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Project Studio Monitoring System EQ Woes

Discussion in 'Recording' started by mark4man, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. mark4man

    mark4man Active Member

    You know…

    I’m really at my wits end, here. Everything I produce in my project studio sounds too bassy when played on other (less costly) systems. I could draw an obvious conclusion, here…that my studio’s monitoring system isn’t properly calibrated across the audio spectrum, but I know that’s not the case.

    In fact…it’s the opposite…I’ve adjusted the low end upward, for god sakes…so I’m not EQ’ing in too much low end in my mixes.

    I’m piping the main outs from my AI (Layla 24/96) to an Onkyo TX-8511 Discreet Output (200W) power amp, which powers two Pioneer S-H253B-K Monitors. It’s a beautiful sounding system; & when I play my mixes on audiophile systems…they sound equally (or more) beautiful.

    When I play them on bookshelf stereo systems, they sound too bassy.

    I could draw another conclusion…that bookshelf stereo systems sound too muddy…but I know that’s not the case either…because, when I use my studio DAW’s PC to play my favorite CDA’s (which is hooked up to the aforementioned Layla/Onkyo/Pioneer system)…& then play those same CDA’s on bookshelf stereo systems…the EQ is more or less the same ! (the only difference then being quality.)

    This has been going on for months, now. What the hell am I doing wrong?

    Am I using the wrong equipment? Am I going to have to now go out & get a multi thousand dollar studio monitoring system? The system I have now was purchased because it had a nice quality, neutral sound. I'm almost at the the CD replication phase; & I want it (my CD) to sound decent on all systems.

    I’m not getting this…& could use some help.


  2. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Is your setup in a fairly small room, ie: 10x12, 12x14.....standard study or bedroom size? Do you listen at pretty loud levels while mixing? Small rooms are notorious for having problems with bass standing waves, and you may be sitting in an "antinode" of such a wave. Put on a mix and get up and move around, see if the low end is louder a couple of feet behind where you sit. Get yerself over to the acoustics forum, find Ethan Winer in a thread search and go to his website. He has a free program you can download to identify troubled frequencies based on your room size. Then build yourself some bass traps for corners, ceiling and back wall. I had the same dilemma........not anymore.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I bet it is. But monitor systems aren't supposed to sound beautiful, or even good for that matter. A lot of people just don't seem to be able to wrap their minds around that.

    This is a home stereo amp and speaker set up. It is not suited for revealing flaws in the audio, instead the mission is to make records sound good. So in essence, your speakers are lying to you to protect you from the ugly truth. In a listening situation, this is good but in a production environment it can spell disaster. You need monitors that aren't going to act as the quintessential "yes man", but rather ones that will reveal to you the ugly truth. That is why so many of us still love the NS10s ... they are very ugly sounding at times but if you can get something to sound good on them, it usually sounds good on everything.

    You don't need to spend a wad of cash for a monitor system. I am currently pointing folks to the Yamaha MSP5s for a cost efficient system. I like them a lot and they are suited for use with a sub woofer if you really need all that low end. The good thing about that is you can mix with the sub off most the time and then listen once in a while with it kicked in to give you a good idea of what is happening with the lows. A 5.1 surround system wit the MSP5's would be killer!

    I agree that small rooms can be problematic. I don't think that any amount of bass trapping can resolve the issues in some small rooms. Instead, I think the solution is not to pump a lot of low end into the room if it can't handle it. A perfect example is the old adage, 10 pounds of sh*t in a five pound bag. You can load 10 or 12 bags of cement into the back of a Geo Metro. But that doesn't mean that it's gonna perform well when you try to drive it. Small rooms have limits as well.

    Ethan and I went around on that one for about a week quite a while back ... I now see he has modified his position on the issue, saying that some small rooms may not be workable. Nothing new about that, Ethan has flip flopped on a lot of things as they get pointed out to him. But in the mean time, he has probably sold a ton of traps to people looking for solutions. I personally look to some of the other guys over there to ask for advice. Eric Dessart has been very consistent in his positions and offers what in my opinion is very good advice. He also isn't posting on a bizillon forums a day in order to promote his company.
  4. mark4man

    mark4man Active Member


    Thanks. I'm not sure it's a "small room standing wave" problem. Wouldn't that have the tendency of tricking the mix man into believing there is too much bottom end in the tracks?

    Kurt Foster,

    Thanks. The Yamaha MSP5's...they're near-field monitors? I was thinking a while back about picking up a set of Event TR-6's, but they're also near-fields...& I've always been paranoid about near-fields after reading what Bob K. had to say about them in his book ("with few exceptions, near-field monitors will not be found in a professional mastering room".)

    I know the Yams or the Events would sound more accurate than what I have now...but when ME's talk about high quality, flat response, mastering studio stereo loudspeakers...what mfg.'s & models are they talking about?

    Thanks again,

  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Are you mastering or producing recordings? If you're recording don't listen to what ME's have to say about monitoring. Just because they are at the end of the recording chain doesn't mean they are the "know all" resource about recording. In fact the demands for mastering have nothing to do with the needs of the production envionment.

