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Seriously, room and monitors first..... Monitor Controllers
Old 10th September 2011
  #1
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
Seriously, room and monitors first.....

I have to admit that all of the suggestions that stress room and monitors are spot on. I got a set of top monitors in my room and I HEAR what all the advice was for. If you can't hear what you got, you don't know what you got......
Old 10th September 2011
  #2
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DJamesGoody's Avatar
Absolutely correct. It is THE ONLY connection between you and your work.
Old 12th September 2011
  #3
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u b k's Avatar
 

At the risk of being entirely self-serving, I gotta add monitor control to that list. People spend thousands on their speakers, sweat their converters just as hard, then skimp on the device that sits between them and arbitrates the accuracy of the signal that goes from one to the other.

So buy mine, or buy someone else's, but whatever you do buy a transparent one. Otherwise you'll never get at the truth of what you're mixing.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 12th September 2011
  #4
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
seriously....

Thanks for more truth, I have indeed heard this before.
Old 12th September 2011
  #5
.

It......is......indeed......a......complex......process.


The more you know, the more you don't wanna know.

(Unless you have an endless budget, and can live to be a million years old).


.
Old 12th September 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
Well, I've got as much (or more) invested in 703 to treat (DIY) my CR than I do in my monitors & amp.

I use JBL LSR 32s powered by a QSC RMX 2450, hardly considered in the "top tier" of monitoring categories. But hey, I've got no complaints and the translation outside the studio is spot on. Seems to be a perfect match for the monitor outs from my Trident Series 80 console.

IMHO the room design/size/treatment, along with finding that spot where everything is accurate, trumps the differences between mid $ and hi $ end monitors to a large degree.

Old 12th September 2011
  #7
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DoctorG's Avatar
 

Like buying tyres for your car....
Old 12th September 2011
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
At the risk of being entirely self-serving, I gotta add monitor control to that list. People spend thousands on their speakers, sweat their converters just as hard, then skimp on the device that sits between them and arbitrates the accuracy of the signal that goes from one to the other.

So buy mine, or buy someone else's, but whatever you do buy a transparent one. Otherwise you'll never get at the truth of what you're mixing.


Gregory Scott - ubk

But you're absolutely right. We got a treated room, fine monitors and all the high end stuff, but a Big Knob yay shame on me, i know.

So you meant like me heh

Would you say this is still necessary when you get the SSL X-Desk and use its monitor section? Or would you still get a separate monitor controller?
Old 12th September 2011
  #9
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u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deft_bonz View Post
Would you say this is still necessary when you get the SSL X-Desk and use its monitor section? Or would you still get a separate monitor controller?

I absolutely do say that; the monitoring path on large and expensive desks are often quite inaccurate because they were designed by guys who are not obsesses with transparency, and they're based on the colored circuits found everywhere else in the desk.

When you get that SSL, drop me a PM and I'll send you one of my monitor controllers. Compare the Main Gain to the SSL's center section, and in particular, listen for transient accuracy, hf coloration, and low end detail.

My guess is I won't be getting that Main Gain back.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 12th September 2011
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
I absolutely do say that; the monitoring path on large and expensive desks are often quite inaccurate because they were designed by guys who are not obsesses with transparency, and they're based on the colored circuits found everywhere else in the desk.

When you get that SSL, drop me a PM and I'll send you one of my monitor controllers. Compare the Main Gain to the SSL's center section, and in particular, listen for transient accuracy, hf coloration, and low end detail.

My guess is I won't be getting that Main Gain back.


Gregory Scott - ubk
I'd be very interested in testing your (or another) controller. The distributor Flyline is a very nice guy. I guess I can test his Main Gain.

There's still one thing I don't understand: I still have to go thru the SSL monitor section into the Main Gain. Why would it be different? I can not bypass the monitor section. Or am I missing something?
Old 12th September 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintageidiot View Post
I have to admit that all of the suggestions that stress room and monitors are spot on. I got a set of top monitors in my room and I HEAR what all the advice was for. If you can't hear what you got, you don't know what you got......
Yes, treating my room with bass traps made ALL the difference. it's the #1 most important thing that I have done to my studio and my mixing ability.
and while we're on the subject, i use Adam A7's with the Adam Sub 8 and a Coleman Audio monitor controller. I'm very happy with this set up.
Old 12th September 2011
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
I absolutely do say that; the monitoring path on large and expensive desks are often quite inaccurate because they were designed by guys who are not obsesses with transparency, and they're based on the colored circuits found everywhere else in the desk.

