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Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Bluegrass » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:21 pm

I have become completely confused and disillusioned about which monitors are worth buying after reading both SOS and Mike Seniors book on mixing. I am recording and mixing purely acoustic music, and need some high quality Near-field monitors. I already have good headphones (HD650's) .I was interested in Neumann kh120 monitors initially because they are small and apparently, very good. But now after reading Mikes book I am wondering if ported designs are not worth buying at all and closed box designs such as Blue sky pro desks are the best route. I really am confused by the whole thing. Are cheaper ported designs really not worth mixing on? Help at clarifying the situation would be very much appreciated..
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby MartinJG » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:25 pm

Bluegrass

I am no expert and hopefully a few will be along soon but my own experience when I was looking gave me a headache so I sympathise. I went through the usual process, did mountains of research, talked to millions of folk, listened to everything I could but I still couldn't find the right ones. Then one day I popped into a store to try to convince myself that the Adams 7X were the answer. After a while, the sales fella wondered over and whispered 'Try these'. They were AE22's, he was right, and it was love at first sound. It took me about 10 seconds to realise that. The point is, I was looking in the wrong direction and working to a budget. Mistake. The AE22's are a sealed unit with superb timing and precision and they are English. By comparison, they cost a little more than the A7's but are superior in every way and present fewer acoustic problems due to the design and tight performance (no port farting issues). I also think they are much better than Dynaudio 6's which are a similar style. Hugh Robjohns reviewed them for SOS. Try them.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby John Willett » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:29 pm

For the price the Neumann KH120A, IMHO, are definitely the best around, so don't be afraid.

The cheaper AE22 are, indeed, also very good and I would have them as my second choice.

I would say that you need to have a good listen to both and make up your own mind.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:54 pm

Bluegrass wrote:But now after reading Mikes book I am wondering if ported designs are not worth buying at all and closed box designs such as Blue sky pro desks are the best route. I really am confused by the whole thing. Are cheaper ported designs really not worth mixing on? Help at clarifying the situation would be very much appreciated..

Every speaker design involves compromises of one sort or another. Sealed cabinets have an advantage in terms of bass timing and slow roll off, but ported designs can be engineered to go louder in a smaller box.

Cheap ported designs often suffer resonant ringing which is detrimental, but good ported designs are just that: good -- and there are plenty of them around. The Neumann kh120 are very impressive and I would be very happy to own a pair. The same goes for the ae22s, and the Blue Sky systems.... But these speakers have different pros and cons, and which ones are important to you will determine which you buy.

Listen to them. Use them. Make a decision. All the speakers you list are very capable.

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Bluegrass » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:11 pm

Thanks for the responses,much appreciated. I will try to hear some of the models mentioned. I think one problem I have is that I have very little experience of actual mixing, so must rely on others opinion about what to go for. I am a professional player and know exactly what I am looking for in an Instrument, but am not sure in terms of monitors what the criteria really are. I do know that they will be primarily used for mixing acoustic music. Generally this means Stand up Bass, vocals, Guitars / mandolins /violins pianos etc in a fairly small room. So, that is a fairly broad range of frequencies. If I choose them in terms of my own preferences as a musician, they will probably not be the most appropriate for mixing, but rather ,the most enjoyable to listen to. When we talk about difference strengths and weaknesses, again I find that a little hard to relate to. I am guessing the goal is to find a system that covers the entire frequency range and where mixes translate well to other systems? Does that mean smaller satellites and a sub-woofer if I want a smaller footprint? Finally, I don't need them to go really loud, quality is of more importance.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:27 pm

Okay. First thing to say is that the monitors can only be as good as your room. You need to factor in acoustic room treatment to create an environment that let's the monitors work as intended. Absorbers at the mirror points, bass traps etc.

Acoustic music is, I think, portrayed better on sealed cabinet speakers. The bass end is more natural and the lower impression of power is less of an issue.... So the ae22s might be a good choice

But as I said before, a good speaker is always a good speaker, regardless of the technology employed. I'd be happy mixing acoustic music on kh120s

When you are auditioning the speakers don't buy what sounds nice. Buy the ones that reveal the most information!

