Slightly OT - Speakers vs. monitors

Hey guys,

I know there has been a lot of talk on here about decent monitors and such but I was wondering if we could discuss the advantages of Monitors over speakers and why.  I don't know anything about frequency and watts on that kind of thing, but would like to know.  Because the Monitors I'm looking at are much more expensive than I really care to spend; and the Logitech speakers (7.1) for 90 bucks are looking pretty good compared to the 300 dollars for 2 monitors.  I'm sure there is truth to the old ";get what you pay for,"; but does anyone have some information for a novice.  I consider myself tech savvy but not necessarily in this area.  Thanks in advance for all the help and I'm sure many others have similar questions.  Keep drummin'.
This is an easy one, but only if you've run across the information.  ";Speakers";, or consumer grade audio/computer speakers, are made a little cheaper, but generally they sound pretty darn good.  ";Monitors"; or monitor-speakers are known as such because they provide something called a ";flat frequency response";.

Ever mess with a 10 band EQ or even just the bass & treble of any system?  Well, some speakers have better bass, better highs, less volume in the middle, etc.  This is done to accentuate typical music and audio that is played through consumer-grade stuff.  When I say consumer, this goes from $2 cheapies all the way to Bang & Olufsen.  Your music will sound great, and that's because they have a little bit of EQ ";built-in";.  Specifically, if you played an equal tone across all frequencies, the lower and higher would be a bit louder, and the middle a little softer.  Car audio is probably the more extreme in this.

Monitors are designed with the specific purpose of not adjusting your audio in any way.  In other words, if it comes out of a source, monitors do everything they can to replicate it precisely, in spite of what it may sound like.  It's supposed to be precise, over the entire spectrum of audio frequencies, providing exact playback.

So in reality, it depends on your audience.  That 7.1 system you're looking at will probably slightly enhance your listening on your computer, though for $90, indeed, you get what you pay for.  Don't think that because it's cheap that it's not enough for what you're doing.  Just be aware that the output is probably going to be pretty good, and then you're going to put it on a CD, put it on another system and if it is using monitors, it will sound to you to be the reverse of what you heard on your 7.1 -- i.e. the extra bass your .1 might add that's put in after the signal -- will not be present on a different system, sounding like there's less bass than you had at first.

If that's confusing, think about it this way.  Say you're wearing red-tinted glasses, and you're trying to pick a color to paint your car.  If you like that brown, and you take off your glasses, it'll be more green than brown.  Monitors try to be clear glasses, speakers try to add a little ";tint"; for effect.

If you're unsure, just listen to those speakers in person to a track that you're familiar with.  Jazz & Classical are good, but really anything with good range will work.  If they sound ok, you can start with cheap.  It won't hurt as bad to get used to it that way.  Then when you go to Guitar Center or whatever, listen to monitors with that same track, and listen for a clarity that didn't exist in the speakers.  You'll hear the difference, and if it's not a big deal, go cheap.  Some people don't like using monitors to just listen to stuff on their computer for a long time, too.  But go with your gut.

Logitech makes a 1000 watt 5.1 that I liked; that was about $349 if I recall.  It had a little bit of hiss/white noise when nothing was playing, and it drove me batty.  I'm currently using my Blue Sky MediaDesk 5.1, and it's probably the best $1000 I've ever spent on equipment.  No need to jump in that far right away.  Just listen to both before you make a decision, and then you won't regret it.

Good luck!
That is the best explanation I have read on here in quite some time.  Thanks!!!
Yeah what drumcat said!

In short if you're looking for speakers that will be for hobby audio use and general computing like gaming and such, then a consumer level 7.1 will work just fine.

If you want more pro-studio use and the best accurate reproduction without artificial coloring, then studio monitors will be what you want.
Great post drumcat!
Thanks so much Drumcat,  that is exactly why I asked the question on here was for a response like that.  I and everyone in my situation thanks you for sure.  Have a great day.
great job drumcat!  The depth and breadth of knowledge on this forum is impressive.
Wouldn't it be more correct to say that most 'speakers' aren't engineered not to
be flat, but rather they don't achieve being flat because of the expense to do so?

That's the way I've always assumed it was.
[quote author=mcp link=topic=1960.msg9909#msg9909 date=1189017395]
Wouldn't it be more correct to say that most 'speakers' aren't engineered not to
be flat, but rather they don't achieve being flat because of the expense to do so?

That's the way I've always assumed it was.


Not neccesarily, though that often can be the case. Some are intentionally colored or ";enhanced"; for the application they serve. Most notably home theaters in a box, car stereo speakers, and gaming speakers.
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