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greg54

audio in home studio sounds bad

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I must admit, I've been known to make some bad sounding audio with nothing more than a guitar and my own voice.  If not for the few lucky moments I might make a couple of notes sound okay, you would think I should quite while I'm ahead.

Kind regards,

Living Room Rocker

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Cactus Music said:

  What do your VST instruments sound like?  If they sound good then there is nothing wrong with your set up. Your just not recording through a signal path that's working for you. 

How are you monitoring?  What brand of monitors ?  If you make a CD of the recording does it still sound terrible elsewhere?  If you say your monitors sound great with VST's and pre recorded material that will rule out half of what could be wrong. 

Computer settings, software, updates etc have no bearing on how digital recordings sounds. It will record exactly what is processed at the A/D convertors.  Only item at play would be your interfaces ASIO drivers. It is possible for those to become buggered so make sure you at least download the latest and/ or re install them. 

Bad sounding audio is a hardware issue.  Either you front end is not up to it or your back end is crappy sounding.  We can easily rule out the back end if you say it's OK. 

You could try 10 different mikes and still not get the sound your after.  You could use 10 different pre amps etc.  It's a lifelong quest to gather the right gear that sounds the way you want. What works for one does not work for all.   

 

My VST instruments all sound great.   My only problem is with audio.   I'm using KRK Rokit 5 monitors.    

Computer settings:  I've gone through and have "optimized" my computer for recording, according to a couple of different articles/videos.   

My interface drivers are all up to date.  

"Bad sounding audio is a hardware issue."    I have replaced (upgraded) everything - interface, monitors, cables, even computer, more than once.  

As far as I know, my equipment is good.

Gswitz, Kev:   I'm not ignoring you.    I don't want to post it on Soundcloud.   I'll see what I can do.

Thanks,

Greg

Edited by greg54

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Posted (edited)

I'm comping Cactus.

I really wonder what kind of a malfunction, setting  or connection issue could make the audio sound "harsh" and still having everything  working otherwise ok - no drop-outs, static, crackles...

At first I though it could be "telephone" effect due to out-of-phase loudspeakers but that sound would be totally unusable, not just " a little harsh".  One thing to try could be testing with headphones from both the Focusrite and the computers own headphone output (after switching to  windows sounds). 

When, if ever, and with what set up was the sound good? When you critisize the sound, are you comparing it to commercial recordings or your own earlier ones?

ADDITION: I missed this comment:

"My VST instruments all sound great.   My only problem is with audio.   I'm using KRK Rokit 5 monitors. "  

Well, the sound you hear from your VST instruments is audio as well, so obviously there's no problem in the output stage if they sound fine.

So it's something with the input chain, mic or guitar.

 

Edited by Kalle Rantaaho
Addition

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At this stage, without actually hearing the result it's really difficult to make any more suggestions.

Recording results can sometimes be subjective... I mean a DI'd electric guitar without any effects is going to sound dark, and a dry vocal is going to sound harsh.

My other thoughts are that maybe the OP's room isn't treated.

But but we really need to hear the results.

Maybe create a private project on BandLab, upload it there and invite some of us to collaborate? That way we can at least listen to it without it being available to the public.

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OK that narrows it down to what I originally expected. 

First I'll say it again- upgrading and optimizing a computer for audio has zero bearing on what get recorded. You could use an old XP 32 bit 1.5Mz with 2 GB of RAM and the sound would be identical.  ( if it didn't crash :) . 

Even though you "think" you've tried everything with your mikes etc you haven't even scratched the surface on possibilities. 

Most of what you have tried is pretty basic low end gear. And very good point by Mike above about using a treated room. And from what I've read in reviews those KRK's are not an accurate monitor so are not to be trusted either.   

Your's is a classic case of "Home Studio Blues"  and all you can do is either make adjustments and changes to how your inputting with what "hardware" you have  on hand or find the weak link and replace it.  

Your blaming the wrong "hardware"  When I say Hardware I'm not talking about computers. I'm talking Mikes and Pre amps. Your font end. What you hear during tracking via headphones can also factor into what is wrong.  Example, headphones that are bass heavy and no mid range would result in mid range heavy recording EQ choices.  

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Cactus Music said:

And from what I've read in reviews those KRK's are not an accurate monitor so are not to be trusted either.   

They were what I could afford at the time.   What would you recommend?

My room is treated.

And another thing I remembered....through headphones everything seems to sound fine, including the audio.   

