Before ponying up for room treatment, monitors and subs (not in the cards at the moment) are there some headphones you swear by? Good “budget” headphones hopefully!
Realistically speaking, no, I’ve never encountered headphones that gave good enough sound to mix on that gave me great results. Fair results but that’s about it. There is one person in all my years who’s done well with cans…and thats Boz. I don’t know what he uses, but he’s always had good mixes and used to use headphones. So maybe he’ll chime in. But for me, nothing has come close to mixes I get using my monitors. And I’ve tried to compete…no comparison for me.
So you’re basically saying: unless you spend the $$ on room treatment and top notch equipment, you won’t be able to really “hear” so don’t even bother trying, you’re wasting your time… That’s depressing.
I didn’t say top notch equipment, but nothing consumer based is going to get you professional sound. You can’t make the right calls if you can’t hear the right stuff. Now, I’m just explaining my personal experience. And honest when I tell you, even with decent gear, I struggled. Studios with pro sound sound pro because of the gear, engineer experience and most of all, their listening environment. I can’t think of one person with budget consumer gear that has impressed me with their production. Again, I’m not attempting to say I’m a great engineer that needs to be impressed. I’m merely saying I struggled with decent stuff and have heard nothing but failure from those with gear lower in the food chain than mine. I’ve heard fair to mediocre demo type stuff, but nothing that would even rival a decent studio.
You have to understand, consumer gear is cheap for a reason. A $100 Behringer interface is not ever going to sound like an Apollo. Why? Components, AD/DA converters, quality, the list goes on and on. You mentioned good budget headphones. Again there’s that word “budget”. In this field you get what you pay for. However, that doesn’t mean thousands upon thousands of dollars. But I’d not even consider headphones as most pro mixes do not happen on cans. Do you want pro sound or demo quality? Remember, in today’s times if you try to shop a deal, record labels want it done. Budgets for recording are mostly a thing of the past. You must impress to the fullest extent or hope you are so talented you go viral on YouTube. I’ll give you an example of pretty good gear that is more than reasonable.
A friend came to me and told me he wanted to build a home studio. I got him a killer rig for under $2000. To me that’s chump change compared to what I spent. It’s a very small price to pay to remove your world of grief in a field you love that you spend hours and hours trying to enjoy while in reality, you’re so frustrated you walk away saying “why do I bother?”. Here’s what I made him get.
JBL mkII 8 inch monitors for $249 each $498
JBL 10 sub to go with it $499
Presonus AR12 mixer/usb interface. Good converters, 0 latency, 24/192 capable. $499
IK Multimedia ARC monitor correction. $199
He sent auralex his room dimensions and I believe his cost was $225 for what he needed.
Save your money, get the right stuff, and don’t procrastinate or buy cheap stuff hoping you’ll find a winner. If I got back all the money I’ve spent trying to.cut corners, I could have owned what I have now at least two times. If you love this field and consider it a serious hobby, get some serious gear so you can really enjoy it. Or, continue to struggle while falling short of demo quality with the unrealistic notion that you just may buy something for $100 that will solve your mixing woes. Sorry if any of that sounds harsh, but for ME, that was MY harsh reality. The day I stopped being cheap and bit the bullet was the day I not only changed the sound of my production, but I opened a business so others could benefit from my production. Everyone is different. This is just my story and experience.
Thanks for taking the time to write that up. You wrote up something similar on another thread a little while ago which I’ve lost track of. But yeah, this is a perfectly solid observation.
I think being “fresh” into whatever world or perception it is, is important…
Cue to the video of me driving a coastguard yacht at 25 knots into the sun, suddenly becoming aware of two geezers in a small dingy waving arms, 50 meters ahead.
Do I pull the throttle, make dead in the water?
Do I make a 25-degree turn, alerting the officers below?
A slight five-degree turn to starboard, hiding behind my sunglasses, looking straight ahead.
(I did look at the wash to ensure I hadn’t flipped them…)
Absolute beginner and non professional here. I will have to agree with what’s being said here. My set up is proudly amateur, but it’s built for hobby level audio and I think I get fantastic results. As far as my YouTube channel (made for my school students) goes, I find the audio quality on this channel far superior to almost every other channel I watch. But could I compare it to radio / tv quality sound? Certainly not. It’s something I aspire to, but I’m not going to get there with my current setup.
