How To Choose The Best Studio Monitors To Produce Amazing Tracks

How To Choose The Best Studio Monitors To Produce Amazing Tracks

Having a studio monitor at home is the next best thing for your ears. Maybe you are asking yourself what it is for, because you already have a set of headphones for listening purposes. However, let me tell you that if your goal is becoming a pro; then, you should start to investing on a studio monitor to listen to your mix. Here’s how to choose the best studio monitors to producing amazing tracks for your home recording studio.

Headphone Mixing

When I first started mixing songs, the only means I had in my hand was money to buy for a cheap pair of headphones. In fact, here’s the picture of my very first headphone today.

Don’t be fooled by the looks of it. The Superlux HD-660 still does the job for me. I use this as my reference headphones when I need to check any resonance or issues that I am hearing from the tracks. The only downside of using this trusty old pair is the crumbling peels of the leather pads that actually stick to the sides of your face. It is quite annoying.

I know some of you have a very simple home studio set up and I bet some started with their old computer or laptop and some headphones as well. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, actually. I always take pride with my humble beginnings, and you should, too. However, at some point in time, you also need to open your ears up. How do you open your ears to sound frequencies with your headphones?

It helps, but…

You really need studio monitors.

My good old pair of headphones…

What’s the Need for Studio Monitors?

Studio monitors produces sound transparently compared to headphones as headphones tend to emit sound closely to your ears. What does this mean to you?

This means that your two ears hear the sound from the headphones exactly at the same time. This way your perspective on what you hear comes from inside your head, instead from your forefront. With headphones, panning instruments will sound wider than it is, and other effects such as reverbs and delays will appear wider and deeper to you. So, at the back of your head, you are asking now what’s wrong with headphone mixing?

Are Headphones Bad to Your Ears?

It is not. The good thing about mixing with headphones is that you hear every detail. But, the problem with this is that you can easily misjudge your mixes and your perspective on what you hear may not actually be true.

Just by mixing with headphones, your brain tricks you to think that you already have enough reverb or delays on your vocals, or the stereo field is already wide. And I have been a victim to that several times. That’s the main reason why I was always asked why my first mixes had too much reverb when in fact, I thought it didn’t have much.

There were two YouTube collaborations I had that made me start doubting about my job. Both asked me what was up with the reverb. When I went back to listen to the mix using just crappy speakers, the reverb was glaring right at me.

And that’s the start of my AHA moment!

So, I am sharing with you three factors you need to look at in choosing the best studio monitors:

How Big the Environment Is

Behringer MS40

Size Matters. When choosing the best studio monitor for your home studio, the first step is to check the size of your room. Most home recording studio rooms are quite small compared to the commercial ones, so it means that the size of the studio monitor depends on the size of the room. This means small room equals to a small studio monitor. Big room means big studio monitors.

You need to choose a speaker size that matches your room. Why? Those huge monitors in a small space take up a lot of room space, push too much air which overpowers room resonances and most especially, annoy your neighbors. On the other hand, a studio monitor that matches your room will give you a better frequency response.  I have a 5-inch Behringer MS40 Active Near Field Studio Monitors that works perfectly fine with my small space.

How Much Money You Have

This is one of the first factors to consider when buying your gear. Since you already know at this time the size of the monitors that you need to buy, then the next question is – your budget. A good pair of powered monitors ranges from a few hundred dollars up to more than a thousand dollars.

As a rule of thumb, do not spend more than you cannot afford. If you have a lot of money, good for you. However, even with that amount of money you have, you still need to consider buying a studio monitor based on your production needs, not wants. Of course, we all want the most expensive pair of monitors for our set up. But, at a lower price point, you can already get a speaker that sounds amazing. What you need to do is do a lot of researching on the prices and types on the particular size of the speaker. Reviews will help you determine the right speakers for your home studio set up.

Hey, don’t forget to check out the Resources where you can see my home studio gears. You may want to start there for your research.

best studio monitors

Buy the Best Studio Monitors and Get to Work

Once you’re done with your diligent research, go ahead and purchase what you have chosen. Then, use and abuse it. Simple.

At the end of the day, all home music producers listen to different pairs of headphones, different pairs of studio monitors, and different types of gear. The most important principle that you need to live by when it comes to music production is Less is More.

Less is more means that do with what is available to you. Use that one studio monitor you bought and start mixing your tracks. Your ears are far more important than your gear. You must train to open your ears to frequencies, practice daily mixing, spend 10,000 diligent hours on honing your craft.

There are a lot of specifications that you must know in buying studio monitors. That’s why you need to spend time in research. You are not limited by whatever gear you have. Your limitless possibilities lie on what you can do and produce from your tools in your home studio.

What You Need To Know in Buying the Best Computer for Home Recording

What You Need To Know in Buying the Best Computer for Home Recording

The computer is the fundamental tool for capturing your creative ideas in making your songs, producing your album, and promoting them to the world. Having the best computer for your home recording needs is something that you need to think about and invest in, for it will make your recording productive and efficient.

Does having the best computer in your home recording studio mean burning a hole in your pocket? Let’s find out and assess if this is true.

Does Best equal to Expensive?

Honestly speaking – it depends on how you get creative with your choices.

What do I mean by that?

When buying the best computer for your home recording studio, you need to look at these factors:

Budget

Your budget is the deciding factor. Ask yourself how much money you are willing to spend for your computer. Of course, the higher the amount, the more choices you have. However, even with a tight budget, you can still get a quality and stable tool that has more than enough power to run the software, plugins, and render processing.

Mac or PC?

Up to you. This is a matter of preference. Some are PC guys; and then some, are Apple fans.

Whatever operation system you prefer to use, it is not an issue. The only thing that you just need to keep in mind is your software of choice. Not all DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) run on a PC or a Mac. For example, Logic and Garageband run on Macs; while Mixcraft and Sonar run on PC.

But, let us get into the thought process of a consumer like you and me. I want us to put into consideration budget with your preferred operating system. I have two computers listed below:

Retina 5K Display

3.4GHz Intel Core i5 Quad Core

8 GB RAM

1 TB Fusion Drive

NVIDEA GEForce GTX 1060 Graphics with 3GB Video Memory

3.5 GHz 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7400

12 GB RAM

128G SSD, 1 TB 7200RPM SATA

Here’s a comparison between these computers with a price range of $900 above.

They challenge each other on a number of specifications like the RAM and the memory. Both run on Intel Core i5, but it also depends on how many cores they have. Also, the major difference and I say, a huge bump, is the price – with a margin of $779.

What I am pointing out here is going back to what your priority is.

$779? You can buy another computer or gears for your home studio set up with that money.

Fact of the matter is Macs are far more expensive than PCs. At their price point, you can already assemble a PC that you can say a powerhouse in terms of specs, as well as processing power. If you are not planning on assembling your own PC, you can also buy a PC lesser than the price range of a Mac – that is already a stand out.

You maybe thinking I am not a Mac person. I am a PC junkie, Yes. However, this is not to undermine the quality and the brand of iMac. I admire the brand for its quality, durability, power, and the luxury of owning the product itself. But as a home musician, and with a tight and limited budget at that – owning a much affordable desktop PC with the specs that you need is enough.

Mobility

Are you going to be just making music at home or you also work on the road? You also need to answer this question because this will help you decide whether to buy between a desktop computer and a laptop. You might as well think of buying or investing on both due to easy access to your files. Bringing a laptop while you are on the road can definitely make you more productive in working on your projects.

I have a laptop, an Acer Aspire V13, in which I highly recommend because this laptop has helped me with my YouTube collabs and mixes for other artists/musicians that I work with. Traveling has been a big part of my work, as I travel once every three months to meet up with artists/musicians to record them. For me to fully utilize its functionality, I did upgrades on the laptop to suit my need for speed and proficiency.

