PDA

View Full Version : SB3 into active monitors



Balthazar_B
2007-05-09, 14:18
I've done several forum searches but didn't quite find what I was looking for...

For some measure of portability (e.g., outdoors, in the garage -- in general, anywhere that doesn't merit permanent installation of SB/speakers), I'm looking at picking up a pair of active monitors (leaning towards the Wharfedales at present, FWIW, but still considering other options) that would let me schlep the SB3/monitors pretty much anywhere I want. I know several forum members use active monitors, and I'm wondering whether there's any significant downside to using the unbalanced outs from the SB3 for this purpose. If there is, what did you do to reasonably adapt the SB3 to balanced outs (and by "reasonably" I'm not talking a >$1K DAC, etc.).

Just trying to work out the details before pulling any triggers.

Thanks!

aubuti
2007-05-09, 15:58
My SB connected to active speakers isn't anywhere near Wharfedale class, but I've had no problem with the unbalanced outputs. How long an unbalanced run are talking about, because that can make a huge difference. If it is a long run, I've read some posts from people who used cat5 to make just the kind of long distance line level connection you might be considering.

Balthazar_B
2007-05-09, 17:21
I'm thinking a couple of meters per each run would be typical. I do know cases where RF and other nasty noise has gotten into unbalanced runs from preamps to amps, but I'm uncertain how sensitive unbalanced runs from the SB to an active monitor would be (I guess this would be a line input, no?).

Any other experiences or advice out there?

mortslim
2007-05-09, 20:25
Well,

I just mentioned the solution a few days ago on this specific forum but here it is again:

For those audiophiles who want the cleanest sound possible when connecting to powered speakers, I found a little product that balances the signal when converting from rca to XLR.

It's from ART (Applied Research & Technology) and called the Cleanbox (not to be confused with the Cleanbox II).

It's sold at the retailers I previously mentioned.

SuperQ
2007-05-09, 23:36
I'm thinking a couple of meters per each run would be typical. I do know cases where RF and other nasty noise has gotten into unbalanced runs from preamps to amps, but I'm uncertain how sensitive unbalanced runs from the SB to an active monitor would be (I guess this would be a line input, no?).

Any other experiences or advice out there?

RG-6 coax, probably the best thing for > 2m unbalanced cables you can get.

Personally, I would go with a good monitor like a pair of these:
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BM5A/

Or the popular option around here are audio engines
http://www.audioengineusa.com/

Balthazar_B
2007-05-10, 05:16
mortslim: Yes, I recall seeing your earlier message. Thanks for reminding me to check out the cleanbox.

SuperQ: I like DynAudio stuff, but their studio monitors are just a bit rich for my blood, especially if I compare value/dollar with other options. The BM 5As are 3x the cost of the Wharfs I mentioned, but perhaps not 3x the value (in my case; if I were equipping a home studio and the Dyns worked better with my room correction than anything else, it would be different). DynAudio makes wonderful car audio speakers, by the way, although I didn't buy them either :). I've also been considering the AudioEngines, although my guess -- not being easy to do A:B comparisons -- is that the biamped Wharfs are likely to be better nuanced, and I'm running FLACs in my music collection. Still a bit up in the air on the speakers.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Kyle
2007-05-10, 07:09
I put together a portable setup similar to what you are considering with an SB3 into Audioengines. I attached handles to the top of the AEs to make them easier to move out onto the deck and even velcroed the SB3 to the top of one of the speakers. To me, they sound great, and it certainly helps not to have to mess with a sub. I don't really know how much difference well-nuanced speakers would make in an outdoor environment. If you are concerned about connections, however, you might not like the fact that the input into the AEs is a mini-plug. I don't know about the Wharfdales, but one think I like about the AEs is they have an auxiliary power plug on the back into which I can plug the SB3, so I only have one thing to plug in when I move the system around.

cliveb
2007-05-10, 07:55
For those audiophiles who want the cleanest sound possible when connecting to powered speakers, I found a little product that balances the signal when converting from rca to XLR.

It's from ART (Applied Research & Technology) and called the Cleanbox (not to be confused with the Cleanbox II).
You say it gives the "cleanest sound possible", but I'm skeptical. The ART Cleanbox is inexpensive (about $40 for a stereo unit). It balances the signal by means of transformers. Good quality audio frequency transformers are expensive (like >$50 for a single channel). I see a possible problem here.

Then again, I've not heard the Cleanbox. If ART really have developed good quality audio transformers at this low price, then they've built one of the holy grails of pro audio.

pfarrell
2007-05-10, 08:00
cliveb wrote:
> mortslim;200900 Wrote:
>> It's from ART (Applied Research & Technology) and called the Cleanbox


> You say it gives the "cleanest sound possible", but I'm skeptical.


