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"Bare Minimum" Starter Remix Advice


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Hello everyone,

I have decided to start remixing music, possibly for this site, possibly for my own pursuits. I need to know what the bare essentials are for remixing; at this point I have very little idea of this, and will appreciate all the help I can get.

I know I need some sort of a sequencer (i.e. software that lets you arrange notes/rhythms, define key signatures, etc.), some sort of music library (software that contains instrumentation for you to use in your remixes), and some sort of mastering hardware (a mixer to turn your arranged music into "real" existing music).

Please, keep it simple and just give me a numbered list of the things I will need...I already read djpretzel's thread about buying software/hardware from some other site that OCR is affiliated with, so I will keep that in mind. If you have company/manufacturer recommendations, you can include those as well.

Also please keep in mind: I am not interested in expensive, highly-modern/detailed software or hardware, just stuff that will get the job done effectively. As far as instruments go, I think a basic guitar/orchestra set will be more than enough.

Again, I am totally new to remixing (although not new to music...I have been playing piano/guitar for years and am fairly skilled at performing it "live"). I need help getting started, and I know OCR is the place to go for stuff like this.

Any help is appreciated - thanks so much.

-ContinueTheEnd

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Hello everyone,

I have decided to start remixing music

Making music (or better, music production) It's remixing if you decide to pick something existing - but the tools aren't any different. People keep using the term "remix" while they really shouldn't, because what happens here has not so much to do with remixing in the way it's used - on the other hand, the name is short, rolls nicely off the tongue, and doesn't require 3 sentences to explain the caveats. It's just that when people like you get in here and say they want to remix, what they really mean is something different.

What's done here is that you take an existing piece of music and reinterpret it; in a different style, with completely different instrumentation, and perhaps even with several variations on the melody. It goes beyond remixing. But - enough about terminology, it's not worth the effort or disk space to discuss it.

Older video game music sounds like it does because of a set of unique constraints that composers probably wouldn't have come up with themselves. Newer video game music is no longer tied down to limitations in music reproduction systems, so you get CD- (or DVD-) quality audio. That may seem less of a challenge until you find out that you have to make the music change to fit the mood (or location, or action) performed in-game, and this is pretty damn difficult - but a completely different constraint from writing music for a NES or something.

I know I need some sort of a sequencer (i.e. software that lets you arrange notes/rhythms, define key signatures, etc.), some sort of music library (software that contains instrumentation for you to use in your remixes)

They're called DAWs and plugins respectively. Add to that: an audio interface (soundcard for music production - that way you can record your bass and piano) and a controller keyboard (a synthesizer without built-in sounds that sends note information to your computer - it usually has sliders and knobs to, simplifying operation greatly).

For realistic instruments you generally want a sampler (while other solutions exist, it's still one of the cheapest and fastest ways to get yourself strings, brass, piano etc.). For synthetic instruments, there's a never-ending list of possibilities.

and some sort of mastering hardware (a mixer to turn your arranged music into "real" existing music).

No, you do not need mastering hardware, and music does not become "real". It's already real the moment it comes out of the speakers.

There is mixing: it simply means adjusting the volume levels of each instrument or part that you play so you get a balanced whole. This depends on the genre of music (and "remixing" is not a genre, otherwise everything on this site would sound similar. It doesn't.).

There is mastering: that is to take a good mix and make it suitable for duplication. If you have a collection of songs and you want to put 'm on an album, it may mean that some decisions you made during mixing (brightness, loudness of instruments) may be altered so songs blend together better as a whole.

Mastering will not fix a bad song. It will not add magic sparkles. If your mixing sucks, mastering will not be able to untangle all the separate instruments to fix your mix (if you put the bass in wayyy too loud so it's distorted, mastering will not be able to un-distort it).

It may not even be necessary to do it if you mixed everything correctly.

Also please keep in mind: I am not interested in expensive, highly-modern/detailed software or hardware, just stuff that will get the job done effectively. As far as instruments go, I think a basic guitar/orchestra set will be more than enough.

Expensive is very much relative.

If you'd buy Reason, you have a bunch of tools at your disposal that would make any 80s studio (that required a million dollar investment for that) green with envy.

