Monitor Speakers for a Living Room Studio
August 9, 2011 7:48 PM   Subscribe

Thanks to the ever-wonderful advice of AskMeFi, I picked up a Mackie Onyx mixer which I've been using with Reaper to record a small band, and I am perfectly pleased. In order to hear ourselves live using the mixer's low latency, the audio out from the mixer is being piped out over unbalanced stereo that passes next to a wall full of electrical wiring and into a 1/4"-1/8" converter into the line-in of my computer's speakers. It is roughly as awful as it sounds.

I believe I am supposed to fix this problem with a pair of powered monitors. I'd like to get double-duty out of them: a good playback system for mixing after recording is great, but I really want something with enough oomph to serve as our only source of live sound during practice (drums are electronic; guitars and bass are being handled by DI boxes). I see powered monitors all over the place in price from a hundred fifty for a pair to a thousand dollars each. Please, MeFi musicians, give me a recommendation!

I want to avoid breaking the bank, say spending no more than four hundred, less if possible. I understand this will not give me a separate subwoofer right away, and I think I'm OK with that. I'm not trying to set up a professional studio here - I just want something reliable that will serve my purpose adequately. Anything will be an improvement over this setup!
posted by DoubleMark to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Powered monitors won't give you the volume you're looking for, even with electric drums and DI'd guitars. You're better off getting a couple of cheap powered PA speakers. Especially since you're going to be running bass through get any real volume on the bass, you'll probably kill a set of monitors in zero point zero seconds.

I would maybe look for a Fender Passport locally. They can be had for super cheap, but don't expect a lot out of it.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 7:55 PM on August 9, 2011

Always use balanced wiring, like XLR, for longer audio runs, especially when running near AC power wiring. Balanced wiring rejects noise; unbalanced does not.
posted by intermod at 8:09 PM on August 9, 2011

Response by poster: intermod: Oh yes, I'm acutely aware. That's exactly what I'm trying to fix. But when your only playback option is a single stereo line in...
posted by DoubleMark at 8:11 PM on August 9, 2011

Response by poster: It looks like Fender Passports (150W model, at least) can indeed be had pretty cheaply. I'll look into one.
posted by DoubleMark at 8:12 PM on August 9, 2011

Don't you want to go with a headphone amp?
posted by sully75 at 9:37 PM on August 9, 2011

The idea that powered monitors can't handle band practice volume is kind of silly. I've done more than a couple band practices on different pairs of powered monitors. It all depends what you get.

With that said, I agree that you want to go with a small PA rather than monitors (assuming you're not planning to mix/master on the system), because a small PA will be closer in sound than small monitors to what a big PA will sound like when you're playing in clubs.
posted by Jairus at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2011

Response by poster: I do like the idea of the Passport. Will the 150 be sufficient for practice in a pretty small room?
posted by DoubleMark at 4:01 PM on August 10, 2011

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