I'm going to buy monitors and i need your help or your advice - shipping, duty fees?

Hi there,

I feel a bit sorry for showing up and directly asking for help / advice after such a long period of idling, especially through a message that long, but anyway.

I’m very determined in buying a set of near field monitors any day soon, and I won’t go above 5" or 6" speakers monitors, because I lack of room for now (and i probably always will).
Also, I’d like to stay cheap. Yeah, that was obvious.

I may go for a pair of HS5s. But from what I have read virtually everywhere, the best bang for the bucks for this kind of hardware is the equator D5s. Although they’re new, everyone seems to crave about them… so do I.
Problem is : I live in France. In US, nowadays you get a pair of D5s for $379 (around 280€) and you can buy accessories as well. In France, the cheapest that I could find is 469€ (at modular square). Equator ships D5s to Switzerland, Belgium or Italia for about $109 which seemingly comprises taxes, but not to France. Instead, they seem to have contracted an agreement with a company that sells them for 489€ through distributors. So, if i’m not mistaken, if i’m Italian, i can get them for $488 = 361€, but since I’m french, i’m going to add more than 100€ for exactly the same product. I know that we French people are arrogant and smell of cheese and garlic, but hell, I call that a steal. Regarding high tech or audio hardware, we are already used to paying the same price in € than in $, which is quite unfair, but in this case i find it really unacceptable.

Or am I forgetting something in the equation? What do “taxes” stand for if not for duty fees in Equator’s shipping charges on their website?
What do you have to pay when you get stuff shipped individually from the US to France (or Europe in general)?

Now, if i understand well, i’m left with 3 options :

  • the quick, expensive “i like to throw money at the window” way : just buy a set at modular square. The good point is : it is kind of a reward for hosting a bunch of Olivier’s conferences and live announcements.
  • the hazardous way : find someone in the US who would agree to receive a set of monitors at home, then have them shipped straight away to my place, and I cover all shipping, taxes, duty expenses. It shouldn’t cost much more than what equator is announcing for shipping on his website but that’s what i’m not so sure about.
  • screw it, let the D5s down, buy a pair of HS5s or something equivalent at thomann’s, stay frustrated all my life, compensate by eating garlic, snails and cheese all day long.

Any thoughts?

I have friends who say they’ve used services like these in the past:



…which give you an address that you can ship the items to in the United States, and then they will ship it to you in France - for an additional cost, of course. I don’t know if it will be cheaper for you, but I thought it would be relevant to mention here anyway.

My advice would be to test the monitors before you buy them… Preferably at your home in the room you will use them in. I think monitoring also has a lot to do with taste. So people could be raving about something you would not.

I have a pair of self-powered Prodipe Ribbon 5 bi-amped nearfields. They are certainly not the best and I think the reviews have been inconsistent but I’m happy with them and it’s great not needing a separate amp for the monitors.

Try Mackie MR5mkII’s too - great monitor, about $149.00 each. I like them for synth work especially.

May I suggest some in-ear monitors? If you have a chain music shop, they will probably have a few for sale very cheap just lying around. No one buys them and they are actually pretty good.

Always keep in Mind that US Prices doesn’t cover value added tax, so your US Pricetag of $379 is in the old world more like 450$. Add taxes (in Germany about5%) and you have 472$ which is today around 349€. Now add the Shipping (and this will be shipped in an Airplane from either US or Far East, as long as you won’t order a whole container) for your 25kg of Monitors (DHL charges 68€ for this) and you have 417€.

My suggestion would be order it from Modular Square and have full EU Waranty and service, or give a damn for the rumors of what is best (which are mostly emphasized by the fact people paid a load for the gear, therefore it can’t be bad…), buy a Pair of B1030A for just 249., try them and send them back if you are not satisfied and spend the rest for a nice night out with your beloved ones.

Well, there is no way i’m going to get any occasion of testing a bunch of monitors since i simply don’t know anyone who owns a pair except rokits… and rokits get really mixed reviews. It’s in no way representative. I don’t have a real dedicated place for testing them at home either. When i will, i’ll definitively have an acoustic treatment done, but for now testing monitors at home is pretty irrelevant. I can go to my local music shop, but i’d really like to see some D5s in action given the dithyrambic reviews they receive all the time.

Anyway, I have to take the plunge one day or the other. I have a time window for recording some solo stuff, monitors would be handy for this project, although i won’t have a treated, dedicated room for this. Let’s call it lo-fi folk baked with soft electronics…

If you don’t have an at least halfway acoustical feasible situation all considerations which monitors to choose are pointless. As i discovered the fact that in a suboptimal place every Montior sounded somewhat shitty i sticked with my 25 year old Control One (JBL rules!) and got some B1030A for crosschecking. If i mix that it sounds OK on both it usually is quite presentable.

