Advice for budget home monitors?

Tell Your Friends about Gear that you love

Moderators: admin, mdc, TAXIstaff

Thedude4774
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:00 am
Contact:

Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by Thedude4774 » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:42 pm

Hey everyone! I'm looking at near field monitors in the $400 and under price range. Im a little overwhelmed right now with all the options. Been looking at JBL, Tannoy, KRK, Adam, Yamaha, Ik, Kali, etc. I have a pretty small work area. The furthest I will be able to have them away from the wall is probably about 8 inches. I do pretty much all kinds of music, except for EDM( I do rock, indie, hip hop, soul, funk, pop, alternative, jamband, space rock, blues, etc) and all I care about is improving my mixes because I've just been using headphones and I need to step it up, I won't be using them for anything else. Also, they need to give true sound at a lower level because I live in a small apartment with neighbors who sleep above me and I work on music a lot later in the evening. Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!! Thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€

Kolstad
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 4510
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:19 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Denmark
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by Kolstad » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:33 am

Monitoring is very important, and a complex subject. There is an interaction between the way you hear, the way the monitors hear and the room. Ive found that if I use bass heavy monitors (like the KRK), my instinct is to turn down the bass, and this does not gel well for me, because I tend to undermix the bass anyway. So in that scenario, I constantly struggle with mixing bass frequencies. So, I need monitors with less bass, or some that at least can be dialed in to the room. You may need something else, but it is important to know yourself โ€œin the mixโ€ so to speak, here.

Bass is notoriously the hardest area to mix, because it is so hard to get a good, dependable representation of these frequencies, and while 5โ€™ monitors fit well into a small room, they canโ€™t represent bass very well, so Im not sure your efforts will pay off. Depending on what you already have, I would suggest to invest in a very good set of semi-open headphones (AKG 701/ 702 or Sennheiser 650) to at least check your mixes with when using nearfields only. You should also factor in your weaknesses if you know them, and try to counter that with your choice of monitors, imo.

Not to mention, if you mix in monitors, it is important to have some bass traps/ cloud in your room, so you can trust what you hear. If not, you may get more trustworthy representation through good headphones and maybe reference software. Thats why so many check their mixes in headphones.

Depending on your situation (you dont provide much info on what mix problem(s) you struggle with, what gear you already have , and the status of treatment in your room), I might just pick some of these monitors you consider that I like the sound of, and then invest in the best headphones you can afford, and upgrade with reference software like Sonarworks or IK Multimedia. Then when you get to treat your room properly for mixing, upgrade the speakers to a good set of Genelec or Adam (try find quality speakers used). But in a small room with 5โ€™ speakers, you will need good headphones either way.

User avatar
cosmicdolphin
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 2473
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:46 pm
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by cosmicdolphin » Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:34 am

It doesn't really matter a whole bunch which ones you go for. As long as you ...

1. Get to know them really really well over time
2. Have decent acoustic treatment in your room - should be budgeting about the same amount as your monitors for this
3. Get something like Arc or Reference 4 ( watch Sanjay C's Youtube review of Arc recently and Warren Huart's Reference review )
4. Mix quietly, this lessens the effect of the room
5. MIx in mono some of the time, you can go one step further and get something like a single Avantone Mixcube which lets you really dial in mid range balance
6. Switch between different types of monitors regularly during the mix
7. Import reference tracks into your session and A-B them with your mix
8. Use plugins to show you what you can't hear on small monitors
9. You can have the best monitors in the world but if you don't understand the techniques required they won't help.

FWIW I never use headphones for mixing on.

