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Reference Monitors: Why Why Why

Discussion in 'Monitoring & Headphones' started by runamuck, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. runamuck

    runamuck Guest

    I am using Mackie 824s for reference monitors.

    Why is it that when I make small adjustments in EQ,
    compression, reverb, etc, that I cannot hear on the Mackies,
    I can hear those same adjustments on my home stereo system which, by the way, is in the same room?

    I thought reference monitors were supposed to be designed to reveal such things more than stereo speakers.

    You might wonder what kind of stereo speakers I am comparing the Mackies to: nothing speaciasl - 25 year old $400.00 speakers.

    You also may wonder what I am doing using Mackies. I know there are many people who complain about them. I also know there are plenty of bonifide pros who use them and are able to get decent mixes on them.

    One other thing. My room is not acoustically treated so that may be the reason the Mackies are not performing as they should.

    But keep in mind that my stereo system is in the same untreated room.

    So, is there sometyhing about refernce monitors that require absorbtive acoustic treatment that is not required by regular old stereo speakers?

    Why shouldn't I just monitor with my stereo speakers then?

    What am I missing?

    Thanks for your help,

  2. soundfreely

    soundfreely Guest

    The location of the speakers in the same room can make a big difference. Also, what other noises might be more prevalent in the Mackies part of the room that could be masking sounds? I use the 824s myself and have no problems hearing minimal EQ adjustmenst (tenths of a dB).

  3. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Distinguished Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    I think Mackies (along with a lot of "reference monitors") are a love/hate thing...

    Some people have no problem with them.

    I couldn't get them to translate if I had the entire U.N. press-pool in the room with me.

    Back in "the day" a studio monitor was a big, cumbersome, colored sounding, full-range speaker. "Near field" was the place down the block where kids played baseball.

    If you're in the latter camp, get some nice sounding full-range speakers that you enjoy listening to.

    I used to mix on B&W 602's... Nice sound, cheap as hell, you could join a pair of them with a used Bryston amplifier for around $1,000.
  4. runamuck

    runamuck Guest

    Anybody else?

    I forgot to mention that just about everything sounds just fine on the Mackies - even if Ive gone totally overboard with compression, EQ and the like. And then I play the same thing back on my home stereo, my car stereeo, a little boombox and its just awful:typically muddy like hell around 200-300Hz, very little high end definition, and absolutely no sparkle or life.

    I go back and forth, do another mix, play it on the car or home stereo, do nother mix, 8,9,10 times before I start to get it in the ballpark.

    What's going on?
  5. T-Rex

    T-Rex Guest

    did you try to compare the frequency response of your Mackies and your other speaker set?
  6. bobbo

    bobbo Active Member

    Dec 11, 2004
    re mixing

    I use a set of jbl lsr25p's and a 10" powered sub. I just did a recording on friday and did a mix on them after the session to give to the band that sounded very good, then I went and actually took time to mix down the material the next day and I got my mix on the first take. I have my stuff in an untreated room, and what I do and recomend you do, is to listen to music that you know extremely well on the mackies while setting stuff up, listen to it at different volumes etc. I also love the fact that I have a sub so that I can hear exactly what the low frequencies sound like.

    Just take a whole day and go through tons of different genres of music on your mackies adjusting the volume, walk to diff parts of the room and etc. Know your room/speaker setup. You have had your other speakers for 25 years, you are very familiar with them by now. If you are still having problems then you should look into another set of monitors.

  7. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Jim; (Runamuck), I've just had a similar revelation to yours, in that I recently got a set of amazing speakers to review....(The Linpinski L-505's) They cost $1500 each, and from what I've heard so far, worth every penny. (I'm doing a review on them, and I'll post more eventually).

    Until now, I've mixed/monitored on all kinds of things, B&Ws, Tannoy (800s), JBLs, Yamaha NS-10s, and more recently KRK's. In every case, I've made careful note of what the speaker at hand was telling me, or NOT telling me. I've tried to find out which ones lie, which ones over-exaggerate what I'm hearing, etc.

    I also have done a LOT of listening, testing, comparing and finally settling on an amazing sub-woofer that rounds out the sonic spectrum for me (The Bag End Infrasub Pro 12) Which was also a revelation on what I was NOT hearing before). My changeover from a few other subs (names omitted to protect the guilty) are similar to what I'm facing now, up top, with the Lipinski's.

    My KRK's were just fine for the most part, and while I thought I was "working around" the limitations of the speakers, I have come to realize it was more than just coloration, it was (similar to you, perhaps) what I was MISSING, at least compared to the Lipinski's.

    With the Lipinski's, I am hearing things that I was not able to hear before; much more subtle EQ changes, coloration between various microphones, more detail around the reverbs, more EVERYTING, and not in a bad way at all. They're not sexy, or overdone, they are just brutally, effortlessly ACCURATE. I can't really fault the KRKs, though. They served me well, for a fraction of the cost of the Lipinski's. I got what I paid for.

    I'll have to make a decision soon - can I justify the Lipinkis, and worse, can I justify NOT getting the Lipinskis? My life/career/profession revolves around what I'm hearing, and I've never heard anything this good, this accurate. (So far, EVERYTHING I've edited and mixed on the Lipinski's has translated wonderfully well on every OTHER system I've played it on, too, FWIW....)

    I'm surprised your experience with the Mackies was bad as you suggest (althoug the tips/advice you're getting here from others makes a lot of sense.) I liked them, and once considered those as well, but at this point, I think I've got it about as good as it's going to get with the Lipinski's and the Bag End sub for my mix/editing/mastering suite.

    Trust your ears, you're hearing SOMETHING, alright, and it's important, especially to YOU, and where you listen.
  8. Snatchman

    Snatchman Guest

    Hey, a friend of mine has the Mackies and he was having translation problems until he did some adjustments with the controls on the rear (eq tilts, or something like that)! (I think)
  9. MrPhil

    MrPhil Guest


    What JoeH said: "EVERYTHING I've edited and mixed on the Lipinski's has translated wonderfully well on every OTHER system I've played it on"

    THAT is the very essence of your monitoring.
    To achive this you first of all should have monitors that are as true as possible. I say "as possible", cause there ain't no thing as totally accurate, no matter what price or brand or model or hype.
    Second you have to learn your equipment. This is where the listening to other by you well known recordings and analyzing what you hear comes in. Takes some time. Very important.
    Third is sometimes a forgotten and by some not wanted fact that YOU are a part of the monitor chain. It's not as simple as "this or that monitor works for me, so it should work for all".
    Your perception is of course formed by your ears and your physic limitations/conditions - and your mind's.
    And this brings us back to JoeH: You have to find a system for you, that translates well on every OTHER system. Even if it means using those cheapo old hifi speakers, or buying more expensive monitors.
    What works, works. What doesn't, doesn't. No matter what you listen through.

    Oh, and by the way, check that your signal chain is correctly configured, so you don't fool yourself by a setting that is wrong somewhere, coloring your sound.

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