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-   -   Good monitors sound too pretty, please help! (https://www.propellerheads.se/forum/showthread.php?t=175204)

Heliophile 2013-01-27 14:22

Good monitors sound too pretty, please help!
 
I'm having trouble choosing some decent nearfield monitors for my project studio. My idea of a good monitor is that its output is very direct, clean and neutral and it reveals any flaws in my mixes. I listened to many speakers in a large music store, but it turned out that the most neutral (and direct and clean) sounding monitors in my budget (I liked the KRK VXT8 and a certain Genelec model) actually made my mixes sound prettier. They seemed to obscure the flaws in my mixes! The cheaper speakers, that audibly had some problems in their frequency response (for example KRK Rokit series), did help me to distinguish more between a good commercial mix and my own mixes.

Have any of you encountered the same dillema and how did you solve it? Are there any monitors (below say €1250 a pair) that combine a neutral frequency response with a more brutal representation of the shortcomings of a mix?

ryszard 2013-01-27 15:15

Maybe you actually have good mixes?

Heliophile 2013-01-27 16:28

That's what I'd love to think of course :-).
But oddly, when playing back my mixes in my car or through a cheap hifi set, I hear more clearly that they sound much hollower than commercial mixes, the bass is way too loud or too soft, the highs sound too harsh, and so on.

BoddAH 2013-01-27 17:29

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heliophile (Post 1227361)
That's what I'd love to think of course :-).
But oddly, when playing back my mixes in my car or through a cheap hifi set, I hear more clearly that they sound much hollower than commercial mixes, the bass is way too loud or too soft, the highs sound too harsh, and so on.

Maybe you should mix in your car then!

Joking aside I suspect some commercial mixes to be intentionally "dumbed" down with consumer speakers in mind.

The monitors you cited are supposed to be pretty damn good an neutral and if your mix sounds good on them it probably *objectively* is on PERFECT spakers (i.e. your monitors).

It won't be on some others though. There's only 2 ways around this issue.

1. Try your mixes on various consumer-grade speaker setups and adjust your mix accordingly to have a good compromise that sounds good enough on all of them (yes it IS time consuming and frustrating), alternatively try something like http://global.focusrite.com/usb-audi...rfaces/vrm-box

2. Dumb your mix down. Make something that's just complex enough to be musically interesting but simple enough to get the musical point across on any speaker configuration. If your mix is too elaborate, it may sound just the way you want on professional monitors but much worse on anything else.

Edit: Maybe "dumb down" isn't exactly correct. What I mean is that you have to keep in mind the limitations of (sometimes) pretty crappy consumer speakers. Very subtle elements in a crowded mix may get lost with poor speakers. A complex mix may sound muddy and confused, sometimes it's better to have a more straightforward approach.

Avoid mixing too high and too low frequencies. A sick bass drum with no high-end at all for instance may sound cool on monitors or Hi-fi speakers with a subwoofer, but be completely inaudible on TV, laptop, or desktop computer speakers. Better to give that BD some more meat and high frequencies to make sure you can at least somewhat hear it on cheap speakers, etc.

raymondh 2013-01-27 20:05

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heliophile (Post 1227327)
I'm having trouble choosing some decent nearfield monitors for my project studio. My idea of a good monitor is that its output is very direct, clean and neutral and it reveals any flaws in my mixes. I listened to many speakers in a large music store, but it turned out that the most neutral (and direct and clean) sounding monitors in my budget (I liked the KRK VXT8 and a certain Genelec model) actually made my mixes sound prettier. They seemed to obscure the flaws in my mixes! The cheaper speakers, that audibly had some problems in their frequency response (for example KRK Rokit series), did help me to distinguish more between a good commercial mix and my own mixes.

Have any of you encountered the same dillema and how did you solve it? Are there any monitors (below say €1250 a pair) that combine a neutral frequency response with a more brutal representation of the shortcomings of a mix?

I have newish VXT-6s, and I find the same. They sound really nice, and don't force me to mix well (something I am still learning to do).

