Speaker advice/non-near field, for jamming

Jay Vaughan ibisum at gmail.com
Sat Oct 5 13:41:18 CEST 2019

I currently have two studio’s I’m working in at the moment - one at my retro workshop at Villa Schapira, which is small and intended for jamming, and then my main rig at Sky Studio where we do more ’serious’ synth work/backing on the high end.  The jam workshop has just a single set of monitors - Presonus ES3.5’s - whereas at Sky we have multiple workstations with their own monitoring solutions.

At the jam studio, I have been very pleasantly surprised by just how great the Presonus Eris E3.5’s work out -  its where I’m spending most of my music time these days.   Last night we had a massive jam with 5 guys and none of us were in the sweet spot - but it doesn’t matter really as long as you’ve got a clear sound field.  When we listen/review, we do tend to try to collect around the sweet spot, though.  The E3.5’s keep us happy - probably I would’ve been happier with E5’s though, but still - you’ll be surprised just how great things sound on the E3.5’s if you give them a chance.

At Sky Studio, where the majority of my gear is set up for more production-oriented tracking, we have Neumann KH310a monitors for mastering/mixing and I use Genelecs  for local monitoring in the ’synth section’.   I’ve found that its much nicer to have a local monitor rig at the synth section, even if Phil (Sky Studio Lead Engineer) has his Neumanns’ up real high - a local sound at the station really helps the production, and anyway there is enough space between the synth station and the production table that we don’t run into too much difficulty with cluttered audio.  And I turn the Genelecs off and move to the mixing station when the time comes to master the mix.  Key thing is though, every instrument has its own isolated channel - so no matter how crap it sounds in the room during production, during mix down everything can be adjusted.

Plus, we have headphone mixes for every station at the studio - meaning everyone can have their own headphone mix, tailored to their needs.  

I think actually that headphone distribution is probably going to be more important to you in your new setup, Joost - it is amazing how much more productive people can be when they have their own mix, with their own instruments treated a bit higher priority, while also letting the main DAW mix things how they want.  That has been key to a lot of productive sessions, imho.  If I were you I’d invest in station-local headphone mixers as a priority and then add local monitors as needed for live audio, but also don’t forget: track everything to its own discrete channel, even if you have local mixers - i.e. try to make sure the headphone mixing system you choose also has digital I/o back to your main DAW.


(Synth station on the left, DAW workstation in the middle, drums on the right - both synth and drum stations have their own monitors…)

I think this works pretty well - the main master station is where everything in the studio is routed, including the sub-mix from my synth station, which has its own 40 channels of I/o too - but I’m having so much fun with Phil and his Pro Tools skills, mostly we track to that instead of my Presonuse+Reaper DAW - which I still use, if only to capture raw channels of my own - a lot of the tracks we work on include more channels from the analog side of the studio too.

In short, I think that you can get away with a workstation style setup, with smaller monitors for near field work - like if it was a stage rig - but then route everything to the main DAW console for later mixing/mastering.  It helps if you’ve got lots of I/O, though - at Sky my 40 channels of Presonus hotness get combined with Phils’ UAD/ProTools 48 channels .. so there is a network topology going on.

> I see a couple of options:
> * Some simple co-axial speakers on a stand, like the Fluid Audio FX8. Only 337 euros a set. Co-axial to ensure that there is not a small sweet spot.

Check out the Presonus Eris’ series, these are rapidly becoming my favourites.  The sound is great, and the price - even better.  Very decent product, too often overlooked, but worth the effort to preview if you can .. 

> * Some semi mid-fields, the Kali Audio IN-8 speakers. More price, 800 euro's a pair. Co-axial 1-4 inch plus an 8 inch woofer.
> * Floor standing Hifi speakers with a class D-amp?
> * Powered floor monitors, like the Behringer F1220D Eurolive (278 euros a set). The crazy SPL’s these can provide I won’t use though, since this is a connected brick house from 1885 :)
> * Four Behringer K5/K6’s, one in each corner, and a K10 sub to provide some low end?

All great options, but I think you’d get similar results with cheaper Presonus’, and you could probably then budget for multiple stations in the room.  But, start with headphone mixers for the stations you’ll have set up - as I know you, there’ll be a groovebox/jam section, a keyboard section, and a few other bits of 19” rack hanging around.  


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