Do I need recording monitors?

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by ManchesterUpanda, May 12, 2009.

  1. I don't understand the real purpose for recording monitors. I know it's for the producer to listen to the track, but why can't I just use regular speakers?
  2. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Give me a sec to draw a diagram.

    OK, done.

    The last time I made one of these, someone suggested I use colour next time. So I did.

    I think it needs no further explanation.
  3. JackHenry

    JackHenry Active Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    South Australia
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    This is a quote from an older thread re: the need for monitors
    jg49:"I can somewhat appreciate GF opinion but I completely disagree, and no offense but I think it is a little crazy for someone who does not own a set of good monitors to be saying you don't need them especially after saying that you COULD NOT HEAR the differences in your own recordings when testing amp placement. I am quoting from your other thread {old-link-removed}
    "And yes I am trusting you guys because these different things all sound basically the same to me. It's either my ears or my monitor situation...which is I don't have them. So on my current speakers I have to make eq changes of 5-6dB before I can audibly hear the difference. The frequency range on my speakers and headphones is also so limited that I cannot detect the HF noise until I get the file to my iPod, and bass definition isn't good so I struggle with getting a balance between thumpy and thin. Someday I will get monitors but right now I will trust you guys for advice."

    I disagree with being able to generate quality mixes in headphones, not impossible just making something that is difficult to learn all that much harder."
  5. So it's crucial for me to get a pair?

    Sigh, I was hoping that I didn't need it cause my budget is at $300.

    microphone: $100
    interface: $150


    Does anyone recommend any cheap monitors?
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    You don't necessarily need monitors to get started but you WILL need them, so if you are considering doing this it is a cost you need to think about. I believe if you folllow that thread that the quote came from, GuitarFreak goes on to say he mixes and then takes it to his car, his ipoo, etc, etc and then comes back and remixes and remixes. The other "trick" to good recordings is mic placement while recording and that is placing the mic exactly where you are recording the source at its optimium. If you don't have a good monitor source this is difficult to do.
    You could make the purchases you are thinking of get started, learn a little about the software and recording, have some fun. Then save some money and get monitors, you just need to plan on it.
  7. i feel like your contradicting yourself...i'm really say that i dont necessarily need monitors to get started but i will need them? What?

    Why couldn't I just monitor how it sounds through regular speakers....does it make that much of a difference?

    Also, how much should i spend on monitors?
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    Codemonkeys chart was a great visual. Speakers for stereo systems are designed to boost certain frequencies to make your average living room sound good, computer speakers response levels are all over the place but esp. poor in the bass and treble areas. In order to hear the nuances of what you are recording and mixing or processing you need a speaker with a flat response curve. This will allow you to accurately EQ music, correctly hear effects like reverb etc. So to just get started you can forego the purchase of monitors because you can record with out them, you just will have difficulty mixing etc. So you will need them, if you can go the extra $200.00 or so a decent set of small nearfield monitors will set you back then by all means do it now it will bring you along the learning curve much faster.
    I don't know enough about 5" desktop monitors to give you any advice about which ones sound better or have better response. my smallest pair are 8" KRK,s about $500 a pair but there are a lot of more modest ones available.
    here are some threads there are more
    This thread made me ROFL
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    You CAN monitor through anything that will reproduce sound.....its just that you wont be doing your recordings any favors by listening to the tracks without some idea of how they REALLY sound.

    Thus, "you can get started without real monitors, but youre going to NEED them eventually".

    Using control monitors isnt like sitting down in from of the warm fire with a drink and a blonde and listening to your favorite mood music.

    Its more akin to discovering just how bad you actually sound singing.

    Good monitors take no prisoners, they arent supposed to be flattering, they make you make the proper decisions when you track a source and when you mix. They tell you how crappy your mic placement is and how to fix it. They show you squeaks and odd vibrations going on in the room while you flail away on your axe disturbing your neighbors at all hours. They dont cover up the flaws with hyped mid curves or extended bass frequencies. They tell you when you reach to twist that EQ knob that its the right thing to do or not.

    If you're going to be serious about recording. You need to give a good set of monitors a serious listen.

    And yes, this is an expensive hobby. Even more when you get really serious about it.
  10. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    jg49: LOL I forgot about that thread.

    FWIW - I mix direct to 2 tracks using a budget mixer and use a pair of HD280s in the same hall as a band and the PA gear.
    It shows - I find I always struggle with a few frequency ranges: particularly the low end (can't hear it properly), low mids (lack of EQs), upper mids are a problem too (can't hear them over the low mid problem) and the highs are terrible as well (closed back cans).
  11. ok so if you listen to your song on studio moniters and mix them will it sound any different if you mix it down to play it on your ipod. What Im saying is, if you mix it right on studio moniters, is it going to sound the same everywhere? If so I'm going to get them 2night lol
  12. ok so if you listen to your song on studio moniters and mix them will it sound any different if you mix it down to play it on your ipod. What Im saying is, if you mix it right on studio moniters, is it going to sound the same everywhere? If so I'm going to get them 2night lol
  13. FlyBass

    FlyBass Active Member

    Oct 31, 2007
    Central Indiana, USA
    Will it sound the same everywhere?
    It will sound the same as everyone else's recordings sound played by or through other hardware setups (car, iPod, computer, et al).

