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Topic: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

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  1. #1

    How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    I just got a pair of small desk-top studio monitors - Alesis M1Active 520s. I need to use these speakers as general purpose PC speakers in addition to sound work. What equipment do I need to do this? So far I've discovered I need and speaker/headphone A/B switch and a volume control of some sort. What other things haven't I thought of? What equipment do other people use for this. I suspect a little $25 switch plus volume control would give my new monitors $25 worth of sound quality.

    Pat

  2. #2

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    I just got a pair of small desk-top studio monitors - Alesis M1Active 520s. I need to use these speakers as general purpose PC speakers in addition to sound work. What equipment do I need to do this? So far I've discovered I need and speaker/headphone A/B switch and a volume control of some sort. What other things haven't I thought of? What equipment do other people use for this. I suspect a little $25 switch plus volume control would give my new monitors $25 worth of sound quality.

    Pat
    I don't think you'd need anything would you?

    First you can tell windows to use the Alesis audio output as it's playback output. Somewhere in the control panel under sounds you should be able to pick which controller you want to be the default. I'm guessing by your question that you have an internal sound card that's your default playback device.

    There's a volume control on the speakers themselves and a headphone jack on the front of one of those speakers.

    Anyway maybe I'm missing something but I really don't think you need to buy anything.

    EDIT: Ok I read your post in the other message and I guess I was missing something. I just bought one of these and I think it would solve your problem.

    I bought it to go along with a cheap behringer mixer I've had forever as a way to create an aux mix for recording voice overs but still giving me the ability to listen to a guide track. I think these retail for about $80, but I bought mine on Amazon for around $42. Another thing I like is they give you the ability to connect a couple pairs of speakers for A/B comparison. So I'll soon be in the market for some decent computer multi-media speakers. I currently have Event monitors that aren't made any longer but sound very good.

    Also while I'm thinking about it, the best $40 I spent on my monitoring environment recently was a set of Auralex mopads. I know it sounds ridiculous to pay that much for a few simple pieces of foam, but for me they've made a dramatic difference in what I hear coming out of the speakers.
    Steve Winkler GPO4 JAAB3 Finale 2012 Reaper Windows 7 Pro 64-bit VSL SE+

  3. #3

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Steve, thanks for your response. I should have stated my situation more clearly but you figured it out from reading my other thread.

    The missing details:

    • 2 completely independent monitors which no headphone jack. And even if they had the jack it would be for just one channel.
    • Inconveniently located gain controls on the speakers - good for a set-and-forget general level control; not appropriate for general purpose volume control.

    It sounds like the Behringer  MINIMON MON800 might be a what I need. I notice it's speaker outputs are for 150 ohm speakers - typically passive speakers. Any problems driving active monitors? I assume the impedance mismatch (150 ohms vs. 10K ohms) isn't going to be a problem, but how about over-driving?

    Since the device his powered I assume it has active circuitry. Any noticeable problems with sound quality? It has more input and output support than I need, but it is probably worth getting unless there are less expensive devices with comparable or better quality. It looks like they've gone up about $20 since you got yours.

    Pat

    Edit:
    After looking at the specs I'm less inclined to get this device. I'm quite limited in space. Although Behringer calls this device "ultra-compact", that must be in relation to its capabilities - 4 inputs and 4 outputs (3 sets of speakers plus headphone). Its 15.2 x 6.8 x 4.1 inches size is problematic for me. (I'm baffled by the product description of "Ultra-compact 9.5" monitor matrix mixer". What's the 9.5" about?) I haven't seen anything else likely to be a better choice and I don't mind the price , but since I need only and A/B switch plus volume control I'd be wasting a lot of space for no purpose.

    Edit #2: I've read another product description that says the dimensions as 1.9 x 9.6 x 4.7". Very odd, but the latter set seems to match the manufacturer's specs, give or take a bit for conversion from metric . Anyone care to offer a 3rd estimate?

  4. #4

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    Steve, thanks for your response. I should have stated my situation more clearly but you figured it out from reading my other thread.