Thedude4774
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:00 am
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by Thedude4774 » Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:31 pm

Thank you so much for all the help everybody! I never heard of Arc or Reference 4. I will check those out! I had already ordered the JBL 305p speakers before I read your responses but they still haven't arrived. My mixes are muddy and I have a very hard time getting my bass separated and punchy without being muddy, but Im guessing the JBLs won't have enough low end to really help with that, but hopefully I can do better on the mids and the highs. I didn't realize that I could get good results from high-end headphones, that might be a good route to consider because of my living situation. And I definitely need to do some sound treating, didnt want to go too crazy since I might not live here long, but I need to. I'm taking a class on production right now and I'm realizing a big problem I have is actually with my spacing of instruments within the stereo field, and not getting the right amount of tracks and high enough quality to the individual sounds. I tend to just keep adding tracks to try to get a full sound rather than perfecting the ones I have and placing them properly in the mix.
Trying to work on that now and hoping that will make a big difference too. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such helpful responses. I'm determined right now, after years of amateur sounding recordings, to try to improve as much as I can. I really appreciate your help.

User avatar
funsongs
Total Pro
Total Pro
Posts: 5857
Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:18 am
Gender: Male
Location: So Cal
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by funsongs » Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:56 pm

If you end up with JBLs, I hope you'll post your own experience & review; pros & cons.
Cheers,
Peter
Peter Rahill - aka "funsongs"
https://soundcloud.com/funsongs-1
You Tube channel: Peter Rahill
https://peterrahill.bandcamp.com/ (as of 12-2-2020)

โ€œThe future aint what it use to be.โ€ - Yogi Berra

Ted
Impressive
Impressive
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:32 am
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by Ted » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:22 pm

After reading a lot of stuff lately, I've decided my next investment will be either ARC or Sonarworks Reference 4--I'm leaning toward the Reference 4.

I did the Sonarworks demo where you enter your headphone model and then listen to the demo tracks with the option to bypass so you can hear what your headphones are really doing to color a mix. It was pretty convincing.

I was thinking alot about the acoustic treatment aspect... my bedroom studio is tiny and my main concern is vocal tracking--I threw a bunch of acoustic foam sections away when I moved. I found them discarded in a "free-pile" and hung onto them but never used them.

But then I remembered that the building I moved into has three nice vocal studio rooms in the basement complete with acoustic treatments-- free for the tenants to use. I'd completely forgotten about this amenity. It might be a pain to drag my computer/interface/mics down there when I need to track vocals but it's a nice freebee.

User avatar
AlanHall
Impressive
Impressive
Posts: 469
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:46 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Great Black Swamp, northwest Ohio
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by AlanHall » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:55 am

Thedude4774 wrote: โ†‘
Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:31 pm
Thank you so much for all the help everybody! I never heard of Arc or Reference 4. I will check those out! I had already ordered the JBL 305p speakers before I read your responses but they still haven't arrived. My mixes are muddy and I have a very hard time getting my bass separated and punchy without being muddy, but Im guessing the JBLs won't have enough low end to really help with that, but hopefully I can do better on the mids and the highs. I didn't realize that I could get good results from high-end headphones, that might be a good route to consider because of my living situation. And I definitely need to do some sound treating, didnt want to go too crazy since I might not live here long, but I need to. I'm taking a class on production right now and I'm realizing a big problem I have is actually with my spacing of instruments within the stereo field, and not getting the right amount of tracks and high enough quality to the individual sounds. I tend to just keep adding tracks to try to get a full sound rather than perfecting the ones I have and placing them properly in the mix.
Trying to work on that now and hoping that will make a big difference too. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such helpful responses. I'm determined right now, after years of amateur sounding recordings, to try to improve as much as I can. I really appreciate your help.
After reading a similar thread a couple months back, I sprung for a pair of the JBL 6" monitors (and sub - which hasn't arrived yet). I'm pretty blown away by how much low end I can hear on the 6" monitors; I was expecting much less. Can't say how they will compare to the 5" monitors, YMMV. All I can say for certain is that a pair of reasonably-priced powered reference monitors completely improve my listening over all the cr@p speakers I've used across the decades - I should have upgraded long ago.

