Music by Scott Martin

SM Blog

I can hear clearly now, the pillow is gone

I’ve had Alesis Monitor One monitors for about 12 years.  When I got them, I really hadn’t done any research or checked out many other speakers.  I just needed some prosumer monitors, and the price was right.

They served pretty well.  I got used to the way they sounded; after taking mixes from the studio room at the Ranch to different cars, boom boxes, CD players and stereos we realized that the mixes sounded great in our studio, but were massively bass-heavy everywhere else  (apologies to anyone whose speakers rattled loose while listening to test mixes of drunkdude69).

So we learned to mix the bass lighter when listening on our home system.  It’s not unusual to have to make those kind of adaptations when you mix in a less than perfect environment like a back room or basement or garage.

A few weeks ago, one of the Alesis monitors developed some distortion.  At first I thought I had recorded a track too hot, but after isolating a track that produced the distortion on the right speaker I panned the same track to the opposite speaker and found that the track was fine.

It looks like part of the woofer cone (which is some kind of polymer or polymer-coated fabric) pulled away from the edge of the cabinet on the suspect speaker.  Not as bad as a tear in the cone, but not really so good for mixing audio.

So I used the remainder of my gear fund for the year (yes, the wad has been shot pretty early on, *sniffle*) to get some new monitors.  After research and listening I settled on a pair of JBL LSR4326P powered monitors.  They are generally well reviewed, have a raft of features, and when I listened to them in comparison to other monitors in that price range I was much more pleased with their clarity and punch.

I ordered them from Sweetwater on a Thursday morning.  They arrived the next day after lunch.  I didn’t ask for any special kind of shipping.  Sweetwater was just that fast.  Amazing.

Don't blow out your O-ring lifting this

These speakers are frigging heavy.  I had to unbox them upstairs (after I managed to drag the box into the house (them FedEx drivers must have some serious pipes).  I got them down into my lair, unpacked everything and got them set up.  They are self-powered and connect to each other with CAT5 cable.  Changes you make on one speaker are reflected on any of the speakers in the network.

The package I got came with a “room mode correction” microphone.  Once I had the speakers set up (admittedly they aren’t placed optimally, but that’s what you get with basement recording) I set up the RMC mic in my “listening position” and ran the speaker diagnostics.  Each speaker burped out a series of loud sine waves and used the response to apply filters that can allegedly compensate for deficiencies in the room.

Speakers and RMC mic/remote control/cables

In A-B-ing the playback with and without the RMC filters applied, I was hard-pressed to hear a major difference.  Any difference was subtle at best.  However, I’m willing to give the RMC the benefit of the doubt because I know my room isn’t treated nearly enough.

The speakers sound amazing in comparison to my old ones.  I feel like I’ve been listening to mixes for years with some kind of thin pillow strapped around my head.  The clarity of the new speakers is impressive, and they’re able to handle strong levels without grating on my ears over time.

I’m looking forward to seeing how mixes translate to other environments.  In the meantime, though, I have to say I’m really happy with these beasts so far.

Pump it up 'til you can feel it