Selecting Speakers

Frequency response, power handling and output level capability are all important factors to consider when choosing a speaker. These specs can provide a general baseline for making a final selection.

Near or far

In an air studio with many people actively working, a far-field system will provide a larger listening area. In a production studio, a near-field configuration will likely work best because of the closer working space. Keep in mind that a production studio may have two listening positions; one over the console and one over the editing workstation.

One disadvantage of a far-field system is that the overall volume will tend to run higher, which may cause problems with audio leaking into other studios.

I have the power

Originally introduced as a convenience, self-powered monitors have evolved into complete systems that address the monitoring system as a whole. Any quality power amplifier can provide a flat, stable audio source for a passive monitor, but there may be some small inconsistencies that add or subtract from the system's overall sound. An active system will typically match the components for a flatter overall sound.

By placing the amplifier in the speaker, a line-level signal can be routed to the enclosure, which may simplify wiring. The drawback is that ac power must also be available at the enclosure.

Finding the right system for your installation needn't be difficult. The Resource Guide should provide some basic information to help you begin your pursuit.

Resource Guide
A sample of available speakers

Mackie's HR824 and HR624 are two-way, bi-amplified, active speaker systems that incorporate an elliptical wave-guide for improved dispersion and a composite honeycomb, rear-firing passive transducer that provides bass extension to 49Hz (-3dB). Components include a 6.7" (HR624) or 8.75" (HR824) extended LF transducer with a cast magnesium frame and mineral-damped polypropylene cone. The 1" (24.5mm) aluminum liquid-cooled tweeter is used in both models. Integrated FR Series amplifiers provide 100W to the woofer and 40W to the tweeter. Inputs include ¼" XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced. Rear panel controls consist of an 80Hz high-pass filter and -2/0/+2dB high frequency shelving filter.

The Interactive Digital Programming in the Tannoy Elipse allows studio engineers to tune a monitoring system to match a specific critical listening environment. The studio monitors provide preset storage, recall and total acoustic alignment flexibility via remote control. The delay lines in the software allow the user to virtually move speakers, providing monitoring by compensating for poor speaker location. Precision EQ capability built-in allows the user to compensate for acoustic anomalies in the room. On board pink noise generators permit the user to EQ the room and adjust the system accordingly. All profiles within the software can be changed as required, then stored as presets for instant recall whenever needed.

Portable and lightweight, the Hafler M5 offers all the qualities of the TRM6 in a more compact, non-amplified package. Features include a frequency response of 70Hz to 21kHz at ±3dB; user selectable front-anel 3dB L-pad; crossover frequency of 4th order Linkwitz-Riley at 3.2kHz, tweeter overload protection; and five-way binding posts. The monitor's ⅝" thick MDF cabinet has an internal volume of 5.3 liters and a front firing slotted port tuning the system to 70Hz. The speaker offers a power handling of 20W to 200W with a nominal impedance of 6Ω. The monitor weighs 12 lbs. and its dimensions are 12.25" H × 6.75" W × 7" D.

The LSR6300 series from JBL includes three models: the LSR6328P bi-amplified reference monitor with 8" woofer and 1" tweeter; the LSR6332 reference monitor with 12" woofer, 5" midrange, and 1" tweeter; and the LSR6312SP subwoofer. The LSR6312SP includes bass management circuitry and a full feature-set for multi-channel audio production. All models include mounting points for use with readily available mounting hardware and magnetic shielding. The frequency response of the LSR6328P is 50Hz to 20kHz and its crossover frequency is 1.7kHz. It weighs 39lbs. The frequency response of the LSR6332 is 60Hz to 22kHz and its crossover frequency is 250Hz/2.2kHz. The frequency response of the LSR6312SP is 28Hz to 80Hz and its crossover frequency is 80Hz.

Offering reduced HF diffraction effects, the Tannoy Reveal's 1 ¼" thick contoured MDF baffle provides a solid foundation for drive unit mounting as well as increasing overall stiffness. The drive units include a 1" soft dome tweeter and 6 ½" bass unit manufactured in-house. This speaker offers an average sensitivity of 90dB/2.83V at 1m. Its normal impedance is 6Ω and its frequency response is 65Hz to 20kHz. The monitor offers power handling of 50W/100W, and its recommended amplifier power is 30W to 100W into 8Ω. Its crossover frequency is 3kHz. Its dimensions are 13.38" × 8.27" × 10.24" and it weighs 15.4 lbs. The speaker's finish is red satin baffle with grey suedette vinyl sides and back.

