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"A-B" monitor setup... Help please!
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kjdrapeau
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#1
16th January 2013
Old 16th January 2013
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"A-B" monitor setup... Help please!

So after having my mixes sound nice, lush and full of clarity at home, then proceeding to playing them at my friends studios only to find them bland and flat I've come to the realization I need to upgrade my setup! He is running yamaha hs80s.

I realize a lot to do with the sound is in the acoustical treatment of the rooms... I have some basic bass traps so for now I am only concerned with finding accurate and honest monitors to add to my setup.

I have a set of mackie mr5 mkII monitors now (I was a noob when I bought them, should have done more research)... they sound great for pleasure but are obviously colored and not nice for mixing. I figure it would at least be beneficial to keep them as a "B-set" to reference final mixes and/or just use for listening pleasure... is this common practice?

I have read so many different opinions on what the "best" budget monitor for flat, accurate and honest mixing are... I had it narrowed down to either the Adam AXs, Neumann KH 120, or picking up the same yamaha HS80s like they use at my friends studio. But after some research I've read good things about ATC SCM7s, which can be picked up for ~300 second hand, combined with a decent used or DIY amp.

Anyone have experience with these different monitors? any help with choosing between this monitors would be greatly appreciated thanks!!!
#2
16th January 2013
Old 16th January 2013
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Do you reference other music when you are mixing?

If you don't know exactly what other music sounds like on your system, you are mixing in a vacuum with no reference to know what it should sound like. And our auditory memory is extremely short, so you must reference frequently while mixing to stay on the right track!
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16th January 2013
Old 16th January 2013
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Believe it or not, while upgrading your monitors can be a good idea, you'll benefit MORE from 2 other things:

1) I wholeheartedly second what Xander said - A/B your mixes with your favorite CDs while mixing - this will be a huge eye-opener and help you to learn your monitors. (DON'T use mp3s!!!)

2) Get used to taking your mixes many different places (not just your friend's studio) and listening back. Your car, a boombox, other stereo systems - as many as possible. This too will help you to learn your monitors and learn how what you hear in your setup will translate to the outside world.

Once you learn your monitors, your mixes will rock. I've heard AMAZING mixes from producer friends who used sh*t monitors (even computer speakers) - but they KNEW their monitors inside and out, and how their mixes would translate to the outside world, so it didn't matter. It can take awhile to really learn your monitors.

Good luck,
Ray
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kjdrapeau
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16th January 2013
Old 16th January 2013
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Thanks for the help guys!!

That's the thing though... I do reference my mixes to other popular songs on my monitors here at home and they sound just as good! Then I go to the studio and (not all but some) sound flat/not as much clarity.

If you don't mind, checking out some of my stuff and let me know what stands out to you on your monitors? pmpworldwide.com/drapeau

thanks again guys
kjdrapeau
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17th January 2013
Old 17th January 2013
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bump for any more help.... thanks
#6
17th January 2013
Old 17th January 2013
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Hi kjdrapeau,

Your mixes sound good. They are still a notch below radio-ready, but I'd say that you're 80% there. I listened over ATC SCM20SL's.

There is plenty of clarity, and maybe even sometimes too much brightness on certain instruments. Do the mixes sound "bland and flat" only at your friend's studio or other places as well? (maybe his monitors are on the dull side?)

The things that I'm hearing that make your mixes a "notch below" IMHO are the use of compression and EQ. From what I hear, I believe that you could use some more judicious compression on drums and some instruments to make them "pop" a bit more, and the EQs could be a bit rounder and warmer in some places. You did a nice job of getting clarity on the instruments with the EQs, but in some cases some instruments started to sound a bit brittle and a little lo-fi because of it. Also some more overall bus compression and EQ (mastering) could help the tracks sound a bit more punchy and glued-together.

Now, I don't mean to sound critical - your tracks sound way better than most people's! But you asked for opinions and so I'm offering what I think are the few last percentage points that you need to pay attention to in order to cross the finish line.

When you reference your songs to commercial CD's, don't just listen to the overall mix. First listen and compare kick drums. You may need to listen back and forth for 10 or 20 minutes to do just that. Listen for the compression, listen for the EQ, listen for the reverb, and listen for overall volume for how it sits in the mix. If you're satisfied with your kick, then move to the snare and spend as much time and do the same thing. And then the hi hat, bass, keyboard 1, keyboard 2, guitar, etc., etc..

Again, you're quite close already, and you did a very nice job on the arrangements.

Good luck!

Ray
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17th January 2013
Old 17th January 2013
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I know, people love the gear they own and I'm still in the honeymoon phase but: take a look at Equator D5s.
#8
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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OP >>> A Focusrite VRM box, can emulate the sound of different monitoring environments.

While no substitute for actual monitor speakers this will help with mix translation.
kjdrapeau
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#9
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioRay View Post
Hi kjdrapeau,

Your mixes sound good. They are still a notch below radio-ready, but I'd say that you're 80% there. I listened over ATC SCM20SL's.