    I will say unequivocally, that mixing on small speakers and then referencing the mix on the mains, works much better than the opposit. That is when I do a mix on the big speakers and switch down to the nearfields, the mix doesn't travel. But if I mix on the NS10s and then listen for the lo and highs on the Tannoys, it travels much better.
  6. mark4man

    mark4man Active Member

    Thanks Kurt...

    Appreciate your input.

    Pretty much sold on Event TR8XL's. Any feedback on those?

    Thanks again,


    BTW - To answer your question...both (since I don't have the budget for an ME on this project.)
  7. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    mark4man, A standing wave can trick someone in either direction...it's a function of where you're sitting relative to the waveform. Often, you're in an antinode (negative pressure) and you're fooled into cranking the lows and low mids to compensate. Then when you listen on a home stereo, things are bottom heavy. That's the scenario I had, and the traps I built and installed corrected it. I used to have to do a low shelving cut of about 4db at 90Hz to correct.
  8. TheArchitect

    TheArchitect Active Member

    I agree that small rooms have problems in the low end. The physics of it make it almost impossible to effectively remove all of the issues. Having went to reasonable measures trapping all four corners and some of the wall / ceiling intersections I can report that the low end, while several levels of magnitude better is by no means perfect. I think you can mix well in those rooms by learning the quirks, using known reference CD's, and checking mixes in other environments as well as what Kurt suggested to not pump unneccesary amounts of low end into the room.

    That said, it all starts with the monitors and a decent set of nearfields will do wonders for your mixes compared to the Pioneers. I love my Cerwin-Vegas but I wouldn't want to mix on them.
  9. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Don't do it. They are a grainy and at times harsh speaker. The volume can't be utilized without port chuff. They don't image all that well. I've done quasi-anechoic measurements and they are very strange in the high end. I would save your money and buy something better. I wish I would have, but I was young and stupid (like three years ago!).
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    There's a sh*t-load of monitors on the market that are attempting to fill the "middle ground" between really well designed and expensive and poorly designed and cheap.

    The problem is the manufacturers use very common "off the shelf" drivers and x overs instead of the parts being specifically use designed for a particular monitor. To me this makes a huge difference. Alesis, Events and Mackies among others fall into this "middle ground".

    It's the same thing as what I am always ranting and preaching about mic pres .... if you can't afford some really nice monitors like Genelecs, Tannoys etc, you might as well just go with something that is as cost effective as possible.

    These "middle ground" monitors for the most part are more smoke and mirrors than substance in my opinion.

    Yamaha, Hafler and KRK among others make some very affordable monitors that are inexpensive.
  11. mark4man

    mark4man Active Member

    jon, Architect, David & Kurt...

    Went with the KRK RP-8 Powered Reference Monitors. Hookin' 'em up tomorrow. On David's recommendation, I shyed away from the Events. I listened to them all, anyway; & the sales dude offered some insight as to who uses what (Rap mixers/Event, Rock mixers/KRK, etc.)

    The RP-8's were seemingly flat & strong all the way through...maybe a little weak in the highs, but I actually liked them a bit more than the V series 8's, which were twice the doe (& not as mellow in the lows.)

    Thanks all...appreciate the help,

  12. TheArchitect

    TheArchitect Active Member

    Very Cool. Give yourself some time to adjust to them. Listen to some familiar material through them. Your mixes just got a lot better.
  13. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Congrats! I know a few folks using KRK's and they love them. I'm still lobbying for you to do some trapping though :wink:
  14. TheArchitect

    TheArchitect Active Member

    Absolutely. A small room may never be perfect but it can be a hell of a lot better. Acoustic treatment of the listening environment is the next to-do on the list I were in Mark's shoes. It did great things for my room.
  15. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    So....you have the budget to have a bunch of CDs replicated and the budget to spring for some new monitors, but you couldn't just splurge for some tweaking by a mastering engineer? Pretty much any time you are mass producing CDs I believe the material should pass through a mastering house first.
    In answer to your question: "Am I going to have to now go out & get a multi thousand dollar studio monitoring system?"
    Yes; if you are wanting to have a shot at effectively mixing AND mastering your own material, you will have to spend big bucks on your monitoring system among other things.
    Or maybe the KRK's will be a dream come true and fix everything, in which case just ignore me.
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I agree with you Reggie on one level ...

    If a person wishes to master their own projects some really great monitors are absolutely necessary. But so is a good room. The average bedroom studio just ain't gonna get it no matter how much trapping and treatments one puts up.

    There's really a lot more (as I am sure you are aware) to achieving a quality mastering job than that ... thousands into comps and eqs digital and analog ... a console for mastering etc.

    Add to that the demands for a mastering room and a production room have nothing to do with each other. I have never seen a mastering studio that was really suitable to handle a multi track session and I have rarely seen a production studio that was really good for mastering.

    I also think it's good to get a different set of ears into the mix as well ... hopefully in a great room with some very accurate speakers and amps. But a lot of people just don't want to take it that far ... these in many cases are the same people who are resistant to buying high end gear. It's just not worth it to them.

    For those people who want to do what I disparagingly call "Bullsh*t Mastering" (I myself am guilty of this) a nice set of large mains as well as quality near fields, some decent power amps, as much room treatments as possible and some careful listening on your own system as well as others, will go a long way to getting you there.
  17. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    hint hint

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