But when I compare what I do to the pros? It’s night and day. And so it should be. I haven’t got the experience, or the ears and for sure I don’t have the mics and monitors that can make the difference. My room is treated quite well, and that helped a whole lot in getting rid of crazy frequencies that were plagueing me.
It reminds me of my school administration. Whenever we buy new IT equipment, cost is the first consideration. I’m always sitting there arguing about quality, life expectancy of the equipment - basically making the case that cheaper is good in the very short term, but will always fall short compared to quality gear. That battle I lose regularly.
But if at some point in my life I end up going down the serious road of trying to mix audio, I will have to invest heavily in new tools. There’s an old saying in computing - GiGa - Garbage in, Garbage out!
This is a great point too.
I’ll just add that, with real budget constraints and a beginner myself, I have plenty to learn while I grow into better equipment. In one sense, being a hobbyist is freeing, because there’s not somebody always breathing down your neck and you’re not continually scrambling for the next client. when I have time, I disappear down to the basement for a fews hours. My wife calls it my happy place.
Back to your original post, for me, in order to avoid ear fatigue, I listen at low levels and mix as quickly as my abilities allow and try not to dwell on making decisions. Mixing quickly has a couple of advantages, you don’t get sick of the song and obviously, yo have less time to fatigue your ears. I also split my sessions up into “set up” (time consuming) and then mixing. However, I freely admit to often slipping into the mixing phase after/during set up. Mixing is the fun part!
So true and what we in the audio field say as well. See now, the other side of the coin, which we learned about on the last site with Brandon, there is also a lot of smoke, mirrors and over blown hype in this field. I think some hardware pre amps, mics, software and a lot of things people buy into, they feel the need to justify what they spent on something. Pricey isn’t always the best. We found that out in the shoot outs we’ve had and you can really hear some other good ones at sweetwater.com. Quite a few times I’ve not been able to tell a difference.
But all of the above said, certain things you want to stay away from because they will actually make you struggle more. Case in point, I got a friend with a Behringer $100 interface, Samson monitors, no sub, no correction on the monitors or the room…and he’s been fighting why his mixes aren’t very good for oh, more than 10 years now.
He’s the same guy as most of us…a hobby guy that puts in the time and is serious about it. He doesn’t want to open a studio, he just wants his songs to sound pro. I’ve told him numerous times what to do, and then he asked me about headphones and the Sonar works headphone plug. It’s like he’s just beating a dead horse, will never get what he’s after, will suffer from ear fatigue as well as frustration and he may even say screw it and not spend as much time doing this stuff. That’s what happened to me. I seriously was ready to give up. Improving our setup in the right areas is all it takes to succeed really.
The stuff we have available today at the prices they are charging is quite amazing. My buddy I spoke about with the JBL monitors and the Presonus mixer, I went over there yesterday to troubleshoot a driver issue he was having with his laptop and his live interface. He played me some stuff he recorded and it sounded great! He said he heard things so much better, he feels like he had an ear operation and got new ears. Lol!
Did another studio recommendation and install for another friend. He got the little Midas console, Rokit 6’s, the sub, ARC and some room correction and his stuff is also sounding amazing. You notice I.keep saying a sub in everything all the time. Contrary to what people try to tell you to where they say “in small rooms it’s not needed” I just want to say I completely disagree. Most nearfield monitors claim they can go down to the low sub area…and they can if you push those frequencies hard enough. But you won’t hear them when they are present in small doses. Add a sub and you will.
9 out of 10 times, low end decisions are what plague today’s home recording guys. This leads to serious ear fatigue due to the amount of time spent on bass. Besides not having the right gear and sub to allow us to hear bass correctly, this now brings the “do I turn up the bass fader, or do I turn up the bass frequency I’m accentuating” argument. Fight with that all the time and you just added 500 more listens to that ear fatigue. Add frequency masking issues and we probably just added 500 more listens to our ear fatigue as well as our own mental fatigue
See all this stuff walks hand in hand and it’s why I’m trying so hard to make the point stick with everyone. When you have the right stuff, you listen less. You don’t second guess. People call on you to listen to their stuff because your gear tells it like it is. I do mix consultations for people. I can write up a 4-6 page consultation in 1 or 2 listens because the gear just tells the story…as it should without ever clouding what you hear or the decisions you have to make.
