Getting a Good Mix With Cheap Monitor Speakers

Someone asked the following question on the Home Recording forum yesterday about cheap monitor speakers:

A few days ago I asked a question on different forum about really cheap monitors as I need some.
Well, I don’t have much money to buy myself..let’s say.. krk rp 5.  I just need a cheap pair of monitors.  I was thinking about Alesis m1 320, but then I was told that there’s no sense buying cheap monitors as they sound worse than computer speakers.  What do you guys think?

And here is how I answered the question:

Hi Edward,

I agree with others here that for the most part, cheap studio monitors are usually better than computer speakers, at least they should be more “honest” than computer speakers, which are designed to make things sound good. You don’t want monitor speakers to “make things sound good, you want to hear the truth…or as close to it as possible.

But also, consider this. If you’re doing your critical listening and mixing in a room in your house/apartment like most of us, even accurate/flat speakers are going to lie to your ears because boxy bedrooms (some worse than others) are simply going to accentuate certain frequencies (bass almost certainly), and eat others, causing you to add too much of the frequencies you don’t hear, and subtract too much of the frequencies you hear too much of.

Then when you listen to the mix somewhere else it’ll suck (not enough bass and way too much in certain mids or highs for example).

So is all lost? Of course not. As with anything else in this biz you need either time or money. If you can’t afford good monitors AND room treatment (which can be expensive and easily done wrong), what you do is the “mix hokey-pokey’ (my made-up term). Mix in your studio first.

Then listen to the test mix on as many systems as possible, including the car (very important), ipod, other computers, your “good” stereo/entertainment system, etc. Make lots and lots of notes, come back to the studio and mix again, tweaking according to your notes.

Repeat the process until it sounds good on all systems. That’s my advice for getting by with cheap monitors in a home recording studio.

I hope that helps!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *