Old 12-26-2011, 11:42 PM   #1
grayknight87
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Default Looking at studio monitors

What specs should I be looking at for active studio monitors? I'm afraid of finding something that is going to make a recordings integrity change.

Also looking for something that could possibly have multiple inputs. Right now I am using a 7.1 sound card to a 7.1 surround sound receiver.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:26 PM   #2
marked23
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That's why people use studio monitors. They are all pretty good.. if you do bass heavy music, get some larger ones. Yes. Your music might sound different through studio monitors. But you will test-drive your recordings on other devices anyway. Just get some that are reliable. A good pair should cost at least $300.

You are very likely going to want to stop using your sound card for anything in Reaper.. Get an outboard audio interface. All your inputs will connect to that, and also your studio monitors.

Audio interfaces run from $200 to $2000+.

You have to decide if you are going to use Firewire or USB 2.0. USB 2.0 works well for me, but I have a killer Windows machine. If you use a Mac, use Firewire. On Windows, just be aware that your firewire driver might not make the cut, but it probably will... if it doesn't, go buy a cheap firewire card at local computer store. (windows laptop users with firewire issues are out of luck)

How many inputs? Most interfaces have at least two. You can guess how many you might need.

How many outputs? At least two. Is two enough? Do you want separate output mix for your headphones vs. master?

[That's a lot of info for a simple question. I'm still new at this myself.]
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:26 PM   #3
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I'm very new to desktop recording (or recording in general for that matter) and I'm in a similar boat. I need monitors. Actually I need two sets; one for jamming live and one for mixing down the tracks.

I'm a drummer and I'm just farting around with some buddies once and a while or producing some tracks on my own and I'm making a small studio at home. In the jam space I need something a little larger that can be used to pump vocals through as well as keyboards as well as mics. In the production area I need something smaller but still wicked awesome clear.

I think I'll end up with something from Mackie. Here's why; Like you I'm using a stereo receiver as my power amp and interface to my speakers. A receiver is not the optimal device for mixing as your getting coloration (for lack of a better word) to the sound between your DAW and your speakers. Powered speakers, especially good quality ones, give a more true reproduction of the sound coming from your board. Another nice fact is that they are self contained units. Less hassle and space if that matters.

A friend has a set of Mackie active studio monitors up on tripods in his studio and I have to say they totally rock. They're not cheap, at around $1000 CDN for a set of 10" studio monitors and another $500 - $600 for reference monitors.

Like Marked23 says, you're going to need an audio interface. I reviewed a pile of them before finally settling on a Mackie 1220i 12 channel mixer. I have a Mac so Firewire works for me nicely. Many mixers also have USB 2.0 interface options.

Having an external mixer gives you a nice bit of separation between computer and audio. You can even run the mixer, speakers and your instruments completely outside of your computer environment. This can come in extremely handy, particularly if your computer is acting flakey. Instruments or sound sources plug into it then routed to your computer for processing in REAPER. You can even get a cheap analog mixer and route its sends back to your PCs audio device (but I'd replace the sound card with a good external source as was suggested).

I hope some of this info is helpful.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:19 AM   #4
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flareless.
Any old P.A. setup would do for monitoring vox and keys in a jam/rehearsal situation, so don't waste a bunch of money on two sets of actual monitors for that reason.
Monitors for critical listening?

There is a HUGE range of monitors competing for your $$$ at all price points.
Best bet is to go to a music store where you can actually listen to a few sets side by side.
This isn't as good as setting them up where you will be using them but it should help you weed out the ones that are not too pleasing to your ears.
Remember monitors are supposed to be clinical and honest, NOT flattering though.
FWIW Behringer 2030 and 2031 offer good value and are not half as bad as you might think. and if you can afford it, their 3030 and 3031s are an improvement.
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Old 12-30-2011, 01:45 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input Ivan. I just discovered this morning that a local music store is now a Behringer dealer so I should be able to go hear some of their products early next month when they get their inventory. I live in the country so there isn't a huge selection of places with a lot of products in stock. I agree that there are a huge number of products available all priced aggressively. My choice of Mackie is mainly because I've been exposed to it.

I've investigated a P.A. alternative to speakers and am still keeping the option open. In addition to vocals and keyboards I'll also be mic'ing some amps. Just small amps which need a kick to let everyone here clearly. I like the idea of single lines out of the mixer to some speakers plugged into the wall rather than adding an amp into the mix as well. Still, as I said, I'm not hell bent on one method or other. I'm still getting started myself.

