Tag: Monitors

The Overhead Versus Headrest Monitor Video System Rumble

It’s the age old question, do I get a headrest monitor or a flip down monitor? How do you decide on how to invest your money? Which system is going to be more practical or more awesome?

Well one of the first questions you should be asking yourself is, who’s going to be using the screen and what kind of car is it going into? Do you have a sedan and drive around with people in your back seat who argue and can’t agree on the exact color the sky is let alone what movie to watch? Well then you might want to check out dual DVD player head rest monitors. Give them some headphones and enjoy the peace and quiet while they each watch their own separate movie or even listen to separate music than what you have going in your car.

Ok so maybe you have an Escalade or a Denali or a Suburban or any other vehicle with three rows of seats. Well swapping out all of those headrests can be costly and impractical so you might want to go with an overhead monitor. This way you can get a nice big screen and more people can watch without you having to replace four headrests. And hey, while you’re at it, go have yourself a tailgate party or a beach trip and pop open the back and keep everyone entertained. You’re sure to impress and be the life of the party. And if you’re impressing and entertaining, that means you don’t have to bring the drinks and food.

Since a 21” flip down screen might not be the best idea if you have a smaller car, you’re free to try of course but good luck, a headrest monitor would probably be the way to go.

So you’re the person who wants a perfect color match in your ride and everything has to perfect in your car, and who could blame you, if you’re willing to spend the extra cash on a higher end headrest monitors like the ones from CarShow or Vizualogic, you can get custom matched colors that are designed specifically for your year, make and model. This way you know you won’t have to worry about the headrest being a charcoal black when your interior is a slightly darker charcoal black.

If you’re like yours truly and want to have an awesome tricked out car, with a factory match look, but you haven’t quite gotten famous yet so you can’t spend too much money, you’ll want to go with an overhead monitor. If the flip down monitor doesn’t quite match your interior exactly, it’s not quite as noticeable. Or if you have a cloth interior, the overhead might be a better fit since a vinyl or leather headrest might look kinda awkward with cloth seats.

When it comes down to it either a flip down or headrests are going to be pretty sweet and are going to serve their purpose of providing some rear seat entertainment. If you have a smaller vehicle, want more viewing options and want to have a look as close to factory as possible you’ll probably want to go with headrest monitors. If you have a bigger vehicle with more seat rows, have cloth seats, and want the biggest screen you can get to entertain everyone then you’ll probably want to go with an overhead monitor. And hey, if you really want to want to turn your ride into a media entertainment hub and have the dough to spend on it, you can always go with both. Nothing will turn heads quite like a vehicle with a pair of headrest screens and a 17″ flip down screen. Do it…

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S/PDIF Combos Coming Soon To Sonic Electronix!

What the heck is “S/PDIF?”

No, it’s not a typo. S/PDIF stands for “Sony/Phillips Digital Interconnect Format,” or “Sony/Phillips Digital Interface,” and is a means through which users may transmit audio signals digitally, which makes for higher fidelity: digital in, digital out. Right now, there are two consumer-level digital transmission interfaces: HDMI and S/PDIF. Most people reading this probably know that HDMI transmits both video and audio, however, what you might not know is that S/PDIF only transmits audio.

So you might ask, “Why bother with S/PDIF then?” Well, not all equipment has an HDMI input or output, which should be pretty obvious when dealing with things like audio interfaces and reference monitors that don’t handle video signals. In some situations, like separate sound and video outputs from computers, you might even need to hook up both HDMI and S/PDIF cables.

Blow 4D

The Blow 4D reference monitors' DAC module which has both S/PDIF coaxial and 3-pin AES/EBU connections


S/PDIF has two different types of connectors: coaxial (RCA) and optical (TOSLINK). The coaxial cables are usually found colored orange in order to differentiate between other colored RCA connectors such as yellow for video, and red and white for analog audio. The optical cables are far more delicate and are made of fiber optics.

The upcoming combos…

We at Sonic Electronix value high-fidelity audio above all else, and that’s why we’re currently putting together combos that link pieces of gear based on S/PDIF. The picture above is taken from the Infrasonic Blow 4D reference monitors, about which I also recently wrote a blog. We’ll be pairing up these fantastic speakers with just about any piece of gear in our inventory that has S/PDIF output, and as always, we’ll be offering them to you at the special discounted prices you love and have come to expect from Sonic Electronix!

