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New Speaker Suggestions for Listening to Mixes

Bewn

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Hi everyone,

I'm new here but have been hanging around quite a bit over the past month or so whilst on a quest to better my home studio monitoring situation. Really enjoying all of the great advice.

Just to set my scene:
- I'm currently working on an album with a producer in another city (a long drive away). We're now into the mix phase.
- My home studio is a conglomerate of gear that I've collected over many years since a teenager.
- My room is less than ideal and is used as guitar storage, a home office and a space to record demos and listen to mixes.
- My desk position (due to space) is not centred unfortunately.
- I have some acoustic panelling already on first reflection areas and the back wall.


I'm considering either a speaker upgrade or investing in some more room treatment to help me best judge mixes as they come through. I've also got a set of DT770s and 990s that help me test things a bit too. Thoughts and advice greatly received.

I've been using a pair of Soundcraft Spirit Absolute Zeros for over 15 years. Whilst I recognise they are not well regarded speakers, I do 'know' them extremely well. I also have a secondary pair of iLoud Micro Monitors which are quite revealing in a good but sometimes harsh way.

My music is indie folk, very much pulling on 60s influences, so the warm midrange is an area of the mix that matters a lot to me.

I recently demo'd (at great length) a pair of Adam A7x and Genelec 8030c's. Whilst the Adam's reminded me of a more balanced version of my absolute zeros the 8030's had an abundance of clarity in the top end.

What I was missing from the 8030's was some of that midrange warmth. Tracks I know inside out on my Absolute Zeros felt a bit lacking. So I guess I'm wondering if there's a pair of speakers that's a bit of a half way house between the clarity of the Genelec's and the midrange of the Absolute Zeros/Adam's? OR do I just upgrade my room acoustics a bit and stick with what I know?

Thanks for all your input and thoughts! Much appreciated.

All the best,
Ben
 

alex-z

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Doesn't matter how good or expensive your speakers are if the room sucks. Figure out the problems you have through measurements and fix them before you spend money. An $80 measurement mic is worth its weight in gold.


In my experience, there is almost no such thing as "too much absorption" when mixing/mastering music. Lots of thick panels to manage your room modes is key, in small rooms they can extend up to 300Hz. If the room becomes too "dead", adding some high frequency reflections is easy, or even just having a secondary system in a normal room for sanity checks.

the warm midrange is an area of the mix that matters a lot to me.

The speakers themselves should be neutral, and so should the decay rate of all frequencies within your room. That way you are mixing for the music itself, and not mixing to overcome flaws in the speakers.

The Genelec 8030C are extremely neutral speakers. If you take one of your mixes and play it back on the 8030C, yet find flaws, those flaws will likely appear for anyone who also owns similarly competent speakers. Their only weakness is lack of bass reproduction, which could be augmented with a subwoofer if you don't want to buy bigger models like the 8040 or 8050.
 

Eetu

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Just wanted to say that if you are used to your current speakers' 7" woofers I wouldn't go smaller. Trying out bigger Genelecs (8040B) would make sense in that regard. I know they're significantly more expensive though.

I have the Genelec M030 (very similar to the 8030Cs but different cabinet material and discontinued) and can't say I feel like I'm missing anything in the mids or bass. But I'm also running dual subs that help give body/warmth to the sound.

I also think that when a speaker is well-designed (low distortion, smooth directivity, minimized diffraction etc.) you can easily makes some fine-tuning via EQ to suit your needs. I would imagine a single broad PEQ filter would help bring that midrange warmth you are looking for.
But of course you would cross-reference with the headphones/other speakers to make sure the mixes translate.

And as @alex-z said the Genelecs are very neutral out the box and it may well be that your current speakers have boosted mids and it would take a while to get used to the more neutral representation.

I would also give some Kali speakers such as the IN-8 2nd Wave a listen.
 
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Bewn

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Thanks for the input guys. That's really helpful.

I was thinking about getting a Umik, so that's a great suggestion. I've definitely been looking at adding more panels to the room too, so that's good to know before I hike out on new monitors.

I guess my thinking around the Genelec's was that in direct comparison with the Adam's they missed something in the mids for me, which would make me worry I would over compensate for that in a mix if I wasn't careful, but like you said Eetu, perhaps the 8040's would have a bit 'more' here to reference.

The other pair I've heard banded around a lot is the KH120s, but I've yet to hear them in person. Might they he a good middle ground between the warmth of the Adam's and the clarity of the Genelec's?

Thanks again!
 

DVDdoug

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I don't have any specific recommendations...

- I'm currently working on an album with a producer in another city (a long drive away). We're now into the mix phase.
So you are in charge of mixing? It should be assigned to one person and ideally mastering (If any) should be done by "different" ears on a different setup. But "traditionally" the producer is in charge of the overall sound so he can say "I want more guitar", etc.

My room is less than ideal and is used as guitar storage, a home office and a space to record demos and listen to mixes.
It "wouldn't hurt" to measure the speakers/room so you at-least know what you're dealing with. Random stuff in the room can help to break-up the sound reflections in a random way, and that's a good thing but it doesn't help much with the bass. The bass is where the worst-problems usually are.

You can mostly fix a standing wave antinode (where the waves add-up, creating a bump in frequency response) with EQ. But it's almost impossible to fix an antinode (where the soundwaves cancel) because it takes almost infinite power and infinitely-large woofers to make-up for the loss.

I do 'know' them extremely well.
That's very important! With better monitors you might end-up making worse mixes until you've had time to learn them.


My music is indie folk, very much pulling on 60s influences, so the warm midrange is an area of the mix that matters a lot to me.

What I was missing from the 8030's was some of that midrange warmth.
You wouldn't want your monitors to enhance that warmth* because you want the recording to sound good on neutral speakers, and you want the recording to sound it's best on a variety of playback systems.

Most pros keep a known-good reference track in the particular genre they are working on. You don't have to "match" the sound but the idea is to "keep your ears calibrated".

Most pros also check their mix on a variety of systems (and a pair of headphones, etc.). And you can also compare the reference to your mix on these recordings.

When comparing your work-in-process to the reference you'll probably need to turn-down the volume on the reference. "Loudness" should be saved for mastering (even if that's just a simple, final, volume adjustment done by you.)



* "Warmth" means different things to different people. I used to think it was a mid-bass boost (like that "male announcer" voice you get from the proximity effect when close the mic). But then I found out that some people call slight "pleasing" distortion warmth...
 

kemmler3D

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You should know this if you're mixing an album, but if your monitors sound warm, your resulting mix will sound COLD everywhere else.

If you want your mixes to come out really '60s warm, you should be looking for some icy-inhuman-sounding monitors and adding the warmth yourself. Or at least, monitors where warm stuff sounds warm and cool stuff sounds cool to you. If everything sounds warm, nothing is.

Other than belaboring that point I think the main points have been covered ITT.

Don't forget to check the mix on random systems other than monitors, (like cars, TVs, earpods...) before shipping it. :)
 
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