You are here

Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

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

Moderator: Moderators

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby Heavy Metal » Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:49 pm

Thanks very much for all the answers lads.

I understand now re mixing on mass market Hi Fi speakers.

Practically I'm not going to be able to treat the room. Half of the walls are glass and there's a view thats needing to be seen.

Any advice on actual headphones that are worth buying if my KRKs are not up to the job?

Merci bien :headbang:
Heavy Metal
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:24 pm

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby blinddrew » Sun Mar 07, 2021 1:51 am

AKG K702 / 712 are very highly recommended round here. Personally I like them and the Beyerdynamic DT990.
For mixing the thing to look for is open-back designs (as opposed to closed back, which are better for recording).
Obviously you can spend a lot more but you're into the law of diminishing returns in terms of their ability to let you make a decent mix.
Might be worth looking at something like Sonarworks reference (for headphones) as well.
And personally, I'd always like to have a small set of monitors to check things like panning and reverb on, even in an untreated room it can add value. Someone mentioned the iLouds further up the thread, personally I was very impressed by the Adam T5V.
Start with a decent set of open-back headphones though because they will always be a useful studio tool. :thumbup:
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14446
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby mac.churchmouse » Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:49 am

I find my AKG 712s (open backed) with the generic Sonarworks correction to be very effective.

I was actually quite surprised what a difference the correction made - flattened a strongish tendancy to a scooped mid range, and seemed to tighten the bass up as well. I say 'seemed' because I'm not sure why it should alter the time domain.
But what ever, I find the resulting headphone mixes translate as well as my skill allows.
mac.churchmouse
Regular
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:00 am
Location: Aotearoa/UK/Australia

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby Mike Senior » Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:09 am

Hello there, Mr Metal!

Heavy Metal wrote:But after reading a reply by Mike Senior to someone about monitoring in an untreated room I'm wondering if its worth getting monitors? I have about £1000 to spend. Better to spend on better headphones?

Hugh's already beaten me to saying 'yes' there! :) What I would add is that within that budget you could also probably afford a single mono midrange speaker (something like the Avantone Mixcube), which would give you a lot of additional mixing power beyond the headphones, and that kind of speaker still provides a lot of useful information even in untreated rooms, in my experience.

As a slight aside, you might also find this recent Mix Rescue article useful, where I actually mixed a band's record in the drummer's untreated living room. Has a few tips in there that might help you get more dependable results.
User avatar
Mike Senior
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1083
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Cambridge, UK
If you liked my recent SOS podcasts, then check out my latest tutorial show 'Multitrack Heroes', a six-part mixing tips series with almost 200 audio examples!

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby The Elf » Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:25 am

...and personally I'd avoid Sonarworks - just to make it clear that it's not a given that we are all fans! ;)
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16674
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Mar 07, 2021 11:49 am

The Elf wrote:...and personally I'd avoid Sonarworks - just to make it clear that it's not a given that we are all fans! ;)

+1
Mike Stranks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 8199
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 1:00 am

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby CS70 » Sun Mar 07, 2021 12:08 pm

mac.churchmouse wrote:I was actually quite surprised what a difference the correction made

Hehe, any strong EQ curve on the master bus will make a huge difference to what you hear.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7821
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby george_vel » Sun Mar 07, 2021 2:39 pm

The Elf wrote:...and personally I'd avoid Sonarworks - just to make it clear that it's not a given that we are all fans! ;)

Ok, but why?
Isn’t it ok to measure what are the dips and peaks in the listening position and correct them for mixing / mastering?
Of course, the correction should be excluded from the final version.
Or do you think it will make more harm than help?
george_vel
Regular
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2018 4:03 pm
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby blinddrew » Sun Mar 07, 2021 2:44 pm

I think there's an element here to how you work.
Personally, I'm always working on my computer, in my room, with my headphones etc. etc. etc. It's very unlikely that I'm going to be doing any critical work in an environment without sonarworks.
If you're The Elf, who's much more likely to be working in other locations and different studios, well, they might not have Sonarworks. So for him it's best not to rely on (or at least get used to) something in the monitoring chain that might suddenly be unavailable.
Far better to just learn his headphones really well and then he's got something he just plug in anywhere and get a 'known' response.

I think that's about it isn't it Mr Elf? :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14446
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby The Elf » Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:11 pm

george_vel wrote:Of course, the correction should be excluded from the final version.
This isn't an issue for me - I use Cubase's Control Room, so it would only be in my monitoring chain.

Drew has covered my feelings on this quite concisely. If I have to work away from my studio (which I am doing constantly in normal times!) then I would need to carry my Sonarworks 'prop' with me everywhere I go. I really don't see that as practical.

I also want the minimum of digital trickery going on between the audio and its arrival at my ears.

I *know* my headphones very intimately. I have invested several hundreds of hours (at least!) into knowing how they sound - and I know I can trust what I'm hearing. I was asked to give Sonarworks a run out when it was first released, and I could hear what it was doing, but I was then having to hear 'through' Sonarworks' idea of what my headphones 'should' sound like - when in reality I'm perfectly happy with how they sound right now.

