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Bright monitors & dull mixes Studio Monitors
Old 26th January 2003
  #1
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Bright monitors & dull mixes

I've been using Tannoy PBM6.5's as my main nearfields for about three years so I think I'm pretty used to them and my mixes usually translate well. But, within the last few months I think I've finally hit on why my mixes are so dull, the Tannoy's seem to have a hyped top and presence. Most of the time when I'm micing up guitars, vocals, drums etc. Things always sound bright enough, but then on other systems (lounge, car, etc) I can tell in about three seconds that they need another 2dB at 13k5 and 1dB at 5khz to be "right".

I think part of it is that I'm pretty sensitive to things that are too bright and I get fatiged easily on NS-10's and 1031's. So, when I'm tracking I'm not boosting the top like I should be because it sounds right at the time. Has anyone else encoutered that? I'm wondering if I should invest in some new nearfields or just get used to hearing things on the Tannoy's as really bright and sibilant. Somehow I'm not too keen on that idea.

Thoughts?
Old 26th January 2003
  #2
Here for the gear
 
rubykitty2000's Avatar
 

Do you have room for another set of nearfields in addition to your Tannoys? I have two pairs I switch between and it lends perspective to what I'm hearing. Old AR4's, by the way, are very cool little speakers and you can get them on Ebay for $100 a pair. They are nice and dark. I love mine, although I have them at home and have never tried mixing on them.

cb
Old 26th January 2003
  #3
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Yeah, other monitors in the room are;

Mackie HR824's - Used for checking the bottom and impressing clients and myself. There's a weirdness around 3-5khz that I can't get used to even after using them for a year and a half.
Minimus 7's - Alt check for car radio vibe, haven't used them since I got the...
Studer A80 mono speaker - Way too cool. Tends to push vocals way out front which isn't always good but is a great ref for the rest of the mix, making sure the kick and bass cut through etc.

I've been wondering for a while if the problem is me, the monitors or both. I doubt it's me because I hear it instantly in the car or the lounge. Maybe I spend too much time in the control room and I'm just "used" to the way those near fields sound. Maybe they're too bright and I should look into getting something with a duller top. I don't know. Gotta ponder this for a bit.
Old 26th January 2003
  #4
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

those speakers are pretty smiley faced.

have you tried the ADAMs yet? i think dave has a demo pair floatin around the country... you should give them a try on some mixes.
Old 26th January 2003
  #5
Gear Head
 
Jakob's Avatar
 

I bought event2020 since they are a bit muddysounding in the lowmids. That way my mixes come out thighter on modern bassheavy stereos. I used to have tannoys before, had the same problem you have, then tried Genelecs which even made it worse, so I went to less "GOOD" monitors exactly for that purpose.
Jakob
Old 26th January 2003
  #6
I have always found when mastering my material over the years, the pliars need to come out to crank the HF up.

I dont seem to want to hear all the HF during tracking & overdubbing...

I use ADAMS - flat.

Old 26th January 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 

As much as I really want to hear the ADAMS, I find a set of 1031's with the top end at -2 does the trick for me.. I also have a hard time with NS10s and I had the mackies ( still do, they are the portable playback monitors here) but in 2 years, never did get a handle on them, too much guessing needed for me.

Jules, I totally agree with you about the top, I generally leave it to th ME to add the sheen..

Hey aren't opinions great?
Old 26th January 2003
  #8
Re: Bright monitors & dull mixes

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I've been using Tannoy PBM6.5's as my main nearfields for about three years so I think I'm pretty used to them and my mixes usually translate well. But, within the last few months I think I've finally hit on why my mixes are so dull, the Tannoy's seem to have a hyped top and presence. Most of the time when I'm micing up guitars, vocals, drums etc. Things always sound bright enough, but then on other systems (lounge, car, etc) I can tell in about three seconds that they need another 2dB at 13k5 and 1dB at 5khz to be "right".

I think part of it is that I'm pretty sensitive to things that are too bright and I get fatiged easily on NS-10's and 1031's. So, when I'm tracking I'm not boosting the top like I should be because it sounds right at the time. Has anyone else encoutered that? I'm wondering if I should invest in some new nearfields or just get used to hearing things on the Tannoy's as really bright and sibilant. Somehow I'm not too keen on that idea.