    The missing details:

    • 2 completely independent monitors which no headphone jack. And even if they had the jack it would be for just one channel.
    • Inconveniently located gain controls on the speakers - good for a set-and-forget general level control; not appropriate for general purpose volume control.

    It sounds like the Behringer  MINIMON MON800 might be a what I need. I notice it's speaker outputs are for 150 ohm speakers - typically passive speakers. Any problems driving active monitors? I assume the impedance mismatch (150 ohms vs. 10K ohms) isn't going to be a problem, but how about over-driving?

    Since the device his powered I assume it has active circuitry. Any noticeable problems with sound quality? It has more input and output support than I need, but it is probably worth getting unless there are less expensive devices with comparable or better quality. It looks like they've gone up about $20 since you got yours.

    Pat

    Edit:
    After looking at the specs I'm less inclined to get this device. I'm quite limited in space. Although Behringer calls this device "ultra-compact", that must be in relation to its capabilities - 4 inputs and 4 outputs (3 sets of speakers plus headphone). Its 15.2 x 6.8 x 4.1 inches size is problematic for me. (I'm baffled by the product description of "Ultra-compact 9.5" monitor matrix mixer". What's the 9.5" about?) I haven't seen anything else likely to be a better choice and I don't mind the price , but since I need only and A/B switch plus volume control I'd be wasting a lot of space for no purpose.

    Edit #2: I've read another product description that says the dimensions as 1.9 x 9.6 x 4.7". Very odd, but the latter set seems to match the manufacturer's specs, give or take a bit for conversion from metric . Anyone care to offer a 3rd estimate?
    I haven't noticed any problems with active monitors as mine are active. I do have to turn the volume down fairly low on the behringer.

    Your space must be very tight if that's too big a unit. I hope you can find something small enough. I was going to suggest a small 4 channel mixer of some sort but that might be too much desk space as well.
    Steve Winkler GPO4 JAAB3 Finale 2012 Reaper Windows 7 Pro 64-bit VSL SE+

  5. #5

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by swinkler View Post
    Your space must be very tight if that's too big a unit.
    Well, it all depends on which set of specs I should believe.
    I've got no problem at all with 1.9 x 9.6 x 4.7".
    I do have a bit of a problem finding room for the 15.2 x 6.8 x 4.1 inches mentioned on Amazon.
    I assume the measurements are in different order so I'm guessing it's either 9.5 or 15.2 inches wide. That's a big difference!

    You've got the device. Right? So how wide is it?

    Pat

  6. #6

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    Well, it all depends on which set of specs I should believe.
    I've got no problem at all with 1.9 x 9.6 x 4.7".
    I do have a bit of a problem finding room for the 15.2 x 6.8 x 4.1 inches mentioned on Amazon.
    I assume the measurements are in different order so I'm guessing it's either 9.5 or 15.2 inches wide. That's a big difference!

    You've got the device. Right? So how wide is it?

    Pat
    Dang, but this is starting to look like a deal-killer on the space issue. It'd be a tight squeeze, but I could fit the monitors on my computer desk. But if I have to add a mixing board (even a small one), no way -- I just don't have enough real estate where I'd need everything to be.

    So, this leaves me with three options:

    1. Buy the Alesis 520s, use them with my Y-splitter and hope that I'll get enough signal output from my sound card.

    2. Find a good pair of computer speakers that have at least a relatively flat frequency response. (I think subwoofers might be a no-no with this option.)

    3. Forget the whole monitor thing and just use my Sennheiser HD280s for audio work.

    I'm really not sure what to do at this point, so any further recommendations would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  7. #7

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Johnson View Post
    But if I have to add a mixing board (even a small one), no way -- I just don't have enough real estate where I'd need everything to be.
    I did see a much smaller mixer - the "American Recorder PMIX-100 3-Source Personal Audio Mixer" which is only 10.5 x 2.2 x 6 inches. It could probably sit on top of one of the monitors. The description makes it sound sort of tacky and I have no idea how it sounds.

