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  1. #1
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    Question Reference Speakers - what does this mean ?

    I've seen this in many speaker specs, I see it mentioned here often and was wondering just what this really means.


    Thanks,
    Mikey

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    Absolutely nothing....

    ....used to mean best speakers in a line...Klipsch for example uses it for mid range speakers and have Heritage speaker which cost more....its become a word a lot like "deluxe" which has no meaning in the absence of comparison with something else specific.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    It would depend on the context. Audio reviewers typically keep a "reference" system at home, which represents their individual definition of something good enough to compare all other components with. Reference in that case is their point of comparison, sort of like how you have reference color definitions for calibrating video monitors, even though there a lot of areas in audio have no agreed upon standard reference points.

    Audio manufacturers produce reference equipment that's supposed to represent their best in class products. With speakers, reference systems often represent the speakers that they use for prototyping and something designed to be as close to accurate as possible without any considerations for cost or decor-friendliness. Infinity used to make reference speakers that they called their IRS models. Those were room-sized modular panel speakers with multiple driver arrays that were initially developed for lab testing, but were so popular in public demos that they made the IRS systems available to consumers. They subsequently came out with an entire series of IRS branded models that were more or less conventional speakers that used some of the features in those mammoth IRS reference systems. That's one example of how the meaning of the reference terminology has gotten diluted over the years. It's similar to how similar terms like "studio" and "monitor" have gotten so overused that they have no consistent meaning anymore.

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    Cool Interesting - an 'open to interpertation' terminology

    Not unlike many of the things that we run into in our lives, but your descriptions help me to better understand it here in the audio world.

    Debbi and Whooch - Thanks for the discussion and helping me to frame the term 'Reference Speaker'.
    Thanks !

  5. #5
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    Reference

    Reference, like the term "studio monitor" is overused, and abused.

    Reference should mean a system that is comprised of no-compromise components that has an accurate/flat frequency response, uncolored sound and detailed presesntation to use a a point of compare.

    "Today we are testing the Axiom M80 speakers and Anthem separates, and we will se how they compare with our $50,000 reference system"

    But many speakers get the name "reference" for prestige that really don't deserve it.

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    As defined by me:

    With speakers and electronic equipment - A particular companies best/most expensive. Their top of the line products. VMPS RM/X and the SVS PB4-Plus would fit into this category.

    With a reviewer - The equipment they use to judge everything else against.

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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan
    As defined by me:

    With speakers and electronic equipment - A particular companies best/most expensive. Their top of the line products. VMPS RM/X and the SVS PB4-Plus would fit into this category.

    With a reviewer - The equipment they use to judge everything else against.
    AHHHHHH, OK ...... Thanks !!!

  8. #8
    RGA
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    The funny thing is most speakers used in recording studios don't have the words Studio Monitor or reference in the title.

    One of the bigger "IN STUDIO" speaker companies is called the Profesional Monitor Company. When they started making speakers for the home(same speakers) they shifted the name and are now called PMC. B&W's M801 and M805 among others have the M stand for Matrix and the N is Nautilus. The 801(in various forms) is said to be the speaker most classical recording studios choose.

    You will find however that many people who can afford this $10K speaker may go with something from Magnepan, Martin Logan, and probably 50 others. Though of course the N801 is probably one of the top sellers if not the top seller of 10k speakers - This is a guess but B&W is not the biggest high end speaker maker for no reason and they sure don't sell the most in the cheap lines.

    So what does any ofthis mean for you? Nothing. A Studio chooses speakers like PMC because PMC directly marketed their speakers to studios...they sent their seller to recording studios talked to purchasing agents and deals get done. Many purchasers never actually see or even HEAR what they're purchasing. This is mere assumption because this is my only NICE conclusion for all the less than good recordings out there.