Having a laptop is also good for live performances.

Software to Use

As I mentioned earlier, the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) or the recording software that you choose is also a factor for the computer you are buying. There are DAWs that only run on Macs as well as PCs. With this, check the operating system which the software runs on.

Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio, my chosen DAW, runs on Windows. It is a powerful DAW that is perfect for home and commercial studio owners, because it is already a complete and professional software that is only $179! Nothing can beat that!

Specifications

CPU

Since music making is a CPU intensive task, you may want to check which processor the computer has.  Get the latest generation i5 and i7 intel processors, dual core to quad core.

RAM

8GB of RAM is minimum. I know that there are some who uses 4GB, but trust me, if you want efficiency, then start with 8GB up. And then as you go along, I recommend upgrading to a higher RAM.

HARD DISK DRIVE

1 TB HDD is good but I suggest that you get a computer which already runs on SSD (Solid State Drive). The minimum is 256GB. You may want to head to what I did to upgrade my Laptop and PC for maximum power and speed for my production.

Conclusion

I do hope that this information will help you decide on what to invest on. Having the best computer for your home studio set up truly is an integral part of your music production journey.

What do you think? Please leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts on this.

Until then! 🙂

Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio Review | Mixing Mastermind

Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio Review | Mixing Mastermind

 

Here’s my Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio review, which will be comprised with information on the upgraded features from Mixcraft. More than that, I will be giving you my thoughts and observations regarding Mixcraft 8’s dramatic improvements. I will be reviewing the Pro Studio line, which is Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio, which is their ultimate software for pro-level mixing and mastering.

Mixcraft from Acoustica has been regarded as one of the most affordable DAWs in the market today. But with its price, does it really compare with the big boys in the music industry like Pro Tools and FL Studio?

 New Features of Mixcraft 8

 

New Sound Engine

My first observation is the huge difference on how the sound emanates to my ears compared to its predecessor. I heard before that there’s a distinct sound coming off of a DAW, and I had been in denial for so many years because I have always believed that it is how you use the DAW that makes you create great sounding music. But really, when I heard a project I did in 7, and loaded it to 8, there’s a huge sound difference. The first word that came out of my mouth was, “WOW!”

What the new sound engine brings to the table is its increased flexibility for sending track and inserting effects as well as making it the fastest and most powerful version of Mixcraft that the company has every released.

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Melodyne Integration

Next, is the tool that I have never stopped using since its introduction to Mixcraft Pro Studio 8, Melodyne Essentials! What’s great about it is its integration to Mixcraft, which means, it is available to you automatically in every audio track. Once you record your chosen instrument on to the track, Melodyne processes it real-time. Although the software we have is not the full-featured Melodyne, it’s more than what it can do for vocal pitch editing, as well as getting creative on intonation and moving notes. Melodyne Essentials is $99 in the market; however, it is free with Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio.

Sidechaining

Mixcraft now allows you to do sidechaining, but the only downside is, the feature cannot be done in all compressors. Unfortunately, Mixcraft doesn’t include a compressor with a sidechain input. However, there’s one compressor that can be used for sidechaining called Density MKIII, which is free from the Variety of Sound. There’s another compressor that you can use, which is the free version of the Melda Compressor. I saw the sidechain source box on the plugin window, so I guess you can use that, too.

You can still use Sidekick 6 Sidechaining compressor for your sidechaining needs as well.

 Density MKIII

  Melda Compressor

MP4 and VST3 Support

Mp4 is huge in Mixcraft 8. You can now import and export Mp4 files and edit them on the software. The guys at Acoustica did a tremendous job in making Mixcraft a video editing software, too. Publishing videos through the software is a breeze, for it allows you to publish directly to YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo.

Mixcraft also made VST3 plugin capability happen in this version.

Performance Panel Recording

One great new feature of Mixcraft 8 is you can now record directly into the Performance panel as you play loops without stopping the music.

