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I'm working a lot with home recording but the loudspeakers of my computer are a bit old, so I might get new ones.

The problem I frequently had while recording was, that my speakers had a very full bass; So when I boosted my bass on my recordings a bit, it sounded really good on my speakers and my headphones, but some of my friends complained that they only hear the bassline with their in-ears.

Gear for soundchecks:

  • Logitech LS21 2.1 Stereo Speaker System (has small subwoofer, sounds good with lots of bass)
  • Technics RP-DH1250 (crystal clear treble, bass level doesn't really matter)
  • My friends use Beats and Sennheiser in-ears (those where you only hear the bass)
  • I also have two self-built stereo speakers in my room, never used them for monitoring

I would like to know how to hear what my songs really sound like, without transforming my room into a professional studio. Are there good speakers out there that aren't too expensive?

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Then some good neutral headphones will do just fine. You need something like Sony MDR-7506. The problem with most headphones is that they will boost bass, but with neutral headphones, you get a better overall hearing. –  Valentin Grégoire Jun 2 at 8:11
    
Sounds like you're having a problem with mix translation: musicindustryhowto.com/… –  Lee Kowalkowski Jun 2 at 8:35
    
@ValentinGrégoire They seem to have similar specifications as my Technics headphones, is there a significant difference? –  muffin Jun 2 at 8:36
    
I have no idea how the Technics sound. Also, I'm far from an expert on this. –  Valentin Grégoire Jun 2 at 9:09
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Your best bet is normally to play the song through a few different sets of speakers (i.e. a set of high quality ones, then more simple once, then headphones, then in-ear headphones, etc), and make sure that the music sounds good on all of those systems. In the end, that is what you'll want to achieve; you wouldn't want to sacrifice quality on one system because you want it to sound better on another. –  Lee White Jun 2 at 9:56

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Having faced this issue some times, the best reccomendation i can give you is first of all, listen to your recordings in various systems, the more, the best, because if you want the world to listen to it, you can never test every system in the world, so, try as many as you can and try to balance for the best in all the systems.

Particularly, one of the best systems to test your audio is a car stereo system, shouldn't even be a very good one, just a regular one that most people would use to listen to your music in the car.

There really is no answer for this question, as every system behaves differently, not just the speakers, everything from the pre-amp to the power amp to the speakers, even the components used in the speaker's crossover will cause your sound to be different, sound tends to behave like that, it is very easy to be changed by even the tinniest component, that's why sound is one of the few industries where we still use vacuum tubes.

My final thought is, you should have a decent enough sound system to tune the tiny details in your sound, but for the general sound and what people listen to when they listen to music, don't rely on your very good system, because the general audience will not listen to the music in a very good fancy expensive system.

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+1 for suggesting a car audio system. I remember early on in my mixing experience, with a song that was giving me difficulty, taking my laptop into my car one night and plugging it into the aux in jack, and spending a few hours mixing that way. Until my laptop battery nearly died... –  Caleb Hines Jun 2 at 15:58
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Or maybe I was just looking for a quiet place to record vocals at night without disturbing everyone else in the house... –  Caleb Hines Jun 2 at 15:59
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lol that's thinking out of the box, kudos for that ;) –  Antero Duarte Jun 2 at 16:17
    
I love the idea of the car stereo, it's actually a very clever idea! :D –  muffin Jun 3 at 6:53
    
And in the end, it's what home-recording is about: Make awesome stuff with the things you have and keep it simple. Reminds me of when I had a 5$ karaoke dynamic mic when I started recording. I used an interface with built-in preamp and I just tried some buttons (48V, Pan audio, Inst, maximum gain) and in one combination, the microphone had the range of a condenser mic :D (Magic, I know...) I only had to buy a condenser 2 months later, because my dynamic mic was just garbage, but hey! At least I found a solution :) –  muffin Jun 3 at 7:09

Just mixing with headphones as recommended in a comment, is a bit risky, since the sound differs quite a lot from what you get with a couple of speakers. Some kind of monitors are definitely recommended. A good pair of monitors is obviously preferable, but the important thing is to know your monitors well. If you have a pair of imperfect monitors, but you know which frequencies are exaggerated / underplayed, they will do the job, as you can compensate. The mix might sound strange on your monitors, but will sound good on "real" equipment.

Reference recordings are important in order to know how your equipment sounds. Check how records you want your mixes to sound like sounds on your equipment.

In a professional studio, the sound from the monitors will sound very good, but usually a bit harsh, since the frequency response is flat. The engineer will have learned the monitors he works with very well, and has a good feel about how it translates to consumer equipment. If you play one of your favorite records through that equipment, it likely will sound quite unlike what you are used too. You can do the same thing, given that your speakers are at least somewhat reasonable.

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I've done a bit of research and found two monitor speakers which seem to be quite nice. "Behringer Truth B1031A" and "Equator Audio Research D5". Is that what I need? –  muffin Jun 2 at 11:19
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@muffin: This is hard to answer. They will probably give a more accurate sound than what you have now. The size of the room you are sitting in and distance to the monitors come into play too. Go to a music store and listen to a variety of monitors is my advice. The people at the shop should be able to advice you regarding size of room and so forth. –  Meaningful Username Jun 2 at 11:27
    
Thank you for your answer and your advice, I learned a lot about monitors because of you, thank you :D –  muffin Jun 2 at 11:34

Recording studios used to have (not sure if they still do) a set of 'ordinary' speakers to play back final mixes through. They were the sort that Mr. Average would have in his front room.Hi-fi, but not state of the art, just a fair sound. A bit like i-pods produce now.The eq. would be set flat. If your speakers already produce lots of bass, I can't understand why you'd need to give it even more boost.Best bet is to re-produce a previous recording at, say, four different eqs, and ask your friends which they prefer. Everyones perception of sounds varies considerably - and some of us may not hear certain frequencies well. I sometimes am asked to roll some top off my sound on stage - it sounds fine to me, but tests prove my top end hearing is now weaker than it was.So I feel I must compensate - incorrectly.

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I have had this exact problem myself. Here's what I've done, whcih seemed to work : 1) Buy a pair of "best you can afford" monitors. You need something decent to be able to hear the detail of what you're doing. Which ones? Depends on your budget and maybe the kind fo thing you're recording.

2) Buy a pair of crap speakers. I use cheap computer speakers, whcih sound a bit like a bad 90's ghetto blaster.

3) Buy an amp or some arrangement whcih allows you to easily flip between the two, pushing a button. Also it's handy if it has a bass & treble control so you can fine tune out any extra boost. Really you want the respoinse as flat as possible. With a couple of "control" mixes try various settings until what you hear sounds good to you and your friends - then leave the controls set like that so you know in future if something's too bassy on your system, it's going to be too bassy on your friends gear as well.

When mixing, play your mix on both the good and crap speakers, and try to get it sounding decent on both. If you can do that, you're probably most of the way there.

Someone recommended using earphones.. I really don't recommend mixing using earphones because the sound is very different and there's a tendency to mix things differently, like drums tend to end up more quiet. I'm not sure exactly why .. it's just like that I guess.

Hope this helps. Good luck ! :-)

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