Are good monitors absolutely necessary?


First a disclaimer. Don't attack me on this question. This is potentially a controversial topic. I'm just trying to get some discussion going...

Do you think good monitors are really necessary for home studios? Someone once said that it didn't matter since people usually listen to music in their car stereos (or gigantic loud speakers in open spaces, earphones etc). The general population do not listen to their music on expensive monitor speakers. Someone else suggested that if our mix sounds good on bad speakers, it should sound good on most speakers. Therefore he suggested using both speakers - a good monitor for his own "enjoyment" while mixing and then use another set of "poorer" speakers (eg Creative) to make sure it sounded good on it as well.

Or u can just invest in a gd pair of headphones for ur monitors... Room acoustics plays a major part in choosing a pair of speaker monitors.. So to safe the hassle and save abit of money, getting a pair of gd monitor headphones might just be the trick...
well, the thing about monitor is "it is not what you can hear but what you can't hear"

using a good monitor, you will be listening to things that you never knew were there. Kinda like, suddenly you see light in a dark room.

But being able to hear these stuff comes at a high price too. given that monitors ranges from few hundred of dollars to thousand of dollars, their quality also differs.

i kinda feel the sound sometimes, not really hear it but feel it. just like a guitarist playing without pluging his guitar into an amp. or an singer pitching without singing it out. hmm... dont know if this make sense. :lol:
Most importantly the definition of good will vary from person to person. I use the alesis m1 actives. For my younger cousins they'll say it's a pretty good set of monitors. For me i say they are not really that great. And not all monitors can accurately play back the music. NS10s are an example. They just sound a bit bandpassed, and the hgih end details aren't there. But some engineers swear that if you can mix on them well, then it'll translate onto other systems. So some monitors may be good for some people but not for others.

The normal listening/monitor combo is a good idea. You can roughly gauge how it'll sound on normal speakers. Doesn't really mean it'll translate on all systems, but that's a start.

At the moment i do consumer grade speakers, my monitors, an akg 271, and a mdr v6. Each has it's own characteristics. Primarily mixing is on the m1 and the akg, with the rest as checks.

For home studios definitely a trustworthy monitor is a must.
soft said:
well, the thing about monitor is "it is not what you can hear but what you can't hear"

But what we "can't hear" cannot be heard anyway by the general listeners!
at low level maybe cannot hear, but at a higher level, some of the 'hidden' mistakes all become obvious. in this instance, the sound engineer have to take responsibility and accountability to produce the best possible.

for example, when recording voice or acoustic guitar. a better pair of monitor might be able to re-produce the cloth movement, coins/keys in the pocket or wire hitting mic stand. so you can take action to minimise the problem.
The issue of headphones vs speakers is still sticky as traditional engineers will stick to the speakers are better argument.

However. with both market development of hi spec headphones and the fact that more people listen to music on headphones than they do speakers. the move toward more neutral headphone mixing reference will probably surface.

Don't be afraid of tradition but explore all options. People who listen to music via expensive speakers one might argue don't really listen to
MUSIC, but the abilities of their hi fi ...

However, a critical mix of various systems that you can afford will be best: large monitors, small, crap car speakers ....and headphones.

These do various things, precision fixing and eq, mastering, mixing, and general balance checks on 'typical listening situations' etc... your monitoring system of 'type' corresponds to what you are monitoring FOR.

I don't suppose there is an escape from having various tools for various tasks.
From what I understand from reading Sound on Sound and Computer Music on the bowl, what both mags recommend is that. Use both.

Headphones to monitor the stereo mix and imaging of the piece. According to CM, "NEVER use cans (headphones) as the definite solution for EQing and mixing. Monitors are still the way to go for EQing. As the ears are too close to the headphones, certain frequencies might be lost or over emphasized. How sound is reflected off the walls, etc. will not show thru using cans. Low-end frequencies will not be clearly reflected as well. For that, you'd need monitors"

Who ever said that playing music was a cheap hobby? Hehehe... :wink: