The excellent Yamaha HS-80M monitors used in Studio1A.
Studio monitoring. I seem to have a hard time creating one-part shows these days. Todays editorial is really just a prelude to our upcoming shows, which will include reference monitors (both budget and a bit pricey) as well as headphones and ear buds. …but first, a story
I was talking with a good friend the other day, that happens to be a broadcast engineer. He’s a good one too with a vast knowledge of analog and digital; audio and video. We were listening to some MP3 music on the way to a meeting. He asked me how I could even listen to music recorded using the MP3 codec. This was music I ripped from my own CD and encoded as MP3 at a reasonable bit depth of 256kbps. Especially in the car, it sounded fine to me. I suspect most people would think it sounded pretty good too?
The key part of the equation is that it sounded good compared to what? I don’t pretend to be medically inclined, but I do believe what he proceeded to tell me.
When not working in broadcast, this guy loves music, to the extreme levels of audiophilism.
(is that a word? – nope.)
He has trained his ears (rather, his brains perception of neural impulses) to notice subtle variations in amplitude and frequency. His love for classical music has deepened his affection for dynamic range, simply meaning the difference between the lowest and highest level of sound, along with analog purity. He studies music and formerly taught aspiring musicians at a prestigious University while I was listening to Top 40 AM radio.
At a very impressionable age, I grew up listening to the end of Boss radio and my favorite songs on AM radio. I also spun vinyl and loved to record “high-fidelity” cassette mixes. Cassettes, done well, still hold a soft spot for me. Ironically, my friend and I agreed on this. Cassettes, even with their faults can sound very pleasing.
Let’s transition to professional audio in the studio.
These days, I spend a lot of time in the studio. When creating voice work, headphones are a must for me. I use a variety of closed reference phones and (equally important) a great sounding headphone amplifier. The Aphex HeadPod and my AKG K171′s are todays pick. I also like the HeadPod with Sennheiser HD 25-1′s.
When not connected to phones and voice recording, I enjoy near-field reference monitors like the Yamaha HS-80′s. These have their own well tweaked amps and offer beautiful sound at close range.
I almost hope that I don’t train my brain to be too critical when it comes to music. My friend spends as much effort listening (and finding) flaws as he does enjoying a listening experience.
For a talk show, like NewMediaGear, I think quality is job one (where have I heard that before?) At the same time, I’m not producing an orchestral production. Compromises are made in order to deliver audio information in a reasonable manner and to capture a large audience.
Most important of all is your physical hearing. Protect it at all costs. Always listen at safe levels and avoid prolonged fatigue.
From headphones, headphone amps, ear buds and reference monitors, be sure to join us for the next show as we delve into the world of monitoring. Your voice and a mic are like your ears to a speaker. They are all transducers, simply converting minute amounts of electrical energy into sound.
Drop me a line, any time with comments, thoughts and suggestions:
mark at newmediagear dot com