Good gear set up right so you hear correctly
The knowledge needed to make the right calls
Way less ear fatigue, mental fatigue, frustration and the will to press on. You’re actually rewarded with the sound of something great everywhere you play it.
I think this is something I need to be aware of - my methodology is / was haphazard and I’ve started to put different hats on during recording / mixing.
Ultimately you must have the abiity to discern what is right/wrong with what you are hearing. If you can’t do that, then you will be forever guessing. I don’t know exactly how much of that can be learned, or whether it’s an innate ability that can’t really be learned - but it’s certainly a necessity in my view.
I wouldn’t flat out disagree with what Danny is saying - in fact I agree with most of what he says, but I do think that the right headphones can do an admirable job. Like Danny I make a living from this, I have no problem mixing and/or mastering on cans. i would even go so far as to say that in some respects cans are a better option. You just have to be a bit careful with the bottom end. Even if you can hear the bass stuff very well in your cans, it’s always going to sound diffrent through speakers, because of the air that bass frequencies move, and you need to be aware of this fact throughout the process when you are using cans.
Actually, I agree with Danny in as much as Danny is concerned. I have a student into mixing, who has no treatment in his room, used M-Audio monitors, a sub set way too loud (according to me) and his mixes (of EDM) are some of the best I’ve ever heard. But the boy is talented. God only knows what he’d do in a professional grade studio!
I started this hobby a few years ago. I’m not ashamed to say that I had zero clue what I was doing. My first setup used bookshelf speakers and an old Kenwood Amp from the 80’s! Seriously! The one thing I’ve learned (and actually been happy to learn) is the hugeness difference between playing and recording and mixing. I’m actually humbled when I realise that mixing isn’t something you can pick up in an evening session of watching The Recording Revolution! It’s an art form that unlike other forms of art, the majority of people listening could not actually tell you why they like a piece of music that you’ve mixed.
What I will take away from this wonderful thread, and Danny’s phenomenal breakdown of his method is that you have to have a system. His system involved equipment choices and a realisation that his results could only improve with that equipment.
I have no plans to earn a living from this hobby (but who knows?). I used to paint when I was younger (oil paints) and I used to use the standard acrylic brushes from Woolworths. Cheap, but they did the job. Then an art shop opened nearby, and the shopkeeper recommended sable brushes. They cost 10 times the price of an acrylic brush. That first purchase hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I was spending more on a single brush than all my others put together. But my word, when I got home and tried that brush out it was a new world. But I vividly remember that using the sable brush was a gift and a curse. I could now blend colours smoothly, but that only revealed my lack of knowledge in painting!
I guess this long rambling post is trying to convey a few things. I’ve spent the past year really studying the sound of my room. I’ve DIY’d bass traps, tweaked the placements of my speakers, bought various gear that all help me hear music the way it was recorded. I religiously listen to music in this room, trying to breakdown tracks to their element sounds. And I am getting there. Slowly but surely. And as Danny said, the ability to hear things and act on them quickly will reduce / eliminate ear fatigue. I used to listen to the same section 100 times just to sort out the bass drum and bass clashes. I can do that in couple of listens now. I’m making choices faster and more deliberately.
If by some miracle my profession changes and I end up in audio production, my choices of equipment, habits of mixing and approaches to the art form would have to change accordingly too.
My sincere thanks to Danny - not only for the great advice but also to put his views out there without apology and treating an amateur like me with mutual respect - that really doesn’t happen on other audio forums!
You’re very welcome. I’m glad you got something out of it. As far as headphones go, if anyone can make great mixes happen with them, by all means go for it. I haven’t been able to do anything worth bragging about. Decent mixes yeah but nothing compared to what I get with the monitors. I’ve got AKG mk II, AKG studio and 240DF models, Sennheiser HD 280, and Sony MDR 7506. I can’t get anything I’m happy with using them for full blown mixes. Maybe they aren’t good enough.