The TC Electronic Dynaudio Acoustics Air 20 combines Dynaudio 221 technology with digital TC technology. Integrating tweeter and mid-range technology, the design minimizes reflection effects from the console, floor or similar planes. The tweeter part uses a 1.1" softdome, a 1.1" aluminum voice coil and an oversized neodymium magnet system. This monitor features a 10" woofer using a one-piece molded polypropylene cone and a 4" aluminum voice coil. The monitor's frequency response is 31Hz to 21kHz, and a crossover frequency of 390Hz and 2,600Hz. The dimensions of the speaker are 22.63" × 12.2" × 15.5" and weighs 61lbs.

A bi-amplified nearfield monitor system, the Genelec 1029A features a rugged, cast-aluminium construction and magnetic stray-field shielding. The vented speaker enclosure contains an amplification unit, including an active electronic crossover, overload protection circuitry and two power amplifiers — one for each driver. The input is made via balanced XLR female or ¼" jack socket connector that can also be used in parallel. The monitor's free field frequency response ±2.5dB is 70Hz to 18kHz, and its crossover frequency is 3.3kHz. The speaker's dimensions are 9¾" × 515/16" × 7½" and it weighs 13.2lbs.

The internal components of the Yamaha MSP10 Studio are aligned within micron-tolerances, matched and tuned for the best possible performance. The 4Ω 8" cone woofer is driven by a 120W power amplifier, and the 8Ω 1" titanium dome tweeter has its own 60W power amplifier, resulting in balance between low-mid and high frequency ranges, a smooth high frequency response up to and beyond 40kHz, and an integrated waveguide that achieves uniform dispersion over 120 degrees. Line-level electronic crossovers feature steep 30dB/octave roll-off curves in low and high-pass filters. The result is minimal inter-modulation at the crossover point, and smoother performance in the critical midrange.

This digital reference monitor, the DS30A from Roland, adds 24-bit/96kHz digital monitoring to any studio. The monitor uses a 30W bi-amp design with custom crossover circuitry to deliver clear sound and flat frequency response. Features include nearfield monitors with flat frequency response; balanced XLR/TRS input for analog applications; 5" foamed polypropylene LF driver and 1" softdome HF driver, magnetically shielded; adjustable input level, low frequency and high frequency trims; and convenient front power switch. This speaker measures 7" × 9⅞" × 11" and weighs 13.5 lbs.

Blue Sky International Big Blue is a mid-field powered, three way, quad amplified, 500W monitor featuring dual 8" high excursion, hemispherical woofers, a low distortion 4" hemispherical midrange driver and 1" dual concentric diaphragm tweeter with integral waveguide for superior off-axis response. Powered by a dedicated low-distortion 100W amplifier for each 8" woofer, one low-distortion 200W amplifier for the midrange and one low-distortion 100W amplifier for the tweeter, this unit delivers clean and accurate sound with a frequency response of 40Hz to 20kHz. Big Blue measures 12" × 25" × 15" and weighs 80 lbs.

The JBL 4208 is a two-way monitor with a shielded 8" woofer and titanium dome tweeter. Key features of the speaker include a multi-radial baffle that aligns the acoustic centers of the high and low frequency transducers; transducers that are magnetically shielded to allow placement near tape recorders. The frequency response is 60Hz to 20kHz (±2dB) and its frequency range is 38Hz to 21kHz (-10dB). The speaker's sensitivity is 89dB SPL and it offers a normal impedance of 8Ω. The monitor's crossover frequency is 2.6kHz and its transducer complement is 8" LF. The continuous power capacity of this speaker is 75W and the peak is 300W. This speaker weighs 20.5 lbs and comes in a gray matte vinyl enclosure.

Buyers Guide Online

For more information on speakers and other equipment, Visit for the Radio magazine Buyers Guide, which includes manufacturer contacts, websites and product category listings.

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