    Then there is Reference 3a. They have the word as part of their name...still sounds horrible and their speakers look horrible and even some of the measurements of the sound don't look very good. Lucky for them they make one heckuva a great sounding speaker which in normal rooms sounds fantastic - not just in a measuring chamber.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    The funny thing is most speakers used in recording studios don't have the words Studio Monitor or reference in the title.
    Which studios are you referring to? Do you know this for fact or is this just presumption? There are quite a few studios out there that use actual "studio monitors". Mackie is currently one of the top studio monitor manufacturers, and have rated at or near the top of comparison tests I've seen in professional trade journals. Guess what they call their studio monitor lineup?

    http://www.mackie.com/products/studi...ors/index.html

    Meyer Sound is a local outfit that makes custom sound systems for live sound and studio applications (including Davies Symphony Hall in SF and the Sydney Opera House). They market exclusively to professional environments, and came up with a rather creative name for the stuff that they sell to recording studios.

    http://www.meyersound.com/products/s...ries/index.htm

    Oh, and let's not forget one-time market leader JBL. They also sell a line-up of pro audio speakers that are designed for use in mixing studios. What do they call them, I forget...

    http://www.jblpro.com/LSR/LSR6300_index.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    So what does any ofthis mean for you? Nothing. A Studio chooses speakers like PMC because PMC directly marketed their speakers to studios...they sent their seller to recording studios talked to purchasing agents and deals get done. Many purchasers never actually see or even HEAR what they're purchasing. This is mere assumption because this is my only NICE conclusion for all the less than good recordings out there.
    How do you know all this about how studio monitors are marketed? Do you go and talk to the recording studio managers and ask about their procurement practices? Most people would not want an actual studio monitor in their living room because speakers marketed for recording studios are typically designed for near-field listening in small control rooms. That is, positioned close to a mixing board and the speakers themselves situated very close to the seating position. That may be a good thing for consumers who do most of their listening at their desk, but will be less than ideal otherwise.

    And your point on less-than-good recordings, well consider how most of them will get played back. A lot of hip-hop recordings purposely boost the lower range for mobile subwoofers, and things that sound less than stellar on a high resolution system might actually be more optimal on a mini-system, FM radio, MP3, or computer desktop. Also, most pop recordings use dynamic range compression to cram all those multitracks into two channels. It's not the speakers themselves that produce the sound that you don't like, very often it's a calculated method based on how the target audience listens to their music or how a producer wants something to sound.

  10. #10
    RGA
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    This is precisely the point. PMC is a nearfield speaker and listening in nearfield they are terrific - in even normal sized living rooms the TB2, anyway, is atrocious...the bass depth dissapears and it sounds completely compressed.

    Yes recordings studios - the big ones Skywalker, Abbey Road use B&W - and assuming B&W isn't lying they claim to be used in more than 80% of all recording studios of classical music. If this is indeed the case they must be used by NAXOS as Naxos is the largest classical recorder and presumably Sony and London and Deutch Gramaphone . JBL are Pro monitors - my bad for forgetting JBL. Of course listening to JBL speakers often wants me want to forget them.

    As for many a recording...at least from the ones I have I found a far greater disparity in them than I used to hear from typical speakers. Some of them I thought we dynamically lousy are actually - in some ways the reverse - some that jumbled everything to center by speakers that possibly force everything to center - because people assume singers are ALWAYS in the center and thus think the speakers has an accurate soundstage - I have found offer a lot more variations.

    So I perhaps shouldn't get on the nearfield monitors too much.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    The funny thing is most speakers used in recording studios don't have the words Studio Monitor or reference in the title.

    One of the bigger "IN STUDIO" speaker companies is called the Profesional Monitor Company. When they started making speakers for the home(same speakers) they shifted the name and are now called PMC. B&W's M801 and M805 among others have the M stand for Matrix and the N is Nautilus. The 801(in various forms) is said to be the speaker most classical recording studios choose.
    .
    That is 100% correct, and I had not thought of it in reverse terms like that.

    PMC, Westlake, Mackie, ATC and B&W are used all over the world. They have no fancified names. In fact, even the home line doesn't have esoteric names. They use alphanumerics.

