"Bargain" monitors

ecc83

Well-known member
Now I know NOTHING about 'mastering' and with my hearing now, never going to but I DO know that exemplary monitor speakers are fundamental to the process.

Therefore I urge all aspiring "matererers" to check out the December issue of Sound on Sound. Therein you will find a review of the APS Klasik 2020 speakers by Phil Ward.

Phil is a very well respected engineer/designer of speaker systems and always write very detailed reviews of the monitors he tests. He has enthused over some belters over the years, The Kii and systems by Dutch & Dutch and he puts the 2020s on that level. The difference is, these monitors only cost around $1000 the PAIR!

I have for some time been planning to get a pair of APS Result Sixes but need to be in a financially more confident position before splashing best part of $3000. I COULD afford the Klasiks NOW...Sorely tempted!

Dave.
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Hope you don't mind if I jump in here -- This goes for every phase of the recording process, not just mastering. I'd MUCH rather have a handful of SM57's and great speakers over having a collection of the greatest mics in the world and a questionable monitoring chain.

My abridged "rules" for recording (because everyone says there are no rules - Maybe I should call them "Irrefutable Truths" instead):

[1] No matter your listening skills and years of experience, you will only ever hear as accurately and consistently as your monitoring chain allows you to hear.

[2] No matter how accurate and consistent your monitors might be, they will only ever be as accurate and consistent as the space they're in allows them to be.

It still makes me sad where people say "I've got $5k to spend on gear - I'm going to buy [a whole bunch of mics and preamps and cables and stuff] and a $400 set of nearfield monitors and a box of foam." And then they spend the next 5 years trying to figure out why their recordings don't sound good.

Monitoring (and the space, of course) are non-negotiable. Better monitoring makes everything better every single time. It is *the link* to every single decision you make along the entire process.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Hope you don't mind if I jump in here -- This goes for every phase of the recording process, not just mastering. I'd MUCH rather have a handful of SM57's and great speakers over having a collection of the greatest mics in the world and a questionable monitoring chain.

My abridged "rules" for recording (because everyone says there are no rules - Maybe I should call them "Irrefutable Truths" instead):

[1] No matter your listening skills and years of experience, you will only ever hear as accurately and consistently as your monitoring chain allows you to hear.

[2] No matter how accurate and consistent your monitors might be, they will only ever be as accurate and consistent as the space they're in allows them to be.

It still makes me sad where people say "I've got $5k to spend on gear - I'm going to buy [a whole bunch of mics and preamps and cables and stuff] and a $400 set of nearfield monitors and a box of foam." And then they spend the next 5 years trying to figure out why their recordings don't sound good.

Monitoring (and the space, of course) are non-negotiable. Better monitoring makes everything better every single time. It is *the link* to every single decision you make along the entire process.

Bang on. The newbs are often not even going to spend $500 all up but very, very often there is no hint as to how that $500 is going to enable them to LISTEN to their results. They handwring about this or that AI, mics, pres, DI boxes and whatnot but NEVER even mention any kind of output transducers!

For sure, you CAN start with headphones but they can only take you so far. A car analogy if you will allow? You can make a bloody good job of doing up a Moggy Minor in a home garage with some basic tools and hired ins like an engine hoist but for F1 results you need to spend a whole S**T load more money.

In a bit I shall post something son has sent me, it illustrates I think how good (and therefore largely irrelavent) budget 'front ends' can be these days but HOW much better could it be in thehands of someone like John.

The attached was done with a Mackie 91c LDC and a USB mic. Two parts son played then stitched together. Be kind, he knows NOTHING about recording. NB he has come clean and told me the parts are speeded up slightly but he assures me he WILL GET to that speed eventually!

Sorry! AI was a Berry UMC204HD.
Dave.
 

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grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Bang on. The newbs are often not even going to spend $500 all up but very, very often there is no hint as to how that $500 is going to enable them to LISTEN to their results
Sure, but one has to be realistic here. Newbs, unless they are mastering trainees of some description, generally want to record their songs and mix them, end of story. They are at the beginning of a long learning curve. Just as you don't put someone learning to drive in a F1 and stick them on the motorway, people with little money but who are hot to trot aren't going to hear you when you talk about saving big bucks for professional grade monitors. I think we sometimes miss the reality that the skill level comes before the grade of the gear.
It's somewhat different if they are endeavouring to master. I find that the distinction is never really made when newcomers are brought into the equation.

