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Will studio monitors make a difference? Studio Monitors
Old 14th September 2011
  #1
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Will studio monitors make a difference?

Hi,
Recently I have started producing House music, but currently I don't have studio monitors. The speakers I'm using are from an old Sony stereo system that are powered by an amp which is part of the system.
After reading a lot of info about room treatment and etc. I thought is there a point in purchasing the studio monitors if right now I can't make any treatment to the large room I'm working in? In other words, will I get any significant difference in a totally untreated room if I purchase Yamaha MSP-7 for example or better choose good studio headphones?
I have the Pioneer HDJ-1000 headphones, but I guess the lows are too exaggerated in them or studio headphones will not represent much difference?

Thank you in advance.
Old 14th September 2011
  #2
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jeremy.c.'s Avatar
Studio monitors are probably more important in the overall equation than room treatment so I would yes, definitely. Buy as much monitor as you can afford, used Mackie HR824s would be a great bang for the buck if you're on a budget.
Old 14th September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor20 View Post
Will I get any significant difference in a totally untreated room...
Yes monitor will definitely help your mix's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor20 View Post
I have the Pioneer HDJ-1000 headphones, but...
Mixing should not be done in headphones, they are to close to your ears and it will be innaccurate when it translates onto other speakers.


P.S.
You should try to treat the room the best you can.
Old 15th September 2011
  #4
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Thanks for the answers)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy.c.
Buy as much monitor as you can afford, used Mackie HR824s would be a great bang for the buck if you're on a budget.
I can afford around $400 per speaker, was thinking on purchasing the MSP-7. Any thoughts on them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoRillo
Mixing should not be done in headphones, they are to close to your ears and it will be innaccurate when it translates onto other speakers.
There are good comments about the KRK and Sennheiser headphones, still be totally different from the real world?
Old 15th September 2011
  #5
Gear Head
 

I recently purchased Mike Senior's great book 'Mixing Secrets for the Home Studio' and he puts it somewhat like this. The money you spend on monitors and studio equipment will be wasted if used in an untreated room. Tackling room modes and reflections in your studio are just as important as the monitoring equipment used to mix. It's hard though bass traps are so damn expensive! Oh also FYI he suggests to not by ported monitors, (they have a hole in the back to increase their frequency range) they cause unwanted resonances! Hope this helps!
Old 15th September 2011
  #6
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I make house and techno, I've had some commercial success and I've always made music in an untreated room, starting on pc speakers then to alesis mk1, the krk v8 and now adam a7. Never have I had a bass trap or other absorbent foam anywhere near my studio. It has however taken me a month or so on each set of monitors to work out the way they react with the room and how that changes the mix in comparison to other systems elsewhere. Once you've learnt that you can get away without any treatment. Though its not preferable and I will be investing in some once i'm properly settled into my new space.
Old 15th September 2011
  #7
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dxavier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoRillo View Post
Yes monitor will definitely help your mix's.



Mixing should not be done in headphones, they are to close to your ears and it will be innaccurate when it translates onto other speakers.


P.S.
You should try to treat the room the best you can.

I often think that some very definitive statements are said on these forums as fact, but they are not. Although I do not like mixing on headphones, plenty of home producers do and many of their mixes translate very well. If they know what their headphones add or take away from the sound and make appropriate adjustments, there should be no problems, so I can never agree that "...Mixing should not be done in headphones..". What if your studio has paper thin walls and you can only mix at night? You just shouldn't mix at all then? Of course not, if it works for you, do it, if it doesn't (and it doesn't work for me) then monitors it is.

I do agree with the "P.S" though. If you are going to use monitors, although, again, it is NOT a law, it would be better if you could have some room treatment, but again, plenty of producers don't.
Old 15th September 2011
  #8
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clivek's Avatar
Good rooms acouctics, quality monitors are a must !

Hear everything hopefully correctly. So you can now be confident in adjusting/hearing eq, compression, delays, reverb, stereo field !!!
Old 15th September 2011
  #9
Absolutely. Accurate monitors that will work for you in your room, and I do agree that room acoustics is something to keep in mind.
Old 15th September 2011
  #10
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JoaT's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mickanos View Post
I recently purchased Mike Senior's great book 'Mixing Secrets for the Home Studio' and he puts it somewhat like this. The money you spend on monitors and studio equipment will be wasted if used in an untreated room. Tackling room modes and reflections in your studio are just as important as the monitoring equipment used to mix. It's hard though bass traps are so damn expensive! Oh also FYI he suggests to not by ported monitors, (they have a hole in the back to increase their frequency range) they cause unwanted resonances! Hope this helps!
By moving the "somewhat" from your introduction to the "quote" we probably get closer to what is said in that book. Like this:

"The money you spend on monitors and studio equipment will be somewhat wasted if used in an untreated room."