    PMC: GB-1 (killer new floorstander) OB-x
    ATC: SCM-12, SCM-35 etc (used to master DSOTM SACD)
    B&W 802

    These are all exceptional home speakers as well, and they all look rather plain, except for the B&W.

    None of them say "reference" or "studio monitor"

    I noticed JBL speakers are used to monitor pop and rock for the most part.

  12. #12
    RGA
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    I should not have made a generalization but it can't be helped. Sure woochifer points to a few exceptions but Look at Klipsh and Paradigm. The latter has a Monitor series a Studio series AND a Reference series. None are used in studios - or at least big known ones. Klipsch has a Studio and Reference. Not that it maters because most of the speakers people tout in studios are not necessarily any better than those that are not.

    People love Magnepan and ML neither would be in studio - not perhaps due to sound but maybe size - or they aren't acurate enough for the type of sound needed for rock/pop.

    I'm not attacking them for naming speakers like this - it is another nail in the advertising push to make it look more impressive on paper and it is a business. Heck I had a set of Hitachi speakers that were digital monitors LOL.

    The term is all advertising. And a lot of people often have a tool to use for recording but would rather listen to music through something else.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Yes recordings studios - the big ones Skywalker, Abbey Road use B&W - and assuming B&W isn't lying they claim to be used in more than 80% of all recording studios of classical music. If this is indeed the case they must be used by NAXOS as Naxos is the largest classical recorder and presumably Sony and London and Deutch Gramaphone . JBL are Pro monitors - my bad for forgetting JBL. Of course listening to JBL speakers often wants me want to forget them.
    Well, just because B&W is used in those recording studios does not mean that they are the ONLY ones that are used. People who've been to Skywalker Sound have noted that while B&W is indeed used there, they are only used in one of the control rooms there. From the late-80s through the 90s, my understanding is that the most popular near-field monitor was the Yamaha NS10. Supposedly, its popularity was due in large part to how well recordings mixed through those monitors translated with car audio, mini systems, and other mass market products -- basically, how those recordings would actually get played back in the real world, not just on high resolution component-based audio systems.

    JBL's professional and consumer lines are separate divisions, with different missions. One does not drive the other, except in name recognition and marketing.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Sealed's Avatar
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    Names

    [QUOTE=RGA
    I'm not attacking them for naming speakers like this - it is another nail in the advertising push to make it look more impressive on paper and it is a business. Heck I had a set of Hitachi speakers that were digital monitors LOL.

    The term is all advertising. And a lot of people often have a tool to use for recording but would rather listen to music through something else.[/QUOTE]


    The use of "reference" and "monitor" is an implied quality, and yeah...quite abused.

    The only naming conventions that bother me are recievers:

    instead of being names something like "Andromeda" or "model 2" they are often something like:

    Sony THX-1120-4v(ht)l-101mkII
    Kenwood VHX-T-10001-4HTL2.2

    Oh come on! How in the hell am I supposed to remember wacky long names like that? Why not call it something easy to remember!

  15. #15
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Well, just because B&W is used in those recording studios does not mean that they are the ONLY ones that are used. People who've been to Skywalker Sound have noted that while B&W is indeed used there, they are only used in one of the control rooms there. From the late-80s through the 90s, my understanding is that the most popular near-field monitor was the Yamaha NS10. Supposedly, its popularity was due in large part to how well recordings mixed through those monitors translated with car audio, mini systems, and other mass market products -- basically, how those recordings would actually get played back in the real world, not just on high resolution component-based audio systems.

    JBL's professional and consumer lines are separate divisions, with different missions. One does not drive the other, except in name recognition and marketing.
    I'm not sure if you're trying to read an argument from me or not, but you are simply confirming what I've already been attempting to say. If a studio like Skywalker sound uses entirely different speakers throughout the recording/mastering process then the word reference is silly. Theoretically there is one reference - perfect reproduction of sound. That does not exists so reference is the best available. hich isn't 12 different sounding speaker designs used in the recording process with 11 different RE.s doing different parts.

