Keeping Up With A Jones: Part 2 – Monitor Issues

In the second installment of his blog, MusicTech senior editor Andy Jones continues to fill his empty studio.

Or, at least, he tries to…

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“Monitors? Easy!
I’ll just ask Huw…”

In the first of my blogs here I explain that, after using just a laptop for music making for many years, I have now decided to put together a ‘proper’ recording studio from scratch. That’s not to say, I explain, that using just a laptop is not a correct way to go, but it’s not for me any more. I need gear to play and stuff to press. So, over the next few weeks and months, I’ll put my money where my mouth is, create a studio and share my experiences, both good and bad, right here…

That First Piece of Gear
So far I’ve got the laptop which will still remain core to the set-up. It has Logic installed (now the rather superb Pro X) which I’ve been using for the last few years. But what to get as the first addition to my studio? It has to be a decent set of monitors. With a house full of kids I’ve been relying on headphones up to now, but I now have space, and I still have my Jerker desk (again see here for more on this classic Ikea gem) which has ideal speaker stands as ‘wings’. And they need filling

The reason I’ve chosen to get the monitors first is that, in the past, they’ve always been the last thing I’ve considered, so the budget has always suffered. So I started out with cheaper monitors many years ago Alesis Monitor 1 and eventually graduated over to Mackie 824s by way of Event 2020s.

I always say that the choice of studio monitor is the most important one that you (and I) will ever make. They are the end point of your music production, they reveal the detail, and are where everything goes before it hits your ears. So, this time around, I’ve decided to invest a large proportion of my budget into a pair. You may not have as much to spend or you may have more. Luckily we’ve already covered the best monitors in different price bands – see MusicTech issue 122 for the full round up and here and here for on-line buying advice – so can easily recommend some according to your price band.

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Lazy as I am, though, the first thing I do is call the author of that report, our very own Huw Price, and ask him his thoughts. I explain the type of music I produce and give him my budget and he immediately gets back with his thoughts…

“It would be the PMC DB1S-A for me,” he says. “they have a very extended bass for relatively small monitors due to the transmission line enclosure. The Quested S6s are great too but I’d suggest you may need a subwoofer with those.”

Immediately, then, my problems appear to be solved. But when it comes to monitors, a lot of people have a lot of opinions, and they tend to vary.

A lot…

But Opinions and word of mouth should not be ignored so I decide to open it up to the MusicTech office. “It’s KRK for me,” so says Alex Holmes our DVD editor. And, in that he produces electronic-based music of the type I am wishing to produce, I am tempted to go with his advice. “Genelecs” says Liam O’ Mullane, MusicTech’s Features Editor. “I swear by them.”

I’m very lucky in my job in that I’m surrounded by producers and studio heads so despite Huw’s solution and the mixed bag of advice in the office I decide to go one step further, abuse my position and ask MusicTech’s team of writers what they think. Two simple questions in one email: what do you monitor with and what is your dream monitor set-up?

I hit send not realizing what a can of worms I’ve just opened…

Next week: more monitor issues, worms everywhere… 

See part 1 of this blog here

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