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interpreting opinions on monitors

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Philip Fass
interpreting opinions on monitors
on Dec 10, 2008 at 12:41:51 pm

As I live a few hundred miles from any city that would have audio monitors, I have to rely on reviews and user opinions to a great extent-- at least to narrow down the choices.

When I read the message boards, you could almost copy and paste one brand name into someone's opinion of another. Comparing the Genelec 8030A and Adam A7, for example, people have the same praise and criticisms about both.

My question: what do you think would happen if opinions were based on blind A-B testing, using sound samples that were unfamiliar to the listener? I just wonder how much of what I read is what people want to believe, especially if they've already made an investment in one brand.


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Ty Ford
Re: interpreting opinions on monitors
on Dec 10, 2008 at 1:39:56 pm

Hello Philip and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You present a provocative question. Every test of monitors I've done has been with sources I know; a handful of CDs that I have listened to a lot and know very well.

Yes, once you have put the money down for something, you are involved. That doesn't invalidate the choice necessarily. A lot still depends on your experience. For example, I have seen people rave about a mic or piece of gear they have bought. I have been reviewing gear professionally for over 20 years for trade magazines. I may know that the piece they are talking about is OK, but not as good as another. Usually, when I ask them if they have heard the better gear they haven't, so they don't have the experience to make the comparison. Regardless, the Internet provides them the ability to make their opinions known in a text block right next to mine.

Because I do this professionally, I have to be VERY careful and VERY up front about what I say about a piece of gear. When I see, "Ty Ford LOVES these (whatever)", and I never said I "Loved" them, I have to correct that. Companies want me to write glowing things about their gear, but they get upset if I write with enthusiasm about their competition's gear.

The boards are also populated by marketing and counter-marketing types who are on the web to sway opinions.

So, yeah, you're at a disadvantage. My suggestion is to not put a lot of weight on what anyone says in a forum unless you know their credentials, and then still don't use them as your main criteria. The AES has trade shows once a year. The next one will be in NY in October 2009. Most of the better monitor makers have separate rooms in which you can hear their speakers. Go. Bring CDs you know. Listen. Compare.

Some retailers have listening rooms. You want to be a little careful about them. Some are great, others just want to sell you the popular monitor with the biggest margin for profit. Having a solid relationship with someone at the shops is VERY important. If you have that and are serious and up front with them, they may let you try a pair and make changes as long as you're not just trying to jerk them around.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Philip Fass
Re: interpreting opinions on monitors
on Dec 10, 2008 at 2:48:12 pm

Ty, it does help, although I realize that living in the boondocks is a big disadvantage for me.

The opinions aren't much different from those for many consumer products. In each case, yoh have a bunch of closely matched and priced competitors. If one were dramatically superior, the others couldn't compete and would either up their game or go out of biz.

So like monitor preferences, you have the Coke/Pepsi contingent, and the Honda/Toyota contingent. But if you blindfolded those people first, I bet they'd do a lot of hesitating!



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John Fishback
Re: interpreting opinions on monitors
on Dec 10, 2008 at 6:03:23 pm

Why don't you make a list of the 3 or 4 monitors that look good in reviews and then find a source that can audition them for you. Do it all in one day in the city. If you can actually a/b some of them that's best. However, even hearing them separately will tell you a lot. To build on what Ty said about some dealers - an old trick to cause a listener to like one monitor better was to make that one just a little louder. The louder one sounds better, So, if you are able to a/b monitors be very aware of their relative volumes.

John

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Ty Ford
Re: interpreting opinions on monitors
on Dec 10, 2008 at 6:14:37 pm

John offers some very good advice. Also watch out for brighter monitors. For some reason, we have an inclination to think brighter is better too. This is frequently not the case.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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