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The Difference a Sound System can make


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I am amazed at the difference a sound system can make. Depending on what you use, you will hear completely different "artifacts", for lack of a better word, in the audio. Up to this point I've been listening to my songs in 2 different systems; A set of Alesis M1Active 320USB's and Sennheiser RS120 926 MHz Wireless RF Headphones. I also received a free Gear One G40DX headphones with the monitors, now a $10 value on Amazon, but only recently started listening to music with them. :-P

Here are my findings so far:

Wireless headphones -- I use them primarily. Yeah I know what you're thinking now, and you're probably right. These are not ideal at all for mixing and mastering. There's no consistent volume. There's a volume knob on the headphones, one on the monitors, and another one on my audio interface. It'll clip in the headphones or pop whereas it's probably TOO QUIET on another system. It's far too inconsistent to properly mix and master with them, so I will be using other methods starting soon.

The Alesis monitors -- I don't use these to actually mix or master. I've tried listening through them, but at a low volume the mix just isn't consistent, even with professional stuff real bands have made.. Low volume, very weak bass... seems pretty weedy.. Then at higher volumes it's better, but again, stuff sounds way too piercing at that volume.. too present, and still more muddy than it should. Just not good for monitoring I guess.. :-o

Gear One G40DX headphones -- Now here's where I was kinda surprised, because these are cheap and free. They've got an 8' cable which is nice. The frequency response is something like 18Hz to 20KHz or something in that area. They have great bass, and the mixes I've listened through them sound very consistent. The spots where there were flaws in my mixes were extremely obvious.

The reason I started noticing how different all of these were is because I recently used my car as a monitor... yea, for the first time.. I know, I'm a noob, but I never thought to do that. Mainly because I don't drive a lot, and if I just sit in there running songs, I'll run the battery out. It's a Honda Element, a 2003 but it seems to have all of the modern features.. a CD player, AUX plug for phones or ipods, even a subwoofer with controls for all that stuff. Needless to say the speakers sound very good. I was able to audibly hear compression for songs I'm working on for my new acoustic album, not the pumping kind -- I tend to avoid that form of compression completely. Nobody likes pumping, unless it's like, techno or something. I heard it more in the general thickness and muddiness of the mix itself. I listened to a little more than half of the songs, and a couple of them stuck out to me as having compression that was too strong, the others were ok. It may have even been the multi-band limiter I was noticing, not too sure.

So to anyone this wasn't obvious to (which is probably nobody but me), take a look at your various sound systems. See which ones give you the best results. And if you wouldn't mind, post what you've used and your experiences with them. :-)

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Since the woofers in those Alesis M1Active 320s are only 3in, they're not going to move enough air to produce a lot of bass frequencies. You're only getting down to 80hz at the most on them which can cut out quite a bit of that low end feeling. I have a pair of KRK monitors and I'm a huge fan of them.

It's always good to listen to your mixes on a number of different systems that you're familiar with. I have a set of computer spears that are like 10 years old but I know them very well. I do also listen to stuff in my truck. Personally, I can't stand mixing via headphones. I just get ear fatigue too quickly and that's even with a pair nice expensive cans.

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I use Sennheiser HD 202's. In terms of entry level mixing & mastering listening equipment, these are great. Only con is they have "enhanced bass response", so if you're just starting out, you need to compensate for the little extra bass, but that's easy by listening to everything you want to mix similar to, and then just have your production follow suit.

They're good for mixing, but they're better for listening. Still, for $40-$50, they're a great tool to have if you can't spend a lot on decent headphones. I upgraded to these after some weird MARATHON brand DJ headphones that, as I've heard (not from people, from music I've listened to :P), had terribly weak bass response and the Sennheiser's, as my friends have been telling me, made a huge difference in my mixing (for the better).

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The Alesis monitors -- I don't use these to actually mix or master. I've tried listening through them, but at a low volume the mix just isn't consistent, even with professional stuff real bands have made.. Low volume, very weak bass... seems pretty weedy.. Then at higher volumes it's better, but again, stuff sounds way too piercing at that volume.. too present, and still more muddy than it should. Just not good for monitoring I guess.. :-o

I've heard that 80 dB is supposed to be the sweet spot for mixing on studio monitors, and that's pretty loud. I don't know if cranking the volume then adjusting the mix to sound good would fix any problems or not, but it might be something to try if you haven't

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I almost always listen to my mixes on tinny iPod earphones, my studio headphones, my speaker system, and a TV(read: bad audio quality) speaker so I can estimate exactly how all of the different sound systems play a specific song.

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I almost always listen to my mixes on tinny iPod earphones, my studio headphones, my speaker system, and a TV(read: bad audio quality) speaker so I can estimate exactly how all of the different sound systems play a specific song.

This.

I begin with my Sennheiser HD 280 headphones, but after I do a preliminary mix, I test it on every sound system I own- laptop speakers, car stereo, home stereo, iPod headphones, etc. Then I go back and make adjustments as necessary. No one system will ever give you a solid, 100% idea of what your mix sounds like. You need to test it on many different types.

Laptop speakers- not usually very helpful. Frequency response is horrible but sometimes it can help identify piercing frequencies that might be overlooked on richer speakers.

Car stereo- I listen to music in my car a lot, probably more than any other sound system I own, so I find it to be incredibly helpful in the general shape of the mix, but details are not easy to identify.

Home stereo- my home stereo is mediocre at best, so it's not terribly great, but the massive sub woofer helps me monitor the low end, which isn't represented very well in my HD 280s.

iPod headphones, these are about the same as the laptop speakers, but since they're closer to my ears, it usually helps me find problems with the high end.

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As someone who regularly mixes on speakers that cost more then most cars, I can assure you:

Listening on a variety of shitty systems can be extremely important to finding problems in your mix.

You will however suffer to hear wtf is going on below 60Hz (accurately) though without big 'ol expensive speakers.

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Omg I want to see these speakers xD.

Oh alright. These are the ones I have regular access to at work. Not the exact ones but same models:

Bilde_20.jpg

dynaudio.jpg

They're lovely and all, but you can definitely learn new things about a mix listening on shitty speakers too.

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http://www.krksys.com/product_rokit.php

I have a pair of the Rokit 6 monitors. I still think they're one of the best things available in that price range. They have plenty of low end and I never get fatigue for mixing with them. Do yourself a favor, though. If you put a pair of monitors on your desk, you need to put something under them to help keep your desk from resonating. These aren't very expensive and they made a big difference in my setup: http://www.auralex.com/sound_isolation_mopad/sound_isolation_mopad.asp

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Haha, funny you bring that up Shaggy. I have my monitors on the shelf of my TV stand, and if I listen to music for a while, they just vibrate right off the back of the table onto the floor.

190491_10150116504793445_514668444_6729757_2040965_n.jpg

Your monitors should be at ear level with your head at the third point of the equilateral triangle with you and the two. (and they face you)

I mean that's not how everyone does it, but it's much better than having them knee level on a vibrating TV stand.

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just angle them upward to your ears. Don't both raising them to ear level. Same thing right?

I also said screw the monopads and rested mine on top of the foam packaging they came with. I A/B ed it out of curiousity and it prevented rattling of my desk. Not sure if the expensive foam does anything else special, but I'm more worried about my untreated drywall room acoustics than the foam under my speakers (or at least I think I am??)

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