02-23-2013 07:36 AM
Purchased a set of these the other day. I was checking if anyone uses these to get some feedback on how good they are. I have two DAW setups and a mastering computer and I'm doing some switching around. My monitors. I'm not sure If I'm going to use these for mixing or mastering yet. Guess the decision will be made based on the results I get. I'm thinking 70W/100db is plenty loud for either.
The reviews are good on them considering the price range. I had some extra cash and figured I'd invest it where I needed it the most. The retail is $399 and I got them on sale for $200 including shipping. Not bad cause even used/seconds sell for $180 plus shipping.
The reviews say they have a fairly warm response. I Already have monitors that have a strong mid response that makes you focus on mid separation, plus other subs and sets of big monitors. I'm thinking these will be less fatiguing when you spend allot of time mixing like I do.
Just curious about what others think.
03-03-2013 04:42 AM
Thought I'd fill you in on the results. Got the monitors last week and had a few days to use them on a new project.
I had a band come in to record some cover tunes for a demo CD. The session was a long day starting at 10:00AM and ending at 7:00PM. Nine hours straight with minimal breaks.
I got five versions of each of their songs once I got their sound quality ironed out. The key to a decent session is good sounding drums and a drummer that can play them and I had both this time.
The drummer had to bring his own drums of course. Guess my studio set wasn't good enough for him. He had double kick drums, (not one of those double kick pedals), so that took up some time. He only used the second kick on one song which was kind of a waste.
He was a good drummer and knew how to tune his drums. He Used those new Evans oil filled heads. I wasn't hearing any nasty resonances coming from them. Saved me all kinds of time not having to deal with tuning/padding them for good recording tone.
The bass player just plugged into my bass rig that was ready to go. I had some tweaking to do on his sound. I've known him for years and thought he's know enough not to put new strings on the day before a recording session. Bass strings really need a week or more to settle in. He had some issues with the strings being overly bright and a bit buzzy. He tracked with pretty much a slap bass tone. I did a suck check after the first few takes and found I could EQ the overly bright tone down deeper so I let him go.
Guitarist was using one of those big Line 6 amps with the 4X12 cab. He's into the scooped metal tone and I suppose it did OK. I tried one mic and a DI box for the direct guitar signal as a backup. It only took me one song to find out that wasn't going to work and switched to two mics instead. He had the pups adjusted too close to the strings and had inconsistent picking technique which made the clean track useless. He used 100% saturated sound which is a crutch to many players who have poor technique. Its a modeling amp you can connect to a computer to make tweaks. It took him about 20 minutes to fix one patch manually through the amp panel. He had one that was crapping the bed for tone. The upper lows were horrendous and broke up so bad I knew I couldn't fix that mixing. The rest was good enough for me to tweak. I'll likely have to add back allot of the mids he scooped out. He was a good player for his sound which is all that really counted.
The female vocalist did he scratch vocals well. I used a hand held condenser and tapped the signal from the channel insert. Some of the tracks are going to be good enough where I wont have to have her retrack her vocals. I may have her come back and just do one on each. Sometimes there's a word, phrase or verse that just isn't good enough. If the cadence is tight enough it can make a really fat sound using both tracks. I played with her in bands before and its unlikely her discipline to cut two tracks that tight will happen. On top of that she's got a short fuse when it comes to having patience which makes it really difficult to work with.
All in all I captured some good material to mix with. I'm not a big fan of the metal stuff but it was done well and I shouldn't have to work too hard at getting it mixed well.
I spent a few hours with the new monitors mixing to try them out. I first ran a calibration CD that I have that has tracks full of test tones. Got the levels set to a moderate 85db with my db meter. I then ran my audio analyzer (Ral) on a laptop with a reference mic on a stand where my head would be sitting at the console. The test tones run all the way from 40hz up to 22K. My old ears couldn't hear much above 16K but the speakers were producing sound all the way up. I'll need to do some rearranging of my setup. I was getting a little too much reflection from the rear bass port which made the bass stronger than it should be but its still isn't anything I can compensate for.
After mixing one song I really started liking the monitors. They aren't as harsh as some reviews I read. They are very transparent and the mix between them is very three dimensional. I had no problems with instrument placement within the stereo field. I like how they handle the bass too. I was able to dial up the optimal bass levels in short order. The mids will take a little getting used to. I'm used to having work hard to get the mid frequencies properly set. It may be the drivers reproduce mids with good separation. The test will be playing the mixes back on some low fi systems to see if the mids are all clusterd together. If that's the case, continuing to use A/B comparisons with my other sets of monitors will still be essential.
The highs are very good too. So far I see no major issues being able to get those set. The cymbals and vocal air/presence is definitely there. I may have to curb my love of high clean frequencies if anything.
In all, I really like these monitors and $225 for a pair of 70W dual amp monitors is a really good buy. I was kind of worried that I should have spent the extra $100 on a pair of Yamaha M50's (pretty much a studio standard for checking mixes) But I'm quite pleased now that I've had a chance to use the M-Audio's. If worst comes to worse and I get board, I can get a good price selling these used and upgrade.
03-03-2013 06:36 PM
03-04-2013 04:14 AM
After I bought them I found them being sold for $200 on Amazon, but they charged for shipping, so buying them at Musicians Friend for $225 was actually the same price or cheaper. Most of the outlets are pretty competitive on pricing, but it doesnt hurt to shop around for the best deal.
03-04-2013 08:19 AM
A friend of mine was telling me had had some great expereinces with M-Audio monitors; I think this was a while ago so not sure what model they were. He did say that the 5 inch monitors were great, but the 8 inch ones were terrible. So I guess the review lends some credence to these 5 inch speakers being really good, but the M-Audio's are not necessarily the best across the board.
