monitors for playing direct in home studio

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by leemurray, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. leemurray


    Oct 4, 2008
    I have a small home studio that I use for both rehearsing and recording. Everything is direct - electronic drums, keyboards, and I use Pods for going direct with both electric guitar and bass guitar. I have a headphone amp and sometimes we use headphones but I also need a good set of monitors for when we don't want to use headphones.

    So here is the question - for monitors, should I go with a set of PA speakers (eg QSC K12) or a set of studio reference monitors (with sub)? any suggestions in a reasonable budget range?

    I want to be able to hear good detail, and PA speakers may be overkill for the room. It seems that studio reference monitors with a good sub should be able handle the kick drum pretty well, but can they handle the bass guitar? that seems to be the most demanding on the low end.
  2. QSC K12 needs sub also.

    Studio monitors are designed for the reference sound quality but very fragile and not loud as PA systems for the same price.
  3. ofajen


    Apr 12, 2007
    92.4W 38.9N
    I'd suggest PA for practice and rehearsal and monitors for mixing, if you are going to do that also.

  4. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC
    QSC K12 is very accurate and with a frequency response of 48Hz-20kHz works for bass with no sub. The one I tried sounded great with a D-TAR Solstice preamp and a double bass. It would be near the top of my list for the OP's application. The Mackie SRM450 and JBL EON610 are pretty good too.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
    Dima B likes this.
  5. leemurray


    Oct 4, 2008
    thanks this is good info. sounds like PA speakers are the right way to go. but just to doublecheck, has anyone had any success playing through a good set of studio monitors, or is that just too demanding for them?
  6. sadowskyguy

    sadowskyguy Guest

    Dec 24, 2011
    Greenville NC
    For me, studio monitors are so sterile, I don't enjoy playing through them. However, a nice set of headphones is a different story. I like to practice through the ATH M50 headphones.
  7. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    I've always practice trough my studio speakers , you get use to it , develop a good sound without the need or extra stuff , and don't get any surprises when you go DI in a live situation. IME , the flatter the reference the better.
    When you practice through a bass amp , that becomes your reference and it is not a good reference in general.
    It becomes a must and you'll hate your tone when DI'ed.

    Get a good pair of Studio speaker , better put a little more $$$ now instead of losing it all and upgrading later.

    I have JBL LSR28P and sub as reference for 15 years now.
    And I use an L'Acoustic 108p top and an RCF sub as my bass monitor for "live" duties.
    Dima B likes this.
  8. I use monitors for the very same reasons. And I don't need any space for bass amplification also :)
  9. leemurray


    Oct 4, 2008
    thanks guys. good input.

    what do you guys use for bass preamp when going direct in the studio? or do you just play dry and use plugins?

    I currently use a line 6 bass pod XT. the thing I like about it the most is the dedicated compression knob.
  10. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    I'll use a VB99 bass processor , UA LA-610 or Bryston BMP2 , depending on the tone required.
  11. C741


    Feb 14, 2009
    I agree, I feel like I'm abusing my reference speakers if I use them for tracking or jamming, and I don't like to feel like
    I have to hold back when doing either of these in fear of them blowing up, so I save them for mixing and listening.

    Running/recording everything direct also, I don't monitor the reference speakers at all while tracking,
    I monitor through the PA monitor system I have setup. It works great and what I'm hearing through the PA system
    sounds darn close to what I'm getting on disc while recording.

    I'm using a Crown power amp (XLS 1500) linked off my headphone amp (Samson S-Phone) to drive two Peavy 15" PA monitors
    and two EV loaded 18" subs in cross over mode.
    You can kinda see the power amp in the top of the rack to the left in this pic.

    And one of the PA monitors here. (the Alto speaker on top is hooked directly to the Eleven Rack so I can practice without the
    computer even being on, but I'll usually monitor through the Peavey's when tracking guitar).

    Drum area monitor system below. That's an 18" sub below the peavey, the V-Drums triggering Superior Drummer sound awesome
    through these!

    Drummers view.

    The Bass setup below.

    I run direct D.I. out of either the SansAmp RBI, the Mesa M6 or the GenzGenz GBE 250C for recording but I always
    monitor the Bass through the Genz's 2x10 while tracking. I've been diggin' the post D.I. out on the Genz lately, it's really
    versatile and quiet.