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:42 am

And just to add to the confusion for mixing acoustic music I'd definitely throw the PMC TB2s into the mix. Not sure how they'd compare price wise with the Neuman's or AE22s, but I, and others I've recommended them to, very much enjoy them. They use an infinite baffle system which is different again. Check out Hugh's reviews.

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby John Willett » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:04 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:And just to add to the confusion for mixing acoustic music I'd definitely throw the PMC TB2s into the mix. Not sure how they'd compare price wise with the Neuman's or AE22s, but I, and others I've recommended them to, very much enjoy them. They use an infinite baffle system which is different again. Check out Hugh's reviews.

Bob

The PMC TB2s are actually a Transmission Line design (not infinite baffle) - a transmission line is like a very long tuned port.

The TB2 are, indeed, very nice units and are in my personal top-5 monitor manufacturers (which are: ATC, Geithain, Harbeth, Neumann/K+H and PMC - the AEs mentioned come close behind these IMHO).
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Bluegrass » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:01 am

Thanks everyone! John, you mention Harbeth speakers being in your top 5. by coincidence I actually own some Harbeth super Hl5's which are my main HIFI speakers. Are the smaller harbeth monitors really ok for mixing near field rather than 'domestic' listening? Thanks
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Guy Johnson » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:57 pm

+1 to the TB2s. Very natural and revealing. But you need a good room to get the best out of them, and they will give you the fundamental of a double bass, no probs.

I'm going to try a pair of Equator D5s ... They have a great reputation, are cheap because direct from the factory. And will be great for location recording; much easier than my TB2s.

However, the D5s are taking forever to arrive, due to a Customs delay. Quite why I don't know. It's very frustrating.Not much information on the delivery on our side of the Atlantic!

I'll post a review when (if!) the things arrive and have been run-in*

G

*this is not an invitation to start a pointless online debate!
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby John Willett » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:34 pm

Bluegrass wrote:Thanks everyone! John, you mention Harbeth speakers being in your top 5. by coincidence I actually own some Harbeth super Hl5's which are my main HIFI speakers. Are the smaller harbeth monitors really ok for mixing near field rather than 'domestic' listening? Thanks

The small Monitor 20 is excellent (though passive only). I would have bought them years ago had they done an active version. I do have a pair of the active Monitor 30s (though these, also, are passive only now).

I would say that the Monitor 20 is well suited for mixing. The first time I heard them I plugged them into the hi-fi with the sound coming from the TV and I thought they sounded horrible - until I understood that they were telling me everything about the sound - and I then realised how excellent they were.

My small location monitors are the O110D and now the RL906, but, for small passives the same size as the LS3/5A, I rate the Harbeth top notch (and actually quite a bit better than the LS3/5a IMHO).
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby MartinJG » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:42 pm


Out of interest, having never heard the Neumann's, in what areas do they outperform the AE22 or is it just a personal thing? I'm guessing here, but do the Neumann's have a flatter response than the AE22?
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:03 am

Both of these speakers require a sub to be anywhere close to being full range speaker systems.
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Re: Closed or Ported ?

Postby Fantashable » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:10 am

I too have been confused after reading SOS reviews and Mike Senior's Mixing Secrets - regarding bass reflex (ports) and closed-box loudspeakers.

I had experience with Rogers closed box loudspeakers some decades ago (LS3/5a if I remember correctly)and I loved the sound. In recent years I had been using American ported models; until that is, I read Hugh Robjohns's review of the Acoustic Energy AE22. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may08/a ... gyae22.htm

Without listening to them first - and on the strength of Hugh's comments alone (not a recomended strategy, always audition first) - I ordered a pair of AE22 active online.
I loved them so much I purchased an additional pair for general domestic listening, and swore I'd never go back to loudspeakers with ports unless I could justify spending £1500+.

Recently, I moved premises and have, as a result down-sized. My beloved Acoustic Energy monitors have to go, and I have to choose between the Blue Sky Prodesk 2.1 system, or, perhaps Neumann KH120A without the sub. The Blue Sky system is closed box, the Neumann KH120A is not.