A car analogy if you will allow? You can make a bloody good job of doing up a Moggy Minor in a home garage with some basic tools and hired ins like an engine hoist but for F1 results you need to spend a whole S**T load more money
That analogy only really applies if one is looking for F1 results. And that's the thing with recording at the end of the day ~ there is a very broad spectrum with what is acceptable sound. Yes, there is obvious shitty sound and most of us recognize that. But there is also that broad spectrum in which premier gear is not a necessity but in which the results are more than acceptable.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Jusas contton pickin' Mr G! We ARE in the MASTERING section not newbs. The Man hisself has entered the debate.

I rarely opine here because, as I said "I know Jack about mastering" But I DO know about "Hi Fi" in its original and truest sense.

"Acceptable" does not cut it (unless the client wants a certain sound. Th customer is always right...Tho'I can quite see John throwing a certain type out? "I am NOT doing THAT!" )

Very few people listen to live acoustic music these days. Playing a guitar or piano does not tell you how the audience (remember them?) hears things. Yes, a lot of music is 'manufacrured these day and never did exist in reality but to mix and master even the modest forces of a piano, bass and drums jazz trio demands monitors of great accuracy and no little SPL capability.

So, accuracy and claibration. You must know from day to day that the system is consistent because your ears and brain will not be.

I also do not agree that even newbs should discount 'good' monitors, as I said, most are asking about interfaces (or USB mics!) mixers,DAWs and almost never about speakers or even decent headphones.

Dave.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
Very few people listen to live acoustic music these days. Playing a guitar or piano does not tell you how the audience (remember them?) hears things. Yes, a lot of music is 'manufacrured these day and never did exist in reality but to mix and master even the modest forces of a piano, bass and drums jazz trio demands monitors of great accuracy and no little SPL capability.

Sorry, Dave, have to disagree with you about that - with the exception that there is not as much 'live in-person' happening due to the pandemic. Acoustic guitars are more popular than ever. I saw a grand total of 3 live (drive-in) shows this past summer, all used acoustic guitars (but not exclusively).
Now if you mean 'acoustic' with no sound system, yes there hasn't been much of that for a long time.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Sorry, Dave, have to disagree with you about that - with the exception that there is not as much 'live in-person' happening due to the pandemic. Acoustic guitars are more popular than ever. I saw a grand total of 3 live (drive-in) shows this past summer, all used acoustic guitars (but not exclusively).
Now if you mean 'acoustic' with no sound system, yes there hasn't been much of that for a long time.

Yes Mike, I do mean live, unamplified 'natural' music and indeed other sounds such as speech, a very searching test of speakers.

There has grownm up a generation that has no idea of such 'natural' sounds, they experience music from buds, grotty FSTVs and phones..Jeeez! The enormous G blasters were better than the tranducers young people use today.
And ALL that is fine SO LONG as they just want to make music for their own or their mates pleasure or stick on YT but for mastering you need speakers that really DO tell the truth. No matter the genre, the 'perfect' speaker would reproduce anything and everything with total fidelity. Such monitors almost exist I think, the prblem being getting true accuracy together with "narural' SPLs. There are very few sub $1000 speakers I would aver that can do justice to a concert grand?

Dave.
 

Mickster

Well-known member
My apologies Dave....but I too have to disagree with you here.

Yes...this is the mastering section. This is where I would go for mastering advice. Yes...for "professional standard" results...as in...selling your skills as a producer...or selling your producing results / tracks / songs / collections....you would be kidding yourself to think that you could get all the way there with sub-standard equipment. But what about those who are still learning to master? Do they absolutely have to have the best stuff? They're not there yet maybe. They're not sure they want to or will go all the way. And of course...they may not have made much $$$ at this point. We can't tell them to wait. What's the point? If they follow the path...trust me...they'll learn all the points we're making here....and likely much more. Even if you're not advocating for up and coming producers to have the best to start with...you might be deterring them from starting on the path.

For recording and mixing...we do everything we can to encourage people to start....even with less than great stuff right? We don't tell entry level guitar players they need a Les Paul. Yes....they need a playable guitar....but that's about it to start with.

The idea I'm trying...poorly...to express is that....our forum is for both those who are or are almost at the top of their game....and for those who want to give it a go....even for the fun of it. Our advice is extremely valuable to those who ask questions. But...I'm willing to guess that all of us started with less than desirable equipment in our early...poor $$$....days. I know I sure did.

Just my rambling 2 cents worth...as always.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
My apologies Dave....but I too have to disagree with you here.

