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Yamaha HS5 + sub vs. Focal Alpha 50 / 65 vs. Presonus Sceptre 6 - Also, waterfall plots?

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  • Yamaha HS5 + sub vs. Focal Alpha 50 / 65 vs. Presonus Sceptre 6 - Also, waterfall plots?

    Hey everyone,

    So I've been mixing with Yamaha HS5's for about 5 years on, and I'm starting to feel like there are a few limitations. Mainly, the lack of low end, as I don't have a subwoofer currently, which I feel makes it difficult to judge important factors of instrument timbre and overall feel. Additionally, I think this in conjunction with the upper mids brightness has caused be to compensate in certain ways. I will give you a link to my music to judge for yourself, but I think it has caused me to over-emphasize the lower mids in wanting more body to my mixes, and leave out some upper mids perhaps as well. Some of this likely also has do with the self-mastering that I did, which I will not be doing for my next release. Anyhow: https://soundcloud.com/joshhpmusic/sets/color-it-blue

    My options as I've narrowed it down are either the Yamaha HS5's that I already have, with the addition of a subwoofer (HS8S or comparable), the Focal Alpha 50 or 65, or the Presonus Sceptre. I've really heard great things about all of them, but I want to hear what you all think.

    Another factor to consider is my room. My primary mixing room when I'm at home during the summer, winter, and breaks from college is roughly 20' x 12', though fairly irregular with two corners that are sort of recessed, has been DIY treated with rigid fiberglass panels and is pretty damn well tamed if I might say. It's got walls made of old knotted pine halfway up, and a ceiling made of this almost card-board like white tile surface that oddly seems to help as well. from Though, I will have different monitoring situations this semester vs. next year vs. the next. My current room at school is a bit smaller, probably like 16' x 12' and definitely doesn't sound quite as good. But I'm only there for a couple more months. Next year, the room will likely be a little bit more square, and similar size if not slightly smaller.

    For this reason, I would like to find something that will work decently well in these different spaces, and obviously that will allow mixes to translate well.

    I've also heard that porting can sometimes be an issue if it A) causes the speaker to resonate longer than the actual sounds or B) rear porting that causes issues close to a wall. However, maybe I could just stuff the rear ports in conjunction with having a sub? And before you warn against the dangers of subs, I think those dangers can be mitigated with measured placement and careful level/crossover control. Does anyone have waterfall plots or experience with port resonance on these?

    Aaand... GO!
    0
    Yamaha HS5 + sub
    0%
    0
    Focal Alpha 50 (+ sub?)
    0%
    0
    Presonus Sceptre 6
    0%
    0
    Focal Alpha 65
    0%
    0

  • #2
    The old trick used with Yamaha HS5's was to take a piece of tissue paper and hang it over the tweeter. This would lessen the highs when mixing and give the mix a sheen you don't normally get.

    I listened to the mix and you're right. It suffers from a lack of bass then the upper mids on vocals are overly strong.
    On the drums, the snare sounds excellent but the rest of the drums have a wide stereo spread and being masked by the equally wide spread acoustic guitars. Bass is there but too low in volume compared to the vocals.

    Adding a sub will make your bass issues worse. By adding more bass when monitoring your ears will simply compensate and dial the bass back even more. Of course the exception would be if you are guessing at where the bass levels need to be simply because you cant hear them. Then adding a sub will be beneficial so long as you use an SPL meter and balance their outputs to match the others using a pink noise file.

    Do not try and black the ports of your Yamahas. That would screw up the cabs resonance and affect the entire frequency range of the woofer, not just the bass frequencies. The sub MAY help you with some of the frequency balancing but your mix has other important issues going on. A good deal of it involves the sound field. I like mixes that take advantage of the stereo field, at least till it stops working and becomes an impediment.

    First, the musical performance is very good as is the musical arrangement and the instruments I do hear were captured well. Your issue from what I hear is a matter of mixing. You have issues with your stereo field and levels causing masking. The fixes aren't that hard to fix and I can give you some tips to help.

    First your stereo field lacks depth. As I said it sounds like it was mixed on headphones. Headphones can also produce too much bass which leads to having too little bass because the results are inversely proportional to what you're hearing. When you want more bass in the mix you need to have less bass in your monitors so you're forced to tweak it up in the mix.

