Monday, June 24, 2013

Strangers In The Night

Like yay! Took forever to get this out, as I shipped my sample drive on the ship to Montreal. Also my first mix with the MSP5s, I think they worked well to tell me what the bass is like. Will need loads of mixes to learn this monitors though, I think I felt more comfortable with headphones as that's what I've used for years.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My headphone mixes on the studio monitors

I went through some of my soundcloud mixes and after hearing them on the MSP5s, I think on the whole, I liked them, though all of the mixes with a bass instrument in them had the bass frequencies overemphasized.

Comparing what I've mixed with what I used for testing - Miles Davis's "So what" from his album, Kind of Blue - the upright bass in So What's mix was clearly audible on the MSP5s, but much more subtle.

Similarly, I pulled up Zanarkand from the Distant Worlds II CD, and the double bass in there is also audible, but sublime. Whereas my mixes they stood out very clearly, top and center.

So, I guess the VRM Box and AKG240MKIIs did a pretty good job considering.

Another aspect I felt is that my limiting and compression may be overly aggressive for some tracks, as they are a quite a bit loud compared to the commercial albums.

Gotta get my sample drive up!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Studio Monitor Hunt

Auditioned several studio monitors today, at Moog Audio and Archambault. These included the Adam A3x, A5X, F5, Yamaha HS7 and MSP5 Studio, JBL LSR2325P, Focal CMS 40, Neumann KH120 and Eve SC204.

I thought I liked the Adam monitors the best; I felt that the A3x and F5 were too similar to me, and I would have bought the F5 if they were in stock >.>

The bass of the A3x sounded pretty damned good for their size, and I think the F5 has some room controls at the rear, so that sounds like a win for me, especially for the price/performance ratio.

The HS7s were pumping out good strong bass, but the MSP 5s sounded clearer. A5x kicked the arse of every monitor I tried, but it too was out of stock, and frankly, I think I am very glad it was out of stock as these are my first pair of studio monitors and purchasing an set of expensive nearfields may not be the best way to start.

Focal CMS 40 I really wanted to like. There is a massive thread on gearslutz about how awesome they are, and I'd budgeted for them. Sadly, when I heard them, they sounded really odd to my ears. Guess that's how it works with personal choice, you really need to try it to understand it and not rely on the comments online.

JBL LSR2325P I only heard for a short while, seemed to produce a much stronger bass response compared to the MSP5s. The mids sounded less refined than the MSP5s.

Eve CS204 I also tried for a short time, and they sounded pretty cool. The KH120s were also auditioned for a short time - too much out of my budget to really care - but it did sound really balanced and strong.

In the end I decided to go for the MSP5s as they seemed like the best bang for the buck. Well, the Adam F5s would have been an even better bang for the buck, but as I was told stock will only arrive in August.... uh no.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Moar piano

Visited a rather big music store, Italmelodie near the Jean Talon market today. Man, that place is massive! Not only do they have digital pianos, but also acoustic uprights and grands, there were synths, and I saw Nords for the first time in the flesh. And that was only a part of the store; another massive section was dedicated to guitars, another section on monitors.... I didn't go through the whole area but man that's ALOT of gear! Just the DP section alone is pretty amazing. The sales staff was very friendly, and I tried my paws on a few DPs, like the Kawai CL26, Yamaha P155 and Casio PX350

The CL26 played really nice, and the small size is really good for the new place I've rented. I think for the price, it is a very good deal.

The Yamaha well, it's a Yamaha. It's great really, I have no complains. I might have actually preferred the grand sounds on the P155, perhaps because it reminds me of the CP33.

The Casio was quite surprising, I may have played this model before but I remember not being too impressed with the Casios in the past. This one sounded pretty good (prefer the yamaha for sure, but this is totally an individual taste thing), though the keys felt quite different. Not like the other two pianos for sure. This was also one of the cheaper DPs with weighted keys.

So... not sure. Will have to sleep on it before making such a big purchase.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Re-building the hobby / Focusrite 2i4

I'm just moving into a new place, and am slowly starting to get a few tools for music. Firstly, I got a new audio interface, the Focusrite 2i4, to replace my beloved Mackie Blackjack. This wasn't on purpose, but I was visiting Archambault to take a look at audio interfaces, and the sales guy told me about the weekend scratch card offer, that would give 10% (or more!) off over the pre-father day weekend. So yeah, took that offer up!

In any case, the 2i4 is really well built, solid metal, just like the Blackjack. Two inputs, with individual gain controls and pads for each. Phantom power can be supplied to both inputs via a single switch. There are other controls for mixing between the output from your daw and the inputs, so-called direct monitoring.

A large knob is the master gain controller for the monitor outs, and the headphone jack seems to be really strong, my grados were loud enough a very small twist from zero. Won't have any problems driving the higher impedance 'phones I'm sure!

One thing I've noted - which may be a manufacturing defect on mine - is that at really low volume settings on the headphone gain control causes the right output to be softer than the left, which makes everything sound to be coming from the left lol. Using a high output level fixes that, and I have to turn VLC's gain down.

There's midi in/out on the back, and two sets of outputs. Outputs 1/2 either use the balanced 1/4 jacks or phono, and outputs 3/4 are exclusively sent out via the phono jacks.

It is much bigger than I'd like, but still fairly compact. Archambault also had the MOTU Microbook II on sale, and I was sorely tempted to get it, but I decided that the lack of midi in/out was the deal breaker. Plus, it was a fair bit more expensive so...

Also tried a few DPs when I was there. The Yamaha P105 was ok, pretty good for the price, but I was not a fan of the sound. Felt very bassy and the highs didn't seem to be there. Next, I tried the Roland FP7F :3

Oh my wolf. I love it. But the price tag is already a big no-no. There were a few other rolands like the FP4F around, but it wasn't powered up. It's not in my price range anyways.

Other usual suspects from Korg were around, as well as a beautiful RD300NX. All out of my budget though. The current piano I do want to try that is just in my budget is the Kawai CL26. I've played this in Rose Morris whilst I was in London, and I remember thinking that if I had the space, this would be the perfect piano - good price, small size and I remember the sound and touch were nice.

Apart from the piano, it's studio monitors, that's about it. I will most likely use my lapel mic for recording as it seems to do the trick. Hopefully in another few weeks things will settle down :)