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Monitoring, what do you use?

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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:17 am

A new pair of KH80's is now the main set, replacing Yahama HS5's which have been haunting me for years. I have always had a pair of horrortones in some form or other too. Now I have all three plugged in and definitely getting much better mixes.

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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Arpangel » Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:36 am

I think I know what to listen for, my main monitors are good at frequency extremes, the bass is there, but not too well defined, that’s their only fault. The mid range is very very good, and realistic, owing to that mid-range unit used in the LS3/5a.
My lowly Behringer Truths are surprisingly good, and have a lot of detail, they sound much more "intimate" than my main monitors, but the frequency extremes aren’t there, and they have a rather plummy bass. But these are good for checking detail.
I’ve also owned K+H 0300, I would have bought them, but there was something rather annoying about them, the bass wasn’t as tight or as extended as I thought it would be, and the sound was in some ways inferior to both of my current speakers, and you have to bare in mind my main set of speakers was given to me, free, my Behringers cost £300, all of the monitors I’m now interested in cost 15/20 times as much, and there doesn’t seem to be a matching increase in absolute sound quality, for my uses.
The K+H/Neumann monitors sounded very good in the treated room I initially heard them in, the control room at the Wigmore Hall, they sounded stunning in fact, very neutral, like they weren’t there. But in my place they didn’t sound good at all, so we’re back to that old chestnut, room treatment again.
A friend of my partner has a big pair of PMC's, I’ve heard them, they sounded very cold and clinical to my ears, and I’d say a tad bass light, a bit like the ATC sound, but even leaner.
So I’m going to be very careful when it comes to replacing what I’ve got, and I’m not judging any of the monitors mentioned here until I’ve had them in my room, it’s not fair on anyone, as my location has changed and my circumstances are very different from when I tried them a few years back.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Zukan » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:17 am

Although the room is the most critical factor in referencing I still believe that intimate knowledge of your monitoring system is also very important.

I used to change monitors every 3-5 years, just to keep me on the ball, but in the last decade, I have moved away from that thinking. I prefer to get to know the tiny nuances my monitoring system offers and how to use that to my advantage. However, my room is treated and that is what allows me to hear those nuances.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Arpangel » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:07 am

Zukan wrote:Although the room is the most critical factor in referencing I still believe that intimate knowledge of your monitoring system is also very important.

I used to change monitors every 3-5 years, just to keep me on the ball, but in the last decade, I have moved away from that thinking. I prefer to get to know the tiny nuances my monitoring system offers and how to use that to my advantage. However, my room is treated and that is what allows me to hear those nuances.

Yes, it’s annoying, not being able to make a good room.
But time will tell, if I move the music room.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:36 am

blinddrew wrote:Listen a little longer however and it was clear that some of these others just weren't giving you an honest response. With the Neumanns it feels as if you can just 'lean in' to the mix and that extra level of detail is all there, but it's not thrust forward by an artificial presence boost.

It's exactly that -- a very good description. Some people never really get that!
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:50 am

I'm in the early days of taking this recording thing seriously, so I'm still working with a set of hifi speakers and an old amp that I had lying around. The speakers are Ruark Templars that I got second-hand about 20 years ago, and the amp's an old Marantz thing that I probably got from Richer Sounds even longer ago. A PM6010F/T1B OSE, if that means anything to anyone.

When I first got the speakers they were a huge upgrade from what I'd had before, so from then I've always had this assumption that they're really pretty good. Recently though, I'm starting to question just how good, or maybe "how appropriate" would be better. That's been prompted by the arrival of a QSC K12.2 (active PA speaker) into my life.

I bought that, in combination with a Helix LT, as a new bass guitar/electric guitar/acoustic guitar live set-up (it hasn't been used in that way yet, but that's another story).

I hooked it all up to the Helix and to my Zoom UAC-8 interface, and started pumping some tracks through it, both commercial tracks and my own stuff. I was astonished at the detail it provides. I presumed this beefy PA speaker would be great for thumping out pounding rock to punters in a pub, and had assumed the sonics would be pretty compromised for detailed listening. How naive. The spoken-voice test is very revealing too: it just sounds like the natural voice but louder. Nicely balanced. So I've taken to using it as an alternative monitor from time to time, to gain some new perspective on my mixes, and also because I just enjoy the sound (even though it's mono, obviously). Am I mad?

One down side of all that clarity is that sometimes I think the top-end is just a touch too much when loud. Is that perhaps a result of its design and intended use: to throw sound out a long way in a noisy environment and perserve some clarity and vocal intelligibility? They're not design to be listened to close up (at any volume).

