Monitor Shopping

Suggestions for reference songs???

Hi guys,

I’m thinking of looking a som proper monitors to replace my hifi speakers I’m currently using.

Any suggestions on particular songs I should put onto a CD to take with me to audition them?
ie. songs that will highlight any differences between monitors or highlight any deficiencies some may have.

Hopefully some of the suggested songs I’ll have in my cd collection (or a friends).

Keep in mind that I’ll be looking at the budget end of the monitor market if that makes any difference to the songs I should be considering.


Hi RichLum:
I’ve been browesing this page for most of the day, now… In there you’ll find reviews on monitors that cover most of the price range… However, I haven’t seen willy’s “Yorkies”, in there… Yorkville Sound of Canada, makes them… The “Powered” ones are great, so I’ve learned…


Hotel California by the Eagles

also consider some classical pieces and listen to the strings

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album by Elton John is considered by many to be well recorded and mastered and some use it as a reference

The yorkvilles are very nice imo, but fairly expensive over here. Behringer, Samson, Maudio would probably be cheaper options (powered for the same price as unpowered Yorkvilles).


Hi Rich
I’ve recently bought a pair of KRK Rokit5 powered monitors for 220GBP (new). They have great press, and I’m pretty impressed with them. Even the next ones up in the range are only 300GBP.
As for what to listen to, I took a few tracks I’d been working on. When I heard all the problems with them that I hadn’t detected before, I was sold :;):

Yep the Behringers are pretty much in my price range.
I’ve seen 2 places selling the Alesis M1 Active Mk2 for $899AUS (RRP $1495) so not sure if that is cause they are clearing them out to make way for a new model or something else.

The online reviews seem alright for these though…

Might try and find a place where I can compare the Behringer and the Mackie


This is a good topic, as I have often wondered if the whole thing of ‘monitors’ is beneficial or more hype than true benefit.

The key, in my view, is a range of reference music and to get your ears tuned into specific instruments being played in your reference music.

Now, my argument is, if you can get your hi-fi speakers kincking out your music’s instruments to the same or near sound as the same kit plays your reference music, what difference will monitors make? Unless you are in the business of professional recording, i.e. a recording studio, then I really do not think the difference is worth the money.

A couple of magazine articles I have read suggest that hi-fi speakers are made to a very high standard and that there is not much difference in frequency response between hi-fi speaker and low price-end of the monitor spectrum.

Reference material: someone mentioned classical - an absolute MUST, especially a quartette. Jazz is also good. Both are easy to pick out the instruments.

Of the more common stuff, then choose bands/artists that pride themselves (rather than their producers) on good quality recordings. Pink Floyd is my preference

I have a great set of monitors - they’re part of my hi-fi system that have had for some 25 years:D

I’m kinda wondering the same thing… whether they’ll make all that much differnce… but I’m kinda in the frame of mind of "I won’t know until I try…"

The “problem” I have at the moment is that my current mixing process involves doing a few mixes, buring them to cd and then listening in the lounge room stereo and also in the car.

Make note of what doesn’t sound right and redo and keep repeating a few times till I get it right.

Most of the time mixes that sound OK on my recording setup have too much bass on the loungeroom and car stereos.

The bass doesn’t sound too loud when I go to remix it but I know it’s too loud so I just adjust it and then re-audition on the other systems. til I get it right.

I’m hoping that better monitors will mean that if it sounds alright on the recording PC it will sound just as balanced on other systems too…

Then I think with that money I could buy a nice guitar or get a widescreen TV (as everything is broadcast in widescreen now and sh#ts me that even credits are cut off on my old skool square screen that the stations seem to assume no one has anymore… but that’s another story)


I think reference songs/material tend to be more of a personal thing in that it’s best to use music that YOU know intimately (just nothing overmaximized and sh**y sounding). I tend to use different songs from different bands and varying styles of music, depending what I’m working on.
Some of my favorite bands to use are Rush, Blur, Pink Floyd, old David Bowie, Miles Davis…naming just a few.

I recently upgraded my monitors to the Mackie HR824’s and all I can say is wow! The detail is just incredible and the bass is so clear. I’ve been listening to my reference material and with some of it I feel like I’m hearings things in the mix for the first time.

The difference between hi-fi speakers and quality reference monitors are vast, but if something works for you then run with it. Leaving frequency reproduction and terms like ‘flat’ out of it, monitors are really meant to take the abuse of raw instrumentation being played back at volume while hi-fi speakers are desinged around music that is already mastered for publication.


I’m not such an expert but from my experience and from what I’ve read, even after you’ve got good monitors, you’ll still want to try them on your living room stereo, car system, and maybe even a boombox.

What decent monitors can offer is to let you hear exactly what was recorded and what you’re EQ and effects and mixing have added. Having monitors with limited bass range won’t let you hear the bass that’s really there. That’s why it’ll sound too bassy on a different system (which will probably hype the bass too). Same goes for other frequencies.

But once you have a sense of that, you’re not really done because nobody listens to music on recording monitors. They will use home stereos and car sereos and cheepo boomboxes too. So the more ways you hear the sound, the better off you’ll be at figuring out how to take what you mixed and adjust it for the way it will be heard.