This is a fun and intuitive way of music-making because you can immediately record into the same interface without going to the linear track recording area.

Whatever musical ideas you have in your head can be recorded to the panels.

You will definitely be rocking the house playing live loop performances with this beast.

Massive Sound Library/Dark and Light Themes

The sound library is way over the top! Aside from the enormous collection of royalty free studio quality loops and sounds, they also added a built-in Freesound.org browsing and import functions – which gives us access to over 325,000 sounds to use for your songs! That’s what I call utmost service – satisfaction guaranteed!

For themes, you can now choose between dark and light.

Global Automation and More Instruments and Effects!

Global Automation rocks!

Automation is easy with Mixcraft 8. You can effortlessly work your magic, automating a lot of parameters.

Also, Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio has 57 effects and 22 virtual instruments, with plugins from Izotope, Toneboosters, Applied Acoustics, Studio Devil, Beatrig, QuikQuak, G-Sonique, and many others. They also added 3 Mastering plugins such as EU ProMixEQ-10A Equalizer, DTC-1 Compressor, and ORB7000 Octave Reverb and new instruments like the synthesizer Kastelheimer Veldberg XD.

And Much More!

Marker List Panel

Mixer Configuration

Mix Down To Stems

MIDI Routing Capability

Unlimited Nested Submixes

View/Edit Effects List on Track

Select & Group Multiple Tracks

Dry, Wet & Post Fader Sends

If we are talking of price point – Mixcraft’s bang for the buck. It is just $179 dollars which is so cheap compared to other professional DAWs.

So, I guess the next thing to do is to give Mixcraft 8 a try. You can download the trial version of Mixcraft or you can check here to know more of this affordable, and professional DAW that competes with the big boys in the market! I can assure you that Mixcraft is the way to go!

Here’s the video of my Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio Review! Enjoy!

Until the next topic! Let me know your thoughts about Mixcraft 8! Please comment down below! Thank you so much!

The Best Way to Building A Home Recording Studio

The Best Way to Building A Home Recording Studio

Building a home recording studio may be overwhelming to a beginner at first. Thinking about it, there are a lot of things to buy as well as items to consider. Not only that, you’d also think about if they are within your budget range; moreover, would satisfy your musical and creative needs to make sure you get the best sounding tracks from your gear.

So, the best way to build a home recording studio is to plan your set up.

Building Your Home Recording Studio

building home recording studio
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

It is most likely your bedroom or a spare room that will serve as your first recording studio within your house. If you have the money to build a professional, or should I say, a studio of commercial standards; then, why not? However, we will start at the initial stage – a home studio for beginners. So let’s start planning your very first home recording studio project! Here are the items to check during the planning stage:

Setting Up Your Recording Room

How To Choose The Right Room

Your Recording or Listening room plays a very important role in your music creations. If you have a good-sounding room, your mixes will sound good. If you have a bad-sounding room – your recordings will turn out bad. However, there’s no such thing as a perfect room. All rooms create sound issues. Do you know why? It is because all rooms are enclosed. And in an enclosed room, sound bounces li:ke a happy fellow! So, in choosing the right room, you need to look at:

ROOM LOCATION

ROOM AREA

FLOORING

 Room Location

The room’s location is very important. Please, do not think that you can use whichever room that you have in your house for your home studio. Remember, this is where you will spend most of your time recording and mixing your tracks. This will also house your gear and musical instruments.

Your room shouldn’t be situated near a very busy and noisy area. The noise will bleed through your recordings; thus, giving you never-ending issues to fix in your tracks. Do you want to hear the busyness of a nearby street, or the honking of cars, trucks, and buses that drive by? Do you want to hear your neighbors shouting at you, annoyed by the loud noise you are creating while making music? Or the worst is, the sound of animals like barking dogs and chirping birds? I don’t think you want that while recording your next best song!