Yes...this is the mastering section. This is where I would go for mastering advice. Yes...for "professional standard" results...as in...selling your skills as a producer...or selling your producing results / tracks / songs / collections....you would be kidding yourself to think that you could get all the way there with sub-standard equipment. But what about those who are still learning to master? Do they absolutely have to have the best stuff? They're not there yet maybe. They're not sure they want to or will go all the way. And of course...they may not have made much $$$ at this point. We can't tell them to wait. What's the point? If they follow the path...trust me...they'll learn all the points we're making here....and likely much more. Even if you're not advocating for up and coming producers to have the best to start with...you might be deterring them from starting on the path.

For recording and mixing...we do everything we can to encourage people to start....even with less than great stuff right? We don't tell entry level guitar players they need a Les Paul. Yes....they need a playable guitar....but that's about it to start with.

The idea I'm trying...poorly...to express is that....our forum is for both those who are or are almost at the top of their game....and for those who want to give it a go....even for the fun of it. Our advice is extremely valuable to those who ask questions. But...I'm willing to guess that all of us started with less than desirable equipment in our early...poor $$$....days. I know I sure did.

Just my rambling 2 cents worth...as always.

"Mastering for Newbs"? Interesting concept. In another thread someone mentioned carpenters and their tools and the fact that even at the start buy good ones and build your toolbox as you learn and go.

You CAN get by with a £20 dynamic mic and a £50 interface but if you do not know WTF the stuff is suppose to sound like you are buggered.

No, the newb does not need to spend Beamer money on a Kii cardiod system, there are a few small monitors of limited bass response and SPL that nevertheless give accurate midrange reproduction (if you don't have the kit yet to build a roof don't do it, make toy cars)


What I am trying to say (several times!) is "Monitors and your room are the BASICS to making a good product, start there.
But IN the NEWB newb section, do WTF you like. Not a bit of good her picking out tiles for the wet room if the bloody place needs underpinning.

Dave.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Jusas contton pickin' Mr G! We ARE in the MASTERING section not newbs
I know that Dave. That's why I added the caveats
Newbs, unless they are mastering trainees of some description
It's somewhat different if they are endeavouring to master
to what I said. Massive took the debate outside of mastering, you agreed with what he said. In all the time I've been on HR, I've been conscious that because we appeal to all types in all situations, there is never going to be a one size fits all solution to very much and the proof of the pudding is often in the eating. Just as I'd never tell a new guitarist that they should learn every chord and some theory before attempting to write songs, I'd try to meet people where they are at.
Truth be told, the mastering section rarely carries queries from people that actually want to be masterers, much less the optimum gear to have and so a lot of the conversations here can get conflated with general recording and mixing.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
I know that Dave. That's why I added the caveats
to what I said. Massive took the debate outside of mastering, you agreed with what he said. In all the time I've been on HR, I've been conscious that because we appeal to all types in all situations, there is never going to be a one size fits all solution to very much and the proof of the pudding is often in the eating. Just as I'd never tell a new guitarist that they should learn every chord and some theory before attempting to write songs, I'd try to meet people where they are at.
Truth be told, the mastering section rarely carries queries from people that actually want to be masterers, much less the optimum gear to have and so a lot of the conversations here can get conflated with general recording and mixing.

Well! All I can say is, just because others pollute certain sections that is no reason to blame me!

Ok, fairnuff but I am still going to stick to my guns and say " Newb newb, wannabe mastering newb, whatever, unless you have a REASONABLY decent way to hear your creations you are doome to failure"

To get all engineering on yer ass, MOST systems get designed from the desired OUTPUT back!

Dave.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I'll stick my .02 cents in here....

If you are just concerned with mastering, then put your money in the monitoring system, and whatever plugins and processing you find necessary. You're not on the recording end here. I've not heard the APS Klasiks, but I would spend at least as much time checking out monitors as I did when I was stereo hunting in 1980. Speakers first and then move backwards to the cartridge.

If you are planning to do the whole process from playing your guitar and singing to posting a final product on Soundcloud, you better have at least decent front end gear. No amount of mixing/fiddling/plugins is going to fix a crappy starting point. Its just lipstick on a pig. I'll mix in my stereo systems if I have to.

If nothing else, if you have a good recording, you can ALWAYS go back later when you can afford those nice $1000 monitors in a great room and remix.

If you've got money to burn, then buy all means get the best at each step.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
I'll stick my .02 cents in here....