Thoughts?
Before you junk the Tannoys, try a different amplifier, something not as fast sounding(a Bryston for e.g.). They tend to smooth out "smiley faced" speakers. The drawback is the music at times sounds too good(especially in the mids).

Also is your room very reflective(Wood on walls/floors,lots of glass maybe) it tends to excite the smileeness?

Maybe cutting down on the reflections around the mix area will help some(if this is a problem).

I always found Tannoys a little "broad"sounding(I own a pair of DMT10's). But that's because a lot of people mate them with Brystons.

Hope this helps some.

If you are looking at new monitors, let us know(and maybe a price range).

Peace.
Old 26th January 2003
  #9
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Nothing really to say about exagerrated top end or the lack of it, but ...

I like my JBL LSR28P's alot, but people are split right down the middle about them, either loving or hating. The only complaint I ever read is that the low end is mush. I don't know, some other speakers I've heard sort of make the low end falsely tight (the kick doesn't even sound like that in the room!) and not at all like the environment a tune will be listened to in - which is generally a home or car. Makes me wonder if the people who think the low end is mush actually put them on speaker stands and isolated them from their console or DAW desk. That makes all the difference. You're not hearing a speaker properly unless you decouple it from resonant surfaces that it touches.

The biggest strengths of the LSR28P's are that they transfer to home listening very well and that the low end can be very punchy, thumping, and satisfying if you want it to. I can't tell you the amount of times I've seen people's eyes go wide when I make the kick and bass pound through these speakers. Oh yeah, exceptional transient handling too.

I know a lot of ME's comments on the mastering webboard said they were getting better mixes from people who used LSR28P's. I was gonna get the LSR32's but they would cost too much with separate amps. Plus they're too big for my room. They are apparently worthy of mastering houses according to some ME's.
Old 26th January 2003
  #10
Quote:
Originally posted by Jax
Nothing really to say about exagerrated top end or the lack of it, but ...

I like my JBL LSR28P's alot, but people are split right down the middle about them, either loving or hating. The only complaint I ever read is that the low end is mush. I don't know, some other speakers I've heard sort of make the low end falsely tight (the kick doesn't even sound like that in the room!) and not at all like the environment a tune will be listened to in - which is generally a home or car. Makes me wonder if the people who think the low end is mush actually put them on speaker stands and isolated them from their console or DAW desk. That makes all the difference. You're not hearing a speaker properly unless you decouple it from resonant surfaces that it touches.

The biggest strengths of the LSR28P's are that they transfer to home listening very well and that the low end can be very punchy, thumping, and satisfying if you want it to. I can't tell you the amount of times I've seen people's eyes go wide when I make the kick and bass pound through these speakers. Oh yeah, exceptional transient handling too.

I know a lot of ME's comments on the mastering webboard said they were getting better mixes from people who used LSR28P's. I was gonna get the LSR32's but they would cost too much with separate amps. Plus they're too big for my room. They are apparently worthy of mastering houses according to some ME's.

I think the bass thing is correct.

Its one of the few powered monitors that uses a paper woofer instead of a synthetic woofer.

It makes the bass less pointed and more spread out sounding.

Your comment about liking or hating is right on. I freelance at a studio that has them and I liked them at first(they translate well) but now I can't stand them.heh

I stick to the NS10's at this place.

Most ME's prefer the paper cones. Me and a friend have been listening to speakers for this purpose and we are starting to learn why.

In the end they are more real world realistic, even though most of the modern speaker designs are more and more synthetic. They make music sound to good. Its like they all have a built in smiley curve.
Old 26th January 2003
  #11
Jax
Lives for gear
 

I've thought about modding the 28's with synthetic cones, but came to the conclusion I don't know enough about monitor design to **** with them. They really work for me as is, though.
Old 26th January 2003
  #12
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

If all else fails: wear airport traffic director's hearing protection when you turn the big knob to the right.
A lot of times something that seems like it doesn't have a lot of top, really has too much 200-300 Hz. try attenuating these and raising your general level by half to 3/4 as much, this usually makes a great difference without much "gear-pain".
The great thing about mastering is the A/B-n listening chain, listening EQ'd or not EQ'd at the same level makes certain decisions very easy.
I use 1030's (like the PBM6.5's with an amp, a tad more detailed) and a Panasonic boom box. I don't listen to anything else or even try. I bring the boombox everywhere I go, I bring the 1030's if they don't have them where I'm going. Everyone thinks I'm crazy when I don't want to listen to the mains, I tell them i don't want to be distracted right now. I'll give them a pump near the end.
I heard that Andy Wallace has the mains and nearfields going full together all the time. I'd need a psychiatrist after 15 minutes.
Old 26th January 2003
  #13
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Me and a friend have been listening to speakers for this purpose and we are starting to learn why.
distortion.
Old 27th January 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 