ART and Behringer are price driven designs for entry point folks playing
with recording audio. They don't claim to be high end studio or high end
audio.



--
Pat Farrell PRC recording studio
http://www.pfarrell.com/PRC

cliveb
2007-05-10, 08:02
I know several forum members use active monitors, and I'm wondering whether there's any significant downside to using the unbalanced outs from the SB3 for this purpose.
For the short interconnect runs you're envisaging, an unbalanced connection should be fine. The only possible issue you might come across would be grounding problems. The SB3 has a floating ground, so if you connect it up to a balanced input in the traditional way (floating the screen of the interconnect at the source end), you might get a hum problem. Tying the interconnect's screen to the ground at the SB end might fix this. Or if the active monitor's screen is decoupled from its ground, you may need to explicitly connect the SB and monitor grounds together. See http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?BalancedPowerAmps

Eric Seaberg
2007-05-10, 08:18
I actually take the Coax S/PDIF out of the SB3 into a pair of Genelec 2029As. You can find them on eBay going for around $600 per pair.

Info on this discontinued monitor is at: http://www.genelec.com/products/previous-models/2029a/

Balthazar_B
2007-05-10, 08:34
That outlet on the AudioEngines is one of its nice features. It has several other touches that make it nearly ideal when using an iPod as the source, which I considered but came to think my wireless SB would be superior in many ways (not least its connectivity to Internet radio).

Some diffs between AE and the Wharf 8.2 Active (delimited by semicolons; apparently there is no way to post a formatted table on this board):

Item;AE;Wharf
Wattage;45/70 peak;60 LF/40 HF
LF driver;5";6.5"
HF driver;22mm;1"
Freq response;50Hz-22KHz;45Hz-24Khz
Inputs;2 1/8" minijack;1 bal XLR-1/4" combo
;;1 unbal phono
Dims;10x7x7.75;14.3x8.3x12.6
Weight;6.4kg/4kg;8kg ea

I think your idea of attaching handles to the speakers is brillant, and something I'd look at doing. Ditto velcro. Thanks for the reply!

mortslim
2007-05-10, 09:44
attaching handles: this is vague, however if it involves drilling holes, there are two risks: compromising the integrity of the cabinet from an audio perspective if not from a structural perspective in that the audio is based in part on the resonsnce of the cabinet. and also the risk of your drill hitting some internal component (like a backhoe hitting a water main)

regarding the comment that ART is an entry point line: Vague general statements are extremely dangerous. The same rules apply to the internet as apply to the "real" world.

ART has global distribution and deals in quantities vastly bigger than any boutique company. As such it has the leverage to procure the SAME parts at lower prices.

What is so ironic is that this thread has on the one hand discussion of consumer grade speakers and also pro speakers and I don't think those mentioning the consumer grade speakers even realize that they would get so much more entertainment from going into a musical equipment store and actually listening to a real speaker.

regarding screens and grounds: I am willing to bet that 99% of those who read this thread have zero electronics knowledge. As such they have no idea what this is about. And that is why companies make plug and play products to solve these everyday problems so you don't have to know which end of a soldering gun to hold.

Kyle
2007-05-10, 10:23
Regarding drilling into the cabinets, I checked with the company to determine the cabinet thickness (20mm or a little more than 3/4 inch) and drilled accordingly. As for resonance, I don't think replacing 3/16ths of an inch of MDF with a metal screw in four spots is going to make that much difference. We're not talking about a Stradivarius.

Regarding vague general statements, I can only assume that you have now auditioned the AEs. What did you think?

Regarding the "cleanest sound possible," count me among the skeptics.

Regarding the "irony" of this thread, I can only say that for me paying upwards of $1,000 per pair or more for "real" speakers that I (and the OP) plan to use outside really doesn't make much sense to me.

Balthazar_B
2007-05-10, 11:20
I actually take the Coax S/PDIF out of the SB3 into a pair of Genelec 2029As. You can find them on eBay going for around $600 per pair.

Info on this discontinued monitor is at: http://www.genelec.com/products/previous-models/2029a/

Do you know what kind of DAC the 2029A uses? I do find keeping the signal in the digital domain for as long as possible appealing as a rule of thumb, but of course in this case only if the monitor's DAC is superior to the SB3's (which I have no basis to assume). There are other digital amp monitors out there, though I must say I've liked the other Genelecs I've heard.


Regarding the "irony" of this thread, I can only say that for me paying upwards of $1,000 per pair or more for "real" speakers that I (and the OP) plan to use outside really doesn't make much sense to me.


True. As I said before, the cost/value ratio for DynAudio and other high-end monitors does not justify their purchase. Having said that, I want the best solution at reasonable cost, and generally speaking the Wharfedale 8.2's seem like a better value for my purposes than the AudioEngines, although the latter have much in the way of features to recommend them.

