decent monitoring system on a budget?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio' started by Hugh Neak, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. Hugh Neak

    Hugh Neak Guest

    I'm looking for best monitoring speaker options on a budget, less than
    $100. I have an Audiophile 2496 card and do various audio editing using
    Sound Forge and Samplitude on the PC. For several years, I had used a
    pair of Sony MDR-V6 headphones for monitoring, but I found the mixes I
    would hear in the headphones wouldn't match the car. Surprisingly, a
    friend's iLive IBPD882B did better than the headphones as a monitor
    using its aux input from the 2496 out, but that radio had to be returned
    and now I'm back to the headphones but I am seeking something better.
    So I pose the question from the first sentence given the particulars I'm
    currently using. Also, isn't there some way to capture and apply an
    equalizing correction curve so that even the monitor systems of less
    quality are compensated for? Just a thought and something I thought I
    read about, but I'll bet I have too many limitations. I do have a Zoom
    SD card based hand held recorder with built in stereo mics, but this
    probably wouldn't be suitable as a capture device. Thanks for your
    help.
     
    Hugh Neak, Feb 4, 2014
    #1
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  2. Hugh Neak

    PStamler Guest

    Under $100 is a tough challenge. Do you own a stereo power amplifier? If so, look at used equipment stores or on Craigslist for a pair of Phase Technology speakers. They give a lot of un-hyped bang for the buck.

    Peace,
    Paul
     
    PStamler, Feb 4, 2014
    #2
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  3. Hugh Neak

    Hugh Neak Guest

    No amp here. I don't really have the room for speakers. If difficult
    at $100 for what I'm looking for, I guess I could go back to using
    headphones but I'd need a better pair as the current ones lacked
    frequency response at both ends.
     
    Hugh Neak, Feb 4, 2014
    #3
  4. Hugh Neak

    Mike Rivers Guest

    If you don't have room for speakers, then you really have little choice
    other than headphones. Even $100 is kind of marginal for a set of
    headphones that are accurate for mixing. At the recent NAMM show, I saw
    that Audio-Technica has tweaked their line of "mastering" headphones and
    the M30x was flattened out so that, while it doesn't have the wide range
    of the popular M50 (popular because its frequency response is shaped to
    sound pleasant while providing good detail), the M30x frequency response
    is smoother and flatter, which might make it better for mixing on a low
    budget.
     
    Mike Rivers, Feb 4, 2014
    #4
  5. Hugh Neak

    Hugh Neak Guest

    Thanks. Well, I've decided that I'm just going to revamp my existing
    Sony MDR-V6's and pick up the iLive unit on the side. The earpads are
    worn out on the V6's, but easily replaced and I also just replaced the
    cord going across from one side to the other because one of the
    headphone speakers wasn't working (now it is).

    I still wonder about
    mixing correction with an already obtained frequency response: maybe
    using a frequency generator with increasing tone played through the
    speakers of whatever monitoring device I'm using, this response then
    captured with my Zoom recorder, and then the resulting spectra
    captured in my DAW and then applied to any mix as it's heard through
    the now frequency corrected monitor (which in my case would be the ILive
    unit). Is this possible with any reasonable accuracy?
     
    Hugh Neak, Feb 4, 2014
    #5
  6. Hugh Neak

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    The MDR-V6 has an enormously exaggerated top end and an enormously exaggerated
    bottom end. This makes it a good choice for editing work where you're
    listening for noise and glitches and the tail ends of notes, but it makes
    it pretty much impossible to judge tonality in any meaningful way.
    I would suggest you save up for a used pair of Tannoy Reveals. They are
    about the cheapest monitors I can think of that you can actually mix on
    without tearing your hair out. B&H Photo has the current version for
    $140 each, and you would need two, but you might be able to find used ones
    for half that. Now, mind you, placement and room setup is half the struggle,
    the monitors are only the first half.
    --scott
     
    Scott Dorsey, Feb 4, 2014
    #6
  7. Hugh Neak

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    This can be done to some extent to deal with some room effects at low
    frequencies, but for the most part it doesn't really work because the
    room effects normally swamp the speaker problems, and the room effects
    vary with position so you can equalize the system to be flat in one
    place, but six inches away it's anything but flat.