    Of course I also monitor anything that's already recorded through the PA system while tracking, then switch to the reference monitors
    for mixing.
    Still have to break out the headphones for tracking vocals though.:D
    Anyway I hope this helps somehow.:)
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  12. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    I don't understand.....

    Do you sometimes listen to your favorite bass player through your reference speakers?
    Or some bass heavy stuff ?
    If so , what's the difference for your speaker between that recording and you ? Apart maybe talent if we talk Jaco :)
    (considering you know about gain structure)

    A speaker doesn't discriminate what's coming in , it's voltage....
    If your gain structure is OK , there is no difference between program material and a bass.
    There is no Magic frequencies that a bass have.

    Seeing your photos , I think you probably mean "More Power".

    And BTW ,the frequency spectrum of program material is wider than a bass alone.....
    bluesdogblues likes this.
  13. C741


    Feb 14, 2009
    You would if you were Jaco :thumbsup::)

    Ummm...yea I think I do, let me check...yea I do sometimes.

    For one thing like I said, I feel like it's harder (more abusive) on my reference monitors
    to track or jam with friends on them.
    But mostly I would say it feels and sounds WAY more like playing through amplifiers than
    reference monitors do while jamming or recording, and the electronic drums feel and sound
    more like a drum set in the room to me, and my drummers love it.
    YMMV. I wasn't trying to lay down a law or insist that my way is the best, or only way to go.
    The OP was asking for opinions on using PA speakers or Reference monitors for direct recording,
    and my post was just my opinion and the way I'm doing it now after quite a few years of experimenting
    with this stuff.

    Well.. thanks for the lessons, but I never said anything contrary to any of this, or that a bass has some
    kind of "magic frequencies".:confused:
    But you are probably right about the more power thing, it's like taking a V8 down the highway as
    opposed to a 4 banger, IME, IMO of course.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
    fokof likes this.
  14. C741


    Feb 14, 2009
    Went back and reread this thread and had to ask/add this -When you go D.I. in a live situation,
    how would you get "surprises" using PA speakers to practice through as opposed to studio monitors?
    When what will be used in a live situation is PA speakers not Reference monitors.

    In other words, most good PA systems use 15" and or 18" woofers and horns, as opposed to 5, 8 or
    10" woofers and a tweeter.
    Not to mention the power difference (headroom) and the volume difference between the two.
    So IMO, you're better off dialing in your amp modeler presets or preamp or V-Drums or whatever
    is going direct on PA speakers, especially for a live situation.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  15. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    It's all a question of reference.

    If you practice through a bass amp , it becomes your reference for your bass sound, then when plugged DI , you'll think it sounds bad in the PA because you're used to that reference. A PA is a reference too.

    So my point: If you practice through the flattest reference possible (exit bass amps) , you're subject to get less surprises when plugged DI in a PA.
    Keep in mind that people who design PA and tech who install and tune them are aiming at Flattest possible.

    To the OP: I'd say go with the flattest possible , then , there is the question of Power.....
    Of course , if you studio speaker are 100watts , you won't hear yourself , that's basic.
    I Didn't feel the need specify this , sorry....
    bluesdogblues and ccouch7 like this.
  16. C741


    Feb 14, 2009
    Then when plugged DI from what? A bass amp modeler?
    I would never personally run a bass (or guitar) amp modeler into a bass (or guitar) amp, as I
    think that defeats the purpose of a amp modeler. Why would someone practice through a
    bass amp then gig through an amp modeler? That wouldn't make much sense to me, if you're
    going play live through an amp modeler then IMO you should practice with your amp modeler.

    If you're talking about running a DI out from a bass head or combo amp, and using bass cabs
    under the bass head or the combos speakers for monitoring on stage, then I totally disagree
    with your statements above.
    I don't gig out much anymore, but I did for about 20 years just up until recently. I never played
    a gig without a bass amp and cabs, running the DI out from my bass head to PA while using
    my cabs on stage as my monitor always worked great!
    It wasn't like the bass cabs on stage sounded drastically different than the DI out from the same
    preamp going to the PA, IME.

