The craziest new equipment EVER!
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for progress. I'm also all for experimentation and trying out new ideas. But there is something about this new piece of audio equipment that just isn't quite right.
If you're wondering what the equipment is, it's a monitor stand (you'll need at least two).
If you're wondering what it does, well it stands near-field monitor loudspeakers.
It's called the Ardán Elevation pro™ EVP-M1 monitor stand.
If you're wondering how much it costs, well it's £419 UK pounds from StudioSpares, which equals around $682 USD. Per pair.
Now there's something I like very much about this stand - it is completely angle-able, if that's a word. I once designed my own monitor stands and to calculate the correct angle that I wanted I had to use Newton's method of successive approximations. (Which I had to learn first.) Actually, they worked really well, and I'd do it again if I had to. A couple of ibuprofens afterwards can work wonders.
But with these stands, you can swivel them and angle them almost any way you like. That in itself is worth at least $99.98 of the price tag. Maybe even $99.99.
But these stands can do something more...
They make your monitors sound better!
They do that by isolating the loudspeaker from the stand, and the stand from what the stand is standing on. If you catch my drift.
So the monitor is free to vibrate and give of its best.
What's not to like?
Now at this point the cynical among my readers may start to expect that I am about to be unreasonably cynical. After all, I haven't heard what this stand can do. What if it really can make my monitors sound better? Won't it be worth almost four fills of my gas tank - at UK prices :-( ?
Well the fact is that I don't want my nearfield monitors to sound better, and here's why...
Why I don't want my nearfield monitors to sound better
To understand this, one has to go back to the original purpose of nearfield monitors. No, let's go back even further than that.
In the glory days of rock, studios would have a HUGE pair of loudspeakers to monitor and mix on. The reasons were...
- To create a good vibe in the studio, in the days when sheer volume of sound was unusual and exciting in itself, and...
- To reveal everything that went down on tape, including any distortions and those all-important low frequencies that high-end 1970s hi-fi systems were capable of reproducing. Oh, and...
- To strive to make the studio the ultimate listening environment, so that any recording made there could be guaranteed to be of the best quality there could possibly be. Anyone buying the record was expected to aspire to an equivalent state of audio nirvana.
But there was always a niggling worry about how a recording might sound on a tiny little radio speaker, or a portable record player. So they would have a crappy speaker (mono of course) to check how the mix would sound for this significant sector of the market.
But in the 1980s, home hi-fi moved on a bit. Everyone who had previously listened on a portable record player now wanted a hi-fi. So they bought a cheap hi-fi with cheap speakers. Non-coincidentally these speakers would typically be around the size of near-field monitors.
It now no longer made so much sense to have a really crappy monitor. It was more realistic to have a small pair of speakers that would sound pretty much like a not-too-expensive home hi-fi. So the nearfield monitor was born. The Yamaha NS10 was the most popular model of the era, soon followed-up by the NS10M 'studio hardened' version.
Well the most convenient place to mount these monitors was atop the meter bridge of the mixing console. Someone somewhere realized that this was in the nearfield, acoustically speaking, of the engineer. This is where more direct sound is heard than reflected sound from the walls of the room.
This was found to have the significant effect that studio acoustics suddenly mattered less. One didn't need such 'souped up' acoustic treatment, and also one studio sounded much more like any other, so you could mix anywhere if you had your own pair of nearfields.
Nearfields don't need to sound 'better'
So this brings me to the reason I don't want my nearfields to sound better. I chose my nearfield monitors because I could use them for my work, and make products that will sound good on any playback system - cheap hi-fi, expensive hi-fi, car audio, personal stereo, laptop loudspeakers, iPad etc. etc. etc.
My monitors don't do this by magic, they do this because I have learned what they sound like, and how a mix will translate to other playback systems. And for fine-tuning, I also listen to my work on other systems.
So I don't need my nearfield monitors to sound any better than they do already because that would mean re-learning their characteristics. I don't need perfect nearfield monitors because no real-life playback system outside of the studio is perfect.
And no real-life listening system, anywhere in the world outside of the studio I suspect, will ever be equipped with Ardán Elevation pro™ EVP-M1 monitor stands costing £419 UK pounds or $682 USD!
Still, I return to the point that I admire progress. If these stands don't suit me, then they could very easily suit someone else.
And if you buy a pair, don't forget to let us know how you get on!