We continue our Pro Tools Expert team series of what studio gear we use and in this article, we share our current studio monitor choices. Choosing a set of studio monitors is all about personal taste. A set of monitors that sound good for one person may sound terrible to someone else. Read on to discover what studio monitors we currently use and why we chose them.
Professional Studio Monitor Speakers - What Our Team Use Every Day
Adam P22a - Dan Cooper
I purchased my set of Adam P22a studio monitors in 2009. I heard a friend's smaller Adam monitors and I was blown away by the sonic quality. The sonic areas that stood out to me were:
- The depth of the sound
- Tonal balance
- Tightness of the stereo image
I had to own a set...
Prior to my Adam monitors I used the classic Tannoy Reveal Active studio monitors, however, these low-cost monitors only got my mixes so far as they lacked punch and low mid clarity. I chose the larger Adam P22a near field monitors, even though I think they are mid field monitors as these are quite large in size, as I wanted a flatter and fuller sounding monitor set and these have certainly delivered over the years. These monitors produce great power and tonal balance when I'm cranking them up in tracking sessions and perform equally as well when I mix with them at low levels.
The manual states that the P22a monitors were designed to be placed either vertically or horizontally - I've tried both configurations over the years so that the tweeter is at ear height with great results. The Adam P22a monitors are a set of monitors I will never let go of as I truly believe they are the best set of monitors for my needs and tastes. These have also never let me down or showed any signs of failure - My Adam P22a monitors are the only items in my studio that have never needed repairing or replacing - and they get a lot of punishment.
- Woofer 220mm (8”) coated paper cone
- A.R.T. tweeter
- Freq.response (± 3 dB) 38Hz - 35kHz
- Panel (rear-mounted) Input/HF gain, Hi/Lo EQ adjustment
- Power 100W (sin), 150W (RMS)
- Price at the time £1,600 for the pair
Focal Twin 6Be & Sub 6 - James Ivey
In my recent studio history a great many pieces of gear have come and gone but my main monitors have remained and there is a very good reason why, they chose me!
When I was on the road with Avid as a product demonstrator I would turn up at a music store and plumb my latest demo kit into the display speaker system. These were almost always Focal Twin 6Be speakers and I found that my mixes translated really well on them. I was using some beta edition Digidesign speakers in the studio at the time and I found I had to work really hard to get a great sound on them but clearly the hard work was paying off as my tracks sounded great through the Focals so I bought a pair.
Since buying the Twin 6Be speakers I have made 3 additions to my monitoring setup. The first is the Trinnov speaker calibration and monitor controlling system which I have talked about in the monitor controller team article.
Another was the IsoAcoustics mounts that the speakers sit on, on top of the console meter bridge. These decouple the speaker from the surface and make sure that as much as possible of the energy from the drivers is turned into sound not unwanted vibration.
The final addition was a Focal Sub6. This came my way via a Pro Tools Expert community member who reached out on FaceBook. The addition of the sub to make a 2.1 system has really allowed the Twin 6Be speakers to open up. The rig sounds amazingly balanced even at very low monitoring levels. The Sub sits on the floor under the console between the floor racks of the console I/O and the desk PSU.
PMC LB1s and TB1s - Mike Thornton
I had a pair of Rogers LS3/5a monitors for over 30 years, and was fortunate to acquire a second pair at a very reasonable price so I had LS3/5a speakers across the front for my left, centre, and right speakers, and had a pair Tannoy hi-fi speakers for surrounds. I loved the sound of my LS3/5a speakers but they don't cover the area below 100Hz so I bought a small active sub and set it up so it took over where the Rogers left off, so I had a bass managed system and my sub was handling both low frequencies from my monitors and LFE duties, but in reviewing some other speakers like the Dynaudio BM Compact series I became aware that by beloved BBC designed speakers were past their best.
So started a search and I had just about settled on the Dynaudio BM Compacts when a friend was downsizing and offered to sell me a 5.0 surround system consisting of 3 LB1s with Bryston amps on the back and a pair of PMC TB1s. So my active sub no longer has to handle both bass management and LFE duties, with this system it just handles LFE on the rare occasions that I need LFE.
Although they aren't current models, by buying secondhand from a trusted source I was able to get much more bang for my buck.
To finish of my monitoring system I bought the miniDSP Dirac Live monitor calibration system. If you are interested then you can read my extensive review here on Pro Tools Expert.