03-08-2013 06:11 AM
I agree, there are many great monitors out there, but in the $2~300 price range its slim pickins. I already had one good pair so this was mainly for one of my other 3 daws. I have one DAW in the house where I have a big recliner and I do allot of the raw roughing out on a mix. I can get all the menial stuff done that doesnt require critical listening in confort and get raw tracks refined up before polishing them in the studio.
I was using either cheap monitors or headphones on that workstation and got pretty close to getting a refined mix but having better monitors gets me that much closer. Its a really big room too so having 70W lets me crank them up and hear how the mix sounds from a distance.
The studio is a dead room. Its good for tracking and close critical listening but its like being in a coffin when I'm in there too long. I made the room highly sound proofed so it didnt bother the neighbors rehursing or recording. I suppose I should pannel some of the walls to get some more reflectivity, but I've gotten used to tracking in there and bleed over levels are low so its just that much easire to get what I need.
I have done a couple or mix downs from the session last week. I started with their worst takes first as trial mixes. I really wish the drummer had used my set instead of hauling in his own, but he had to have that second kick drum. He only used it for an intro on one song so it was a major waste of time hauling my set out and his in. I didnt think of it before hand but I only had on sub kick speaker. I went with two matching mics instead. I really miss that sub kick for what it does mixing for getting a beefy sounding bottom end.
His snare was a super shallow piccolo snare. Didnt have a whole lot of sizzle and sounded like a bongo on the snare mic. I had to bring out allot of the crack on the overheads and tom mics to compensate. On my set, I side mic the snare and it sounds killer.
He used huge assed thick cymbals. His ride was 22" I believe. And sounded like a chineese gong. His crashes clashed too. One of them was awful, and the combination sucked up so much frequency bandwidth. I wish I could have spent more time getting a good balance on my overheads. I measured off the distance to the snare which was good because I needed that to get the snare sounding good, but the trade off was having the cymbals too close to thick crashes and they overpowered the drum mix. It is what it is and I just have to deal with it now mixing.
I had to notch some mics to get a decent balance. Ive developed a large bag-o-tricks over the years and my new daw can handle the more CPU intensive plugins for this. I was able to use Waves Max Bass on the Kick drums and bring the punch frequency levels up which was more successful.
After getting the tracks sounding decent I put the drums through their own bus and used a dual band compressor. I may try a multiband just to see what results I get. I tried compressing individual tracks but it sounded too plastic.
The second mix I used a high frequency stimulator/generator on the overhead tracks that comes with Sonar. It was the magic I needed to get the drum mix sounding better. I could then notch out the lower cymbal frequencies and let the drum tone come through and then add the high frequency air content back in. This freed up the mid frequencies for vocals and guitar and add some 3D spaciousness. Its really a good plugin if you use it sparingly. I had forgotten I used it before because I hadnt been doing allot of live drum mixes lately.
The guitar was a bit rough to get sounding right. I actually had to get the guy to cut down on his upper lows after one take because the speaker just crapped the bed on one take. As I suspected from listening to them record he had a huge bump in the 1~200hz range, a big noch in the 500hz range then frequencies rolled off quickly above 3K. In other words, it sounded pretty dam muddy and he was lacking in the 4~5K region he really needed to have the guitars fit in the mix.
In the first few tracks I ran one mic and a dry signal from a DI box. I should have stuck with that throughout because I was able to pass the dry channel through several plugins including compression, amp modeler and EQ's and actually get a better tone than he had from the miced amp. I used voxengo Boogex, an older free guitar amp modeler plugin you can dowload from the Voxengo site. I really like their plugins because they are solid and light on resources. The GUI is a bit primative but they have a nice list of miced cab emulations to choose from. I settled for the miced 4X10" can setting. He needed some of thet to compensate for the lack of those frequencies in the mix.
I then plugged in Voxengo Span, another free plugin from that site and soloed both guitar tracks and could see both track responces in the Frequency analizer. I adjusted the emulated channel to match the miced cab responce fairly close. I got the drive to match and adjusted the variable phase in Boogex so the dry channel matched the phase of the miced amp. I then rendered the EQ and Amp sim to the dry track instead of leaving them as plugins. I then used an EQ on both tracks to roll up the 4~5K punch and rolled off the mud so the guitars was sitting where they were supposed to be. There was a little drum bleedover in the guitar mic but its not heard unless you're soloing the tracks.
Vocals were live. The mic was a hand held EV condenser. I really like those mics on a female vocalist bacause the frequency range is good and you can dial up what is needed. The problem is they do capture bleedover recording live and I had to use that bleedover in the mix to get the vocals pumped up. I first tried silencing the quiet parts and using a gate, but later abandoned that idea. When she sang the gate released and the bleedover made the cymbals come through which was unnatureal. I instead used a combination of compas and EQ's to notch down the kick and snare bleedover and left the cymbal content. She has amble voice strength and those frequencies didnt cut into her vocal content too much.
I'm still debating on whether I'll have her come back and retrack the vocals. I'll likely find the best of the three songs and ghave her do overdubs on those to see how it sounds. As it is now it sounds like a live recording which is exactly what it is.
I still have to work on the bass. I'm still fighting to get it to mix well even though it sounds fairly decent solo. Those new strings sure didnt help. Getting the bass close to the kick is the challang and running the bass through two compressors and EQing the upper lows up seems to be fairly successful. I will find what I need, its just a matter of experimentation.
If you want to take a quick listen, I made a quick master up to this point. I compared it with the original recording and its not to bad. I'll likley dry the vocals and drums up a little to get it a little more two dimensionallike the original, but I kind of like the live small club sound I was able to get.
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