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Studio Monitors or HiFi?


plastic7
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HiFi speakers designed for distance listening; studio moniors designed generally for near field (closeup).

HiFi speakers (often) more relaxed; studio monitors more analytical.

HiFi speakers usually used with pre-amp giving remote controlled switching, volume, etc.; studio monitors controls on back (usually).

HiFi speakers tend to be more attractive; studio monitors more functional.

HiFi speakers can (to some extent) be tuned by varying cables and power amp; studio monitors have no choice with amp.

HiFi speakers need speaker cable running to them; studio moniors need (preferably balanced) line level cable and power.

 

Some thoughts to begin with. There are surely more things to consider but very much depends on your requirement and circumstances.

 

Eloise

 

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Simple answer: Depends. :)

 

It depends on how you're listening to your speakers. If you are relaxing in an armchair some 10 feet away from your speakers in a large room with soft furnishing, then you might find the studio monitors a little weak.

 

Conversely if you're listening only a couple of feet away from your speakers in a pseudo studio environment (e.g. your listening "station" is your computer work desk) then big 'ol floorstanders are going to sound lopsided, not to mention being in the way.

 

There are undoubtedly exceptions to the rule with both lots of speakers, but generally which you chose depends on how you're listening to them. Downstairs in the living room I have B&W CM7s, I sit about 8 feet away from them, relaxing in a comfy chair with my eyes closed and a beverage of choice in my hand. Upstairs I have some Tannoy M..um..somethings..which sit on either side of my two computer monitors (they're shielded) and pump out whatever helps me to concentrate on my work. The CM7s sound a lot better (but then they were a lot more expensive - you can get much better quality monitors than the Tannoys), but they'd be impractical upstairs on my desk next to the wall.

 

 

Alix/Voyage mpd -> Valab NOS DAC (modded) -> Linn Majic I -> B&W CM7

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My brother replaced a pair of ProAc hifi speakers with some similar priced Mackie HR264 monitors.

We both prefer the uncoloured analytical sound of the Mackie monitors.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Look at the thread: "Dynaudio BM12A's" on this forum. It goes into more detail than here concerning your question. Also, I agree with what Eloise wrote. You need to consider the points she made.

 

Rob

 

desktopaudioboutique.com

 

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I would say Hi Fi speakers unless you hate yourself, feel guilty, or sincerely want to go to a trimming-down phase.

 

M

 

Jriver Media Juke box to USB Waveterminal U24 to upgraded EAD Theatermaster Ovation Plus to Dared 300b monos to KEF 104/2\'s. VH1 power cords plus homemade. These make a big difference even on PC.

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Depending on your price range, Harbeth Monitor 30s or 40.1s are both accurate and very easy to listen to. Highly recommended.

 

Macbook Pro/MacMini/dCS Debussy/Cambridge 650BD[br]Vitus Audio SS-010/Living Voice OBX-R2 Speakers/Ultrasone Edition 8 phones[br]Airport Express/Meridian AD88[br]

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Oh boy... I spent decades buying and upgrading hi-fi kit including speakers. I have had some really esoteric and expensive hi-fi speakers.

 

I was introduced to the concept of studio monitors via a friend in Holland who in turn introduced me to Toole and how to understand acoustics/room interactions etc...

 

I now have a pair of active studio monitors that in my opinion completely out perform any other speaker I have had AND they cost me a 1/4 of the cost of my last pair of speakers I had.

 

Accurate, yes, clinical maybe - harsh only if the source is rubbish. My monitors are near/mid field and happily operate 15 feet away from me and 4 foot from the back wall. I have four hi-fi buddies that have also moved away from hi-fi speakers(some costing £9k). This guy bought a pair of JBL monitors, others have moved to Genelec to the Dynaudios I have.

 

My monitors worked well in my room, but after acoustically treating my room they now sound amazing.

 

If you can pleeeeease listen to some studio monitors.

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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  • 1 year later...

I have always heard the word "accuracy" from audiophiles and then recently the thought of Studio Monitors creeped into my head....

And audiophile's commented "emotional disconnect" when listening to SM's. They also mentioned accuracy in the same breadth and said that it was too accurate....

I have been looking for a passive sealed monitor (studio / audiophile)... I initially assumed that they would meeet somewhere down the line and as I read and hear they are in the opposite directions of Audio....

I stuffed my present speaker and loved the fine and tight bass and hence have been looking for a true sealed speaker .....