    Same thing with my little bass amp direct recording rig in the above pics, what I get when recording
    to disc through the DI out and monitoring through the bass speakers while tracking is not drastically
    different, as a matter of fact it's remarkably similar.
    Keep in mind that most bass cabs are full range.:thumbsup:
    With the 11rack and V-drums, monitoring through my little PA setup while tracking to the computer
    sounds damn near identical to what gets recorded.

    Once again IMO and IME, Most PA systems are far from flat, or most reference monitors for that matter.
    I've owned 4 different sets of nearfield reference monitors, and no two of them sounded anything alike.

    It all boils down to what feels, sounds and works right for the individual, there is no right
    or wrong way.
    It's nice being a musician nowadays with all the different options out there.
    I think it would suck bigtime if everyone sounded the same or used the same stuff.
    So all of this is just my opinion and examples of the way I'm doing it right now.:)
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  17. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    I totally agree , I don't like bass amp sounds , I wouldn't use amp modeler.....
    I don't understand why you bring that up......

    I don't know what bass cab you're referring to but if I listen to a good sounding CD trough most of the 4X10 I know of , it really sounds like garbage, but that's me.....
    IME kits , particularly these days , sounds very much alike.
    You probably heard different room acoustics ?
    The difference in kits and monitors are very subtil , you have to be in controlled situation to be able to compare.
    Lucky you if you could do that !

    For the last 20 years , I played live through a preamp in an active PA box.
    Never needed a bass amp.....

    Like you said , there is no right or wrong ways.
    bluesdogblues likes this.
  18. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    Kind of embarassing to write this, but at one point of my life with my band, we used hi-fi sets (probably it was a Sansui amp and cabs) and I can remember they're not bad for monitor purpose. Hell, I still use my old Sony hifi set for practice (alone) and create music in my bedroom sometimes until now LOL.
    fokof likes this.
  19. I only play through my studio monitors for general practice and jazz rehearsals. I often put keyboards through the monitors for rehearsals. If the drummer is even vaguely loud the monitors don't cut it so I use amps or PA speakers.

    I prefer the sound of my main monitors (Focal Twins) compared to any configuration of bass amp + cab I have available.
    fokof and bluesdogblues like this.
  20. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    Re-read again this thread,
    I think one of the most important point discussed above, especially between @ccouch7 and @fokof, and later @Lindsay, is: Power or,..Loudness.

    If your drums, (plus keyboards, amps, etc - any additional 'noise generator', including more people) are in the same room as you, (like in the ccouch7 pictures above)... then definitely you'd need more power and loudness to monitor what you play,.. much more than only a pair of small reference monitor speakers can deliver.
    And I think, to have that kind of quality as good as your 'low power' NEAR FIELD small reference speakers'- but with many times (bigger scale) POWER/LOUDNESS, to be able to clearly monitor you (as a bass player who like to listen your own playing loudly, additional people/instruments in the same room..and on and on), that situation,.. It would be very big, very expensive and not practical.

    Now, take this other scenario..
    IF you have a separate live studio room, which has perfect sound proof system, really silent from your control room.. AND you are ABLE to listen to your bass playing (or anything else) NOT LOUDLY in the control room.. (just as much as your little 'low power' Near Field Monitor Speaker can safely handle)..then it'll be OK (and safe).

    Then the question would be back to the personal taste.
    For someone like ccouch7 who like to listen to his own bass playing (and even other materials than his own bass) loudly, through his bass amp and cabinet, (even listen to recorded material from 'the bass amplification system' sometimes) then no wonder if he'd not like nor feel safe to listen from a "Flat reference monitor studio speakers", UNLESS they're so BIG, so LOUD, which if it's exist would be very expensive.
    (And I know -for some degree- they're exist. I'd been many times work in a big studio control room which has BIG reference monitor speakers, many of them flush wall mounted above plus sub-woofers on the floor).

    At the end, YMMV, ....and yes, every individual has their own preference. But IMHO..still THERE IS (objectively) right and wrong way in this matter (for example, if you blown your speakers by listening too loud through them, then objectively it's wrong, eh :D).

    Sorry my English is not good enough but I hope you understand.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015