    At no time have I said a speaker used in a recording studio is a superior speaker - Some are chosen from necessity or advertising that helps regular consumers lean a certain way. Abbey Road uses B&W and if you loved an album from there maybe you want the same speaker brand...this may sound like a dumb reason but it is possible. Price dealer mark-downs or FREE for the right to advertise. For all wa know B&W GAVE Skywalker those 5 or 6 802's for permission to advertise on their website. The cost to B&W is a drop in the bucket if this were the case.

    It simply doesn't mean anything anymore. It's just another buzz-word today. Discussion of it actually draws my eye on it because I don't really pay attention to the speaker's name. I have a rather suspicious nature and now that it's been called to my attention I have the attitude of "Figures they need to push the buzz-words because the sound - probably --- can't sell the product." Note this is just knee jerk gut feel to companies using these terms and there are big exceptions and I realize they need to sell their speakers - it just seems like every company has a reference series or Signature series or Elite line or studio master line or digital monitor...or for the more subtly elitist naming VANGUARD etc.

    I suppose it's more interesting than E, J, or K. And something tells me it's going t be hard to sell a speaker called the Absolute Zero. AN has a bit of a snyde sense of humour with their Zero line. They consider it to be the worst line you would want to buy...They have a zero amplifier and cd player. They also have a minus 1 --- which is their solid state amplifer - which they don't or ever have made. Well I thought it was sardonic anyway.

  16. #16
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    speaking of Daleks

    The KEF dealer called 105/4 a "Dalek"

    Is it? you be the judge:


    Dalek



    KEF 105/4

    hehehe...

  17. #17
    RGA
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    Hahaha.

    I would not be surprised - maybe the Kef is a baby Dalek. You'll have to look inside to see if the gooey creature lives there.

    The B&W 801 Matrix series also kinda looks like a Dalek. Wharfedale had one too. I think those British designers watched too much Dr. Who growing up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Which studios are you referring to? Do you know this for fact or is this just presumption? There are quite a few studios out there that use actual "studio monitors". Mackie is currently one of the top studio monitor manufacturers, and have rated at or near the top of comparison tests I've seen in professional trade journals. Guess what they call their studio monitor lineup?

    http://www.mackie.com/products/studi...ors/index.html

    Meyer Sound is a local outfit that makes custom sound systems for live sound and studio applications (including Davies Symphony Hall in SF and the Sydney Opera House). They market exclusively to professional environments, and came up with a rather creative name for the stuff that they sell to recording studios.

    http://www.meyersound.com/products/s...ries/index.htm

    Oh, and let's not forget one-time market leader JBL. They also sell a line-up of pro audio speakers that are designed for use in mixing studios. What do they call them, I forget...

    http://www.jblpro.com/LSR/LSR6300_index.htm
    ...
    You forgot to include a particular line from Superior Line Source loudspeakers which they call the Studio Reference series!

    http://www.slsloudspeakers.com/studi...e%20series.htm

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    omikey sits and thinks to himself

    Thanks for all the input, it's MUCH more than I expected :-)

    What I gather from all this is: Different mfg use the term to assit in the sales of their speakers. To me (just a lowly consumer) it has no significance. Since I do not have the 'reference' to compare against, I don't know how well they do, or don't, match to some unspecified reference.

    Thanks for all the input !
    Mike

  20. #20
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by omikey
    Thanks for all the input, it's MUCH more than I expected :-)

    What I gather from all this is: Different mfg use the term to assit in the sales of their speakers. To me (just a lowly consumer) it has no significance. Since I do not have the 'reference' to compare against, I don't know how well they do, or don't, match to some unspecified reference.

    Thanks for all the input !
    Mike
    If you're looking to identify something of a reference Audio Note's philosophy is one of the better written ones around. Even if you don't have access to their gear it is certainly a good way to judge gear...better than the typical ones. You are correct, it is very difficult to pin down the reference...and that is part of the reason so many upgrade speakers and equipment so much...they call it the road to audio hell where you're never satisfied. It is a way to listen to products of any price range you're in.