I tend mainly to work with and mix acoustic sources in-house, and Choral on location.

Mike and Hugh have unintentionally confused a number of us it appears over ports/versus sealed boxes, and I am still undecided. It seems that even the most expensive port-loaded box exibits port resonance and port resonance I dunna want!!

I may purchase both systems but I'd be interested to learn of anybody in a similar dilemma.

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Re: Closed or Ported ?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:58 am

Fantashable wrote:Without listening to them first - and on the strength of Hugh's comments alone (not a recomended strategy, always audition first) - I ordered a pair of AE22 active online. I loved them so much I purchased an additional pair for general domestic listening, and swore I'd never go back to loudspeakers with ports unless I could justify spending £1500+.

I agree that buying on the strength of reviews alone can be a recipe for disaster, but I'm very pleased that you found my review accurate and trustworthy -- that's what we aim to do at SOS!

Mike and Hugh have unintentionally confused a number of us it appears over ports/versus sealed boxes, and I am still undecided. It seems that even the most expensive port-loaded box exibits port resonance and port resonance I dunna want!!

Sorry about the confusion. The issue is that, like most things audio, the answers are never black and white answer -- there are always compromises involved and it's about finding the most acceptable compromise.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with porting as a cabinet design technique, and most of the best high end monitors are ported and achieve excellent results. Yes, there will be some level of port resonance -- that is inherent -- but if that resonance is at a frequency below those of interest and if it is very well damped, it isn't a problem -- just as the LF resonance of all ribbon microphones don't cause problems.

Where there is a problem -- and this is what Mike is mainly referring to in his book -- is where the porting has been done in such a way that the resonances become obvious and counter-productive. This is depressingly common in relatively small and cheap speakers where the porting has been used to create a stronger and deeper bass output than the box can really support.

The compromise with sealed cabinet designs has traditionally been of limited power handling and a fairly high turn-over frequency for the bass response, albeit with a very gentle slope. Thankfully, improvements in long-throw bass drivers, system equalisation and power amp technology has made it possible to produce modern sealed-cabinet designs that overcome most of those disadvantages -- as the AE22 demonstrates very well -- and still achieves a decent LF distortion specification.

The KH120 is a ported design, but a very good one. It is also more expensive than the AE22. I've not compared the two designs side by side, but my gut impression is that the KH120 might have a little more resolution and subtlety in its sound presentation. I didn't find the bottom end troublesome at all, but it is a different kind of sound character compared with a sealed box design.

The AE22 is a great speaker too -- as you know...

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Re: Closed or Ported ?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:38 pm

Fantashable wrote:In recent years I had been using American ported models;

I suspect that most of the problem ported models have been American designed - or at least the ones I've heard have. American and European ideas on what makes a good speaker are very different. I can remember that back in the 70's expensive American hifi speakers rarely got good reviews in the British hifi press (when hifi was really about accuracy rather than what it represents today) although British speakers fared rather better in the US. American tastes seem to prefer somewhat over emphasised bass.

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Guy Johnson » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:17 pm

Well, I can report (sorry!) that my new ported Equator D5s sound a bit tubby on the upper-bass on any but the least bass-lifting of the three boundary bass-response settings ... but then on those least tubby settings I think the lower mids and upper-bass are a tad light. However, I'm so used to my PMCs that I'm spoiled for lovely natural and musical bass.
You can hear port-whiffle on lower bass notes at high volume.
I'd prefer a sealed cabinet with a gentler bass roll-off, like the small ATC 10 speakers.

That's the ported bit. So for the rest of this quick impression; off-topic, but anyway:

There is some (cabinet?) colouration noticeable on some vocal and trad fiddle tracks.
The imaging and rendering of spaces and reverbs is good, different from my PMC TB2+ speakers. Overall, I prefer the PMCs. The D5s are little peaky in the treble response, maybe due to the waveguide. But then I think the PMCs are a wee bit forward on the top-end.

Sound? Pretty damn good with a REL sub, otherwise check with headphones to gauge any deep bass-end. As for the mids to the top, the clarity and transparency are broadly similar to my PMCs with an old Carver amp ... but the D5s are not as clear and transparent as my PMCs driven with the small class D amp I use at lower volumes. However with the D5s I can hear some little 'headphone-only' details I've missed before.

