers are 10K of input impedance)
I could not find the impedance figures of these controllers.
I will look for them
Thank you so much and kind regards,
gino
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Worry

Gino, I would not worry about that. Most output impedances are 100 ohms or less.
I have just measured a Pot from an MPatch 2. It is 5K.
The unit is working perfectly here at Sound Sound - Homepage
Believe me, if there was a sonic or technical problem, I would hear it.
DD
Old 27th November 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDan ➑️
Gino, I would not worry about that.
Most output impedances are 100 ohms or less.
I have just measured a Pot from an MPatch 2. It is 5K.
The unit is working perfectly here at Sound Sound - Homepage
Believe me, if there was a sonic or technical problem, I would hear it.
DD
Thank you very much Dan
I will look for this controller
I cannot think of a cheapest solution actually thumbsup
Kindest regards,heh
gino
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