My approach is to just get used to headphones and/or speakers as they are and learn what they are saying. No monitoring solution is perfect, so trying to turn one imperfect solution into another and then having to get used to that instead - and accept that it won't always be available to me - is really a non-starter.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16674
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby blinddrew » Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:15 pm

For me, the biggest advantage to using sonarworks is that it makes my headphones tonally very similar to my monitors - so I'm not tempted to reach for the EQ when swapping my listening devices.
And after a minor hiccup a couple of months ago I also now have sonarworks in my monitoring chain not my master one! :oops:

Anyway, there's the pros and cons, the decision, as they say, is yours. :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14446
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby CS70 » Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:21 pm

george_vel wrote:
The Elf wrote:...and personally I'd avoid Sonarworks - just to make it clear that it's not a given that we are all fans! ;)

Ok, but why?
Isn’t it ok to measure what are the dips and peaks in the listening position and correct them for mixing / mastering?
Of course, the correction should be excluded from the final version.
Or do you think it will make more harm than help?

Besides the practicalities (I too mix at two different places, at least used to :) ) there's imho also an element of "getting better". That's half of the fun of doing anything - professionally or otherwise.

Nowadays anyone can make music of great sonic quality without any significant budget in money terms (which is great of course!). But it's a potential, because the investment in time and skills is the same as it's always been. Perhaps harder, exactly because the first factor creates an expectation that if you just buy the right thing, you can buy yourself the skill.

There's so many crutches for anything in making music, that people seldom go thru the process of having an obvious problem, figuring out what is due to (which helps understand the bigger picture), finding a solution that they fully understand (or at least deeply enough) and deploy it, with the corresponding time and investment.

Instead you get that "what's the best vocal chain" or "what's the best microphone for rap" thing. :D

Now Sonarworks of course is far from the worst offender - it's a good tool and one of the many factors. In itself it's zero problems to use it.

But it is one of the crutches: if you can't replicate (or at least understand how you could replicate) its results without it, you lose a slew of opportunities to learn how to listen to a room, how to listen to a sound, how to compare mixes, how to set up a reference that you can trust and a myriad other small facts and details that will, aggregated, make you at ten times better mixing engineer.

The difference between mediocre and great is skill, not gear anymore (even if yeah, I do like the Chandler TG better than the NT2A :D). And to get to "great" (which imho is the only reason for be doing something, otherwise it's far better to sip caipirinhas in pleasant female company) you do yourself a favor if you drop the crutches, start crawling, then walking, and then you can run.

Obviously it's all a give and take: there's myriad things that need to be learnt, and if we use crutches for some of them it's all good - with the idea of getting rid of them eventually. Also, we certainly don't have to re-invent everything from scratch.. because some stuff it's just boring and doesn't give much learning at all (razor to tape? No thank you). But something as essential as equalization on the master bus (whatever form it takes).. well.

Which is why (besides the practicality) I like to learn my headphones and speakers, and also learn how things sound elsewhere. It all adds up.

That said, I am very pragmatic and if I have a job to do and my recording is a little noisy but have no time or interested in re-recording, I have zero problem in popping open XNoise, RX or anything that gets me where I want to be. But I will make a mental note that that aspect was a problem, and I will try to learn how to avoid it for the next time, which will have a lot of beneficial side-effects in my thinking of mic placement, gain structure, ambient noise reduction etc. If I used a transparent denoise plugin pre-placed on every track, I would learn nothing.

So it's perfectly ok to measure dip and valleys... if it's harmful or not depends on the big picture - how many other crutches you decide to use.

And incidentally, I've heard enough mixes made with Sonarworks which still suffered from translation or other issues, and were easy to fix.. if one had learnt how. :)
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7821
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby RichardT » Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:32 pm

I find Sonarworks very helpful. It’s one less thing to worry about!

As for phones - there are loads of good ones out there at reasonable prices, too many to count, but I would say, if you’re going to be using them to make music, then comfort is very important as well as sound quality. Also choose a pair that are easy to drive (check reviews).
RichardT
Frequent Poster
Posts: 825
Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:00 am
Location: London UK

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby Heavy Metal » Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:49 pm

Thanks very much lads for the replies - very helpful

Mike I bought your book :thumbup:

Just have to read it now :headbang:
Heavy Metal
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:24 pm

Re: Monitoring in a Probably Very Unsuitable Room

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Mar 08, 2021 4:02 am

blinddrew wrote:For me, the biggest advantage to using sonarworks is that it makes my headphones tonally very similar to my monitors - so I'm not tempted to reach for the EQ when swapping my listening devices.

This is a significant plus for me, as I regularly swap between loudspeakers and headphones while mixing to judge the difference in stereo imagery, and use individual Sonarworks presets for them both. As long as you have at least some acoustic treatment in your room/studio, Sonarworks also removes a significant amount of the room sound from your playback.

However, I also fully accept The Elf's argument that once you get used to the sound of a particular set of headphones you can use them to reliably produce translatable mixes. So it's very much a personal decision.


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 17465
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Previous