To claim that better monitors or gear have absolutely no effect in untreated room would be ridiculous. Untreated room more than likely diminishes the benefits, but certainly does not remove them completely. A detailed sound source in a bad room gives more detail than a less detailed sound source in that same room.
Old 15th September 2011
  #11
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The room and also the monitoring chain are essential to be sure of what you do.
I'd start with the room and get it as neutral sounding as possible and then look at monitors, converters, cable and clean power.

Many will tell you that you have to know your monitors (which is correct) but also that if you have worked with a pair of small adam, genelec or NS10 for 10 years and know them by heart it would be better to stick to them.

Yes maybe compare to other inaccurate monitors this might be the case, but once you've worked with a mastering grade super accurate speaker you can't go back.

But this is clearly out of your budget, so get there step by step and don't underestimate the room. +1 for used mackies on that budget

my 2ct
Old 15th September 2011
  #12
This is not really all that difficult...

Get the best monitors you can afford.

Borrow an analyzer and sweep your room and find out what is going on in the room. This is key.

Treat the space to the very best of your ability and resources and sweep it again.

Add more treatment as needed, sweep the room again and then you will know exactly what you are hearing--if there is a spike at 200 hz, or a dip at 8khz, you'll know it and be able to mix accordingly, making good choices.

So it is not difficult, but it takes some time and a little effort on your part and it is not just buying stuff. But at the end of the effort you will know what is going on in the room which is very important. Obviously you need the monitors before you can sweep the room. Do not arbitrarily treat the room without using an analyzer of some sort to tell you what to do. You want as close to a flat response as possible.

Blankets hung from the wall work. A couch in the room makes a difference. Random stuff can act as diffusers. Again, get the monitors, run the pink noise through the boxes and measure it. Then you will know how close or far from the mark you are and can proceed with confidence.
Old 15th September 2011
  #13
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mcgruff's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mickanos View Post
The money you spend on monitors and studio equipment will be wasted if used in an untreated room.
+100

Room first, then monitors. An old hi-fi in a good room will sound better than expensive studio monitors in a bad one. Treatment isn't some kind of optional extra: it's an absolutely crucial part of the sound you hear. Good monitors are a complete waste of money without it. They'll sound like ****. A slightly better class of **** than the old hi-fi but still ****.

You could just be lucky and have a naturally good room without treatment but I bet you don't. Try out some of the room tests here and prepare to be shocked.

Also, forget about blankets: all they do is deaden a little top end leaving all the lovely, muddy bottom untouched. You need high density acoustic mineral wool to effectively absorb bass (and other) frequencies. Owen's Corning 703/705, Rockwool R3, Knauf acoustic board - that kind of thing. It's easy to build your own panels.

Cover over as many corners as you can (angle a board across the corner) hang some flat on the walls at first reflection points and then take it from there.
Old 15th September 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dxavier View Post
I often think that some very definitive statements are said on these forums as fact, but they are not. Although I do not like mixing on headphones, plenty of home producers do and many of their mixes translate very well. If they know what their headphones add or take away from the sound and make appropriate adjustments, there should be no problems, so I can never agree that "...Mixing should not be done in headphones..". What if your studio has paper thin walls and you can only mix at night? You just shouldn't mix at all then? Of course not, if it works for you, do it, if it doesn't (and it doesn't work for me) then monitors it is.

I do agree with the "P.S" though. If you are going to use monitors, although, again, it is NOT a law, it would be better if you could have some room treatment, but again, plenty of producers don't.
If he's asking this question then he's not a producer who has done it long enough to know how to mix correctly in headphones.

Although I agree with this statement.
Old 15th September 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CountingToes
I make house and techno, I've had some commercial success and I've always made music in an untreated room, starting on pc speakers then to alesis mk1, the krk v8 and now adam a7.
Thats great, can I get any link where I can hear your tracks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dxavier
if it works for you, do it, if it doesn't (and it doesn't work for me) then monitors it is.
Can't tell if it really works or not, due to the fact that I only tried mixing with the help of Pioneer HDJ-1000 and never worked with studio cans. The job done on Pioneer transformed to speakers really bad, I had to revise a lot of stuff.

