Another Annoying Request for Budget Monitor Advice

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emptyframe
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Another Annoying Request for Budget Monitor Advice

Post by emptyframe » Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:21 pm

My apologies. I realize there are several hundred posts concerning budget monitors. But I feel my question is slightly different.

I have approximately $300-$500 to spend. I went to Guitar Center with my 5+ well-known recordings. Just about everything in this price range sounds awesome compared to the shitty home stereo I'm mixing with now. I was able to test the following: KRK RP5, KRK vxt4, JBL lsr2325p, Mackie mr5, Yamaha HS-50m.

Based on what I heard in the store: The RP5s seemed to have phony bass like a souped-up car-system, the Mackie's were lacking in high-end detail, the Yamaha's were extremely detailed but not fun to listen to. The KRK vxt 4 and JBL LSR2325p sounded pretty alright.

Based on what I've read, I'm also considering the Tascam VL-A5s and the Yamaha MSP5s. Seems, from what I've read, that the Yamaha's are the only speakers with universal approval. Unfortunately, I have no way of testing them.

My room is not treated. I don't make beats and don't need ridiculous huge bass.

What I'm wondering is this: Are the Yamaha MSP5s fun to listen to? For an audio illiterate like me, will the added detail really make a difference? I make avant-garde and "computer" music that involves lots of experimentation, editing, and time. I'm collaging live acoustic instrument improvisations with "field recordings" and heavily processed tracks involving lots of time-stretching, granular synthesis, and special effects. I spend lots of time trying everything and "playing" with sounds. My monitors must be something that is fun and inspiring to listen to for hours on end. I've read the rave reviews of the Tascam units, but have also heard that mixes made on them don't "translate well" . I've read the rave reviews of the Yamaha MSP5, but have also heard they are high-end heavy and fatiguing to listen to. If the HS-50m is any indication of the "Yamaha sound" then maybe I should steer clear of Yamahas altogether. I would gladly give up a bit of accuracy/transparency in trade for a speaker that is fun to listen to. The JBLs and VXT4s were, to my naive ears, perfectly capable of producing the sort of sound I need. Since everything sounds good, should I just go with either, or will the MSP5s really yield results that are that much more impressive? Another thing: Do you think the VXT4s really sound twice as good as the RP5s (as the prices would suggest)?

It should be noted that I am not a professional and will probably never be making recordings for money. I need to find a monitor that yields good mixes, but is also inspiring and fun to work with. It's frustrating how many decent and even great options there are at this price. It's difficult not to over-research the monitor decision.

I am looking for monitors that represent the best compromise between: (A) non-fatiguing and inspiring and (B) results in a decent mix. Any suggestions are appreciated.

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:38 am

My advice, in that price range, is the buy used. Most monitors don't seem to have great resale value, so you can get better monitors on the cheap.

I noticed all the choices you listed are very small monitors, do you have a size restraint? I used to have a pair of KRK V4s that were nice for the size.

But, if you can, try to get speakers with a 8" woofer. Used, there are a bunch of nice powered options in your price range like KRK V8, Event ASP8, and others.
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Post by iamthecosmos » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:18 am

I'd recommend the old Tannoy Reveal 5A's (or the passive versions). Usually cheap used and I've found them pretty easy to get decent results with.

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Post by sonocide6 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:18 am

I got a pair of these: http://www.samsontech.com/products/prod ... &brandID=2 used a couple years ago. I've had to replace a blown cap in one but am otherwise pleased with them! A pair of these guys or the bigger 8" ones should be in your price range. Samson has some newer powered-monitor lines out now that look pretty nice too.

Don't forget to buy and use mo-pads. They're worth their weight in gold. (lol)

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Post by DrummerMan » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:43 am

iamthecosmos wrote:I'd recommend the old Tannoy Reveal 5A's (or the passive versions). Usually cheap used and I've found them pretty easy to get decent results with.
Not to be contrary (well, kind of being contrary), but since you suggested these monitors, I thought I should just put out a vote against them. I used those (actives) for a number of years in 4 different spaces with different degrees of room treatment (from not treated at all to so-so treatment), though I always had mopads, and nothing I mixed on them ever sounded anywhere near the same anywhere else. I eventually learned them a bit but never could get it right, assuming it was just my own inexperience (which, in part, it was). What was clear and present on them was a muddy hell of a mess everywhere else. Finally, I moved into a space where I shared with someone else who had the mackie 824's and when I tried those out, all of a sudden, everything made a lot more sense. The mackies weren't perfect, but at least I could make what sounded like a good mix on them and not be afraid to just play that mix for someone else without going through a long check-it-on-a-million-different-systems process each time.

