Old 11-21-2020, 06:29 AM   #1
juan_r
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Default Cheap monitors (JBL One Series 104 monitors)

Hello, I'm shopping for a small pair of monitors to replace my computer speakers. They aren't meant for my studio system, which is already equipped.

I'm looking for something small in physical size, not too powerful, and cheap (in the 100-200 ballpark). They will be connected to the computer I use for email, web etc. - the one I'm posting from right now. At the moment, it has two 1-way speakers from the 90s. I'm getting to use this computer for quick musical tasks more and more often, for example if I were to answer a post right now and I had to cook up an example.

(There is no dedicated hardware subforum, except for MIDI/OSC stuff, so I think this might be the most appropriate place for my post.)

Last edited by juan_r; 12-01-2020 at 06:28 PM. Reason: Search-friendly title
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Old 11-21-2020, 07:03 AM   #2
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A little beyond your price range, but I've become a big fan of these. Just ordered a second pair for my son's room.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...-monitors-pair
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:22 AM   #3
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https://mackie.com/products/cr-x-cre...media-monitors
https://www.presonus.com/products/Eris-E35
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. The iLoud Mikros are the sexiest for sure, but they're a bit beyond budget indeed, especially when considering their intended use.

Mackie and Presonus: I'd like to give them a listen to help me make up my mind. I like my HR824's, and I use them like midfields more than nearfields. I have no experience with Presonus speakers.

A friend IRL wrote me about the Mission LX-2. He lives far so I can't visit him to check them out, but I've searched a little and found they're considered Hi-Fi speakers rather than monitors. Do you have any first-hand experience?
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:47 PM   #5
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Not a lot of help ... but ...
I used to use Mission 770's in my hifi setup with a 100W NAD amplifier! You could feel the bass shake your inside about!

How small do you mean by small? In the UK we have gear4music and here's their active monitors page, but I guess the kit is available worldwide.

https://www.gear4music.com/Studio_Monitors/Active.html

HTH

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Old 11-21-2020, 06:40 PM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestion and the pointer, DrBob.

I mean as small as practical. They're going to share tabletop space with a busy general purpose computer and the imaginable complement of papers, coffee cup, pens, assorted junk etc. And the video monitor. So the smaller the better.

I don't need super high accuracy after all. Anything with some bass will be better than what I have now. The IK Multimedias look the smallest of the lot, but I haven't yet checked any specs (including size). At the moment, I'm just brainstorming with a bunch of knowledgeable friends Later, I'll get into analytic mode before I turn zen and jump ship. Then I'll click "BUY"
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Old 11-22-2020, 02:53 AM   #7
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These?
https://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_...tivmonitor.htm
https://www.thomannmusic.com/behring...tivmonitor.htm
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Old 11-22-2020, 05:41 AM   #8
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I'm not in love with Behringer loudspeakers. I've tried their Auratone knockout, and it's disappointing. I don't know the models you pointed out though. Worth a listen, you suggest? Thanks for your input.

I've seen Thomann has the IKs priced at $257. Hm. Hm. Hm. In stock soon. Hm. I'm not in analytic mode yet, but this does tickle me.
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Old 11-22-2020, 06:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juan_r View Post
I'm not in love with Behringer loudspeakers. I've tried their Auratone knockout, and it's disappointing. I don't know the models you pointed out though. Worth a listen, you suggest? Thanks for your input.

I've seen Thomann has the IKs priced at $257. Hm. Hm. Hm. In stock soon. Hm. I'm not in analytic mode yet, but this does tickle me.
Before you pull the trigger, I should note that they sound WAY better if you calibrate them with something like Sonarworks Measurement. They do have some adjustments on the back that can help if you don't have access to correction software like that though.
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Old 11-22-2020, 07:43 AM   #10
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I recently got the Slate VSX headphone thingy. Still getting used to the workflow, but so far the results been REALLY impressive. I've been working in studios with different lvls of monitors and accoustic treatment for ~20 years, and I think these things really are a viable alternative to traditional monitoring. They're a bit more expensive, but still REALLY cheap compared to getting some REAL monitors and fixing up most spaces accoustically for mixing. PLus, they allow you to work ANYWHERE.

https://stevenslateaudio.com/vsx
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Old 11-22-2020, 09:32 AM   #11
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Thanks for your input, Ramses. However, working with headphones stresses me out a little. I tend to use them only when tracking, or to check some fine detail that speakers won't reveal easily.

Besides, the small monitors I'm going to get will double as regular computer speakers - for movies, web phone, music listening etc., so I really need speakers here.
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:49 PM   #12
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I got hold of these for under £80 new - https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/j...s-104-monitors

They sound great.
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Old 11-23-2020, 06:45 AM   #13
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RbFav, that's a nice option! I like the volume knob on the front very much. However, a quick search only shows the bluetooth equipped model, which costs almost twice what you said.
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Old 11-23-2020, 08:56 AM   #14
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For me, ideal multimedia desktop speakers. I made simple little stands to raise them a couple of inches off the desk and tilt the tweeters at my ears. They are relatively uncoloured for small speakers and don't try to boost the impression of bass with a low-mid hump.
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Old 11-23-2020, 01:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juan_r View Post
RbFav, that's a nice option! I like the volume knob on the front very much. However, a quick search only shows the bluetooth equipped model, which costs almost twice what you said.
Where are you based? In the UK I got them here.

https://www.gear4music.com/Recording...BoClGkQAvD_BwE
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Old 11-26-2020, 02:44 PM   #16
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Hey RbFav - Great, they ship abroad! I got them for the price you quoted. I'm happy! Thank you!
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Old 11-26-2020, 09:14 PM   #17
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If you want really cheap, you can get computer speakers for maybe $30 or so at Walmart.


