Hi, been a big fan of Ethan's for years now. I'm more or a lurker and learn kind of guy, but wanted to post to ask an important question about studio monitors...
I have a very small room (14L x 9.5W x 7.5H) that I'm treating extensively now with DIY traps. I'm stepping up from my "trusty" 4" Samson monitors to something more appropriate. I've done much research and understand why a monitor with a wide frequency range is best suited for all room sizes. However I'm still a little confused about how low is low enough. I've read where Ethan said you should get monitors that go down to at least 50Hz, but a low E bass note goes down to 41hz, so how do you accurately monitor/mix the low end if your monitors cant accurately reproduce those low notes? I understand it has something to do with fundamentals vs harmonics frequencies. So, to my question: If you are hearing and thus mixing low-end harmonics and not the fundamental notes, can you still accurately mix?
This all leads me to this:
After exhaustive research I had my heart set on a pair of Mackie XR824's 8" monitors, but then I found a pair of Mackie Mackie XR624 6.5" monitors for what I think it's an absolute killer price of $225 for the pair. I don't mind spending more on the XR824's, but they are four times the price and of course I'd rather not. Thoughts please.
I'm not Ethan but, if that quote is correct, he's saying at least 50Hz. To me, that sounds like he's doing that person a favor who knows little to nothing about audio. Or, more likely Ethan's style, someone who thinks they know a lot more than they actually do.
Additionally, Ethan speaks a lot about acoustics. In the Acoustics world, 50Hz is about where you stop caring about decay and accuracy as much - at least for critical listening and production environments. There's more to it, though.
When, and if, he says 'at least 50Hz' that's to 3dB accuracy right up against the cone. At your listening position it's a whole 'nother story. Also, speakers don't suddenly stop reproducing low end at that cutoff - there's a slope similar to a high pass filter.
In a perfect world your speakers will be razor flat from 0Hz to 22kHz but you have to draw the line somewhere. That line is around 50-60Hz. Now that you know the targets, it's up to you to adhere to or neglect them.
As far as accurately mixing, it really depends on your skill. Again, best practices are just that but there are always outliers. The real question is can you accurately mix with speakers that are only 3dB down at 50Hz.
Regarding speakers, I'd never advise someone to go smaller than 8" unless they have a sub. This just isn't an area you want to skimp. No amount of acoustic treatment is going to help you with frequencies that aren't there, as important as it is.
You don't need perfect decay and SPL below that cutoff. You can work to achieve that if you want but Ethan, along with other reputable sources such as the European Broadcasting Union have published this fact. I think it might have to do something with our ears lack of sensitivity to the sub range in addition to the difficulty in treating and reproducing those frequencies but that's just a guess.