I also save the top end boost for mastering. If its not getting mastered, I just mix with an EQ on the master buss, doing exactly what you said needs to be done to your mixes. +1db @ around 5k and a larger boost somewhere way up there. For some reason it sounds more gelled EQing the master buss then to add top end to the individual tracks.
Old 27th January 2003
  #15
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Good responses so far...

The amp is a stock Samson Servo 240. Yeah, I know I should get at LEAST a Hafler or something but it always falls real low on the list. The last time I seriously considered a new amp I had borrowed a P3000 and it didn't make as big of a difference as I'd hoped it would. I think I bought a 414 instead.

The room is basic, carpet on the ground, drywall and some Auralex behind the monitors and console with bass traps in the corners. It's pretty neutral sounding, like a bedroom or the average living room.

Usually I feel like I want to go across the console and add 2dB at 10khz or 12khz to each channel. Putting an EQ on the mix buss helps but I'd rather get it more right during tracking. Most of the time I don't have problems getting the mids and low end across to translate. But, the top is always off. People leave with rough mixes and come back saying the sound bass heavy or dull.

As for new monitors, I'm flat broke at the moment so maybe TP over the tweeters. But, if I was going to grab a new set of nearfields I'd probably want to keep it to about $1000-$1500. What are some reverse smile curve monitors or stuff with a dull top? I know the Tannoy System 600's are in that catagory, what else is out there?
Old 27th January 2003
  #16
Lives for gear
 
doug_hti's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs

Usually I feel like I want to go across the console and add 2dB at 10khz or 12khz to each channel. Putting an EQ on the mix buss helps but I'd rather get it more right during tracking. Most of the time I don't have problems getting the mids and low end across to translate. But, the top is always off. People leave with rough mixes and come back saying the sound bass heavy or dull.

I started a thread the other day about a session I was recently doing at 96k. I was trying to figure out why by the time I printed it to CD at 44.1 16 I was still very happy with the mix, but yes, it was very very dull. I didn't understand because prior mixes I did in the same room weren't so dull, but the low end was a bit mushy. However about a month ago I treated the room significantly with tube traps and other diffusion and absorbtion covering all frequencies from about 40 on up and it completely opened up the imaging and tightened up the low end amazingly.

So I guess what I'm saying/asking is it really true, that from when it translates fromt the studio to cd that a tremendous amount of high end sheen is gone?!?! Where on earth is this loss happening?
Like others are saying on here, when I finally got something to sound good by the time it printed to cd, it sounded ridiculously crunchy.

As far as tracking things with the right EQ, I do this, especially on vocals, but to me, it seems absolutely impossible to mix a song and print it to cd using only the EQ that was tracked in on the tracks, and for it to sound good present enough. If it's going off to mastering that's a different story.

And what speakers are duller? I've heard that the Dynaudio's BM6s are bit softer? How about ADAM P11s?
Old 27th January 2003
  #17
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by doug_hti
So I guess what I'm saying/asking is it really true, that from when it translates fromt the studio to cd that a tremendous amount of high end sheen is gone?!?! Where on earth is this loss happening?
Like others are saying on here, when I finally got something to sound good by the time it printed to cd, it sounded ridiculously crunchy.

As far as tracking things with the right EQ, I do this, especially on vocals, but to me, it seems absolutely impossible to mix a song and print it to cd using only the EQ that was tracked in on the tracks, and for it to sound good present enough. If it's going off to mastering that's a different story.
Funny, vocals are the only thing I track flat. I'll set up a few mics and see what suits that persons voice and/or the song best. It's not uncommon for me to use two or three mics on a given singer across 10 or 12 songs. Guitars hardly ever get EQ'd, but bass and drums all the time.

For me I don't think it's a loss between the studio and other environments. My place has an open lounge/control room and I can hear the loss on those speakers. So it's probably mostly me but I wondering how to "correct" myself. Maybe I'm just getting used to the way things sound after a while. Like, if your mixing all day do you get used to the curve of the speaker and forget about having to add more top or take that bump at 140hz out?