Can anyone shed more light on this emotional disconnect / active or passive / .... and recommendations for a SEALED Monitor... or a bookshelf speaker that will give me a TIGHT bass.

 

Regards

 

HP

 

HerculePirate

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If you're at a desk or near a desk: Studio Monitors

 

If you're across the room: HiFi speakers

 

The goal of "HiFi" is to come as close as possible to recreating a live event...accuracy. It hasn't been done yet so the hobby has turned to offer us different "flavors", many of which are very pleasing to listen to but colored none the less. I am someone that believes something is either accurate or not. I do not believe anything can be too accurate.

 

Bill

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Mac Mini->Roon + Tidal->KEF LS50W

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What is accurate? What is too accurate? What is not accurate? Every recording venue, be it live or studio has it's own acoustics. Which one is the most accurate? Is Carnegie Hall or Abby Road studio more accurate? One would assume "accurate" to be an exact replication on a stereo system of what was recorded at the recording venue. What if the acoustics of the listening room the stereo is in are poor? So much for accuracy. What if the acoustics are good? Ah, closer, but still off. Powered studio monitors were created as a tool for recording. HiFi speakers were created as a toy for listening. Bottom line: If you like the generally clinical sound of studio monitors, enjoy. Same for warmer sounding HiFi speakers. Don't trust anything but your ears. Tube amps often have higher measured distortion levels than solid state amps, yet a well designed tube amp is still hard to match let alone beat for listenability, though considered inaccurate by some. Accuracy? No such thing IMO. There is the ability of some well put together systems in a room with ideal acoustics to have a holographic 3D soundstage, have great timing, multilayered detail, be warm and fluid, and have superb attack and decay on notes and percussion. As far as the verbal description of the system's sound goes, the above sounds fabulous, and really that is all we are striving for. Is it accurate? To the one who has this system and enjoys it, probably yes, and that is as close to "accurate" as any of us will ever come short of going to a live performance which my not be as accurate as your stereo.

 

Rob

 

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I have a pair of Dynaudio Air 15 monitors and I listen to these studio monitors approx 4.5 meters away. Check out the specifications of even nearfield monitors - they often specify the listening distances.

 

I too like accurate - whatever that 'really means' :-) I have spent time getting my monitors as flat as I can in the room I listen in - whether my monitors are truly accuarate is another thing.

 

I've been down the route of hi-fi speakers costing many $$$s and I have no inyention of ever going back. Each to their own, but I like studio monitors!

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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Rob,

 

I think you and I agree that the accurate reproduction of a live/recorded event is the holy grail of HiFi...and that it hasn't been found.

 

This "hobby" of HiFi is a journey of finding a "sound" that YOU like. Though we like to put absolutes on everything in this hobby there really is no right or wrong because no two systems, room, or sets of ears on the planet.

 

So we use terms the accuracy and musicality to describe what WE are hearing from our systems.

 

Bill

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Mac Mini->Roon + Tidal->KEF LS50W

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Once you acclimatise to what good monitors do well there's no going back to coloured, tipped-up/down or mid-centric hi-fi speakers.

 

But bear in mind that - if they're any good - a studio monitor will:

1. shame all but top-flight sources.

2. demand room treatment.

 

Satisfy conditions 1 and 2 and they will sound precisely as 'musical' as the recording, source and cabling.

 

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... is accurate definition of 'accurate'. It would be foolish to gainsay the argument that the ultimate purpose of a music reproduction system is to re-create in the home what took place in front of the mikes.

 

So there's the first obstacle to accuracy: if your listening room imposes its own acoustic, you just won't be able to hear the recording's acoustic accurately. This will make you feel less like you're 'there', and more like you're 'here'.

 

The more accurate the reproduction, the more emotionally engaged you will be.

 

Beyond that, it's a can of worms: you're actually listening to a bunch of membranes flapping about at one end of a room, pretending to be an infinitely contradictory panoply of sounds. Those membranes don't stop or start like instruments do, although they're distantly related to drums.

 

So a willful suspension of disbelief takes place: your brain measures the difference between its model of a real thing and the noise coming from the transducer. This calibration allows the listener to accept a given noise as a voice, or a violin, or a DX7 or a bullfrog being pulped.

 

Only with very simple assignments is there a danger of confusing reality and reproduction.

 

But we're all differently attuned to specific touchstones of reality: some focus on fine-grained resolution of near-inaudible detail; others demand that their systems simulate more accurately the real-world instrumental effect of 'eruption from silence' (dynamic range); others focus of accuracy of timbre, or absence of electronic falsification, or top-to-bottom accuracy of frequency response, etc.