When you get that SSL, drop me a PM and I'll send you one of my monitor controllers. Compare the Main Gain to the SSL's center section, and in particular, listen for transient accuracy, hf coloration, and low end detail.

My guess is I won't be getting that Main Gain back.


Gregory Scott - ubk
.

As a testament to this, there was a comment in my Monitor Controller thread that the Dangerous ST sounds better than SSL AWS900 Monitor Section.

Hmmmmmmmmmm.

I wouldn't be shocked, since after all the guys designing the monitor controllers - especially, the higher end ones - are focused purely on more accurate signal path, etc., and not as much on bells and whistles. Although, some of the companies offering insane options - Crookwood, for example - seem to have both considerations in mind. (But I'm skeptical of all this d-sub stuff. Personally, I'd rather have a few solid fat XLR connectors, and call it a day).

BOT, I absolutely agree that after room+treatment and monitors, the monitor controller is vital.

The amazing thing is that very few companies are designing these things properly - especially for the independent producer - which is getting to be a huge market. Makes no sense to me.

Don't designers/builders realize the basic requirements for most indy producers in a ZLM monitor?

Input + Mixer + Variable Attenuation Output/Speaker Selector with switches and knobs that don't suck?
...and a signal path that doesn't suck?

.
Old 12th September 2011
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
At the risk of being entirely self-serving, I gotta add monitor control to that list. People spend thousands on their speakers, sweat their converters just as hard, then skimp on the device that sits between them and arbitrates the accuracy of the signal that goes from one to the other.

So buy mine, or buy someone else's, but whatever you do buy a transparent one. Otherwise you'll never get at the truth of what you're mixing.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Every element in a signal chain is important -- but there are potential choke points where degradation is most likely to occur. Obviously mechanical transducers (room+mic and, on the other end, speakers+room) are key areas of concern because so much can 'go wrong' there. But a lot of folks miss the fact that the way they control their monitoring volume can become a real issue. If one uses active monitors and controls PB volume from the digital side, every dB he turns down from 0 dB FS reduces potential headroom (or 'foot-room' or however one wants to term it) and raises the digital noise floor.

I generally use passives and a power amp -- but when I'm using my Event 20/20bas -- which are way, way too powerful for my use -- I attenuate PB signal through a clean, neutral mixer. It's not the straightest wire -- but it certainly beats attenuation from the digital side, since I often have to reduce signal by 40 dB or more to avoid being pinned to my sweet spot chair by 200w per side. (EDIT: Of course, I do keep the input attenuators on the Events cranked all the way down so it's not actually a potential 200 full watts per side as set up.)
Old 12th September 2011
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Every element in a signal chain is important -- but there are potential choke points where degradation is most likely to occur. Obviously mechanical transducers (room+mic and, on the other end, speakers+room) are key areas of concern because so much can 'go wrong' there. But a lot of folks miss the fact that the way they control their monitoring volume can become a real issue. If one uses active monitors and controls PB volume from the digital side, every dB he turns down from 0 dB FS reduces potential headroom (or 'foot-room' or however one wants to term it) and raises the digital noise floor.

I generally use passives and a power amp -- but when I'm using my Event 20/20bas -- which are way, way too powerful for my use -- I attenuate PB signal through a clean, neutral mixer. It's not the straightest wire -- but it certainly beats attenuation from the digital side, since I often have to reduce signal by 40 dB or more to avoid being pinned to my sweet spot chair by 200w per side -- and that's with the input attenuators on the Events cranked all the way down.
.

Apparently, we have to be careful about throwing around terms like "passive" and "transparent".

Passive is certainly not always better, and often not transparent. Especially, where there's signal degradation.

Different users want different aspects of their signal chain to be passive.

