Our sound designers at BOOM Library love two things when it’s about their daily work. The obvious one is: Designing sounds and - according to the feedback from our clients - they do a damn pretty good job. What about the second one?
Their second and not less interesting passion is the constant, often very long and meticulous search for the best hardware on the market to improve the quality of their work. This time, it’s about the heart of their studios: the speakers. Axel tested some new speakers and they impressed him (which is kind of hard to achieve). Below, he shares his thoughts with you.
First off, the following might read like some advertising, which it's not, we are in no means connected to Sky Audio. We simply love the first of two products Sky Audio developed so far.
But let's start from the beginning. I wanted to get a second stereo set of speakers next to my beloved Genelec 1030 / 7070 5.1 setup which I am using for 15 years now (yes, the exact same speakers, without any repairs or maintaining issues). I researched a bit and additionally asked our go to audio studio equipment dealer Holger, founder of www.ProAudioGear.de. This guy is a genius and he pointed out a lot of very helpful tools in the past to us. I asked him if he could organize a pair of Meyer Sound "Amie" speakers for me to test. I already tested a bunch of things during the last decade including but not limited to Neumann, Tannnoy, ADAM, ATC, Dynaudio, Barefoot. Holger told me he could get me most things, so Meyer Sound speakers will be delivered. But he also told me, that he has some new speakers there that he insisted me to let him bring them over to test them in my studio. I was a bit skeptical, but in the end I agreed.
Firstly, the Meyer Sound speakers arrived and I tested them for a bit over a week. I don't want to get into details, simply put: I didn't buy them. Amies out, Sky Audio's "Verdade" in. They look pretty "simple", not very modern or high tech. I was a bit "unimpressed", but hey, they shouldn't look nice, they should be honest and tell me details about the audio which comes out of the interface. I tested them with an Abacus 80-120D amplifier which is recommended by Sky Audio. I also played them through my Genelec 7070 subwoofer and even though not recommended by Sky Audio I did use the high pass of the subwoofers output to the Verdade at 80Hz.
Some facts: the speaker is 43cm high, 29cm wide and 32cm deep and weighs a heavy 17kg. It is a 2-way passive system, with ribbon tweeters and a 6 inch bass driver. The frequency response is amazingly flat between 30Hz and 20kHz. The first time I heard them at Holger's place my first question was "where is the subwoofer?" - but there was none. The price for the speakers (without audio cable or amplifier) just raised to about 2700,00 € per pair including sales tax. The recommended amplifier is the Abacus 80-120 D "Dolifet", which adds another 1000,00 € plus cables, but also cheaper amplifiers are available with nice results (I am currently using a 100,00 € SMSL stereo amplifier, a little beast!)
After installing the speakers I did a whole listening night, playing back productions I love and know very well. I was blown away: my room is pretty absorbent, I always had a good phantom center. But the stereo image of the Verdade was extremely tight, at the same time wide and clear. What really impressed me concerning space is the rich room clarity. I suddenly could clearly hear, if different instruments in some of my most loved productions were using different and probably not suiting reverbs / delays. I could hear a distance with them which reminds me of an acoustic hologram. I switched back to the Genelecs (SPL matched to the Verdade of course) and didn’t believe what I was missing all the time. But just to clarify, I still do switch to the Genelecs today for cross reference.
The speakers sound incredibly big compared to the size of the body and woofer and they sound very open over the whole frequency spectrum. They are extremely fast, so I could hear a lot of clicks and crackling on productions I know very well, which I never discovered before. One thing however, that concerned me at the very beginning was the focus on the high frequencies. Of course there is no real “focus” or boost, the frequency response is pretty flat, but they are so clear that it feels as if they would be boosted.
