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Monitor Advice/Recommendations for mini home studio
Old 29th November 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Monitor Advice/Recommendations for mini home studio

Hello all!

I'm looking for some advice. Here's my situation:

I produce bass heavy modern hiphop.

I live in a council house with thin walls to my neighbours.

At the moment I'm thinking about getting some Micro Monitors and a very small subwoofer for the 30-40hz range.

My room is not treated so I'm looking for the best cheap setup I can buy.

I am a gear newb though and at the moment I have choice paralysis... (idk what to buy).

Would really appreciate any of your thoughts/experiences on this.

Bonus question: Would you say mixing in headphones is impossible? Because in the case that even a setup of micro monitors and small woofer would be too loud for my neighbors I don't have any choice...
Old 29th November 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Closed Sony 7506 (Tracking/Secondary Reference Mixing) and the Semi-Open AKG 240 Studio (for initial Mixing/Reference) would be a good start.
Be prepared to do a Ton of listening to songs, along with getting them, to learn their in/outs.

Then Reference listen in the Car/Home Stereo/Cell Phone/Boombox/etc...
Chris
Old 29th November 2020 | Show parent
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Thanks for the reply.

Are you recommending that because I mentioned the thin walls? Because I have Audio Technica M50x's that I use for mixing at the moment...

I've read in many threads you can't mix properly in headphones at all, so I thought I'd get a small monitor setup.
Old 29th November 2020
  #4
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P.S.... If you "strike gold" and can afford it.... Re-do your vocals (at least) in a proper Pro Studio. And get it Mixed/Mastered there.
Chris
Old 29th November 2020 | Show parent
  #5
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Haha alright. Thought I'm just producing beats at this moment.

Would you say its possible to get a decent mix in headphones? And not just by accident lol.
Old 29th November 2020 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winnie91 View Post
Thanks for the reply.

Are you recommending that because I mentioned the thin walls? Because I have Audio Technica M50x's that I use for mixing at the moment...

I've read in many threads you can't mix properly in headphones at all, so I thought I'd get a small monitor setup.
That's an audio myth.
But it can be a LOT more work-to put it mildly.

The M50's are excellent cans.
Bang for the buck, AKG 240's are a very good complement, to them.

If it's in the budget, nice small Monitors for further reference, the new Auratones are very good too.
Chris
P.S. What vocal mic(s) are you using? Usually a key issue, in an untreated room.
Old 29th November 2020 | Show parent
  #7
Here for the gear
 
Alright thanks for the recommendation on the Auratones, they look nice. I could shelf out the budget, but my room isn't treated. Would I hear the difference between those and say real cheap stuff like JBL 104 micro monitors?

I'd also need a woofer for below the 30-40hz right? Or could I get a decent low end mix without it?

Appreciate the help.
Old 29th November 2020 | Show parent
  #8
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I have an audio technica at2020 but I don't record vocals on it.

Maybe some acoustic guitar now and then.
Old 29th November 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
1. Any speakers with bass that is satisfactorily loud in your space are going to be annoying to your neighbors. A subwoofer will go lower, and as frequencies get lower, the walls become increasingly transparent to them.
2. In an untreated room, your lows will be very compromised by uncontrolled resonances and destructive nulls. If you mix on monitors in such a space you will have no idea what you are doing with your bottom end. You will depend more on luck than skill to get the bottom the way you intend it to be. And the low end is so essential to your genre that if you get it wrong, it doesn’t matter if you got anything else right.
3. Headphone mixing is not the first choice for people with better options. YOU DON’T HAVE BETTER OPTIONS.
4. If you do low-level mixing on mini monitors and trust good headphones to give you the low end picture and any loud checks you need to do, that is probably your best choice. It is also your cheapest and most neighbor-friendly choice.
5. I like your AT headphones. I like that whole series, and you already own a higher end model. As the Geico lizard says, “serendipity”. They are, to my ear, a tiny bit hyped in the bass, but not dishonest in telling you what’s there.
6. Good fortune and good health to you!
Old 29th November 2020
  #10
Lives for gear
 
What the Wise Bushman said!
Whenever my beloved Sony MDR-V6's conk out (mellower than 7506 due to more extensive "budget line" internal soldering!!)...
Will be shooting out the smoother M50 vs. 7506, at that point.
Chris
Old 29th November 2020
  #11
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
I owned a series of 7506 headphones in the 90s. Very good phones then, but not rugged enough to survive long enough to justify the expense. And the one pair I successfully babied for a longer period had the ear pads flatten out and then fall apart. I think the MDR were the DJ version of the 7506s. I owned a pair of those also. Somewhat more rugged, but I eventually stepped on the cord and yanked it loose. My resoldering attempt was... well... pathetic.
Old 29th November 2020 | Show parent
  #12
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I appreciate the knowledge sharing!

