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Old October 25th, 2011, 09:11 PM   #1
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Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

I know there have been some other threads on this general topic, but I haven't found specifically what I'm looking for -

I would like to buy either one or two computer speakers for video editing. I likely won't be doing the final mix myself for any professional projects, but I would like to get as close as possible before I hand it off to a pro to do the final mix (plus, I will be doing the final mix for non-pro stuff, and I'd like it to at least sound semi-pro).

The catch is this: I have a budget of $300.

My question is simply this: what speakers should I get? And should I try to get stereo, or should I just go for one speaker that may be better than two?

I've seen the M-Audio BX5a batted around a little bit, but I've also read some reviews that say it craps out quickly and that the customer support is pretty weak. There has also been some talk of Yamaha, but I'm not sure which specific speakers would be solid from them. (And, of course, the other recommendation is to go to stores and test their speakers out - which I plan on doing, but I'm not in a particularly big town and I don't think we're going to have a whole heck of a lot of choices here.)

Thanks in advance!
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Old October 26th, 2011, 04:53 AM   #2
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

Your budget is a major stumbling block. Generally speaking, somewhere in the $500 to $750 range is the about the minimum you can expect to pay for a pair of monitors offering semi-pro performance. Computer speakers and "multimedia" speakers are designed for gaming and definitely will not cut it no matter how top of the line you go.

One maker that does offer a surprising value at a budget price is Yorkville Sound. You can get a pair of their YSMx series powered desktop monitors for about $400 to $500, maybe less, and get off to a good start. If you shop arround you might be able to find a pair of their 5" model for about $350.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 06:48 AM   #3
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

Hi,

Whilst I agree with Steve's comment about computer speakers (the term you mention) and their purpose for gaming and such like, there are many people who just won't hear the esthetic difference between a pair of PMCs, Tannoy Reds or JBLs in a room with a SSL 9000 or a Neve 88R (both analogue consoles I might add) at its centre compared to that of something less demanding. Room size and acoustics, absorption and reflective factors - the sound of your room generally are measurable factors, but the psychoacoustical properties produced between your ears are another issue - and here I don't refer to the ones produced from the acoustical products of the room.

It really does come down to the market you supply; wedding and events are often delivered on DVD for a consumer maket, so you have to ask what is their expectation as to the "quality" of audio? And can you get away with a degree of inaccuracy in the final audio? Perhaps, but not desirable.

A corporate or broadcast market progressively moves up the ladder of demands. So you need an acoustical environment which satifies that need providing you with a more certain knowledge that what you hear is genuinely what you are getting, as the monitors are your measuring and evaluation device - the same as a good quality video monitor properly configured in the right viewing conditions. But without the psychoacoustical judgement gained either by years of professional involvement or by the natural intuition of a "good" pair of ears then it's a subjective judgement call.

Understand the needs of your market and their expectation. Consider the room in which you work; hours of listening to audio on a poor monitoring system in poor acoustical conditions will cause fatigue in a very short time. So consider something that matches the listening acoustics of your room (or change them accordingly) - as "good" monitors in a poor acoustical environment can be "disappointing".

There are some decent nearfield monitors out there compared to 20 or just 10 years ago. But approach your decision-making logically and with some mechanical understanding of audio monitoring principles together with an understanding of the client-base demands you serve.

:)
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Old October 26th, 2011, 09:43 AM   #4
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

If your budget is really $300, you could test a pair of the relatively new Mackie MR5mk2 monitors with some audio sources that you're very familiar with. They are $150 each.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 07:21 AM   #5
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

I would STRONGLY recommend AGAINST buying anything claiming to be a "computer speaker" or a "multimedia speaker". Even products with traditionally respected audio names are very frequently cheap plastic trash and not worth a fraction of what you pay for them.

Most, perhaps ALL, of them suffer from a significant gap in response between the tiny "satellite speakers" and the "subwoofer" and very often that gap falls in a very critical area for monitoring dialog. They are just not suitable in any way for even semi-serious audio use. Don't even go to the "computer" section to shop for speakers. There is nothing decent there.

The cheapest pair of "home studio monitors" from Guitar Center (et.al.) is likely better than the most expensive "computer/multimedia speaker kit" with 5 or 7 little plastic boxes with tiny drivers in them and a thumping "sub-woofer" foot-rest.
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 12:40 AM   #6
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

Roland make some quite good monitor speakers for desktop use and the MA-15D is a good balance cost wise: Roland U.S. - MA-15D: Digital Stereo Micro Monitors

There is also the MA-10D and I personally use a pair of MA-7's for my portable edit set-up
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 08:46 AM   #7
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

I use the Edirol/Roland MA15Ds as well. Most of my edits are dialog driven, not critical music mixes so they are fine for what I do.

And they are acceptable for music listening between edit sessions...
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 09:31 AM   #8
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

Regardless of which speaker you choose it is critical to spend some time and "learn" their character and how good reference material sounds thru them.

And please do yourself a favor and only use real pro stuff to reference not local band or local production stuff to reference, this way you know you are listening to something that was more than likely mixed in a properly treated environment as well as probably mixed by a seasoned pro. I dont mean to sound elitist but Ive seen too many people using their buddies mix to reference and only to reproduce their buddies mistakes in balance. but anyways.

I believe that most decent full range speaker can be used successfully to monitor but you have to put the work in of "learning" their character. even big expensive studio monitors need to be learned, they just make the process easier.

Hope this helps a little.
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 10:15 AM   #9
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Re: Computer Speakers/Monitor Question

Regardless of which speaker you choose it is critical to spend some time and "learn" their character and how good reference material sounds thru them.

And please do yourself a favor and only use real pro stuff to reference not local band or local production stuff to reference, this way you know you are listening to something that was more than likely mixed in a properly treated environment as well as probably mixed by a seasoned pro. I dont mean to sound elitist but Ive seen too many people using their buddies mix to reference and only to reproduce their buddies mistakes in balance. but anyways.

I believe that most decent full range speaker can be used successfully to monitor but you have to put the work in of "learning" their character. even big expensive studio monitors need to be learned, they just make the process easier.

Hope this helps a little.
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