However, if you start saying "what? $400? I can't afford that!" then you either have to get some perspective (making music never has been cheaper and it still gets cheaper every day) and save up, or go to even lower budgetary regions. However, it will generally take you more effort to make things sound polished.

For instance, there's Omnisphere. Great plugin, huge library of sounds, each of 'm sounds instantly usable because they've been putting lots of experience in sound design to work. It's almost as costly as Reason by itself, though.

You can make some of those sounds by combining and tweaking several cheaper (or free) plugins - but there's no quick guide explaining how that works. In fact, it's going to take you a year or so to learn how it works, and your first attempts will all sound like crud.

So, it's a tradeoff between convenience and money - and since time is money, is your own time cheap?

Specify your budget, and we'll see what we can do.

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Hello everyone,

I have decided to start remixing music, possibly for this site, possibly for my own pursuits. I need to know what the bare essentials are for remixing; at this point I have very little idea of this, and will appreciate all the help I can get.

I know I need some sort of a sequencer (i.e. software that lets you arrange notes/rhythms, define key signatures, etc.), some sort of music library (software that contains instrumentation for you to use in your remixes), and some sort of mastering hardware (a mixer to turn your arranged music into "real" existing music).

Please, keep it simple and just give me a numbered list of the things I will need...I already read djpretzel's thread about buying software/hardware from some other site that OCR is affiliated with, so I will keep that in mind. If you have company/manufacturer recommendations, you can include those as well.

Also please keep in mind: I am not interested in expensive, highly-modern/detailed software or hardware, just stuff that will get the job done effectively. As far as instruments go, I think a basic guitar/orchestra set will be more than enough.

Again, I am totally new to remixing (although not new to music...I have been playing piano/guitar for years and am fairly skilled at performing it "live"). I need help getting started, and I know OCR is the place to go for stuff like this.

Any help is appreciated - thanks so much.

-ContinueTheEnd

Check out Darkesword's (he's a cool guy and one of the mods) soundfonts. He has lots of great free soundfonts for orchestral stuff. Actually, google lots of free soundfonts too.

Things don't have to be expensive to sound great.

For DAWS and stuff like that, FL Studio, Ableton, Reason, Pro Tools are all popular and work equally well.

Check this out too http://rekkerd.org/fretted-synth/ some soundfonts and free vst plugins. Some decent guitar effects vsts it seems. I've tried out the wah stomp box and I love it. Not as good as a real wah pedal but I don't own a real wah pedal atm so that's the next best thing.

If you're recording stuff....you can use mics or direct line in. Both have their ups and downs. I'm currently using a mic for recording guitar but I'd actually rather go line in. Also, MIDI keyboards are extremely useful. You don't need a super high end one either. I hear you can even use the midi keyboards for the "Rockband game" though I haven't checked that out myself so i dunno if it's true. I just have a cheap yamaha one and it works well.

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Rozo has a basic remix guide, it's a pretty useful tool, but you seem to already understand the basics. I've personally started writing barely a year and a half ago. Here's some simple advice:

-Be eager but not over eager. I'd honestly wish I'd picked up music as a hobby much earlier, but because I couldn't remix a specific song, or play something a certain way I honestly just dropped the hobby. Music is something that requires time, from playing to composing to mixing. A lot of time to learn and practice especially at first >_<

-Don't get too caught up into one idea, in other words it might actually be best that you not try a remix first, or at least not a remix for OC remix. Remixes are good because by covering an existing song you kind of learn the feel of composing with out going too far out on your own, but more or less it might be better to "cover" songs before remixing. The very first thing I wrote was not a remix, it was actually an accident. When making a remix of music from pokmon battle music I created a rift and eventually made my own song. It wasn't until 8 months later did I even attempt to remix a song and it still wasn't oc quality. I'm still trying to master my skills, mixing and rhythm. Music for me honestly is more of experimentation and serendipity than it is skill. You will always have ideas coming to your head some sound awesome and it's disappointing when you can record or capture them the way you want, but honestly it gets better the more you start to pick up writing and playing. Your ear will improve as you listen to music while simultaneously trying to write your own.