Madpsychot, did you find you had to learn your room and your monitors after all your corrections were made? That’s one thing I didn’t have to do. I could just hear without having to train myself. In the past, I’d hear something and know it was wrong and I’d have to compensate. Example…
If I mixed on cans or ns10’s with no sub, in my room, I never had enough bass. So of course I mixed until it sounded right. Out to the car with a CD and man, loaded with bass and mud. So I had to try to figure out how to compensate in my room. It was just an impossible, losing battle. I did better with cans and even there, I still fell short.
As soon as I put in the new gear and tuned it all up, I just knew it was right. No compensating, no.second guessing and instant satisfaction. Anyone that comes here and listens to things can hear everything in seconds. I don’t have a super elaborate setup anymore because I found that I didn’t really need it. I switch out monitors once in a while for a change (I have Genelec, Event and JBL also) but for the most part I stick with my Adam A7, NS10, an Adam sub 8, and these freak of nature Logitech speakers with a sub I bought just for a consumer listening experience. I used ARC on them and they sound so right, I use them quite a bit now. I work for a guy once in a while that has a 3 million dollar facility in Philly. He literally sends me stuff and stops over here to reference stuff because it sounds so good. For all the bad luck and gear purchases over the years that went bad for me, I’m glad I got lucky on something. Lol!
Most of my recording is voice, and then when I have time I write and mix my own music. I kind of did it weirdly, in that I was compensating for a thin tinny voice, by boosting the low mids and some lows - I was going for that “Jazz FM” voice. But when I would watch my videos on my TV (which has a great amp and beautiful speakers) all I heard was bass and boom. I mean a ridiculous amount of boom.
One day, as I was playing back some voice recordings, I reached down on the floor to grab something and immediately noticed that the bass in my voice was way to high. When I got back to my seated position, the bass was fine. I’d found a node in the 50 - 150Hz range! I didn’t even know that it was a thing. So, I started playing sine waves and just moving my head around, and then walking around the room.
I then built 8 large-ish broadband absorbers from rock wool, and the difference was night and day. There are still nodes and problems in the room, but from where I sit I can listen with confidence to mixes.
To answer your question, before the corrections I felt like was was constantly learning the sound of the room and the monitors. I had kind of accepted that this is the way that everybody does it. After the correction, it was like my ears had woken up. I can hear things in music I’ve listened to for 30 years, and still pick out things I’d never heard before. This makes using reference tracks a pleasure now, because I’m doing it with confidence in what I’m hearing, and then later what I’m recording.
Now comes the hard part for me, which is actually learning the art itself!
Thanks for sharing that and the other stuff before it. Yeah, what you said up there ^ is sort of what everyone thinks. I have this one friend of mine that is just hell bent on believing he has to master the sound of his room. Granted, in some situations, this very well may be the case. I’m not discounting it. Again, I only speak from my own experience with things and never begrudge anyone on their methods or how they achieve what they consider “acceptable”. But to me, if you have to learn a room, you’re compensating.
When I’ve mixed in crap rooms, I’ve done so just using my own monitors and ARC. At close range, in my listeners triangle, I don’t have issues with the room. As much as we rely on room correction etc, I can tell you, in my experience it’s never been an issue as much as NOT eq-ing my monitors for flat response. That is the biggest issue everyone that hasn’t corrected their monitors is facing. You can spend 10k on monitors…it doesn’t guarantee they make you mix better. Eq them for flat response and add in a little know how, and your whole world changes.
It’s really more simplistic than people lead you to believe. I’ve debunked enough myths in my time as well as silenced many a high and mighty know-it-all assholes (or 100) that love to come on forums like this trying to fool you with their tech talk, big words, loads of links that will send you reading in circles, their pre-amps that cost more than you will ever be able to afford and their attitude of just trying to intimidate people. There is no dark art to any of this stuff, I assure you.
