You are here

Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Colorfulworks » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:06 pm

Hello,

I've been researching so-called "grotbox" mixing methods, using Avantone MixCubes to supplement my reference stereo monitors. Some people recommend a stereo pair of these, while others recommend just a single one (mono). Putting aside the 2X price differential, WHICH way is better, and why? And - as a related question - if the purpose of these is to make mixes translate better to "lower-end" playback systems (e.g. PC speakers, a phone, a bluetooth speaker, etc) -- for example, by telling you (while mixing) to boost lows, that low-end systems don't reproduce well -- then, won't that result in a "bad" sound, when played back on a high-quality system? (e.g., won't those boosted lows now be way too boomy?) Help...? Thx!
Colorfulworks
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:50 pm

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:25 pm

Round here the usual recommendation is for just one speaker which is what I've got. Since the Mixcube is intended to supplement your main monitors and not replace them then all stereo issues like panning etc can be sorted on your main monitors. The Mixcube will then give you an indication of how the track will sound in mono plus of course the main stuff which is how it will sound on a downmarket speaker plus they're exempt from something called time domain smearing (which I don't fully understand but which the gurus around here do and I'm quite happy to take their word for it that it's a real benefit of this speaker).

Mike Senior's review covers a lot of the issues.

if the purpose of these is to make mixes translate better to "lower-end" playback systems (e.g. PC speakers, a phone, a bluetooth speaker, etc) -- for example, by telling you (while mixing) to boost lows, that low-end systems don't reproduce well -- then, won't that result in a "bad" sound, when played back on a high-quality system

No, because they won't be the only monitors you'll be using, will they?

CC

PS I don't know if it's still the case but a pair of Mixcubes bought together used to be cheaper than twice the cost of one alone. What I did was to find someone on the forum who also wanted one and we bought a pair between us. Very cost effective.
User avatar
ConcertinaChap
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7373
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2005 12:00 am
Location: Bradford on Avon
Making music: Eagle Alley, recording music: Mr Punch's Studio
A small fish in a small pond.

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby CS70 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:51 am

Colorfulworks wrote:Hello,

I've been researching so-called "grotbox" mixing methods, using Avantone MixCubes to supplement my reference stereo monitors. Some people recommend a stereo pair of these, while others recommend just a single one (mono). Putting aside the 2X price differential, WHICH way is better, and why? And - as a related question - if the purpose of these is to make mixes translate better to "lower-end" playback systems (e.g. PC speakers, a phone, a bluetooth speaker, etc) -- for example, by telling you (while mixing) to boost lows, that low-end systems don't reproduce well -- then, won't that result in a "bad" sound, when played back on a high-quality system? (e.g., won't those boosted lows now be way too boomy?) Help...? Thx!

Used as a mono speaker, a cube isolates very well the balance between drums and vocals and guitars or other midrange material. That's the balance that matter most, and the cube makes it easier and faster to nail it (at least the Auratone does, never tried the MixCube).

As for "the rest", the rule of thumb is that you should cut away all that you can't hear - by definition, if you can't hear it you don't know what to mix! :). So in the event you used two cubes for mixing, , you would high pass and low pass the music and then work on the remaining band. Since that band is however what's preserved the most across different systems and it's generally what we pay most attention to, your mix would still work (maybe not in a huge disco, tough :))
User avatar
CS70
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby jaminem » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:52 am

I'd say go with one (I read the same Mike Senior book as Concertina and got the other one of the pair)

What I use it for is to balance levels. Sounds simple but it gets me a good starting place before I reach for the EQ and Compression - especially in the mid range - so vocals guitars etc. where its bandwidth is focussed.

Once I have a mix that feels balanced I swap over to my main monitors to get the mix happening with processing, then its back to the Mixcube for level referencing again and so on.