Using active electronics to "maintain" signal strength/integrity in various applications is often necessary and/or preferable.

Obviously, the designs, parts, program material/applications - and individual users - are VERY relevant.

And if you use ****ty parts or design in your passive box, what's the point?

This whole idea of passive versus active is like mac versus pc, digital versus analog, etc.

It's a lot of marketing.

And from where I'm sitting, it seems like passive is the new black.

Just sayin'.

.
Old 12th September 2011
  #15
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Melgueil's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff16years View Post
Yes, treating my room with bass traps made ALL the difference. it's the #1 most important thing that I have done to my studio and my mixing ability.
Yup. Amazing ...there are folks who have "world class" interfaces, converters and pres that do nothing more than reveal with painful accuracy, the room that is destroying the very music they try so hard to "polish" with said equipment.
cdlt
Old 12th September 2011
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.

Apparently, we have to be careful about throwing around terms like "passive" and "transparent".

Passive is certainly not always better, and often not transparent. Especially, where there's signal degradation.

Different users want different aspects of their signal chain to be passive.

Using active electronics to "maintain" signal strength/integrity in various applications is often necessary and/or preferable.

Obviously, the designs, parts, program material/applications - and individual users - are VERY relevant.

And if you use ****ty parts or design in your passive box, what's the point?

This whole idea of passive versus active is like mac versus pc, digital versus analog, etc.

It's a lot of marketing.

And from where I'm sitting, it seems like passive is the new black.

Just sayin'.

.
Er... I was only referencing my amp and passive monitors in relation to my active monitors (and my concomitant use of a mixer as a volume control when using the actives) with reference to Gregory's mention of the importance of using an analog volume control rather than controlling PB level from within the digital domain, which reduces dynamic bandwidth allotted to the signal.

Maybe my typically convoluted manner of writing confused the issue?
Old 12th September 2011
  #17
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

I've gone through years of rotating obsessions, from preamps to monitors to mics to room treatment, and I've found that room treatment has been the single most significant factor in improving my work, by a quantum level. You can do a couple of simple things that will cause a huge difference.

Eliminate or dampen all early reflections that arrive at the listening position in less than 20 ms. Easily done by using mirrors and realizing that sound moves at about a foot per millisecond. Make sure any racks of gear on either side of the listening position are lower than the tweeter level.

Dampen one surface of any parallel surfaces.

Put bass traps in your corners, and stuff bags of pink in garbage bags under your desks.

Don't sweat the small stuff, like reflections off the console or that huge, narrow dip at 90hz that you'll never get rid of.

For more in depth research go to the Studio Acoustics forum at GS, an also have a look at my own account if you're interested. Studio Rebuild pt. 1 - Chaos !
Old 13th September 2011
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
For more in depth research go to the Studio Acoustics forum at GS, an also have a look at my own account if you're interested. Studio Rebuild pt. 1 - Chaos !
Have to say, this was a fun read (on an acoustic-geek level, of course!). getting ready to move to a new room myself (a big thanks to Hurricane Irene), and found some interesting information in there. Nicely done, Rick!
Old 13th September 2011
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Er... I was only referencing my amp and passive monitors in relation to my active monitors (and my concomitant use of a mixer as a volume control when using the actives) with reference to Gregory's mention of the importance of using an analog volume control rather than controlling PB level from within the digital domain, which reduces dynamic bandwidth allotted to the signal.

Maybe my typically convoluted manner of writing confused the issue?
.

No, it seems you know your ****. I was just sayin'.

I see these ads for passive and transparent everything, and I'm just skeptical, is all.

Again, I'm convinced passive and transparent are the new black.


Also, great point about room treatment, RKrizman. I couldn't agree more!

.
Old 16th September 2011
  #20
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deft_bonz View Post
There's still one thing I don't understand: I still have to go thru the SSL monitor section into the Main Gain. Why would it be different? I can not bypass the monitor section. Or am I missing something?

Correct, if you want to use an external monitor control with most desks you have to modify the center section.

Many ways to skin that cat, but it is *so* worth it because the simple truth is most built in monitor sections cripple the desk they reside in, or more accurately they cripple your ability to hear the desk.