If you want a bit more quality, here's one to consider. It's THX certified, which means it hits some required minimum for theatre sound...
THX info:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/THX

Might be a good deal for $135


https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Powe.../dp/B01JPOLLKE
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Old 11-27-2020, 06:47 AM   #18
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Thanks Philbo King for your suggestion. However, these look like computer speakers. A glorified, subwoofer equipped version of the ones I'm replacing.

The JBLs on the other hand are called "monitors" to begin with (all right, all right, it might not mean much). They look better on paper and in the picture. The price is basically the same, but the Bluetooth version (same cones, same amp) costs nearly double, so the audio quality should be pretty decent. And I already fired the BUY button, so the choice is made anyway...

TL;DR: I don't want to hear nothing about no speakers that can't possibly be better than the moar better ones I've got in the mail!
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juan_r View Post
Hey RbFav - Great, they ship abroad! I got them for the price you quoted. I'm happy! Thank you!
Great - I'm delighted with them, for the price they blew me away.
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Old 12-01-2020, 06:27 PM   #20
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Small first impression report. I feel it's due, given the quality feedback I got here. Not a single dud post. Outstanding community!

Got them, installed them, using them right now.
I am happy with these small boxes.

Pretty to look at, not too large, but they do pack a nice punch.
They're loud. Not insanely loud, but surprisingly loud given the size. They fill a medium sized room.

They sit on either side of my computer monitor, approx. equilateral triangle with my head, side length say 70-75 cm. The cones are not vertically aligned with my ears, since they rest on the table.

Qualitative sound assessment. The clarity in the mids is quite good. There is plenty of low-mids to make up for the lack of deep bass. The impression is that of a pleasant, rounded but balanced spectrum. Not stuffy, not shrill; just right. There is some resonance - one cluster of pitches in the lows sounding stronger than the rest, so a bit of the one note effect. The lack of insulation between speaker and table doesn't help. Pure sines are the worst, but as long as the first 2-3 harmonics are there, I've got no trouble to make out the bass notes. The effect is more on timbre than on actual note intelligibility. Maybe Auralex foam will help? I'm going to try when I bother to get some foam. I'm not mixing here anyway...

I can push them hard, just below my subjective pain threshold (which is somewhat low), without hearing macroscopic distortion. However, I can push them into obvious distortion before I feel definite pain.

I'm talking about these babies as if they were "real" studio monitors - which they're not! From my first experiences, they work great for online jamming, for producing (as opposed to mixing) and for leisure or work oriented (analytical) music listening such as transcription etc. The details do stand out adequately.

Given the price, I would recommend them wholeheartedly. I already steered a friend of mine in this direction, and he's getting them (maybe he's ordered them already?). A poly-instrumentalist, semi-pro, very good 'natural' musician but not a naïf one, managing from trumpet to piano - and singing beautifully. Clueless about recording, mixing etc, but would like to start for fun. I think they're perfect for his present use case: online jams, mostly on vocals and amp-sim guitar at neighbor-friendly levels (say, same ballpark as a loudish TV); demo recordings in the near future.

From what I've read, stay clear from the bluetooth model: it costs a lot more, and the reviews uncover a few annoying glitches (bluetooth lady too loud, slow input source switching, auto power off slow to come back up etc.)

Last edited by juan_r; 12-01-2020 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:48 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juan_r View Post
Small first impression report. I feel it's due, given the quality feedback I got here. Not a single dud post. Outstanding community!

Got them, installed them, using them right now.
I am happy with these small boxes.

Pretty to look at, not too large, but they do pack a nice punch.
They're loud. Not insanely loud, but surprisingly loud given the size. They fill a medium sized room.

They sit on either side of my computer monitor, approx. equilateral triangle with my head, side length say 70-75 cm. The cones are not vertically aligned with my ears, since they rest on the table.

Qualitative sound assessment. The clarity in the mids is quite good. There is plenty of low-mids to make up for the lack of deep bass. The impression is that of a pleasant, rounded but balanced spectrum. Not stuffy, not shrill; just right. There is some resonance - one cluster of pitches in the lows sounding stronger than the rest, so a bit of the one note effect. The lack of insulation between speaker and table doesn't help. Pure sines are the worst, but as long as the first 2-3 harmonics are there, I've got no trouble to make out the bass notes. The effect is more on timbre than on actual note intelligibility. Maybe Auralex foam will help? I'm going to try when I bother to get some foam. I'm not mixing here anyway...

I can push them hard, just below my subjective pain threshold (which is somewhat low), without hearing macroscopic distortion. However, I can push them into obvious distortion before I feel definite pain.

I'm talking about these babies as if they were "real" studio monitors - which they're not! From my first experiences, they work great for online jamming, for producing (as opposed to mixing) and for leisure or work oriented (analytical) music listening such as transcription etc. The details do stand out adequately.

Given the price, I would recommend them wholeheartedly. I already steered a friend of mine in this direction, and he's getting them (maybe he's ordered them already?). A poly-instrumentalist, semi-pro, very good 'natural' musician but not a naïf one, managing from trumpet to piano - and singing beautifully. Clueless about recording, mixing etc, but would like to start for fun. I think they're perfect for his present use case: online jams, mostly on vocals and amp-sim guitar at neighbor-friendly levels (say, same ballpark as a loudish TV); demo recordings in the near future.

From what I've read, stay clear from the bluetooth model: it costs a lot more, and the reviews uncover a few annoying glitches (bluetooth lady too loud, slow input source switching, auto power off slow to come back up etc.)

Did you get the JBL 104? JBL is a terrific brand, they have been around for a long time in pro audio; their 'consumer' oriented products are pretty good as well (no cheap crap).
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:52 AM   #22
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Yes, JBL 104 S
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