So again, the point of monitors is to know what’s really in your mix. But always remember that some of those sounds will never be heard, or will be magnified in ugly ways, on other systems.

Good FLAT response monitors WILL make a difference in your mixes. Mine have improved remarkably since I bought a pair of Event TR8’s. That “first attempt” will be much closer to your final goal with a good set of speakers versus mix, check, mix check, ad nauseum…

As far as reference material, find some respected commercial CD’s in the genre like the project you are working on and LISTEN. Closely!

It’s funny, earlier today I went by our church to pull Sundays recording off the hard drive to carry home for mixing and our P&W leader was there. We gave it a quick listen on the cheesy computer speakers ($15 @ Wal-Mart) and he says, "Oh my! The bass guitar did not record at all!! Grinning at him, I plugged in a good set of flat headphones I use for setting up and hand 'em to him. “WOW! There is the bass!” Moral of story? Good monitors are a MUST for good mixes IMO.


PS I have never been able to get a good mix with headphones. Everything gets screwed up. The TR8’s are my babies now…

Quote (RichLum @ Aug. 15 2005,09:36)
Most of the time mixes that sound OK on my recording setup have too much bass on the loungeroom and car stereos.

Room, room, room…
What happens to your mix if you connect your recording monitors to the lounge room stereo ?
Quote (gtr4him @ Aug. 16 2005,05:21)
Good FLAT response monitors WILL make a difference in your mixes. Mine have improved remarkably since I bought a pair of Event TR8's. That "first attempt" will be much closer to your final goal with a good set of speakers versus mix, check, mix check, ad nauseum...

This is what I'm hoping will be my experience too. :)

I’ll throw in my vote for Tannoy Reveal (passive, the red ones). The pair goes for ~200-250 EUR. They’ve got a good bass (for the size). I like their sound, but I’ll also be the first one to admit it’s highly subjective.

Sure, if you find a normal HiFi speaker for that price that sounds good then by all means go for it. I’ve grown liking my Tannoys so much that I’d get them instead of HiFi speakers if I’d ever need to buy a new stereo. :)

Take along a CD of your own songs (finished and not). Especially the different mixes you ended up being unhappy with after cross-checking on your home stereo (too much/too little bass etc.). See if the monitors uncover or mask the problems.

I love this thread. I tried this arguement on the SoundonSound forum a while back and those guys got way too serious about the topic. This is quite well balanced and constructive.

Interesting what gtr-4him said about there being no bass apparent from some crummy PC speakers, yet there it was, loud and proud on the monitors. Thing is, people play music on crummy speakers. Tinny CD players, over-colourised ‘hi-fi’ systems and so on. As has been suggested, you do need to try your music out on a range of players.

What is also apparent is that the buck stops at YOUR ears???

How well are your ears tuned to listening and picking out various instruments and then applying what you can hear to your own material? I have long argued that monitors, although designed for short-range listening, do not tell you ‘how it really is’. They simply deliver sound to your ears and your ears have to interpret that sound. Therefore, you need comparisons.

What makes sound engineers different in their line of business from other ‘engineers’ is that they have to have an artists treak. Engineers don’t normally do art, their world is normally very black and white, or polarised. Yet, the one thing sound engineers have to possess is a very good set of ears. Of course, they also get to hear lots of stuff to make their comparisons and judgements. There is no right and wrong, there is just degrees of appropriateness for each genre or presentation of music.

So, my argument is, spend lots of time listening to different material and train your ears. You’ll soon appreciate that your cheap sound card and $15 speakers are not up to the job, but good quality hi-fi speakers or headphones (defined by your ears) won’t be a restriction to the creative process.

Having said all that, if you haven’t got good quality hi-fi speakers, on todays market, especially with eBay and such like, monitors might be more cost effective.

Yeah… I suspect my hi fi speakers are
a) not all that high quality, and
b) not designed to be listened to at close range the same way that I would expect near field monitors are…

Most of what is commonly called ‘Hi-fi’ is far from being ‘Hi-fi’. I’ve heard good things about B&W speakers comparing very favourably to many mid-price monitors. The pair which came which your Aiwa stereo are not likely to perform to the same level. :;):

Myself I went for Tannoy Reveals (the new ones) and am very happy. I was completely unimpressed when I heard them - didn’t sparkle or stand out at all. The only thing I noticed was THAT I COULD HEAR EVERYTHING and didn’t have to guess about stuff any longer. Monitors are a tool - and it’s the resultant mix which you produce with them which counts, rather than how a CD may sound through them.

Best thing for in-store comparison is to take a variety of different stuff along that you know well, and listen for detail that you haven’t heard before. Ear-fatigue is another factor to consider - how well are your ears going to stand up long term using them.

The other factor for me with monitors was a need for them to be shielded - which ruled out a lot of otherwise decent speakers.


Does anyone miss Limey piping in with “rite a hookier song and fogit bout the blinkin speaks!”


Does anyone miss Limey piping in with “rite a hookier song and fogit bout the blinkin speaks!”

Not really - it never applied to those who don’t write the songs, but are trying to do the best possible with other peoples’ material.