    Back in the seventies, third octave equalization of control room monitors
    was a popular thing, and those systems almost always sounded better with
    the equalizers disabled.
    --scott
     
    Scott Dorsey, Feb 4, 2014
    #7
  8. Hugh Neak

    hank alrich Guest

    For that money your choices are extremely limited. In a new unit you
    might consider two models from M-Audio.

    http://m-audio.com/products/en_us/StudiophileAV30.html

    http://m-audio.com/products/en_us/StudiophileAV40.html

    I have installed each of these models in small rooms at dance
    instruction studios, and they are better than I expected them to be.

    (The tiny rooms can be curtained-off from view so that shy persons can
    handle dancing instruction without extreme embarrassment. Most often the
    students are a young couple about to get married and they need to dance
    at their own wedding.)
     
    hank alrich, Feb 4, 2014
    #8
  9. Hugh Neak

    Mike Rivers Guest

    I was trying hard to avoid telling you not to get Sony 7506 phones - the
    V6 is the consumer version which has the same frequency response
    characteristic. It's a good headphone for listening for clarity but I
    (and most people) find that when mixing on them, the mix isn't very well
    balanced. Some people get used to how they sound and are OK mixing on
    them, but others are misled by the hyped upper mid-range.

    I went through a few sets of standard ear cushions on my 7506s and last
    time sprung a little extra for the ones with the velour covering. They
    actually make the phones sound a little smoother. B & H sells them:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/886945-REG/Auray_epd_mdr7506_Deluxe_Velour_Earpads_Pair.html
    I'm always suspicious of roundabout frequency response corrections like
    that. One thing that you might get some mileage out of is the Focusrite
    VRM Box. It's a USB playback box and headphone amplifier (a good
    sounding one) with some room and speaker simulators built in. I reviewed
    it on my web site. I didn't find it to be a substitute for decent
    monitors in a proper room, but it was useful for checking a mix on
    headphones to get an idea of how it would sound when played through
    speakers in a room. I found that it was closer to reality when I used it
    with my Fostex T-20 headphones than with my Sony 7506s, most likely
    because the Fostex phones are flatter than the Sony. It's kind of a
    gimmick but a good try.
    http://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/vrm-box
     
    Mike Rivers, Feb 4, 2014
    #9
  10. Hugh Neak

    Hugh Neak Guest

    What about applying the inverse of the frequency response curve as shown
    here:

    http://www.headphone.com/buildAGraph.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=1513

    I actually tried this earlier this afternoon and used an image
    processing program to flip the graph so that the inverse would be
    present. I then traced the resulting equalization into the FFT filter
    of my DAW. Does make a subtle difference, not sure if corrected enough
    or not however.
     
    Hugh Neak, Feb 4, 2014
    #10
  11. Hugh Neak

    Mike Rivers Guest

    That's not what the smartest Audio Technica guy I know told me. They
    left the M50 frequency response unchanged because that's what people
    like about the M50. The changes are about comfort - new ear cushions,
    which may affect the frequency response a tad but not enough to change
    the sound of the phones. They flattened out the M30 though, so while it
    doesn't go quite as far down or up as the M50, it's the flattest one of
    the series.
     
    Mike Rivers, Feb 4, 2014
    #11
  12. Hugh Neak

    Trevor Guest

    Of course not, the car audio, and acoustics will be nowhere near as good as
    the headphones. IF you really want to match the car, just buy the same
    speakers as the car has and put them in a very small room. It still won't be
    exact of course.
    Alternatively take your laptop into the car, plug it into the car audio, and
    mix there :)

    Trevor.
     
    Trevor, Feb 5, 2014
    #12
  13. Hugh Neak

    Trevor Guest

    And you think you'll get better speakers for $100?
    You can't even get good headphones for that money!

    Trevor.
     
    Trevor, Feb 5, 2014
    #13
  14. Hugh Neak

    Peter Larsen Guest

    Over here a pair KEF Q15's are in that price-range second hand.
    You can not balance bass on headphones.
    No, you can not fix a lack of quality with EQ of any kind.

    No, you can not fix a room with EQ, but you can fix loudspeaker frequency
    response errors in the bass caused by corner or near corner placements.

    Yes, you can fix a loudspeakers frequency response.

    Next comes fix it to "what". Linear on pink noise is generally always wrong.

    In a large room, say for a PA system, it is a good starting point to aim for
    "linear from 45 to 1 kHz, then a 3 dB drop pr. octave" in case the frequency
    response is displayed referenced to pink noise.

