Monitors or Headphones

  • genpo
Posted: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 19:11
Hi all, I got quite a shock recently when I played a CD I'd mastered in 64Studio on my 'hi-fi' system. The balance was way off and there were some quite nasty bass sounds that just hadn't reproduced on what I had thought were quite high quality PC speakers connected to my workstation. So obviously the time has come when I need something better for monitoring and mixing. As I see it there are three choices:
  1. Powered Monitors - such as the M-Audio StudioPro3
  2. Attach a mid-range hi-fi to the computer
  3. Get some decent headphones - would these provide a realistic sound?
I don't want to spend a fortune, so what do people think would be the best choice? Regards, Steve

Speaking of: Stupid Delta 1010 monitoring question

  • picothinker
  • 08/22/07
  • Tue, 07/15/2008 - 04:27
I am considering upgrading to a Delta 1010 (not the LT, the one with a rackmount box). Most of my recording is keyboards, a visiting guitarist, and vocal overdubs. I have been using a Delta 66 with an Omni I/O breakout box. Only four inputs, but that has been adequate for most of what I do. At the time, I chose a card with the Omni I/O because I knew I needed some mic preamps/phantom power, even cheapie ones. Now, years later I have better mics, have a few better cheapie preamps, but am feeling the wish for more inputs. 8 in and 8 out would be a big help. I have prided myself on weaning myself away from a hardware mixer, only occasionally patching in an old mixer for quickie temporary mix/reverb in the cans for a vocalist. As I was considering what it would take to implement a 1010 here, I began realizing that I had become fairly dependent on the Omni I/O. It has four direct outs, that I can patch into a mixer for a vocal monitor/headphones if need be, a monitor out pair I run to monitoring amp/speakers, and two headphone jacks. It also has jacks for inserts, line in, etc that I never use, since all my effects are software. I find that I like to use headphones while tracking guitar. Even though it's being recorded in the next room, with mattresses and blankets all around it, I'm usually recording a Marshall 4x12 with a 5 watt Blackheart amp. It still can be too loud in the "control room", so I track with headphones, then check it on the monitor speakers before going on. Here's the stupid question. What's the best way to monitor with Delta 1010 (or 1010LT, for that matter)? I am assuming that I can pick a pair of it's outputs, and use the good old Envy24 Control (since I believe 1010 and Delta 66 are both ICE 1712 chipsets) make them a monitor output? It would be easy enough to patch my 'monitor pair' i choose into the amp/speakers, but I would have to patch in the old mixer for headphones for myself. I guess a headphone amp would work as well. I really don't anticipate using very many of the hardware outputs beyond monitoring so there's plenty of those available. I have two patchbays I can use for routing the inputs. I am trying to keep my inputs all direct, since all my hardware mixer and old crappy outboard analog gear is all old, crappy, and analog. Something like the Mackie Big Knob would be perfect, but that's quite a ways down the road, budget-wise. I have read that you can chain multiple ICE 1712 cards, so perhaps I could keep the Omni I/O, and just use it for monitoring.

Monitors are like an old favorite album..

  • picothinker
  • 08/22/07
  • Mon, 06/30/2008 - 02:11
We should learn what they both are, and carry them with us if we travel. There are many great/famous choices on monitors (most of us low-budget homestudio ppl will better afford near-field choices). Reference mixes can be the most important tool we have. A good source is http://www.johnvestman.com/commercial_cds.htm but I note that there are Amazon BUYITNOW links.

How to choose monitors (if you can)

  • Quentin Harley
  • 05/24/07
  • Fri, 06/13/2008 - 20:26
I had the opportunity to go to the Thomann Store in Treppendorf, Germany. They have a whole room fitted with all the monitors they have, and then they stick you in the sweetspot. You can then basically tell them what your budget is, and they will show you all the best choices around your budget. In the end I found that the ESI nEar5's worked the best for my ear (and my pocket thankfully). I originally went there to buy the Yamaha HS50M's, but in the room I found the sound a little harsh For My Taste. You have to find one that works for you. Nothing wrong with ANY other monitors. You have to like them, and know them. Don't worry about what other people might say. It's your ears, not theirs! Cheers,

Urgent

  • Icemouse
  • 08/04/07
  • Fri, 06/13/2008 - 19:05
What I want to say is, it's not only the monitoring that makes the sound, you have to take care of more than that.

