Recommendations for Studio Monitors


I got my Delta 44 soundcard, and have been told by the tech guys at M-Audio that I need to purchase studio monitors - as the computer monitors no longer work, and when I plug the headphones into the “outs” I get a mono signal - only in the left ear. I’m not sure if this is right or not, but it is certainly unacceptable in the current state.

Assuming that M-Audio knows what they’re talking about (and they probably do), I guess I need studio monitors. That said, I kind of blew my budget on the pci card, so I need something that will provide decent audio quality for an inexpensive price; keeping in mind that I was using Altec Lansing computer monitors before - and was fine w/ the results I was getting.

Any thoughts or recommendations would be much appreciated.

Finally, how do you get a “sterio” signal into headphones w/ this setup?

All the best,


How about buying a cheap second hand hi-fi amp with a “headphone out” on it (or you may even have one lying around). Then you just plug in outputs 1&2 from the Delta 44 into the “line in” of the amp and monitor through the headphones. Obviously with a set of speakers attached you could monitor through those as well. You’d need a couple of 1/4" mono jack to RCA cables, but you can get the adaptors anywhere.


You might be able to listen to your headphones using a Y-cable adaptor that combines the out put from two of your output channels into one stereo plug-in. Most likely though, the line-level ouput from your Delta 44 will not be powerful enough to drive the headphones, and you will need something to amplify it. Good-Will and other thrift stores can be a boon if you are on a budget. My son uses a pair of Infinity speakers (made back when they made top flight audiophile stuff) that cost $1200 when new. I got them for free, cause the foam surrounds were deteriorated! Fixed the surrounds for $20. These speakers have ribbon tweeters, and a flat frequency response from 45 kHz to 35 Hz (no that is not a typo). Outstanding sound. And older audiophile amps show up at thrift shops too. You might have to look around a bit, but it will be worth it if your budget is tight. Big caveat now: If the acoustics of your listening space are bad, the quality of your monitors won’t compensate. Read about things to do to improve acoustics, spend your effort there too.

You could connect your current speakers to the delta with a suitable adaptor. Assuming your speakers have a stereo 3.5mm mini jack if you got this,

and two of these,…adaptor

I have assumed your computer speakers are active. If they are not what I’ve suggested won’t work.

Hi Iplan:
Eventually, you’ll be taking the advice of the guy who sold you your audio card… You’re gonna get a lot of advice from everyone up here by asking a question like that… But here are some things you might consider while you make your choice.

Count on spending more money than you set for your limit. Don’t buy something that you’ll end up trading up for… That’s a waste of hard earned money. Don’t buy if you can’t try… Listen at everybody before you make your choice. If you buy too big… then you may end up with listening fatigue… Don’t buy too small… you’ll end up not hearing it all…

It’s not what you listen to… It’s what you get used to listening to…

Those are but a few things to consider when you decide to spend the bundle…


You know, I like little speakers, just so long as they ain’t colored.
Large, bass strong, speakers, are very affected by your listening room, and can be deceptive.
Leave the bass balance to the mastering engineer, that’s what he’s paid for. :D
What you want is honesty, and that means speakers with large power handling capabilities so they don’t distort on peaks.
So for mixing, go small, go good quality, and learn to listen to them by playing plenty of well mixed and well mastered music by other people you like and respect.

Here’s a couple options to consider but first I’ll make a general comment. I usually agree with Bill but not on his gear procurement strategy. I have absolutely the opposite opinion - buy what you can afford now and upgrade when you have more money. If you wait until you can afford high end monitors you’ll never get them. There will always be somebody telling you that if you can’t spend $2000, or $3000, or $5000 on monitor speakers then don’t bother. The gear hounds will tell you that you can’t make a decent record unless you own $4000 converters, $2000 preamps, $1500 microphones, and a rack full of expensive outboard compressors and reverbs. It’s all bull. I just mastered a project for a guy who recorded it on Garage Band using an MXL usb microphone, the stock plugins, and modest computer speakers and it sounds amazing. He’s posted the songs and he had 1200 downloads in the first week!

OK, sorry for the rant; let’s move on.

1) I have to think that your Altecs are powered. The first thing is to try nick’s suggestion and hook them up with suitable adapters.