    I decided I could just barely fit the Behringer  in my work space if it is 15.2 x 6.8 x 4.1 inches as mentioned on Amazon (although I would occasionally have to put my keyboard in top of it). I will have little trouble if it is 9.6 x 1.9 x 4.7 inches. So I ordered it and paid for expedited shipping. Hopefully phase II of my guinea pig work will commence in a couple days.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Johnson View Post
    So, this leaves me with three options:

    1. Buy the Alesis 520s, use them with my Y-splitter and hope that I'll get enough signal output from my sound card.

    2. Find a good pair of computer speakers that have at least a relatively flat frequency response. (I think subwoofers might be a no-no with this option.)

    3. Forget the whole monitor thing and just use my Sennheiser HD280s for audio work.

    I'm really not sure what to do at this point, so any further recommendations would be appreciated.
    I suspect you will not have trouble with option one, but it does leave you without an easily accessible volume control.

    Hopefully other people will have more suggestions. Good luck!

    Pat

  8. #8
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    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    G’day Pat,

    I assume that you have two separate audio signals from your computer to drive one set of stereo speakers. Steve’s (swinkler’s) recommendation provides a good and cost effective solution.

    You say:

    “I notice it's speaker outputs are for 150 ohm speakers - typically passive speakers. Any problems driving active monitors? I assume the impedance mismatch (150 ohms vs. 10K ohms) isn't going to be a problem, but how about over-driving? …”

    Generally there are no 150 Ohm speakers. 150 Ohm output impedance will guarantee to work with any audio amp input. There is no impedance matching in audio equipment. Audio equipment is always voltage driven. This means that a low impedance drives a much higher input impedance. A 150 Ohm source will drive very comfortably a typical 10 k input, as you already say. Going into clipping should not be a problem.

    Pat, you also said:

    “… I'm baffled by the product description of "Ultra-compact 9.5" monitor matrix mixer". What's the 9.5" about? ... ”

    Industrial electronic equipment is usually designed to fit a 19 inch rack system. Sound equipment often follows this standard. 9.5 inch fits half the rack size. The MINIMON MON800 is quite small. The Behringer AMP800 could also do, depending on your requirements. Look up Behringer for specs.


    Best wishes

    Herbert
    Last edited by sonata5920; 02-06-2011 at 04:50 PM. Reason: typo
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  9. #9

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    Well, it all depends on which set of specs I should believe.
    I've got no problem at all with 1.9 x 9.6 x 4.7".
    I do have a bit of a problem finding room for the 15.2 x 6.8 x 4.1 inches mentioned on Amazon.
    I assume the measurements are in different order so I'm guessing it's either 9.5 or 15.2 inches wide. That's a big difference!

    You've got the device. Right? So how wide is it?

    Pat
    I measured it myself and you're 1.9 x 9.6 x 4.7" (H x W x D) measurements are correct. I'm not sure where the 15.2 came from but I will say the box it came in is quite a bit wider than the unit itself. Maybe that's where 15.2 comes from; maybe shipping dimensions. At any rate it is pretty small.
    Steve Winkler GPO4 JAAB3 Finale 2012 Reaper Windows 7 Pro 64-bit VSL SE+

  10. #10

    Re: How to use studio monitors as PC speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by swinkler View Post
    I measured it myself and you're 1.9 x 9.6 x 4.7" (H x W x D) measurements are correct. I'm not sure where the 15.2 came from but I will say the box it came in is quite a bit wider than the unit itself. Maybe that's where 15.2 comes from; maybe shipping dimensions. At any rate it is pretty small.
    Okay, so I'm going to expose myself (again) as a newbie to the whole monitor thing, but I need to ask:

    Even though the Behringer mixing board is small (or smallish, I guess), I still don't have room for the Alesis 520s and that on my computer desk. I'm running a pair of Altec Lansing ACS340 PC speakers straight from my sound card through the old Y-splitter, and I get plenty of volume. Does that mean volume shouldn't be an issue with the monitors either, or is it comparing apples and dump trucks here?

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

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