With respect to other issues raised on the thread, I am attempting to determine how I'll attenuate the output signal of the SB3 (2.1 Vrms) to the monitors (0.775 Vrms input sensitivity). I don't know where in the path the volume control on the monitors operates (if it's before the amps then it is in essence a variable input voltage control; if between amps and drivers I think the SB3 output could clip/fry the amps). The otherwise excellent 8.2 Pro documentation does not address this question.

And if the Cleanbox does eliminate any noise issues for this application, that would seem a useful addition. I have read the wiki entry on SB3 to balanced amp inputs, and there are still several open questions (which is where the experience of others would be instructive).

Thanks again for all the commentary!

mortslim
2007-05-10, 12:18
Here are some examples of REAL speakers:

Yamaha (prior generations of these speakres could be found in almost every sound studio in the world)

http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/CDA/List/ModelSeriesList/0,,CTID%25253D560744%252526CNTYP%25253DGENERAL,00. html

M-Audio (owned by the Pro Tools company - Pro Tools is used on almost every recording you hear today)

http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.list&ID=studiomonitors

pfarrell
2007-05-10, 12:29
mortslim wrote:
> Here are some examples of REAL speakers:
>
> Yamaha (prior generations of these speakres could be found in almost
> every sound studio in the world)

It is true that the Yamaha NS10 are in every studio on the planet.
But that does not mean you want to buy them. They are used because they
accurately represent bad speakers that are typically found in millions
of homes. The idea is that if you can make a tune rock on NS10s, they
will sound good everywhere.

The newer Yamahas, which replaced the NS10, are much improved.


> M-Audio (owned by the Pro Tools company - Pro Tools is used on almost
> every recording you hear today)
> http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.list&ID=studiomonitors

Mackie makes a number of powered speakers for studio work, and they are
very good. But they are designed for a working studio, and their looks
flunk any WAF criteria there is.



--
Pat Farrell PRC recording studio
http://www.pfarrell.com/PRC

Balthazar_B
2007-05-10, 12:54
Here are some I have considered, or am considering:

Wharfedale 8.2 Pro Active:
http://www.wharfedalepro.co.uk/frames/monitor_diamond.html

KRK Rockit ("budget" line):
http://www.krksys.com/index2.php?cat=prodland&page=rokit

E-MU (these have occasionally been on sale for as little as $95/ea):
http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?category=569&subcategory=570&product=14280

Event TR series:
http://www.event1.com/Products/TR_Series/Tuned%20Reference.htm

NHT m-00/s-00
http://www.nhthifi.com/products/m00.html
http://www.nhthifi.com/products/s00.html

I've liked the Yammies I've heard, but their MSP series fail the cost/value ratio test for my application. Some of the above do as well.

I suppose I should add that these monitors are not intended only for outdoor use. I imagine they'll be listened to indoors as well, but in places (e.g., garage, potting shed, rarely-used guest room) where I may not want a dedicated installation of SB/speakers.



Mackie makes a number of powered speakers for studio work, and they are
very good. But they are designed for a working studio, and their looks
flunk any WAF criteria there is.


I'm using a bit of relationship capital to deal with the WAF process :). Of all the candidates, my wife thinks the Alesis (http://www.alesis.com/product.php?id=110) look less like a motorcycle engine in the living room than most of the others, but I wasn't particularly happy with their sound quality. I may have sonically liked the NHT's linked to above more than most, but they require a sub and are too many $$$ for my use; they would make KILLER computer speakers, though :).

Eric Seaberg
2007-05-10, 18:07
Do you know what kind of DAC the 2029A uses?

If you follow the link I posted in my original reply, you will find an answer to your question.

We have over $40,000 in Genelec monitors throughout our production facilities, 3-pair having digital inputs (S30-D). The 2029A are personals in my master-bedroom using the digital input.

Skunk
2007-05-11, 05:10
Here are some I have considered, or am considering:


Another user posted this link to a review of the powered Quad 11L monitors*, which I happened to remember seeing a show sample pair deal on Audiogon**.

* http://www.whats-new-at-totallywired.com/march2007news.html
** http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?spkrmoni&1183766283

Balthazar_B
2007-05-11, 07:20
I'm not sure I'd call an online article from a retailer a "review", exactly :).

BTW, I believe Quads and Wharfedales are made of the same components, mostly, by the same Chinese firm (both Quad and Wharfedale, as well as a number of other venerable brands, were sold to the Chinese some while back). According to most independent reviews I've seen, their engineering/build/QC are noticeably better than certain other similar Chinese products (Behringer, for instance).

Balthazar_B
2007-05-11, 07:34
If you follow the link I posted in my original reply, you will find an answer to your question.


