Octave Recordings’ Use of HiFi Speakers for Monitors

Paul McGowan discusses today the effect of replacing the Octave studio monitors with PS Audio’s newest loudspeaker. I’ve seen and heard some awful monitors in studios, and have often wondered about their downstream impact on the quality of sound we reproduce in our homes. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the Octave releases and look forward to listening to their latest.


I think this is a very important point @PaleRider. If studio engineers in general don’t hear the full range of sound because of poor monitors, and make adjustments to the permanent recording accordingly, the implication is that what we hear/buy/stream is suboptimal. This arguably has impacted millions of recordings (!)

I wonder if there is any correlation between high-end recordings we love, and conversely the low-end recordings we hate, with the quality of the studio equipment…


I’ll just throw in this link to a, imho, good interview in Stereophile magazine of David Gray - a revered mastering engineer. https://www.stereophile.com/content/kevin-gray-vinyl-mastering-master

That’s an interesting interview, but how does it bear on the question of monitors-vs.-hifi speakers?

Interesting perspective - so exactly which speakers should be used for mixing?

You say about studio engineers using poor monitors - what do you class as a poor monitor? Which monitors have you used yourself?

Why would a decent commercial studio - which will cost well into six figures to do properly - skimp on their monitoring, mixing and mastering stations (which lets face it is their purpose for being there)?

I’ve used a fair number of studio monitors in my time - I have a small set in my living room for late night TV viewing and a larger set on my office desk for audio while working and I’ve had stuff up to the level of ATC SCM200s (at £32,000 a pair) at home to play with and I have to say that the studio monitors do tend to be rather more revealing of poor source material than equivalent cost “HiFi” speakers so I think there’s much more to it than just the quality of the monitors…


Hi Phil,
I don’t think this is a thread against monitors, at least not from my perspective. I personally love monitors, and still own a pair of the original Guarneris.

I think the relevant point is most people (me included) have no idea about the speakers and mixing gear in studios. There isn’t much transparency there.

IMHO, it’s a reasonable hypothesis that some studios have much better equipment than others, and if so, it’s reasonable to postulate that this could impact recording quality…

1 Like

I think you are taking this as more of a negative argument than I intended. I’ve just heard some studio monitors that to my ears only, I thought sounded terrible [just as I have heard many terrible so-called “hifi” speakers]. In a certain environment, perhaps they are perfectly accurate for the desired purpose. But when I have heard some of those boxes, I have often wondered. That’s all. It’s not an attack on monitors.

Ahem, seriously? Why do they cheap out on cables [discissed elsewhere in this forum at length? Why do they produce discs that sound terrible? Why, etc. Because, for their commercial purposes, SQ as audiophiles tend to perceive it might not be highest on their priority scale. Not trying to pick a fight, but tears shed by audiophiles over commercial studio SQ compromise decisions are endless.

I shared the link to Paul’s post because Octave has made a choice that they think affects the SQ of they productions, and I found that interesting.

So he likes using the speakers he sells.


Oh and it is important to remember that engineers use a wide range of playback devices

From the legendary (horrible) Auratones through to big in-wall systems from the likes of ATC etc.

And headphones. A huge amount of monitoring is done on headphones, for obvious reasons.

In my recording sessions with Tony Faulkner (dCS Legend), we have used everything from Quad ESL63 Pro at Henry Wood Hall to the big B&W monitors at Abbey Road Studio 1 and pretty much everything inbetween. But there are always headphones there too – tony likes Sennheiser 650 if i remember rightly. Because they are constant and not affected by room

1 Like

And to take the topic even wider, you generally have no idea what microphones were used, and how.

AKG414? Schoeps omnis? Royer SF24? Rode TF5? NTSF1? All sound different. All have different polar patterns

Do you know what spaced omnis sounds like compared to coincident fig8? A Faulkner array? The M50 versus the Rode prototypes?

if you are serious are sound quality, you go do your own recordings so you know what happened and what it was actually supposed to sound like. This doesnt require you to hire the London Symphony Orchestra and Abbey Road or Air Studios. Go record a local band. Or something in the church hall. Then listen

Otherwise, its all just guesswork.

I detest how Paul M often likes to imply that PS-Audio are the only ones doing such and such thing and for the first time in the industry etc. :roll_eyes:

In this instance, he seems to be suggesting that Octave Records are the only ones using a full range/HiFi Speakers for mixing/mastering??? I have to agree with Phil’s take.

There are plenty of excellent in-depth looks at recoding studios on YouTube that profile set-ups which completely blow-away Octave Records (and I dare say would probably measure far better than the FR30 :laughing:). Here’s just one example;

I also recommend watching the following ATC Loudspeakers Studio Monitor seminar.

1 Like

Well, McGowan has been doing that for years, and I agree it can be obnoxious. I posted the piece though because I like quite a few of the Octave recordings and I am intrigued to see whether this switch on their part (regardless of what, if any, credit they deserve for it) bears substantive fruit for the listener. That’s all. Didn’t mean to raise so much ire. :beers:


Continuing this thread, not because: (a) I hate monitors (they’re the only thing I’ve got!); (b) I think Octave is the only one recording good music; or (c) I claim to have the technical studio chops to argue with others on this forum. I simply find that the quality of recording on some of my music (CDs previously, now lossless digital) is So much better than others, that this line of reasoning is interesting. I accordingly believe it is possible that many of the top artists we know are not being well-served by their labels/studios and it’s worth discussing.

(Side note: IMHO, the only way to listen to PM videos is at 1.5x speed. That sounds normal to me!) ; )


Hahahaha! :rofl: Perfect! And I don’t hate monitors either, but I definitely like your suggestion. I know the bias in my view as well. I think the likelihood is they are not.