    Depth can only be correctly adjusted using monitors and requires both EQ and time based effects. In general, an instrument at a distance has more mids, and less treble and bass compared to an instrument on the front of the stage that has a fuller frequency response. The instrument or vocal up front also has less reverb density and has more dry sound then one pushed to the back of the stage.

    Second, the left and right extremes are the far ends of the stage. The way you have your drum cymbals panned are hard left and right and are hiding in back of the guitars you chose to put way out there on the sides. Have you even seen a drummer that has arms that are 100' long who can reach that far? As is your head would need to be between the cymbals like a drummer sitting at the drums to hear that kind of separation.

    Next most live sound systems are mono. An acoustic guitar is normally closer to mono center like then vocals. Since you have two or more the panning works out well, except its leaving a huge void in the center. What I'd try is adjusting them in to around 60%. you can also try cloning the track and add a reverb to it and pan it to the opposite side, and adjust it down in level. What you want is a reflective cross feed to the opposite side.
    If the instrument is panned left have a little reflective cross feed right. if its panned right add a little cross feed left.

    What this will do is add depth and three dimensionality to the instruments and create a ^ shaped center which draws your attention to the vocals.
    Its good you have a center but when its too wide like yours the vocals sound like a body-less floating in open space. By narrowing the stereo field and adding crossfeed you give the head a body. Its the other backing instruments that give the head its body.

    Next, or possibly first you want to mono all the tracks then judge their loudness in the mix. Take your main volume and turn it off, then gradually turn it up and listen to what your hear first. Vocals and snare are often first followed by guitars and cymbals then bass and kick should come up before you've reached your standard 83dB. Once you've reached 83dB you should be able to clearly pick out and follow every note being played on any instrument with only the vocals being slightly louder by 3db.

    You do this in mono to eliminate masking. If you cant bring an instrument up so it can be clearly heard its likely because you have other instruments dipping into its frequency response range and you need to use an EQ to narrow/limit its response to its own sandbox and stop throwing dirt into the kids sandbox next to his. A little frequency overlap is OK but in this particular mix where you've focused on a more intimate type of presentation, you'd want the boundaries between the instruments normal ranges well defined.

    In order not to disturb your panning, get a stereo to mono plugin and stick it in your mains channel, then A/B compare the instruments in mono and stereo. If you hear instruments disappear in the mono mix its because you have frequency masking. This will likely be the worst with something like the acoustic guitars that seem to have identical frequency responses having been recorded with the same mic. You can use a comb filter which is a mirror opposite in the two so when the two are mono you can hear them as two separate instruments.

    As for your greatest issue, bass and kick, I normally mix my drums first as the foundation for everything else. The snare sounds excellent but its dwarfing the rest of the drum set. You either need to drum the snare down to match the rest of the set or bring the rest of the set up to match the snare. until the drums are balanced the rest of the mix cant be dialed in around those drums to fit properly. I'd keep the drums mono center till you have them set properly then widen them to no more then 40%. keep the snare and kick center and only widen the cymbals a bit. This will leave the sides open for you guitars and reflections.

    Bass needs to be at a similar level to the kick but the frequency response needs to peak at different points so they don't mask each other. You can use a free frequency analyzer like Voxengo Span and solo the kick and bass panned hard left and right then watch the two waveforms together. Then use an EQ to get one to peak at a higher frequency then the other. I typically like the bass deeper and has more 80hz then the kick which may peak at 90hz because the kick also has another peak up in the 2K to define the beater flap on the head. For vintage sounding music or dance music I may reverse the two and place the kick in the boom zone and give the bass more metallic slap tones. Its really up to the digression of the mixer and what you have to work with.

    As far as the bass track itself goes it sounds like it was recorded direct into the interface and any tone shaping was done in the box. I've done it that way using basses that have humbuckers but basses with single coils like Fenders can wind up sounding anemic. You have to use a combination of several compressors and EQ's layered to get it sounding like the bass is actually playing through an amp. I did it for years that way and though I know how to get excellent results that way, its still a lousy way to track. Unless the bass feels like you're playing through an amp, its hard to play the instrument like it should be played so not only is the tone missing but the emotional content the bassist has for the notes is also missing.