2Puffer Fish & mcgruff
The room is pretty large I have a sofa at the back wall and on the corners there are armchair, couch, wardrobe and TV.
I guess they help somehow)
In addition there are two doors in the room, one at the back wall and the other on the side.


What do you guys think about KRK ERGO, can I get away with this somehow in the untreated room?
Old 15th September 2011
  #16
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filipv's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy.c. View Post
Studio monitors are probably more important in the overall equation than room treatment
Not true. Not even remotely. Sorry.

Room treatment will improve the accuracy of the monitoring (and the quality of the final result) indescribably more than fancy monitor speaker.

I would choose **** speakers in a treated room over super-hi-end monitors in a **** room

@Victor20, I also make house and techno. I struggled with untranslateable mixes for years until I treated my room. Buying only new monitors, no matter how expensive, won't help nearly as much as a simple room treatment. I had an epifany, and it's all clear to me now. Really!
Old 15th September 2011
  #17
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Arksun's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by filipv View Post
Not true. Not even remotely. Sorry.

Room treatment will improve the accuracy of the monitoring (and the quality of the final result) indescribably more than fancy monitor speaker.

I would choose **** speakers in a treated room over super-hi-end monitors in a **** room

@Victor20, I also make house and techno. I struggled with untranslateable mixes for years until I treated my room. Buying only new monitors, no matter how expensive, won't help nearly as much as a simple room treatment. I had an epifany, and it's all clear to me now. Really!
I'd say they go hand in hand. Treating the room not only allows you to hear your monitors more truthfully, but also better reveals the sonic differences between cheap monitors and quality expensive ones. My room has treatment and jumping to new pair of monitors this year was a quantum leap forward in quality.
Old 15th September 2011
  #18
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filipv's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
I'd say they go hand in hand.
If that means "they are equally important" I have to disagree. Monitors are indeed super-important, but not as important as the room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
My room has treatment and jumping to new pair of monitors this year was a quantum leap forward in quality.
Of course, but only after the room is treated. Leaving the room untreated and just plugging new fancy monitors won't give anybody a quantum leap. On the other hand, using the same old monitors in a treated room can indeed give you a quantum leap.

First things first!
Old 15th September 2011
  #19
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Arksun's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by filipv View Post
If that means "they are equally important" I have to disagree. Monitors are indeed super-important, but not as important as the room.



Of course, but only after the room is treated. Leaving the room untreated and just plugging new fancy monitors won't give anybody a quantum leap. On the other hand, using the same old monitors in a treated room can indeed give you a quantum leap.

First things first!
No arguments there (although I'd still argue important differences can still be heard in a totally untreated room as I've compared different monitors in such an environment before, still heard big differences) , its just your post was giving the impression that treatment was everything and differences between monitors was very small regardless, but I can see now thats not what you meant, so no worries
Old 15th September 2011
  #20
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mcgruff's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor20 View Post
The room is pretty large I have a sofa at the back wall and on the corners there are armchair, couch, wardrobe and TV.

I guess they help somehow)
Not unless they're made of high-density mineral wool heh The furniture will help a little but mainly with diffusion rather than absorbtion.

Did you try the audio test? if you hear peaks and troughs while you listen to the sample frequency you've got a problem.
Old 15th September 2011
  #21
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Speaker placement, Room treatment and ARC are all differentways to help improve the sound of your monitors and room
Old 16th September 2011
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor20 View Post
2Puffer Fish & mcgruff
The room is pretty large I have a sofa at the back wall and on the corners there are armchair, couch, wardrobe and TV.
I guess they help somehow)
In addition there are two doors in the room, one at the back wall and the other on the side.


What do you guys think about KRK ERGO, can I get away with this somehow in the untreated room?
I have to assume this is a living room as well as a mixing room. So you need to keep it livable, right? Well you can still place bass traps in corners, park some high density foam behind other furniture and so on. There are ways to do this, and as a couple of folks have said, it does not need to be expensive. You can do this.

Do some research on room treatment. And I still maintain that you should sweep the room with an analyzer. It can be very revealing.