    Mixing to flat studio monitors will be the gold standard to judge your recordings. If you mix your recordings to your computer speakers, chances are they will only sound good on YOUR computer speakers.

    When I mix a song, I will burn a CD of my first mix then play it on my home stereo and in my car. I mostly check for boomy bass and smeared mid frequencies. After noting any questionable sounds, I'll go back to my studio monitors and replay the mix. I usually find that it those defects are there and I just missed them. Once corrected, the song usually sounds the about same through the stereo and in the car. My car is notorious for boomy bass.
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA

    Look, here are some hard and fast rules: :)-))
    1 - Good monitors in a good room are the only way to get a good mix. Period. You will never get a good mix without this - you may get kinda lucky from time to time and you may spend hours chasing down little problems that your car didn't reveal but your girlfriends boom box did...

    2 - Nearfields aren't for everyone. Ultimately, the best decisions about imaging and depth will come from far fields or at least mid-fields. This is one of the reasons a good mastering engineer is crucial. However, a good pair of near-fields will help more people than a great pair of mid or far fields given the rooms most people are forced to work in. In other words - get a good pair of near-fields, but bear in mind, there are still limitations.

    3 - Mixing on headphones should only be done on a limited basis. They're good for checking low frequency information that your mains don't catch as well as that last degree of critical listening.

    4 - "Cheap" and "good" don't belong in the same sentence with monitors. Very few bridge that gap successfully - a few that come to mind -
    NHT Pro M-00. You MUST set these up correctly though or they're tough to listen to and even tougher to work with. (Don't aim them in like many/most monitors - unless you like a laser beam at your ear drums)
    KRK ST6 with a nice amp. (Check Audiogon for a good, used amp - ROTEL, B&K, Bryston, Krell, etc.)

    I would say, for most people, $1000 is the starting point for "good" monitors. That puts you in the realm of some Adams, Dynaudios, Event ASPs, etc.

    In the mean time, if you have a home hifi system that you know intimately, there's nothing wrong with mixing on that. Understand though that intricate details will be non-existent. I personally mix on a "hifi" system, but it's made up of Focal speakers, B&K amplification, and a very nicely treated room. Then again, I don't do much rock/country/rap - just classical. For me, that works. For you, it probably wouldn't.

    One word of caution -
    Many people advise multiple monitor setups or cheking the mixes in various locations. Be mindful of a few things -
    First, this potentially can waste a LOT of time.
    Second, you can spend a lifetime chasing down anomalies that pop up from system to system.

    The best thing I could advise -
    Spend time listening and getting aquainted with your monitors. Spend an hour a night with them just listening - not mixing. Turn the lights off, grab a good single malt and sit back and listen. Once you KNOW your monitors, your mixes will be killer. I don't care if you're mixing on Logitech speakers or on B&W 801Ds, if you know your speakers, you will mix well. If you don't, you won't.

    Cheers and best wishes!
  15. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Cocoa, FL
    Home Page:
    And yet we always feel compelled to oblige.

  16. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    Tracking, mixing and mastering are art forms, and great engineers spend the same number of hours training their ears as master musicians spend perfecting their own techniques. Audio engineers also pick their equipment with the same care as a virtuoso musician picks his/her instrument. As a pianist I finally "got it" when, after years of playing upright pianos and baby grands, I finally got the chance to play a perfectly set up Steinway 9' Concert Grand in a true concert hall.

    Have you ever spent time in a studio that spent $25k, $50k or more (sometimes a lot more) just on isolating and treating the room? That has speakers worth $10k or more? Where each mic goes for $2k and the mic pre into which it is plugged is worth at least that much? That is when you truly begin to understand.
  17. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2003
    Kansas City, KS
    Home Page:
    I am coming in late on this. Forgive me.

    The point that all studio monitors are flat is moot. No two flat speakers sound the same. Why? What makes them different? There is more to it than loading drivers in a box.

    In addition to be a musician, owning a studio, blah, blah, blah, I work in an audiophile shop, selling the best of the best. Out of all of the best stuff we sell, no two sound alike. Why, consumer speakers are purposefully biased. Sometimes they are biased for money, genres of music, matching amplifiers (a whole other need synergy between components like you need synergy between your voice and the right mic), etc.

    Chances are that if you are asking this question, you are recording and mixing in a non-professional room by yourself, so it will not matter much to you. As long as you can make critical decisions and your mixes translate to others, then you can use whatever. If you are thinking of opening a commercial studio, then you would need correct acoustics and a recognizable, defacto standard, monitor that any visiting engineer would know.

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