At KMR Audio we know our speakers ; we probably have the largest selection of professional monitors in all of Europe. We listen to them on a daily basis, compare them, work with them, and are therefore best placed to help find the right solution for our customers.
The only way to know which monitors are right for you is to try them. We can set you up in our listening room with your own material and allow you to switch between several different pairs. Tastes and requirements vary massively, but with so many different options to choose from, it's highly likely something will stand out.
Not only do we carry studio favourites from ATC, Focal, Adam, Eve, Unity Audio, Genelec, PSI, Geithain, Quested and Neumann but we're constantly on the hunt for new manufacturers who can offer something different. We have unearthed and bring exclusively into the UK the following brands - Barefoot Sound, Amphion Loudspeakers, Sveda Audio and SP Acoustics.
Active vs Passive Monitors
Most manufacturers of professional studio reference monitors have adopted active designs, and most users have adopted active designs. The reasons are manifold, the first one being that the matching of the amp to the speaker ensures optimum sonic performance. There are also practical issues similar to the first one. Indeed when buying speakers finding the right amp to power the speakers could be somewhat difficult and sometimes could lead to the speaker (or the amp) being damaged as a result of such mismatch. The safer way in many instances is therefore to use a speaker with the right amplifier built-in. Another practical reason is also perhaps the fact that with the amp built inside the speaker, it is a lot easier to place them in a studio or room.
On the other hand some manufacturers have adopted what they see as an uncompromised approach to speaker design arguing that adding the amplification inside the speaker will invariably affect performance of the mechanical side of the speakers. Brands like Amphion also argue that separating the amp from the speaker also allow the users to change only the required component.
“Does it not benefit the customer that we isolate the aging component into an external box so that whatever wonderful the digital development team can come up with? This way it does not prematurely age the parts where we wrestle with the laws of acoustics and they remain fully usable for the next 10-15 years.”- Anssi Hyvonen (Amphion Loudspeakers)
As a result some companies like PMC, Amphion, SP Acoustics and a few more are offering powered speaker systems where consumers can buy the amplifier specifically designed to power their monitors, offering most of the performance advantage of active speakers, without the perceived inconvenient.
Ported or Sealed cabinet
Another big question is whether people should get sealed cabinet or ported designs.
Ported designs are found on some of the best speakers in the world from ATC, Focal, Genelec and many more. The reason is to increase the overall SPL of the speaker as well as delivering lower frequency performance.
While this may appear as a great thing, there are certainly some compromises. A port is a small enclosure that lets sound escape the speaker at a chosen frequency. Unlike the speakers, which vibrate differently at different frequencies, the ports are static and produce a static frequency boosting somewhat this frequency. It also provides in most cases a smearing of low frequency transients. If the port is placed on the back of the speakers, like on Eve Audio speakers, placement in a room could be trickier.
Sealed Cabinet on the other hand, are easier to place (although one should always exercise great care when positioning monitors) and offer much tighter low frequency transients. These are great to hear the difference between kick drums and bass for example. The drawback is a loss of SPL and a sacrifice of low frequencies.
A third option adopted by a few designers like Focal included a passive radiator, which like a static port allow the speaker to reach lower frequencies but with more musicality since the speaker vibrates in relation to the music rather than at a fixed frequency. An extension of the passive radiator is Barefoot’s Dual-force Sub drivers, which uses active drivers to power the subwoofers. This delivers impressive low end while retaining the tightness of sealed cabinets.
Ultimately while these options matter for the performance of the speakers, your preference is ultimately a very personal matter. Choosing the right speaker for you will ultimately depend on your available budget, your heart and the speaker's performance in your room.
Whether you’re looking for truly analytical studio monitors for mastering or more “vibey” monitors for recording, we can help you make the right choice that will work for your needs.
We know that monitors interact differently in different rooms so once you've whittled down your choice to one or two models, we're happy for you to take them away to try in your own studio before committing. *
Contact us if you are looking for the right pair of studio monitors for your setup and come and try the largest selection of the finest monitors available.
* Terms and conditions apply, and we will ask for payment security to be placed for anything loaned.