Genelec 1029a/1091 - Julian Rodgers
I've had a pair of Genelec 1029s with a 1091 sub for about 15 years and although I've considered replacing them many times in the past, I've always stuck with them because I know that any of the monitors I'd considered replacing them with would be some kind of sideways move. I'd end up with something different but not necessarily better. My time and money would be better spent having a good long look at my room.
Lots of people criticise Genelecs but I'm very familiar with them and I like them. Genelecs are everywhere in education and I come into daily contact with everything from the tiniest two way to big three way Genelecs and although I really like the other comparable monitors I come into contact with - for example I really like Dynaudio and PMC, I recently heard some Amphions and thought they were great and I was pleasantly surprised by some big JBLs not that long ago, I still feel you can't go far wrong with a good set of Gennies and you certainly know what you are going to get.
Genelec 8010A - Peter Barter
When shopping around for a compact set of speakers and having used many of the larger 8000 series throughout my career these baby Genelecs were on my radar as soon as they were released in March 2015. They offer a tight and very focussed sound and importantly for me have a very small desktop footprint. Whilst they don’t cover the very lowest frequencies (74Hz to 20kHz ±2.5dB), I’m happy that what I am hearing translates to other systems in the way I expect. When working in a less than ideal acoustic space, bass extension is not on my list of priorities and can be more trouble than its worth.
Like Julian, I won’t be upgrading my monitors before first looking at the bigger issue of room acoustics which may involve converting a dormant workshop/garage under the house. If and when that happens I’ll be sure the let the community know.
Presonus Eris E66MTM, Eris E5 & Temblor 10 - Alan Sallabank
I reviewed these monitor speakers last year. Here's what I thought of them then, and still think of them now -
The Mission - To find a 7.1 set of front ported loudspeakers that will work well in a 7.1 post environment. There's a big problem for multi-channel (5.1, 7.1, Atmos) monitor setups in medium to small rooms. The market for near-to-midfield monitors is fairly dominated by rear ported designs. Whether you're using a projected image or a flat screen, they are generally against a wall, and generally as wide as the room (if a projected image). This means that the speakers need to be against the wall and in corners, which is a major problem with rear ported designs in small to medium sized rooms.
Ideally the client area is in front of the mix position, so even if you are only 5.1, you'll most likely need side fill or client surround speakers. When you're working to a projected image, it's important that the client's line of sight to the image is not impaired by lots of Pro Tools screens and flashing LEDs on your console. The usual result of putting rear ported design monitors in to the locations a multi-channel post production setup requires, is uncontrollable bass and vague imaging.
To get as close to Dolby specifications as possible, the mixing desk should be about two thirds of the way back the room, with a 45 degree angle between the left and right speakers when sat in mix position. Originally I only wanted a set of front speakers and a subwoofer, but being mindful that it's always best to maintain the same manufacturer for your surrounds to keep consistency in sound around the room, I also took a look at some of Presonus' single woofer design speakers.
This is what I decided to equip my studio with -
- Three Presonus Eris E66 Active Monitors
- Four Presonus Eris E5 Active Monitors
- One Temblor T-10 Active Subwoofer
- Very spacious and consistent sound, with tons of depth and dynamic range
- Excellent imaging
- Good build quality
- Very adjustable - easy to integrate into an existing installation
- Very competitive price point
- Available as single units rather than pairs
- Simple rear plate design means you need right angle connectors if you are restricted for depth
- Unable to switch off Presonus Logo lights, which could be distracting
- No 90 degree phase setting on Subwoofer
As you can see, the con's are very few and almost irrelevant compared to the pro's. I would recommend these speakers to anyone making their first steps in to multi channel work, or even someone with an existing installation they are having issues with.
You can read my full two part review here..
Russ Hughes - Eve SC205 2-Way 5" Studio Monitors
I reviewed the Eve SC205 2 way studio monitors in July 2014, and like Alan my opinion of them still stands.
The Eve SC205 have garnered a lot of praise from reviewers and owners alike - it’s not hard to understand why. The Eve SC205 offers a nice transparent and open top end and a tight low end. I am a bit of a mid freak and want to know it’s not missing in a mix. One concern I had with the SC205s would be that the mid was going to be lost by their openness, my fears were unfounded and after some time of working with them I found my mixes were coming out with more detail and a better bass in them.
As I said earlier, mastering engineers are worth their weight in gold in compensating for the different flavours of studio monitor and room idiosyncrasies, however I think mixing on the SC205s gets the mix closer than I’ve ever had it before.