    This is here I highly recommend an amp modeling unit for the bass. I have about a half dozen different types I've bought over several decades including rack style bass preamps. I found early on you cant use guitar modelers to get good bass tones, the gear has to be voiced for bass to do its best job. The do make some simple sans amp clones for bass like the Behringer BDI1 but they have no cab modeling which is the key element, plus they are a one trick pony for tone. The most cost efficient and highly versatile is this one. https://www.zzounds.com/item--VOXSTOMPLAB1B?siid=118600

    Its got 10 different amp models and 12 different cab models so you can dial up around 120 different amp combinations.
    Its also got a Bass voiced EQ, Compression and noise gate which will give the bass a clean yet beefy tone. When using it you can easily dial up an earthquake sound to the bass that will rattle your teeth. Its also got the fill gambit of effects including synth bass tones. I'm not a huge fan of using those kinds of effects but they are there if you want them.

    I can say when I track bass with this unit the most I may do when mixing is add a little extra compression to the bass, that's it. Sometimes I'll add a little 800hz boost to bring out the finger tones on my Precision or Hofner basses. I can say its the best option I've found for bass to dat. I can dial up an SVT cab and head and there's no way you can tell the difference between the real thing and it being modeled. In fact it sounds more like the real thing then it really is. I have an Ampeg Portaflex head I can record direct with and does a wonderful job getting the right bass tones, but the box outdoes it because of its cab modeling.

    Reason I mention all of this is I been where you're at having the issues you are. I started recording 50 years ago and tried it all. I've made thousands of recording and bass is one of those tough nuts to get right. Thanks to modern technology its one of the easiest problems to fix now, you simply need the right gear for tracking. You will even likely find those sub monitors are nice to have but you still have to fix the tracking issue and get the right kind of beef tracked, then they sit in the mix properly, compatible with all playback systems with practically no effort at all.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post
      The old trick used with Yamaha HS5's was to take a piece of tissue paper and hang it over the tweeter. This would lessen the highs when mixing and give the mix a sheen you don't normally get.

      I listened to the mix and you're right. It suffers from a lack of bass then the upper mids on vocals are overly strong.
      On the drums, the snare sounds excellent but the rest of the drums have a wide stereo spread and being masked by the equally wide spread acoustic guitars. Bass is there but too low in volume compared to the vocals.

      Adding a sub will make your bass issues worse. By adding more bass when monitoring your ears will simply compensate and dial the bass back even more. Of course the exception would be if you are guessing at where the bass levels need to be simply because you cant hear them. Then adding a sub will be beneficial so long as you use an SPL meter and balance their outputs to match the others using a pink noise file.

      Do not try and black the ports of your Yamahas. That would screw up the cabs resonance and affect the entire frequency range of the woofer, not just the bass frequencies. The sub MAY help you with some of the frequency balancing but your mix has other important issues going on. A good deal of it involves the sound field. I like mixes that take advantage of the stereo field, at least till it stops working and becomes an impediment.

      First, the musical performance is very good as is the musical arrangement and the instruments I do hear were captured well. Your issue from what I hear is a matter of mixing. You have issues with your stereo field and levels causing masking. The fixes aren't that hard to fix and I can give you some tips to help.

      First your stereo field lacks depth. As I said it sounds like it was mixed on headphones. Headphones can also produce too much bass which leads to having too little bass because the results are inversely proportional to what you're hearing. When you want more bass in the mix you need to have less bass in your monitors so you're forced to tweak it up in the mix.

      Depth can only be correctly adjusted using monitors and requires both EQ and time based effects. In general, an instrument at a distance has more mids, and less treble and bass compared to an instrument on the front of the stage that has a fuller frequency response. The instrument or vocal up front also has less reverb density and has more dry sound then one pushed to the back of the stage.

      Second, the left and right extremes are the far ends of the stage. The way you have your drum cymbals panned are hard left and right and are hiding in back of the guitars you chose to put way out there on the sides. Have you even seen a drummer that has arms that are 100' long who can reach that far? As is your head would need to be between the cymbals like a drummer sitting at the drums to hear that kind of separation.

