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What’s In Your Studio?

Radio World asks some of its writers what monitors they use at their facilities

This issue of Buyer’s Guide lists new offerings in mics, headphones and monitors. Here, we asked several RW contributors about their faves in monitoring.

A golden oldie — JBL 4312, Dan’s favorite monitors. This is at one of his current charges, WINK(FM).Dan Slentz, director of engineering and I.T., Fort Myers Broadcasting/Sun Broadcast Co.: “I was always a fan of JBL 4312s. Can’t begin to say the number of radio studios those beauties (in looks and quality) were in — everywhere from KAZY 106.7 in Denver to 97.5 WONE in Akron/Cleveland. They sounded sweet! But alas, they’re now found in the ‘antiques section,’ where you find them on eBay or the 4312As in Europe (at a pretty steep price). The 4312s always seemed to sound best with a Crown D-75 amp.

“I’ve always been a fan of JBLs, so I sometime use the Control series, and when I ‘get crazy,’ I go after the JBL LSR4328s (about $1,600 a pair!) which is far above cheap, but when paired with their subwoofer (LSR310 at about $400), really rock a studio! You can also get the LSR series in a 5.1 configuration (which has always been my prime set-up for TV master control rooms with a pro Denon 5.1 decoder).”

“My alternate (for self-powered) are the JBL LSR308s which are self-powered biamped with 56 watts for highs and 56 watts for lows. I really like their sound and they actually an affordable solution at about $500 a pair. They have their LSR305s, but a 5-inch ‘woofer’ (used loosely) just doesn’t have enough punch. Alternately, if you don’t want to use self-powered and still stay in this price range, JBL Control 5s come in at about $320 a pair.

“If I go away from brand loyalty, I think I’d certainly consider Mackie, Alesis or even KRK for their low price. Genelec are always great, but they tend to break the bank in cost.

“As a former rock jock, I see things from the other side, where talent really needs to be immersed in the material they’re playing, so I still put emphasis on the studio sound.”

At left, a Genelec 1031A speaker is mounted on a pole in Rhode Island Public Radio’s main air studio. Top: A 1029A sits high on a shelf in Studio B production.Aaron Read, I.T. and engineering director, Rhode Island Public Radio: “In Studio A, our main air studio, we have a pair of Genelec 1031A speakers. In Studio B, our mic booth/production studio, we have a single Genelec 1029A.

“I have a grant app out now to overhaul Studio B and that Genelec is slated to be replaced by a pair of Mackie HR824 Mark 2 monitor speakers. If I could get a second 1029A I probably would, but they’re long since discontinued, and two new Genelecs would bust the budget. The reason we have Genelecs is because WBUR(FM) used to own WRNI(FM)/RIPR and built the original studios, and they had standardized on Genelecs back in the day. Great speakers but major $$$!

“That grant app also includes several Fostex 6301Ns for cue speakers around the facility. I have their predecessor, the 6301, at some transmitter sites, and they’re great. Compact yet rugged and can pump out a really loud volume to cut through the roaring transmitter fan noise.”

Curt Yengst, engineer, WAWZ(FM): “In our main studio we use a pair of JBL 4408As powered by a Crown D-75 amp. We’ve been using this combination for many years, and the DJs are very happy with it. I also have a pair of 4408As in my office. In the main production room, we use good old Yamaha NS-10s because, as the old saying goes, if it sounds good on NS-10s, it’ll sound good anywhere! They are powered by an Alesis RA-100 amp.

WAWZ’s main studio with JBL 4408A monitors doing their duty.Look at that Yamaha NS-10 in a production studio at WAWZ.

“In case you’re interested, in my home studio I use a pair of Event 20/20s, powered by a Crown D-75. I was introduced to the Events back when I worked in a radio production studio in Minneapolis (ca. 1998–2003), and I loved them.”

Michael LeClair, chief engineer/manager of broadcast systems, WBUR(FM): “Over the years we have been moving away from separate amplifier and speaker combinations to self-powered monitors. I prefer to use at least biamplified models whenever possible because they produce much more accurate sound. In our smaller control rooms it can be tricky to fit in a pair of nice monitors but we have had very good results with speakers like the Genelec 8030A (now the 8030B) with dual 40 W amplifiers. These will deliver a surprising number of SPLs into a small- to medium-sized control room but can be tucked into small spaces to either side of the mixing console and used as closefield monitors.

A pair of Genelec 8030s at home in a small mixing studio. “For larger rooms we still rely on our older Genelec 1031As that have been going strong for many years. These are two-way speakers with an 8-inch bass driver and dual 200 W amplifiers. They are rated to produce 120 dB SPL at 1 meter — much louder than anyone should ever really use in monitoring. I look for at least an 8-inch bass driver for a larger control room because otherwise it can be hard to hear bass accurately. For those with a serious budget consider going up to 10-inch bass drivers and three-way speakers. An alternative to Genelec that offers similar sound quality for somewhat less list price is something like the Adam A7X.

“We have a number of the Fostex 6301 15 W self-powered speakers. I think the Fostexes are really just about perfect in terms of size, price and convenience for smaller speakers. We use them for cue speakers, talkback, intercoms, editing rooms and even small remote PA speakers where we only want just enough to allow spectators to hear the broadcast. These speakers are very durable and have survived all manner of abuses and road trips.

Finally, at the transmitter site a good rack-mounted monitor is a nice thing to have. Although expensive, the Wohler HRS-1S is a simple rackmount system that delivers better than expected fidelity and enough level to cut through most environmental noise at the transmitter site. For a bit more you can get models that include multiple channels of switching and metering if you need that but I have been happy with the basic amplifier model.”

I could go on but I don’t want to overdo it. Love speakers.

What do you use and why? Email[email protected].