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I have a few questions about gear.

I would like to know what would be a good set up for Speakers I was thinking two speakers and
a sub. However would a surround sound system be a better investment?

I was looking at buying VSL Chamber Strings 1 but I saw the thread about Vienna Ensemble Pro the comes with Epic Orchestra that would give me more instruments to work with - I do own Logic Pro 8 and Sibelius 5 going to upgrade to latest versions for both soon. Any thoughts to which software to go for or alternatives?

What Is a good display setup for film composition dual or single monitors and display size etc?

Thanks in advance for any comments.

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I think the better question is how much budget do you have? Keep in mind you can spend a few hundred dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars, and the value scales accordingly - you get what you pay for almost always.

Generally you dont mix with a subwoofer, you are not trying to make a great sounding hi-fi system, but rather as close to flat frequency response as possible. Generally stereo nearfield monitors and a good set of headphones and maybe some other reference monitors to compare are what you need. If you can afford a surround setup of course its worthwhile but there is no purpose in getting a cheap computer surround setup just to have 'surround'.

In my studio I have a pair of Tannoy Studio 600 as my main nearfields, a pair of Yamaha NS10m's for referencing that classic bad speaker sound, and several pairs of AKG 240 headphones

Displays is all about preference and again how much can you afford. I have a 30" apple cinema display and 2 samsung SyncMaster 2233 (mac at 2560x1600 and the 2 samsungs at 1920x1080)
I use the apple cinema on my main DAW, 1 of the samsungs on my chain of giga computers (on a KVM switch) and the third one in between the 2 shared between the mac (on position 4 of my KVM) and my 3 PC's (position 1, 2 and 3)

If you have money to spend on surround monitoring and multiple displays why are you cheaping out on the vsl? Why not get stereo monitors and a better vsl package? Im sure that the epic orch that comes with VSL pro is cool (going to get it in a week or 2), but its not going to be anywhere close to comprehensive as even the VSL Special Edition w/extended. So I would think about what you are trying to accomplish and setup accordingly
I hate to disagree with the other poster, but at minimum you need to have either:

A decent set of near field monitors that are full range (20hz to 20Khz), or

A decent set of near field monitors that are not full range (most with low frequency transducers less than 8" will not reach 20hz, and roll off at about 50 to 100hz) that have a matched sub.

A sub is a misunderstood commodity for the most part. You have the boom box subs like you hear in cars that sound like they are about to blow the windows out (we do not want this), then you have real subs that are designed to extend the frequency of the satellites down to the low range of the human norm. Hearing these frequencies in the mix is essential as a lot of harmonic distortion happens there, as well as a lot of external noise, like mic rumble and plosions.

A lot of music happens down there as well. You can tune a bass drum to have a fundamental at 45hz, which, without the sub, you would fail hear the fundamental, and only hear the harmonic overtones. You cannot mix properly this way.

Depending on budget, I would consider either KRK (mid price) or Adams (higher priced) but neither quite go to 20hz except in the high priced range.

What is critical about a sub is placement. Low frequency transducers suffer more from boundary effect (the tendency for sound waves to collect at walls and either amplify the frequency (constructive interference) or cause it to cancel out and cause dead zones (destructive interference). Bass below 50 hz is considered omnidirectional (IE our ear has difficulty locating the source), so there is some flexibility in placement to reduce the effect.

Cheers
Shad
Well I understand you PoV, however I would say that the goal in mixing acoustic music is to create a monitoring situation that is as close to flat frequency response as possible and to understand how you are coloring that flat space. To a noobie that hasnt had a lot of mix experience that subwoofer will color the sound inappropriately and his mixes will be at least more difficult to achieve if not coming off sounding wrong somehow. Electronic music may be different, but when I went to school for sound engineering (like mid-late 80s, pre-digital age) our goal for stereo mixing was to create flat freq resp environment and to train our ears a. what that sounds like so we can know what the true colors of the instruments recorded are and b. understand from ground zero what it is we are doing to a sound when we add effect, eq, etc. Different strokes for different folks I guess, but I was trained by purist types who felt strongly about that. Sparing use of effects unless you are tryiung to create a specific new sound, ultra rare use of coloring techniquest like aural exciters and stuff like that.