      Next most live sound systems are mono. An acoustic guitar is normally closer to mono center like then vocals. Since you have two or more the panning works out well, except its leaving a huge void in the center. What I'd try is adjusting them in to around 60%. you can also try cloning the track and add a reverb to it and pan it to the opposite side, and adjust it down in level. What you want is a reflective cross feed to the opposite side.
      If the instrument is panned left have a little reflective cross feed right. if its panned right add a little cross feed left.

      What this will do is add depth and three dimensionality to the instruments and create a ^ shaped center which draws your attention to the vocals.
      Its good you have a center but when its too wide like yours the vocals sound like a body-less floating in open space. By narrowing the stereo field and adding crossfeed you give the head a body. Its the other backing instruments that give the head its body.

      Next, or possibly first you want to mono all the tracks then judge their loudness in the mix. Take your main volume and turn it off, then gradually turn it up and listen to what your hear first. Vocals and snare are often first followed by guitars and cymbals then bass and kick should come up before you've reached your standard 83dB. Once you've reached 83dB you should be able to clearly pick out and follow every note being played on any instrument with only the vocals being slightly louder by 3db.

      You do this in mono to eliminate masking. If you cant bring an instrument up so it can be clearly heard its likely because you have other instruments dipping into its frequency response range and you need to use an EQ to narrow/limit its response to its own sandbox and stop throwing dirt into the kids sandbox next to his. A little frequency overlap is OK but in this particular mix where you've focused on a more intimate type of presentation, you'd want the boundaries between the instruments normal ranges well defined.

      In order not to disturb your panning, get a stereo to mono plugin and stick it in your mains channel, then A/B compare the instruments in mono and stereo. If you hear instruments disappear in the mono mix its because you have frequency masking. This will likely be the worst with something like the acoustic guitars that seem to have identical frequency responses having been recorded with the same mic. You can use a comb filter which is a mirror opposite in the two so when the two are mono you can hear them as two separate instruments.

      As for your greatest issue, bass and kick, I normally mix my drums first as the foundation for everything else. The snare sounds excellent but its dwarfing the rest of the drum set. You either need to drum the snare down to match the rest of the set or bring the rest of the set up to match the snare. until the drums are balanced the rest of the mix cant be dialed in around those drums to fit properly. I'd keep the drums mono center till you have them set properly then widen them to no more then 40%. keep the snare and kick center and only widen the cymbals a bit. This will leave the sides open for you guitars and reflections.

      Bass needs to be at a similar level to the kick but the frequency response needs to peak at different points so they don't mask each other. You can use a free frequency analyzer like Voxengo Span and solo the kick and bass panned hard left and right then watch the two waveforms together. Then use an EQ to get one to peak at a higher frequency then the other. I typically like the bass deeper and has more 80hz then the kick which may peak at 90hz because the kick also has another peak up in the 2K to define the beater flap on the head. For vintage sounding music or dance music I may reverse the two and place the kick in the boom zone and give the bass more metallic slap tones. Its really up to the digression of the mixer and what you have to work with.

      As far as the bass track itself goes it sounds like it was recorded direct into the interface and any tone shaping was done in the box. I've done it that way using basses that have humbuckers but basses with single coils like Fenders can wind up sounding anemic. You have to use a combination of several compressors and EQ's layered to get it sounding like the bass is actually playing through an amp. I did it for years that way and though I know how to get excellent results that way, its still a lousy way to track. Unless the bass feels like you're playing through an amp, its hard to play the instrument like it should be played so not only is the tone missing but the emotional content the bassist has for the notes is also missing.

      This is here I highly recommend an amp modeling unit for the bass. I have about a half dozen different types I've bought over several decades including rack style bass preamps. I found early on you cant use guitar modelers to get good bass tones, the gear has to be voiced for bass to do its best job. The do make some simple sans amp clones for bass like the Behringer BDI1 but they have no cab modeling which is the key element, plus they are a one trick pony for tone. The most cost efficient and highly versatile is this one. https://www.zzounds.com/item--VOXSTOMPLAB1B?siid=118600

      Its got 10 different amp models and 12 different cab models so you can dial up around 120 different amp combinations.
      Its also got a Bass voiced EQ, Compression and noise gate which will give the bass a clean yet beefy tone. When using it you can easily dial up an earthquake sound to the bass that will rattle your teeth. Its also got the fill gambit of effects including synth bass tones. I'm not a huge fan of using those kinds of effects but they are there if you want them.

