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connecting (hifi-)speakers?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author connecting (hifi-)speakers?
dear all,

just now i wondered – is there actually any way to connect hifi-speakers to the modular? i'd for one be interested in modules that would work as a small mixer/amp, yet also in external mixers in general, that could substitute a normal hifi amplifier...

know very little about this stuff :)
In my sofa corner i have a small mixer in front of an old tandberg receiver. i used to connect all sort of stuff to this before. I guess the modular would work too, no problem. I think the only problem is the neighbours hihi
It's not hard to connect a modular to a hi fi amp and speakers, especially if you have a small mixer like a Mackie Mix8 to handle the difference in signal level. Depending on the format, you will need to reduce the signal from perhaps ± 10 volts to ± 1 volt. You can get modules with this feature built in, or you can easily build a special cable. Just plug into any aux input on the amplifier.

However, you need to be aware that many hifi speakers are susceptible to tweeter damage by sustained high frequency signals. Since music has relatively little energy in the range of 5-20khz, (and it is not usually sustained) you will often find a 3 watt tweeter in a speaker rated for 300 watts. "Studio" style speakers are usually more robust but still somewhat vulnerable. Just don't tune an oscillator to a bat friendly pitch and forget about it.
I used old stereo speakers for monitors for a long time. And I mean old, as in really old - Wharfdales, from the early 60's, I inherited them from my grandmother. They actually worked ok, as long as you really kept the signals in check. They didn't really have a lot of high end, and the lows were also missing a lot. And they involved a separate amp between them and the mixer.

Now I've got some kind of JBL powered monitors, and don't miss those old speakers at all.
To be safe, you'd basically have to run everything through a compressor, those systems are designed for a limited frequency spectrum and decreased dynamics.

Super unexpectedly, I've recently come across two different nearfield monitors at thrift stores, a little banged up but fully functional. I really love having a random Rocket 5 that I can plop down on my dining room table for synth jams with the kids! If you can come up with something like that on craigslist or whatever, I highly recommend it.
The reason I ended up going for powered monitors and ditching the hifi speakers was because, in general hifi speakers are designed to sound good, whereas monitors are designed to give you an accurate picture of your sound. For instance, if your speakers beef up the bass you'll compensate for that by mixing the bass lower. So when you play it back on something else... where did the bass go? seriously, i just don't get it
I’ve had my modular hooked to a stereo and then to Proac Tablettes for four years now. No problem! Proac Tablettes are modeled after the famous BBC monitors and seem both pretty durable and pretty flat. My signal path is

Intellijel Unify -> Scarlett 6i6 usb interface (doesn’t need a computer the way I have set it up) -> Toslink -> Schitt Modi DAC -> early 1970s Nakamichi System One prosumer hiif -> Proac Tablettes

I have the DAC in there because I noticed the sound was better than just taking the RCA outs from the Scarlett 6i6.
I’m currently running my modular through and interface, and out to a receiver and some not too fancy JBL bookshelves. With this setup I’m basically always running through a DAW in there. Does anyone have a recommendation for a simple plugin that will cut high and low frequencies that could cause damage? Or am I better off checking cutoff frequency specs on the speakers (if available) and setting an eq to cut off frequencies around those points? This seems like very basic stuff I should know but have come up short finding good info in the past.
Don't mess up your monitors with limiters (won't help anyway) and other gadgets to protect them from operator mistakes. Just practice safe mix.

WARNING! Old timer anecdotes ahead:

I once interviewed for a job at a well known southern recording school that had just opened brand new facilities. In my pre-interview tour we looked in the main studio, which featured 4 JBL 4435 monitors. These beasts had dual 15 inch drivers in each box. However, instead of speaker cones there were 8 empty holes. It seems that the students running a recent session had a problem. They had a band playing in the studio, but nothing could be heard in the control room. They turned up every knob on the console (one of those immense jobs featured in magazine fold-out ads) until someone noticed a solo button was pushed. He released it and the resulting blast filled the room with speaker cone confetti. (Solo buttons allow you to listen to a single microphone instead of the full mix. If you solo a channel that isn't connected, nothing will be heard.)

In the mid 70s I was asked to visit a small college in the midwest to help with a speaker problem in their electronic music studio. When I got there I found one wall of the room lined with blown out KLH 5s, a well respected hifi speaker of the day (In fact, I owned a pair myself). They were powered with Crown 60s, an excellent amp well within the rating of those speakers*. Imagine the teacher's surprise when I showed him the fine print in the manual, which stated the warrantee was void if the speaker was used for electronic music. The KLH tweeters were perfectly capable of playing the Rite of Spring at near orchestral levels, but would fold up after a couple of minutes of sustained output from their Buchla 200. (The fact that the studio lacked a common ground buss and produced loud pops and buzzes when changes were made at the patch bay didn't help.) They bought some Klipsch Hereseys, fixed the grounding, and I never heard about any more problems.

[*Some may be surprised to know that underpowered amps are more dangerous to speakers than overpowered ones. When a little amp is cranked up to get enough sound, it is likely to clip, producing excessive high frequency components the tweeters cannot handle.]

In subsequent years I designed studios around Altec, JBL, and Tannoy speakers until self powered models began to appear. Self powered speakers have the advantage of built-in overload protection, so they can take a lot of abuse. I put maybe 30 Mackie HR482 systems into studios and classrooms and only had one fail*. For high end rooms I'd use Dynaudio or Genelec.

[*Tweeterwise, that is. The early runs had some switches on the back that would oxidize due to heat from the amplifier. I'd just solder wires in place since the switches were not really necessary.]
Cool, thanks for the info and the story smile have been running like this for a few years without issue but just thought I’d check to see if there was something easy and obvious I should be doing
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