Now i checked out your tunes Shad and while I am not really into the whole loop based writing thing, your mixes sound pretty good so obviously you are getting the sound you are trying for. And hence we arrive at diff strokes theory. For orchestral and acoustic jazz i would suggest the flat freq resp concept though :-) Just my 2c

Shad Young said:
I hate to disagree with the other poster, but at minimum you need to have either:

A decent set of near field monitors that are full range (20hz to 20Khz), or

A decent set of near field monitors that are not full range (most with low frequency transducers less than 8" will not reach 20hz, and roll off at about 50 to 100hz) that have a matched sub.

A sub is a misunderstood commodity for the most part. You have the boom box subs like you hear in cars that sound like they are about to blow the windows out (we do not want this), then you have real subs that are designed to extend the frequency of the satellites down to the low range of the human norm. Hearing these frequencies in the mix is essential as a lot of harmonic distortion happens there, as well as a lot of external noise, like mic rumble and plosions.

A lot of music happens down there as well. You can tune a bass drum to have a fundamental at 45hz, which, without the sub, you would fail hear the fundamental, and only hear the harmonic overtones. You cannot mix properly this way.

Depending on budget, I would consider either KRK (mid price) or Adams (higher priced) but neither quite go to 20hz except in the high priced range.

What is critical about a sub is placement. Low frequency transducers suffer more from boundary effect (the tendency for sound waves to collect at walls and either amplify the frequency (constructive interference) or cause it to cancel out and cause dead zones (destructive interference). Bass below 50 hz is considered omnidirectional (IE our ear has difficulty locating the source), so there is some flexibility in placement to reduce the effect.

Cheers
Shad
Hi Chris,

I rarely use loops, and where I do, they are strictly drum patterns, and for the most part, even those I roll myself. I very rarely use arpeggiators (never in the daw, twice using my AKAI MPK49). Most arpeggios you hear are played, or are part of the synth and created using LFOs.

Everything is played, and multi-tracked, and furthermore, my recent songs are not even digital, but analog.

For me, it is a matter of pride, and many forums tend to get upset with me because I consider loops cheating. I do not even like having to use them for percussion. If I had a drum kit, I would pound out my own drum lines as well (this is on the "to buy list").

You are indeed correct that you want a flat, uncolored sound, but you need to have the full range irrespective of genre (you must have heard a timpani tuned to a low fundamental, or listened to the full range of a pipe organ). I have listened to well over 1000 songs in the last year (trying to build a production company), and can tell immediately when a person has monitors that roll off higher than 50hz in a mix. They either do not know that a lot of distortion and boominess is down low, or they cut everything below 80hz (which is really not wise), then try to enhance the bass with EQ boosts above 80hz (which is problematic in analog and near disastrous in digital). You probably remember from your engineering classes that EQ was designed primarily to cut lows and mids, and boost highs (it did this because low frequencies at high SPL will cause the cutting stylus to jump when cutting a master disk. Therefor EQ was designed to cut the bass on the mastering stage, then the end user's phono preamp restores the balance on playback (RIAA EQ)).

Chris Alpiar said:
Now i checked out your tunes Shad and while I am not really into the whole loop based writing thing, your mixes sound pretty good so obviously you are getting the sound you are trying for. And hence we arrive at diff strokes theory. For orchestral and acoustic jazz i would suggest the flat freq resp concept though :-) Just my 2c

Nice kit.

They have a great article that pretty much says what I was trying to say (though they were a lot more complete)

http://www.abluesky.com/asp/news/newspage.asp?id=75

Cheers
Shad

Ray Kemp said:
I use a sub in my monitor setup check it here
The first thing I did when installing was, get a favourite CD track that I know very well and attenuate the sub to around -4db to -6db until the crossover was transparent in the mix. Then get some other tracks of all sorts of music and just listen until I was satisfied of a balanced sound throughout my hearings frequency range. That's where Chris's point about training ears comes to the fore.
Now it may be fine in a cinema when a technician adjusts the bass up a little to get your seat rumbling but that can only be done if the original recording was truly balanced.

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