      I can say when I track bass with this unit the most I may do when mixing is add a little extra compression to the bass, that's it. Sometimes I'll add a little 800hz boost to bring out the finger tones on my Precision or Hofner basses. I can say its the best option I've found for bass to dat. I can dial up an SVT cab and head and there's no way you can tell the difference between the real thing and it being modeled. In fact it sounds more like the real thing then it really is. I have an Ampeg Portaflex head I can record direct with and does a wonderful job getting the right bass tones, but the box outdoes it because of its cab modeling.

      Reason I mention all of this is I been where you're at having the issues you are. I started recording 50 years ago and tried it all. I've made thousands of recording and bass is one of those tough nuts to get right. Thanks to modern technology its one of the easiest problems to fix now, you simply need the right gear for tracking. You will even likely find those sub monitors are nice to have but you still have to fix the tracking issue and get the right kind of beef tracked, then they sit in the mix properly, compatible with all playback systems with practically no effort at all.
      I really appreciate all this info. In hindsight I can definitely hear these issues. I had a tight deadline at the time and ended up having to do almost all of the mixing on these speakers without a sub, in a really small and bad dorm room, with the help of Audio Technica ATH-M50s, and then mastered primarily taking notes off of my car speakers (good speakers but I will not be mastering myself again for at least a while).

      Now what I'm really realizing is that it seems my HS5's really aren't offering as much clarity in the stereo field, horizontally or depth-wise, and this makes it extremely hard to be certain about stereo placement decisions and depth of field decisions as well. I understand that HS5's share a few traits of the NS10's, being their midrange heaviness that is revealing, but these are certainly no NS10's, in many ways. Additionally, I feel that my mixing of the bass and kick often times came down to the kind of "blindness" that comes with these speakers having virtually no solid, flat bass region. I really feel like I'm in the dark on these.

      Plus, I think I'm going to buy a Mixcube or similar mono speaker for the exact reasons you mentioned; to evaluate frequency masking and level matching better. As well as important midrange decisions.

      And yes, I recorded a Squier P-Bass DI and did some amp sims and tone shaping in the box. I actually was randomly given a free DeArmond Pilot 5 bass a couple months back by a friend, which was pretty beaten, but I just had it shined up and set up and WOW. This thing is absolutely killer. I can get deep house sounds just as easily as P-Bass sounds or even Tame Impala like bass tones. Truly wonderful bass, I recommend highly. All with the help of a built in 3 band active EQ. xD Also, I will be picking up a Line 6 Helix LT soon which should have some good bass amp/cabinet modeling in it.

      As for speaker recommendations, do you know anything about the speakers I've proposed? I'd really like to stick to those listed as to narrow down my options and these are around the price range I am looking at.

      Thanks so much,
      -Josh

      Comment


      • #4
        No I haven't used or heard those subs. My mixing dates back a long time, long before high quality monitors were affordable. My focus when getting an electronics degree went hand and hand with my music degrees. In the process I learned how to design and tune speaker enclosures so most of the speakers I used up until about 20 years ago consisted of passive monitors I either built myself or modified from various bookshelf speakers.

        I still have a set of Dynaco Bookshelf speakers I use for testing mixes. Found someone throwing them away. Though I could use the cabs and to my surprise they were fully functional with just a little exterior water damage which I corrected. Those particular speakers sell for over 2K.
        Speakers like the Yamaha NS10's were originally designed to be the same kind of bookshelf speakers but wound up being excellent studio monitors. I doubt Yamaha had a clue they'd wind up being and industry standard.

        Along with my self powered M-Audio BX5's (which are excellent by the way, excellent definition) I have a set of 3 way Hi Fi speakers, Those Dynaco Bookshelf, a set of passive studio monitors, A high end set of computer monitors. I also have a set of boxes I use as subs under the console which first contained a 6X9" Triaxal car speakers. I used them till the foam surround crumbled then switched them out for a set of full frequency 8" Peavey Blue Marvel speakers. Think they are good for around 25W. I even have a set of boom box speakers I can turn on. I can also turn on I can also crank up a 3500W stereo sound system in the studio which has 6' Stacks of cabs containing 18's 15's and 10's if I want to hear the music at live levels.