I find it a lot easier to balance vocals especially when the sound is coming from one source, as is that case from a single driver ( I thik Mike says its something to do with frequency smearing)

so its used not for its tonality as much as its reveaing midrange focus and ability to judge levels without distraction...
jaminem
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 1:00 am

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:03 am

Pretty much what's been said above, the mixcube is a supplement to help you sort out the midrange. By using just one it also forces you to really look at any frequency masking you've got going on, rather than just panning stuff out of the way. It's worth remembering that there's an awful lot of stuff listened to in mono these days, so making sure your mix translates well not just to small speakers, but to mono as well, is important.
In terms of your question about how you get the low end to translate to small speakers, well, that's quite a subject, but the important thing is to really understand what's happening in your mix and therefore how you treat it.
Say you've got a bass guitar, that might be going down to 42-ish Hz in places, certainly you'd expect a lot of activity below 100Hz. If you just boost that bottom octave that's going to do nothing for you mix on small speakers because none of that range will be played, but it is going to make a mess of your mix on full range speakers. So you need to look at the harmonics of those low instruments and work on those instead of the fundamentals. Our ears and brains, being the funny things that they are, will then sort of fill in the fundamental even though it's not really there anymore.
Focusing on the harmonics (perhaps using an exciter or saturation rather than EQ) should keep the general timbre of the sound fairly true.*
The other key thing here is about making space, if you just boost everything in that area it's really not going to help much, think about what you can cut to make space before you start boosting and it'll be an easier job.

Hope that makes sense and isn't over-simplified?

* I've found this can be a tricky balance where you have real instruments that are quite exposed in the mix - for example trying to get a double bass to come through on a phone speaker, but still sound like a real double bass. But then, as my signature says, I'm not very good at this! :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7593
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Humble Bee » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:23 am

+1 for a Avantone MixCube in mono.

But to refer to it as a grotbox speaker is a bit misguided tho. Get a pair of cheap computer speakers or something similar for that. The MixCube is a very precise mixing tool for all the reasons given above.

And if you haven't read Mike Seniors book "Mixing secrets for the small studio" (now 2nd edition) it is time to do so. Very detailed information on how and for what the MixCube is used for in professional mixing. Great book like his other "Recording secrets for the small studio". Must reads both of them! :idea:

:thumbup:
User avatar
Humble Bee
Regular
Posts: 260
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:00 am
Location: Switzerland/Germany/Sweden

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby The Elf » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:48 am

The 'grot box' idea gets a bit twisted around IMO, and many people seem to take the basic idea and run miles with it.

The point of mixing is to achieve an 'average' that will sound good on ANYTHING. With that in mind it pays to check your mix on as many playback systems as practical. But mixing needs a primary monitoring system that tells you as much as possible to achieve that - any 'grot' system on its own will not perform that role.

I have an Avantone speaker, and I find it useful for highlighting mid-range clutter and resonances, as well as telling me how my mono compatibility is holding up. It's a useful tool. I also have a scratchy little portable speaker that will give me a good clue as to how my mix is going to sound on a laptop or cheap Bluetooth speaker.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12447
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:11 pm

Blinddrew mentioned that there is a lot of mono listening going on. Could you elaborate a bit? I mostly listen in the car, the tv, ipad and the computer - all stereo. Were you thinking about the kids who only have one earbud in as they listen?

Curious what I’m not considering as I usually take the attitude of the heck with checking in mono, if some effects or instruments almost disappear then, tough luck. I’ve also noticed that mono seems to cry out for more reverb than stereo. A few times I’ve almost bought an Avantone but I’ve found the extreme low level test seems to work well for me in stereo instead.
User avatar
ManFromGlass
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2124
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:00 am
Location: In the woods in Canada
 

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:35 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Blinddrew mentioned that there is a lot of mono listening going on. ..... Were you thinking about the kids who only have one earbud in as they listen?

Mono compatibility only applies if the the playback is summed to mono which is not the case with 'earbud sharing teens'

There are still mono playback devices like those little Bluetooth speakers and my Pure DAB radio, and while most Smartphones have two speakers what they reproduce is far from stereo, laptops likewise.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9899
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby CS70 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:51 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Blinddrew mentioned that there is a lot of mono listening going on. Could you elaborate a bit? I mostly listen in the car, the tv, ipad and the computer - all stereo. Were you thinking about the kids who only have one earbud in as they listen?

Curious what I’m not considering as I usually take the attitude of the heck with checking in mono, if some effects or instruments almost disappear then, tough luck. I’ve also noticed that mono seems to cry out for more reverb than stereo. A few times I’ve almost bought an Avantone but I’ve found the extreme low level test seems to work well for me in stereo instead.