I used to use M-Audio monitors before the KRK's.  But the sound is the same, as far as audio is concerned.    But what baffles me is, sometimes the audio is decent when I record.   It's usually when I have done a clean install.    

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2 minutes ago, greg54 said:

They were what I could afford at the time.   What would you recommend?

My room is treated.

And another thing I remembered....through headphones everything seems to sound fine, including the audio.   

I used to use M-Audio monitors before the KRK's.  But the sound is the same, as far as audio is concerned.    But what baffles me is, sometimes the audio is decent when I record.   It's usually when I have done a clean install.    

If everything sounds fine through headphones, then there's nothing wrong with your recording.

IMHO it's likely to be a monitor / room combination. In other words, your speakers aren't "matched" to your room so they give a flat response at all frequencies.

A few of us here use IK Multimedia ARC-2 or Sonarworks Reference Studio as room correction. My studio is a terrible room, but ARC-2 completely transformed it for me.

It may be however, you could get away with a graphic EQ if you've got some way of measuring your room... maybe borrow ARC-2 from someone and try to match it with a graphic EQ?

 

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1 hour ago, greg54 said:

And another thing I remembered....through headphones everything seems to sound fine, including the audio.   

Well this is a huge clue to me. Your monitors possibly are midrange  harsh and not accurate. I read that they sound great for hard rock but suck for acoustic and clean sounds.  What qualifies as an  accurate monitor is a subjective subject so I won't go there, but myself I own a set of Yamaha NSM 10's for this reason. 

Speaking of inaccurate, I just bought a set of  Mackie CR4.  They are boomy in the low end but I knew that before I bought them. They were very affordable, look cool and meet the rest of my requirements.  I needed real small, balanced inputs and  the volume on/off  on the front.    I don't do final mixing on them just tracking. . So I quickly got used to their inaccurate sound and I ignore it.  Possibly you need to do the same for the KRK's. 

That is why I asked you what your final mixes sound like on other systems. If they sound great, then your fussing over a detail that doesn't really matter in the end. If it bothers you, take your mixes to a music store and audition studio monitors. But bring lots of cash! 

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2 hours ago, msmcleod said:

If everything sounds fine through headphones, then there's nothing wrong with your recording.

IMHO it's likely to be a monitor / room combination. In other words, your speakers aren't "matched" to your room so they give a flat response at all frequencies.

A few of us here use IK Multimedia ARC-2 or Sonarworks Reference Studio as room correction. My studio is a terrible room, but ARC-2 completely transformed it for me.

It may be however, you could get away with a graphic EQ if you've got some way of measuring your room... maybe borrow ARC-2 from someone and try to match it with a graphic EQ?

 

Ok, I'll have to go over the monitors/room and see if I can find something there.   Yeah, I was wondering why it sounded good in headphones but not through monitors.  But it's just the audio, so that threw me off.

I will look into ARC-2 or Sonarworks.   Thanks, Mark!

17 minutes ago, Cactus Music said:

Well this is a huge clue to me. Your monitors possibly are midrange  harsh and not accurate. I read that they sound great for hard rock but suck for acoustic and clean sounds.  What qualifies as an  accurate monitor is a subjective subject so I won't go there, but myself I own a set of Yamaha NSM 10's for this reason. 

Speaking of inaccurate, I just bought a set of  Mackie CR4.  They are boomy in the low end but I knew that before I bought them. They were very affordable, look cool and meet the rest of my requirements.  I needed real small, balanced inputs and  the volume on/off  on the front.    I don't do final mixing on them just tracking. . So I quickly got used to their inaccurate sound and I ignore it.  Possibly you need to do the same for the KRK's. 

That is why I asked you what your final mixes sound like on other systems. If they sound great, then your fussing over a detail that doesn't really matter in the end. If it bothers you, take your mixes to a music store and audition studio monitors. But bring lots of cash! 

But both the M-Audio's and KRK's cause the audio to sound the same.    I was just looking at the Presonus Sceptre S6.    I may check them out.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who responded.   I appreciate it!

Greg

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1 hour ago, greg54 said:

...both the M-Audio's and KRK's cause the audio to sound the same...

It's not about the brand. The Rokits are just KRK's cheerful entry-level model. I'm guessing that your M-Audio monitors were too. 

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Nothing wrong with the KRK's, are they gen 3's or before. Most people who like to criticize the Rokits don't know what they were made for, or how to use them. Most people think Rokits are for EDM with excessive bass and to be played loudly. While you can do this, this is not the main advantage of them. If they are gen 3's then it's impossible for them to sound harsh, you have both high and low adjustments on the back of the monitor, you have to set them up according to your room. None of the Rokit series sound harsh in my opinion though.

