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thiptoman

AR loudspeakers as studio monitors

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I've read several posts here that AR loudspeakers are used as studio monitors for mixing purposes. Can someone elaborate on what it is that makes one loudspeaker highly suitable as studio monitors and others not worth looking at. JBL has been making pro studio monitors for decades.(1) Is it really possible for speakers like the AR-2, 303, and other AR's to be as accurate as the JBL-lsr32's and other pro loudspeakers ? (2) Can a pair of AR loudspeakers really tell you everything you need to know when mixing ? Those users who are currently using AR loudspeakers as studio monitors please let me know of your experience with these speakers as monitors.Are they telling you the truth? I need a pair of studio monitors but if I can get by with a used pair of used AR speakers I will . I have a small home recording studio and cost is a major factor.

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The question of studio monitors brings into focus the role of the balance engineer or as DG calls him the "Tonemeister." This is where the rubber truely meets the road in the recording industry. Anybody who is a so called audio purist and wouldn't even think of owning an amplifier or preamplifier with tone controls let alone an equalizer had better never go near the inside of a recording studio or look at a recording console. For them its uglier than watching sausage being made. Many of the most critical decisions in the final mixdown related to putting out a successful commercial recording are made at the control console where as many as a quarter to a half of the controls are related to equalization. And the engineers have no hesitation to twirling the knobs. Whatever vestiges of audiophile preconceptions and myths they may have, they lose them at the door because their bread and butter is at stake. The standard monitor for this purpose used in many large studios today is the B&W 801 or now possibly the 802. If nothing else, the use of a single accepted standard model at least helps to make recordings sound more uniform from one engineer or recording company to the next.

In the past, I recall that for may studios, the Altec Voice of the Theater was the standard monitor. An Altec salesman once bragged to me that he had just sold 56 Voice of the Theaters to Columbia Records and that they were 9 times as efficient as AR3s. Well as people here know, efficiency doesn't equal quality but they also sold a lot of those Altec Acoustavoice equalizers and many studios had technicians drag in their calibrated microphones, spectrum analyzers, and signal generators to tweak frequency response periodically to make sure that they had the flattest possible response. (Perhaps RCA used its own LC-15A for a long time.) In the early days, total sound power output and efficiency may have been a consideration in choosing a monitor. Before being too critical of these choices, it should be kept in mind that there is usually more than one engineering path to what are essentially similar results. In most modern homes, a pair of Altec Voice of the Theaters is out of the question due to space limitations and B&W high end speakers are far too expensive for most audiophiles. I don't recall anyone trying a head to head or 801s against say AR9s but I'd bet the 9s would easily hold their own against anybody's speaker.

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>I've read several posts here that AR loudspeakers are used as

>studio monitors for mixing purposes. Can someone elaborate on

>what it is that makes one loudspeaker highly suitable as

>studio monitors and others not worth looking at. JBL has been

>making pro studio monitors for decades.(1) Is it really

>possible for speakers like the AR-2, 303, and other AR's to

>be as accurate as the JBL-lsr32's and other pro loudspeakers ?

> (2) Can a pair of AR loudspeakers really tell you everything

>you need to know when mixing ? Those users who are currently

>using AR loudspeakers as studio monitors please let me know of

>your experience with these speakers as monitors.Are they

>telling you the truth? I need a pair of studio monitors but if

>I can get by with a used pair of used AR speakers I will . I

>have a small home recording studio and cost is a major

>factor.

This is obviously a difficult question to answer, because there are so many factors involved in what is needed for a monitor loudspeaker vs. what is needed for home-music reproduction. "Accuracy" is just one of many criteria for monitor loudspeakers, also, so comparing the accuracy of one speaker to another speaker in this respect may not describe the needs properly. Many other things -- particularly as power-handling capability -- are very important as well.

Over the years AR speakers have been used as monitors in quite a number of recording studios -- mainly classical-music studios -- and the development of the AR-LST came about because of the need for high-power-handling ability coupled with AR's sonic accuracy. We had a list going at one time that described some of the professional uses of AR speakers.

It's important to realize, however, that AR speakers were designed primarily for home use, and not designed for monitoring purposes. In this regard, the accuracy of AR speakers stands on its own merits.

--Tom Tyson

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I know this is NOT the answer you want:

1- The idea that a real, working studio relies on one kind of speaker is a myth of endorsement deals and MIX photoshoots. No studio that I know would rely on one or kinds of speaker any more than they would rely on one or two kinds of microphone. There are speakers best for tracking, speakers best for editing, speakers best for mastering, speakers best for mix translation. What pro studio is going to invest $100K in mics, and $1K in speakers?

2- Listening to your recordings on many speakers is an important way to improve them.

3- Sure, many pros rely on some particular product that establishes a reference from studio to studio and session to session. In my experience, a typical engineer changes out their fav every year or two, on average. Accuracy doesn't have all that much to do with it. It's much more like choosing a guitar. Once you discard the amateur stuff, there are many remaining choices, and you find the one that fits your working style.

4- More than any other factor, the working pro is concerned that what they record sounds the way the expect once it is in the target listener's home or car. The issue isn't whether violins sound like violins. The issue is whether whatever violin tone was signed off in the studio is representative of the home experience. Sure, there are fringe recordings that strive towards something more.

5- There is very little real difference between better home and small pro monitors. The best small studio monitors are probably dialed in for listening at a shorter range. And they are expected to handle higher power for longer with no complaints. But there is no reason specific reason why a good home speaker can't work as a primary monitor.

6- By orders of magnitude, the AR speaker that sold the most to studios was the AR 18. We (my former company), NHT, sold many of our similar-sized Model One into studios.

7- Soundmeister's comments are very accurate.

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