Active Studio/PA monitors vs. Audiophile speakers for home theater

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Hyun K, Nov 14, 2002.

  1. Hyun K

    Hyun K Stunt Coordinator

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    I wanted to see what people's takes were on the topic of active studio or PA monitors vs. audiophile level passive speakers in a home theater setting. What are the inherent advantages or disadvantages of each speaker type given that the listening environment will be in a medium sized room (15 X 28), in a 5.1 or 7.1 hometheater setup, with the listening position approx 15 feet away from the front speakers. Bottom line is I want good accuracy and detail, dynamics, and high SPL.

    Here are some things running through my head as of now:

    Active studio monitors give good flat response and are very neutral and accurate... but they are designed for near-field listening. Is 15 feet too far? Will they provide a good soundstage and dispersion characteristics from 15 feet out and provide high SPL.

    Active PA monitors give plenty of SPL... more than I'd ever need... but when driven at medium levels, will they be accurate and neutral?

    Passive consumer brand or audiophile speakers are much more expensive and require even more money for amplification.
     
  2. Greg Cellini

    Greg Cellini Agent

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    Hi Hyun,
    I'd recommend staying away from the PA stuff. Active PA speakers, although very accurate at medium to high SPL, are not designed to reproduce low level signals with much accuracy or detail. The drivers used in most PA speakers are primarily designed for durability; to handle a great deal of power and spew lots of SPL-accurately if possible. Drivers designed in such a way do not respond very accurately to low level signals. Conversely, quality consumer audio drivers are generally designed to respond to low level signals very accurately and yet still provide acceptable SPL performance within a typically sized, closed environment.

    My guess is that you are referring to some of the Mackie products. Their PA and Studio equipment is excellent. For your application, the Active studio monitors would be a better choice. Don't worry about the 15 foot throw-they'll be fine.
    Cheers.
     
  3. Hyun K

    Hyun K Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah... I was looking at the mackie HR824 or some of the genelecs.

    Last night, I actually tested out another mackie powered PA monitor.. a 3-way 1300 watt model... can't remember the model #. Way more SPL than I'd ever need.. it was ridiculous in fact. My wife just glared at me when they turned it on. I listened to it at low levels too and it sounded decent after a casual listen. I just like the idea that I have that amount of power available on command. I highly doubt that I'll go this route however.

    More opinions appreciated.
     
  4. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

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    Genlec's powered speakers have been well reviewed in SGHT and HomeTheater Magazine.
     
  5. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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    If this is just for HT, you might consider a full set of active M&K Professional speakers. A lot of movies get mixed on these, so they will no doubt give you an awesome experience.

    I also think something like 5 of the Mackie HR624's plus an SVS PC-Plus would seriously rock.

    and yeah, definitely stay away from the PA speakers. Some are better than others, but most if not all of the better ones have compression driver tweeters; not the best of low-level reproduction.
     
  6. Hyun K

    Hyun K Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    Bottom line is I want accurate speakers that can be driven to high SPL's and ultimately don't cost a fortune.

    I've looked at Genelec 210's and the MK S150P's but they are in the $2000 - $3000 range per single speaker. That's why I wanted to look at the pro-audio market to see if I can get that same performance for cheaper. Since PA monitor's "low-level" (which is still relatively loud) performance may be compromised... a powered monitor may be the way to go. I like to play my HT loud. I'd love to get 3 mackie 824's for the fronts but I wonder if they'd be able to play at reference levels in a 15 X 28 room without strain.
     
  7. ian_graven

    ian_graven Extra

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    I think you are confusing studio monitors with pa monitors. I would avoid the mackies as home theater monitors as they are very close field. The Genelecs however work great. We have 32 in our presentation theater at work and they work absolutely awesome. Matched with the Lexicon MC-2 the room is unbelievable.

    As for the Mackie PA (SRM450's?) don't ev en think about it.
     
  8. Hyun K

    Hyun K Stunt Coordinator

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    ian...

    The distinction between studio monitors and pa monitors I'm making is that studio monitors are the ones used at the mixer boards for monitoring... and PA monitors being the high output speakers used for live sound.

    I know that the Mackie HR824's are nearfield monitors. How are they a disadvantage when it comes to home listening from approx 10 to 15 feet away? Are you saying all nearfield monitors wouldn't work for an HT setup?

    Also, which genelecs are being used at your work presentation theater? Are they made for HT specifically or for monitoring?
     
  9. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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    I don't think it will be that big of a deal to use the Mackie HR series mid-far field instead of their intended near field use. Make sure you set them up totally on axis, and I bet you'll get a good result. And yes, they can play quite loud.
     
  10. Hyun K

    Hyun K Stunt Coordinator

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    If nearfield monitors have wide dispersion, wouldn't the opposite be true. They should be more forgiving on placement. I figure horn-loaded or ribbon speakers would be more picky with placement where you'd have to aim the speaker, but with wide dispersion characteristics that near field monitors have, I'd figure they'd be more easy to place.
     

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