So second day, I did a mix on them to learn if they could help me on a daily basis. Of course I regularly switched back to the speakers I know for years for a good reference. Every time I switched to the Verdade again afterwards, I suddenly smiled. It is such an eye opener, a fun, never exhausting work tool. The stereo width opens up, the depth of the room goes virtually far beyond the speakers, the high frequencies are just charming around my ears but still are extremely responsive. Back to the mix: I always needed some time to get comfortable with speakers, to get to know their strengths and weaknesses, how to deal with the character etc. When I finished this mix I went over to Michael to listen through his ATC SCM 50ASL Pro which are a lot bigger and more powerful and the room design of his studio is quite different, too. Of course it sounded different, but there was no surprise at all, everything I did, was functioning exactly the same way as intended. It really was the first time I was certain that I know what I do on new speakers within one (!) day. Pretty much no induction time needed. That surprised me a lot, especially because of the high frequency focus I felt in the first place.
Today I use a Trinnov D-Mon in combination with those speakers (which will be another topic in this Advent Calendar) and I a) was never so certain about what I do and b) at the same time enjoy simply listening to stuff, no matter if music or watching movies / trailers / tv shows. In this price range, for me there is no competition. So in case you are about to upgrade your speaker system I really strongly recommend to try to get some demo units and test them to see if they work for you, in your environment, as well as they do for me.
After I decided to purchase the speakers, Michael moved the demo pair into his room to check them out. He wasn’t actually looking for new speakers, but after testing them, he exchanged his massive ATC SCM 50ASL in favour of the Verdade speakers. Here are his thought and test results:
I had the ATC SCM 50ASL which I really loved all the way through. But I decided to set up the Verdade speakers and tested them during a production. I received some feedback on a sound design job, that layers I used were recorded in different acoustic environments and that the different room verbs didn’t blend together very well. I wasn’t really able to reproduce that on the ATCs, but once the Verdade were setup, I instantly was able to not only hear the issue, but also to fix it. The room reproduction of the Verdade is really outstanding and simply helps me understand, what might go wrong in a mix.
Also errors like noise, high hissing and clicks for example are a lot easier to identify, simply because the auditive resolution is exceptional high. I assume this is referable due to the low mass of the drivers, especially the mid-high ribbon tweeter. Without subwoofer, because of their size, both speakers are not really comparable. But with a subwoofer both have enough low end power at nearfield distances (my only test) to be not only on par, but with the Verdade exceeding the ATCs for my needs. This is due to the topic sound design. Since the Verdade go very low, it might be totally enough for diverse music productions. After working a week or so with the Verdade, I switched back to the ATCs. Everything worked as wanted, no surprises or mixing errors. Everything I’ve created on the Verdades sounded nice on the ATCs. On the other hand I found room for improvement on sounds I have done using the ATCs, while listening to them on the Verdade.
Two other things I handle differently since I do work on the Verdade are the low bass frequencies, which I have much better under control now (funny enough) and it is easier to adjust the right amount of compression. Last but not least, two things that are great when comparing the ATCs vs. the Verdade, which however are not really work output related: The price of the Verdade including the Abacus preamp is far less than 4.000,00 €. The ATCs are at around 15.000,00 € - so a bunch of nice outboard equipment or microphones more expensive. Also they weigh 49kg compared to a “lightweight” 17kg of the Verdade.
I also asked Holger for a comment:
Many thanks for the nice comments and for your interest in testing. A lot of fun and succes with your new „microsopic audio laboratories“. It was a pleasure hearing them in your studios and nice working with you on that project, as with all. I would like to add: Replacing a set of speakers that you worked with over a long period of time is a critical thing, no questions. Addtionally the room around the speakers can change the speaker‘s response dramatically, so that the absolutely same set of speakers can sound boomy in one room and thin and dull in the other, or even in the same room with different placements. For me, 50% percent of the total sound of a speakerset comes from the room and placement, if not more. With that, I must say that BOOM Library has fantastic studios built, with fantastic room acoustical behaviours. All rooms I´ve been in are very tight and well absorbed, although absolutely not „dead“ in terms of reflections, overall very balanced and well done, even down to lowest bass notes. The VERDADE had a perfect surrounding to unfold their full potential. One more thing to say: The VERDADE are very special not only because of their speakerchassis, but also as there is something going on inside. They are not just another set of speakers in a hollow wooden box, but passive ones that weight more then most set of active speakers due to their innovative concept developed by mastering engineer Jürgen Lusky. If you are in the market for sound improvements, give them a chance! You might not regret it.