Should You Upgrade Your Monitors?
Todd Simpson
Mar 8 2020, 12:33 AM
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I get this question quite a bit. People start their journey in home recording with whatever gear they just happen to have. It's the way we all started out. We grab any gear we can get our hands on and put it together and BAM! We have our first home studio. Like everyone, I started out with gear and monitors that really were not great for recording/mixing. Some folks don't even start with monitors at all. They grab their ear buds from their cell phone and just start mixing! I must admit to having done this myself as well. I figured, everyone listens to ear buds, so if I could make something sound good on ear buds, it would probably sound good in general. It's not true of course,but it made sense to me at the time smile.gif

There are a few "CARDINAL SINS" of building a HOME STUDIO.

1.) DO NOT USE EAR BUDS AS YOUR PRIMARY MONITORS:

You can use them for checking a mix that is mostly done, but ear buds, no matter what they cost or who makes them are just a poor tool for mixing. Having said that, if you just can't afford a pair of monitors yet, you can and must use whatever tools you have until you can save up and buy new tools. So rather than just not recording/mixing, you must feel free to break the first rule until you can get a pair of real studio monitors.

2.)DO NOT USE HEADPHONES OF ANY KIND AS YOUR PRIMARY MONITORS

No matter how good your headphones are, headphones are a poor tool for mixing. It's not the same as using a pair of monitors as the stereo field is simply not the same as it would be using a pair of monitors. Also, getting a "FLAT" (not hyped in bass or treble) response from headphones is difficult. So just like ear buds, even high end head phones should not be used as your primary mixing tool. But, just like ear buds, if that is all you've got, you can break the second rule as well until you can save up and buy some monitors.

3.)DO NOT MIX IN AN "UNTREATED" ROOM:
Room "Treatment" involves learning a little bit about sound and then buying some acoustic panels and bass traps so that you can "treat" the rooms natural acoustics in order to prevent things like "Standing Waves" (resonant frequencies that lie to your ears) which can ruin your mix. Any term I've used so far that I put in QUOTES is worth a google search and watching a few videos. It's a long process to learn all of this stuff in addition to leaning how to play guitar. But it's worth it. It's a long process to be patient with yourself. Also, just like the first two rules, until you learn a bit about room treatment and save up some money to buy some bits, don't let that stop you from getting started recording/mixing.

4.)DON'T TRY TO DO ANY OF THIS WITHOUT HELP: Learning all of this is a huge investment in time and money. The good news is we have a GREAT community here with folks who can and will help you. Ask questions, listen to everything and absorb what is useful (as Bruce Lee used to say). Just like the first three rules, you will have to start somewhere, so DIVE IN!!! Use whatever you have on hand and start to research how to improve your home studio. We have some members who have really built amazing home studios here at GMC. Their experience and insight can save your mix!

So then. You've done some research, you've spent some money and you've bought some real "NEAR FIELD AUDIO MONITORS". Should you spend even more money to upgrade them? Well... YES!!!! Just like guitar, your home studio will change constantly as you learn more, spend more time and money on it etc. As they say "A Mix is only as good as the one doing the mixing and the mixing is only as good as the Monitors". The better your monitors, the better your mix can sound. So, it's always worth trying to look forward to your next set of monitors. The only real thing you must consider is PRICE. How much can you spend? The good news is, with companies like KALI AUDIO starting up, you can buy a really great pair of monitors for about $300 U.S. Which is amazing.

Also, don't sell your old monitors to buy your new ones if you can at all help it. You may have noticed how most pro studios have several pairs of monitors. They don't use them all at once. They use each pair to see how well a mix is going to "Translate" across different types of play back systems. So when you get a new pair of Monitors with 8 inch bass drivers, don't seel your old monitors with the 5 inch bass drivers. Instead, set it up where you can use both to see how a mix sounds on each.

To Wit..

Here is the angry man himself to talk about my fave budget studio monitors from KALI AUDIO.




Here is Mr Chappers to give us a few more tips as he upgrades from his FOCAL monitors to a pair of ADAM.



QUESTION: WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU UPGRADED YOUR MONITORS? WHAT DID YOU GET AND WHY?

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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Mar 8 2020, 12:37 AM
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Sensible Jones
Mar 9 2020, 04:56 PM
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I went from a pair of Numark M80's to a pair of Edirol MA-15D's. I only changed as on of the Power Supplies in the Numarks burned out. There's not a huge deal of difference between these but I think the Numarks had a better Bass response for sure! Might look into those Kali's a bit later this year when I re-jig the whole Studio.

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Todd Simpson
Mar 10 2020, 01:50 AM
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The KALI are about the same price as a pair of what you have now. The quality of the KALI monitors is amazing imho. I've not had a better set of monitors ever. I got rid of my trusty yellow cone monitors that I'd had forever. Compared to the Kali, they just sounded way off. Too hyped in high and low. Some guys from JBL went off and started KALI and they had a goal of making the best monitors under 500 dollar ever built. I think they somehow managed it. smile.gif



QUOTE (Sensible Jones @ Mar 9 2020, 11:56 AM) *
I went from a pair of Numark M80's to a pair of Edirol MA-15D's. I only changed as on of the Power Supplies in the Numarks burned out. There's not a huge deal of difference between these but I think the Numarks had a better Bass response for sure! Might look into those Kali's a bit later this year when I re-jig the whole Studio.

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Caelumamittendum
Mar 10 2020, 03:55 PM
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I'm thinking about getting some better monitors once I get some more money. At the moment I use these. I got them for free and they sound better than my small computer speakers smile.gif

https://www.beoworld.org/prod_details.asp?pid=666

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Sensible Jones
Mar 10 2020, 06:07 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Mar 10 2020, 01:50 AM) *
The KALI are about the same price as a pair of what you have now. The quality of the KALI monitors is amazing imho. I've not had a better set of monitors ever. I got rid of my trusty yellow cone monitors that I'd had forever. Compared to the Kali, they just sounded way off. Too hyped in high and low. Some guys from JBL went off and started KALI and they had a goal of making the best monitors under 500 dollar ever built. I think they somehow managed it. smile.gif

I'll definitely keep an eye out for them when I get around to doing the studio!

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This post has been edited by Sensible Jones: Mar 10 2020, 08:54 PM


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Todd Simpson
Mar 10 2020, 08:47 PM
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Those are VERY nice speakers. You could use those as your "MAIN" monitors much the same way studios have big monitors mounted in the wall. If you get a set of "Near field" monitors, you can keep those closer to the mix position and then put these a bit further back so you can give them a bit more volume. Most studios use 3 sets of monitors. 1.)Mains, 2.)Near Field (like the Kali) and 3.)Craptastic (small cubes like the Auratone). They switch between these to see how a mix will "travel" and sound on various playback systems.

QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Mar 10 2020, 10:55 AM) *
I'm thinking about getting some better monitors once I get some more money. At the moment I use these. I got them for free and they sound better than my small computer speakers smile.gif

https://www.beoworld.org/prod_details.asp?pid=666

You are at GuitarMasterClass.net


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