So.

Great to have as an alternative reference.
Really neat for location recording.
Useful with and without a sub, but a sub is really needed for serious work.
Not quite up to the hype of the reviews, but worth it in the UK, even with the high postage-charge... and taxes of course.
In North America, these boxes are definitely a great deal; straight from the factory and with a 60 day money-back guarantee that makes sense in N. America, with the reasonable freight charges over there.

Reviews are hard to do! I hope that all made some sense; a proper review would be good!
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:40 pm

Guy Johnson wrote: I think the PMCs are a wee bit forward on the top-end.

They are, by design. It's a deliberate attempt to achieve the most uniform overall spectral energy in the room. The off-axis response is more even, but the trade off is a slightly elevated on-axis response at the high end. The recommendation is to aim the speakers so that their axes cross a metre or so behind the listening position, rather than being aimed directly at your ears -- so that you are listening slightly off-axis rather than directly on-axis.

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Mike Senior » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:24 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:There is nothing fundamentally wrong with porting as a cabinet design technique, and most of the best high end monitors are ported and achieve excellent results. Yes, there will be some level of port resonance -- that is inherent -- but if that resonance is at a frequency below those of interest and if it is very well damped, it isn't a problem -- just as the LF resonance of all ribbon microphones don't cause problems.

What he said.

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Where there is a problem -- and this is what Mike is mainly referring to in his book -- is where the porting has been done in such a way that the resonances become obvious and counter-productive. This is depressingly common in relatively small and cheap speakers where the porting has been used to create a stronger and deeper bass output than the box can really support.

I tried to be quite clear about that in the book, but I do still get a lot of questions about this, so let me see if I can clarify further. Ports themselves aren't inherently 'bad', it's just that ported speakers under about £1500/pair tend to lag behind unported ones in terms of their usefulness for mixing, in my experience. That's not to say that no-one should ever buy ported speakers under £1500/pair, however, because the advantages of porting (more volume/bass for your money) can be more relevant for many situations.

Tracking, in particular, can cause problems with closed-box speakers, because a lot of musicians want to listen louder than any closed-box system in the price range will go while they're tracking. Just the other day, for example, I wanted to use speaker monitoring instead of headphones for a (raucous!) vocal session and came up against this volume limit on my own closed-box Blue Sky system -- the speakers simply wouldn't go loud enough for the performer. A ported system would have come in very handy there, irrespective of whether it was more 'accurate' or not.


Hugh Robjohns wrote:The KH120 is a ported design, but a very good one.

This speaker is an interesting one, and I'm interested to audition it, because K&H (now under the Neumann banner) have an excellent reputation, and I've used some of their speakers before. It also retails a little under my normal rule-of-thumb price boundary, as far as ported speakers for mixing are concerned, so understandably a number of readers of the book have asked me about it. However, I've not heard it myself so I can't claim any useful opinion on how it sounds.

When I do get the chance to audition it, however, what I will most be looking for is how well it copes with balancing the bottom octave against the rest of the low-end spectrum, given the ported design and its published frequency response. If it doesn't quite deliver enough information for working with bass-critical electronic chart-music styles, then I'd still probably recommend going for something a little more full-range if mixing in those styles is your highest priority. However, more full-range alternatives at that price may well sacrifice some of the tonal clarity or playback volume that Hugh praises in his KH120 review, and may also have less well-behaved porting, so it's a grey-area decision. Were this the case, then you'd have to weigh up which aspects of the design are more important to you.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:53 am

Mike Senior wrote:Ports themselves aren't inherently 'bad', it's just that ported speakers under about £1500/pair tend to lag behind unported ones in terms of their usefulness for mixing, in my experience.

I think it is dangerous to make hard and fast rules in this area. I think my point about avoiding American ported speakers could be equally valid - but it is still a little arbitrary. Even the cheapest ported speakers could be less highly tuned if the designers wanted it that way. Many manufacturers of cheaper monitors seem to voice their speakers to sound impressive in the showroom and I feel that more could possibly be done to educate potential purchasers about what a good monitor should sound like.

