Our friends at Sonarworks tested the acoustic properties of a studio similar in design to an everyday home studio with five very different sets of studio monitors. Sonarworks wanted to prove that the frequency response of a room determines the majority of the studio sound rather than specific models of studio monitor.
In the article Sonarworks share their test process and results.
We have a thesis that, frequency response wise, present day studio monitors vary ever so slightlyand the studio they are setup in is the greatest factor in determining what you hear. Of course the best option is to build the perfect studio room and treat it with the best room treatment materials with the help of the best acoustician around. But not everybody is lucky enough to have the time and resources for that.
We decided to conduct a little experiment to see how various monitors performed in a standard unchanging environment. We would then apply the Sonarworks software, a highly precise and groundbreaking calibration technology with multipoint measurement, to see if we could obtain the sort of balance and harmony we were striving for.
Our testing environment was a studio with minimal acoustic treatments – one wall with an angle and an uneven and treated ceiling. The room can be considered a basic home studio.
At this studio we set about measuring five different sets of monitors without adjusting the state the room. We left all the instruments, monitor stands, and tabletop components as they were.
- KRK VXT6
- ADAM A7X
- ADAM A77X
- Genelec 8040
- Equator D5
After setting up each monitoring system we used a 3-step process:
- Measure the frequency response
- Apply the correction (flat response target)
- Re-measure the monitors with correction
For each speaker setup we measured approximately 70 points around the sweetspot. We kept the default priorities for the correction of the room quadrants (sweetspot – high, ~40 cm around it – medium, rest of room – very low). It is important to note that the software automatically detects where you are holding the mic thus making the measurement process simple for the user and free from accidental mic placement errors.
After applying the same measurement techniques to each set of speakers a pattern emerged to reveal reoccurring issues that the room produced for all sets. As you can see from the graph below there was a strong overall boost in the low mids ~80 – 200 Hz and dips at 100 Hz, 300 Hz, and just below 1 kHz.
We then ran the measuring process again applying the Sonarworks software to see if we could correct the room issues. The correction plugin was included in the audio chain (using Virtual Audio Cable and Reaper).
We were quite pleased with the outcome of this test. As you can see from the graphic below we witnessed considerable improvement. After the calibration the main difference between these sets of monitors was at the roll off point of the bass frequencies while the overall frequency response was quite uniform.
The evidence from our experiment confirmed our thesis that, frequency response wise, the room characteristics determine the sound in the studio more than specific model of monitor speakers. While the characteristics of the room generally affected all of the speakers equally we were glad to see that the issues were easily remedied with the Sonarworks technology.
Next Test - Acoustic Chamber
In the coming weeks Sonarworks will be back testing the same five monitors but in a different environment - an acoustic chamber.