-You don't need to have a musical background, but you should become more musically observant. Listen to things within the a genre that inspires your or that you want to write. Notice what "voices" (instruments, whatever) tend to play together, and the general feel each voice/instrument's notes add to the song. Music is about what sounds nice together and you can learn a bit from existing songs. Also notice patterns and pattern changes that can occur in songs. In addition to listening to each instrument/voice pay attention to the role each instrument plays. From experience you know that rock music uses guitars as a lead, for many genre's it's apparent, but on a song by song basis see how each role's notes and rhythm shape the song.

- Pick up an instrument, have someone teach you or self teach. Though it's not necessary but it may help. I wasn't a stranger to music when I started writing, but honestly I wish I kept up my piano lessons from when I was younger, I can't play in rhythm to save my life. Also keep in mind that composing your own music requires 3 skills. Composing (not necessarily writing, just knowing what sounds good together), playing (assuming you're going to use a DAW with a midi keyboard, even if not playing can help), and mixing (mastering and creating a true final product) Each with it's own general skill set.

With regards to equipment you have a laptop all you need is a DAW (digital audio workstation). If you own a mac, they should come with garageband right? if not there's a "freeware" windows equivalent called mixcraft. Mixcraft is literally plug and play, it's what I've been using, though to mix mp3s after 2 weeks you'll probably wanna buy it it's only $80 which is fairly cheap for DAWs, and honestly I don't know any free ones. The thing is of course when you get your feet wet and you're well grounded, you'll probably wanna move on to a better DAW, logic cubase, hell even pro tools if you're feeling confident. DAWs run Vsts or virtual instruments which are either synths (sounds very commonly found in modern/pop music) or sampled (actually recorded from an instrument that has a player). I'm bringing this up because you can actually buy libraries of virtual instruments, and a good DAW should be able to run ones outside of the program's initial library (mixcraft can, but fyi it can get laggy depending on your comp, more powerful DAWs have no problem usually).

In addition to a DAW you'll probably want a midi keyboard/controler. If you're family has any electric pianos or keyboards they should plug up to your computer. If not, keyboards can be fairly cheap especially if you're just starting out. If you're really bold though you could just use a computer mouse and computer keyboard lol. Anyways, I know it's a lot of info but good luck with everything. Finding feedback or getting questions answered can be tough, but if I ever see you around I have no problem answering anything.

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Making music (or better, music production) It's remixing if you decide to pick something existing - but the tools aren't any different. People keep using the term "remix" while they really shouldn't, because what happens here has not so much to do with remixing in the way it's used - on the other hand, the name is short, rolls nicely off the tongue, and doesn't require 3 sentences to explain the caveats. It's just that when people like you get in here and say they want to remix, what they really mean is something different.

I'm not sure if my definition of "remix" is too rigorous/strict, but I say if you're using source material of any type (whether from a video game, song, or live performance), you're remixing...even if you tweak it significantly and add your own interpretations/effects, etc., you're still using the original music as a springboard.

"Making" your own music refers to starting from scratch - basically freeballing an entire piece from what's in your mind. True, your mind contains bits and pieces of music/songs/sounds that you've heard from other sources, but it's much more difficult to make a coherent piece from all that than it is to start with a definite source.

Semantics aside, thanks to you (and everyone else) for the advice - you mentioned budget. Let's pretend that I wouldn't like to spend more than 500$ on my setup...can you give me some recommended DAW/library/audio interface/controller keyboard recommendations?

I definitely want something that will give me OCR quality (assuming I know how to use the equipment properly), but at the same time is not overkill. I know it's difficult to spit out some concrete advice, but I do appreciate any and all tips you can give me.

Thanks again everyone for all your help.

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My guide keeps getting mentioned all the time... and it's still not done. :Dhere is it, my remix guide thread.