Rokits were designed to give the average person the best possible chance of creating a frequency balanced mix in ANY environment (even right up against a wall). They do this very well and front ports are better for this. In a bad room you can use them at VERY LOW volumes in the traditional 3-4 foot triangle for mixing all day long, they are not fatiguing at all and the end results will be in the ballpark. You can turn them up a bit to check things but if you are in a bad environment, the minute you turn them up you will be at the mercy of the reflections in your room, you cannot compensate for a bad environment completely.

Most people do not have acoustically treated, dedicated spaces for their music production, so monitors like the Rokits are a very good option as they provide good size options for different spaces as well.

If you have a dedicated space that is acoustically treated and you can move the speakers away from the rear and side walls and your neighbours don't mind turning the volume up, then that opens the door to rear ported speakers and a whole bunch of different options. In fact, I wouldn't recommend Rokits for this environment.

But if you are in an acoustically untreated bedroom with limited space and noise level concerns, putting together a music workstation with many different components competing for your wallet, or you are mobile, then I would highly recommend the Rokits.

It might be that you have become used to hearing audio through your headphones, this may be the primary way you listen to audio, I don't know. Depending on what headphones you use, you might have become used to the bass heavy, closed back headphone sound and find monitors lacking. You want to use open backed headphones for mixing if at all possible.

I am traveling and am in caravans, cabins and kitchens etc I have a couple of gen 3 5inch Rokits and they are great at compensating for a lot of situations. I have had no noise complaints from neighbours, I might turn them up a bit on Friday or Saturday nights, but that is mainly to compensate for the loud shouting, swearing and fighting that goes on around me sometimes, if any of those arseholes would DARE to complain about my noise.....

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, StarTekh said:

Vintage  yamaha ns 10 studio's on stand by.. you wana talk clear ?

Yeah, but they don't make them anymore.  And when it comes to electronic stuff like this, I prefer new.  I don't trust used.

2 hours ago, Kev said:

It's not about the brand. The Rokits are just KRK's cheerful entry-level model. I'm guessing that your M-Audio monitors were too. 

Yes.

19 minutes ago, Tezza said:

Nothing wrong with the KRK's, are they gen 3's or before. Most people who like to criticize the Rokits don't know what they were made for, or how to use them. Most people think Rokits are for EDM with excessive bass and to be played loudly. While you can do this, this is not the main advantage of them. If they are gen 3's then it's impossible for them to sound harsh, you have both high and low adjustments on the back of the monitor, you have to set them up according to your room. None of the Rokit series sound harsh in my opinion though.

Rokits were designed to give the average person the best possible chance of creating a frequency balanced mix in ANY environment (even right up against a wall). They do this very well and front ports are better for this. In a bad room you can use them at VERY LOW volumes in the traditional 3-4 foot triangle for mixing all day long, they are not fatiguing at all and the end results will be in the ballpark. You can turn them up a bit to check things but if you are in a bad environment, the minute you turn them up you will be at the mercy of the reflections in your room, you cannot compensate for a bad environment completely.

Most people do not have acoustically treated, dedicated spaces for their music production, so monitors like the Rokits are a very good option as they provide good size options for different spaces as well.

If you have a dedicated space that is acoustically treated and you can move the speakers away from the rear and side walls and your neighbours don't mind turning the volume up, then that opens the door to rear ported speakers and a whole bunch of different options. In fact, I wouldn't recommend Rokits for this environment.

But if you are in an acoustically untreated bedroom with limited space and noise level concerns, putting together a music workstation with many different components competing for your wallet, or you are mobile, then I would highly recommend the Rokits.

It might be that you have become used to hearing audio through your headphones, this may be the primary way you listen to audio, I don't know. Depending on what headphones you use, you might have become used to the bass heavy, closed back headphone sound and find monitors lacking. You want to use open backed headphones for mixing if at all possible.

I am traveling and am in caravans, cabins and kitchens etc I have a couple of gen 3 5inch Rokits and they are great at compensating for a lot of situations. I have had no noise complaints from neighbours, I might turn them up a bit on Friday or Saturday nights, but that is mainly to compensate for the loud shouting, swearing and fighting that goes on around me sometimes, if any of those arseholes would DARE to complain about my noise.....

 

I bought the Rokits less than a year ago.  So they may be Gen 3's.    I don't know. 

