Every musician is in the need for some great studio speakers. If you can’t hear your music with clarity, you’ll make all kinds of mistakes while mixing. A bad pair of speakers is like creating art with blurry vision.
I’ve always wanted a nice pair of monitors, but a lot of other gear purchases have come before these on my personal “Gear Quest.” Since the speakers in my living room are all messed up and getting worse (digital noise & a weird vibrating low energy noise), I used that as an excuse to move the stereo I use for mixing to my living room to make way for some sparkling new audio monitors!
My current setup
Here’s my current mixing/tracking setup. I use an emu 1616m box that runs through a Sony stereo. I bought the stereo to use for mixing when I moved into the first Beware of Dog location in 2006. Those speakers each rest on a CD spindle package that has about 20 burned CDs in each. Maybe someday I’ll get some fancy foam or speaker stands to rest them on.
My current system is quite “boxy” that has a real muddled mid/low end and it also doesn’t really reproduce the high frequencies well. Early on my mixes had a harsh top end and a too bright bottom end to compensate for the weaknesses in these speakers. As my ears and listening skills have developed, I learned the limitations of this equipment and to compensate.
So Many Options…
I was looking to spend around 300 dollars for a pair, as that seems to be a price point for a lot of manufacturers that will put you above the entry level but below the real pricey stuff. I have no idea the difference in quality between $300 and $800 monitors. Musical equipment I find the hardest to purchase because you don’t really know a piece of gear until you spend some time with it, and I won’t have the ability to do a shootout with all the monitors I’ve heard about. This purchase is going to directly effect my music and I plan to have these speakers for a long time.
With little to go by, I asked around and dig some digging on some internet forums. I narrowed down these choices for my price range and user reviews:
KRK Rokit 5 300/pair
JBL LSR305 300/pair
M-Audio BX5 D2 300/pair
Mackie MR5mk3 300/pair
M-Audio AV 40 150/pair
A lot of people either hated or loved the Rokits, and it seemed like a common complaint was they started to hurt after hours of listening. It seemed like the most consistently positive reviews pointed to the JBL LSR305s. After keeping on the lookout for some deals, musiciansfriend had them marked off for Christmas -$30 and with an extra 10% off. I was able to get each for around $109 brand new!
The New Setup
These speakers are a lot more bass heavy than my previous ones, but the bass is crystal clear. Before I hooked them up I played “Born On the Bayou” by CCR on my old speakers and directly compared them on the new setup. The JBLs have a nice clear open sound, and they definitely have a great “sweet spot” as they pointed out in the manual:
Looking forward to this long overdue upgrade and to long hours spent with these guys.
3 Week Update
Definitely loving these new speakers! They are so “clear” and “open” and they don’t have the “mud” factor my last speakers had.