Do some people have a few magic tricks up their sleeves? Absolutely. But there are quite a few that will lead you to believe this stuff requires a totally different approach, when in reality, they usually don’t back it up, or when they try, it’s quite laughable. They want to see you and others that may be less experienced than you, fail. They like ruling the forum roost and get upset when people that have a real clue get on here and tell it like it is while showing real examples. So never buy into the BS or the hype. Thankfully we don’t see that on this forum and it’s a cool place where knowledgeable people really want to help others and everybody wants to help everybody. We’re quite blessed to have this place.
Two words for you since you already have the treated room with good sound. “Sound identification”. That’s the learning part man. Knowing what makes up a good, presentable sound that is good for recording. It takes a bit of time, but that’s really the hardest part and here’s why.
I can drop you 5 mixes that I’m working on that have nothing on them. They stand on their own without any effects at all. Not even eq. This right here is where everyone needs to be. You don’t need all these goofy plugins, distressors, hardware, loads of compression, effects with GUI’s that you can’t even comprehend etc. (Brainworx…are they serious with some of that stuff? LOL! I do use a few of their plugs…but seriously, overkill.)
A lot of it is smoke and mirrors to get you to buy stuff that really won’t make as great as a difference as they lead you to believe. Some of it though, can give you cool coloration. BUT…if your sounds suck, you just colored poo. No matter what color, it’s poo. If you get all your sounds right, the mix takes care of itself. When I mix really deep with my own stuff, I add a little compression on things just to keep them tight…parallel comp my drums because I like that sound for the stuff I’m doing, a few special effects like verb, delay and a few stereo imagers and I’m done.
The eq-ing I do these days is very minimal because I did all the work there in the sound creation. My style is hard rock/metal. My guitar sounds aren’t loaded with bass like most metal heads. They don’t understand that their huge “all alone sound” will not always work in a mix with other instruments. They need to peel back the effects, lose the lows at 80hz and below with a steep Q (or higher depending on the sound) and lower the gain in their amp. That stuff kills a mix in seconds for that style.
Bass has less low end than you think. It gets in the way because people think it’s supposed to have lots of low frequencies in it. What they fail to realize is, if their monitors were giving them the right stuff, they’d hear that a good bass into a good rig or created sound, has all the right stuff without adding in sub low end that muds up your mix or fights your kick drum. The sum of bass and kick equals the overall low end of the song. This is so important yet never gets much discussion.
So for me, because I’m already dialed in and know what a good sound consists of, my eq is usually high pass to remove any extra low end that may have slipped by during the sound creation phase, low pass to control any sibilant highs or air highs that may be present, and then I decide what bass frequencies to accentuate as well as how I want to shape my mids on everything. But on certain things, I don’t touch mids because like I said, I did the work on the sound or I wouldn’t have printed it. Don’t just raise or lower something because someone said you should always lower that frequency. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ripped into people for that one. It’s like “always take out 320 man”. Yeah, but what if the sound is lacking in that area and needs a little 320? Idiot! LOL! Each sound is its own entity. Always treat it that way. There are no eq starting points as each sound is totally different.
From doing this 100 years, I just know when something will work and when it won’t. The worst thing you want to do is take that whole “we’ll fix it in the mix” attitude. Sometimes you get lucky and polish a turd. Other times, you can waste hours on something that just isn’t right for the song. Knowing this ahead of time not only speeds up your mixing session, it stops…yep, exactly what we’re talking about here…ear fatigue!
So, the moral to my long novel here is…when you actually try and learn things you feel you need to learn, make sure they are the RIGHT things and let them be from someone who is not only credible, but leads by example. If you do what I’m saying here and learn sound identification and then create sounds that are golden, you win every time without having to mix yourself into oblivion.
I’m with you there brother - before my treatment, I either had booming bass, or no bass. My experience was so little that I was practically just ignoring the mids and creating these scooped mixes - all bass and highs, and nothing in the middle. After the corrections, those mixes sounded offensive to my ears. That’s when I EQ’d my monitors, fixed their position in my room, took care of the obvious first reflections that were messing with my highs. For me the eye opener was listing to Steely Dan. Listening on a set of headphones, you can hear the beautiful mixes that they created, especially in my favourite “Peg”. After treating my room, I could hear that clarity through my monitors. I think I’m really proud of the effort I put into that treatment.