So basically - even if I could use a woofer - it would still be very difficult to mix with it - as my room is not treated? Correct?

If that's the case - I think I'll try to find some micro monitors for on my desk and switch between them and the headphones as you say.
Old 30th November 2020
  #13
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Objectively, I'm "outranked" by Bushman as he is a very strong AE. So will leave space for his response.

Just wanted to say Bushman's worst day soldering, is better than my best!

Chris
Old 30th November 2020 | Show parent
  #14
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Lets wait and see
Old 30th November 2020
  #15
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
With a good subwoofer you will hear the bottom octave, but without serious treatment the room usually screws up how you hear it so much that your mix will still be garbage. And your neighbors will hear that bottom octave almost as well as you will. So, two negatives and not much positive.
And with the money you spend, maybe three negatives.
Old 30th November 2020
  #16
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
And I don’t claim to outrank Chessparov as an AE. My credits are mostly as a mastering engineer back in the day (in good rooms that other people built). I have a home studio where I have made every rookie mistake on the way to a good-sounding room.
Old 30th November 2020
  #17
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standup's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
FWIW I have a pair of JBL 104's here that's attached to a synth rig just so I can hear audio.

They're not bad.

No low end.

So you could use them to get a general idea of what's going on, but you'd want decent headphones to check the low end -- in a bad or untreated room the lows will be unintelligible even with a subwoofer. Get cheap speakers and nice headphones. Sony 7506 are reliable, I have had those longer than anything else. Sennheiser HD 650's maybe (full range, extremely UN-hyped), or Beyer DT 770's which to my ear are a little more hype-y.
Old 30th November 2020 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
And I don’t claim to outrank Chessparov as an AE. My credits are mostly as a mastering engineer back in the day (in good rooms that other people built). I have a home studio where I have made every rookie mistake on the way to a good-sounding room.
Very kind of you to say. The occasions I've helped in a Pro Studio, were primarily Production ideas and "one liners" (to keep the Session fun).
Chris
Old 30th November 2020 | Show parent
  #19
Here for the gear
 
That makes a lot of sense. Those 3 negatives definitely steer me away from going that way.

I will go with your and the other's suggestion of making the best of it and getting some cheap small monitors and combine them with my ATH-M50x's!

Last question - would I benefit from purchasing a pair of open backed headphones as an addition to the speakers and closed back ones I have now? I know perhaps difficult question but I'm set on getting a good mix with the limited means I have here

Edit: IK Multimedia iLoud MTM < This small studio monitor claims to go as low as 40hz. Will something like that serve me in any positive way? I'd love to know what you think.
Old 30th November 2020 | Show parent
  #20
Here for the gear
 
I appreciate the input!

I am leaning towards doing as you and others suggests - working with cheap speakers and some decent enough headphones (I have audio technica mh50x's).

I'd like to lastly know what you and others think of this speaker "IK Multimedia iLoud MTM" - IK claims they can do 40hz.
Old 30th November 2020
  #21
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1 Review written
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Open back headphones are promoted as being more honest mix phones, which makes sense. They don’t have to deal with the enclosed space at the back of the driver. With open back phones, the back of the drivers “see” no enclosure at all. And the drivers are so relatively tiny that they don’t interact acoustically with the room.
I’ve never owned any quality open back phones, and haven’t listened on any good open back models for years, so I hope you already have your eye on something or get some good advice.
Old 30th November 2020 | Show parent
  #22
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1 Review written
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winnie91 View Post
I'd like to lastly know what you and others think of this speaker "IK Multimedia iLoud MTM" - IK claims they can do 40hz.
Interesting design. They have some fairly sophisticated software and a calibration mic, so they seem to try to go the extra mile in accommodating different room problems.
I’ve never heard any of their speakers, so I can’t rank them on any scale.
They have four tiny woofers in not-tiny enclosures with adequate power, so I don’t dismiss their “[email protected]” claim, but I’m doubtful that you’re going to get enough distortion-free level down there to suit your genre.
If I bought them, I’d want to have a return guarantee from the retailer.
They might be surprisingly good. Might be...
Old 1st December 2020 | Show parent
  #23
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Alright, thanks a lot for your answers and advice Bushman, really appreciate it. Glad to have gotten some input from more experienced folks.