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Guy Johnson » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:14 am

I take your point Hugh; I'm not criticising the PMCs ... I love 'em!
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:07 pm

Sometimes some knowledge makes a decision more difficult but ultimately a better decision in many cases.Buying monitors is always one of the most tricky purchases for the studio. Reviews, actual listening, comparisons ? The fact they invariably sound different when you set them up in your room. Where do you start as a beginner ? Well a good place is if you like the basic sound. But this may not have bearing on the reality of mixing that you will be getting into down the line. If possible take a few tracks with you when you audition some. Try not to be hasty and compile a list of your thoughts, even try a second listen in yes.... a shop !

I would not get too hung up on ported/unported as there will always be some compromise at the cheap end, heck I have PMC IB1S and whilst they are very revealing they are not a perfect speaker, there is no such thing really, well... possibly perfect for your individual taste. A whole bunch of great records have been produced on ported monitors as well as NS10. Beware of fashions and nay saying of well worn designs. Ultimately a speaker that makes you comfortable about balance and tonal accuracy would be a good plan. The fact is until you start reaching out of the budget category you will get a different take on not so great. You really do tend to get what you pay for with speakers, it is the place to compromise least in terms of budget IMO.

It's great that SOS and it's contributors share knowledge and make people aware of the different short comings so better decisions can be made, but still a decision that suits you and your taste/budget. I have to say I think PMC seem a great bunch of people and loved my visit to them in Luton. Great mixing speakers and the larger models great for mastering.

cheers

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Bluegrass » Sat Jun 23, 2012 8:56 pm

This has proved an excellent thread, thanks. I do feel better hearing that I'm not the only one who was/is confused by the ported/ non-ported debate. After speaking to Alan Shaw at "Harbeth"speakers, I'm going to start mixing on my large Harbeth SHL5 monitors for now. I did not really appreciate when I bought them that they could in fact be used 'near field' for mixing purposes. They were bought more for domestic listening, but after seeing some pictures from fairly small BBC studios with large BBC style Monitors (Rogers/Harbeth etc) and talking to Alan at Harbeth, it seems they can in fact be used much closer than most speakers since they come from that tradition and are much suited to the Pro studio setup. I do feel that one thing that could help many people would be if SOS gave some very clear examples of cheaper monitors that are well designed for mixing. Many readers are through necessity looking at the cheaper end of the market. I read Mikes book and became depressed because I felt that to do any effective mixing at all, anything I could buy below £1000 would be useless. In a way it made me question the reviews in the SOS magazine, because after a good review, I would have assumed that mixing was one of the criteria looked at, a main reason for buying speakers. I did not read "The KRK Rokit RP5 G2 are good....but not for mixing" There must be cheaper monitors that are a "good enough" place to begin to record and mix music. What about Yamaha HS50's or KRK Rokit RP5 G2 for example. Otherwise, if it really is a lost cause, and better to buy a pair of good headphones instead, maybe that could be made clearer in all those monitor reviews.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Mike Senior » Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:20 pm

Bluegrass wrote:I read Mikes book and became depressed because I felt that to do any effective mixing at all, anything I could buy below £1000 would be useless.

I think that's perhaps overstating what I wrote. You can do a respectable mix 90% of the time with top-of-the-range headphones if you take your time with referencing and also take time to use all the available low-end workarounds to get as good a handle as possible on what's going on in the bass regions. All I'm saying is that (in my opinion) unless you invest £1500 or so (ah, inflation...) in your monitoring, I think it's unlikely that you'll have the information to generate commercial-level mixes reliably 99% of the time, which is the aim of the book.

As for creating fantastic mixes 100% of the time, I don't think those speakers have been invented yet.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:09 pm

Bluegrass wrote:I do feel that one thing that could help many people would be if SOS gave some very clear examples of cheaper monitors that are well designed for mixing.


This crops up all the time in the Q&A pages, and in articles like Studio SOS and other technique-based pieces.

Many readers are through necessity looking at the cheaper end of the market. I read Mikes book and became depressed because I felt that to do any effective mixing at all, anything I could buy below £1000 would be useless.