 

Then there's the soundstage issue: a panoramic window onto the recording is seductive, but this isn't always synonymous with accurate placement of elements within it: some would rather live with a smaller soundstage if instruments can more readily be localised. Obviously, totally accurate would be ideal, but in practice that's tough to achieve.

 

The accusation that studio speakers are 'too accurate', as if that was an impediment to emotional engagement, is patently nonsense. But they are designed to prioritise different kinds of accuracy. Sometimes they spotlight recording flaws less honest equipment glosses over. By the same token, they reveal subtle 'beneficial' information less honest equipment glosses over: reverb tails and fingers on strings and all that.

 

They do internal soundstage accuracy; they don't do big soundstage effects. Unless they're very large, they don't mimic big instruments well - they always favour accuracy over weight in the lower registers, which is why they are considered 'uninvolving' or 'undynamic'. They're not: they just don't play cheap tricks with LF. For that, you need a subwoofer and/or lots of cone.

 

If you can't live without the surround sound effect of panel speakers, or the kind of mid-range that puts vocalists on a pedestal, or lumpen, wooly bass, or the whole rose-tinted spectacles thing, then studio monitors are not for you.

 

Even if you can live without the above, you have to buy some compromises: the sound will be as big as the box; no bigger. Don't expect lush timbre or inflated soundstaging. Any source or recording short of state-of-the-art will be appear to be dismal. Unless it's a Focal, it will be ugly. And thanks to the manly pro audio tradition, everything about the power architecture will be agricultural and ripe for audiophile TLC upgrades: this will improve timbre no end.

 

With the right DAC, half-decent active monitors provide unprecedented resolution, proper stereo imaging and hyaline transparency. Whether this 'differently accurate' presentation works for you depends more on what your ears and room bring to the party.

 

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Hi plastic7,

 

"Simple question.

For listening to music, with a good DAC connected to a music server.

Studio Speakers or HiFi Speakers?"

 

"Studio speakers" can be different things.

 

Many years ago (and still today in some studios), this means ported boxes, often 8 or 9 cubic feet in size, with 15" woofers and coaxial horns, crossed over in the lower midrange. Altecs were popular and later, in the 1970s we saw the rise of others such as the "Big Red".

 

All were a similar design. The main design criteria for these speakers seems to have been high (speech) intelligibility at very high volume levels. If you were speaking to a crowd located a quarter mile away, these are the speakers you'd want. Unfortunately, aside from their dynamic capability (which was not full range but mostly concentrated in the midrange) there wasn't much, in my view, to recommend these.

 

More often than not, these were hung from the junction of ceiling and front wall, just above the control room glass. This is a good recipe for exciting as much resonance as a room can offer. But with what comes out of speakers of that sort, particularly at the levels at which they were often played, it doesn't matter - the game was lost long before the Play button was hit. (I used to work out an arrangement with producers who insisted on high playback levels: I'd monitor a recording or mixing session at a level I found reasonable and then leave the room, to the other side of the double doors, so they could play back at the loudness they wanted. When they were done, I'd re-enter and bring the volume back down before playing anything.)

 

In the mid-1970s we started seeing the introduction of small speakers, often kept on the meter bridge of the recording console. This is a great location for ensuring a comb filtering engendered dip in the midrange, located at the engineer's ears - yet look at many studio photos today and see where the "monitors" are kept. (!)

 

First were the small, ~6" cubes containing a single 4" "full range" Bose (!) driver, called Auratones (though I've heard them called "Awfultones" too).

Engineers and producers started referring to the smaller speakers to "see how it sounds at home", the assumption being that folks at home were listening to tiny box speakers. (There was no regard for the midrange dip.)

 

Auratones were followed by other models, including the ever popular Yamaha NS-10 (aka "NaSty Tens"). When a popular engineer started covering the Yamaha tweeter with a square of toilet tissue, others started doing the same. This became known as "the Charmin mod".

 

I never understood why folks thought speakers like this, (with constipated response in the upper bass and a pinched lower treble, with no real bass and no high treble) were a good idea to use as monitors. No wonder so many records sound as bad as they do. It is like mixing paint colors while wearing sunglasses - or a blindfold!