Thedude4774
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:00 am
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by Thedude4774 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:27 pm

Peter, the JBLs arrived today. First impressions are good. The 305p's are much bigger than I envisioned, so it's tricky to figure out how to organize my super limited desk space but I need to buy risers to get them at the proper ear level so that should take care of that. So far, at quiet volume(which is what I'll be using 90% of the time because of my situation) the bass sounds phenomenal. Way better than I would expect, though I know I'm missing the sub frequencies. Can't feel the bass at all, but can certainly hear it and it sounds great. Best thing is, so far, no hiss. The big knock on the JBL 305p's is a tweeter hiss audible at close range. Since I plan to use it for near field monitoring that could have been a huge problem. But with balanced TRS cables and good grounding, so far I don't hear anything. I'm running them out of a Scarlett 2i2. Only got to use them for about 15 minutes, but so far I'm really excited and happy with them. Will give you an update in a week or two when I've logged some good hours with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I got to do some research on Reference 4 last night. Sounds like a must have! I will start saving up for my next big purchase. Thank you so much for all the help everybody!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

User avatar
funsongs
Total Pro
Total Pro
Posts: 5857
Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:18 am
Gender: Male
Location: So Cal
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by funsongs » Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:38 pm

Thedude4774 wrote: โ†‘
Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:27 pm
Peter, the JBLs arrived today. First impressions are good. The 305p's are much bigger than I envisioned, so it's tricky to figure out how to organize my super limited desk space but I need to buy risers to get them at the proper ear level so that should take care of that. So far, at quiet volume(which is what I'll be using 90% of the time because of my situation) the bass sounds phenomenal. Way better than I would expect, though I know I'm missing the sub frequencies. Can't feel the bass at all, but can certainly hear it and it sounds great. Best thing is, so far, no hiss. The big knock on the JBL 305p's is a tweeter hiss audible at close range. Since I plan to use it for near field monitoring that could have been a huge problem. But with balanced TRS cables and good grounding, so far I don't hear anything. I'm running them out of a Scarlett 2i2. Only got to use them for about 15 minutes, but so far I'm really excited and happy with them. Will give you an update in a week or two when I've logged some good hours with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I got to do some research on Reference 4 last night. Sounds like a must have! I will start saving up for my next big purchase. Thank you so much for all the help everybody!!! ๐Ÿ˜€
I don't have the gear to mix at home; but I do bring tracks home to test on my home system - which includes a pair of the JBL 305 boxes. I use them nearly all day long; and like them.
So, I was HOPING your review would be an affirmation (as I have recommended them to others looking in that price-range) - AND - to hear how they help you.
Indeed - the long term will be what it takes. I've had mine a few years.
I'm on a Mac mini; Scarlett 2i2 bundle - using the mic mostly for Zoom video meetings and calls; and use the Scarlett headphones in the studio to compare mixes.
I was surprised that they were the most comfortable of several I own; and quite good at being 'flat' for mixing; though I don't rely on phones for final mixes.
The popular-but-poor-quality Sony's fell apart - won't buy any Sony products again.
Also have SHURE SRH840 headphones, that I got to replace the Sonys; and earbuds as alternates for testing mixes.

Good luck with your new gear.
Cheers,
Peter
Peter Rahill - aka "funsongs"
https://soundcloud.com/funsongs-1
You Tube channel: Peter Rahill
https://peterrahill.bandcamp.com/ (as of 12-2-2020)

โ€œThe future aint what it use to be.โ€ - Yogi Berra

Thedude4774
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:00 am
Contact:

Re: Advice for budget home monitors?

Post by Thedude4774 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:43 pm

Peter, which did you say are the most comfortable headphones? I was looking into HD600s but I really don't know anything about headphones. I will probably try to buy Reference 4 next, and then good headphones after that. ๐Ÿ™‚
How does the Mac mini do? Have you used it for any recording? Is it powerful enough for running your DAW and plug ins? I have a pretty powerful pc laptop but it's a few years old now and it's starting to wear down and I'm interested in an Apple but I'm currently priced out of pretty much everything but a mini but I was worried a mini wouldn't be powerful enough for lots of recording and plug-ins.
So good to hear you have owned the JBLs for years and like them! I am really excited about them so far and that makes me feel even better about them. So glad I didn't notice a hiss yet because I had forgotten about that when I ordered them and ever since then everything I read highlights that, but so far they sound fantastic. ๐Ÿ™‚

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest