Another Post About Speakers

Hey all. I know there were a couple posts about speakers in the past, but the conclusion to all of them is: “You should buy these 20 million dollar studio monitors!” Well, unfortunately I can’t spend that much. So here’s the deal.

For 10 years I was rocking a very nice set of speakers from Cambridge Soundworks. I’m fairly sure that they were hundreds of dollars new. Unfortunately they are dying and the company went out of business. I tried to make my budget happy and just bought some shitty Sony SRSD21X and when I cut down some of the mids in the iTunes equalizer, they almost don’t sound like listening to music through tin cans! But I’m using OS X, which doesn’t have a system-wide equalizer, so mixing in Renoise sounds like… tin cans. Does anyone have a suggestion on mixing with cheap speakers? Should I just use my headphones and switch back and forth with the speakers, just as reference? Or am I honestly being cheap and shooting myself in the foot and I need to suck it up and save for better speakers? My girlfriend has the JBL Creature II and they’re great.

Sure, I know there are KRK monitors all over the internet, and crazy Klipsch 5.1 systems, but I can’t spend the same price as rent for my apartment on speakers right now. :D

P.S. Has anyone heard the Bose Companion 2? Do they suffer from not having a subwoofer?

My suggestions to the part about mixing on ‘cheap’ speakers is as follows…
Mix on a 2.1 shelftop system, especially if you are making digital/electronic music while using sine-ish waves or instruments.
If your shelftop 2.1 system has ‘Bass Boost’ turn it ON.
if your 2.1 is one of those made for computers, most models have the bass jacked for gaming experience anyway
The reason why I mix with bass boost on is because it forces me to mix my bass frequencies sensibly so that it’s not to heavy when the track is played loud on other speaker systems.
buy a pair of sennheiser hd 202 headphones best 20 dollar headphones you’ll need for ‘cheap’ speaker mixing

all in all, with practice you’ll do just fine on cheap speakers, especially if all you’re making is techno hiphop etc

aphex twin probably used cheap speakers for select ambient works, think about it :)

Good topic! My speakers are on the verge of giving up soon. My subwoofer is humming louder than Boeing 747. :( In other words, will need to get new ones in a near future.

As much as I too would want some high-end reference/studio speakers my wallet ain’t coughin’ up the dough.

What are you guys using out there? Any suggestions on good cheap speakers?

Huh. I never actually considered buying headphones specifically for mixing. I’m one of those guys that got a music degree and then just says every day, “SOME day I am going to get serious about this and make an album.” Yeah, that’s been going on for 7 years now. For $20 I will definitely check out those headphones.

As for the speakers, between when I wrote this post and now, I actually decided that I will return the Sony and buy the JBL Creatures. With that said, I’ll just be going from a very cheap set of speakers to a cheap set of speakers. So the advice still stands. As for the bass boost suggestion, neither set has that feature… but I can totally hear what you’re talking about with the manufacturer jacking up the bass so douche bags can spend under $50 on them and still be like, “Oh shit, son, that machine gun in Halo gave me a heart attack, best speakerz evar!”

And yes, I’m sure Aphex Twin made his classic albums on his parents’ mono speakers and a broken synthesizer he bought at a yard sale. And yet we wonder why we can’t replicate his atmosphere with our shiny perfectly equalized Pro Tools bullshit. Needz moar bank vault reverb.

my advice would be to become well acquainted with your room, and your speakers, i work in a studio that use 10,000 pound M&K 5.1 system for mixing and these still give innacurate mixes if the engineer is not used to the room itself.
dont forget the biggest and most world renowned studio speakers are infact, shitty Hi-Fi speakers. my advice is learn the issue within a speaker system therefore you will know the added artifacs that will be added to your mixes etc not enought bass, to much mids etc.

i use two sets of studio monitors, a huge hi-fi, a small boom box and headphones, the more varied systems your mixes are checked on, the more accurate your mixes will be .x


M-Audio makes this line called “studiophile” they have the 20V 30V and 40V respectivly. Ranging in price from 100-189$ Personally I chose to stay away from thiose and went with some “samson” monitors… here in Canada where I am at my local Shop they were only 10$ more then the M-Audio and they were 5’s… They sound nice actully… quite surprised!!! Nice tonal quality… Anyway Really it is SO worth it to save up and buy some QUALITY stuff… WEL worth it, a once in a lifetime investment as i’ve been told…



If you find you can get speakers sounding about reasonable, to a level you could at least listen without it becoming fatiguing and hopefully produce/mix, by adding some EQ using built into iTunes why not create a Master EQ Preset in Renoise?

Get some material you know really well and that you are confident has been mastered decently in the first place (your average dance music may fall short) and that you preferably have in uncompressed format (CD, Wav, Flac.) Now load a track in Renoise, creating dummy patterns to make it able to seek through it (all hail the new AutoSeek option for audio!) Add a EQ10 (some may like MixerEQ I think it’s called) and carefully adjust until you have something that seems to work at least reasonable for all tracks in your test selection. I am assuming you understand all controls in the EQ10 here.

Now save the Preset, each song add EQ10 in the Master Channel (should be right at the end but just before any Limiter you use may be better, although then you are still adding changes to how the Limiter will work. Best is probably at the end then add a Gainer device, adjusted per song to stop clipping used only to adjust for your speakers.)

You could also save these changes to your Template Song, which is loaded every time you start a new project, if you so desired. Or save both EQ and gainer together as a DSP Chain.

Hope these suggestions help you come to some suitable solution which isn’t spending 000’s on monitors ;)

I say: brilliant!

And does this work for sure? I mean, even though the music used as a reference is mixed ok doesn’t setting the EQ-levels to sound good on a pair of crappy speakers ruin it? Then if I take the song I made and listen to it with another pair of speakers the settings will still be for my crappy speakers. Hence, sounding bad on another setup.

I’m not putting your idea down. I just want to know how this thing works. :) Mm’kay?

Of course it’s going to be FAR From Perfect! As has been said it’s all really about knowing your setup and that includes room acoustics as well as speakers. This is just making the best of a bad situation and a piece of music that you know you particularly like how the hi-hats seems to cut through and another where the presence of the bass seems just right (etc etc) then trying to find a balance where you hopefully start approaching some of these is going to be advantageous over just listening to the flat output in an untreated room through cheap computer speakers.

Biggest part of mixing is transferability so you will still want to use headphones (getting a half way reasonable pair will help a lot if on too small a budget to get monitors but doing all production on them often gets fatiguing!) So still try and burn you’re tracks to CD and listen to on some different systems (hopefully some better ones rather than just other car stereos and cheap systems although this can often present a harder challenge) and take a notepad to jot little things it may need some tweaking at when back in front of the project file.

Bass is always the hardest thing to get correct when using headphones or 2.1 systems designed for home cinema!

But mainly it’s about getting something here that you can at least work with without your ears getting tired. This is never going to replace having a good monitor set-u[p with thought gone into room treatment but these are things most of us may never have the chance to even consider doing (near field monitors are used so much as it does make room treatment a lot less of an issue, although you still get reflections the idea is to use them closer so mainly able to concentrate on the direct sound only. Room acoustics will always affect the sound.) I don’t expect you to get perfect mixes from this method, and definitely not something you could called Mastered, but hopefully you can start to correct some of the flaws in your system.