Poll - do you mix with or without a sub?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by DonnyThompson, Oct 30, 2015.


Do You Mix using a sub?

  1. No. I solely really on my nearfields

  2. Yes. I always mix with a sub

  3. Sometimes, it depends ( please post explanation)

  4. I rely on an M.E. to do manipulate the ultra lows during mastering

    0 vote(s)
  5. what is this "sub" that you speak of, earthling?

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    This is a spin-off from my other thread, "Check the low end on this".

    I'm interested to find out just how many of my colleagues here on RO mix with - or without - a sub in their day to day monitoring.

    If you choose the answer "sometimes, it depends", please provide an explanation as to when and how you use a sub while mixing. It would be good to know what scenarios might dictate you using one, along with what size you use, and where you typically place it. Also, if you have used a sub in the past and what your experiences were with it.

    Finally, if you have examples of pro engineers who commonly mix with a sub, I think this would be cool information to know. This would also include Mastering Engineers as well.


  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I'm a bass lover, having a sub that I boost to my liking is the only way to avoid mixing it too loud. I could train myself to compensate and mix without it, but I'm old and lazy ;)
    Also, my customers like it more and they are less insecure to hear the mix with it...
    DKAUDIO likes this.
  3. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    No sub here although my older system had one. That set of monitors has become the primary pair in the 7.1 in the living room. I don't need a sub with the Sundholm 6.5's. Pretty flat all the way to 31hz
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I'll use one if its there on near fields for hip hop. Not sure if the low drivers on the 813cs count as subs per say. I would mix with one all the time if I could! No subs here on the hr8s at home, yet....
  6. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I don't think I really need one...the room aint big enough.
  7. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    I use the sub to check things low but mostly use mains as mixing with the subs unless you have a tuned room can mess up everything in the mids to low mids.
  8. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Depends on where I am. At home I can and usually do, but it's easily switchable to mains only. There isn't one at the studio.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Great responses... so right now, the results are sitting at 50/50. That's higher than I expected - meaning that more of you cats are using subs ( either all the time or occasionally) than I would have thought.
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I think the first condition is how well your monitors translate bass frequencies in your room.
    Other than that, it's a preference thing I guess.

    I'm just asking myself, for a long work, will a Sub create more ear fatigue ?
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm not sure about a sub creating fatigue, Marco... I suppose it's possible; depending on the volume levels, any extended length of time listening to music on any system will eventually tire your ears out - other factors at play would also be listening position, and the room, too, of course.

    In my case, the frequencies that usually wipe me out faster than anything are those upper mids and lower high's; 1k to 4k can render me to be just a little more functional than a turnip - and pretty quickly, too ... if they're played at loud enough levels for a certain length of time... like at 85db, which is the "suggested" Fletcher Munson Curve... Brother, I can tell you from personal experiences, that if I were to mix at 85db on NS10's, I'd likely be toast within an hour or so.

    There have been some other speakers I've mixed on over the years that have had bumps in those areas; but as previously mentioned, the worst offenders were the original NS10's. They were pretty tiring for me.
    The NS10M Studio Models, which came later, and which I believe had transistors wired into the tweeters to lessen those freq's, ( ? ) were a little better, but I still thought that they were kinda peaky.
    It was around that time that Bob Clearmountain started using his now infamous "tissue paper over the tweeters" trick.

    Another thing I found out over time - when I had the occasion to mix on some of the Tannoy models - especially the ones with the coaxial tweeters - I always found them to sound strange, in a "phasey" sort of way... it's difficult to describe, but they would tend to fatigue me as well. I forget the model number(s) of the ones I'm thinking of, but they were a very "odd" sounding speaker to mix through, ( at least they sounded that way to me, anyway ) .

    The smoothest sounding monitors I ever mixed through were JBL's - in particular, 4408's, which I still have and use occasionally... most often when I'm doing a lot of arranging of a song, like adding strings or brass sections, etc.
    If I know that I'm gonna be at it for awhile, I'll start with the JBL's and then switch over to NS10M's or Monitor One passives to mix through.

    I remember coming off 8-hour mix sessions with those JBL's, and not really being fatigued much at all ... they were smooth sounding speakers, but, as we know, "smooth" doesn't always translate the way we'd like it to. ;)

    kmetal likes this.
  12. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I must admit I have been thinking whether it would be a good investment in adding a sub to my KRK's...I know they do a sub for them in that range.
    Another consideration are the NS10Ms' Donny mentions above as a second set as Iv'e been toying with that idea also.

    Only last week I was looking on ebay at them (NS10Ms'), they were ranging from $500 USD for a pair with stained yellowed drivers, to a nice clean pair with a little cosmetic wear that went for around $980USD (apparently the current owner had them for 12 years and bought them from another studio 2nd hand)

    There was a pair that were really clean that the starting bid was $1500USD, :eek: ...and a few sets out of Japan that were $500-$600USD.

    I know its a gamble buying a second hand pair, but for the rap they get, what more can a poor boy do???:(

    - Maybe I should put it to a poll...if you were in my shoes considering a 2nd set of nearfields would you buy a second hand set of NS10Ms' in good condition given their reputation, or buy a new set of the HS series Yamaha monitors??? (taking into account I'd need to buy an amp too to power the NS10Ms')...OR would you expand on your current set with a sub first???:confused:

    Edit - Sh*t Donny, sorry mate, not trying to hijack your OP ;)
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I can't say, Sean - there are too many variables, not the least of which is what you personally prefer. I'm sure you've heard the saying "use NS10's and the mix will sound good everywhere..." there's gotta be something there, I don't believe that they've become the studio standard that they have because they aren't able to translate well.

    There are widely varying opinions... from "They're brutally unflattering to mixes, but that's their job. But never, ever use them as a sole pair of monitors. Just a cross check..." to ... "I totally hated the NS10s initially and wondered why they were an industry standard, until I checked back some mixes on a pair. All the problems instantly jumped out..." to ... "NS10s were bloody brilliant, I can't believe Yamaha stopped making them."


    Some swear by them, and won't mix on anything else. Others loathe them and won't touch them. And, still others also loathe them - but use them anyway - because of their ability to translate a mix so well to other systems.

    It's also worth noting that NS10's were originally designed as a bookshelf hi-fi home speaker. I don't believe that Akira Nakamura - the designer of the Yamaha NS10's - had any idea of just how popular they would eventually become in recording studios all over the world.

    Engineers like Nigel Jopson, ( Tony Carey, Whitney Houston) Bill Scheniman (Roxy Music, Chic' and the now globally-accepted first engineer to bring a pair with him to the The States), Greg Ladanyi ( Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon) all used them, and then eventually Bob Clearmountain started mixing through them - I think it's safe say that he was the one responsible for making them famous, and becoming a staple at many pro-level American recording studios.

    From there, they steamrolled into almost every studio, of every level and size, and have been a mixing monitor "standard" since. They've been used to mix hundreds ( maybe even thousands) of well-known songs, and they obviously do have something "special" about them that makes people want to use them... even people who come right out and say they don't like them still use them, so I think that pretty much says it all.

    I recognize their use, and I've done many, many mix sessions on them myself. I still check mixes through mine. Hundreds of engineers on all professional levels have done the same. There's no doubt that they serve their purpose.

    But I still hate 'em. LOL


  14. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Yeah, there seems to be a love / hate relationship with them, :D but I don't think owning a pair would be a detrimental thing considering the demand.

    But then again, I'm not looking to them as an investment to appreciate in value, although I'm sure they would thanks to the old theory of supply & demand, but rather as an investment in the quality of my mixes, which has a touch of irony considering those out there who hate the sound of them.

    You hit the nail on the head there...
    and there also...it seems to be the consensus with the NS10M's

    I suppose its worth a consideration, if I don't like them, its not like a new set of (insert brand x here) that would most likely lose value once you took them out of the box.

    Even if the ones Iv'e seen on Epay are achieving the prices they are for stained, knocked-about pairs I've seen to date I suppose its not what they are worth dollar wise, but what someone is willing to pay for them.

    Anyhoo...back to sub woofers...:whistle:
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    The NS10 are legend for certain..
    I got a Yamaha HS8 pair and like them very much.. I'm sur they are not of high caliber like the Focals or others ... but for the price, it does the job I need..
    I'm using them too near of the wall so the bass response is disminished. A fair reason why I like using them with a sub ;)
    Yamaha says they should be placed 1.5meter or more from side and rear wall to let the rear port project low frequencies more accuratly
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    So what kinda amp you thinking?

    The thing with ns-10s is they vary so much in how much original ns-10 your getting. So prices vary, and sight unseen, I'd be weary, especially without a trained eye for components Ect.

    They are useful for a b reference or car check. I would grab a pair only after I had a killer accurate full range system. Any boom box or car, or horror tone, will do just as well as the beloved no-10, at their purpose, to expose deficient that would show up in a typical listening field. Restaurant, tv, mini buds, Ect.

    It's a simple means of hearing the lowest common denominator (that's practical) of your mixes. Them and a mono button will show you just were your vocals and bass honks. For me.

    I only hold so much weight in these junk speaker tests from the control room, which is a tuned special edition listening situation. It's the inverse effect of people putting 'studio monitors' in an regular room. Which is why something like the car or the break room stereo, will always win, int that regard. The environment and speakers are one with the other.

    Despite rules of thumb from the BBC, most good control rooms don't represent the acoustics of an average living room, and an average living room never sounds like a good control room.

    Krks sound the most like ns-10s than other other monitor I've heard in the sub $1k range. The have a very forward upper mid, in a similar vein.

    The HSMs aren't the best option for a second pair of near fields imo. I bought a pair and bought them back after comparing the other two speakers sets I picked up. The HSMs are a decent first set opinion the $500/pair category and an improvement of the krks, but not by much. The HS sub is nice but not overly powerful but blended in nicely when I used them with one studios Meyers (one of the studios I frequently work at). If your mixing in 7.1/5.1 then the HSMs fill a reasonable hole in the price point. My boss loves his HSMs, better than the quested he had for a while. (Questeds are 5k a pair)

    I'd take the alesesis monitor one (powered) over any of them just fine. ive like those for a long time, they are on my list for a B set of near fields.

    For me, id forget the ns-10s, sell the krks, get a pair of small yard sale speakers for free, and put that into a serious near field monitor. How big depends on your rooms size and acoustics. But there's no speaker that grestly exceeds its price point. Ns-10s and their acossiated amplifiers, included. There cool for nostalgia and do what they do well, but there's cheaper 'suck' out there. Crappy speakers are everywhere and easily attainable.

    It's a nice set in a nice room that's more difficult to attain, therefore imo, any 'investment' should be to improve the overall sonics and experience. Do your real world checks in the real world.

    My flow is the mains as often as possible, very softly, becasue I like full range, and find I tired too quickly up in the 80db range. Then it goes to the car, then the home on the Bose radio, and my surround (when it's not boxed)

    By the time I was able to really work on ns 10s I found them to be useful but not anything I'd run out and buy. More nostalgia, than necessity. They're not really as bad as people made them out to be, but didnt reveal anything any other cheap speaker would. They're averege in every sense, except price.

    Give me 1 pair of really nice speakers, instead of 2 pairs of mediocre ones all day. The cost of a used set of krks, a pair of ns-10ms (original cones), and a decent amp, gets you in the ballpark of commercial level monitors.
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  17. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Thats another consideration altogether...I've been looking at some older threads here on RO regarding NS10Ms' and what others recommend to power them, as I'm only looking for a second set to A/B mixes maybe an older Sansui stereo amp or Yamaha????

    Thanks for your thoughts on the KRKs', mine are series 2 / 5 inch, the white cabs with the white drivers. Like the NS10's they seem to have those that like them and those that hate them. I'm pretty used to how they sound now and things are translating well to the car & phone balance wise, or better than things were before, even with the basic treatment in the room of some diffusion and trapping.

    I have also come to the realisation that mixing at more subtle levels in the room helps my mixes...it doesn't have to be over the top volume wise and the consequences that come with it bouncing all over the room and back into my face, ears, back of my head etc. ;)

    - Any suggestions @kmetal on what you think would be a good amp if I was to give serious consideration to the NS10Ms'?

    - An older Crown amp seems to get a few mentions here on the threads regarding NS10Ms' also...don't know if I could even get one here in Oz, also taking into account we run everything here at 240V AC not 100V.

    Edit - I have an older Nikko Beta 20 and Alpha 220 pre-amp & amp here, the pre-amp has the stereo / mono switch on it, but I fear it may be too big for a set of NS10M's???- correct me if I'm wrong. Its an old workhorse that Iv'e had for the best part of 20 years, I just dusted it off and racked it the other day for sh*ts & giggles...still works like a bandit on a dark night.(y)

    Again, apologies to Donny the OP for taking this thread away from the original discussion on subs :oops:
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Hafler or crest, would probably be what I was after for an ns-10. Anytime you get into 'older is better' things, you have to me sure the integral parts to that bitterness is underneath the hood still.

    I'd really be surprised if the ns-10 show you much, if anything the krks don't already show you. usually 5" speakers are use in conjunction with an 8" or larger near/mid field monitor, not one of very similar proportions and power.
    DonnyThompson and Sean G like this.
  19. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Thats a really good consideration I hadn't taken into account...thanks Kyle.

    - Thats' what I love about RO...the right advice from the right people who are happy to share their knowledge & experience with others.
    kmetal likes this.
  20. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    At this time, my best monitor - amp combo is an ancient pair of Monitor Ones (passives) and a Hafler Trans-nova. I also have an old Crown amp that I'll use with NS10's - occasionally - when a client prefers to use the NS10's, but I don't feel that they help me turn out mixes that are any better or more translationally accurate than what I get with the M1's and the Hafler. ( My room is treated, BTW)

    Kyle makes good points, in that putting NS10's into an "average" type of room - meaning untreated - will probably just end up causing you more headaches ( literally, too if you mix too long on them) than a good monitor would.

    Here's the thing Sean, you mentioned this:
    So if your mixes are already translating well, then why change anything?

    It's been my experience that success with monitors generally comes from getting used to the ones you have, in the room that you are in, and through a period of acclimation and adjustment, finding out how the mixes sound outside of your environment, adjusting as necessary, etc., and you eventually get used to using what you have, and soon end up turning out mixes that work well pretty much everywhere. This doesn't always happen, of course... if your room is skewed enough then you'll just end up endlessly chasing your tail, but at that point, any monitor - cheap or expensive - won't really do you much good.

    I feel that if you started mixing on NS10's at this juncture, that it might end up being a sort of diminishing return for you; and that you'd have to take the time to get used to them; which would be fine if you were having problems with mixes translating, but from what you said, you're currently happy with the translational nature of what you have... so why fix that which isn't broken? ;)

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