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Budget Studio Monitors?

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LunyAlex
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Hey there!

So I have a small amount of money "laying around" and was considering investing in some studio monitors. We're talking 200-ish $. Maybe stretch it to $250.

So far I've been mixing and producing my tracks on a pair of Sony MDR XD200s, which as far as I know, are fairly balanced, but still...you know...bad.

Still, I had a few questions regarding budget monitors, if anyone has experience with them:

1) The frequency range on most of these things starts at 50hz, if not higher, at 85-ish. My current headphones do 10Hz - 22,000Hz.

Is this a problem? Will the low end be lacking in comparison, or are we talking of frequencies low enough to be negligible in everyday mixing?

Or are subwoofers necessary?

2) Are Budget Monitors worth it?

I mean, if you're only willing to drop a couple hundred bucks, is it a worthwhile investment, or does it only become significant if you go higher up in the price range?

3) Do you have any recommendations for monitors in the 200-250$ price range?

I've obviously googled around, but I would love some personal testimonials.

Any and all feedback would be immensely appreciated!

LunyAlex
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 3 weeks ago Reply

Oh, worth a mention :

I'd totally be open to a headphone alternative if it'd provide more value in this pricerange.

geekmusic
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 3 weeks ago Reply

At 8/29/14 09:40 AM, LunyAlex wrote: Oh, worth a mention :

I'd totally be open to a headphone alternative if it'd provide more value in this pricerange.

Hey!
Always good to have in the back of your head: if your workplace has no acoustic treatment, chances are a pair of monitors will deceive you in some freq ranges. In that case it my be better to get a pair of open headphones (like Sennheiser's HD 650, which is quite pricey, but I've read great reviews about it for mixing).

That said, I use Yamaha's HS50M and they're pretty good. Sometimes the lack of lower freqs gets in the way, so I always double-check on my headphones (not proper for mixing, though).

Google "open headphones for mixing", might be worth to know about'em

DamienFleisch
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 3 weeks ago Reply

Honestly, on that budget I don't know of any monitors that would be worth it. You might be able to find something decent and used, but most likely it will be a not-so-great set of 5" monitors. If you feel like what you are using isn't good enough, I'd highly recommend these:

http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Catz-F-R-E-Q-4D-Headset-Devices/dp/B00F897IX0/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=8-4&keywords=madcatz+FREQ

They have a button that changes their EQ, and I've found that their quality is very good. They won't blow your whole budget, and I'd recommend hanging on to the rest of it and save more until you could afford a nice pair of 8" monitors.

drumdude
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 3 weeks ago Reply

Back when I was shopping for monitors, I did a good few weeks of consistent research before buying some. I don't claim to be an expert, but I figure I can try to pass some info on.

At 8/29/14 09:04 AM, LunyAlex wrote:
1) The frequency range on most of these things starts at 50hz, if not higher, at 85-ish. My current headphones do 10Hz - 22,000Hz.

Is this a problem? Will the low end be lacking in comparison, or are we talking of frequencies low enough to be negligible in everyday mixing?

Not really. Depends on the monitor of course, but I've never felt like I'm lacking any frequency range since I've bought them. Additionally, you can always use your current headphones as an additional reference.

Or are subwoofers necessary?

Again, depends on the monitors, but typically, no. Can it help? Of course, but it is something that you can always pick up later on if you feel it would help.

2) Are Budget Monitors worth it?

Depends on what "budget" means. In your case of 200-250$, probably not unless you buy them used. Save up a bit more and it will greatly increase your options

3) Do you have any recommendations for monitors in the 200-250$ price range?

The only monitors I know anything about at that range are the M-audio bx5a. They are pretty good for the money, but there is a noticeable gap between them and anything in the 400 range.

In the 300-400 range you there are the more options. The ones I know about the most are equator d5's, Yamaha HS5's and the super popular KRK Rokit 5.

All three are good options. I own the D5's and find the midrange to be crystal clear and the low end to be surprisingly good for 5 inch woofers. Also, Equator has a 60 day return policy, so you essentially get 2 months to just try them out which is nice. The Yamahas are very well thought of, although I've heard of issues with ear fatigue. I've never listened to them long enough to experience that though. The KRK's seem to have people who love them or hate them. I personally find them too bassy to mix with.