 

In the past decade or two, there has been a veritable explosion of small speakers sold as "studio monitors", mostly to semi-pro and home studios but to some larger studios as well. These tend to be efficient but still dynamically compromised (even though some play loudly) and uneven across the spectrum, have tweeters with sharp resonances in the mid treble and what bass there is sounds, to my ears, related more to box resonance than the program material.

 

It should be clear right now I am no fan of what are sold as "studio monitors".

In short, they are and always have been, glorified car speakers.

 

Arguments about so-called studio monitors being more "accurate" are not at all supported by the experience in any studio I've ever been in that uses them. The goal for most is often loudness above all else or an exaggerated midrange to help bring out details (for those who have damaged their hearing by listening to high SPLs for too long).

 

Of course, there are many "car speakers" in the HiFi world too. But in HiFi we have many more examples that actually start to sound like music.

 

And in some instances, we see HiFi speakers in studios. I've used Magnepans for years, simply because they give me access to the recording - which is what is needed during recording, mixing and mastering. I need to hear "past" the gear so I know I'm working on the recording itself and not the sound of the gear. (Before I used Magnepans, I used Dahlquists.)

 

I've designed studios for others using Maggies too and I know of a mastering facility in Norway that also uses them.

 

Some other manufacturers from the HiFi world have been making moves into the studio. This can only benefit all of us as the engineers and producers can better hear what they're doing.

 

I apologize if my post seems heavy handed. I find monitoring to be the most important thing in any studio (or playback system). Before I owned my own studio, I would select the ones I used based only on the monitoring. The feeling being if I can't hear what I'm doing, the rest of the gear doesn't matter. In designing my own room or the ones I've done for others, monitor placement is first, before anything else gets put into the space. It is all built around being able to hear past the system, all the way to the recording. When a room/system can do this, the results are magical.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Hi Bill,

 

"Curious as to where you feel headphones fit into that process if at all."

 

Recording or listening?

 

I use headphones sometimes when it is late and I don't want to disturb someone in the same room who may want it quiet. And I use them with my iPod.

 

For recording, I use headphones during sessions but only to let me know if I've successfully connected the microphones and if I've pressed the red button with sufficient force to engage recording. I would never assess audio with headphones (other than assessing the headphones themselves).

 

Just my perspective of course.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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I realize the drawbacks headphones present as far as soundstage, bass impact, etc but they remove the #1 "culprit" when it comes to sound, the room. I would think that removing that from the process would, for some tasks while mixing/mastering, yield a better end result.

 

I'm probably completely off-base as I've never even stepped inside of a recording studio before but I'm just curious.

 

Bill

 

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Mac Mini->Roon + Tidal->KEF LS50W

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Hi Bill,

 

"...I realize the drawbacks headphones present as far as soundstage, bass impact, etc but they remove the #1 "culprit" when it comes to sound, the room. I would think that removing that from the process would, for some tasks while mixing/mastering, yield a better end result..."

 

In my view, headphones present a great many drawbacks that good loudspeakers, properly set up, do not.

 

I don't want to remove the room. I listen to live music in rooms. ;-}

 

The idea is to have a good room. This isn't hard to do. Good speakers properly set up in a good room provide access to the recording in ways no headphone can ever approach.

 

In my view the #1 culprit when it comes to sound is poor monitoring (which I define as speakers, speaker position, listening position, room acoustics and associated gear). Headphones, in my view, are simply another form of poor monitoring, not a fix. They bring things close to the ears but do not provide access to the recording - two very different experiences.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

 

 

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My most recent speakers have been Wilson Benesch Arcs (driven by Chord amplification), ATC 50A Anniversary Towers & 20A Towers (the latter two active from a very good Studio Monitor manufacturer).

 

All three were wonderful & different in their own ways. The OT asked which were best? I would say try & see. Which ever you prefer although I have stuck with active ones. Apparently Meridian are very good but I have no experience (bar a very good CD player).

 

Not much help but an honest opinion.

 

Wilson Benesch Full Circle[br]Benz Micro LP[br]Cambridge Audio NP30[br]Chord Electronics Blu[br]Chord Electronics QBD76[br]Chord Electronics Symphonic[br]Chord Electronics Prima[br]ATC 20 ASL Towers

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Go listen and decide for yourself! I love upgraded vintage studiomonitors like Tannoy's little red monitor and JBL's. Big fun with Joy Division and New Order, but not really suited to orchestral and chamber music. FYI: http://www.jantzen-audio.com/download/JBL-L100_website-article_B.pdf

 

But my real advise is: build a speakerkit. There are many speaker builders that have published kits that are reknowned worldwide, like www.zaphaudio.com and www.humblehomemadehifi.nl. The big advantage is that, next to saving you hundreds of $, these kits allow you to modify the sound to your liking by tweaking the crossover.