Also, if you're incorporating or even basing your music on existing material, you're still _making_ your own music out of it. Otherwise, nobody has made any original music since someone invented chords. :P

When it comes to budget, I'd advice you to stick to free stuff while learning. It's easier to start if you have simple tools without a dozen keyswitches, envelopes, and sample morphing. That, and free tools are... well, free. No budget problems. :D That said, quality instruments cost, and they get you a better sound with less effort. You still have to mix it tho. Anyway, workflow is much more important than price. If you like how FL works, get that. If you like how REAPER works, get that. Try out everything you can get your hands on, see what works the best, and buy that. Unless you're going for Nuendo, it should be within a reasonable price. Getting a good library and a controller and stuff would add to the budget, probably more than the DAW itself, so that's another reason to start with free stuff. Hardware usually isn't available for free download, tho. ;)

ppl have made ocr-level stuff with free tools. Nutritious had a thread about making a soundfont orchestra sound good, DarkeSword has iirc beenusing free tools for many of his works, and many ocr tracks have been made in GarageBand (which is pretty much free with a Mac purchase). Price isn't a big issue, cuz making music here is about skill, not expensive tools. I got mixes posted here before I had Komplete and Omnisphere and whatever else I've got.

Blah blah blah blah. Guide link drop. Blah blah blah. :D

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I'm not sure if my definition of "remix" is too rigorous/strict, but I say if you're using source material of any type (whether from a video game, song, or live performance), you're remixing...

Yes, but this also shows how terms and definitions change over time. Anyway - it's not the so much the strictness of the definition, more that "music production" will generally yield many more usable results on search engines if you're looking for tutorials.

Let's pretend that I wouldn't like to spend more than 500$ on my setup...can you give me some recommended DAW/library/audio interface/controller keyboard recommendations?

Are you willing to go secondhand?

First of all, a cheap and capable sequencer (already mentioned) is Reaper. $40 (soon $60) for individual, personal use. Even the full license is really cheap compared to bigger packages.

Another option would be to get one of the "lite" versions of other sequencer packages - Cubase Essential gives you Halion Sonic which means you instantly have a neat sample-based library. There are also several cheap/free plugins but most of 'm are synthesizers, not sample libraries with orchestral instruments.

If you're working with a desktop computer, get a PCI audio interface; a popular low-cost option is an E-mu 0404 or M-Audio 2496.

Controllers don't have to be expensive; if you manage to pick up a cheap secondhand synthesizer without USB, hooking it up to the computer will be merely $30 for a 1x1 MIDI USB interface. Pros: it'll have sounds! Cons: you won't get lots of sliders and knobs. Pros: you can add those later anyway.

Roland D5/D10, Yamaha SY22, DX21/DX27, or even a cheap Yamaha PSR or Casio CTK keyboard - won't cost more than $100 or so (secondhand). Spending that on a controller generally gets you only 25 or 37 keys, while aforementioned equipment gives you 61. Something like this has (if I recall correctly) rather disappointing quality.

Since you can get lots of free synth plugins, spend the money left on a good orchestral library. http://www.garritan.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=154&Itemid=54 is perhaps a neat option. Plus, consult http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=1468

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Be careful before starting to invest into a studio or equipment. It's quite possible and fairly easy to start with freeware material online you can produce a decent mix with. Reaper, Fruity Loops, and Mixcraft all offer free long lasting trials and are each very cheap. In terms of samples and synths known brands like Native Instruments have a ton of starter samples that run from 40 and up. Though honestly if you're not too familiar with mixing buying higher end stuff isn't necessary. At least not from the get go, because it's harder to tap into it's full potential immediately

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The first thing anyone should do is learn some music theory, learn how to properly use MIDI, and start learning an instrument. But very few who want to make remixes do that, because they want instant gratification. And then they'll go crying to their small circle of supportive friends when every remix they submit to OCR gets overwhelmingly negative responses and NOs from all the judges. It's the circle of life.

Moral of the story (as usual) is that no amount of software or samples will help you make music unless you actually know what music is and how to write good versions of it. But you wont listen to this advice anyway, you'll download some software, download some MIDIs, download some synths and samples and then you'll be off on your adventure of battling with the judges panel for years unable to understand why your music is not good enough for the site.

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Snappleman - for the record, I have a pretty decent music theory/music performance background; I've been playing guitar and piano for years; I still practice piano every day for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. I have already composed several of my own pieces, and have already submitted a mix to the OCR Judges (got rejected; it was a live performance, not a mix, which means that some of the rhythm/quality was sub-par due to my recording equipment and the fact that I can't match the "perfect" rhythm of a sequencer 100% of the time. PM me for more info if you want).

