I´m fairly new in this game and have a couple of Sound design/mixing jobs (short film) the next months. Problem is I have really limited access to professional recording/mixing studios. Therefore i'm thinking of getting myself a couple of "cheap" (300-800$) monitors and just do a kind of pre-mix at home and then do a master/final mix in a studio afterwards.

What speakers would you recommend for this kind of job?

I would also apreciate any other tips regarding workflow and potential dangers of doing sound work under less than optimal conditions. As of right now my "studio" is a desk in my bedroom with a Macbook Pro, Steinberg UR22 interface, Beyerdynamic DT770 headset, Pro Tools 11 and a Zoom H4n handheld recorder. Not much, but it's a start.

Thanks, Chris

10 Answers 10


Well, depends on how are you going to solve the acoustical issues. As you probably know, all speakers will be considerably inaccurate in frequency response as well as stereo imaging (How much? It has to be measured.) unless the placement is done optimally and there's at least some kind of acoustic treatment. If you can solve the acoustical problems to a reasonable level, then some small speakers without a sub-woofer could be a good and even a productive call. E.g. Genelec 8020B or 8030B. If you use the same studio(s) all the time and they have a certain set of speakers, then it would be a good idea to get the same brand, just perhaps some smaller model.

Surely the point would be to minimize having to redo stuff when playing the same stuff in a much better listening space in the "real" studio.


I vouch for the JBL LSRs. The workhorses are the 4328P's, I've lost count of how many near/mid-field stages and edit suites in LA I've been in which had these installed (and that's not even mentioning stages running the Cinema Series horns behind a perf screen). Even the 6300 series is common to find in rooms. The one caveat is that a single 4328 cabinet alone will run you about $800. But you can try the 4326P's (about $600 per) or even try the 2328P (in the $200 range, but I haven't worked with them before).

The clarity and transparency is impressive, the frequency response smooth and balanced. The 4300 series comes with a calibration mic and built-in software/firmware to "tune the room". In all fairnesa, all it's capable of doing is sweeping to single-notch out the resonant frequency - and lets you manually adjust a 2-band shelf EQ. Doing A/B comparisons was startling.

The JBL LSR 4300 series are surely a big investment, but so worth it in my opinion and will pay for themselves many times over.

I have worked with the Genelec 8040s before and to be honest, while I was grateful for a friend lending them to me, I never warmed up to them. As a colleague noted and I agree with, they sound too pretty. But furthermore they didn't hold up well to the post sound demands. At high SPL they started to get wonky. Above 4k they begin to lose clarity and frequency separation and by 8k or so the highs start getting really crunchy. So tying to do anything with loud and detailed glass effects feels futile, it all becomes muddy. Overall for the post sound demands, they were too fatuiging to my ears. This is just my personal experience. The JBL LSR 4300s in contrast are not fatuiging at all and handle high SPL like a champ. I would not hesitate to buy more of the 4328P's to build out a 5.1 array in the future.

  • I've never thought speakers would be fatiguing, it's the sound that's played back that is fatiguing. Every speaker set is a compromise and the best speakers make least compromise either by "feeling nice" to the mixer or being ruthlessly accurate to the sound/signal that's fed to them. Genelec actually tends to fall to the category of "ruthlessly accurate". Sep 2 '13 at 16:40
  • To each his own, I found the Genelecs to be anything but ruthlessly accurate for stage translation and broad spectrum transparency in my experiences with them - and this is when playing back identical car chase edits on the 8040s and then on the JBLs - the sound source was the same, but the way in which the monitor handled it was very different. Sep 2 '13 at 17:37
  • Got to add a big +1 for the LSR 4300 series. Lovely speakers. Sep 4 '13 at 22:12

I don't know what speakers are best. I use 5 Genelec 8030s in my home studio with a 15" Blue Sky Sub and controller. I don't find them fatiguing at all, but rather too open and transparent in the highs to translate perfectly to cinemas. Without the sub they are wanting in the lows. They get plenty loud, unlike the Blue Sky monitors I've used in the past. They are very good for dialog editing.

I had good luck in the past with Event speakers, when my budget was more constrained.

Another cost effective monitor is the Mackie which is very popular among picture editors. It's decent and flattering to the low end which small monitors are usually weak in.

JBLs dominate the movie theaters of the world because they are good and reasonably priced. Meyer Sound speakers are costly, but the best I have heard.

Whatever speakers you get, it really helps to imagine the cinema experience better while working if you have an LCR setup, and a big video display. You want to get close to the feeling of the scale of the cinema experience. Next in line would be a strong sub, though you won't be very popular if you put that in your bedroom.


To spare you a possible mistake, I'll recommend your steer away from Adam A7's. I am not talking about the A7X's which I don't own or even know, but the A7's.

The reason for this is, I have had a pair for several years and even though I have been really pleased with how they sound, it has turned out that the buzzing sound I ended up getting is a recurring issue with this particular model.

There are so many things you think about when getting a pair of monitor speakers, this is one more to take into consideration. It kills me to even say so, but no matter how happy I have been with them these last few years, for me this is the worst slapback ever as they are now of no value whatsoever.

