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#2401605 - 04/05/12 04:12 PM Monitors!!
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
I'm getting monitors.

I have so far mixed all of my music using a combination of consumer-grade computer speakers and a decent pair of AKG headphones, cross checking by listening in the car. As I've said in other posts, the results have been predictably less than stellar. I've known about the need to have real monitors for years, but never pulled the trigger - frankly I couldn't justify the expense for a hobby.

Several different brands of nearfields have been on my watch list for some time, including KRK, JBL, Event, Adam, and most recently Tannoy. But, I just bought a pair of Equator Audio D5's and they should hopefully be here next week.

I decided on these after reading a glowing review in Tape Op and then looking Equator up online. Apparently the guy who started the company, Ted Keffalo, co-founded Event and Alesis and knows his stuff. The marketing put me off a little bit (the whole "introductory price" thing, for starters), but the reviews persuaded me. That, and the $300/pair price tag, which is very much in the line with the other products mentioned previously. I will post a review after I get them, but having never used monitors for my own mixing I'm not sure it will be useful - almost anything's better than what I was using, right? laugh

Pretty excited, if you couldn't tell...
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#2401618 - 04/05/12 04:49 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
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Whoooeee is this a fun little can of worms...

<--- believes that one should choose a pair of speakers (with or without an external amp as necessary) and learn them, rather than futz about trying to find a "perfect" monitoring system...

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#2401819 - 04/06/12 09:13 AM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Griffinator]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
Wow, gotta say that's the last response I expected - ha ha!

But let's open that can! Everything I've heard is that basic computer speakers aren't flat, that they color the sound, leading you to mix improperly (adding bass, cutting frequencies unnecessarily). Also, you don't get a clear picture of all the flaws present in the music.

In theory I guess you could figure out the issues that your speakers have and adjust accordingly. In practice, I've found that to be very difficult - my mixes don't translate well (a very overused term) to other sound systems. I'm hoping the monitors will allow me to hear everything and fine tune it better. I don't need a "perfect" system but I think I needed something better!

What do you use and why?
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#2401836 - 04/06/12 10:04 AM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
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Oh, I'm not suggesting computer speakers are good enough. I'm saying that a good clean pair of two or three-ways and a good amp are. I used to (before my basement flooded and they were ruined) use a pair of JBL S38 bookshelf speakers with an Onkyo M-5000 amplifier as my monitoring system. Got great results because I listened to just about everything on those speakers, so I knew exactly how they responded to different material, and I knew what sounded "good" on them to my ears would translate to other speaker systems without a problem.

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#2401879 - 04/06/12 12:01 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Griffinator]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
Makes sense. With my limited tech knowledge, it seems like higher-end speakers and monitors achieve basically the same result of reproducing the music cleanly so everything can be heard well.

That said...monitors must have been created as a separate product from other speakers for a reason, right? I'm assuming it didn't start as just a marketing ploy, but that there was a genuine need.
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#2401886 - 04/06/12 12:44 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
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Depends on who you talk to.

The legendary Yamaha NS-10m was actually a home bookshelf speaker. It became standard studio gear when someone discovered that mixes perfected on this horrible sounding little thing translated perfectly on virtually any other sound system they tried.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep08/articles/yamahans10.htm

Short answer is, the market created itself from this speaker, not the other way around.

Prior to the mid-80's (when the NS10 gained popularity in the studio), numerous manufacturers put the word "Monitor" on speakers that were in no way suitable for use as "studio monitors" as we understand them today. I own a pair of such speakers - Altec Model 14 - a massive tower speaker with a 12" woofer and a horn tweeter in a 60+ pound cabinet. Certainly not something you're going to toss onto your meter bridge casually...

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#2401918 - 04/06/12 03:38 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Griffinator]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
Very, very interesting. Loved that article, thanks for the link. I can't believe I hadn't read it before.

And...those Altecs are awesome. They look like a robot from a 50's sci-fi movie:

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#2405129 - 04/19/12 11:03 AM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
My Equators arrived a couple of days ago. So far I'm pretty happy. At very first listen, I thought they weren't all that different from my previous speakers. Then I began to notice how much clearer and more defined everything was, which is what I was hoping for.

One thing I didn't forsee is that they are loud. Like, LOUD. Doesn't help that I work at night and have to keep the volume down so I don't wake up the baby. But I have the "sensitivity" (volume) setting down as low as it can go and I still had to drop the volume on my DAW.