 

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I would definitely consider the various offerings from PMC.

 

Their new Fact line, starting with the pretty remarkable Fact.8, is derived from the monitor world but adapted towards hifi tastes both in terms of design and sound. Yet it retains the transparency and dynamic of studio monitors. I had the chance to listen to Fact.8 a few weeks ago and it was excellent, although paired with electronics I am not too fond about.

 

These might very well be my next 10+ years speakers unless I can find a better deal on the Wilson Benesch I really want. :-)

 

Cheers,

Bernard

 

 

Room: Gik Acoustics room conditioning | Power: Shunyata Omega XC + Shunyata Everest + Shunyata Sigma NR v2 power cables | Source: Mac mini with LPS running Roon core (Raat) | Ethernet: Sonore OpticalModule + Melco S10 + Shunyata Omega Ethernet | Dac/Pre/Amplification: Devialet D1000 Pro Core Infinity | Speakers: Chord Company Sarum T speaker cables + Wilson Benesch Act One Evolution P1

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  • 1 year later...

I am visiting this old thread because I have a question about studio monitors

 

Q. What is the philosophy behind active studio monitor, volume controls rotation?

 

Many volume controls run flat out at zero and as you reduce the volume show -10, -20 on down to -50. My McIntosh decreases turned to the left, flat straight up, boosted turned to the right. But on the Yamaha HS 80M volume control, all the way counter clockwise shows "min," straight up shows +4db, and all the way clockwise shows -10db. Where is flat?

30741_l.jpg

Simple question.

 

For listening to music, with a good DAC connected to a music server.

 

Studio Speakers or HiFi Speakers?

Speaker salesmen can call any speaker they want a studio monitor to increase sales. It is just sales talk but in general the studio monitor will reproduce better sound and be more durable than the same product from the same company for consumers.
HiFi speakers designed for distance listening; studio monitors designed generally for near field (close-up).
You can get studio monitors for far away like the JBL 100 or for close up like the Yamaha HR10.
HiFi speakers (often) more relaxed; studio monitors more analytical.
Subjective opinion
HiFi speakers usually used with pre-amp giving remote controlled switching, volume, etc.; studio monitors controls on back (usually).
Active speakers have a volume control because the amplifier is inside the speaker cabinet. There is no reason it cannot be controlled with a pre-amp.
HiFi speakers tend to be more attractive; studio monitors more functional.
Manufactures use to change the appearance of studio monitors to sell to a wider audience. Whether it was more attractive or not is a matter of opinion. Both types filled the function they were designed for.
HiFi speakers can (to some extent) be tuned by varying cables and power amp; studio monitors have no choice with amp. HiFi speakers need speaker cable running to them; studio monitors need (preferably balanced) line level cable and power.
This just applies to the difference between passive and active speakers. Not at all specific to studio monitors.
I now have a pair of active studio monitors that in my opinion completely out perform any other speaker I have had AND they cost me a 1/4 of the cost of my last pair of speakers I had.
If you're at a desk or near a desk: Studio Monitors
This is just the difference between near/field and book shelf sized speakers. The near/field is more likely two way with a hidden sub while the bookshelf had three or four speakers and a port. Not made for engineers lugging around home and garage studios on there way home.
Powered studio monitors were created as a tool for recording. HiFi speakers were created as a toy for listening.
The more accurate the reproduction, the more emotionally engaged you will be.

 

The accusation that studio speakers are .. designed to prioritize different kinds of accuracy. Sometimes they spotlight recording flaws less honest equipment glosses over. By the same token, they reveal subtle 'beneficial' information less honest equipment glosses over: reverb tails and fingers on strings and all that.

 

If you can't live without the surround sound effect of panel speakers, or the kind of mid-range that puts vocalists on a pedestal, or lumpen, wooly bass, or the whole rose-tinted spectacles thing, then studio monitors are not for you... With the right DAC, half-decent active monitors provide unprecedented resolution, proper stereo imaging, and hyaline transparency..

In the past decade or two, there has been a veritable explosion of small speakers sold as "studio monitors,” mostly to semi-pro and home studios but to some larger studios as well… Monitor placement is first, before anything else gets put into the space. It is all built around being able to hear past the system, all the way to the recording.

The Driver smiled when he lost his pursuer...

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