    It's fairly long but a worthy read. http://www.audionote.co.uk/anp1.htm

  21. #21
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    Reference Speakers

    It's about time that someone steps up from the industry and explain to you guys to narrow down your researches. Reference speakers are speakers with a very flat response for mixing and mastering purposes. Sure you can get a set of cheap and effective Logitech speakers for your tv or computer, but the result mixes will lack in more than one range of frequency.

    Now i'm going to let you search about "flat response" and see what you can come up with.

    Enjoy the sound,

  22. #22
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    johnD, would you care to give me four examples of reference speakers that are in four differing price ranges? It's just tought to know exactly where your coming from without giving examples. While what you've said does sound nice...some examples may give credence to what you say. It's just too easy to say "that I want a reference speaker with no flaws". When you could be talking about Bose AM15's...we just don't know.




    price range one - under $1,500
    price range two - between $1,501 - $8,000
    price range three - between $8,001 - $18,000
    price range four - between $18,001 - up


    thank ya
    Last edited by gonefishin; 04-06-2004 at 12:44 PM.
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  23. #23
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    If you're looking to identify something of a reference Audio Note's philosophy is one of the better written ones around. Even if you don't have access to their gear it is certainly a good way to judge gear...better than the typical ones. You are correct, it is very difficult to pin down the reference...and that is part of the reason so many upgrade speakers and equipment so much...they call it the road to audio hell where you're never satisfied. It is a way to listen to products of any price range you're in.

    It's fairly long but a worthy read. http://www.audionote.co.uk/anp1.htm
    Hi RGA,

    While I do think AudioNote speakers sound good...and their lower priced models are a real good buy. their descriptions and ads are just awful. (To me) It reads as 100% marketing and looks like a bad cable ad. I keep looking for the pixie dust to sprinkle on these speakers.

    One of the nice things about the AudioNote speakers I've heard is that they tend to get a couple things right, that many audiophile speakers today do not. Namely low(ish) distortion and some dynamic range. These AN speakers can sell themselves...without all the gobbally goop in their ads. Yuk!
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  24. #24
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonefishin
    Hi RGA,

    While I do think AudioNote speakers sound good...and their lower priced models are a real good buy. their descriptions and ads are just awful. (To me) It reads as 100% marketing and looks like a bad cable ad. I keep looking for the pixie dust to sprinkle on these speakers.

    One of the nice things about the AudioNote speakers I've heard is that they tend to get a couple things right, that many audiophile speakers today do not. Namely low(ish) distortion and some dynamic range. These AN speakers can sell themselves...without all the gobbally goop in their ads. Yuk!
    What sort of gobbally goop? Granted they are confusing and their web-site is a cheesy mess constructed by anyone who opened their Front Page instruction manual...but hey it's better than paying a staff 100k a year to make your web-site...where would that salary have gone that would have helped the buyer? The actual speakers etc? N''ah

    And every company does this. B&W etc goes on about their technology(a Lot of companies spend a lot of time discussing the technology -- why? what are they selling a good sounding speaker or a bunch of neat drivers?) Or they supply an endless list of reviews that say their stuff is good...buy the same mags that say everything is good.

    AN is a bit more arrogant in their verbiage - I suggest people listen before they read the site...If you like the sound then you may very well buy into their philosophies and essays...if you don't like their sound then well then you should stop there and look elsewhere.

  25. #25
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Rga, read http://http://www.audionote.co.uk/anp1.htm this to see one of the instances I was talking about when I said AN's site looked like marketing gobbally goop. Hey, I think it's effective...I just think the speakers sound good enough they don't need to use this type of marketing.

    Do you blah blah...
    Do you blah blah...

    if you answered yes to either or both of these blah blah, then do not pass go.

    come on...it's kinda cheesy. lol But I guess they have to get peoples attention somehow.


    back to the sound...yes, they do sound pretty good.


    take care>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Last edited by gonefishin; 04-06-2004 at 04:27 PM.
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