What I have NEVER done is make an actual mix, with a MIDI controller, 100% sampled instruments (I usually play mine by hand, and manually pound a drum machine for my beat), and sequencer to boot. That's why I'm asking for help - I have the music background, but am totally lacking in knowledge of how to do it all with software/sampling...I do have some mastering experience, although not much.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions - if I understand correctly, what I need is the following:

1. Sequencer (I'll try Reaper for now)

2. Audio controller/keyboard (ATM I have a Yamaha PSR 260 sitting in my house, if that's any good)

3. Music samples (will try downloading cheap/free versions for practice)

4. PC MIDI interface (I use a desktop PC, Windows 7 64-bit)

5. Anything else? Please add what I'm missing, anyone.

Thanks again for all the help.

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the headphones or decent speakers are a must. Especially if you're planning on writing pieces with a wide range of instruments, you'll have to pan and only headphones are quality speakers are sensitive enough to allow you to really hear changes.

For samples don't get to anxious, any decent DAW will come with samples, but if you're not satisfied you should download some. Heck, you can even download DAWs just to rip their samples.Once you know what type of music you wanna write and how you wanna go about it, you can look for freeware effects as well, as they'll help you mix. However since you're just starting just focus using what your current DAW has. Also skim EQ-ing and "midi composition" to get an idea on what you have to do to make midi mixes.

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Alright I just ordered the $40 Reaper package...that takes care of sequencing.

I have a Yamaha PR 263 that I can use as a MIDI controller...how do I make my PC MIDI compatible? What do I do to set up the "audio interface" or whatever?

Can someone recommend a decent pair of headphones for me?

Again, I can use all the advice I can get. Thanks.

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Keep on the lookout for cheap or free sample sets and VST plugins- there are a lot out there (like tweakbench or woolys).

Sometimes, if you lurk around the NG Audio Portal or other music sites, someone will post a deal or something like that where sample libraries are ridiculously cheap, if not free (it was how i was able to snag what should have been a $250 sample set for $2.50 from Camel Audio... however, that type of stuff does not always happen, obviously).

You can build yourself a powerful library for relatively little cost- I myself have a setup, that all told, has cost me only roughly $115 to come up with, so I am skeptical of people saying "IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO PUT DOWN $500 OR MORE ON THIS THEN YOU WON'T GET ANYWHERE"

my response: lol

So, keep your eyes and ears open, and knowing a few people in real life to get you deals in places like Guitar Center and whatnot is never a bad thing (like my bro's best friend being a manager at one).

Reaper is tough to learn, but once you get into it, it can be a powerful tool in and of itself. Don't hesitate to ask for tech questions around here- I only know mostly basics, but there are some dedicated Reaper users on the site.

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I have a Yamaha PR 263 that I can use as a MIDI controller...how do I make my PC MIDI compatible? What do I do to set up the "audio interface" or whatever?

Snappleman is of course completely correct - at the back of those PCI audio interfaces you have a break-out cable with 1 MIDI I/O. See

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Audiophile2496.html shows the break-out cable.

What I suggested (which turns out to be not necessary after all, then) was http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?category=610&subcategory=611&product=15188

The audio interface is just a PCI card that you install in your desktop. Switch it off, remove the case's cover, look for a free slot, put it in. Install drivers, and then, in Reaper, choose "E-mu ASIO" or "M-Audio 2496 ASIO" in the driver list instead of "Windows Audio Driver" or whatever it's called. Then, hook up the keyboard's MIDI output to the computer's MIDI input, and you're good to go!

But while you haven't bought that, you can install the ASIO4ALL driver. It's kind of a stopgap solution because it won't give you MIDI I/O.

Why is this important? Well, audio in your computer goes through various software layers. Each layer is put there for abstraction purposes to make programming easier. It also adds a time delay, called "latency". That means with default drivers it may take up to 100 ms (very much noticeable!) for the sound to come out of your speakers after you hit the key. Play more notes and you start to hear crackling sounds because it can't keep up.

ASIO allows direct hardware access; ASIO4ALL allows this almost but is not optimized for specific audio hardware. So, it's not like a graphics accelerator for games because your CPU still has to do all the work, but it shortens the path so you get say, 5ms of latency, which is a whole lot better.