Monitor speakers is one area where you definitely get what you pay for. The budget end of the speaker scale inevitably involves a lot of compromises, and I wouldn't class any speaker as a true monitor until you get into the £1500+ mark. It's only at this level and above that speakers start to be true 'audio windows', delivering sound with minimal impediments and artefacts. And even then it would be wasted money unless the room's acoustics have been treated properly, especially at the bass end.

However, that's not to say it's impossible to mix on budget speakers -- or in untreated rooms for that matter -- it's just a lot harder and you have to be very careful about what information you take away from them and how you make your mix decisions. Lots of referencing to known material to allow you to judge your mic through comparisons rather than as an absolute is the best way. It takes more time, but it is quite reliable.

In a way it made me question the reviews in the SOS magazine, because after a good review, I would have assumed that mixing was one of the criteria looked at, a main reason for buying speakers.


Absolutely, and every 'monitor speaker' is reviewed with mixing very much in mind -- and practice. I think we all try to rebuild mixes when reviewing speakers -- it's an excellent way of learning quickly what the speaker is capable of. Indeed, most reviews comment directly on what it's like to mix with the speaker in question. Most are adequate, bearing in mind the inherent limitations that come with low cost, and the comments are obviously biased by the costs. You can't expect a £400 speaker to be as easy to work with as a £4000 one, so the standard achieved and considerd good in a £400 monitor would get a very short shrift in a £4k speaker review!

There must be cheaper monitors that are a "good enough" place to begin to record and mix music.


Of course -- it is obviously possible to mix on almost anything. I can only think of one monitor that I've reviewed in 20 years where I ended up saying it was utterly unworkable for mixing:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb02/a ... iosp5b.asp

However, the better the speaker, the easier and quicker it is to arrive at good decisions about EQ, processing and balances, and the more likely it is that your mixes will sound good elsewhere on the first attempt.

What about Yamaha HS50's or KRK Rokit RP5 G2 for example.


Both are okay. I'd prefer to work with something better... because I know what I would be missing... but I'm quite sure workable results are achievable with either of them -- and lots of people are using them for mixing everyday.

...better to buy a pair of good headphones instead


I wouldn't recommend mixing exclusively on headphones for a number of important reasons, but I would always recommend using headphones as a vital part of the process, regardless of the quality of the speakers.

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Bluegrass » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:41 pm

I take on board everything mentioned and appreciate the frank discussion.I can understand that to get quality one does often need to pay more. I have only recently wanted to get more involved with recording and mixing after concentrating on performing, and by nature am a bit of a perfectionist. I really like to make good choices with anything I spend money on, and experience has taught me that its often cheaper in the long run to pay for high quality equipment from the outset. I do have a fear because of my inexperience in this field of music, of making wrong decisions. It's a little like learning to play. I often feel a beginner deserves a great instrument from the beginning, that it helps them improve quicker because the instrument is not holding them back. I also know that not all 'expensive' instruments are great. That's where a good teacher comes in, to help less experienced players make a good decision. On that premise, maybe a system to add to SOS's already great content, would be some kind of rating on reviews that really makes it clear whether that piece of gear is really suitable for what level of use, whether that be the amateur home studio, semi-pro or full out pro quality. So with monitors, I would love to know which speakers reviewed in SOS reach the required level that both of you would be happy to work with as your main monitors, though i know this will be contentious. Another idea, a list of systems designed for different levels of the market, but each consisting of really sound purchasing decisions. So for Mike , that might be his Blue sky monitors, a certain pre-amp, compressor etc. I have a friend in Canada who runs a successful pro studio. He gave me at my request a basic list of what he considered some really good gear to help me produce really good results. This depending on my own technique of course. This included a couple of older API 312 pre amp's , A Manley MU Comp, and a TC electronics 5000 effects unit to add to my Metric Halo ULN_2 interface. That list might not be exactly to every ones taste, but I know at least, it is really great useable gear that has been and still is used in hundreds of pro studios and on great records,that could stay with me as my recording technique grows.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Pete Kaine » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:25 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Bluegrass wrote:
There must be cheaper monitors that are a "good enough" place to begin to record and mix music.