When I switch back the Ruarks, the biggest change is indeed the top-end. It all sounds slighty too smooth, with a loss of detail. Anyone else have experience of these speakers, or indeed amp?

I have some basic room treatment, mostly bass trapping (not enough!) but nothing comprehensive.

Interesting thread, I'm enjoying reading everyone's take.

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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:53 am

Forgot to mention my AKG 712 Pro's. When I want to check a mix on something that's accepted (I think) as decent and honest, I use those.

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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:59 am

I remember the old Marantz 6010 amp. It very much had the 'house voicing' of the time, bit of a low end boost and then a bit of presence boost as well. Nice for listening to but not as flat as you'd want for proper monitoring. Before getting the KH80s I was also using a ex-hifi set up. Shifting to proper monitors definitely showed up that the previous set up was flattering things a bit.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby John Willett » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:17 am

blinddrew wrote:I'm not playing in the same league as the likes of John or Hugh obviously (across any criteria!) But what i noticed when trying (abd subsequently buying) my Neumann KH80s was that the first impression was underwhelming. There were other monitors that appeared to offer more detail at first listen.
Listen a little longer however and it was clear that some of these others just weren't giving you an honest response. With the Neumanns it feels as if you can just 'lean in' to the mix and that extra level of detail is all there, but it's not thrust forward by an artificial presence boost.

So, er, yeah, basically what John said, make sure you listen properly.

This is common with good monitors.

The most impressive initially is often the worst - sounds great and then turns out to be not accurate and very tiring over time.

So yes - listen carefully with an open mind and be wary of the initially impressive.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:50 am

I've said this before but still believe it to be true. As a relative novice to home studio recording* I doubt I have the knowledge to make an informed choice of monitors which is part of the reason why I haven replaced/supplemented my venerable Kev 104aB's. When I do I will almost certainly buy a pair of Neumann KH100 or KH80's as better ears than mine have said they will get the job done. If I was making the decision for myself I would risk falling into the trap of picking the most 'impressive' speakers, even though I know that it would be a bad move.

* My main experience is in live sound both as a player and PA guy though I have dabbled in recording for 40+ years.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:37 pm

I have a pair of M-Audio BX5a powered monitors. I am aware that they are not the greatest, but I know what they sound like, and it's likely not worth buying anything better (not that I have the money) because I doubt I'll ever be able to adequately treat my room to make that worthwhile, so I use headphones for anything critical.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Luke W » Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:54 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
blinddrew wrote:Listen a little longer however and it was clear that some of these others just weren't giving you an honest response. With the Neumanns it feels as if you can just 'lean in' to the mix and that extra level of detail is all there, but it's not thrust forward by an artificial presence boost.

It's exactly that -- a very good description. Some people never really get that!

I agree, that's a really good way of explaining it. It still surprises me now how much I can hear going on with my KH310s, even on material I'm very familiar with. Bad mixes are incredibly obvious, and once something is sounding good on them I'm finding that it translates pretty well on any other system I try.

The only reason I even entertained the idea of getting them though was the fact I'd rebuilt my room and added a decent amount of treatment. Just based on the difference I heard in listening before and after with my old Tannoys I'm certain I wouldn't have seen much (if any) of the benefit in upgrading without the changes to the room.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:52 am

AlasdairEaston wrote:be better. That's been prompted by the arrival of a QSC K12.2 (active PA speaker) into my life.

I had the chance to drop in on a session at the studio of an extremely well known and successful pop/dance band, they rented a space in an industrial unit in Camden, just a small room, but most of the space in the room was taken up with two massive Peavey PA speakers, used as their only monitors, and all in mono. They told me that they like to hear what the audience is going to hear, and really "feel" the bass etc, and that stereo monitoring really wasn’t necessary, as they normally mix most instrument to mono.
The rest of the room was taken up with a big old Tascam mixer, it was very enlightening.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby dickiefunk » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:36 pm

I’m using a pair of Neumann KH120’s and an Eve TS108 sub. I have the KH120’s mounted on a pair of IsoAcoustics stands and also have a pair of Beyer DT880 headphones which are powered by a DAC’s HeadLite2 headphone amp.
I find this setup is very flexible and is working out really well here. The sub is excellent and also doubles as a monitor controller. It also has a remote control which gives you full control of every parameter of the sub from your mixing position.
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Re: Monitoring, what do you use?

Postby Folderol » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:56 pm

I'm rather at the poor end of the scale. A pair of Alesis Monitor One Mk2 but as my room acoustics are pretty dire, it probably isn't so relevant. Also I do frequent checks on phones - Sennheiser HD 598SE
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