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Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

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bcollins

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Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 1:47 pm

Perhaps this is futile, but I'd like to hear from anyone who has compared these two monitors head to head. And I'd also like to open up the contest / discussion to any other ACTIVE / POWERED studio monitors. But, because I'm really only interested in their use in a larg-ish to large space, I'd ask that only "high powered" monitors be included. (Behringer B2031 are 225 watts combined, LF/HF - Mackie HR824 are 250 watts combined LF/HF) So let's say each monitor must be more than 200 watts combined LF/HF, and have 8" (-ish) plus woofer, not 6".

The Behringer B2031A can be found, new retail, for as little as $300 to a high of $360 per pair. Interestingly B&H Photo has consistantly had the lowest price of 300 over the years, but now suddenly today their price is 393.99. So I'm not sure what is going on there. There was previously talk about the B2031A going away, but it is still listed as a current product on Behringer's website, and I see no shortages of them in the market.

The Mackie HR824MK2 are generally about $650 each (for the sake of comparison lets assume buying a pair for $1300). Let's please leave out discussions of older American made HR824 vs. HR824MK2 - and assume we are buying brand new, in box, current production, etc.

I only have experience with the Behringers, and I am impressed. Takes a little tweeking of the the hi frequency input level pot, etc. to get them right. And they sound best when coupled with a good sub to take some of the load off the 50-80 Hz range.

So my question is - just how good must the Mackie's be to justify spending $1300 per pair verses $300-360 per pair, especially considering if one feels they need 12-24 [each] of them ?
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 2:05 pm

Apologies in advance if my question is irrelevant and/or impertinent:

    Why would you use a near field monitor in a large space? Will such a device work reliably in a large space?
I don't have a hidden agenda here, only curiosity.

Ken
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 2:23 pm

My experience with the B2031A is they are fine and reliable in a large space. My space is 80,000 cubic feet. With the following caveats:

I am currently running 8 of them - maximum three ranks per channel, full organ.
their speech is deflected off the ceiling and the back wall of the organ chamber and the hi frequencies are boosted about 2dB,
nothing under 64Hz is routed to them.

If these are "near-field", I don't know why. They sound great at any distance.
Why they work fine, I guess, is because they are powerful, hence I'm not interested in hearing about M-Audio, KRK, etc.

My only other option would be to use PA class monitors - and have looked into Behringer, JBL, Mackie, etc. - But worry about them not having a flat frequency response - having a rise in the 1KHz area, inferior cross-overs, etc.
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 3:27 pm

I read somewhere in this forum about 'near field' and 'far field' speakers being a function of the horizontal angle of the sound projection. Far field speakers are supposedly more focused to minimize reflections in a PA application. That would indicate that in a church the 'near field' speakers would have more reverb perhaps.

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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 3:31 pm

organtechnology wrote:...Far field speakers are supposedly more focused to minimize reflections in a PA application. That would indicate that in a church the 'near field' speakers would have more reverb perhaps....


Not "reverb" per-se, but it would cause more room reflections I would think, which is one of my stated goals - in trying to create an instrument as opposed to reproducing an instrument.
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 5:53 pm

Bob,

As I mentioned elsewhere I have both the HR824's and the Behringer B2031A's. I can't comment on the MK2 versions but I don't think they are that different, but don't know for sure.

I have compared the two quite carefully and can say they sound very similar in sound reproduction as far as volume, clarity, dispersion, and on that subject both appear to work very well near field, mid and even far field. Again as you say maybe the power ratings make this possible. As far as dispersion at a farther field, they seem to work just as well if not better than some other stereo speakers I compared them too. I think the tweeter baffle in both designs aids this.

Where I notice a slight difference is in the accuracy of the sound. The Mackie's are guaranteed to be flat to + - 1.5db, while the Behringer's don't say. They send a plot along that appears quite flat, but one can see that quite a bit of smoothing was added, concealing more prominent peaks and valleys. Where I hear the difference is that the Behringer's tend to taint the sound a bit and give it a slight nasal quality. I notice this across much of the keyboard.

For this reason only I have decided to use the Mackie's as I really prefer a more neutral sound, I never cared much for a more nasal type of sound. I even notice this effect with the organ blower noise, while the Mackie's give that a more natural sound.

If I were using them for a church such as you are, I absolutely would not spend multiple times the amount for the Mackies, and probably not even the 2nd hand Mk I units as I use now. In an intimate home environment though I prefer spending 50-100% more for the used HR824 Mk I's.

You mentioned tweaking the treble pots. I assume this is on the monitor PCB you are referring to? If I could tweak mine to get rid of the nasal coloration, I would gladly use the Behringers. 1. Because they are much less expensive to buy, one gets new instead of used even, 2. They use chip amps which are very inexpensive to replace, plus they are very highly rated by audiophiles, 3. Replacement drivers are available, where with at least the older HR824's the tweeter is not available at all, and the woofer they supply is for the MK2's, but is not identical causing some difference in response flatness. Also Mackie has had alot of stability issues, company wise, while Behringer has continued to flourish for a number of years.