So, as @Internet Human just said, Genelec 8030B work a treat (so long as your work environment is up to the task) although slightly out of your budget. At the time I was looking for a pair of speakers I came across the Dynaudio BM5a but I haven't listened to them, so you might want to dig in that direction.

Again: good acoustics should be your first concern if you want to get a clear unbiased representation of what's going on.

  • don't buy the BM5a, at least get the BM6a (mk1 second hand goes for the same price as the mk2). 5 series sound pushy and compressed, not translating very well. but that's my experience, always listen with your own ears! Sep 2 '13 at 17:48
  • oh good point on the acoustics! Sep 2 '13 at 17:48

I recommend splitting your budget to buy an additional pair of headphones and spend the rest on the best 8 inch driver monitors you can afford (used Mackie HR824s for instance).

In the end you need your work to translate as good as possible to the other studios. This means you need to hear full bandwidth (including sub) and be very sure your listening environment acoustics arn't mucking up your perception of what you're doing.

You don't have the budget to make a solid listening environment or buy a mains and sub system. But you CAN make sure your premixing translates by cycling between some speakers, the Beyers and say some Audio Technica ATH-50s.

You'll be absolutely amazed at how different your stuff sounds between these three setups...and if your stuff sounds reasonably good on all three....chances are pretty good you won't be overly surprised at the mix.

Also keep this speaker axiom in mind - What your speakers are good at is probably what your mixes with lack. In other words if you speakers have better bass than normal speakers...then guess what your mix will lack when heard by the general public.

Here's what we have at Wabi Sabi Sound:

Speaker - General Thoughts

JBL LSR 4326P 5.1 - Forward Mids, can be a bit harsh, nice features Dynaudio BM15a 5.1 - Silky, Lots of Dynamic range, a little hollow in the mids Blue Sky Pro Desk 5.1 - Well balanced in a small room, nice features Blue Sky Media Desk 5.1 - also well balanced, but less detailed Neumann KH 120s 2.1 - Tight, detailed really need a sub for post

Headphones Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro - smily faced, lots of detail, lots of high end Audio Technica ATH-50 - Balanced not hyped...break up somewhat easily Senneheiser HD 380 Pro - Detailed in the mids, not much low end extension or high extension Grado SR80 - Natrual and Neutral...kinda like listening to speakers, open lacks deep bass


Blue Sky Media Desk


How about Equator D5 (great stereo imaging) plus computer speakers plus regular checking on your headphones (especially for the bottom end, which the D5s lack). make sure you are regularly checking playback on the computer speakers and headphones to get a sense of how the mix might translate to other systems.


Hey Chris,

Yep you definitely have a start with the gear you've got. But obviously as you've noted, monitors and your listening environment are crucial for doing post sound. Been some debate on here about Genelecs, but I've been using 5 8030s with a 7060 sub for the last few years and they're great. I find them some of the most accurate sounding monitors I've had the pleasure to work with. But so are JBLs.

Try some of these articles for setting up your room: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb06/articles/studiosos.htm


And I highly recommend Bob Katz's 'Mastering Audio' and his section on monitor calibration and setup. Well worth a read.

That's my tuppence worth, best of luck with it!


I'm inclined to the school of thought that preaches getting to know and understand your speakers. I reckon with that in mind, and given time, trial and error, you will learn to work with what speakers you have.

I have 2 home studio setups, 1 running with a pair of Tannoy Reveal 501As and the other running with a pair of Yamaha MR5s. They are on the lower end of the price range but they work for what I do and I've learnt and still learning how to use them more proficiently. Just make sure you set them up as best as you can, e.g. acoustic treatment; levels; etc...

On Genelecs, I'm with @Stavrosound and don't really like em. I used the 1030As in my first studio and quickly ditched them because they were really amazing. A client explained it to me like so: "It sounds so good in your studio but when we bring it back it sounds terribly crap!" We swapped the Genelecs for NS10s and man did it make a hell of a difference when mixing after. I'll take the blame that we might not have set the acoustics up correctly, but the thing is, those complaints stopped after swapping over to the Yamahas.

On another note, if you have a bit of spare cash... I recommend getting a monitor controller like the Presonus Monitor Station. It takes up a bit of space but it does make it heaps easier to control your speakers and inputs, compared to fiddling around with your audio interface. and just in case you need to do a last minute VO, it's heaps more convenient with it.

  • Yeah I agree from a pragmatic perspective. I believe that people adapt to whatever listening they are using (there are a few examples of great mixes done with very substandard listening systems). Physics goes only that far in defining what the "perfect sound" is or how to build speakers that reproduce "perfect sound", but our perception of sound is much more complex and specifically way more adaptive than the pure exact definitions that we know. If we knew or someone said what a perfect speaker is, everyone "should" be inclined to use it, but they don't, so there's more to it. Sep 3 '13 at 17:59

For commercials, corporate Films and Movies i use Yamaha NS10 and Adam Artist edition 5X. If you start off, get a couple of old yamaha ns 10, they are the best speakers i ever had for mix downs.

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