tissues over MSP5's

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by EEEECHUTA, Apr 21, 2005.



    i thought maybe some fellow MSP5 owners might like to try this trick to "tone down" the highs. just take tissue (preferably something thicker than tissue - like paper towel) and tape it over tweeter. that's it. i think the same thing was done before on the NS-10's.

    i've found that it's not easy to work with the MSP5's for more than a couple of hours, but with the tissues the problem is quite alleviated. it does a lot more than the HF gain switch. also i tend to notice more midrange material without the highs jabbing mercilessly at my ear. oddly enough it also makes the MSP5's MUCH more suitable for pleasure listening.
  2. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    i was just wandering if you ever treated your room acusticly? because ive not noticed any hi frequancy problems on my msp's
  3. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    Sep 29, 2004
    talk about band-aids...
  4. bounce

    bounce Guest

    just be sure to calibrate your mixes after the tissue treatment so they aren't too bright (compensating for the duller reference). unless, of course they have already been deficient in the upper freqs (which is why you would break out the tissue).


    mckay : )
  5. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Yes. Before blaming your speakers for having too many highs, have you tried listening to those same "high sounding things" anywhere else? Maybe the highs are actually there and the speakers are just trying to let you know?

    Frankly, distortion of the right type can be very fatiguing and artificially loud-sounding. Maybe there is some distortion in your system or in your process and the speakers are just trying to let you know that?

    If we're going to call our speakers "monitors" and use them as such, we do have to trust them, until, somehow, they(Not something else) are proven "wrong"...




    what kind of distortion are you referring to? i also suspected equipment like the mixer or bad cables screweing up my signals. (actually i did find such a cable that was phase reversed and messing everything up) but could it be some kind of "quasi-inaudible" distortion, that one wouldn't notice immediately, but only after the ears get fatigued?

    i was also wondeirng whether i should set the m-audio delta control panel to "consumer" or "-10dbV" output. or if it really doesn't matter.
  7. jamiey

    jamiey Guest

    Yeah, I've had it set up where I'm monitoring through a behringer mixer (an older one) and when switching it to just go direct from soundcard to speakers there is less 'grit' or harshness in the highs. When using better converters, the highs are also alot smoother and less irritating.

    Hey, you could also wear ear plugs when mixing, that helps sometimes. :)
  8. dasbin

    dasbin Guest

    I noticed the same thing about these speakers. I don't like them at all. Wimpy bass and hard, fatiguing, undetailed highs. Which is weird considering I usually like my speakers on the bright side.

    Tissues are indeed an old NS-10 trick.. it works but you might also lose some detail and you should be very careful as to how much you apply... you're changing the whole balance of the speaker (and hence, your mixes).
    Of course the better option is probably just to take them back and get some speakers you can actually stand mixing on. Makes sense really.


    well, the thing is, i've had it connected direct from the m-audio to the speakers all along. however certain sources were going through the mixer and i've noticed that they were somewhat more grating than stuff coming straight from the audio card.

    i guess there's nothing wrong with the speakers themselves, i mean they really do sound great, especially on good recordings, but only for the first 10 minutes of listening. after that i find that i can continue listening but it is no longer "pleasurable" - and if i listen to the msp5's for more than an hour, strange things happen - i'll start putting fingers in my ear for instance and rubbing them, i'll hear normal sounds around me differently. i guess i'm just not used to a real "Flat" frequency response (i believe most consumer speakers are designed to gently roll off high frequencies past 2Khz?) also, the imaging is too good sometimes, to the point where i can't stand it! like if I'm composing something and I put a hihat panned 50% left with nothing similar to balance it out on the right, it will REALLY irritate me.

    at this point i'm keeping them as a reference monitor for completed mixes but I really hoped I could have a pair of speakers that could be used for both accurate mixing and long sessions of composing music (which is what I primarily do, mixing/mastering is a distant second). right now i'm monitoring everythign through cheap $30 headphones - for the sake of my ears and mental health.
  10. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    if your compsing and dont really want to worry about the sound your getting, a litle set of klispitch or bose speakers; ya know sompthing flatering.

    and if you can stand the sound of the mps5s with a bad mix just fix it :)
  11. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Yes. What distortion? Hard to say... Can come from anywhere - and does - which is one reason why one tends to spend more and more and more for their equipment and their room, all in an attempt to make everything sound perfect.

    Point? The price, the size, your room, the rest of your gear, all contribute to the "sound" you hear - along with your mix and your ears. If it means anything, I'd rather your walls be covered with something that "acts" like the tissue paper(Dulls the highs a bit.), though this could be totally wrong too? May be impossible to pin blame without some sort of help(So far, the best professional help you have are the people who made the speakers - the folks at Yamaha - who are pretty good at this sort of thing. Maybe they're right?).

    Worst part? No one who uses these things, or anything in their price-range, has any better situation than you and they won't be much help - 'cause they don't know either. Only folks that could possibly speak with authority are those with proven good rooms and experience hearing things "how they should sound"... Tough to find as they've all long had multi-thousand dollar speakers in finely-tuned rooms - and they don't care anymore, about tiny 500 dollar speakers... One reason I rely on reviews by what appear to be(How do I actually know?) people who may be able to give me a truer picture, based on more than just "Wow! These are the best speakers I've ever owned!!!)...