Plus, you get more and better inputs/outputs than on-board soundcards offer you.

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Can someone recommend a decent pair of headphones for me?

I think any pair of studio headphones will do, the upper end ones are expensive but there are ones that sell as low as $20-30. Or if you're speakers are newer and a decent quality you can get away with using it for awhile. In terms of starting though I think you're fine right now though

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The audio interface is just a PCI card that you install in your desktop. Switch it off, remove the case's cover, look for a free slot, put it in. Install drivers, and then, in Reaper, choose "E-mu ASIO" or "M-Audio 2496 ASIO" in the driver list instead of "Windows Audio Driver" or whatever it's called. Then, hook up the keyboard's MIDI output to the computer's MIDI input, and you're good to go!

But while you haven't bought that, you can install the ASIO4ALL driver. It's kind of a stopgap solution because it won't give you MIDI I/O.

I am definitely willing to wait for the sake of quality...I will try to purchase a PCI soundcard that will give me MIDI input capability without latency, as Snappleman and yourself explained.

However, I have no experience whatsoever with soundcards (especially in regard to their PCI abilities)...can you recommend an affordable PCI-compatible soundcard (someone mentioned Soundblaster Live earlier)?

In the downtime I can try to familiarize myself with Reaper's functionality...again, any tips are appreciated. Thanks everyone for all the help.

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Snappleman is of course completely correct - at the back of those PCI audio interfaces you have a break-out cable with 1 MIDI I/O. See

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Audiophile2496.html shows the break-out cable.

I am super skeptical of PCI audio interfaces after having helped a friend deal with getting one (it was an M Audio like the one linked). It was a disaster to set up, plus you can't take it "on the go" with a laptop (for recording things like a live piano)

I would highly recommend getting a usb interface like http://www.zzounds.com/item--MACONYXBLACKJACK

and then buy a cheap usb midi cable to use for your controller until you feel the need to upgrade. this way you can still record anywhere with a good pre and play midi through to your sequencer in the studio.

also, if you plan on getting "serious" about music production at any point in the future - DON'T SKIMP ON THE MONITORS!

Headphones are not a viable alternative to mix with; they are great for balance checking but not good enough to solely use.

Spend the money for some nice monitors now and save yourself the trouble later on. Yeah it sucks, but hi-fi won't cut it.

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Headphones are not a viable alternative to mix with; they are great for balance checking but not good enough to solely use.

I'm going to go ahead and dispute this. I've used headphones as my only reference for quite some time now. Reasoning:

1. Great headphones are much cheaper than great (or even decent) monitors.

2. Improper placement of monitors, or even chair positioning, can result in a severely colored sound.

3. Monitors are significantly affected by your listening space. Most spaces are not ideal for reference monitors due to a variety of factors. Correcting your space requires a time and possibly money investment, not to mention the requisite knowledge.

4. If you live in an apartment or dorm, or with any other people at all, noise from monitors can be a major issue.

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1. Great headphones are much cheaper than great (or even decent) monitors.

2. Improper placement of monitors, or even chair positioning, can result in a severely colored sound.

3. Monitors are significantly affected by your listening space. Most spaces are not ideal for reference monitors due to a variety of factors. Correcting your space requires a time and possibly money investment, not to mention the requisite knowledge.

4. If you live in an apartment or dorm, or with any other people at all, noise from monitors can be a major issue.

a slight rebuttal (all imo, of course):

1. While headphones are indeed cheaper, a really good pair of open air ones will cost almost as much as entry level monitors: 350$+ (I think I remember you having the beyer dt880s right? not cheap)

2. Yes, but the stereo imaging on headphones is just plain wrong. Even a bad pair of monitors in a terrible room aimed imprecisely in your general direction will show reverb, delay, and even panning much more effectively than cans, despite the room exaggerating things. Also, don't forget how much of sound, especially bass, is felt, something which headphones can never emulate.

3. Relates to 2 kinda, but room correction is a big deal, I agree. However, the problem is very dependent on the actual shape of the room - and I've mixed in dorm rooms and apartment cubes, and the problem has more often been user error than the room itself. Listening to your setup and learning it is more valuable in the long run and is much more easily achieved on monitors than headphones in my experience.

