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Chapter 1: Using Nearfield Monitors

AUDIO FILES (To download all WAV examples at once: 11MB ZIP)

  • LFSineTones:(Ex01.01:WAV/MP3 bp) Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! This file contains a chromatic scale of sinewave tones spanning 24Hz-262Hz. This file is useful for hearing the bass response of monitoring systems, as well as distortion and turbulence anomalies. Table 1.1 in Section 1.4 gives a listing of which frequencies and pitches occur at which times in the file.

  • PinkNoise: (Ex01.03:WAV/MP3 bp) This file contains a full-range pink-noise test signal, which can be used (amongst many other things) to highlight the comb-filtering between the different drivers of a multi-driver speaker.

  • StereoTest: (Ex01.02:WAV/MP3 bp) This file contains a repeating pattern of four noise bursts: the first only in the left channel; the second only in the right channel; the third in both channels; and the fourth in both channels, but with the right channel out of polarity with the left channel. You can use this file to confirm correct stereo speaker setup and assess the stability of your phantom image.


  • Corrections: On page 6, line 19, it should read "the lowest fundamental from a bass guitar is around 41Hz", not 44Hz as printed, and this assumes a regular four-string bass, as that's the fundamental frequency of its low 'E' (as shown in Table 1.1 on page 23). Also, the nodes and antinodes in Figure 1.8 on page 22 should be the opposite way round, as shown in this updated version. These issues have been corrected for the most recent reprints.


  • Affordable Nearfield Monitor Systems: As discussed at length in the book, I strongly recommend unported speakers when working on a budget. At present, however, there simply aren't many affordable closed-box loudspeakers on the market, and my previous top recommendations, the Blue Sky Pro Desk & Media Desk and the Acoustic Energy AE22, have now all been discontinued. (Clearly, if you can snap up one of those systems second-hand, then great, and likewise there are also bargains to be had secondhand on many unported speakers from former manufacturers Harbeth and Klein & Hummel -- look for the latter's O96, O98, and O300 in particular.) All is not lost, though, because there are still some current options. The Abacus A-Box, Quested S6R, and Unity Audio Pebble all provide closed-box sonics at a relatively manageable price, and the option of an additional subwoofer should funds allow. If you've got a bit more cash to splash, then I'd highly recommend the Neumann KH310s -- if you can't get a commercially competitive mix on those, then it certainly won't be their fault! Lower down the budget scale you have the NHT Super Series and the Abacus C-Box, both of which are serious bargains for project-studio mixing and also have subwoofer options available. In addition, I've recently reviewed the reissued Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes, and while I can't really recommend them as a midrange reference (despite their predecessors' heritage!), I think they actually provide quite a competitive budget nearfield system, even taking into account the need for an amp to drive them. I'm in the process of getting hold of many of these systems (and various ported models too) for first-hand testing, and will be reporting my own views about them via the Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast in the first instance.

  • 'Unvarnished Reviews' Of Studio Monitors: I've recently started reviewing some project-studio speakers for the Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast, and here's a list of the recipients of my unvarnished verdict so far: ABACUS C-Box; Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube; KRK Rokit 8 GS3; NHT Pro Super 2.1; Yamaha HS8. To access these reviews, please support the Cambridge-MT resources via our Patreon campaign.

  • Acoustics Products: Auralex sell all manner of tried-and-tested acoustic foam products for reducing the problems of early reflections in your control room. GIK Acoustics and Real Traps sell a variety of ready-made mineral-fibre bass traps, but if you fancy saving some money by making your own, then check out the DIY wooden frames available from ATS Acoustics and Acoustimac -- the latter also do 'DIY EZ Wraps', which are bags prefabricated from acoustic fabric to fit standard 2x4-foot mineral-wool slabs.

  • Calculating Room Modes: In the book I've already mentioned a simple way of calculating the likely resonant frequencies of a room based on its dimensions, but if you're dealing with room resonances a lot, then check out RealTraps' little ModeCalc utility, which provides a graphical overview of all three sets of room modes in a rectangular room at once.

  • Monitor Mounting Products: If you can, try to find monitor stands which have optional foot spikes and can be filled with sand for extra inertia. With speaker stands like this you shouldn't really need any further monitor-isolation gadgets. However, if you're unable to use decent solid stands, for whatever reason, then Primacoustic's Recoil Stabilizer would certainly be worth investigating. Auralex's Mo Pads are a cheaper alternative, but can't provide the same additional inertia because the foam they're made of is comparatively lightweight.


  • Speaker Porting: More information on the side-effects.

  • Yamaha NS10 & Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube: Here's an interesting article about the unique characteristics of the Yamaha NS10, the most famous studio nearfield monitor. Plus this excellent research paper contains exceptionally detailed laboratory tests comparing the Yamaha NS10 and Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube to three dozen different studio monitors.

  • Debunking The 'Speakers On Their Sides' Myth: Sound On Sound Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns gives more detail on why speakers shouldn't normally be mounted on their sides.

  • Phase & Polarity: A more detailed article on phase and polarity, with explanatory diagrams and lots of practical case-studies.

  • Build Your Own Acoustic Diffuser: If you want to get more serious about diffusing reflections in your studio space, rather than just absorbing them, then check out this DIY instruction page, one of a number on the web which explain the practicalities of building a professional-grade modular diffuser as described in this BBC Research Report.

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