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Small Monitors

Can anyone recommend a very small monitor system (preferably without a sub) that I can use for low-level mixing in my condo? It is an apartment-style setup and if I bring my big (6") monitors home the whole building will get mad at me!

Samson 3" media ones sound good... But the ported enclosures offer artificial bass response with peaks and holes everywhere. And I kinda want to spend more than $99.

Or should I just bring my big ones home and make sure I keep them turned down to a reasonable level?

Has anyone else in a similar situation found a suitable arrangement?

I will not be tracking in my condo, just mixdowns.



anonymous Sun, 12/16/2012 - 06:03
Genelec do some incredibly small speakers.

Whether they're small or big, if they make a decent quality sound, you'll have the same sort of trouble with the neighbours.

Partial solutions include sitting very close to the monitors, turning down, finding a way of mechanically isolating the stands or table they're on from the building's structure. An easier solution is to buy a decent set of headphones.

drubu Sun, 12/16/2012 - 06:14
Yeah, I have a good set of cans... Been using them and learning how they sound for about 3 months now.

Never mixed with headphones before. It gets frustrating!

I just want decent little speakers to help make critical decisions especially in the bass - mid-bass frequency range. I can turn up the bass guitar 2db without really hearing the difference in the headphones. It's still very foreign to me.

Genelecs look pretty neat. I'll have to go test drive a pair :)

anonymous Mon, 12/17/2012 - 04:52
You don't need to mix at loud levels to get a nice mix.

While the best scenario is listening at a variety of levels, sometimes mixing at lower levels, depending on the monitors you are using, will allow you to hear certain things that you might not hear if you are cranking the speakers.

If you restricted your mixing to before 9 pm and kept it at a reasonable level, I find it hard to believe you'd make anyone angry... I mean, surely you have neighbors that watch TV or listen to music in their own condos...

mberry593 Mon, 12/17/2012 - 09:39
Back in the early 1970s, the BBC designed a small loudspeaker system. They licensed it to several manufacturers making it available to users outside of the BBC. I purchased many of these over the years for use in edit rooms. I was quite happy with them at the time but I must add that the last time I used one was 1987 so take that into consideration. They are still being manufactured new today & that may give them some kind of record for a continuously available monitor. Here is a starting place to research:

[=""]The Unofficial LS3/5A Support Site[/]="…"]The Unofficial LS3/5A Support Site[/]

I must warn you that the crossover in these things is very complicated and makes a really nasty reactive load at some frequencies. Here is an impedance & phase chart:

[[url=http://="http://www.stereoph…"]BBC LS3/5a loudspeaker 1989 Measurements |[/]="http://www.stereoph…"]BBC LS3/5a loudspeaker 1989 Measurements |[/]

These loudspeakers need to be driven by a solid-state amp with a good damping factor.

You might also check out the Tannoy system 8. These things were ok but have been out of production for awhile. I hesitate to recommend older loudspeakers because the surrounds (the material that supports the cone - not side loudspeakers) deteriorate and may need to be replaced.

I, too have done quite a lot of work with headphones but I have never really liked the idea. If you do end up using headphones, please be sure to check your work elsewhere to make sure that it translates well. FWIW, I use Grado headphones.

RemyRAD Mon, 12/17/2012 - 17:08
Mikey likes Grado's. I haven't used a pair of those since 1970? Very nice. Too nice. Not really designed for rock 'n roll.

On the other hand, I started with Sennheiser HD-414's when I was 14. And that was in 1970. These are we call " open-air " cans and provide no outside isolation. They better represent speakers when you are in a quiet environment in which to use them in. And that's where open-air head phones have an advantage over the back sealed types we typically use in this studio with live microphones on. And these sealed back speakers present a very unrealistic low end and its overall perspective. Which actually makes mixing in headphones all the more difficult to do. But in very noisy environments it's what you must use. And when you have to do that, it's imperative that you are as intimate with the sound of your sealed back headphones and how they relate to your control room speakers and as intimate with those headphones as you are in your choice of the underwear you currently have on. Otherwise your mixes will never translate well to speakers and I guarantee it. So working with headphones is a delicate balance in how you understand they relate to modest control room style speakers. If you don't have that ability to reference your headphones to typical available playback systems through loudspeakers your mixing will always suck. And most of the time your results will sound like mud and lots of mud with the great mud solo.

Open-air headphones change your listening perspective greatly but still not necessarily enough to strictly rely only upon them without referencing them to control room monitors. And then it's your memory of sound that will skew your mixing into the right direction, even when it doesn't sound right in the headphones. For instance, I knew that when I next with my KOSS Pro 4 AA's and I heard the bass guitar? I then knew I had too much bass guitar and I would back down to barely audible in my headphones. And the same as everything else. When the lowlands sounded really good in the headphones you already knew that you had screwed up. And especially if you didn't hit most of your high pass filter buttons LOL.

So I don't care how good your cans are until you know how they relate to good control room monitors. It's that simple. And if you don't do that with monitor speakers, your mixes through headphones will likely always sound bizarre at best?

I'd be happy to post some old Pro 4 AA mixes where I had no control room monitors, no choice. And if anything, they were a little light on the low end as I ere on the side of caution. That's sort of like salt on your food. Easier to add more not easy to take away. And these were made in the 80s and 90s in which I was on locations that could accommodate a large analog multi-track analog recorder. And I had to be in front of loud PA speakers OMG! Then actually, both times, right in front of the bass guitar cabinet. So that doesn't drive you wacky while trying to develop a live stereo mix I don't know what will? LMAO. At least by ' 93, my 24 track machine only when 150 pounds and not 550 pounds. Now my 24 track machine fits under my arm. So it's a good thing I used deodorant this morning. Otherwise my recording wouldn't suck but it's certainly might stink?

I also use FDS filters. Which might keep me from stinking but not necessarily my recordings?
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Wed, 12/19/2012 - 03:40
I love mixing on 6 inch monitors. I love mixing on 4 inch monitors. These are not a problem. And I like it on my bigger monitors just to make sure it all translates well from those six-inch and 4 inch monitors.

Let's face it, you're not going to pounding bass out of small monitors. Forget it. And screw subwoofers. Great for playback listening enjoyment. Not good for control room. If you get it sounding good and tight sounding on small monitors, it will be monstrous sounding with a subwoofer. So you don't turn the subwoofer on until you're done mixing on the smaller monitors. And that's one of the tricks I use. I don't even have a somewhat remote control room I don't believe in them. They're BS, only for morons, that don't know how to engineer in a control room. It's one of those incredible necessities that is completely unnecessary. You know your mix will or will not work on a six-inch or a 4 inch speaker. What else can I say?

I like heads of lettuce better than engineering managers.
Mx. Remy Ann David


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