4. I have lived with room/apartment-mates for many years, and if you are monitoring loud enough to disturb them you are doing it wrong. Mixing quietly preserves hearing, reduces problems with the room (esp. lo-mids), and helps with overall sound balancing. I only mix 'loud' when I want to adjust sub-bass in a club environment simulation.

I'm not saying it can't work - I tried to mix with headphones for the longest time, but I just gave up.

They will never translate properly, you can ask any "professional engineer:" headphones are like microscopes - good for zooming in and nitpicking, terrible for getting an overall picture.

That's why you need both :D

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1. While headphones are indeed cheaper, a really good pair of open air ones will cost almost as much as entry level monitors: 350$+ (I think I remember you having the beyer dt880s right? not cheap)

Yes, but a $350 pair of headphones is light years better than a pair of entry-level monitors, which are basically garbage for any professional purpose. I got my DT880s for about $240, and you can get stuff just as good for half that these days, like the AKG 240s.

2. Yes, but the stereo imaging on headphones is just plain wrong. Even a bad pair of monitors in a terrible room aimed imprecisely in your general direction will show reverb, delay, and even panning much more effectively than cans, despite the room exaggerating things. Also, don't forget how much of sound, especially bass, is felt, something which headphones can never emulate.

That assumes you have your monitors positioned properly to begin with, and that you haven't "learned" your headphones. If you reference everything on the same pair of headphones, at the same volume, then literally none of that is a problem. Headphones aren't "wrong" by default, they just have natural tendencies. On the other hand, you really can position monitors "wrong" or have monitors that simply don't produce all the frequencies, or move them by mistake and get drastic phasing, etc.

3. Relates to 2 kinda, but room correction is a big deal, I agree. However, the problem is very dependent on the actual shape of the room - and I've mixed in dorm rooms and apartment cubes, and the problem has more often been user error than the room itself. Listening to your setup and learning it is more valuable in the long run and is much more easily achieved on monitors than headphones in my experience.

OK but if you're recommending gear to someone who is totally new, then expecting them to know about proper acoustics and room treatment is just ridiculous. There are plenty of professional composers and producers that don't even know how to do room treatment and hire someone to do it for them. Learning headphones is much easier as there are no variables. Move your head or chair even 2 inches with monitors and you've just changed your stereo image, frequency balance, phase correctness, etc. Saying it's easier to learn monitors is factually incorrect for that reason.

4. I have lived with room/apartment-mates for many years, and if you are monitoring loud enough to disturb them you are doing it wrong. Mixing quietly preserves hearing, reduces problems with the room (esp. lo-mids), and helps with overall sound balancing. I only mix 'loud' when I want to adjust sub-bass in a club environment simulation.

I'm not saying it's the case with every apartment, but some places have extremely thin walls. I lived in an apartment once where we could hear our neighbors talking quite clearly. You can believe that monitors, at any volume, would be very audible.

They will never translate properly, you can ask any "professional engineer:" headphones are like microscopes - good for zooming in and nitpicking, terrible for getting an overall picture. That's why you need both :D

And I'm telling you as a professional who has produced and mastered tracks for every major video game console, handheld device and network primetime TV ONLY on headphones that they can and do translate properly when used correctly, eg. when you have a good pair, reference on them regularly and listen at a constant, low-ish volume level. No hate at all, but I think "headphones suck, always use monitors" is one of those pieces of engineering 'wisdom' like "Pro Tools is the only professional DAW": something repeated so many times that people believe it's true without questioning why.

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Ha ha ha ha ha ha.....

What the hell is all this talk about $350 pairs of headphones?

At most, what you'll want is something $50. AT MOST.

Why bum the OP out with all this talk of expensive knick-knacks?

If you're going to be a big-wig zircon-type fella (:razz:) with his own studio, making high-quality sample libraries for all sorts of things, as well as soundtracks for all sorts of various projects, then yes, you might need to put some money down on some equipment to keep up a standard of "professional" quality that employers will seek you out for.

However if you are not looking to have a mega-studio or be the next Hans Zimmer, you don't need to spend gobs and gobs of money.

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