There are four things I'm doing to deal with this:
1. Building a cheap mono powered speaker to also mix in mono on limited bandwidth speaker (with no crossover frequency)
2. using some cheap PC speakers as well to mix and hear what my tracks sound like on speakers people are more likely to use
3. trying to learn how to listen and really study the mix, comparing with reference tracks etc. The VXTs are revealing speakers, not a traffic light that tells me whether the mix is good. Up to me now to develop the skills to interpret the mix.
4. reading up on mixing

I think it is good if you like the sound of your monitors, because you're more likely to use them for listening to other music you enjoy, therefore you can get a better appreciation of how music should sound on those speakers. That's a hypothesis, I'm still a long way to prove it!! :)

cheers
Raymond

Heliophile 2013-01-27 22:55

Thanks for your suggestions, Boddah! I guess a good mix is one that also sounds good when cheap systems and/or poorly treated rooms take stuff away from it.
Have you personally tried the VRM box? Does it do what they promise?

BoddAH 2013-01-28 00:32

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heliophile (Post 1227560)
Thanks for your suggestions, Boddah! I guess a good mix is one that also sounds good when cheap systems and/or poorly treated rooms take stuff away from it.
Have you personally tried the VRM box? Does it do what they promise?

Yes I do own the VRM Box and use it a lot. For trying out different (virtual) reference speakers and even for standard mixing at night or on the go when I'm not in my home studio.

It works very well and for the price I think every producer should have it in his toolbox. It's pretty amazing technology.

Heliophile 2013-01-28 08:49

Looks really interesting! And I suppose it also let's you evaluate your mix in mono?

scifunk 2013-01-28 10:16

You always hear that 'a good mix should sound good across a range of different speakers'. While this is true you do have to take in to account what those speakers are capable of. Your earbuds aren't going to generate gut wrenching bass for instance. For me a good mix is when I can still hear everything nice and cleanly (within the capabilities of the speaker). All 'affordable' speakers will accentuate or depress certain frequencies to some degree. My car has a big dip in the mid bass for instance. I dont see the point in producing a mix that sounds good everywhere else and then you change it because it sounds not so good in your car.

When referencing material it's important to use tracks with the same tonal balance as your own. Commercial material will have been mastered whereas yours is unlikely too. Learning the difference between a mastered and unmastered sound is also something you need to take in to consideration.

In theory your mix should sound the most balanced tonally (not necessarily sound the best) on your monitors with their relatively flat response. That is the whole point of them. Try a decent spectrum analyser too see if you do have any spikes you need to be aware of that your ears and speakers have missed.

I have KRK VXT8s in an untreated cube shaped room on the 4th floor of some flats - and have no mix down issues . In fact the last tracks I sent to be mastered (the first to have been done in this room), the engineer said they were 'a pleasure to work on'. If you're consistently producing mixes that are too 'bassy' try adjusting the bass level output on the speakers.

djfm1983 2013-01-28 10:42

Quote:

Originally Posted by scifunk (Post 1227735)
You always hear that 'a good mix should sound good across a range of different speakers'. While this is true you do have to take in to account what those speakers are capable of. Your earbuds aren't going to generate gut wrenching bass for instance. For me a good mix is when I can still hear everything nice and cleanly (within the capabilities of the speaker). All 'affordable' speakers will accentuate or depress certain frequencies to some degree. My car has a big dip in the mid bass for instance. I dont see the point in producing a mix that sounds good everywhere else and then you change it because it sounds not so good in your car.

When referencing material it's important to use tracks with the same tonal balance as your own. Commercial material will have been mastered whereas yours is unlikely too. Learning the difference between a mastered and unmastered sound is also something you need to take in to consideration.

In theory your mix should sound the most balanced tonally (not necessarily sound the best) on your monitors with their relatively flat response. That is the whole point of them. Try a decent spectrum analyser too see if you do have any spikes you need to be aware of that your ears and speakers have missed.

I have KRK VXT8s in an untreated cube shaped room on the 4th floor of some flats - and have no mix down issues . In fact the last tracks I sent to be mastered (the first to have been done in this room), the engineer said they were 'a pleasure to work on'. If you're consistently producing mixes that are too 'bassy' try adjusting the bass level output on the speakers.

I agree with some of your comments. Using reference tracks can help you learn your moniotrs. Using monitors in an untreaded can be really hard if you don't learn your monitors, or use reference tracks.
I have 3 sets of monitors and about 4 pairs of headphones (in earbuds, small over hear and 2 sets of studio headphones). It's a really good to check your mixes on as many speakers as you can.


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