    It might be interesting to mix the highs "lower", notch 'em out, EQ them down, whatever, until - to you - things DON'T sound too "bright" or irritating? Even pre-recorded things(Novice mixers have no "lock" on bad mixes...). Also, digital recording is MUCH better at reproducing high frequencies and high frequencies - left uncontrolled - CAN be irritating!(Not to me, I can no longer hear the "dog frequencies". Oh well... ) Then, do what everyone else in the world does - try your non-irritating mixes on any other set(s) of speakers, anywhere that you can find, trying to hear how your mixes sound "generally". Are they still non-irritating and nice or are the highs now "gone" period or "dull"? Frankly, even if you leave in the "irritating" highs with YOUR speakers, do you still hear them in ANY OTHER speakers? Maybe with some maybe not others(Surprise, surprise!). Even the folks with the best of everything do this(Really doesn't help much but we are all neurotic.).

    There are several possibilites.

    1. The speakers ARE too bright.
    2. The mix(Yours OR anyone elses) IS too bright.
    3. Your room is too bright.
    4. Your ears are too bright.
    5. Something else in the system is too bright.
    6. There is actual, irritating, distortion.
    7. You've never heard things "properly", up to now?

    Actually, ALL of the above can be assumed to be true, to some degree. We are talking 500 dollar speakers, an M-Audio interface, a room not likely designed/ built professionally for audio - even designed for these speakers and an operator for whom these speakers may be "the best ever owned"?

    If it's any consolation, you've likely got some of the best 500 dollar speakers made. Others, in the range, will have the same or other "deficiencies"(If deficiencies they are?), even if the rest of the system is perfect(It isn't.).

    Best to use them, get used to them, learn to compensate for them - by making mix changes or "head" changes and when you can, upgrade - everything - like everyone else does...

  12. Antho

    Antho Guest

    You may just be sitting too close to them? What kind of music are you using as reference that is revealing them as harsh and fatiguing? Could be the mixes themselves...could be your chain...could be a lot of thing.

    ""and if i listen to the msp5's for more than an hour, strange things happen - i'll start putting fingers in my ear for instance and rubbing them, i'll hear normal sounds around me differently.""

    I don't want to sound too conclusive...but you ideally should be able to work on appropriate monitors for quite a while with regular breaks. You should not be in pain, and this is not a characterisitc of good monitors...

    I always founds what you are saying applied to NS10's as well...I always found them fatiguing, but they have a strange balance that seems to work to give you a nice mix on other speaker systems...it's like a temporary pain for pleasure in the long run. They had mids but lack of lows and not nice highs, so you'd tame your highs, boost your lows and end up with a nice bottom end and dipped mids in your final mix...which sounds pleasing on a lot of PA's etc...

    But, I personally take monitoring and my ears so seriously (ears ARE you main and most essential piece of equipment other than brain and body) that I spent a lot on good monitors that provide good balance, and aren't fatiguing to listen to (unless the source material is fatiguing). I can comfortably work with them for ten - fifteen hours with regular breaks...

    Consider what someone above said: AFTER you've eliminated all possibilities... take them back for something else..

    It's all vey well saying treat your room etc etc, but you need to be able to afford rrom treatment to do that...and if you can't you need to get a decent monitor in the meantime that doesn't hurt you ears...

    Tissues was an old NS10 trick as someone's already mentioned...but it's a bandaid trick, and far from accurate. If you had an old fre pair of NS10's, I'd say go for it...but you have bought new monitors...so shouldn't have to be in pain to get your mixes...
  13. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    There is a very simple thing you can do to try things out. Get some long cables and move the speakers to different places. Try them in you bedroom, try them in the largest room you have, if you have a tiled bathroom try them there, if at all possible take them outside and try them out there. I have a small-headphone to 1/4 inch plug, allowing me to use my portable CD to test things like this.

    I can guarantee that you will find that there is a large difference in sound.

    Once you have tried this in different places, you might find that they are still tiring to listen to. In that case, do change them.

    Or you might find that you really should do something about your room and listening situation. Changing high frequency response of a room is rather easy to do. Changing the bass response of a room may be trickier.

  14. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    also try listening to finished music, profestional music. also how loud is it turned up, it could just be to damn loud.
  15. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Roger the loudness.

    Seems to me that the last thing to "go", in a tiny pair of speakers is the tweeter(Always tiny anyway.). So, as you crank up the vu, the bass doesn't get much louder(There isn't much!), the mids don't get too much louder only the tweeter gets louder right to the end of the volume control..!

    You may just be asking for too much volume with these small speakers... Are they still "really bad" when set at a volume that your Mom wouldn't object to? How do they sound when volume is set "low"? Do they lose "everything" or maintain a nice balance, without the harsh highs?

    Of course, let's not forget the small price for these things. They ARE good - for the price and for the size - they are certainly NOT the best monitors for critical listening, simply a fine option when one can't afford anything bigger or better.