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Hear What You’re Missing With Infrasonic’s Blow4D Nearfield Reference Monitors

Apparently, Infrasonic owns a trademark on the phrase, “Hear What You’re Missing.” They’re certainly justifiably confident in holding that trademark. Infrasonic makes a variety of products, including reference monitors, FireWire/USB/PCI audio interfaces, MIDI controllers and microphones, and as far as this blogger can tell, they’re all top-notch. These monitors, the Blow 4D, are a fantastic example:

Infrasonic Blow4D

Bi-Amplified Nearfield Studio Monitor Speakers w/ Built-in 24-bit/192kHz DAC, Bass Reflex & Much More

The Infrasonic Blow 4Ds are a pair of 55-Watt, 4″ bi-amplified near-field studio monitors. They feature a two-way design, a bass reflex system and natural silk dome tweeters in order to reproduce the broad frequency response and overall stellar-quality sound that they do. Their high-strength MDF composite cabinet design also contributes to that.

Infrasonic Blow4D back

The Blow 4Ds have both analog AND digital inputs, with a stunning 24-bit/192 kHz DAC built right into it.

Don’t be fooled by the “BLOW4″ you see in the picture. It’s easy as pie to tell the difference. The difference (and, if I may, what a beautiful one it is) is that the Blow 4Ds come equipped with a DA-912 digital interface module, allowing users to utilize a number of digital inputs such as AEU/EBU(XLR), S/PDIF(RCA) and an RCA thru connector.

The DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) in the DA-912 has an astonishing 24-bit/192kHz resolution which translates to 123 dB of dynamic range. Keen observers will also notice the variety of filters above the DA-912 module that help control low and high frequencies in a wide variety of ways. Truly, the Infrasonic Blow 4Ds are some of the most outstanding near-field studio monitors on the market today. With speakers this accurate and powerful, you’ll surely “Hear What You’re Missing.™”

Make sure to click one of the images or this link to check out the Blow 4D product page for further information!

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The Presonus Monitor Station vs. The Mackie Big Knob

Presonus Monitor StationMackie Big Knob

The Mackie Big Knob and the Presonus Monitor Station are both studio monitor control centers designed to give flexibility in selecting monitor mix sources as well as selecting sets of monitors to be used.    To achieve the best possible mix and keep your monitors and room from lying to you, it is very important to be able to reference your mix over different monitors including nearfeild, main, and reference monitors.  Both the Mackie Big Knob and Presonus Monitor Station fill an indispensable role in the studio by enabling the user to select monitor sources as well.   The ability to effortlessly switch from “pre-tape” (post mixer but prior to recording media) to “post-tape” (post mixer and post recording media) gives you the power to know exactly how every component in your signal chain is coloring your sound.  This feature can also be used as a patching system of sorts as the monitor sources have an independent output  on both of these monitoring systems.   Another very important feature bother of these units have is a “talk-back” mic.  This enables an engineer or producer to stay in communication with the artist or talent who may be isolated in a vocal booth.   How would you like to be able to say to your vocalist: “That’s a great take Jenny, now come on in to the control room and let’s give it a listen”?

The Presonus Monitor Station

The main glaring difference between the Presonus Monitor Station Mackie Big Knob is the Monitor Sations’ incorporated headphone amplifiers.  Using two main busses to route signal from, headphone mixes can be assigned to any of the four headphone amps from either the main mix or cue mix.  This is particularly handy for sending a click track to a drummer or bass player while sending a completely different “more me mix” to a vocalist.


Monitor Station Rear

The Mackie Big Knob

Where the Big Knob lacks in headphone mix distribution is makes up for in signal routing options.  The Big Knob features four stereo input connections for monitor sources including a nice phono amp for a turn table.   There are three main monitor options to switch to with individual level potentiometers.  This is a nice feature for leveling and balancing multiple sets of monitors without having to adjust your mix.   Like the Monitor Station the Big Know features an external mic option for the talk-back circuit, but one step further with a footswitch trigger.  Handy for giving notes while your fingers are full of faders.


Big Knob Rear

So what’s right for you?