Obviously, your mileage varies, and I'm sure that there are many people who can make great mixes on those Tannoys, but one of the best things I ever did for my own mixing happiness was to sell those. No offense. :D

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:50 pm

My room is not treated.
You might want to treat your room first. You could get home with your shiny new / used monitors and find they sound like the exact same ass as your existing setup.
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Post by iamthecosmos » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:36 pm

DrummerMan wrote:
iamthecosmos wrote:I'd recommend the old Tannoy Reveal 5A's (or the passive versions). Usually cheap used and I've found them pretty easy to get decent results with.
Not to be contrary (well, kind of being contrary), but since you suggested these monitors, I thought I should just put out a vote against them. I used those (actives) for a number of years in 4 different spaces with different degrees of room treatment (from not treated at all to so-so treatment), though I always had mopads, and nothing I mixed on them ever sounded anywhere near the same anywhere else. I eventually learned them a bit but never could get it right, assuming it was just my own inexperience (which, in part, it was). What was clear and present on them was a muddy hell of a mess everywhere else. Finally, I moved into a space where I shared with someone else who had the mackie 824's and when I tried those out, all of a sudden, everything made a lot more sense. The mackies weren't perfect, but at least I could make what sounded like a good mix on them and not be afraid to just play that mix for someone else without going through a long check-it-on-a-million-different-systems process each time.

Obviously, your mileage varies, and I'm sure that there are many people who can make great mixes on those Tannoys, but one of the best things I ever did for my own mixing happiness was to sell those. No offense. :D
No, that's cool, with any cheap monitor it's going to be subjective. I'd used nicer monitors before the Tannoys, so I knew they weren't great, but I got used to their particular type of 'not great'. I'd prefer NS-10's though, they're standard for a reason and I've heard them in amazing studios as well as smaller more ramshackle ones. They're quite overpriced on ebay though.

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Post by calaverasgrandes » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:59 pm

I just gotta chime in hear on the mackie monitors. I have a friend with pair of those and thought they were reasonable to mix on as well. The new ones sound very different to me. They are very boxy and crappy sounding. I suppose it could be the NS10 effect that if it will work on these than it will work anywhere, except the new 824's sound crap with commercially released mixed/mastered stuff played through them.
I have tried a couple different small powered monitors, I settled on the KRK RP5G2 because they arent as crazy hyped as a lot of other monitors are in the upper mid. This can be a liability as you can make some razor sharp trebly mixes if not careful! Other than that I find them to be fairly smooth for the price. I like the low mid/low end bump as I have a habit of getting crazy down there, this helps me keep it sane.
One other note, stay far away from Alesis!
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Post by Jeff White » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:32 pm

iamthecosmos wrote:I'd prefer NS-10's though, they're standard for a reason and I've heard them in amazing studios as well as smaller more ramshackle ones. They're quite overpriced on ebay though.
I do not want to hijack this thread, but here is some advice regarding the prices of NS-10Ms. Check on ebay a whole lot, especially in home stereo equipment. I managed to score two pairs of NS-10Ms back in the Fall of 2007. One pair was $330 shipped (my main pair). Only thing remotely wrong with them is that the cabs are a little nicked up and the woofers had some yellowing. These were listed under studio monitors. I picked up another older pair with screens for $130 sans woofers (cabs with tweeters and crossovers), and then shopped around on ebay for a new pair of woofers for cheap. Took a while but I did my search half-assed. Anyway, found a pair of woofers for under $170 new (usually like $225). I swapped out the old woofers in my main pair for the new ones, and then put the old woofers in the pair that I rebuilt. So now I have two pairs for under $650. One of them lives in the basement studio, the other pair with screens is my travel pair.

Ok... I do not think that NS-10Ms alone are great to mix on if you are totally unfamiliar with them. Having them to check mixes on and fine tune stuff is great, and I personally love them. My advice for the original poster is this... grab an Adcom GFA 535, 545, 555 (even the II series) power amp and an Adcom GFS-3 speaker switcher. My GFA 545 II cost me around $200 and the switcher was like $30, both used. Now you can add a variety of speakers to your monitoring setup.

Check out the Axiom stuff for passive speakers. And then obviously you can throw a lot of other things after the adcom and see what sticks.

