I opened my studio a little over three years ago. I was forced to replace my console before I even opened the doors. I decided to not buy any other gear for a while figuring that a new room and a new console would be enough to get used to. My plan was to work in the room with the gear that came from the studio where I was an employee prior to opening Oxide Lounge Recording. I have since changed a few pieces and added a few things. Recently, I decided that it was time for new monitors. I had the set I've been using since they were new in 1996, and I know them quite well. As the years went on, I noticed more and more things I was fighting due to these monitors. I researched a lot and talked to a number of friends and looked at my finances and decided to audition Truth Audio TA-1P's and the NHT M-00/S-00 combo. Both companies sell factory direct and offer generous return policies-15 days for Truth and 30 days for NHT.
I got the Truths first, so I was able to A/B them to my current bi-amped active monitors. The Truths are a passive, full-range design. I have a small set of Radio Shack speakers that I use as my clock-radio test speakers. I hooked up the TA-1P's to the same Rotel integrated amp I use for the little guys. The first thing I noticed was that the midrange information-with which I was always unclear on my old monitors-was right there in its full glory. I felt I could hear more detail in the very important upper midrange area as well as more accuracy in the lower mids. I also noticed that the bass didn't extend as low (48 Hz vs. 37 Hz), yet I felt I was hearing more detail in the bass frequencies. I did a quick mix ofasongbymybandWiplotjusttoseeifwhatIheardinthe studio sounded similar in my car. I felt my balances were consistent from the studio to the car for the most part. I did a few overdub sessions and felt quite comfortable choosing mics and mic placement with the TA-1P's from the beginning.
About a week later, I got the demo set of NHT M-00 monitors with an S-00 subwoofer. At my time of ordering, NHT was going through a computer and phone system changeover. They were not prepared to ship product, so Don Bassey of NHT sent me the set that he takes to trade shows and demo events. I pulled my monitors and set the M-00's where they were. I set the S-00 on the floor between the two, visually aligning the drivers of all three to eliminate phase issues. The NHT system is active and built to work as a system. There are controls for general range and the fine-tuning of the crossover to relate to the satellites. Another nice feature is the option of a sub and crossover bypass via a footswitch. This made setting up the system easier and gave me the option at any point to hear the M-00 satellites operating on their own.
I noticed immediately that the NHT's were very bright and detailed. I could hear cymbal sustain and reverb tails quite easily on these monitors. The imaging was also quite nice. I did feel though that the crossover seemed very noticeable, which was a big part of the problem I was having with my old monitors. From the upper midrange to the highest treble I felt the NHT system had great detail, and I liked the extension in the low with the subwoofer, but I didn't feel I was getting as full a picture as I got from the Truths.
I did a bit of overdubbing with the NHT's, and I always felt a little unsure if what I was getting, especially with distorted guitar. All of the overdub sessions I mentioned were with Backyard Tire Fire, a band whose third studio full-length I'm currently producing.
On an off day, I decided to do a full mix of a Wiplot song. I switched back and fourth between the two sets of monitors while I mixed. When I got what I felt was a finished mix, I spent some time listening to both sets of monitors and took notes on each instrument, vocal, and effect-and how I thought each was represented by the different monitors. I then took the mix to my car and then home to listen on my stereo and on the studio monitors hooked to my computer. My goal here was to see which sounded more similar to what I heard in the studio. For the way I work and the way I hear things, the Truth Audio TA-1P's give me truer representation and translation. I believe the NHT M-00/S-00 make a wonderful second check set of monitors because they do give some very useful information. If I had the money, I might have kept both sets for that reason alone, but I would have a hard time using the NHT's as my primary monitors.
I have mixed four songs for the previously mentioned Backyard Tire Fire record. Our process always involves taking home reference CD's and making any changes the next day. While mixing on the Truth Audio TA-1P's, there have been no surprises in the interaction between different instruments and vocal levels. I've only had to do one alternative mix (a vocal up for one mix) just in case. I have also done a full tracking session with drums, bass, keys, guitar, and scratch vocals with the TA-1P's. I felt confident in the sounds I got based on what the Truths told me, and I am quite comfortable on these speakers even on long sessions. (TA-1P pair $998 direct, www.truthaudio.com; M-00 pair $499, S-00 each $499 direct, www.nhtpro.com)