This seems like a great forum. Take care!
Old 1st December 2020 | Show parent
  #24
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1 Review written
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If you buy something, please post back in this thread about your new gear (after you’ve had it for a bit). I m hoping you get a workable setup.
Old 1st December 2020
  #25
I have the iLoud MTMs on my hardware techno rig. They are pretty impressive for their tiny size. The DSP works extremely well both for room correction and to get some semblance of bass from their little enclosures. I dunno about 40Hz ... but they probably get about as much bass extension as most 6" project studio monitors.

They are especially useful as portable speakers as they have metal grilles over the drivers, are small with integrated PSUs and you can quickly recalibrate them to any space you have to work in.

They are not that loud however for their wattage - they use all the extra watts to make a small box sound bigger. The DSP enhanced signal into such a small enclosure also makes the bass sound slightly 'pushed' .. it's hard to describe. Despite that, I love mine.

Subs will produce bass that travels straight though walls, even a small sub. Sub-bass travels like no other frequency. It will hinder your problems rather than help.

I think you can do all your tracking, editing, composing, arranging and sound design on headphones. It's what I'd do if I had to work without monitors. I too struggle to mix on headphones. I've done it, but then I have to take it to multiple different playback locations, listen, take notes, bring it back and adjust, take it back around again, adjust again. And the doubts creep in and I can never quite trust the mix .. whereas on decent monitors I can mix once with confidence and know it will be fine just about anywhere.

So, the idea of having all your ducks in a row to take the track files or the whole laptop into a pro studio for a day to mix a selection of your best tracks is a great one. That way, instead of spending thousands on monitor speakers, room treatment etc you can spend an hourly rate to get a quality of facility that very few of us can afford to set up at home.
Old 1st December 2020 | Show parent
  #26
Here for the gear
 
Hi and thanks for the commentary on the MTM's. Sounds interesting.

Noted on the sub woofers... not going to buy one, just not possible in my location.

What you suggest is probably the best way to go with it. However, I am building a hiphop youtube beats channel and it kind of requires to upload more or less daily to get any kind of traction haha.
Old 2nd December 2020 | Show parent
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winnie91 View Post
I am building a hiphop youtube beats channel and it kind of requires to upload more or less daily to get any kind of traction haha.
OK. Understood. Yeah, you will want your own reasonably trustworthy monitoring setup in that case - to make your mixing quick and reliable. Just choose smaller units and don't get too ambitious about bass or volume.

Then, I think you will need some decent open back headphones to check bass on. Phase, kick-bassline-compressor interactions, sub-bass balance relative to the rest of the mix and so forth.

With these two options and a bit of practice you should be OK within the quality limits of YouTube audio.
Old 2nd December 2020 | Show parent
  #28
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Alright! Thanks!

So with the help of advice in this thread and thinking about my situation (can't go too loud where I live) I have ordered a pair of iLoud Micro's - based on many reviews stating they are not perfect - however, there is nothing comparable on the market at the moment for the price/size.

Thanks for the suggestion on open backed headphones - I've seen a few videos that mention open back is a bit easier to get a decent mix in. I'll be investing quite some money into them, as I'll be using them daily - I'm looking at Beyer 1990 Pro's at the moment...

Any experience with open backed headphones, or suggestions on ones I should check out?

Appreciate your help friend.
Old 4th December 2020
  #29
Unfortunately for you, my good headphones are closed back models for tracking. I have a few open backed sets that are comfortable, but not all that accurate. I use my monitor speakers for most of my stuff.

There have been a lot of threads on here about it though. Here's a recent one.

Lessons I have learned about headphone selection:
  • You want the headphone impedance to be a multiple of the headphone amp output impedance (ideally about 5 times). This affects how flat the headphone response can be. But ....
  • You need the amp to be able to drive the headphones loud enough. For this to be the case you need the amp to output at least 20mW into whatever impedance your phones are.
  • It can be hard to get the specs you need from many audio interface manufacturers to figure the above two things out ...
  • You really, really want your headphones to be super comfortable on your ears and head. Open backed breathe better so less ear sweatiness, but you also need the ear cups to fit well over your ear-flaps without contact and you need the headband to sit gently on your noggin without any pressure points. I find the AKG headbands and ear cups work really well for me, but that's specific to my skull and ears.

Julian Krause has some good videos on headphones and headphone amps on his channel. Here is a snapshot of a table he built measuring gear for one of his videos about audio interface headphone amp performance. Green means good.
Old 4th December 2020 | Show parent
  #30
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Now you’re just showing off!
(And thanks for the chart.)
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