Those recommendations:

Alesis MonitorOne Mk2 –
AKG K44 Headphones –

Or if you have more to spend…

Sennheister HD280 –

Video Text

Hi! I’m Dave from, and welcome to day 6 of the 7 day studio guide, where I and my homeslice Kieran


…Have been working our way through setting up a budget studio.

Today we move to the last major consideration – actually hearing the music we’ve recorded.

Computers and Laptops generally come with speakers, but you probably realise that they don’t sound fantastic. I’m going to go into some science now, *puts on labcoat* That’s because they’re crap.

With the science out of the way, let’s get one thing straight: This isn’t an in-depth guide into the intricacies of how speakers and headphones work. I’m not an expert on speakers and headphones, but I have produced a lot of music and worked with a lot of other producers that are frickin’ awesome that also don’t know the intricacies of how speakers and headphones work.

One thing I have come to realise more and more is that as long as they’re over a certain quality, i.e. not crappy computer speakers, the speakers themselves don’t matter. It’s much more about what you’re used to.

So you need to get yourself a pair of speakers that you can hear some really low bass on (that’s generally why crappy computer speakers are useless for producing bass-heavy music, since you have no idea if your sub-bass is audible or not in a club environment). You want speakers with a response that is described as Flat. Flat is positive thing – except if you’re talking about women! *ba-dum tish*

*Kieran looks at me disprovingly*

I’m joking, I hate it when women have stomachs that are anything but flat.

“Flat Response” speakers are ideal for mixing clearly – these ones play all frequencies that a human can hear at an equal level, so you can hear everything. If you’re a dolphin, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Then listen to a lot of music that you want your productions to be as good as. You’ll get an idea for what a professional song sounds like on those speakers. Then you’re ready to make professional tunes of your own!

So monitor-wise we’re clued up.

But what about headphones, Dave?

Well, Kieran, first I’d say it’s advisable not to mix just on headphones, since the panning is really over-accentuated on them, and anyone listening on speakers will hear something very different in the parts of the songs where panning or widening techniques are used.

However, there are obvious good points to using headphones – firstly, if you’re recording vocals or live instruments, you can hear the music through your headphones without the microphone hearing it, so you get a nice clean vocal take without any background noise.

Secondly, you can produce late at night and maintain a healthy relationship with your housemates. Just remember to check your mix on some monitors in the morning… or afternoon slash evening if you’re like Kieran and don’t wake up til the sun is making its way down again.

I like sleep.

Yes, well, Kieran what kind of monitors would you like then?

Can’t I just use yours?

Well, alright then I guess, but let’s pick some to help the internet people.

I’ve gone for this pair of Alesis Monitors, since they are cheap and flat response. *hold out palm of hands so images of the monitors can be added on top of my hands*

That looks like it’s been added in post production.

And headphones-wise, you’re looking for closed headphones, i.e. ones that when you wear them don’t emit any excess sound, that the comfiest pair you can find. You’ll no doubt be wearing them a lot. So ones with big, comfy padding. Like these *headphones appear on my head*

So the cheapest comfortable closed headphones we could find were the AKG K44 headphones, thought I’ve heard good things about the Sennhieser HD280 headphones too.

Are you ready to tell us the budget Kieran?

I sure do!

*sigh* So what is it?

With those £17 headphones and £130 monitors, £627.

Yeesh, we went over your budget

No, I’m using yours remember?

Did I say that? I must have been lying.

Oh please? I’ll let you zoom into my jawbone!

Ah… fine.


And the super budget budget?

With both of those – £433

Sweet! We’re not doing too badly. Only a few more loose ends to tie up. Join me tomorrow for day 7, where I’ll go through those vital final things you need for your studio!


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