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Topic: Stupid question about monitors...

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  1. #1

    Stupid question about monitors...

    Most of you know I'm about 98% composer and 2% audio tech. So bear with me....

    I was just wondering what the advantage of monitors are over regular (but high end) speakers? My dad used to have a music studio and I remember using the monitors sometimes.. they were crisp but lacked fullness and bass, if I recall correctly. What exactly is the advantage for a composer to use monitors? I've been using a pretty basic Altec Lansing 2.1 speaker set for years now, and I think my pieces have pretty good production quality.

    So, what's the scoop?
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

  2. #2

    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    Well, I'm not specially audio tech neither, but I read that a studio monitor would give you the sound you are working with 1:1. It seems that even some very good stereo speakers (for those who are only *listening* to music on it) changes the sound to make it actually "better" than it really is (more bass, more high frequencies). This would explain why they sounded better in your experience. Now, if you are *working* on your audio (mixing / composing) you want to hear all the weaknesses in your sound, that would be hidden by by a stereo speaker, and eleminate them. It is very possible that if your music sounds good on your stereo, doesn't sound good on another, because there are some "frequencies to fix". You can't "trust" a stereo to play back for real what you are doing.

    So far what I read about it -- Hope this helps,
    Markus.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    It's the difference in properly fitted glasses and "rose colored glasses"... honestly.

    Good monitors just give you much more "finite detail"... where "speakers" are more of a "blunted hyped" sound. So it's "finite detail" vs "blunted hypeyness"™

    There's actually two reasons I felt I had to get good monitors once and for all.

    1) It would help my mixes (and it did so from day one)

    2) I wanted to experience the 'sound' of my music as it really was. It's nice not to have to say "I wonder what this really sounds like"

    Although, if you are satisfied where you are, why spend the money? But if you did spend $4,000 on monitors, I promise you that you'll hear a difference. A big difference...


    KID-

  4. #4

    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    Actually, Dynaudio (Hi-Fi) is even more accurate than Dynaudio Acoustics (studio monitors). Many Hi-Fi purists do not want any "coloring" either. But the Hi-Fi range is too sensitive to be abused in a uncontrolled environment like a studio with live instruments (synth squelches, bass peaks). They wouldn't last a day.


    ------------
    Alex Cremers

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
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    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    Well those "hi-fi" guys are idiots... they're the same guys that spend $1000 for gold plated power cords.. as if it they can really hear the diff. Sure they can...

    I'm referring to the difference between $200+ 0r - "consumer grade speakers" (or computer speakers) and $4,000 (etc) studio monitors...

    I think that is typical of what people want to compare.


    KID-

  6. #6

    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    True, but why call them idiots? At least they listen and appreciate a sound engineer's work.

    BTW, I once changed my speaker cables from normal (copper) into fancy silver cables. I immediately could hear a difference, but I thought they excited the top frequency a bit too much, so I changed it back to "normal".

    ------------
    Alex Cremers

  7. #7

    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    MDesigner: For my own part, I will say that I really enjoy some of what I'm able to do from my own point of view, and a set of well-sounding monitors brings that pleasure out even more
    The other perspective of it, is if you're working for a living on doing music. If so, then the probably foremost priority should be to get the ability to deliver what your employer wants to hear. He might listen to your work from a set of crappy loudspeakers, or even a set of high quality monitors that makes your work sound like or he just might have a very specific or different way of perceiving sound than oneself does, and then that is going to be you heritage after that, that will be your reputation. (many people who hires composers does not appretiate the sound the same way as an engineer does). Delivering what the employer thinks sounds good, is prio one if you wanna get hired again. Defending oneself behind statements such as "he doesn't know what really sounds good" or "I KNOW it sounds good, because I've got good monitors" will not cut it. If we wanna do stuff that sounds good according to our own opinion, then we should do what we want to do for our own sake and enjoy that as such. Any musician who works for money will tell you that playing the stuff the way the arranger/composer wants it, is the reason they were hired in the first place. So, getting oneself the abilities to deliver what sounds good according to your employers ears, is also a good reason for getting a specific hardware that allows you to do that - whether the hardware costs $$$$ or just $.

    Kid-Surf: I hear you, but I might add that if that is idiotic then I know of many musicians and computer composers who are equally idiotic - since they also spend way more money on hardware than they are practically able to use. If we defend that by saying that it's preferable to have monitors that are better than your listening abilities then the other way around, then I think we are defining our reasons in the same terms that the hi-fi nerds is, when he spends $1000 on a couple cables. It might be a matter of proportion of course, but still
    Kid: When I become an adult I wanna be a musician.
    Parent: Son, you cannot become both.

  8. #8

    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    Thanks for the responses. I thought of an angle that I forgot to mention earlier... for game composers, wouldn't it be better to compose on just some Altec Lansing speakers or something like that? Because the end user is going to be a gamer who will be using some probably decent computer speakers, or maybe a stereo system hooked up to their TV for console games, or something of that nature.

    I guess maybe the best scenario would be to compose and test the audio on both speakers and monitors to make sure it sounds good on both.
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

  9. #9

    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    Sam,

    Testing TV show audio on a cheap TV, or testing pop music on a crummy car stereo is part of good audio practice. But nobody mixes on a cheap TV or crummy car stereo.

    Keep in mind that your competition mixes on good monitors. When their mixes are then played on hyped systems the music gets hyped. You will want to do the same.

    I'm a strong believer in getting some good studio headphones as well. For under $100 you can get great audio with no room treatments required. Your phones will last for years and years. It gives you another reference when you're confused about your mixes.

    But headphones don't predict how speakers will image. You will still want monitors. But you can buy headphones right away. Saving for the Genelecs may take a bit of time.

    -JF

  10. #10

    Re: Stupid question about monitors...

    I've tried composing with headphones (Sony MDRs, forget which model#). I find that the whole piece comes out too quiet, because the headphone monitors pick up every little detail and so I work with pretty low volume levels and velocities. It sounds fine in the headphones, but once I play it back in the car, or on a 2.1 or 5.1 speaker system, it's too quiet and you can't hear the subtleties. Maybe it just takes practice.

    But you mentioned mixing, which I don't really find a need to do really. Most of the samples I have don't need much tweaking, they sound great out of the box. I just set them on the left/center/right of the "stage," apply the proper reverb for depth, and that's about it.
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

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