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Studio Monitors for Editing Sound on a Short Film

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Chris Fernando
Studio Monitors for Editing Sound on a Short Film
on Oct 19, 2008 at 4:17:16 am

I’m editing a short film that is destined for film festivals. I care about creating and crafting a quality soundtrack, but am on a budget and learning how to do it on my own. I’m not going to a professional sound designer because I want to learn how to edit sound, and learn mixing and EQ. I live in a not so quiet apartment, and am investing in a pair of headphones:

AKG K 77 Dynamic Around-ear Closed-back Headphones Features:

* Dynamic, around-ear, closed-back design
* Frequency range: 18Hz-20kHz
* Rated impedance: 32 ohms
* Max input power: 200 mW

Right now I do not have access to a quiet place to work, nor the capital to invest into creating a true mixing environment. I am editing on Final Cut Pro off of an IMac and either going to use the FCP software to edit the sound, or learn Apple Soundtrack. The sound on the film contains Dialogue, Music and Effects.

I am also considering an investment in a pair of active studio desktop monitors.
I am thinking about this because I want to hear the sound outside of the headphone bubble.

I’ve looked at these speakers:

M-Audio StudioPro 3 - 2-Way 3.25" Active Nearfield Monitor - Pair
10 Watts per channel
Frequency Range
100 Hz - 20 kHz
10 kOhms (unbalanced input)

or

M-Audio BX-5A - Studio Reference Monitors (Pair)
LF Amplifier
40W
HF Amplifier
30W
Frequency Range
56 Hz - 22 kHz

Both of these speakers are under $150. Should I buy a pair of reference speakers like these? My concern is that the low frequency reproduction won’t be heard in the monitors, but I will know that they are there in the headphones. What are your thoughts on mixing off of headphones and double checking on the studio monitors? Would you recommend these speakers I’ve chosen, or can recommend a pair of active monitors under $200 for the purposes of sound design and mixing?

Please feel free to throw the other considerations I'm not considering at me. There's a lot of things that I don't know that I don't know.

Thank you,
Chris Fernando


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Ty Ford
Re: Studio Monitors for Editing Sound on a Short Film
on Oct 20, 2008 at 2:32:40 am

Hello Chris and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You have the right idea. Good headphones and monitors are both helpful. While the ones you're talking about are better than the speakers in your computer, you're still a long way from studio quality and that may hurt you.

Monitors shouldn't be on the desktop, they should be at ear height more or less in an equilateral triangle with your head. In addition, where the monitors are positioned, even the shape of the room they are in make a difference.

If I were shooting for headphones, I'd try Audio Technica ATH-M50; closed back, flat response, comfortable.

Monitors: hold your breath - Good ones are not cheap, but if you low ball monitors, audio or video, you can't really tell what you're doing. If you buy too low, you'll begin to believe that THAT'S what good sound is.

While there are many more expensive monitors, think about these: http://tinyurl.com/6h9dau

Regards,

Ty Ford



Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Rodney Morris
Re: Studio Monitors for Editing Sound on a Short Film
on Oct 20, 2008 at 12:04:55 pm

Donovan, I wouldn't put my trust in $150 reference monitors per se, at least not these. However, that being said it's possible to create a good mix on just about any monitor system. The key though is having a reference for knowing what good mixes sound like coming from those monitors. Whatever monitors you buy, spend some time listening to good mixes through those monitors. Find some other short films with high quality sound and listen to those through your monitors. If you get ambitious, listen to some major motion pictures through the monitors, but remember you are at a disadvantage as those were mixed in multi-million dollar facilities.

This is my opinion, and it is subject to debate. If you are going to mix primarily with headphones, I would suggest considering spending that $150 on a high quality computer speaker system with a sub. If nothing else, it will give you an idea of what is happening below 80Hz. I used to mix with a pair of Yamaha NS-10 monitors and an Altec Lansing computer speaker system to check for low end information. That particular AL system was VERY good (rivaled Genelecs) when used at lower volume levels. That was nearly 10 years ago however and I don't remember now which model it was.

I hope this helps and if anyone disagrees with my opinion/suggestion, please take a long walk off a short pier. Just kidding! Please voice them here. This should be a place of ideas and help, not the sounding board (lol) of just a few.

Rodney

Freelance Sound Technician/Mixer


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Chris Fernando
Re: Studio Monitors for Editing Sound on a Short Film
on Oct 22, 2008 at 4:53:54 pm

Hi Rodney,

Thanks for the advice on mixing and computer speakers. I looked into affordable computer speakers and stumbled on this 2.1 system:

What do you think of this system?
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/359199-REG/Logitech_970118_0403_Z_230...

There's an additional review here:
http://reviews.cnet.com/pc-speakers/logitech-z-2300/4507-3179_7-30993080.ht...

Thanks,
Chris



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Chris Fernando
Re: Studio Monitors for Editing Sound on a Short Film
on Oct 22, 2008 at 8:00:21 pm

Thank you Ty.

Given my budget, I won't be able to mix with the monitors you recommend. The speakers I do eventually get, will be equilaterally positioned at ear height - which is something I hadn't considered before this.

Out of curiosity - where is your microphone placed in your acoustic guitar video? It's a great song.

I look forward to your input on future queries,
Chris



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Ty Ford
Re: Studio Monitors for Editing Sound on a Short Film
on Oct 22, 2008 at 9:07:04 pm

Given my budget, I won't be able to mix with the monitors you recommend. The speakers I do eventually get, will be equilaterally positioned at ear height - which is something I hadn't considered before this.

Out of curiosity - where is your microphone placed in your acoustic guitar video? It's a great song.

I look forward to your input on future queries,

Hi again Chris,

The big boys also usually have the monitors mounted in the room, freestanding, not close to any walls. This keeps the speakers from interacting with the walls, which can change their sound.

When I set up my systems, I looked and listened and noticed the placement. As a result, my back is to the wall (well 4-6 feet behind me) and the speakers are on tables as I look past my desk on one set up and on the other they are on the top shelf of the desk so they are at ear height. Toed in just a bit. If you don't toe them in so they point at your ears, you might be out of the HF dispersion angle and mix in too many highs.

I know the price is off-putting. I had the same reaction when I first shopped for a tripod and head for my Canon XL2. HOW MUCH!? You must not of heard me correctly, I only want the tripod and head, not the camera!! :)

As you already know, good tools do make a difference.

The mic on the Martin is a Schoeps (HOW MUCH!!!) ...($2k each, now that the dollar is down.)

It's sitting on the couch arm. You can see the tip of the grey pop filter down toward the sound hole.

Thanks,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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