Anyway that's my 2 cents worth.

Eric
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 7:00 pm

Note that near-field monitors are intended for close listening. The effect of this can be that the designer concentrates on getting on-axis response flat, but is less concerned with the off-axis response; as a result, use in a situation where the off-axis response matters (e.g. a reverberant room) may show up a more coloured sound than might be expected. Obviously this is more apparent with some speakers than others, depending how much effort the designer put into minimising this effect.

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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 7:49 pm

Maybe Alan was right that the B2031A's are being phased out. Nextag only shows a handful of sellers now, and some of them show no stock. Not only is B&H way up in price, the next best place I had found, Provantage, doesn't even list them anymore.

I know Behringer has a new unit out B1031A that I believe is to replace the B2031A. It's similar to their 5" model, but is 8" as the B2031A. This is in addition to their B3031A ribbon unit.
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostMon Oct 11, 2010 9:45 pm

Hello Bob,

I'm more of a 'hi-fi' than studio man but I can concur with Paul's comments re: off-axis frequency response. It is not so much a matter of HF roll-off (which is a natural quality of many sound sources) but of paying insufficient attention in the design to achieving a 'useful' (i.e. reasonably flat without wild aberrations) response.

On the subject of 'near or far field', it is partly a matter, with mutiple-driver systems (practically all of them) of achieving a composite wavefront at a certain distance from the baffle. A good near-field design will provide this at the relatively short distances demanded by that situation. After that, the wavefront continues out until it meets a room boundary/boundaries. At least that's what I think it does. The big Dunlavy towers, for instance, are actually designed to provide their 'point-source' performance at a strict 3-metre distance. They are obviously not a near-field design. Getting very far away from a loudspeaker (many metres) means you are in a big room anyway and that room will quickly begin to dominate the overall sonic arrival. Considering how very nasty close-up pipe sounds can become not only listenable but beautiful in acoustically large spaces, it may be that a less-than-brilliant speaker can serve quite well, especially if used in multiples (but I'm not recommending that, for the record). Sometimes a 'problem' can be improved with judicious equalization, which can definitely affect (to an extent) the resonant behaviours we detect as 'coloration'.

A final but very important comment (which I could well place in bold type): the only essential specification (in terms of sound volume) of a speaker system (be it active or passive + amp) is its uncompressed maximum sound level at an agreed distance (referenced to a particular electrical input for a passive system). This is an interaction between driver sensitivity and power-handling capacity. Many domestic systems, unfortunately, while testing 'flat' are really very insensitive (low dB output for a given input) and are not capable of absorbing much power to boot, making them unlikely candidates for pipe organ sample usage. For the drivers, the limits at a particular frequency will be either excursion or thermal. For every 3 dB increase in a single-channel system, a doubling of amplifier power is required. A quick few calculations will show that any passive system quoting sensitivity much under 90dB (1 watt/1 metre) will 'fold' well short of the sort of output required for lifelike piano, orchestra and of course organ. By 'uncompressed' I refer to dynamic compression: a 2 dB increase at imput should result in a 2dB increase at the output. Most speakers behave like studio compressor circuits. Amplifiers of active systems, of course, have their own strict performance limitations but, if the design is sensible, you will have at least a well-engineered combination with which to proceed. Bearing all this in mind, there is not much point in tossing around such specs as 'under or over 200 watts' as it cannot really translate into the important issue: "How loud and clean can these things go?"

Cheers,

Stephen.
Yours,
Stephen Phillips
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostTue Oct 12, 2010 10:40 am

stephenphillips wrote:Hello Bob,
... Bearing all this in mind, there is not much point in tossing around such specs as 'under or over 200 watts' as it cannot really translate into the important issue: "How loud and clean can these things go?"
Cheers,
Stephen.


Very true. And (to some small degree) I know all this, so I should have been more specific perhaps, but I guess was trying to simplify my prerequisites.
There is a conception - right or wrong - that there is a general [not direct] correlation between watts per channel, and max SPL - among various monitors in the same class (near-field studio reference monitors). Trouble is, among various manufacturers, there is sometimes very little information published in their spec. sheets that can lead one to make a direct comparison without actually testing each one for suitablity to our/my needs. At least to me, it is confusing. Any light you could shed on the following would be greatly appreciated, since I'm definitely not an audio engineering guru.

