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  #16  
Old 12-19-2016, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by RedJoker View Post
Bob, how big a difference is there between 'low end' monitors and expensive monitors? I know you get what you pay for but at what point do you think a beginner / home studio hack is just throwing money away?
Bad monitors will fool you into thinking that you are hearing accurately when you aren't. I am mentoring a young engineer right now who started on a pair of $200 monitors at home and who just joined our crew. He would bring his ensemble mixes from home and we would evaluate them on the top-end, tuned system in my control room. Somewhere along the way we came to the conclusion that he wasn't hearing things right. He asked to borrow an unassigned set of $4000 monitors the facility owns, took them home, and used integrated them into his setup. His mixes immediately snapped into much better focus. He was also much more able to integrate the suggestions that came out of our meetings. Obviously, $4000 is a lot of money.
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There may not be a good answer this but I don't know. Something like, if you don't spend at least $xxx, you are just getting cheap computer speaker quality and are no better off. How would I even know if I'm getting something decent?
I can't give you a dollar figure, partially because a portion of being able to work with less expensive speakers is getting to know them and already being proficient in recording technique. I can tell you that I am fully confident mixing on a pair of JBL LSR4328P with the integrated subwoofer. However, a pair of the LSR4328Ps will set you back $1700 and then there is the subwoofer. I'm sure that somewhere beneath that figure there are some monitors that are just fine, I just don't have any sort of dividing line. I wish I had a suggestion for low priced monitors but I just don't. Sorry.

One way to find good monitors is to hook into a good forum such as Gear Slutz and see what they suggest in your price range. Of course, you'll probably get the flavor of the month, just like you get that when you ask for suggestions of a guitar here at the AGF.

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  #17  
Old 12-19-2016, 11:57 AM
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I agree that monitors are a rather important part of a recording setup.

Quality monitors are more important for folks who are mixing numerous sources (say, 32 channels) for commercial release than for folks mixing just a few channels (say, stereo solo guitar or single performer VOX and guitar) for amateur release.

Still, excellent monitors certainly improve things regardless of what is being listened to, mixed or mastered.

As to cost, you generally get what you pay for and there are exceptions here and there.

If you are recording just guitar and/or vocals or other non-bass octave instruments, there is no need for monitors capable of full bass response (e.g., -3dB at 50Hz) because the performances will not be generating pitches that low.

As to the OP's question, I started with Halfer M5 (with a Hafler P3000 power amp), upgraded to Dynaudio BM6 passives (same power amp) and upgraded again to two different sets (i) Quested H108 passive (Bryston 3B ST power amp) and (ii) Quested F11 actives (predecessor to Quested S7 actives). The Questeds are simply wonderful monitors.
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  #18  
Old 12-19-2016, 03:30 PM
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Cotten, I use a pair of Adams A5. Much to my satisfaction. I could use a woofer though. But I do like Rudy4 does:


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Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
I like them very much, but check my mixes with my much more bass-responsive headphones. The 5's are a bit deficient if you're looking for low bass, but I know how to listen to them and understand that. (Any smaller monitor is going to have that problem, so a sub woofer would be a good addition if you're mixing material needing low bass response.
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  #19  
Old 12-19-2016, 04:05 PM
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I didn't want to mess around with a sub woofer, and got the HS8's with the 8" speaker....I'm getting plenty of bass with them. No sub needed.
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  #20  
Old 12-19-2016, 04:27 PM
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Thanks, my friends! This is exactly the kind of discussion I was looking for. So much good information, helpful comments and suggestions! Hope there will be more to come. Bob, your experience as a long time pro is invaluable, and I appreciate your sharing it. But it's almost as if I'm in a completely different universe. I have yet to produce my first home recording, though as a performer I've been recorded many times. As someone trying to stretch retirement income until I don't need it any more, it would be unwise of me to consider putting $4,000 into one part of a potential new hobby, knowing that I could easily spend that much on mics, room treatment, a new computer and interface, etc. That's why I'm responding to KevWind's post like this.
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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
...With that in mind
I would suggest something to think about is, that if your monitors are costing say 2/3 rd's or less than the price of the guitar you are trying to record, you may want to rethink your value judgement criteria....
I hear you, and understand what you're saying. On the other hand, 95% of my music making will still be focused on performing live, not recording. At least for now, anyway. That ratio might change if I enjoy recording and have some success. But I don't think I'm ready to sell my nicer guitars so that I can afford nicer monitors. First things first. Does that make sense? Or am I kidding myself that buying say, the JBL LSR305s will be sufficient to get me started?

Parallel question: Say I start with something like those JBLs instead of the HS8s. I already have a Fender Rumble bass amp. Can I use it as a sub to fill out the low end missing from the monitors?