        I started using multiple sets of speakers mainly because one set didn't give me enough definition, Later as I came up with better sets I found I could test the mix on everything from computer monitors, to car speakers, to Hi Fi boxes it not only allowed me to get the mixes compatible on all those systems, but I could hear how the mix degrades on lower end playback systems and goose the mix frequencies in certain areas that allows the preservation of sound on lower end boxes.

        The best part of it is I can kick them all on and play through them all when recording. I hate wearing headphones. I used them for 10 years when I had young kids and no money for decent gear and I wasted thousands of hours trying to get decent mixes doing A/B comparisons on other playback systems and taking notes like you mentioned, so I can say I been there and done it. Even a Hi Fi system connected to a DAW can do wonders helping to get some three dimensionality plus it helps you dial up the right tones you need when tracking.

        I should mention those subs I use are not crossed over. They produce full frequencies and its simply the fact the boxes are tuned so they produce decent bass response. Its the fact they are under the console and its mainly the vibrations they produce from the waste down that let me know I have the right amount of bass. I do have a single sub that is part of that Harmon Kardon Computer monitor setup. Its used purely for compatibility checks, not mixing. The bass is fine on completed mixes but quite useless for mixing purposes.

        Bass that is crossed over like that has a ceiling because of the crossover and can do weird things. The ability to hear selected bass frequencies becomes impaired, like wearing bifocal glasses. The subs put out low frequencies that are felt more then they are heard. If they aren't set properly the sound can be untrustworthy getting the right amounts of bass at the proper frequencies. That's why I use full frequency subs instead.
        I can turn them on, then set my kick drum and bass guitar to sound ideal coming through them and once the cabs have ideal resonance I know I have the ideal frequencies and tracking levels dialed up. Once the tracks are recorded I have to do very little to improve them besides a little gain or frequency management.

        Developing this method of tracking through different types of speakers didn't come easy. There was allot of trial and error guided by intuitive needs. The general principal is having monitors that can substitute for actual guitar and bass amps (which I also use in the studio) while playing along to mixes recording. The technical advancements of various amp and cab modeling units rounded off the edges too. Much more practical then dozens of other rack preamps I have. With amp modeling you can do it all through a set of studio monitors. It takes some practice. Nothing done well in recording doesn't come without a good deal of hard work, but once you refine the technique of using hardware modeling it easy to replicate. Its also highly affordable and does a terrific job, much better then older methods I've used.

        Once you have a good variety of unique presets built, you can simply power up, plug in, select the preset you want to use for that song, focus all your energy on performing and not worry about the tone being right. Mixing becomes a breeze where you can practically do it blindfolded and the song is mixed and mastered in record times and winds up sounding better then anything you've ever done because you're energy is on the musical performance not on performing CPR on tracks that could have been tracked better. You burn up allot of creative energy engineering a mix. If your goal is to produce great music you want to minimize the technical side. gives you a better attitude too knowing your results will be efficient and reliable.
        Last edited by WRGKMC; 01-09-2018, 07:41 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post
          No I haven't used or heard those subs. My mixing dates back a long time, long before high quality monitors were affordable. My focus when getting an electronics degree went hand and hand with my music degrees. In the process I learned how to design and tune speaker enclosures so most of the speakers I used up until about 20 years ago consisted of passive monitors I either built myself or modified from various bookshelf speakers.

          I still have a set of Dynaco Bookshelf speakers I use for testing mixes. Found someone throwing them away. Though I could use the cabs and to my surprise they were fully functional with just a little exterior water damage which I corrected. Those particular speakers sell for over 2K.
          Speakers like the Yamaha NS10's were originally designed to be the same kind of bookshelf speakers but wound up being excellent studio monitors. I doubt Yamaha had a clue they'd wind up being and industry standard.

          Along with my self powered M-Audio BX5's (which are excellent by the way, excellent definition) I have a set of 3 way Hi Fi speakers, Those Dynaco Bookshelf, a set of passive studio monitors, A high end set of computer monitors. I also have a set of boxes I use as subs under the console which first contained a 6X9" Triaxal car speakers. I used them till the foam surround crumbled then switched them out for a set of full frequency 8" Peavey Blue Marvel speakers. Think they are good for around 25W. I even have a set of boom box speakers I can turn on. I can also turn on I can also crank up a 3500W stereo sound system in the studio which has 6' Stacks of cabs containing 18's 15's and 10's if I want to hear the music at live levels.