Jeff
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Post by calaverasgrandes » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:54 pm

adcoms really are mindblowingly good amps.
About NS10's on ebay, if you are handy, there are constantly dirt cheap NS10's with a busted woofer/tweeter. you can still pick up spare tweets and woofers for not too much also on ebay. I was planning on this tactic until I had a major falling out with paypal/ebay.
(I was identity thefted through paypal, had $600 taken out of my account, I called paypal within minutes of the event. they did not stop it and told me to go fuck myself on the overdraft fees. Paypal protection my ass!)
Thing is, if he is going for compact monitors, NS10's arent.
If this is a home setup power amp may be just a bit more gear than he wants to deal with. There is a reason active monitors have exploded as a gear category, its because they are a lot less hassle in a home studio.
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Post by Crocoduck5000 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:23 am

I'm sort of where you were not to long ago, and I can comment on the HS50m pair.

I bought a pair from the lead singer of the band Ghost in the City, and like you I did not have room treatment (at the time). They are a bit harsh but they have a mid-cut switch on the back that makes them more pleasurable to listen to, and easier to mix for me personally. Just know that these things have NO bass. Literally none. I think they drop out around 140hz completely for me. They would make a great pair to crossover with a sub if you need be. I haven't heard the HS80m pair (with an 8" woofer) but as far as the speakers themselves they are very well built and I know many mixing engineers that swear by them, and make very good mixes.

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Post by Babaluma » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:56 pm

i've been using solely msp5s for nearly ten years and love them. you get used to any speaker after a while. they can be a little fatiguing if listening for extended periods at higher volume, but if you monitor at a decent level they are fine.

if you want "pretty/nice" sounding speakers then i'd recommend hi-fi speakers.

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Post by emptyframe » Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:48 am

First of all, thanks to everyone for all the advice. I still haven't quite made my decision, but feel very close. Most likely it'll be one of these: Yamaha MSP5, KRK V4, or KRK V6. In the used market, all an be found for $300-$450.

V4: I heard and really liked the sound of the VXT4s. I mix at relatively low levels in a small, untreated room. Am I right in assuming that the smaller speakers will pose the least amount of trouble acoustically in such a space?

V6: Although I really like the sound of the V4s, there is some concern about bass response. The larger speaker in the V6 would seem to solve this problem. My only worry is that these might not perform as well at lower volumes in my relatively small, untreated room. Might these be overpowered for my purposes?

MSP5: From what I've read, these may be the most precise in the price range. However, I didn't exactly enjoy my experience with HS-50Ms. As a compromise, I may try to get a pair of these and a pair of KRKs for side-by-side comparison... then sell whichever I decide against.

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Post by jgimbel » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:39 am

emptyframe wrote:Am I right in assuming that the smaller speakers will pose the least amount of trouble acoustically in such a space?
I don't think that's true. I guess if you're using huge speakers/really low the room is going to interact with the sound more, but it's a question of hearing accurately in your room. I mix pretty low too but I do turn up loud and go really quiet too to see how it translates, just like switching to other monitors. I'd feel very limited if I HAD to keep at one relatively low maximum volume. Room treatment is always the last thing you want to hear when looking at monitors, I was in the same position. But really it's awful hard to get into things like specifics about the sound of monitors when your room isn't controlled. I use Rokit 5 G2s, and without treatment it sounds like they have more bass than a sub. If I didn't know my room needed treating, I'd think these 5" speakers have way over the top bass response, but it's the room. Acoustic treatment is often an "I need to suck it up and make the responsible choice" thing. Sucks to spend money on it because it's not fun, but the difference is incredible.

Though in monitor land, I haven't heard the V4s, but I'm thinking if you liked how the V4s sound but are worried about bass response, the V6s sound like a good solution. I know a number of people who use them, and they sound great. I don't know that I'd describe them as completely natural, but like any monitor once you're used to them it's not hard to get nice mixes on them.

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Post by firby » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:39 am

I do heavily edited acoustic/electronic music with field samples. Here, it is on a Adcom GFA 555 MkII. I have two sets of speakers that I use, I have JBL 4311s to write the music on and event 20/20s to mix with. I bought the 20/20s first but they just did not have the oomf and the sweetness that I needed to make the music on, so I got the JBLs ... well actually I got the JBLs and new tweeters for the JBLs and crossovers as well, there just happened to be a bunch of stuff on ebay for them.

If you are doing any type of music that has rhythm then I like to hear the bass a bit more while I am tracking. This includes synths and samplers where you might be monitoring on the 'bigs' while you are tracking.

I think that another groovy monitor is a genelec 1031. There are groovy monitors and there are thats-the-facts-jack monitors.
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