2) You can pick up a second hand receiver on ebay or at a used stereo store and you can use consumer bookshelf speakers for your monitors. Infinity 150’s sound very good and they are quite inexpensive. You can pick up a pair of Polk Audio 5jr speakers on ebay for cheap and they make excellent monitors.

3) Powered studio monitors will be simpler to set up because you don’t need a receiver or amp. I was just at a guy’s basement studio on Saturday and he had a pair of M-Audio DX4 speakers. They sounded amazingly good and they sell for about $150.

4) You need a headphone amplifier to monitor with headphones. These are available from several manufacturers and are not very expensive. Go on ebay and search for “headphone amplifier”, then narrow the search by clicking on Pro Audio. You’ll see several that are under $50.


This whole thread is amazing to me… you never realize how expensive things will be when you’re just starting out in anything.

I remember the day I bought my first guitar in 1986 (a “Bentley” 6 string from the Mountain Music Shop in Branson, MO).

I walked out as happy as a newly flat broke guy could be holding the neck of the guitar in my right hand, and my newly aquired guitar pick in the left hand. Of course, I didn’t have a clue how to play it.

My buddies that could play thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard, but quickly became annoyed at me when I kept making them tune my guitar every 20 minutes. Actually, it would go out of tune, but I wouldn’t notice it, but everyone else would, and it would drive them crazy. A few days went by, and finally, one of my buddies said, “Dude, you got to go back tomorrow and buy a tuner.” Of course, I’d spent all $128 on the guitar and pick. I was flat broke, and the tuner was $14, but the “arms race” was on nevertheless.

Once I had the tuner, someone else pointed out that most guitars were sold with a guitar case, but somehow I didn’t get one. After I bought the guitar case, then it was apparent that I’d need a guitar strap, so I could play standing up, and new sets of strings. Then I asked my buddy why my guitar had 2 knobs on them, and he told me that the guitar had a “pick-up” that would allow me to play through an amplifier, so I had to have an amplifier, and cables to hook the guitar to the amp. After I got that - I was set. Then, somehow, I lost my pick!

Quite frankly, I should have quit right there… I would have certainly saved myself a lot of money, but I’m not that smart!

20 years later, I own 6 or 7 guitars (good stuff - 2 are Gibson Les Pauls - one standard, one Double Cut), a Fender Bass, a wall full of tube amps including Laney, Sunn, & Marshall, and shoe boxes full of effects pedals… patch cables, direct boxes, AND STILL CAN’T PLAY WORTH A FLIP!

Unfortunately it gets worse. In 2002, I accidently wrote a song, and wanted to record it. I found N-Track for $29 ( I think), bought a microphone from Office Depot for $9, and began making music. Now my musical collection has taken over 1/2 of my office.

Of course, as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) by day, I keep my receipts. Everytime I bring a new one home, I tell my wife, “Dear, when I get paid for my first gig, or someone pays to download my song from soundclick, all this stuff will be a tax write off!” It’s become a running joke in our family.

I’m reminded that Vincent VanGoegh only sold 2 paintings in his life time (both bought by his own brother). Of course, he actually did have talent.

All that said, I’m going to try Nick’s and 8th Notes first suggestion, and head down to Radio Shack tomorrow for the “budget” adapter solution - recognizing that in a year or so, I’ll have a set of $500 studio monitors setting here.

I’ll keep you guys posted, and thanks so much for your input. I’m always amazed at your willingness to help.

All the best


First off, Iplan, playing and recording music is like fishing, one nibble on that guitar and WHAM, hook line and sinker.

Go to and search for studio monitors, headphone amps. All of the advice above is excellant. An inexpensive set of ‘truth monitors’ would help alot. Headphone amps are cheap. Alot cheaper than Gibson Les Pauls! (I own a couple meself)

And remember, it’s an cheap hobby! Or so they say! :D

(Gizmo @ Jun. 18 2007,18:43)
You know, I like little speakers, just so long as they ain't colored.
Large, bass strong, speakers, are very affected by your listening room, and can be deceptive.
Leave the bass balance to the mastering engineer, that's what he's paid for. :D
What you want is honesty, and that means speakers with large power handling capabilities so they don't distort on peaks.
So for mixing, go small, go good quality, and learn to listen to them by playing plenty of well mixed and well mastered music by other people you like and respect.