Thanks again!
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Old 12-31-2011, 02:27 AM   #6
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I'm using a usb mixer and it does have an output for monitors. I would like to be able to use the same monitors for sound off my computer too. Perhaps I can send sound Pc > mixer > monitors? Would latency be an issue there?
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Old 12-31-2011, 08:07 AM   #7
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You should be able to select the output device in Control Panel -> Sound -> Playback.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grayknight87 View Post
I'm using a usb mixer and it does have an output for monitors. I would like to be able to use the same monitors for sound off my computer too. Perhaps I can send sound Pc > mixer > monitors? Would latency be an issue there?
I second Marked23's recommendation for an external audio interface. In lieu an external interface simply connect the line out of your sound card into a couple spare channels or a stereo input or tape in or whatever is you have available on your USB mixer. Depending on what inputs you want to use on your mixer you'll need an 1/8" to dual 1/4" or RCA or XLR cable to do this.

What's your budget for monitors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flareless View Post
Thanks for the input Ivan. I just discovered this morning that a local music store is now a Behringer dealer so I should be able to go hear some of their products early next month when they get their inventory. I live in the country so there isn't a huge selection of places with a lot of products in stock. I agree that there are a huge number of products available all priced aggressively. My choice of Mackie is mainly because I've been exposed to it.

I've investigated a P.A. alternative to speakers and am still keeping the option open. In addition to vocals and keyboards I'll also be mic'ing some amps. Just small amps which need a kick to let everyone here clearly. I like the idea of single lines out of the mixer to some speakers plugged into the wall rather than adding an amp into the mix as well. Still, as I said, I'm not hell bent on one method or other. I'm still getting started myself.

Thanks again!
Regarding your rehearsal setup: If you're wanting reinforcement of vocals, keys, and guitars and expect those to be heard over a full band then PA speakers are really your only option. That is what they're designed for. I do not suggest attempting this with studio monitors as that would put unnecessary strain on them from a stressful application they were not designed for.

Not sure what your budget is but check out self powered options from QSC, EV, Yamaha, Mackie etc...they all have competively priced speakers for this purpose.
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Old 01-02-2012, 10:08 PM   #9
grayknight87
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So I should have the monitors audio come from the mixer and sound out to an input on the mixer? I assume I should just my usb mixer as the base for any type of sound? I guess that would be the purpose of a mixer.

So it would be like this? I'm just worried about latency this way.

instrument/mic > mixer > pc > mixer > monitors
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grayknight87 View Post
So I should have the monitors audio come from the mixer and sound out to an input on the mixer? I assume I should just my usb mixer as the base for any type of sound? I guess that would be the purpose of a mixer.

So it would be like this? I'm just worried about latency this way.

instrument/mic > mixer > pc > mixer > monitors
Sorry I think I got you mixed up with Flareless and the rehearsal situation which is why I said to go back into the mixer before the monitors.

No it is not necessary to go back into the mixer before you feed the monitors. You can feed the monitors directly from the sound card. Although if you were to go back into the mixer it would not add any noticeable latency.

The only benefit I can think of feeding the monitors from the mixer would be to have the ability to hear the vox/instruments through the monitors before they hit the DAW. But when you're recording you're going to want to monitor what is actually being recorded which of course is doing through the DAW coming out of the sound card.
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:32 AM   #11
Analogy
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Running the monitors through the sound board means you have an analog control right in front of you for setting monitor gain. A whole lot more convenient than setting it through software.
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundguy84 View Post
Regarding your rehearsal setup: If you're wanting reinforcement of vocals, keys, and guitars and expect those to be heard over a full band then PA speakers are really your only option. That is what they're designed for. I do not suggest attempting this with studio monitors as that would put unnecessary strain on them from a stressful application they were not designed for.

Not sure what your budget is but check out self powered options from QSC, EV, Yamaha, Mackie etc...they all have competively priced speakers for this purpose.
Thanks for the tips SoundGuy. I was considering the Mackie SRM450v2. They're a bit pricier than I'd like though. I wanted to plug a pair of them into the main out of my Onyx 1220i.

Do you think this isn't a good setup? It's pretty much just for a small jam space. I don't expect to really crank the system for death-metal or anything like that. Could you suggest an alternative? As I mentioned, I'm just starting out and experimenting so any input would be appreciated.

One piece of info on the external USB/Firewire mixer vs audio interface front; some mixers (the 1220i for instance) have returns (outputs) from the DAW software via the interface. You can have your DAW processed audio returned to a strip on the board without all that mucking about with ins and outs from the mixer. It is a VERY convenient feature and one of the main reasons I chose this product. If you can't already tell - I love the thing!
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:57 AM   #13
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If you HAVE to go Mackie get some used 350's. They should be plenty for a rehearsal situation unless you rehearse in Carnegie hall....

There are plenty of alternatives out there and the Mackies have something of a reputation for midrange harshness.
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