Compressor

  • Icemouse
  • 08/04/07
  • Fri, 06/13/2008 - 18:56
You should use two pairs of monitors or listen to first pre-mastering in a car etc., for that Behringer isn't the best and most of us haven't the money for a pair of the original Aurantone, I recommend the RFT B3010 HIFI, at Ebay about 50,- EUR. Headphones are only for the panorama and take care of phasing done by reverbs etc., by controlling your sound set to mono. Phasing also is produced, e.g. by non-discrete circuitry, like microchips for op-ams, we all will have in our homerecording equipment, so it will be a help, not to use the tone controls, resp. EQs of HiFi equipment. Mastering in homestudios is very hard, I'm short in time and this is a thread that can fill books. Professional studio equipment like Neve consoles are build by discrete circuitry. If you are doing any kind of pop-music and you are having not good EQs, you need to compress the stereo sum. Cheers, Ralf

Monitors it is then!

  • genpo
  • 12/12/07
  • Tue, 05/27/2008 - 21:02
Am now the proud owner of a set of Behringer monitors. Thanks for the advice. Regards Steve Author of GENPO - the GENeral Purpose Organ - http://genpo.sourceforge.net/

Monitors!

  • picothinker
  • 08/22/07
  • Fri, 05/23/2008 - 17:05
You can not master without a decent set of monitors. Wait, Quentin already said that... That said, headphones can be useful for tracking, but real studio monitors are vital. If you can't do proper room treatment (I am struggling with this now), at least position your seating position 1/3 of the way back in the room if you can. The ability to have several sets of speakers to test mixes on can be useful as well. Another overlooked aspect? Get your ears cleaned out professionally. This is not a slur on anyone's personal hygiene, our ears generate wax to protect itself from loud noise. A doc can do it quickly/painlessly, it's basically a waterjet, but don't try it at home with your dental waterpic! I experienced this drastically, about 20 years ago. At the time, I was a farmer (corn, wheat, soybeans, cows) and was subjected to loud noise on a regular basis. I had home studio thing going, and was quite excited about it. I fell about 10 feet to the ground, and in addition to spraining my ankle, I suddenly had notable hearing loss in one ear. The doc discovered that a big chunk of ear wax had broken loose and was blocking things. As I got in my car, I was amazed to hear the high frequency "swish" of my jeans on the car seat! I went home, and was horrified to hear how shrill and trebly my mixes were! It sounded good to me at the time... This is also a good case for having reference mixes, of known good mixing to compare to. edit: Despite the fact that he has expensive things for sale, Ethan Winer is very active and helpful in many audio forums. He sells nice audio traps, but check out his free room calculator. There is a lot of good information on his page: http://www.realtraps.com/modecalc.htm

Monitors!

  • Quentin Harley
  • 05/24/07
  • Thu, 05/22/2008 - 17:38
You can not master without a decent set of monitors.
  • You have to hear the music from two speakers, with the listening position in the sweetspot. It is almost impossible to judge stereo imaging if you cannot turn your head in the sound field
  • It absolutely have to be a set of studio monitors. They are designed to have a near flat frequency response, and you will get much more detail from these than from your garden variety "Hi-Fi" speakers.
  • You have to spend a lot of time with your monitors, listening to well mastered music over them to train your ears. Bass response may seem lower, or mids may seem more "present" than you are used to from your HiFi speakers.
As I have said before, mastering is not difficult, but you have to have very good ears. Like any simple skill you will find that it comes easier to some people, and almost impossible to some others. I enjoy my monitors immensely, and it is wonderful to hear music though them as the original mastering engineer must have heard them. There are many hidden gems - and some of them you would never hear on your HiFi...