Continuing to break them in (one review I read said it takes a few weeks), so I'll report back as new insights come up.
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#2407222 - 04/27/12 12:47 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
Robitaille59 Offline
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Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 380
Loc: Dallas TX
I went through quite a bit of research in the area of selecting monitors for your project studio and thought I'd use this thread to post them.

Frequency range:

Remember that the human ear has a theoretical range of 20HZ to 2kHZ of range. So when picking your monitors you must be sure that they can reproduce this range. Realistically, it's the low frequencies you should be concerned with.

The Equator D5 5.25" monitors state that they go as low at 53Hz. Consider that the low E string of a bass guitar is 41Hz and the low B of a 5 string bass is 31 Hz then you will not be able to successfully reproduce those frequencies. So you'll need to get a sub to complete the range of frequencies so your mix can be as accurate as possible.

So you may hear people complain that their mix sounds good on their monitors but when they play it in the car they hear all this garbled bass frequencies...they would need to have a sub to hear that and fix it.

Character of the speakers:

Speakers have character like a guitar or an amp...you know that a strat sounds different from a les paul...and an SM57 sounds different that an Audix i5 right? Well speakers can sound ultra clean and modern or they can sound warm and musical.

A pair of genelec 1029a sound quite different than the KRK Rockit. So go listen to them at guitar center or where ever you can.

A reference CD:

Now you'll need to choose a CD or maybe two that you have heard thousands of times. Doesn't matter how you feel about the CD now or the style...it just matters that you are familiar with it. For me it was "Master of Puppets" and "Ride the Lightning" two albums that I wore out all my life.

When selecting speakers I play "master of puppets" through them. I also play some roots reggae to see how they handle bass frequencies.

I've heard other people say that they do this, my producer friend who helped me with this concept uses Faith No More "King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime". If he plays that on any speaker set he could tell you what frequencies need to be cut or boosted in order to achieve an accurate playback.

One last thing to remember. The people who listen to your mixes won't know what it sounds like when you are sitting in your sweet spot at your desk. They will be listening to it on anything from a laptop to their car to all points in between. So you won't be impressing anyone with great monitors unless it's another geek like all of us who hang out here. So the best results is when it sounds good on a lot of different sets of speakers.

So with that in mind you could really mix on any set of speakers really....Griff said in his post "Got great results because I listened to just about everything on those speakers, so I knew exactly how they responded to different material" So the more you listen to music on the speakers you mix with, the better you'll be able to mix.

I hope this helps
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#2407995 - 05/01/12 10:38 AM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Robitaille59]
Russkull Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
Thanks for the helpful post, Rob.

Originally Posted By: Robitaille59
The Equator D5 5.25" monitors state that they go as low at 53Hz. Consider that the low E string of a bass guitar is 41Hz and the low B of a 5 string bass is 31 Hz then you will not be able to successfully reproduce those frequencies. So you'll need to get a sub to complete the range of frequencies so your mix can be as accurate as possible.

There was some discussion about this over on the Bass Player forum, with our own esteemed moderator chiming in:
http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads...nd_#Post2393691

This especially:
Originally Posted By: Griffinator
Now, as to your speaker dilemma, remember that the frequency ranges they advertise are not the functional limits of the speakers, but rather the +/-3dB range - as in one cannot distinctly perceive a difference in volume between tones within the range advertised. Doesn't mean they can't hit those lows or highs, just means the way they're tuned causes a dropoff that exceeds that industry standard deviance for published frequency range specs.

So as I understand it, it's not as if I won't be able to hear below 53Hz at all, but I won't be hearing a complete picture past that point without acquiring a sub.

Originally Posted By: Robitaille59
A reference CD:

Now you'll need to choose a CD or maybe two that you have heard thousands of times. Doesn't matter how you feel about the CD now or the style...it just matters that you are familiar with it. For me it was "Master of Puppets" and "Ride the Lightning" two albums that I wore out all my life.

Mixerman's advice is to use a recording that you did yourself, something you know intimately. Tape Op recently asked what music people use and some engineers were adamently against the practice, using tone generators instead.