The room I have is about 12'x12'.   It is acoustically treated.   My neighbors aren't that close, so I can turn the volume up a bit.    The monitors are in the middle of the wall and are about 16" away from the wall.    So they're not in a corner.

I mainly listen through the monitors, not headphones.  I use headphones to check for noise and when I'm mixing.

Aside from the no longer in production Yamaha NS10's, what monitors (a pair being no more than $1K) would you recommend?    I read some good things about the Presonus Sceptre.

Thanks!

Greg

Edited by greg54

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If you look at what people use in "real" studios" for near fields you do not see brands like Presonus or KRK. 

You do see Yamaha's, Auratone, Genelec , Meyer, JBL and others.  

Music stores tend to push certain brands and if the price is right there will be a lot of people using those brands therefore a lot of good reviews by amature users.  But you won't find that stuff in a real studio.  Not saying you need the top of the line gear to make good recordings but you do need to be aware of what it is your compromising and learn how to adjust your expectations.  I don't think you need to spend any money, You just need to know how your speakers translate to the real world. Having something like the Yamaha's just makes this easier. And they do still make very similar versions of the NSM 10 in an updated powered version  https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HS8--yamaha-hs8-8-inch-powered-studio-monitor-black   

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1 hour ago, greg54 said:

I bought the Rokits less than a year ago.  So they may be Gen 3's.    I don't know. 

The room I have is about 12'x12'.   It is acoustically treated.   My neighbors aren't that close, so I can turn the volume up a bit.    The monitors are in the middle of the wall and are about 16" away from the wall.    So they're not in a corner.

 

The gen 1's are square, the gen 2's have screws on the front, the gen 3's have no screws on the front and both high and low frequency adjustment on the back. You should get a good sound out of them in your situation although if I had that set up, I would probably lookout for some HS8's or even HS7's, I see Adam's around as well, would like to try those. I tend to buy a lot of secondhand gear because there is a lot of it about, if I don't like it, I just on sell it, mostly at a profit or no loss.  These models are popularly found going around the second hand places. I would stay away from the HS5's (too bass thin) and the HS series in general can have popping issues when you turn them on/off so look out for that, it can be annoying, I had HS5's, one popped the other didn't. They were terrible for my situation.

The Rokits have that circuitry, I just leave them turned on at the back and they get turned on or off from the wall, no popping or funny noises.

After trying numerous monitors over the years, I came to the conclusion that for my uses, a 6 inch is the minimum size I can go, normally, I wouldn't look at a monitor under 6 inches but my current situation means the 5's will have to do, although there is a 6 inch version at a very good price in my region available, I may end up getting it.

Definately in your situation, I wouldn't go below a 6 inch monitor.

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If I were to pick up a new monitor solution for less than $1000 it would be a pair of Yamaha HS5 monitors along with the matching HS8S subwoofer. May not even need the sub depending on the material especially in a 12x12 room.

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5 hours ago, Tezza said:

...None of the Rokit series sound harsh in my opinion though....

But that can be a problem. When I tested out some Rokits a few years ago (Gen 2's I think), I found that they seemed to blur high frequencies and consequently improve the sound of electric guitars. They were doing exactly what I would want from a guitar amp, but not what I wanted from studio monitors.

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4 hours ago, Cactus Music said:

If you look at what people use in "real" studios" for near fields you do not see brands like Presonus or KRK...

Not any more, but KRK used to produce a high-end model and Alan Parsons endorsed it.

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Posted (edited)

Assuming your ceiling is 8', the only WORSE combination would be if it were 12' ALSO - I'm not sure ANY amount of "treatment" could make that size/shape room sound OK. Here's a really simple spreadsheet I wrote about 20 years ago, it only does axial modes - I've entered your dim's into it and assumed 8' ceiling. A decent sounding room (rectangular) would have a steadily increasing height of the bars from left to right, with NO TWO being the SAME height - all those equal height bars mean that your axial modes are "bunching up" and creating peaks in response of the room.

The picture is what your room (again, assuming 8' ceiling) would look like; I've also included the spreadsheet I used so you can play with some other dimensions - just enter L, W, H values in the upper left corner, just below those letters. Try dimensions that are NOT evenly divisible by each other until you get a fairly smooth rise from left to right. If you don't have Excel, you can get Libre Office for free, here   https://www.libreoffice.org/

Bottom line, it's no wonder to me your headphones sound better than ANY speakers would... Steve (AKA "knightfly")

Oh, almost forgot - can you explain more what/how/where your treatments are? the more detail, the better...

 

RoomTuneBad.jpg

roomtune.xls

Edited by Steve Leverich

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