Spending $xx,xxx or more on a console and then not being able to actually hear it boggles my mind; it's one of those 'gimmes' where the extra 5% is already there, waiting to be revealed. The cool thing about killer monitor control is that suddenly everything in the room sounds better, from your converters to your speakers and all points in between... even the room itself, the low end transients will tighten right up.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 16th September 2011
  #21
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latestflavor's Avatar
 

you can't put monitor controllers in the same league as room and monitors. that's borderline insulting. i'm sure you have a good product ubk but the hijack is a bit much. might as well call the $3000 cable shillers in then, those are in the path too.

the posts i've seen you make over the years have been very very thoughtful and insightful and your products appear to be top notch - so i don't feel good about calling you out.

i'd argue that many monitors these days can be learned and adjusted to a certain extent but the room - or finding the right position in a passable one - is the single largest step you can make in the journey.

which for me, makes the greatest piece of gear in the studio a measurement microphone and good software with ETC.
Old 16th September 2011
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
Correct, if you want to use an external monitor control with most desks you have to modify the center section.

Many ways to skin that cat, but it is *so* worth it because the simple truth is most built in monitor sections cripple the desk they reside in, or more accurately they cripple your ability to hear the desk.

Spending $xx,xxx or more on a console and then not being able to actually hear it boggles my mind; it's one of those 'gimmes' where the extra 5% is already there, waiting to be revealed. The cool thing about killer monitor control is that suddenly everything in the room sounds better, from your converters to your speakers and all points in between... even the room itself, the low end transients will tighten right up.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Thanks for clarifying up. Maybe I'll mod my new mixer one day, if it's even possible.
Old 16th September 2011
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
I absolutely do say that; the monitoring path on large and expensive desks are often quite inaccurate because they were designed by guys who are not obsesses with transparency, and they're based on the colored circuits found everywhere else in the desk.

When you get that SSL, drop me a PM and I'll send you one of my monitor controllers. Compare the Main Gain to the SSL's center section, and in particular, listen for transient accuracy, hf coloration, and low end detail.

My guess is I won't be getting that Main Gain back.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Sorry Greg, but that is just BS.
If SSL is not obsessed with transparency, I don't know who is.

The fact that the AWS900's monitor section sounds not 100% as good as the Monitor ST (the comment Sqye referred to came from me) is because it has TONS and TONS of more features.
Features that I learned to love very much and depend on now daily.

If you ever design a monitor controller that is as 'transparent' as you claim yours is that incorporates all the stuff the SSL offers in their monitor section, get back to me.

You to claim those manufacturers don't care about transparency is equivalent to them saying you don't care about features.

Plus I really think you shouldn't advertise your product so heavily in threads like this.
I always enjoyed your thoughful posts BTW, so I hope I don't come across as too harsh.
Old 16th September 2011
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintageidiot View Post
I have to admit that all of the suggestions that stress room and monitors are spot on. I got a set of top monitors in my room and I HEAR what all the advice was for. If you can't hear what you got, you don't know what you got......
My experience has been that careful control of the frequency balance, reflected sound and room modes at the mix spot make all monitors from mix cubes to full-range revealing and useful. Then it's mostly a matter of learning the quirks of each set of monitors and how to compensate, so that the monitors make you do all the right things. Without that acoustic control, even ProAcs and ATCs can't help you nearly so much.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 16th September 2011
  #25
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u b k's Avatar
 

It's not that I'm passionate about monitor controllers because I make one, the truth is the other way around: I made one because I discovered a passion for them, and I saw absolutely no good options in the 'affordable' category. You can get cheap comps and eq's and verbs that rock, but cheap monitor controllers just plain suck. They color and distort the sound and most of them are built like toys.

Making a boutique controller was borderline idiotic. As products go they're unglamorous and unsexy, and nobody pines for one because let's face it: it's a friggin' volume knob. But I truly believe if people gave this aspect of their rig as much thought and investment as their favorite drum comp or vocal mic, their life would get better and their job would be easier, and I only make this claim because that is exactly what my experience has been. I never, *ever* make claims that I have not verified in my own life.