I did read that blurb, but it didn't mention the manufacturer/model of the DAC, only its specs, which are very like many DACs:

"The digital audio input accepts a S/P-DIF digital audio signal having word length 16 to 24 bits. The DA converter inside the 2029A is a professional quality four times oversampling 20-bit delta-sigma converter, with high resilience to clock jitter and excellent linearity. The loudspeaker automatically detects the input sample rate, word length and pre-emphasis, and adjusts all settings to reproduce in the right format, supporting also varispeed operation for television and film industry."




We have over $40,000 in Genelec monitors throughout our production facilities, 3-pair having digital inputs (S30-D). The 2029A are personals in my master-bedroom using the digital input.

Although it doesn't take many of those Genelecs to get to $40K, your studio sounds impressive. And if you're using the 2029's in your bedroom, it must be pretty successful as well :).

Based on the specs, I'm guessing that they might benefit from some bottom reinforcement. I wish they weren't S-P/DIF only, but I'll think a bit about them (Genelec's new 8240A/8250A models with more flexible digital inputs seem VERY nice, but it would be a choice between them vs. a trip to Europe).

Skunk
2007-05-11, 09:43
I did read that blurb, but it didn't mention the manufacturer/model of the DAC, only its specs, which are very like many DACs:


So you are actually more interested in the make+model of the DAC chip than the fact that it's inside a speaker and next to an amplifier?

Skunk
2007-05-11, 09:55
I'm not sure I'd call an online article from a retailer a "review", exactly :).

Well you can hardly trust anything you read online anyway. Whenever someone gets something new it sounds fabulous.

There are a lot of reviews of the 11L, and I trust the retailer that the powered version sounds better. Otherwise, he'd be losing a potential sale of an 11L plus amp package. I also liked the idea of dual mono amps with an active crossover inside and balanced and single ended input. $550 seemed like a pretty good deal considering the high WAF of the multi-coat piano lacquer finish (not to mention that silver is not available in the US). I suppose it depends on your decor :-)



PS, I'd think the odds of the monitors gain setting coming after amplification are probably slim to none.

Eric Seaberg
2007-05-11, 12:31
Based on the specs, I'm guessing that they might benefit from some bottom reinforcement. I wish they weren't S-P/DIF only, but I'll think a bit about them (Genelec's new 8240A/8250A models with more flexible digital inputs seem VERY nice, but it would be a choice between them vs. a trip to Europe).

If you read the specs AGAIN you'll see that they have a S/PDIF input as well as analog XLR on each speaker and 1/4" TRS on each speaker. The XLRs and TRSs serve a dual purpose. When you feed a S/PDIF signal to the RIGHT 2029 its XLR connector sends the converted analog output to the LEFT 2029. Likewise, the TRS jack sends another analog feed that can go to the sub-woofer amp. When the digital input is OFF, both of the XLR inputs do revert to INPUT, as well as the TRS if you wish.

I have the coax out of the SB3 feeding the digital input and the XLRs between the two send audio to the left 2029. When the SB3 is off it kills the digital stream and my Sony XBR TV analog outs feed the TRS inputs, controlled by the TV remote.

It's not too bad, for a bedroom setup!

The DAC, I'm sure, is specd and built by Genelec.

Balthazar_B
2007-05-11, 13:34
Eric, very clever setup. I imagine you've optimized their placement in your bedroom. How's the low end on those monitors? Do you sometimes find yourself wishing for bass reinforcement, either with music from your SB or whatever from your TV?

Eric Seaberg
2007-05-11, 16:44
Yes, I do wish for more bottom end, but they ARE only 5-inchers! It's not my main listening room, but a place where I can listen to whatever I want while falling asleep or waking up or getting ready or watching TV in bed... not a real priority.

I figured I could add a sub if necessary, but really prefer the way it's working now, not only for me but also for my wife... no issues... just turn on the SB3 or TV and go.

I just found a way to deal with digital and analog inputs in a 'non-critical' listening environment and it works for me.

Seriously, check out eBay for these or contact Genelec directly. They have 'demo' models they've been selling that usually come with a warranty.

Contact me off-list for a direct contact at Genelec if you're interested.

Rambaud
2007-05-25, 00:53
Well,

I just mentioned the solution a few days ago on this specific forum but here it is again:

For those audiophiles who want the cleanest sound possible when connecting to powered speakers, I found a little product that balances the signal when converting from rca to XLR.

It's from ART (Applied Research & Technology) and called the Cleanbox (not to be confused with the Cleanbox II).

It's sold at the retailers I previously mentioned.

Thanks for that - just ordered one (new) off ebay for 31.00 in delivery.

In my haste to order my balanced cables, and bypass my Meridian pre-amp, I had overlooked the level mis-match. :(