The idea that small near-field monitors are immune to problems from room acoustics is over-sold. You still need to do as much as you can to improve room acoustics. (You do have to worry less about the low frequency peakiness from room effects though.) And many of us amateurs can't leave the problem to the mastering engineer, cause there isn't one.

One statement that I know is true. If you can't hear it, you can't mix it. That means that monitors need reasonably flat high frequency response and enough low frequency response to hear the bass - but when you think about it, unless response is really peaky or lows or highs are simply absent, you will at least be able to hear what you need to.

When you get to the point that you are trying to master a piece of music, and you are trying to get the low frequency mix right, IMHO the best thing is to listen to it on a wide range of playback systems, including crappy little speakers. If you are an amateur like me, the best we can do is to try to get the music to sound reasonable on systems that we think might be representative of whatever the listeners might be using. Lots of studios use a pair of old Radio Shack Minimus-7 speakers for this purpose, and some have them right in the control room for quick reality-checks on mixes. In my experience that has meant that the final mix is not always what sounds best on a flat-response playback system - so in a way, that takes some of the urgency away from the idea that your monitors have got to be perfectly flat in response. They have just got to be good enough so that you can hear everything while you mix.


I got a pair of these in excellent cond. for less than $50 on ebay a few years ago. They are probably not much more now. Check them out here. I’ve logged a modest number of hours behind them and my ears still have a lot of growing to do before I will out pace these monitors. (If you decide to buy them, you’ll need an amplifier; there are lots of old powered receivers out there for next to nothing. I picked up a free one (tons of static) and just hit it with some Pro-Gold cleaner from Radio Shack and it works very well! :;):


Alright… after my $12.81 trip to Radio Shack to get the “cheap” solution, I have sound coming out of the left speaker, but nothing out of the right… same problem I was having earlier with the headphones.

Basically I’ve got two 1/8 to 1/4 inch mono plug adapters from the breakout box going to a multimedia “y cable” adapter (which connects two 1/8 inch stereo plugs to a 1/8 stereo jack), but again - sound only comes out of the left speaker (and these are powered computer speakers).

Am I doing something wrong?


which connects two 1/8 inch stereo plugs to a 1/8 stereo jack

You really want to connect 2 1/8" mono plugs to a 1/8" stereo jack.

Hi , If you are desperate cut one leg of the y cable half way between plug and socket bare the wires of both cut ends then twist red of one end to white of the other end and vice versa and join screens
then insulate with tape. Bit of a bodge but at least it would get you going.

red------------------- cut and join ---------------------white

white----------------- cut and join ---------------------- red

Screen--------------- cut and join -----------------------screen

I will attempt to keep this short. Wish me luck.

I had a nice DAW with a Delta 44 using Windows XP Professional. It was a great set up. I added a Eurorack MX 602A mixer, and a rack of hardware for effects, etc. The results were great. I hate software effects! :)

The computer motherboard died and could not be replaced. So I am trying to work from memory. I bought a Windows Vista machine and M Audio has no drivers for the Delta 44. It may take years before one is available if it ever happens.

Be sure that you read and understand the Delta 44 user manual. The Delta 44 has four outputs - as I recall they are mono. The card has its own Control Panel so you can customize your set up. You should be able to use a Y adapter to go from the Delta 44 to the line in on your computer.

You should use a preamplifier to the Delta 44 inputs.

I like the M Audio monitors. Any powered speakers or monitors will work.


Kudos to JMCCULLO for picking up on the “stereo” versus “mono” mistake.

I’ve got a fully functional operation now.


For all you AC’97 soundcard guys out there… recognizing that I was one of them up until about 20 minutes ago…

RUN! and get a better sound card! M-Audio’s Delta 44 is working for me, and the difference in audio quality is night and day.

It’s amazing - all of the original energy in the song translates through the speakers - it’s as close as you can get to listening to it live.

The money I spent for this sound card is absolutely the best $130 bucks I’ve spent in a long time - despite my technical difficulties in getting it operational.

Be forewarned…I’m tracking something tonight!

All the best,

I’ve got one too and the difference compared to a games-orientated soundcard is indeed night and day. You’ll see further improvement if you run it at 24-bit rather than 16-bit as well. In terms of sampling frequency, I can’t personally hear any improvement in anything over 48KHz but you could have a play and see.

All the best

How do you tell if it is running at 16 or 24 bit?