As far as what monitors to buy... I don't know. Really, the models change in the price point you are looking at and unless a person works where they can hear all the new models all the time, how could a person possibly be up on them all. Put your cash together and look at what is in your price range. Then find out who sells them and do some side-by-side evaluations if you can. Typically there is a stand-out for a listener, and obviously THAT would be the one you want to go with. Bring along some songs you are very familiar with, whether they are your mixes or not, and listen for details.
Old 16th September 2011
  #23
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O.F.F.'s Avatar
 

In my view room treatment is more important than having the latest and greatest monitors.
The sofa and armchairs make great bass traps unless they are leather ones.
Heavy drapes/curtains/rugs are also a good idea.

Make sure your speakers are set up symmetrically ie if your left speakers is 1.5m from the left side wall the right hand one should also be 1.5m away from the right side wall.
Old 16th September 2011
  #24
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Treat the room.
Suppose you were a painter, and the room in which you’re creating your paintings (which has no windows) has 1 light bulb that’s painted green. As a result your paintings, when viewed in that room, have a boatload of green in them, seemingly without you even trying to add any green. Of course, when you look at them in the sunlight, the green is gone.
You could probably eventually learn to get correct amounts of green after lots of trial and error, but honestly wouldn’t it be a lot easier if the light in your room just displayed the correct color spectrum in the first place?
Substitute paintings for mixes, and the color green for whatever frequencies your room is amplifying at mix position, and you get the idea.
Different monitors will still be at the mercy of the acoustics of your room.
Old 16th September 2011
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff
Did you try the audio test? if you hear peaks and troughs while you listen to the sample frequency you've got a problem.
I would definitely do it later on today, that is really interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Puffer Fish
I have to assume this is a living room as well as a mixing room. So you need to keep it livable, right? Well you can still place bass traps in corners, park some high density foam behind other furniture and so on. There are ways to do this, and as a couple of folks have said, it does not need to be expensive. You can do this.
)) Your totally right, thats what it is)
Ye I'm already thinking about the corners.

I will do the sweeps today using the room test mcgruff recommended and see whats going on, however I don't have the SPL Meter at the moment(
And guys you are great, thanks for all the replies.
If anyone had an experience with KRK Ergo, please let me know what do you think?
Old 16th September 2011
  #26
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I'm skeptical but I haven't tried one.

Given that I could buy about ten dozen Knauf panels for the same price, I don't think I ever will...
Old 16th September 2011
  #27
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beingmf's Avatar
 

2 experiences from the last couple'a'months:

a) room treatment and/or KRK/ARC/corrective EQ depends totally on the size of the room. If it's too small, you're better off with a combo of some absorbers and EQ. If it's big enough, the corrective EQ will provide a too small sweet spot, which makes it hard to judge what you're hearing.

b) full range speakers in a sub par room are much worse than e.g. NS10's. LF buildup gets so obvious, you won't enjoy mixing anymore. A friend of mine just bought PMC's for an untreated room, and now he's in the biggest dilemma.

Great thread btw.! +1 on the analyzer suggestion!
Old 16th September 2011
  #28
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Will studio monitors make a difference?

Lot of mantra being repeated here.

First of all it's all about translation. If you are mixing so that it sounds great on your system then you better have a pretty great system. If you ignore the short term satisfaction and mix so that it sounds like other great recordings as played on your system, then you've taken a step in the right direction.

It's all illusion. Experienced folks have learned the difference between a track that sounds impressive by itself and one that sounds impressive in the context of a song. Often less experienced folks will hear the sound of their instrument and hate it. Then when they hear the song they wonder what was done to fix it. Nothing. The experienced person knew that the sound needed to be a certain way so that when everything else was added in it would work.

The same thing applies to mix monitoring. The idea is to come out with something that works. It may sound odd to others listening to your system, but if you know what to do, you can make it work. It sounds like you've already had this experience, needing to go back and change things so that it came out on other playback systems. The first order of business should be to really wrap your head around this concept and calibrate yourself to the sound of your system. Warts and all.

As far as making things better starting with a decent set of speakers is good. You don't want to be feeding something into the room that is way out of whack. For similar reasons so called room correction software doesn't work. The most likely scenario you've run into is peaks and dips in the bass caused by reinforcements and cancellations in the room. Trying to counteract a cancelation by pumping yet more energy into the room is a self defeating proposition. And even if you do succeed to some extent, you will need a vise to hold your head in the exact same location as the measurement microphone or you will be hearing those compensation boosts all out of proportion to what should have been coming out of the speakers.