          I started using multiple sets of speakers mainly because one set didn't give me enough definition, Later as I came up with better sets I found I could test the mix on everything from computer monitors, to car speakers, to Hi Fi boxes it not only allowed me to get the mixes compatible on all those systems, but I could hear how the mix degrades on lower end playback systems and goose the mix frequencies in certain areas that allows the preservation of sound on lower end boxes.

          The best part of it is I can kick them all on and play through them all when recording. I hate wearing headphones. I used them for 10 years when I had young kids and no money for decent gear and I wasted thousands of hours trying to get decent mixes doing A/B comparisons on other playback systems and taking notes like you mentioned, so I can say I been there and done it. Even a Hi Fi system connected to a DAW can do wonders helping to get some three dimensionality plus it helps you dial up the right tones you need when tracking.

          I should mention those subs I use are not crossed over. They produce full frequencies and its simply the fact the boxes are tuned so they produce decent bass response. Its the fact they are under the console and its mainly the vibrations they produce from the waste down that let me know I have the right amount of bass. I do have a single sub that is part of that Harmon Kardon Computer monitor setup. Its used purely for compatibility checks, not mixing. The bass is fine on completed mixes but quite useless for mixing purposes.

          Bass that is crossed over like that has a ceiling because of the crossover and can do weird things. The ability to hear selected bass frequencies becomes impaired, like wearing bifocal glasses. The subs put out low frequencies that are felt more then they are heard. If they aren't set properly the sound can be untrustworthy getting the right amounts of bass at the proper frequencies. That's why I use full frequency subs instead.
          I can turn them on, then set my kick drum and bass guitar to sound ideal coming through them and once the cabs have ideal resonance I know I have the ideal frequencies and tracking levels dialed up. Once the tracks are recorded I have to do very little to improve them besides a little gain or frequency management.

          Developing this method of tracking through different types of speakers didn't come easy. There was allot of trial and error guided by intuitive needs. The general principal is having monitors that can substitute for actual guitar and bass amps (which I also use in the studio) while playing along to mixes recording. The technical advancements of various amp and cab modeling units rounded off the edges too. Much more practical then dozens of other rack preamps I have. With amp modeling you can do it all through a set of studio monitors. It takes some practice. Nothing done well in recording doesn't come without a good deal of hard work, but once you refine the technique of using hardware modeling it easy to replicate. Its also highly affordable and does a terrific job, much better then older methods I've used.

          Once you have a good variety of unique presets built, you can simply power up, plug in, select the preset you want to use for that song, focus all your energy on performing and not worry about the tone being right. Mixing becomes a breeze where you can practically do it blindfolded and the song is mixed and mastered in record times and winds up sounding better then anything you've ever done because you're energy is on the musical performance not on performing CPR on tracks that could have been tracked better. You burn up allot of creative energy engineering a mix. If your goal is to produce great music you want to minimize the technical side. gives you a better attitude too knowing your results will be efficient and reliable.
          I really resonate with all of this. I swear, there was no pun intended in that. I'm actually a Music Technology major currently in undergrad and I'm also in the process of helping them to modernize the curriculum. My interests are in both the creative side of things, and the physical + computer science technical side of things.

          I do see and utilize the value of using many reference speakers to judge a mix by; however, I feel that essential to this strategy is a single pair of speakers that you can completely trust and be confident on. I do not feel that way as of now with the HS5's. I also plan to incorporate modern aesthetic into my coming music, which inherently requires, at the least, "sight" into the lower frequency range. No, I'm not mixing house or anything where those sub frequencies are my concern, just a clear picture of what's happening with lower timbral components of instruments, especially of the software synth variety.

          Now after reading up on some reviews, features, especially the sound on sound publications, I'm feeling a lean towards the Focal Alpha 65's. Their room controls, front porting instead of rear (my speakers will likely end up close to a wall), and general competency as far as I can tell make them an especially good candidate for my purposes. I am also fairly certain I would not need a sub, as they go all the way down to 40Hz.

          Can anyone comment on the Focals or have any other suggestions at or below this price range?

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