Of course -- it is obviously possible to mix on almost anything.


Pretty much the crux. If you understand the speakers in front of you, then you can probably do something with them. One thing I've noticed with the cheaper one's are that they tend to be (or at least feel like to me) tuned in the direction of a type of user.

Two examples plucked from above at roughly the same lowend price point. The KRK's mentioned I personally find a bit boomy in the lower mid and vibey which I find awkward on something that needed me to pick out a lot of detail, but then if I was working on something loud and in your face with big obvious parts (Dance/Thrashy Rock) I find them quite fun and easy to work on. The Equator D5's when I heard them I found quite lacking in the bottom end but also dryer and with more clarity in the midrange meaning for a radio mix or accustic part improved definition and clarity would make them ideal at that price point. I wouldn't really like to use either extensively for tasks that falls in the others forte, but both sets as second reference pairs would do a great job.

You tend to find as you move up the price points they become more balanced overall and show up the details and flaws in whatever you throw at them and so make it easier to work with, althrough even at at your £1500+ levels some of the differences between them still remain subjective and down to the end users own preference.
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:57 am

Bluegrass wrote:I often feel a beginner deserves a great instrument from the beginning, that it helps them improve quicker because the instrument is not holding them back.

This is so true. When I was a kid learning various musical instruments I often wondered why I struggled to get a good sound assuming it was my lack of skill, but later realised that it was often the instrument itself... at least in part!

On that premise, maybe a system to add to SOS's already great content, would be some kind of rating on reviews that really makes it clear whether that piece of gear is really suitable for what level of use, whether that be the amateur home studio, semi-pro or full out pro quality.

We try generally to avoid 'rating' things as we don't feel it is particularly constructive. The cost of the product usually makes the intended level of operation fairly clear, and text normally cites the context well too, and the Alternatives box highlights the appropriate competition -- both in terms of price and quality.

I would love to know which speakers reviewed in SOS reach the required level that both of you would be happy to work with as your main monitors

As I said before, almost anything is workable given time and effort, but I would be looking for something like the Acoustic Energy AE22 as a minimum. The K+H O300 remains a very strong favourite and if I had to pick just one monitor for evermore that would be it. Both are sealed cabinet designs. The Unity Audio Rock and Boulder are impressive sealed designs too -- but we are talking serious money here...

For ported and ATL designs, the Neumann KH120 is a great little speaker if size is an issue. The Event Opal is very good and I often use PMC TB2s (although I prefer the much larger three-way IB1s, and have used the little DB1s). But there are lots more that I would have no qualms at all about using, such as most monitors from ATC, Harbeth, PMC, and Geithain as they are all voiced very naturally. Genelecs are a little more pushy with their sound, but a lot of people like that.

Another idea, a list of systems designed for different levels of the market, but each consisting of really sound purchasing decisions.

I like that idea and I'm sure it would be popular with the readaers -- I'll add it to the editorial wish list! Thanks.

He gave me at my request a basic list of what he considered some really good gear to help me produce really good results. This depending on my own technique of course. This included a couple of older API 312 pre amp's , A Manley MU Comp, and a TC electronics 5000 effects unit to add to my Metric Halo ULN_2 interface.

I wouldn't call that a lists of basics -- that's a lot of pretty serious equipment!

...it is really great useable gear that has been and still is used in hundreds of pro studios and on great records,that could stay with me as my recording technique grows.

That much is certainly true, and at least it rules out the possibility that the gear is the limiting factor in the quality of a recording if the budget can manage it -- but that is largely true even for most budget gear these days. The limiting factors in my experience are almost always the recording room acoustics, the listening room acoustics, and the talent (musical performance, engineering and production) -- in that order!

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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Mike Senior » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The K+H O300 remains a very strong favourite and if I had to pick just one monitor for evermore that would be it.

Amen to that!
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Re: Completely confused about monitors after reading SOS..ported or not?

Postby Bluegrass » Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:42 pm

Thanks Guys, much appreciated. I feel I know where I need to go from here. Now I just need to get some actual practice and experience in!!
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