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Old August 11th, 2007, 03:37 AM   #1
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Scene sounds great on headphones, crappy on speakers...

We're using Sennheiser HD 205 headphones for editing and sound design and there's one big problem we have: when we preview the scene on our cheap speakers (like the cheapest Logitech 2.1 set) the range is just off. Some stuff suddenly sounds too quiet and other things sound too loud. While our speakers can't be that bad because we never have any trouble watching movies with em.

Any suggestions?
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Old August 11th, 2007, 05:48 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Reese Leysen View Post
We're using Sennheiser HD 205 headphones for editing and sound design and there's one big problem we have: when we preview the scene on our cheap speakers (like the cheapest Logitech 2.1 set) the range is just off. Some stuff suddenly sounds too quiet and other things sound too loud. While our speakers can't be that bad because we never have any trouble watching movies with em.

Any suggestions?
Editing on headphones doesn't cut it as they introduce their own set of issues. The balance of frequencies is distorted and bass is over emphasized while such things as phase problems between the channels, comb filtering effects, proper pan position in relations to the image action, etc can't be evaluated with them. I can't address any of the specific qualities of the Sennheiser cans you're using except to note they're designed for DJ use, not sound recording and mixing, and also to note that Sony MDR7506's lead the short list of phones preferred by pro sound mixers and recordists with Sennheiser HD25's following.

It's also a sad fact of life that "multimedia speakers" and "hifi speakers" etc just don't cut it when you're doing sound editing and design. They're designed to sound "cool" and pleasing which is quite a different thing from being able to accurately represent your mix. Speakers designed for recreational listening are designed to make things sound good, they obscure problems, just the opposite of what a sound designer needs from his monitors.

Phones and multimedia speakers both have their place in the production suite - phones to evaluate a track and listen for noise or other problems and cheap speakers to see how your final mix will sound in a "worst case" environment but you simply must do your sound editing and mixdown with accurate monitors and preferably in an acoustically conditioned work area to be able to get it right.
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Old August 11th, 2007, 03:35 PM   #3
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Suggestion:

Get good speakers if you want to evaluate the true quality of your audio.

Monitoring through cheap speakers is like looking at your footage with a messed up TV screen. You'll hear something but you won't know if it's your audio signal or your speakers that are distorting the sound.

And while headphones can provide some confidence monitoring in the field, never use them to EQ or mixdown tracks. As Steve mentioned, they'll give you a false impression of various frequencies, leaving you with a mix that could be less bright and thinner than it should be.

Good speakers include Genelec, Tannoy and KRK. And in addition to good speakers, make sure you have a room with good acoustics.

Using the video monitor analogy, a room with bad acoustics is like having a viewing room with windows in the worst places -- the glare on the screen will interfere with what you're seeing. Likewise, bad room acoustics will wreak havoc with what the speakers are playing.
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Old August 12th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #4
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Mackie 824 monitors.


Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old August 12th, 2007, 05:35 PM   #5
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Mackie 824 monitors.


Regards,

Ty Ford
I've had a pair of JBLPRO LSR4328p monitors for a couple of weeks now and I really like 'em. Running the automatic room mode correction utility makes a remarkable difference, especially since I'm very limited as to how much acoustic correction I can do with the space I'm in at the moment. Not only does it equalize out the peaks from room standing wave resonances but it also corrects for level and phase differences due to variations in distance from the listening position. Good stuff!
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Old August 12th, 2007, 07:33 PM   #6
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also a good call.

Ty
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Old August 14th, 2007, 01:52 AM   #7
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Another problem with headphones is that they provide too quiet an environment. You hear little details clearly. Play a headphone mix back in a room with a bit of air conditioning noise, and those details are buried.

Headphones are fine for getting a rough mix without disturbing the household after midnight, but always check things on speakers, if you can.

One thing that can really help on cheap speakers is multi-band compression. Use it to tame the bass frequencies while everything else is allowed to rip. That lets you keep it loud without overloading cheap speakers.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 06:10 AM   #8
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And playing bacck on speakers that are likely to resemble the system over which the production will regularly be heard is also important. If the piece will only he heard in a museum, or on only on laptops, you should really mix for the medium.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old August 14th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #9
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Monitors are not the same

Also to note...good nearfield monitors will not sound like your typical home speakers..it is meant to reveal what is really on your mix. So that it is not to be confused with speakers that have the THX surround type systems. It is made for recording and may not be appealing to the standard joe on the street. But if you want your mixes to sound good from a highend system down to a boombox then accurate monitors is a must. Krks, Genelecs, Mackies and others are a good place to start. I personally mix using Krk V6's and later cross monitor to my Yamaha NS10M's for reference purposes at the end of my mixes.
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