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Topic: Question about monitors and amps

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    152

    Question Question about monitors and amps

    Folks:
    I don't have a huge budget, but am looking to upgrade the sound output of my DAW. At present, I have the sound coming out of my EMU 404 sound card going into my Sennheiser 280 headphones. I have a cheap tiny surround sound system hooked up to the other sound card in my system.
    I also have a small mixer that I use to change inputs into m y EMU sound card.
    I was thinking of purchasing a small amp, and have the output of the EMU sound card go through the amp, into the mixer, then have a good set of monitors hooked up to the mixer, so that if I wanted to I couuld use the monitors or plug in my headphones to the mixer.
    What do you all think and use? Do you have any recommendations regarding small amps and speakers? I don't want to break the bank, but would really like to hear sound in the room, rather than just use my headphones at times. Thanks so much in advance for your help!

  2. #2

    Re: Question about monitors and amps

    First of all, you'll need to get your routing straightened out. The signal goes from the computer to the mixer AND THEN to the amp and speakers. Sending the amplified signal into your mixer will fry it. It's not designed to handle that level of current.

    Second, I'd suggest getting what are called "active" monitors (as opposed to passive) which have amps already built into them. These start at a couple of hundred of dollars and can go into the thousands. Your budget will dictate where your choice will fall along that price line. I will strongly suggest, though, that, if at all possible, go to a music store that has several brands of speakers set up to audition. Take a CD of music you know really well and have the salesperson play it, switching from one speaker set to the next, until you make your choice.

    Another pertinent question is - what's your workspace like? Are you in a small room, large room, bare walls, curtains, carpet or hardwood/tile floors? The nature of your workspace will have a big effect on the sound you get from your speakers there - which may be different than what you experience at the store. Be sure there is some sort of return policy in place in case the new speakers don't work in your space.

    For brands - on the low end - M-Audio and KRK and Alesis make decent sounding active units for well under $500. Keep in mind that the smaller the speaker, typically, the less bass it can produce so you'll want to audition your final mixes on other speaker systems make sure you have the balance right -that you haven't overcompensated for the lack of bass in your speakers.

    Finally, I'd recommend finding and browsing the web forum for your DAW to read up on recording techniques, studio equipment setups, etc. They can be a great resource and they're free - such a deal!
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  3. #3

    Re: Question about monitors and amps

    Quote Originally Posted by bmdaustin View Post
    First of all, you'll need to get your routing straightened out. The signal goes from the computer to the mixer AND THEN to the amp and speakers. Sending the amplified signal into your mixer will fry it. It's not designed to handle that level of current.

    Second, I'd suggest getting what are called "active" monitors (as opposed to passive) which have amps already built into them. These start at a couple of hundred of dollars and can go into the thousands. Your budget will dictate where your choice will fall along that price line. I will strongly suggest, though, that, if at all possible, go to a music store that has several brands of speakers set up to audition. Take a CD of music you know really well and have the salesperson play it, switching from one speaker set to the next, until you make your choice.

    Another pertinent question is - what's your workspace like? Are you in a small room, large room, bare walls, curtains, carpet or hardwood/tile floors? The nature of your workspace will have a big effect on the sound you get from your speakers there - which may be different than what you experience at the store. Be sure there is some sort of return policy in place in case the new speakers don't work in your space.

    For brands - on the low end - M-Audio and KRK and Alesis make decent sounding active units for well under $500. Keep in mind that the smaller the speaker, typically, the less bass it can produce so you'll want to audition your final mixes on other speaker systems make sure you have the balance right -that you haven't overcompensated for the lack of bass in your speakers.

    Finally, I'd recommend finding and browsing the web forum for your DAW to read up on recording techniques, studio equipment setups, etc. They can be a great resource and they're free - such a deal!
    I could not say it better myself, bdaustin has given you perfect advice. The trick with smaller monitors is that they can sound so different. I find the difference to be much more than when comparing larger, more expensive monitors. So the key here is to go to a store and listen to a CD with representative music of what you are going to compose. Alesis, Mackie, M Audio and even KRK make some great sounding monitors.

    Room treatment is also going to be important. If you don't have the budget to spend on wall treatment at least spend the money to decouple your monitors from your stands /table / workstation. Auralex has MoPads for $40 and for small speakers will make a huge difference in your sound. PrimeAcoustic has an even better monitor isolation package, but it will run you $150 - $200.

    Best of luck!

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    152

    Re: Question about monitors and amps

    Thanks so much, for your excellent suggestions. I have spent quite a few hours perusing the Cakewalk forums (my DAW software) and have enjoyed learning the various perspectives. My "Recording Studio" is a tiny corner of a small bedroom, and I record mostly piano pieces along with some vocals, so I'm looking at some monitors that won't take up much space and don't need to blow out the windows. I am leaning toward active monitors, as the amplifier is one less piece of equipment that I will need.
    Does anyone have any opinions regarding the Behringer Truth B2031A monitors? I don't have a huge budget, and these fit into my price range.

    Thanks so much again for your help!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    South of the Ohio River
    Posts
    555

    Re: Question about monitors and amps

    Quote Originally Posted by rfdillon View Post
    Does anyone have any opinions regarding the Behringer Truth B2031A monitors? I don't have a huge budget, and these fit into my price range.
    I went through a similar quest about a year ago. I had a number of people tell me to stay away from Behringer. I have no real idea why I was told that: whether it was just a personal bias or a more real industry perception. Long story short, I had an Alesis RA-100 amp and bought a pair of Alesis passive speakers and have been very pleased with the results.

    However, you have been given excellent advice but the best is to go to a store and listen to various combinations for yourself. If the Behringers sound like the best bet to your ears then go ahead and get them. And listening to them in person doesn't mean you have to buy them there.
    Jerry
    Dayton, Kentucky
    Personally, I'm waiting for caller IQ.

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