For example, in comparing strictly from stated specs of a popular product, the M-Audio BX8a:

8” low-frequency drivers with curved Kevlar cones, high-temperature voice coils, damped rubber surround
low-frequency amplifier power: 70 watts
maximum signal-to-noise (dynamic range): > 100dB (typical A-weighted)
input sensitivity: 85 mV pink noise input produces 90dBA output SPL at one meter with volume control at maximum

to the Behringer B2031A:

Long-throw 8 ¾" woofer with special polypropylene diaphragm and deformation-resistant aluminum die-cast chassis
low-frequency amplifier power: 80 watts RMS, 320 watts Peak
SPL: max. 116dB @ 1m (pair)

What does all this mean in terms of how each will fit the need? Behringer rates the max SPL for the pair of speakers. How does one determine from this the Max SPL for each monitor?
M-Audio doesn't state a max SPL per se. How is one to directly compare this to M-Audio's specs per unit? Can we use 'input sensitivity (90dBA output SPL @ 1m)'?

My initial reaction would be that the M-Audio monitor is not going to put out nearly the volume of the Behringer.

Respectfully ignorant,
Last edited by bcollins on Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostTue Oct 12, 2010 12:03 pm

Addendum: For comparison. The Mackie spec sheet states:

Sound Pressure Level at 1 meter,
–7.5 dBu into balanced input: 100 dB SPL @ 1m
Maximum peak SPL per pair: 120 dB SPL @ 1m

Can a direct comparison be made to determine Behringer's output per monitor if we assume a maximum peak SPL per pair of 116 dB SPL @ 1m?

How does one compare:
M-Audio: 85 mV pink noise input to produce 90dBA output SPL @ 1m
Mackie: –7.5 dBu into balanced input to produce 100 dB output SPL @ 1m

85mV is equal to -19.1931 dBm ??

confused...
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostTue Oct 12, 2010 2:42 pm

bcollins wrote:How does one compare:
M-Audio: 85 mV pink noise input to produce 90dBA output SPL @ 1m
Mackie: –7.5 dBu into balanced input to produce 100 dB output SPL @ 1m


Apart from the mixed units (so far we have dB, dBA, dBu, dBm and mV to contend with) the comparison
above is really just about the relative gain of the two systems. This isn't the same as 'how loud will it go?'
which is, I think, the question you actually want an answer to.

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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostTue Oct 12, 2010 10:41 pm

Well pulled the trigger and ordered another pair of Behringer B2031A from americanmusical.com after making a phone call and getting them to honor the old price of $360. These seem to be going up everywhere to 390 plus, whether due to shortages or simply a price increase by Behringer, I don't know.

The last pair I bought are still in the boxes, and I don't look forward to doing the speaker shuffle, given all the tweeking and re-balancing that will be necessary after.

I'm making plans to have one 12-speaker group to handle most everything at 8-ft pitch and up on all divisions. So I plan to expand the current 2-channel group that is 32-ft capable to a 4-channel group. I'll specify how I plan to do that in another post.

here: viewtopic.php?f=17&p=52760#p52760
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostWed Oct 13, 2010 5:37 am

So, Bob, that solves that — you will 'get out of them' whatever they are capable of giving you. If they are even partially LF-limited they will no doubt play pretty loud. Obviously Mackie's "120 dB peak output" is not meant to be understood as "20Hz-20kHz", so there is an implied bandwidth here.

So that's "how loud?". We then might consider "how clean?" This too, is a function of output and, as I said earlier, speakers do tend to 'crush' the input signal dynamically, though the better (more capable dynamically) ones have these inaccuracies presenting at much higher acoustic output levels. I suspect we will always be paying 'quite a lot' for the systems which can play both very loud and very clean — whether the distortion is harmonic, intermodulation, or dynamic. I guess the trick is to determine what you actually require ('expect') of each speaker, then purchase accordingly. My instinctive reaction would be (in general I mean, not necessarily your specific case as you may have other priorities) to get the highest quality you can, even if it means only having a couple of units, and building in a similar manner from there. If the experience from experiments with low-fi source material combined with elaborate convolution ambience giving convincingly 'real' results is any guide (assuming a low-fi source through hi-fi gear can be equated to a hi-fi source — in this case Hauptwerk sample sets — through [relatively] low-fi gear...) then we may not actually have a HUGE problem on our hands if we are simply after a 'realistic' result — but then, the achievement of that life-like ambience is another problem of its own....
Yours,
Stephen Phillips
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Re: Behringer B2031A VS. Mackie HR824MK2

PostWed Oct 13, 2010 8:56 am

P.S. the question of scaling a quoted maximum SPL spec for a pair of monitor speakers to that of a single unit is very simple (assuming of course identical input to both units):

subtract 3 dB. If they are very close together (physically) there might be some LF 'enhancement' provided by the presence of the additional cone but I doubt this is practically significant.

So if the manufacturer is quoting 116 dB max for a pair, you can see this requires 113 dB from each loudspeaker (otherwise we are not going to get to 116 for the pair....)

In your situation I can see why you are justifiably interested in the single-unit performance.

Do keep us informed of the results once voicing/balancing is well underway.

Cheers,

Stephen.
Yours,
Stephen Phillips
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