Confession: For now, I plan to use a ten-yr. old Boss BR-1600 dedicated recorder that I was given, and the only mic I have at the moment is my trusty Shure SM58. My best "headphones" are a custom pair of in-ear monitors from 1964 Ears. I know, I know, but still. It's a start, right? Or is it?

If I can't spend at least $2,000-$3,000 on building a home studio, should I just concentrate on performing and let someone else do the recording?

cotten
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  #21  
Old 12-19-2016, 04:45 PM
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Cotten,
What instruments and vocals are you recording? How many do you need to record at the same time? What's your purpose/use for the recordings?
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  #22  
Old 12-19-2016, 04:45 PM
paulp1960 paulp1960 is offline
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Hi Cotten I absolutely think you can get started with those JBL speakers though you would really want a condenser mic for recording as opposed to live playing.
Also I would get some decent headphones.

You won't ever make something sounding like it was produced in a great studio by people with loads of production experience and know-how.

But you can make something yourself that you enjoy listening to. Don't let the lack of equipment put you off and work through the weakest links in your kit one by one over time if you enjoy recording.
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  #23  
Old 12-19-2016, 04:46 PM
alohachris alohachris is offline
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Aloha Cotten,

Great advice so far on a topic that is NOT discussed much at AGF, beyond entry-level, near-field monitors for players trying to record on the cheap. Going above $300 on a pair of monitors seems to make many AGF'ers feel ill at ease based on past comments here.

But what if they could hear & compare obvious audible differences. Would they still stay with cheap monitors? I suggest we all should audition better monitors on a regular basis - just to understand the clear differences & to know what's out there before limiting our choices.

KevWind hit it on the nail, basically: Buy monitors that are slightly more expensive than you can afford. Do that and you can't go wrong.

After auditioning just about every available set of monitors out there for over 50 years, my current conclusion is that a pair of monitors priced below $1500/pair will not do it for me audibly. I hear the differences, especially in the area of ear fatigue.

The difference in quality & sound as it relates to pricing of monitors is well defined & clearly audible. Again, for me, no monitors under $1500 seem to work for my ears in mixing my simple, hobbyist home recordings. For a pro engineer it may be $3-4K or even $8k. Doug Young's Barefoot 27's cost around $10.5K new.

I use Adam A7X's (roughly $1500/pr.) in a well treated space. I find I can listen to these well-balanced, near-field monitors for hours w/o fatigue, a common issue with cheaper monitors.
The Neumann KH-120's are also excellent for around the same price. And these are at the bottom quality & price-wise for me.

Moving up the trough in monitors is a real ear opener! IMO, mic's 'n monitors are where to put the money in a home recording signal chain. At the source and for accuracy.

alohachris

PS: Unless you are willing to treat your space properly, spending money on any quality of monitors is a complete waste. - alohachris-

Last edited by alohachris; 12-21-2016 at 04:19 PM.
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  #24  
Old 12-19-2016, 04:56 PM
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A friend of mine has JBL LSR305s and they sound a bit polite and quiet to me and lacking in dynamics (low power amps). The Adam A7X speakers mentioned are in another league not just a bit better.
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  #25  
Old 12-19-2016, 05:06 PM
Martin Maniac Martin Maniac is offline
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I got a great deal on my HS8's at about $450 for an open box set. They were still wrapped up in the factory packaging. Sorry to say it, but that's all I could afford at this time, but they are doing a wonderful job for me. I don't feel the need for more expensive monitors in my little home studio. They are working out just fine. I suppose you could spend $10,000 for monitors but that doesn't make any sense for what I'm doing or what my goals are.

I just have a small studio in my home, but the HS8's resonate thru out my whole house...I know they are basically near field monitors, but I can enjoy them into my living room as well, plenty of power. Anything more would be overkill for me.
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  #26  
Old 12-19-2016, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckS View Post
Cotten,
What instruments and vocals are you recording? How many do you need to record at the same time? What's your purpose/use for the recordings?
Of course, Chuck. Such questions are basic. To start with, I'd like to record acoustic guitar, mostly male vocals, light bass guitar (nothing heavy or very percussive), recorders - the flute predecessor kind, some light percussion, and maybe dulcimer or hammered dulcimer.

For what purpose? That depends on how good they sound. Mostly for myself and a few close friends. Perhaps even with my Facebook friends via Youtube, etc. I rather doubt I'll be doing demos of my songs and arrangements for submission to record labels or publishers, but who knows, maybe later.

Chris, Paul, and Martin Maniac, thanks! More comments would be welcome. I can't be the only one interested in such a major topic that is so little discussed here.

cotten
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Old 12-20-2016, 09:14 AM
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The 'power' (or loudness) of the monitors is directly related to the room they're in, of course. Like I said with my JBL's, I can crank them up to be heard in adjacent rooms with plenty of volume for my need - I'm not cranking them for big loud parties, just for background music. In my music room, I seldom get them past 10 o'clock on the volume knob of my interface (the volume knobs on the monitors are in the '0' middle position).