There is plenty of clarity, and maybe even sometimes too much brightness on certain instruments. Do the mixes sound "bland and flat" only at your friend's studio or other places as well? (maybe his monitors are on the dull side?)

The things that I'm hearing that make your mixes a "notch below" IMHO are the use of compression and EQ. From what I hear, I believe that you could use some more judicious compression on drums and some instruments to make them "pop" a bit more, and the EQs could be a bit rounder and warmer in some places. You did a nice job of getting clarity on the instruments with the EQs, but in some cases some instruments started to sound a bit brittle and a little lo-fi because of it. Also some more overall bus compression and EQ (mastering) could help the tracks sound a bit more punchy and glued-together.

Now, I don't mean to sound critical - your tracks sound way better than most people's! But you asked for opinions and so I'm offering what I think are the few last percentage points that you need to pay attention to in order to cross the finish line.

When you reference your songs to commercial CD's, don't just listen to the overall mix. First listen and compare kick drums. You may need to listen back and forth for 10 or 20 minutes to do just that. Listen for the compression, listen for the EQ, listen for the reverb, and listen for overall volume for how it sits in the mix. If you're satisfied with your kick, then move to the snare and spend as much time and do the same thing. And then the hi hat, bass, keyboard 1, keyboard 2, guitar, etc., etc..

Again, you're quite close already, and you did a very nice job on the arrangements.

Good luck!

Ray
Ray, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to some of my tracks and providing feedback.... means more than you know. I greatly appreciate the advice!! and I will definitely start using the techniques you mentioned... I agree, I am still learning compression and EQ on the master bus and need to improve on that. Referencing individuals instruments to commercial tracks is great advice! I will start paying more attention to that!! thanks again!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dergit View Post
I know, people love the gear they own and I'm still in the honeymoon phase but: take a look at Equator D5s.
I will check these out, thanks man!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DigiGal View Post
OP >>> A Focusrite VRM box, can emulate the sound of different monitoring environments.

While no substitute for actual monitor speakers this will help with mix translation.
I haven't heard of this, just googled it and wow it sounds awesome! I'll have to research more reviews on this but it sounds incredible because I am forced to use headphones a majority of the time!
#10
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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Sugar Daddy is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigiGal View Post
OP >>> A Focusrite VRM box, can emulate the sound of different monitoring environments.

While no substitute for actual monitor speakers this will help with mix translation.
The Focusrite VRM looks so cool. It's a great concept.
#11
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjdrapeau View Post
Ray, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to some of my tracks and providing feedback.... means more than you know.
You are very welcome!


Quote:
Originally Posted by kjdrapeau View Post
I am forced to use headphones a majority of the time!
A-ha!

This is another issue! ALWAYS mix on speakers, then check your mixes for things like digital clicks and edits with headphones, never vice versa. Do NOT mix on headphones.

If it sounds good on speakers, it will sound good on headphones, but it is quite possible to get something sounding good on headphones that falls apart when listened to on speakers.

Headphones are a far more imperfect technology than speakers. While it's possible to have speakers with a nearly flat response, the same is not possible with headphones due to the nature of the technology - even if they cost $1000. There was a recent article in one of the trades recently that expounded in detail about this. Headphones will always have a major deficit or bump in one or more frequency ranges. The best that headphones can hope to do is present the illusion of a flat response - regardless of advertiser's claims.

And I also find that it's not just the frequency response. There's something with the way a mix hangs together - the stereo depth of field, along with the width and placement of sounds - that if you get right with speakers, will translate to headphones, but again, not vice versa.
kjdrapeau
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#12
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioRay View Post
You are very welcome!




A-ha!

This is another issue! ALWAYS mix on speakers, then check your mixes for things like digital clicks and edits with headphones, never vice versa. Do NOT mix on headphones.

If it sounds good on speakers, it will sound good on headphones, but it is quite possible to get something sounding good on headphones that falls apart when listened to on speakers.

Headphones are a far more imperfect technology than speakers. While it's possible to have speakers with a nearly flat response, the same is not possible with headphones due to the nature of the technology - even if they cost $1000. There was a recent article in one of the trades recently that expounded in detail about this. Headphones will always have a major deficit or bump in one or more frequency ranges. The best that headphones can hope to do is present the illusion of a flat response - regardless of advertiser's claims.

And I also find that it's not just the frequency response. There's something with the way a mix hangs together - the stereo depth of field, along with the width and placement of sounds - that if you get right with speakers, will translate to headphones, but again, not vice versa.
Makes complete sense! Wish I knew this sooner :/ Lol! I literally was just reading a few articles on why it isn't good to mix with headphones. It's just a shame because I do a lot of my work late at night and have to use them. I read that you can learn the boosts/cuts of Hz on your particular headphones to compensate but still may cause problems. I wonder how well that VRM performs then since it is used with headphones?
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