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Thread: RECOMMENDATIONS! Looking for good near-field monitors on a budget!

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    RECOMMENDATIONS! Looking for good near-field monitors on a budget!

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    Hello everyone!
    I am currently in the process of putting together a small home recording studio and I am a bit stuck on the issue of choosing the right studio monitors, so I decided to ask a more experienced crowd !

    Since the mixing room is quite small, I've been looking only at near-field monitors (they tend to me more pricey though than just your run-of-the-mill monitors.(I am wondering if there is a reason for that technically, or it's just a marketing strategy by manufacturers) Active / passive monitor wise, I have no preference, since the Scarlet Mini I am so far looking to buy would be able to power passive monitors as well for the size range I'm looking at.

    Size wise, since I am certain I will need to work on low-end parts of mixes, I'd like to be able to hear down to about 30-35 Hz at least until I can gather some money for a small subwoofer. So for now I thought for starters to buy a pair of monitors with at least a 5.5" woofer. This is mostly where I am lost, since I monitors with larger woofers tend to be getting way more pricey as the diameter gets larger. And also I'm not sure if it would just be too overpowering for a small mixing room, even one that is properly acoustic treated.

    So my main question is basically: what relatively budget studio monitors would you guys recommend that are near-field, have at least a foot in the door when it comes to low-end mixing. (Bonus points if they can also be cranked up a bit without them struggling a lot!)
    Thanks in advance !

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    Not sure what a "Scarlett Mini" is but if it's a Focusrite product I doubt it can drive passive monitors. Maybe you could be specific about your interface model, as well as the size of your mixing room?

    When you say "budget" monitors, what is your budget?

    The usual suspects are Yamaha and JBL - I've had both in the 5" sizes, though my JBLs were a generation or two back. I've read some positive reviews about the very latest KRK (gen4?) monitors, but don't have any experience with those. You can spend a lot more than those brands, and I'm sure I've missed an obvious brand someone else might mention. (I currently use a pair of HS5s in a small, badly shaped, 11'x11'x8', but reasonably treated, room.)

    The thing that's kind of surprising is that even though these monitors are all designed to essentially do the same thing, if you can go somewhere to listen to them next to each other, you'll realize they all have their own sound.

    You don't get real bass down to 30-35Hz with 5" drivers. It requires learning to hear a bit differently, and for many folks using reference tracks is part of that process.

    I've heard subwoofers can be problematic, especially in small rooms. It may depend on what you are mixing, but I'd guess the majority here do not use them, at least when mixing.
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    Ben,
    I picked up a pair of JBL 305 mk2s to put on my "email, Quicken and Office" computer just because the generic computer speakers suck so badly. Turns out I've used them for mixing a few things and to review mixes that were done on my larger 308s. They show up some things that you miss in the mids and upper ranges, because the DON'T cover it up with heavy bass.

    They are running about $90 each right now with all the Black Friday/Cyber sales. That's about the price of a pair of Beyer 770 headphones.

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    Below 45Hz most small speakers use cleverness to get a bass response that is greater than their size dictates, and all the ones I have heard have very strange bass. Most seem to work, and the low B on a 5 string bass comes through. The trouble is the low C, up a semitone sounds exactly the same to the ear. They're just not precise down the bottom. I have some useful Edirol 5" monitors I use for checking that appear to have loads of bass - but mixing on them produces bass light recordings. Turning the bass down, produces thin sounding audio. The box capacity is small - so ports are usual, but tuned ports covering 35 to say 200 or so are rarely, if ever flat. There will be a hump, and a corresponding notch. Ports are kind of musical plumbing. They can give more response at the bottom, but small drivers physically shift less air than big ones so you need to over emphasise the bass to allow for the tuning deficiencies.

    Good sounding bass from small speakers is tough. I have some RCF 5s, designed for front PA fills and they work pretty well once you get used to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    Below 45Hz most small speakers use cleverness to get a bass response that is greater than their size dictates, and all the ones I have heard have very strange bass.
    That is my fear as well. Although for now I am very inclined to pick a pair of Yamaha HS5s, I am unsure if I want to extend it with a sub. I have an offer for a used-but-in-perfect-condition m-audio BX10s, which I would consider using. Another "shifty" option would be to use my AKG K72s when working on low-ends during mixes.

    So for the moment I am torn between adding a BX10s sub next to a pair of HS5s and have potentially waaaaay too much or badly behaving bass in that tiny room (probably a 11x11*8 room with plaster walls that I will sound proof and treat as much as I can).

    Or just a simple pair of HS5s and the headphones for the low-end mixing. (Not sure how much that would affect the stereo mixing part.)

    Thanks for all the help !

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    I'm having to second guess everything at the moment because I'm using a monitor system away from base, and it has waaaaaaay to much at the bottom end. I cannot judge any of my old mixes because they're horrible, and removing the sub didn't help because the main speakers are too poor at the bottom end, and the sub was doing the work, but very badly = just removing bass does not fix it. I think subs really colour the mix, and if you need really low bass, then pick smaller speakers that have it, not ones that need one xtra speaker. I also know you cannot localise sub bass, but you can to a degree on say a bass guitar and the subs kind of blur this away, moving from the two speakers to the one speaker. hate it.

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    What is your budget ???????????
    I would suggest second hand blue skys if you want to get down to 35 hz. YOu could deffo look at JBL ls305s with subs.

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    If you want to hear anything useful down at 35Hz you need some serious room treatment and reasonably big speakers. I've yet to hear a sub-woofer system that works as well as a properly integrated full range speaker. I'd much prefer to work with a system with less bass but which was accurate higher up the range than a system that had more bass but less accuracy.
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    Hmm... what does "useful" mean here? I've played bass (electric bass guitar) live through my cheap crap monitors that have around what, 4" woofers maybe and they are able to produce it well enough that I can hear the note. The fundamental of the low B for example is 31 Hz. I don't know but I assume the "woofers" are like bass speakers aka deep instead of wide, to be able to reproduce frequencies that low.

    I'm no expert, quite the contrary. Just wondering. I have a guitar combo with a 12" speaker and in the context of standard guitars, "low end" is pretty much 100 Hz... and if you tried playing bass through that thing, you would rip the cone apart. Even though it's big.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spitzer View Post
    Hmm... what does "useful" mean here? I've played bass (electric bass guitar) live through my cheap crap monitors that have around what, 4" woofers maybe and they are able to produce it well enough that I can hear the note.
    Sure. Just abut any speaker will allow you to do that. But what you will be hearing is most likely the higher harmonics, rather the fundamental. So speakers that don't reproduce the low end well are useful in that you can hear at least something. You can play bass comfortably along with whatever else you are doing and hear it enough to play well. But their limitation is not being able to reproduce that low end accurately, and thus you won't hear stuff that you may need to hear.

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