If you are just concerned with mastering, then put your money in the monitoring system, and whatever plugins and processing you find necessary. You're not on the recording end here. I've not heard the APS Klasiks, but I would spend at least as much time checking out monitors as I did when I was stereo hunting in 1980. Speakers first and then move backwards to the cartridge.

If you are planning to do the whole process from playing your guitar and singing to posting a final product on Soundcloud, you better have at least decent front end gear. No amount of mixing/fiddling/plugins is going to fix a crappy starting point. Its just lipstick on a pig. I'll mix in my stereo systems if I have to.

If nothing else, if you have a good recording, you can ALWAYS go back later when you can afford those nice $1000 monitors in a great room and remix.

If you've got money to burn, then buy all means get the best at each step.

Yes BUT Rich You have a very decent hi fi rig (it seems?) The tyros I am talking about probably do not (and wouldn't have a fekkin clue how to feed it from an AI anyway!)

"Decent front end gear" What? The UMC204HD I had sounds EXACTLY the same as my Ni KA6 and the A&H mixer into a 2496 sounds the same as both of them out of my Tannoys. Microphone? Matter of taste largely. I would always suggest an LDC for vocals and a 57 for cabs but no real argument either way.

Electronics has virtually reached the limit of physical limits for noise and distortion and is staggeringly cheap. QUALITY loudspeakers never will be.

Dave.
 

CoolCat

Well-known member
Monitoring (and the space, of course) are non-negotiable. Better monitoring makes everything better every single time. It is *the link* to every single decision you make along the entire process.

I get confused on this, though it makes logical sense, the rooms I see of the Beatle sessions control room pictures look like a small crowded area with those large fred flinstone looking Altecs,,,,then as I understand the process they would take that mix and run the reels upstairs to their mastering room, which used a better room with the same speakers....

would that room/s sounded better than the picture presents it?

Obviously they had success in mixing and mastering, but why does it look in the pictures the speakers and room seem less than impressive?

And that Eilish and Brother mix engineer said he didnt do hardly anything to their mixes and they were done in that bedroom with Yamaha H7? or something...cheap...for the 5 grammy project. Not my type music but it sounded very commercial. ..as good as McCartneys new releases in top end studios. Though I dont have a clue what speakers or mix/master rooms they used specifically.
 

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ecc83

Well-known member
Good Gravy CC! You are talking about POP sound production well over FIFTY years ago. The Altcs and the Tannoys of the day WERE the best they could get especially in terms of SPL capability. Don't forget, the Beatles used AC30s they were and still are ;king loud amplifiers and they would have wanted the replays to be close to the original SPL.

But there were few people, avery few who were very dissatisfied with the then very coloured sound of monitors. Loud for sure but not really an accurate reproduction of say a piano. One great pioneer was Peter Walker of quad fame who laoured hard to produce the Electrostatic Loud Speaker. No, not loud but a pair could top 90dB and gave a rendition of instruments and voices of ann accuracy never heard before a transient response to die for and pin sharp stereo imaging. It took the industry a very long time to come up with a direct radiator MC speaker that could even start to compete with the ELS. Spendor were very close and the various BBC derivitives.

Bottom line. The mixes for Peppers might have been done on Altecs but in the classical side of recording QC checks were made on Quads!

Dave.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
I get confused on this, though it makes logical sense, the rooms I see of the Beatle sessions control room pictures look like a small crowded area with those large fred flinstone looking Altecs,,,,then as I understand the process they would take that mix and run the reels upstairs to their mastering room, which used a better room with the same speakers....

would that room/s sounded better than the picture presents it?

Obviously they had success in mixing and mastering, but why does it look in the pictures the speakers and room seem less than impressive?

And that Eilish and Brother mix engineer said he didnt do hardly anything to their mixes and they were done in that bedroom with Yamaha H7? or something...cheap...for the 5 grammy project. Not my type music but it sounded very commercial. ..as good as McCartneys new releases in top end studios. Though I dont have a clue what speakers or mix/master rooms they used specifically.

Things were much different in the Beatles days!

From what I understand the Eilish songs were mixed in the bedroom, but mastered by a true mastering engineer.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Yes BUT Rich You have a very decent hi fi rig (it seems?) Dave.

I don't know, its got a bunch of old British and Canadian stuff that I got years ago! I guess those IMFs do ok. and the old Rega still goes around in circles 40 years later! Bryston does make a nice power amp. Ah, the glory days of hi-fi reproduction.

I noticed that Falcon Acoustics in Oxford still makes the classic LS 3/5a. I remember when that was supposed to THE monitor for a lot of people , along with the JBL 4310.
 
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