Both of these monitor control systems fill an indispensable role in the studio as they both poses the crucial features needed to both capture the best performance from your artist via the talk-back systems as well as the ability scrutinize your mix over different reference monitors.  It all boils down to The Monitor Stations’ extended cue mix and headphone mix distribution ability to the Big Knobs’ advance routing capabilities.     So here is the deal if you are tracking more than two artists at once and you need more than one headphone mix, the Monitor Station may be right for you,  However if you would find it more advantageous to have an extra monitor source to select from than you definitely need to give the Mackie Big Knob a shot.

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Control Room Acoustics, Your Monitors, and You!

Dont Let Your Monitors Lie To You!

For most of us that operate small budget production studios in our homes we may not have deep enough pockets to invest in proper isolation and acoustic treatment of our control rooms. In fact the majority of home audio engineers have to make do with predetermined room dimensions and the resulting problems that coincide with settling on the best you can do.

Mackie MR5
The simplest and most cost effective way to get the most out of your mix environment is to invest in a nice set of nearfield monitors. Nearfield monitors were originally designed to be used in control rooms with rather large mixing consoles where larger “Main” monitors cannot be placed in an optimum listening position simply due to lack of space. Nearfields such as the Mackie MR5s are designed to be listened to in a closer proximity and at a lower level.

There are some very important things to keep in mind with the placement of your nearfield monitors:

1: Establish your listening position

The most obvious choices can be made based on your rooms shape and the ability to fit your gear in a convenient and ergonomic work station. This process is subjective and leads to a grand game of give and take acoustically.

2: Elevate your studio monitors

In larger commercial recording studios, monitors are often soffit mounted (recessed into the wall). This is a great way to avoid some acoustic problems right out of the gate but isn’t always an option for those of us who rent or live in our parents basement as we may not have free rein to make major renovations to the room.

So we have to mount our monitors “free-standing” meaning simply that the monitors are placed on stands. It is very important to use monitor stands rather than just placing your monitors on a table or other flat surfaces as this can lead to comb filtering from resulting reflections.   It’s very important that your monitors are elevated to ear level. Nearfields should also be decoupled from the monitor stands with one inch thick rigid foam to avoid unnecessary rattles and hum. Your foam should yield no more than 30% under the weight of your monitors.

3: Place your monitors in an optimum stereo field

Now that you have established your listening position, and placed your studio monitors on stands, it is time to place your monitors with stands in your listening environment. It is key for proper stereo imaging that your studio monitors are symmetrically spaced apart. The mid-range driver of your monitors should be eye level and make an equilateral triangle with your head.  Aim your monitors slightly behind your head to expand the sweet spot of the listening position.

4: Watch Out for the Walls!

Once you have established the spatial relationship between your listening position and your studio monitors, it is important to be aware of the distance from your monitors to the side and front walls of your control room. For your monitors to be most accurate you should be sure to place them at least two and a half feet from the closest wall. You will notice that the closer your monitors are to your walls the more elevated low end “Bass-Boost” levels result. You may think, “But isn’t more bass better?” Sure, but herein lies the problem. If your bass response is artificially augmented post tape then it won’t be reflected in your final mix and will result in a thin bassless sounding product. If you don’t have enough room to centralize your mix position to keep your nearfields away from the walls some acoustical treatment may need to be applied to the adjacent wall, especially if the your monitors are near corners of the room where low frequencies tend to gather. Bass traps may need to be implemented in this case and can be easily constructed using relatively cheap materials. I’ve also seen a waist high pile of laundry yield similar results.

5: How does your monitor placement affect the rest of the room?

Another acoustic consideration is the early reflections of your monitors bouncing off of your walls and back to you. With different frequencies reinforcing each other at different wavelengths some frequencies are boosted and some frequencies may be canceled out completely. We call these “Room Modes.” Without getting into complex trigonometry there are a few simple solutions for minimizing these effects. With the help of a friend and a large mirror, sit at your mix position and have your friend hold the mirror flush against the wall in various positions. When you can see your monitors in the mirror this is a point of reflection and absorptive treatment should be placed on the wall in that position.

Another simple solution for room modal problems is to introduce diffusive elements into your room particularly on your back wall. Diffusion in acoustic application is the process of scattering sound waves by bouncing them off of multilevel surfaces. The best diffusers in the world are specifically designed with complex algorithms based on room dimensions and can be very expensive, although an affective home studio diffuser can be as simple as a couple large book cases filled with books of various shapes and sizes.

For more information on simple and cost effective acoustic solutions, or help with selecting the right pair of studio monitor feel free to contact us at SonicElectronix.com for more expert advice.

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