  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I lived with the MSP5's for quite some time and I was bummed when I was asked to return them. Now after much time to dwell on it, I wish I had bit the bullet and shelled out the cash to just keep them.

    I did not find the highs to be harsh at all, in fact I thought they were very "sweet" sounding. I also did not think the MSP5's lacked low end ... they are quite accurate down to 50Hz and useable down to 40Hz. Even 12" woofs don't do much better than that. Most home studios don't have the volume to accurately support speakers that go lower than 50Hz. It's silly to even attempt to get that kind of low end response going if you don't have a room that is at least 14' X 16' X 20' (as an example). Minimum dimensions for a full bass wave at 40Hz is 14 feet!

    You seem to be fixated on this whole "speaker fatigue concept" ... from the time when your cables were defective to this problem. I know you say that you are having the same problem when you listen to playback of commercial CDs but are you sure you are not convincing yourself there is a problem when there really isn't one? I have to wonder along with everyone else, are you listening to playback at too high a level? What kind of front end are you using? What are you recording and at what levels are you tracking? Are you mixing out of the box or with a cheap mixer? What are you using for a sound card and converters? I really think your problem lies elsewhere that with the monitors. If you really hate the MSP5's, make me an offer I can't refuse.. and I'll buy them.


    hi everybody,

    thanks for all the replies, some of them were very informative and allowed me to gain perspective on the situation. just to let you know, i'm one of those people who are extremely intolerant of loud volumes, so actually I am running the MSP5's at a fairly low volume.

    the more than i listen to the MSP5's the more i believe it has nothing to do with the HF, because i took off the tissues the next day. i still got ear fatigue and strangely enough it's only in my right ear. actually funny thing is my left ear seems perfectly fine with the MSP5's, but my right ear seems to have objections as it gets "annoyed" and i catch myself rubbing my right ear numerous times. I also turn down the volume on the right speaker by two or three notches because it's more comfortable that way. i also get into the strange habit of turning myself 90 degrees so that my left ear primarily faces the speakers. i originall thought maybe the speakers were not identical but i swithced them around and whaddya know... same problem. maybe it's an room acoustics problem i don't know.

    i was thinking about selling these but then i've found that as long as I don't work with them more than say 30 minutes at a time i can take it. after that my right ear complains. it's very strange because even extremely low volumes doesn't cure the symptoms. maybe i'll get used to them .. not sure. they are useful for the mix/mastering stage so i'll just use headphones to compose. i find it much more pleasant to compose through cheap headphones anyhow, things just sound better during the process.
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I had that same problem when I was working everyday ... after a few hours my ears would "fuzz up" and begin itching. I noticed the problem was exacerbated when I was listening to a lot of out of phase sources.

    I get the impression that you are working with a lot of MIDI based sound modules and tone generators. You do realize that a lot of these things use mono samples that are phase inverted to crate a stereo effect don't you?

    The problem may also lie in your acoustics which are causing sounds to arrive at your ears at different (slightly delayed) times ... which would explain why you seem to prefer home stereo speakers ... because they're not as phase and point coherent as reference monitors and not intended for near field use.
  19. Antho

    Antho Guest

    I must agree...it could be the acoustics. It could easily also be that the left monitor really does have some distortion which would definately cause problems with your hearing.

    It could possibly also be your ear? I just spent 7 hours in emergency ward of the eye and ear hospital with a ringing in my right ear (tinnitus I thought). I had not listened to anything loud or constant for weeks, and I taught at an audio engineering college for years that people needed to look after their hearing and how to do it (level variations...never too loud or continuous...not to listen to harsh distortions loud for long times...)

    The ringing dissapeared over night...but it makes me wonder if it might just be your ear? Otherwise it's gonna be any number of the things mentioned in this thread



    kurt i think it might have something to do with the phase effect you are talking about. I do work with a rather el-cheap SC-8850 which does in fact have stereo samples. One unusual phenomenon is that through the monitors, stereo patches sound very annoying! It's like a phase thing or something, because with the monitors, if I can't locate the source of a particular sound, it drives my ears nuts.

    But when I listen to the same stereo patches played back through say the $10 headphones or the Klipsch, it sounds absolutely lovely... it's spacey and it feels good.

    Indeed, I think that part of the "fatigue" comes from imaging. I do recall being very surprised that I could visualize very clearly where each sound was coming from (with the MSP5's) But if I had any problems doing that, it would be so annoying. I think acoustics are also playing a part in it. I need to turn the right monitor down one or two notches so that the mono imaging is dead center. If I open the window doors behind the monitors, bass response is lower but everything sound slightly more soothing.

    I also thought it might be my ear but I haven't listened to the MSP5's for two days, and the moment I turned them on, my right ear immediately started to object. They have no objections to cheap $10 headphones.

    The thing is I am primarily a composer. Most of the work I do is mixed AND mastered at a professional studio. While I would like to have had accuracy, it certainly doesn't take priority over fatigue. And I don't think I would go out and spend the $$$ to treat my room without knowing for 100% certainity what is causing the problem. Is there any sure fire way to determine if indeed the speakers are sounding different? Or that acoustics are causing stereo imaging problems? Or that something else is causing phase problems?

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