I have a buddy down the road here, with a great setup, but an odd shaped room. He insists that he will learn the sound of his room, to which my thought is you’ll never learn what’s wrong or right with a room if you’re constantly compensating for the dead spots, the reflections, and all the other problems in his room.
This is where I am now. I’ll admit, I was a rapid recorder. Record it and fix it in the mix. EQ the low end out of the guitar, refine the bass which was recorded sounding like a bucket of mud. Since Apple Logic was updated a little while ago, and their stock plugins became much better (in my opinion), I have stripped down my template. Gone are the 150 reverbs, delays, wideners, imagers. I did a little research into 70’s recordings, (my holy grail of sound for a band) and realised just how much effort went into dialling in the sounds coming into the tape, and almost how little was done to the sounds (in general) during mixing.
As I record everything direct into the box, I am now working really hard in getting sounds that are usable with minimum post recording. I’m still very much on the upward curve of learning, but what I am getting better at is listening to a great song (Led Zeppelin for example) and knowing exactly which pedal, amp and settings Jimmy Page could be using for that song. I’m not there by a long shot, but I’m not going into it blind anymore.
This made me laugh - and guilty as charged! I was cutting and boosting according to a cheat sheet. Roll off everything under 40Hz, boost 6K by 1.5db, cut the low mids. That was a hard lesson, because I thought the cheat sheet was a short cut to good mixes. I couldn’t imagine telling a painter to use specific colours in specific places as a cheat sheet approach to painting. But we accept in mixing from the “experts”
One lesson I learned last year, while “listening” to mixes (as opposed to just listening to music) was the variation in sounds different bands can have. Some separate out their instruments so that they sound like they are in the room with you. Some mush their sounds together so it sounds like they’re in a stadium. Some push their vocals into your face. Some bury them under layers of guitars and synths. I love the variety. It’s taught me that a “standard cheat sheet” approach will produce predictable and bland mixes. You only have to listen to a Beatles album to realise how many approaches there are to mixing songs.
That’s where I’m heading. The friend I mentioned before is shocked when he sees my workflow for recording. My sounds are set to go, my template is loaded, I hit record, record 2 or 3 takes, press stop. I am spending a lot of time to get my sounds not just usable, but sounding phenomenal as they are recorded. Still a ways to go, but definitely heading in the direction I want to be heading in.
Seems like you’re headed down the perfect road. Do keep us posted on your progress. I’m actually excited for you. It’s a breath of fresh air to talk to guys like you all the while knowing that you’re already pointed in the right direction. Honest when I tell you, remember this conversation when you start really getting into this stuff. You’ll see it will be exactly as I said.
One thing to think about though. Now that I know you’re a classic rock guy, there are definitely some thing to consider when trying to get those sounds authentic. All the stuff I sort of told you I was against, you know…special mic pre’s, plugins etc…well…lol…they really help with this style of music.
Basically, you’re dirtying your tracks up in a musical way. For stuff like this, I love the UAD plugs as they seem to simulate all the gear that gave classic rock that sound. The tape machines from UAD especially. I have a few others from Waves and someone else…but nothing in my opinion, tops the UAD processing plugs. Tape machines, compressors etc. Some of their stuff is hype and fluff, but I’ve compiled a list of the stuff that truly makes a difference for the better from them.
The only issue with the classic rock sound is, if by chance you are ever going to shop anything anywhere (you never know) the sound instantly dates you. I’m also a classic rock guy, but at 51, I can tell you I’m just a little tired of hearing the same old songs since the late 60’s and 70’s. Granted, I love the stuff and appreciate it. But I’m trying my best to change with the times and sort of create my own sound based on what I like from the past as well as the present.
I grew up on all the great classic rock bands you probably know and love. But for me, the big change came in the 80’s when production and guitar players seemed to take over. Yeah it was over kill on so many fronts and we had our share of dudes that looked like chic’s that were better looking than their song writing abilities…lol…but, that was my time. By the time I had sort of learned how to produce that style, it was the year 2000. LMAO!