    In a living room where you are close to smaller loudspeakers another
    suggestion comes to mind, I don't know if it has literature references, but
    I do know what building in Naerum Denmark it is rumored to originate in. The
    suggestion is 0 dB at 200 Hz, -6 to -10 dB at 20 Hz and 20 kHz.

    I do not expect you to need equalizing the Q15's, they are made for a small
    room.
    The cheap Zooms tend to sound boring to me, I returned an R16 for that
    reason.
    The hand held zooms are useful toys and they audio that was recorded is
    always better than the audio that wasn't, so do not read me as saying that
    it is useless, it may be just what a project requires for many reasons,
    budget included and yes, budget IS a valid reason, because staying within
    means that things get done.

    Fostex MR8HD is in fact acceptable provided you use external mic preamp(s)
    and feed it a good strong signal. A recording that I hold as one of my "all
    time best recordings" was made on one using the mic pres of a small
    mackie-mixer.

    Do be aware that the MR8HD inverts absolute polarity, it does not always
    matter, but there is an AES standard for polarity and adhering to standards
    is generally likely to be good. It is not the most rugged implement ... but
    quite possibly also not very costly second hand because a lot of them seems
    to have been sold to people trying out having a project studio and not
    knowing what to do with them. Now I use mine as household sound recorder and
    occasionally for "tracking-notebook", it was bought as a "carry sound home
    in" implement. Do update firmware whomsoever hath one ..

    Your mileage may vary.

    Kind regards

    Peter Larsen
     
    Peter Larsen, Feb 5, 2014
    #14
  15. Hugh Neak

    Peter Larsen Guest

    You need to get it right in the parametric section, or use a sound card with
    good EQ properties for loudspeaker correction, some of the Dell computers
    have surprisingly advanced sound cards. Using the FFT filter will make it
    easy to get frequency response right, but it is not a minimum phase EQ and
    that is what you need to compensate transducer frequency response errors
    since those are minimum phase.

    "Non minimum phase eq" is however great for filtering disturbances in a
    recording because the phase response of the audio is not influenced.

    Kind regards

    Peter Larsen
     
    Peter Larsen, Feb 5, 2014
    #15
  16. Hugh Neak

    Hugh Neak Guest

    Can you recommend a Win VST plugin for my DAW that is this type of EQ?
    Thanks!
     
    Hugh Neak, Feb 5, 2014
    #16
  17. Hugh Neak

    Hugh Neak Guest

    You know, I hate to say it, but I have actually been thinking of doing
    that over the last couple of years! The reason I haven't is two fold:
    1) lack of time and 2) because the two cars I have possess different
    stereos/ speakers with one always emphasizing high frequencies way more
    than the other (but also greatly cuts the lows) and I have always tried
    to EQ a resulting mix somewhere in between and do the final adjustments
    in the FLAC playing MP3 player, using the MP3's custom EQ. So I'd
    probably need two sets of different speakers. I'm sure all could be
    had, even the stereo, at the local junkyard though for cheap as both
    cars are 7+ in age.
    Cheaper alternative still and have thought of that too. Might do it one
    time soon just for kicks.
     
    Hugh Neak, Feb 5, 2014
    #17
  18. Hugh Neak

    Mike Rivers Guest

    Or maybe whoever wrote what you read wrote it wrong. It's intuitive that
    a new version would be an improvement, and what's a more obvious way to
    improve a headphone than to make its frequency response flatter? Could
    be a marketer, journalist, or webASSumer who didn't get all the facts.

    Maybe I was told wrong, though I trust my sorce.
     
    Mike Rivers, Feb 5, 2014
    #18
  19. Hugh Neak

    Mike Rivers Guest

    How would you do that? Gonna buy the same enclosures that house car
    speakers, too? If he doesn't have room for tabletop speakers, he sure
    isn't going to have room for a couple of car doors. ;)
     
    Mike Rivers, Feb 5, 2014
    #19
  20. Hugh Neak

    Paul Guest

    This is an age-old problem. How to make mixes sound
    good in the car. Certainly depends on which car and stereo as well.

    My Honda Accord has an exaggerated low end, such that if you
    over-mix the kick drum the wrong way, it sounds like shit. Getting
    my Yamaha HS80Ms and a new set of bassier stereo speakers has help
    immensely with this problem low-end in the car.

    Ideally, I will someday change my car stereo to one which can
    accept a USB flash drive, so that I can check mixes in the car
    without burning a CD. Can anyone recommend such a car stereo?
     
    Paul, Feb 5, 2014
    #20
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