However, if there’s no other way; then, the only way is for you to build a room within a room – in simple terms, ‘soundproof’ it. The only issue with this is – there’s no inexpensive way for anyone to build a room within a room. It is costly as well as time-consuming. Nevertheless, if you know that this can work for you, do it.

So, choose the quietest area in the house.

✓ Room Area

When you are looking at room area, this is where you need to give it some serious thought.  Some say, you must choose a bigger room; while, others tell you to choose a smaller one. From what I learned from Joe Gilder, founder of Home Studio Corner, the dimensions of a room are exactly what you need to look at.

And a room with good dimensions result to the best-sounding room.

So, what’s the requirement for a room with good dimensions?

Here are two room dimensions:

7’ x 9’ x 11’ and 8’ x 10’ x 10’

Which room would be best suited as your studio?

Problem Frequencies

The room dimensions pretty much determine the frequencies that will give you the most problems. To find out what the problem frequencies are, here’s a simple formula to give you the accurate numbers:

Speed of sound/wavelength = frequency

(1130/wavelength = Hz)

In the example above, let’s solve for the problem frequencies:

1130/7=161 Hz

1130/9= 126 Hz

1130/11= 103 Hz

So, in this room, there are three problem frequencies and they are all bass frequencies. So, the next thing to do here is to fix these trouble frequencies by installing bass traps.

Let us solve for the frequncies of the next room:

1130/8= 141.25 Hz

1130/10 = 113 Hz

With these dimensions, you’d probably think right now, that the room gives you the same frequency issues.

However, this isn’t really the case. You must choose a room that are not divisible by the same number or a common number.

In room 1, the room dimensions are not divisible by any common number nor by a same number. But, room 2 is divisible by 2. The number 8 is divisible by 2, 4 and itself. Multiples of the problem frequencies will cause big problems. Whereas, room 1 only has 3 problem frequencies because they cannot be multiplied exponentially anyhow by any divisible.

Which is which?

The result is – the best room between the two is the first room. Your room will sound much better with acoustic treatment, because you know you will not just “deaden” the sound of the room, but have the confidence that the acoustic treatment’s purpose is effective – making your room perfect for your recording needs.

 Flooring

Photo by John Hult on Unsplash

Carpets are not good for your studio. Period.

If you have a hardwood, tile, concrete, linoleum, and laminated flooring, these are all great for your home studio.

Carpets absorb high frequencies, acting as a low-pass filter. Because of this, the room sounds boomy, which results to more problems in the long run. If you install Bass traps or LENRD (Low-End Node Reduction Device), it will not be effective because the sound of the room has already fooled your ears.

So if you have a room with these floors, you are good to go then.

Acoustics

home studio acoustic treatment

Acoustic treatment is a must in any home recording studio. If your room is super small with low ceilings, and walls everywhere, these factors negatively affect the sound of your room. However, since we cannot have a large room that professional studios have, our next best option is to treat the room and improve its sound by adding acoustic treatment.

Your room is for recording, mixing, and listening. Even though it is not at par with professionally built commercial studios, what our mindset should be is always to create radio-ready music – music that can compete in the global arena.

Rooms untreated have uneven frequency response; thus, affecting what you hear. With this in mind, acoustical treatment helps improve our ears to record, mix, and listen.

Example of Acoustic Foam: Acoustic Panel Studio Foam Wedges

Home Recording Studio Essentials

One more thing, you must have a good mixing desk as well as a comfortable studio chair.

Of course, you need tools to record your music and mix them to radio-ready songs. As a start, you can use a PC/Mac or a Laptop.  Check out the resources page for my recommended tools for your home studio. The items listed there are of utmost quality and budget-friendly, perfect for a beginner. 😊

Conclusion

When building your home recording studio, you are crafting for yourself is a space conducive for music creation. That’s why you need to make sure that it is very comfortable and designed to make you create more and more music. Remember, you will be spending a lot of time in that room you are building! So, think creative and productive.

Alright folks, until the next topic!

Make Your Music Creations Better Everyday!

Become a Mixing Mastermind Today.

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