Personally I'm getting used to these new monitors using my songs as well as Radiohead's "Let Down", and the 80's song "Salt in My Tears" by Martin Briley (I like the way it's mixed). But really, I'm not moving from studio to studio and having to evaluate a new system all the time, which is where I think the advice of having a reference CD really comes into play.
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#2408093 - 05/01/12 05:24 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
Robitaille59 Offline
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Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 380
Loc: Dallas TX
Wow Russkull, that's a lot to consider for me. Thank you.
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#2408109 - 05/01/12 06:31 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
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Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
Originally Posted By: Russkull
Personally I'm getting used to these new monitors using my songs as well as Radiohead's "Let Down", and the 80's song "Salt in My Tears" by Martin Briley (I like the way it's mixed). But really, I'm not moving from studio to studio and having to evaluate a new system all the time, which is where I think the advice of having a reference CD really comes into play.


The problem with using your own music to reference is that you're more likely to "fill in the blanks" with your own stuff, interpolating what's in your head with what's actually coming out of the speakers.

My favorite reference CD is Faith No More's Angel Dust - it has an ENORMOUS spectrum of sounds from track to track, and I've probably listened to the entire album repeatedly on every speaker system I've owned (personal or professional) since 1993, when I bought my first copy of it.

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#2422176 - 06/27/12 09:50 AM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Griffinator]
wraub Offline
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Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 5119
Loc: ennui, az.
I have been using a small pair of 3 way home speakers w/ sub,
mainly cuz it was cheap. Not the best or most accurate, but sufficient. I am always working to improve my mixes, and have been considering some new monitors (ironically, the Equator D5), but definitely see the value in listening to familiar CDs to assess mix quality. I have also used both of the FNM discs mentioned above for this.

Please update the D5s you have after the break in period.

Peace,

wraub
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#2423094 - 07/02/12 09:56 PM Re: Monitors!! [Re: Russkull]
J. Dan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Russkull
Originally Posted By: Griffinator
Now, as to your speaker dilemma, remember that the frequency ranges they advertise are not the functional limits of the speakers, but rather the +/-3dB range - as in one cannot distinctly perceive a difference in volume between tones within the range advertised. Doesn't mean they can't hit those lows or highs, just means the way they're tuned causes a dropoff that exceeds that industry standard deviance for published frequency range specs.

So as I understand it, it's not as if I won't be able to hear below 53Hz at all, but I won't be hearing a complete picture past that point without acquiring a sub.


Be careful - I've noticed a troubling trend in manufacturers using the -10dB point for their frequency response specifications, which is pretty much going to be the lowest they go, and noticeably lower than the volume in the passband. Some publish whether their spec is at -3dB or -10dB, but not all do.

If it's the -3dB point, that is likely the enclosure's corner frequency (a speaker enclosure is a high-pass filter). If it is a sealed box, it will roll off at 12dB per octave (every time you halve the frequency), and if it is vented, it will roll off at 24dB per octave. However, maximum acoustic power is much higher in the frequencies just over the corner frequency in a vented design.

The best bet to cut through all of the specification BS is to listen to them.
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Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2429345 - 08/01/12 10:57 AM Re: Monitors!! [Re: wraub]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal

I moved this from the multitrack recorder thread to keep things (somewhat) straight....

Originally Posted By: wraub
p.s. Russ, how do you like those Equator speakers so far?

Apologies - I am remiss in posting a follow up review like I said I would. Long story short, I'm very happy with the Equators.

When I was checking out other monitors, I kept notes on my impressions of them - i.e. "darker sound", "well rounded but bass heavy", "good highs". I did this with the same reference CD, Radiohead's OK Computer, so I would keep things relatively constant, though of course it was nowhere near a true A/B comparision.

The Equators seem to be very transparent, as far as I can tell. I noticed this with the Tannoy Reveals also. More of a feeling like I can't pinpoint a definite coloring of the sound. If anything, I'd say there is more bass present than I expected, but even that isn't very noticeable and is probably a byproduct of my very untreated garage.

My mixes have been sounding good to my ears everywhere else I check them, on the crummy home stereo system, in the cars, and at work. I've noticed little things that I never caught before - a cut off breath in vocals, a delay trail, etc. To be fair this may just be a side-effect of having a proper monitoring system and not specific to the Equators.

I have not had any quality issues. They do come with a one year warranty.

Side note - one of my bosses needed speakers to hook up to his laptop/projector for a movie he was showing in his backyard. He was going to use little Dell speakers, but I loaned him the Equators. He was blown away by the volume and quality of the sound. I know that's not the intended purpose, but it was fun anyway!

wraub, let me know if you have specific questions I haven't covered here and I'll try to provide more detail.
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