See, the thing is that I don't really notice the missing top when I track or mix, but I hear it in the car. I'll come back into the control room and listen to the same mix and it STILL sounds bright enough on the Tannoys. I can hear the 9khz and up area pretty well on the 824's but there's some midrange weirdness that I can't get used to so I can't rely on them as a main monitor. Hence, new monitors, fixing myself or both.
Old 27th January 2003
  #18
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Good responses so far...

The amp is a stock Samson Servo 240. Yeah, I know I should get at LEAST a Hafler or something but it always falls real low on the list. The last time I seriously considered a new amp I had borrowed a P3000 and it didn't make as big of a difference as I'd hoped it would. I think I bought a 414 instead.

The room is basic, carpet on the ground, drywall and some Auralex behind the monitors and console with bass traps in the corners. It's pretty neutral sounding, like a bedroom or the average living room.

Usually I feel like I want to go across the console and add 2dB at 10khz or 12khz to each channel. Putting an EQ on the mix buss helps but I'd rather get it more right during tracking. Most of the time I don't have problems getting the mids and low end across to translate. But, the top is always off. People leave with rough mixes and come back saying the sound bass heavy or dull.

As for new monitors, I'm flat broke at the moment so maybe TP over the tweeters. But, if I was going to grab a new set of nearfields I'd probably want to keep it to about $1000-$1500. What are some reverse smile curve monitors or stuff with a dull top? I know the Tannoy System 600's are in that catagory, what else is out there?

Hey Jay trust me on this one...

Junk the Samson.

Haflers are out too(the only good one they made was the Transnova 9300 and those are out of production. You maybe able to find one used though, but they are a bitch to repair).

Try a Bryston(4BST should do it). I am not a Bryston guy normally(except on NS10's). But they tend to make Tannoys a tad "creamier".

You will hear a difference. A better amp makes a difference.

I think your best bet is a powered monitor with EQ settings in the back. Normally I am not crazy about it, but in your case this will probably help.

I think Jax suggestion is a good one, a JBL LSR28P(i think used they are around $600 for the pair no longer in production). They sound like sh*t sometimes but you can probably make them work.
Old 27th January 2003
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Tim L's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
For me I don't think it's a loss between the studio and other environments. My place has an open lounge/control room and I can hear the loss on those speakers. So it's probably mostly me but I wondering how to "correct" myself.
Have you tried putting the PBM's out in your lounge or some other room entirely? It may give you a better idea on weather it's the speakers lying to you, the control room, or both. Should shed a little light in the "how to 'correct' myself" department as well. Hope you give it a shot, it would be interesting to see what (if any) difference it makes for you.
Old 27th January 2003
  #20
Gear Head
 

hey jay i feel your pain. i struggled for a few years with tubby/boomy/dull mixes, and even when trying to boost the high end so it sounded really sizzly on my monitors, it didn't sound right outside.

the two biggest changes i've made are 1) junking the 20/20s and moving to blue skies. they are pretty flat, and i end up being able to hear tonal problems better. and 2) hpf just about everything judiciously. this sound obvious, but i found that my high end problems were just as often actually low end problems. once i got my low end (and i mean everything from 1k down in this case) straightened out and balanced, i could more accurately hear and adjust the top.

in addition, i have gotten used to my mixes sounding a little brighter in the control room than i might otherwise choose. not painful, mind you, but just crispy and clear....

just my two cents.

-a-
Old 27th January 2003
  #21
Lives for gear
 
doug_hti's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by africk
) hpf just about everything judiciously.

-a-
YES!!!! mixing in a DAW, especially with synths, this is huge!!!
Old 27th January 2003
  #22
Lives for gear
 