Your room will have to be really bad not to hear the difference between a good pair and a bad pair of monitors… besides even the fact that they all sound different and some like it this way and others that way.
I got my monitors from a shop in Holland that let me test them at home. I tested a pair of Dynaudio BM5a’s and the Genelec 8040’s … I kept the 8040a’s … I found they revealed more detail. Though the Dynaudio’s sounded nicer if i would want them for listening to music. I only regret a little bit not having got 8050A’s but they were above my budget.

In Europe you can send everything you buy in any shop back within 30 days so there’s nothing from keeping you to just ordering a bunch and send them all back except the ones you like.

I don’t think that trying to chose the right monitors completely pointless even in this situation. I mean, i’m not going to spend the rest of my life mixing in a 9m² square bedroom. And even still, there must be some slight difference.

As I said, I know that there’s a day when i’ll have both the pair of monitors and a treated room. It is simply not feasible at the moment, in the flat where i’m currently living in (chances are that i’ll leave it within 3-4 months). But since i’ll have both the monitors and the treated room at some point in a not so far future, and since i have now a time window for recording stuff, i think that buying now a pair of monitors isn’t completely pointless, even though they’ll be under-exploited. I need something for resting my head from my headphones.

Anyway, i’ll probably let those D5s go, my speculation about finding a way to import them for cheap was obviously stupid. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ll go with a ~250, 300€ pair.

HS80s rock for mixing. so maybe HS5s might be good. It’s definitely a taste thing. I wouldn’t be happy with mine without a sub, as they double for home listening & if I cranked the bass how I like it for listening on the HS80s alone my ears would bleed from the treble… but for mixing they are very true I noticed the difference the first mix I did with them. HS5 plus cheap sub? or plus A/Bing with subby headphones/in-ear monitors as audiohoarder suggested? don’t know the D5s. Do know that for transatlantic you have to have a very VERY good margin to be worth it and it sounds borderline in this case…

I’m going to trust my headphones for deep bass and use the monitors for medium and treble adjustment.

I found this page for a comparison.
I was first dubious about the principle, since you’re only going to make the comparison based on your current audio setup, but after some listening it’s definitively useful. I wasn’t expecting such a difference between monitors.
And based on the comparison, HS5s are not what i’m looking for.
Thanks a lot for all your thoughts, it helps me a lot.

I didn’t listen to the sounds on the page but I find comparing monitors by listening to recordings of them a very strange concept.

I guess you could go with any Monitor as long as you are used to it and know how it works. HERETIC
Im now listening 20+ years to JBL Control 1s and trust me, i can identify any fault, mistake or bad engineering on these ones. Just because i have so much practice, at least thats what i think. I wouldn’t trust myselves on a Mix i didn’t heard on them. So my final advise would be: get a a pair of monitors you like, hear some 20+ year music with it and then use them for Mixdown :wink:

The difficulty lies in a “get a pair of monitors you like” huh? :slight_smile:
Of course you’re right, it’s mostly a matter of both acoustic environment and being used to your hardware. But i suppose that getting one that suits you ‘from scratch’ already is going to save some time. From the page that I linked, JBLs seem to suit my tastes quite well.

So just get a pair of Control 1 and an decent amp . You can’t do anything wrong with that - and its ´ below 300 € :wink:

Go and get a pair of KH120A and you are ready to identify Mäusehusten…not kidding, i do not know any monitors in this pricerange (1200€/pair) coming close to them. The next noticeable better quality will be way beyond 5k.


Interested to know what you ended up doing about your monitor choice?
I’ve found myself in a remarkably similar predicament just recently - everyone on the interweb seems to be raving about those Equators (£399 here in the UK).

I ended up delaying the whole thing because of not taking into account my local taxes… Such an idiot.

Anyway, listening to that shoutout page I linked earlier, I’ll provide my very personal conclusions.
I found that although the rokits seem to be quite good overall, there’s something that i don’t like about them in the mids, i don’t really know what but i found it unpleasing…
The genelecs seem to suit my needs pretty well but they aren’t in the same price range at all,
The JBLs may be the right choice given my tastes.
Otherwise the other 5" speakers don’t seem to be suited very well for a complete mixing process, they all seem to focus very much on certain points, hence being better suited to complement bigger monitors (the HS8 look like a nice choice if you want to stay cheap).
I also found that all of the coaxial speakers in the shoutout seem to be more balanced and focused than other types of monitors. So in the end, when I get the occasion, I may follow my (probably silly) first intuition and get a pair of D5s in the blind.

For now, for my forthcoming lofi/electronic/folk/whatever recording session, I’ve just cleaned my desk, I hooked up a pair of 8" 2 ways passive hifi pioneer speakers found in the street to a 20w chinese tripath amp and my motu soundcard, placed them as well as i could on polystyrene pads on my desk, corrected the bad resonance spots of my speakers on my soundcard’s software, et voilà. I’m actually quite surprised by the precision I’m getting from such a dirty configuration.