Outside of a purpose built control room (and even there, but much more so in a home environment) the most important thing is placement. You want to position the speakers and your basic listening position in a place that minimizes the natural reinforcement and cancelation modes of the room. You don't have to live with stuff there all the time, but you should find out where that place is. You can sew some small telltale threads into your carpet for markers when you are ready for a mixing session. This is the first thing a pro acoustician does when "tuning" a room is work out the placement. They may have computer modeling programs to help but you can get some basics from the studio building part of this forum and put in some trial and error.

Then, what you can't compensate for with placement will have to be absorbed or diffused. By now you will have walked around the room a bit with reference stuff playing and should have a pretty good idea what is going on. If you need to, have someone hold up a mirror to the walls while you are sitting in the listening position. Anyplace you can see the speakers reflection will be a place where an early reflection is getting back to you. You don't have to invest in an RPG diffusor. Sometimes a house plant or an oil painting with no glass over it is enough.

I used to have small 3 panel folding room divider screens in the corners of my living room that hid a cylinder of carpet for a bass trap to improve my stereo in a smaller living room.

With a bit of work you should be able to get your living room to a place where you can compensate for it's shortcomings and produce reasonably balanced mixes. It won't be a purpose built highly tuned control room. But you are going to have that anyway.
Old 17th September 2011
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
Lot of mantra being repeated here.

First of all it's all about translation. If you are mixing so that it sounds great on your system then you better have a pretty great system. If you ignore the short term satisfaction and mix so that it sounds like other great recordings as played on your system, then you've taken a step in the right direction.

It's all illusion. Experienced folks have learned the difference between a track that sounds impressive by itself and one that sounds impressive in the context of a song. Often less experienced folks will hear the sound of their instrument and hate it. Then when they hear the song they wonder what was done to fix it. Nothing. The experienced person knew that the sound needed to be a certain way so that when everything else was added in it would work.

The same thing applies to mix monitoring. The idea is to come out with something that works. It may sound odd to others listening to your system, but if you know what to do, you can make it work. It sounds like you've already had this experience, needing to go back and change things so that it came out on other playback systems. The first order of business should be to really wrap your head around this concept and calibrate yourself to the sound of your system. Warts and all.

As far as making things better starting with a decent set of speakers is good. You don't want to be feeding something into the room that is way out of whack. For similar reasons so called room correction software doesn't work. The most likely scenario you've run into is peaks and dips in the bass caused by reinforcements and cancellations in the room. Trying to counteract a cancelation by pumping yet more energy into the room is a self defeating proposition. And even if you do succeed to some extent, you will need a vise to hold your head in the exact same location as the measurement microphone or you will be hearing those compensation boosts all out of proportion to what should have been coming out of the speakers.

Outside of a purpose built control room (and even there, but much more so in a home environment) the most important thing is placement. You want to position the speakers and your basic listening position in a place that minimizes the natural reinforcement and cancelation modes of the room. You don't have to live with stuff there all the time, but you should find out where that place is. You can sew some small telltale threads into your carpet for markers when you are ready for a mixing session. This is the first thing a pro acoustician does when "tuning" a room is work out the placement. They may have computer modeling programs to help but you can get some basics from the studio building part of this forum and put in some trial and error.

Then, what you can't compensate for with placement will have to be absorbed or diffused. By now you will have walked around the room a bit with reference stuff playing and should have a pretty good idea what is going on. If you need to, have someone hold up a mirror to the walls while you are sitting in the listening position. Anyplace you can see the speakers reflection will be a place where an early reflection is getting back to you. You don't have to invest in an RPG diffusor. Sometimes a house plant or an oil painting with no glass over it is enough.

I used to have small 3 panel folding room divider screens in the corners of my living room that hid a cylinder of carpet for a bass trap to improve my stereo in a smaller living room.

With a bit of work you should be able to get your living room to a place where you can compensate for it's shortcomings and produce reasonably balanced mixes. It won't be a purpose built highly tuned control room. But you are going to have that anyway.

Old 17th September 2011
  #30
If you only "recently" started producing music, and you are primarily interested in making music versus mixing/recording engineering stuff, I'd say your amp and some decent, loud PA speakers would benefit you more than blowing a bunch of money on mid-range studio monitors.
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