If you're going to use a subwoofer for mixing, you better have the bass frequencies in your room controlled (bass traps everywhere).

No matter what monitors you get, you need to 'learn them' - as already mentioned, listen to music you know well on them, learn how it translates to these speakers.
Then when you do some mixes, thrown them on a USB stick or burn to CD and listen on other systems to see how they 'translate'. Headphones and earbuds are also good ways to check how mixes translate, but from my personal experience tend to sound quite different due to the left-right separation (the sound from speakers will blend when listening - your right ear hears some of the sound from the left speaker, and vice-versa).

Cotten - if you have a Guitar Center near you, you should be able to 'audition' the JBLs and other low/mid-priced monitors, they usually have some set up for that purpose.
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  #28  
Old 12-20-2016, 09:36 AM
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Cotten,
Since you have a bass instrument that you are recording I don't feel I can give you advice. I only do acoustic guitar and vocal, and I only use the monitors in the near field (within 3'); for my purposes a 5" driver is ideal.

What I will say is don't get hung up with all the 'ideal' choices in gear (where ideal = lots of money). Don't put off your hobby/interest just because someone says you need to spend a lot. You can do a lot with very modest gear.

I would imagine headphones would be cheaper than monitors (for the same level of quality) if they work for you. I would suggest you get some sort of condenser mic; there are plenty of choices that can give you very nice recordings in the $100-$500 range (especially if you buy used). For example: the ADK A6 can be purchased used in the under $150 range; I bought used/NOS 3 Zigma mics for around $250 each.
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  #29  
Old 12-20-2016, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckS View Post
What I will say is don't get hung up with all the 'ideal' choices in gear (where ideal = lots of money). Don't put off your hobby/interest just because someone says you need to spend a lot. You can do a lot with very modest gear.
I'm glad someone posted this. I was feeling pretty discouraged seeing costs of thousands of dollars to get monitors that are even worth it. I'm just a beginner recording at home in an untreated room. Maybe someday I'll be able to convince my wife that sound treatment panels don't look that bad. Maybe someday I'll become a better singer / player / songwriter that I need high quality stuff. In the meantime, I'm just trying to learn.
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Old 12-20-2016, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cotten View Post
Of course, Chuck. Such questions are basic. To start with, I'd like to record acoustic guitar, mostly male vocals, light bass guitar (nothing heavy or very percussive), recorders - the flute predecessor kind, some light percussion, and maybe dulcimer or hammered dulcimer.

For what purpose? That depends on how good they sound. Mostly for myself and a few close friends. Perhaps even with my Facebook friends via Youtube, etc. I rather doubt I'll be doing demos of my songs and arrangements for submission to record labels or publishers, but who knows, maybe later.

Chris, Paul, and Martin Maniac, thanks! More comments would be welcome. I can't be the only one interested in such a major topic that is so little discussed here.

cotten
So to clarify so there is no misunderstanding I was by no means advocating selling your nicer/more expensive guitars to finance monitors. To my mind that would be going backwards.

Also your OP and a few subsequent posts seemed to have been interested in the discussing the theoretical "value of more expensive monitors" so that is what my and some other posts have been addressing.


The criteria I was suggesting about the cost of ones guitars vs the cost of monitors, was #1 very very very general, and more of a thought exercise for self evaluation of thinking priorities, and perspective.

As I said from a perspective basis, many completely understand why they paid the price they did for their guitars, but have a skewed perspective as to how that applies, or simply do not want for that to apply to, recording gear as well. The reality is it does BUT this is where priorities may change that.

Now you bring up a very good point which is if your priority for recording is not equal to your priority for playing and performing then certainly not wanting to spend a like amount is perfectly valid.


I completely understand being on a budget and that obviously has to play into the equation.
Which is why if you look at the history of my posts in the recording forum, what I have repeated ad nauseam is " DECIDE ON A BUDGET RANGE FIRST" then solicit suggestions or go shopping. Because the reality is there is almost always going to be something better and more expensive.


So with all that in mind and in practical terms you can certainly get satisfactory results with the more budget friendly monitors . As has been stated much of that will have to do with experience at learning by doing on those particular monitors .

Now I would offer that given you do wish to record multiple instruments , for that you will benefit from monitors and perhaps headphones in combination . The monitors will give a much more accurate representation of both left to right placement of specific instruments and for a bit better front to back depth of field placement of elements in the mix.
However the suggestion for HeadPhones to augment for the low end that may not be present in budget monitors is also an excellent one.

So if It were me and I did want to definitely start down the path of home recording but I was also not willing to spend a lot money I would consider the more budget based monitors being suggested and a pair of relatively good HP's as well .
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