If I were in your shoes, I would probably try to save a bit longer in hopes of getting better quality. Of course, thats up to you.
Also, if you're lucky, you have a music store near you which you can go into a room and actually hear the monitors. Buying monitors without hearing them is extremely difficult and is one of the reason I bought the Equators first (due to the return policy).

LunyAlex
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 3 weeks ago Reply

Thanks for the replies!

I'll ponder and consider all recommendations.

First I'll look up some local stores so I might test run some monitors and headphones, then probably decide based on that.

Thanks again!

Lich
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 2 weeks ago Reply

My personal recommendation: Up your budget to $300+ and grab a pair of ADAM A3X's to start off with and get a sub afterwards at a later date.


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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 2 weeks ago Reply

I would look into the yamaha hs5 series, for the price they are quite accurate.

LunyAlex
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 2 weeks ago Reply

I just got home from the music store with a pair of JBL LSR305.

I kinda went over my expected budget, but after listening to

A few cheap monitors within my initial price range
An Audio Technica ATH-M50
An AKG 240 MKII
An AKG 702
And these JBLs

...the JBLs were by far the most open and clear, while still retaining a pleasing low end.

I haven't plugged them in yet, and I'll have to plan out some room treatment this week, but at the store they sounded fucking gorgeous.
Wasn't expecting such a dramatic difference from what I'm using.

I can return them within a week so I'll see if I keep loving them as much after a few days.

Thanks again to everyone that gave me advice; really appreciate it.

DamienFleisch
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 2 weeks ago Reply

At 8/30/14 12:52 PM, LunyAlex wrote: I just got home from the music store with a pair of JBL LSR305.

Those are a good choice. I have the LSR308's and absolutely love them.

stunkel
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 2 weeks ago Reply

One thing you should take into consideration is the fact that studio monitors aren't nearly as effective if you don't position your monitors correctly and use the right room with the correct acoustic treatment. So headphones can be better, except headphones (depending on what you get) will alter your sound because it's so close to your ears. Also headphones have only one driver for sound to come out of where speakers have multiple. With one driver there is a ton of masking among the different frequencies, but speakers have multiple drivers so you can hear more of it. Unfortunately it's sort of a pick your poison situation. If you have the money to do the acoustic treatment and positioning with the speakers, that's the best option, but headphones or speakers (without acoustic treatments and positioning) will both have it's ups and downs.


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DavidOrr
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 11 days ago Reply

At 8/30/14 07:13 PM, stunkel wrote: One thing you should take into consideration is the fact that studio monitors aren't nearly as effective if you don't position your monitors correctly and use the right room with the correct acoustic treatment. So headphones can be better, except headphones (depending on what you get) will alter your sound because it's so close to your ears. Also headphones have only one driver for sound to come out of where speakers have multiple. With one driver there is a ton of masking among the different frequencies, but speakers have multiple drivers so you can hear more of it. Unfortunately it's sort of a pick your poison situation. If you have the money to do the acoustic treatment and positioning with the speakers, that's the best option, but headphones or speakers (without acoustic treatments and positioning) will both have it's ups and downs.

This. If you can't treat your room properly (which, depending on the size, will cost at least a few hundred dollars to DIY), spending 200 bucks on monitors is money poorly spent. I'd highly recommend spending that money on a quality set of mixing headphones. Mixing on headphones is not ideal, but your results will be better than mixing in an untreated room.

I've found that adjusting for the weaknesses of headphones (which Stunkel outlined) is much easier than trying to adjust for a poor room. It's certainly possible, but it requires a very good ear and regular referencing of other tracks.


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etelik
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Response to Budget Studio Monitors? 10 days ago Reply

Except your room has high reverberation, or you live in a toilet (or a similar tiled room), you should get speakers instead of headphones. If I got you right, you are going to get near-field monitors (like the Adam ones mentioned), and you won't need a perfectly treated room to make a good mix on such speakers. You would need acoustic treatment however when you would get some bigger far-field monitors. ->Picture<- (The ones standing on the mixing consoles are near-field, the ones built in the walls are far-field monitors.)
More important is how you set them up ->Another Picture<-, and that they are at the same height as your head/ears.
But the most important thing is that you like them and can mix with them. The next time you go to listen to some different models, bring an mp3 player/mobile with you, with a track on it that you know really good, preferably one you have mixed yourself, one that you know every nuance of it. The last point also is an exception of getting Headphones instead of speakers, if you really like them more.

Good luck with your choice :)


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