And although some may find it insulting for whatever reason, I can and I *do* put the monitor controller on the same list as room and monitors when it comes to critical aspects of hearing the truth of the mix. The controller is most definitely third on that list, quite possibly a distant third... but it is third on the list regardless.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 16th September 2011
  #26
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O.F.F.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.

No, it seems you know your ****. I was just sayin'.

I see these ads for passive and transparent everything, and I'm just skeptical, is all.

Again, I'm convinced passive and transparent are the new black.


Also, great point about room treatment, RKrizman. I couldn't agree more!

.

Passive crossovers are anything but transparent and they eat at least half the power before it reaches the drivers. The main culprit is the inductor in the signal path of the lo pass section, I have substantially less issues with caps in the signal path.

Room treatment is paramount regardless of monitors used IME. A fantastic monitor will still sound like crap in a bad room, quite possibly worse than cheap(ish) ones in a well treated room.
Old 16th September 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
It's not that I'm passionate about monitor controllers because I make one, the truth is the other way around: I made one because I discovered a passion for them, and I saw absolutely no good options in the 'affordable' category. You can get cheap comps and eq's and verbs that rock, but cheap monitor controllers just plain suck. They color and distort the sound and most of them are built like toys.

Making a boutique controller was borderline idiotic. As products go they're unglamorous and unsexy, and nobody pines for one because let's face it: it's a friggin' volume knob. But I truly believe if people gave this aspect of their rig as much thought and investment as their favorite drum comp or vocal mic, their life would get better and their job would be easier, and I only make this claim because that is exactly what my experience has been. I never, *ever* make claims that I have not verified in my own life.

And although some may find it insulting for whatever reason, I can and I *do* put the monitor controller on the same list as room and monitors when it comes to critical aspects of hearing the truth of the mix. The controller is most definitely third on that list, quite possibly a distant third... but it is third on the list regardless.


Gregory Scott - ubk

Hi Gregory. I don't know much about these things, but it seems you do. What do you think of the Coleman products? I've heard some good things...
Old 16th September 2011
  #28
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Jeff16years's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by O.F.F. View Post
. A fantastic monitor will still sound like crap in a bad room, quite possibly worse than cheap(ish) ones in a well treated room.

i agree with this. I would rather have low end monitoring in a well treated room.
Old 16th September 2011
  #29
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
I
And although some may find it insulting for whatever reason, I can and I *do* put the monitor controller on the same list as room and monitors when it comes to critical aspects of hearing the truth of the mix. The controller is most definitely third on that list, quite possibly a distant third... but it is third on the list regardless.
I've gone through different monitor controllers over the years, from my Trident board, Control Station, Control 24 and many others, up to my current SPL 2Control and I agree that it's important to have a clear signal going to your monitors. I even shift between Lynx, Digi and Apogee converters, looking for the cleanest path. However, I would put the monitor speakers themselves as well as room treatment in a place of importance a few orders of magnitude greater.

The measurable differences due to room treatment, speaker type and speaker placement are huge compared to the differences due to different monitor controllers, D/A types, monitoring volume, quality of amplifier feeding the monitors (if passive) and so forth. Not to say these details aren't important, but certainly take care of the big stuff first, because that's what will make the little stuff meaningful.

Btw, UBK has been here a long time and I've always taken his posts as coming from a place of sonic enthusiasm, even though we may at times not agree.

-R
Old 17th September 2011
  #30
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

I disregarded the notion that the room had any effect on things for some time. As I mixed more and more and the things I heard sounded drastically different on other sources than it did in my room, I began to realize that maybe what I was hearing in my room while mixing wasn't indicative of everyone else's environment at all. I started taking it seriously at that point, which kinda sux because you want to spend your money on mics and preamps....however...

I now have what I consider a cozy spot to call my own as I've grown my business with 3, 4" fiberglass bass traps and 4, 2" fiberglass wall traps. I use Lynx Aurora conversion into a KRK Ergo that feeds into Adam Monitors and a Tannoy sub. Everything is connected with Mogami cabling.

My mixes have never translates better. You can check out pics of my setup and acoustic treatment on my studio's website listed in my signature.
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