There's all from Tivoli radios to single phone speakers to wireless speakers or small portable ones, PAs depending on the set up, FM radio when the signal isn't strong, plus better encoding to lossy formats. Of course testing for mono compatibility is less critical the less stereo your mix is. So with a crackin' rock song which has drums overheads as main stereo components, you'll be fine in mono - but you may want to tweak things a little the centre to keep things balanced. Whereas a synth epic based on wonderful stereo patches will come out seriously brexited.

That said, even more important is to check how your mix sounds on heavily band passed systems - such as a phone speakers - which may well start reproducing from 300Hz and roll down already at 10K. Your mix won't sound the same at all - it's impossible - but you'll want it to sound good, i.e. somewhat preserve the balance that you decided upon.

When it comes to reverb - a lot depends on which type of reverb you use - if it's a stereo one, yes :) But mono reverbs are very useful if your style is "realistic" and most good reverberation feel is actually given by short delays, and all that tend to keep well in mono systems without big changes.
User avatar
CS70
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Zukan » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:29 pm

I'm using just the one..
User avatar
Zukan
Moderator
Posts: 7865
Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby The Elf » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:03 pm

Mono isn't going away any time soon; in fact it seems to be on the ascendancy. For most of the population, those depressingly awful mono Bluetooth speakers are considered 'good enough for me', and sell in huge numbers. Watch the 'The Gadget Show' some time to hear sane people waxing lyrical over scratchy 3-inch mono speakers...

With this in mind I consider mono checks as important as any other aspect of delivering a commercially acceptable mix.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12447
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:32 pm

jaminem wrote:so its used not for its tonality as much as its reveaing midrange focus and ability to judge levels without distraction...

Spot on jaminem - sometimes quality near or mid field monitors can be sound flattering on almost ANY source material, but if you listen on a single 'full range' loudspeaker with sealed enclosure (for smooth bass end roll off rather then hyped bass reflex port bass) then you can more easily pick out the basic mix elements and how they will transfer to less impressive playback systems.

Inevitably, if your mix sounds good on an Auratone/Avantone, then it will sound significanly better through your main loudspeakers, but not the other way round ;)


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 14013
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:56 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Blinddrew mentioned that there is a lot of mono listening going on. Could you elaborate a bit?
I think the others have covered it! :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7593
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:12 pm

:D I'm so pleased and proud to be reading all this shared wisdom. My work here is done! :lol:
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 24038
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:29 pm

Take a bow! :D
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7593
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:23 am

But be careful not to shoot somebody :bouncy:
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9899
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby Urthlupe » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:40 am

Zukan wrote:I'm using just the one..

I know.... :D

As an official old bugger I am ancient enough to have owned the originals.... my god they were crap - for all the world seeming to be made of cardboard... but bizarrely endearing - hooked up to a NAD hifi amp. I must have slung them at some point in the early eighties - replaced with LS35a’s IIRC.

I seem to remember most of us using pairs come to think of it. Must say I find these little yellow devils are a different ballgame.

Loopy
Urthlupe
Regular
Posts: 490
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2002 12:00 am
Location: West Midlands, UK

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:53 pm

I humbly stand here much enlightened. I will reconsider a single Mixcube.

There is an interesting thread on the Canadian composers guild about mixing for cellphones including suggestions of where to get cellphone impulse responses to plug into the mix bus of your DAW, as well as links to other in the box solutions so one does not have to transmit the files to one’s car radio or even cellphone for a listen. I can repost any links if there is interest here.

Much grumbling by the older composers of the concept of mixing for cellphone quality. :headbang:
User avatar
ManFromGlass
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2124
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:00 am
Location: In the woods in Canada
 

Re: Avantone MixCube - which is preferable, Mono (1 cube) or Stereo (a pair)?

Postby CS70 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:04 pm

Well keep in mind you don’t mix for the phone, just so that it sounds good there as well.

And as of a car, it’s pretty fun to blast music out and hear how it works.. only don’t do it with your girlfriend on the other seat.. a month ago I had a temp mix and let’s just say the bass was not controlled, the phone connected automatically via Bluetooth and started playing it.. it wasn’t pretty! :-D
User avatar
CS70
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users