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Nearfield Monitors—Some Things They Are and Some Things They Are Not

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The ubiquitous so-called nearfield monitor is popularly misunderstood because it is used to insulate the mixer from room acoustic effects. In fact, it interacts with its environment in a number of ways which should be understood by the user. With understanding, some of these interactions can be ameliorated and the remainder rendered less surprising. The major interactions are: 1) Spectral shifts with small shifts in position because the listener is in fact in a partial nearfield; 2) Spectral misestimation due to a direct/reflected ratio that is significantly different from large front-wall studio monitors, the home, or automotive listening environment; 3) Imaging and spectral errors due to console reflections and vibrations; and 4) Low-frequency modal room effects, causing large narrow band shifts in low-frequency response with variations in room position. The paper includes measurements of many of these effects and discusses the experiences of the author in designing studios and home playback surround-sound systems. Several remedies are suggested.

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