So these days, I like to write songs with a sort of “take you back” with the hook or maybe even the arrangement, but I’m going for the “today” type of sound. My biggest issues are, I love vocal harmonies…whisper tracks, stacked vocals and guitar solo’s. As soon as you do that stuff with any sort of discipline, you’re dated. The object today is to do what you do while leaving dirt under your nails. Like, in my day, sloppy was sloppy. You didn’t solo if you couldn’t play in key. Today, it’s acceptable to NOT play like Steve Vai…which is a good thing. I think we should have people expressing their art in whatever way they see fit. But I also don’t think any of us should be considered dated or “labeled” when something is just plain good.
So yeah, if you want the classic rock sounds, there are a few things you’ll need to grab in order to sort of warm up your sounds. That’s basically how that sound works. No bass under 70 Hz, no highs above 8-10k, more mids than today, and slightly degraded (in a colorful way) audio that has a little character due to the pre amps used or the plugins that place you in the realm. As long as you’re happy with your results, that’s all that matters. Great talking to you brother, looking forward to hearing about your progress.
Thanks for your professional advice here Danny. Your story of how a decent set of monitors (and sub) really made a difference is helping me to go and search for some serious funds…
I think I’m at a similar place your friend was in. I even have Samson (Rubicon) monitors. But I do have a treated room. Even so, the Samsons only have 5 inch woofers, so I have a lot of trouble guessing the lows - as you predicted. I have found a work around. I have a reasonably good set of cans ( AKG 702) and a cheapo set ( Devine Pro). The latter I only use for recording and they sound pretty bad compared to the AKG’s (not much highs). BUT, I found out they can go low, all the way to about 30 Hz. Probably not very accurately, but I do hear things I don’t hear otherwise. So lately I’ve been using them to check the bass/ kick in the low end. It’s better than nothing, but still not very good. I won’t be able to spend money on both a sub and new monitors. I was thinking along similar lines as the advice you gave your friend. I’m looking out for second hand JBL’s. Do you think just buying a sub would do the trick (maybe untill I have enough for the monitors)? And if so, would it make a lot of difference which sub you buy? Do they need to be the same brand as the monitors? Is there a lot of difference between subs?
You’re very welcome! If you’re on a budget and can’t get everything in one shot, here’s what I would do. Just about any decent sub will work as long as it has frequency control. You want to have the ability to adjust the sub low end that you need for your particular room. I’d suggest either the Adam sub 8, the Rokkit 10 or the JBL10 my bud just got. Something in those price ranges would be ideal for you. The next necessity is ARC monitor correction software or something comparable. You plug your Samson’s into your sub, your sub into your interface or mixer etc, and then correct them for flat with ARC. I endorse ARC because it truly works and is part of the reason I’m in business and have constant traffic in my business. Trust me, as soon as you can hear the right stuff, your world changes.
You figure, even as a serious hobbyist, you may spend 3 hours a night or more per how nights you do it. You should enjoy it stress free without second guessing and creating numerous cds that you make for reference that sound terrible in your car. I used to have this tree in the woods on my road to work every day before I got good gear and room.correction. I’d attempt to hit it with a flying Frisbee CD. Lol! This went on for years until it dawned on me that I was littering. Fixed my room and decided to go visit the tree. Hundreds of cds all over…it was quite pathetic. Yes I picked them all up.
We should enjoy every second of this field. You really don’t need super pro gear. Just good stuff, flat response monitors, a sub and a little know how. Even with limited knowledge, you should be able to.record a song with no processing or effects that can stand on its own. I have a student doing that right now. He has decent stuff, can play every instrument like a maniac but knows nothing about recording. He arms his tracks, presses record with good sounds he created, and he’s at better than demo quality coming out of the gate. So spend the money…wje4n you see and hear the difference it makes you’ll know it was money well spent.
That’s a great story! I could almost see it as part of a movie script: “The long and winding road to radio readiness”. With cd’s sticking in the bark. Did any of yours get burried in the tree?
I have a slightly easier procedure: I download the Mp3 file on my cell Phone and plug it in to my aux in the car.