sonic dogg's Avatar
I do all of my mixing in a 'near-field' situation as i have only the one big room with the console at one end...a little trapping and some wall treatments have gotten all the standing waves under control....i use 1029's and a 1091 sub...also a set of celestion 3's through an older h.h.scott amp...usually the amp is a custom-built tube guy at around 20 watts/side class A..but right now its broken....i find that my mixes become 'odd' or dont translate properly when i mix too loud for the area or after i've done a lot of work over a long perod of time...ear fatigue.....what slipperman said also holds true...some days you can hear the ant's assholes open and close and other days everything sounds like its under water....age, i suspect, has much to do with this....and i am an old fart....kinda....lot older than most of ya'll.....i try to stay away from any eq at traking as i feel it adds artifacts at mixdown that can be a bear to resolve...i want a 'clean pallette' to mixdown...i feel it makes all of the eq's at this stage much more distinctive and usable...and to me ,distinctive translates into huge.....i've never had a mix done on the 1029's , not translate everywhere else i've checked it.....and you do know that the 'hyped' upper end of those can be controlled by those cute little dipswitches on the back of the speaks......i think genelec put those there for a reason......and a pair is around a grand.....lots of sound....small box......and the real sleepers are the celestions.....very very flat.
Old 27th January 2003
  #23
Quote:
Originally posted by slipperman
TN9300. What a great amp for the money. A fluke really. Had 2 of them back in the day. Sold them like a dummy at some juncture. Got nothing for them. Ahh me. Live and learn.


SM.
One of their best(the other was the Transnova 9500 250w per channel).

They are a bitch to repair though. You can find them used all over the place. Its a fast sounding amp, clean and clear.

Another good deal would be a Parasound 2200(I think used they go for around $400). I think it was designed by John Krell(of the ML fame). He has designed some of the best sounding amplifiers(always clean and clear but warm in the mids).

A used Classe would be an excellent find(between $700-1300 depends on the wattage).

There are a couple. You just have to hunt them down and haggle a little. Because they are in people's homes they are usually in the mintest of conditions(compared to a power amp you find in the studio. Talk about dust bucket!!!). They are also normally more efficient and have tons of headroom.

The only recommendation is to not put them on a surge protector or line regulator.tut
Old 27th January 2003
  #24
Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Another good deal would be a Parasound 2200(I think used they go for around $400). I think it was designed by John Krell(of the ML fame). He has designed some of the best sounding amplifiers(always clean and clear but warm in the mids).
John Curl. Wierd guy, but brilliant. Designed the old Threshold stuff.

Also, check out the recently revived Aragon line of amplifiers. The Palladium is an amazing beast.
Old 28th January 2003
  #25
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Tim L
Have you tried putting the PBM's out in your lounge or some other room entirely?
Yup. Things still sound bright enough on them. High passing lots of things would be part of the answer if it was bottom heavy, but my stuff usually isn't. So if I high pass I'm just going to make it thin.
Old 28th January 2003
  #26
Quote:
Originally posted by Brad Blackwood
John Curl. Wierd guy, but brilliant. Designed the old Threshold stuff.

Also, check out the recently revived Aragon line of amplifiers. The Palladium is an amazing beast.
Hey Brad,

I think you maybe thinking of Nelson Pass(of Pass Labs, who designed the early Threshold stuff).

John Curl(why did I write Krell? I must have been thinking of their amps) is a genius. He also founded Vendetta Research(they make the world's best phono preamplifier).

He also for ML deisgned my favorite ML amplifier(ML 20.5).

Aragon makes great amps. The only reason i didn't suggest it is because this is Between a Rock and Hard Place.heh

I was thinking of a amplifier solution under $1K. The resale value is still a little high on Aragon stuff.

A Parasound 2200 is a fantastic amp for the money. All of the Parasound stuff is great performance/value.
Old 28th January 2003
  #27
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
distortion.
In reference to paper cones. What about it?
Old 30th January 2003
  #28
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

Checking mixes for ten minutes out of three hours they're dandy. But who wants to fixem. usa e getta disposable. I'll use radio shack for this. I have a great pair of old Phillips that I don't want to blow, they have that car speaker vibe.
Old 30th January 2003
  #29
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I used to use Rat Shack Minimus 7's for the car radio/boom box vibe. Since I got the A80 with the mono speaker in the meter bridge I disconnected them. Mostly because the mono deal is what the Minimus 7's want to be when they grow up.

Still, I don't know if I'm down with spending $1500 or $2K on just an amp right now. I could see spending that on a whole system or just monitors, either powered or passive. I put TP over the tweeters last night and "I think" it helped. I haven't listened to the mixes today but on the Mackies and Studer it seemed to be better.

Just outta curiousity, does anyone or has anyone ever mixed with an RTA going all the time? I know Jack Endino does but I haven't talked to too many other people that rely on one.
Old 30th January 2003
  #30
I picked up a pair of JBL LRS 25 (the small ones)...talk about dullsville. But if things sound bright and lively on those it's ready for radio.
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