Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio - Additional Resources

Chapter 1: Nearfield Monitors

Audio Files

(To download all WAV examples at once: 11MB ZIP)

  • LFSineTones: Ex01.01: WAV/MP3play_arrow Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! This file contains a chromatic scale of sinewave tones spanning 24Hz-262Hz. This file is useful for hearing the bass response of monitoring systems, as well as distortion and turbulence anomalies. Table 1.1 in Section 1.4 gives a listing of which frequencies and pitches occur at which times in the file.

  • PinkNoise: Ex01.03: WAV/MP3play_arrow This file contains a full-range pink-noise test signal, which can be used (amongst many other things) to highlight the comb-filtering between the different drivers of a multi-driver speaker.

  • StereoTest: Ex01.02: WAV/MP3play_arrow This file contains a repeating pattern of four noise bursts: the first only in the left channel; the second only in the right channel; the third in both channels; and the fourth in both channels, but with the right channel out of polarity with the left channel. You can use this file to confirm correct stereo speaker setup and assess the stability of your phantom image.


  • Corrections (first edition): On page 6 of the first edition, line 19, it should read “the lowest fundamental from a bass guitar is around 41Hz”, not 44Hz as printed, and this assumes a regular four-string bass, as that’s the fundamental frequency of its low ‘E’ (as shown in Table 1.1 on page 23). Also, the nodes and antinodes in Figure 1.8 on page 22 should be the opposite way round, as shown in this updated version of Figure 1.8. These issues have been corrected for the second edition.

  • Corrections (second edition): A particularly attentive reader of the second edition pointed out that for years I’ve been mistakenly (and confusingly!) using the term ‘harmonic’ in some situations where I should have used the word ‘overtone’. To clarify: in Fourier theory, the first harmonic is the fundamental frequency, the second harmonic is the first overtone, the third harmonic is the second overtone, and so on. My most common mistake has been to refer to ’the first harmonic’, when I actually mean ’the first overtone’ (or ’the second harmonic’), and unfortunately that error appears in Section 1.1.1 of this chapter in the following passage (page 6, paragraph 3): “In contrast to the fundamental, however, the first harmonic of these bass notes lies an octave above, typically in the much flatter frequency-response region above 50Hz…” It should, of course, read: “In contrast to the fundamental, however, the first overtone of these bass notes lies an octave above, typically in the much flatter frequency-response region above 50Hz…” (I’ve done the same thing in Appendix 1, where both the text and the diagram use ‘harmonics’ instead of ‘overtones’. D’oh!)

  • Affordable Nearfield Monitor Systems: As discussed at length in the book, I strongly recommend unported speakers when working on a budget. At present, however, there simply aren’t many affordable closed-box loudspeakers currently on the market. The cheapest full-range system that I’d be happy to use for mixing professional projects is a pair of Abacus C-Box 4 monitors, which I reviewed in the September 2023 Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast, as well as in Sound On Sound magazine’s March 2024 issue. However, if those are too quiet for you, then there are louder 2.1 configurations from Abacus (C-Box 4 satellites with a C-Bass 10 subwoofer) and Neumann (KH80 satellites with a KH750 subwoofer) that are extremely cost-effective – I reviewed that Neumann system in the January 2020 Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast. If you can’t get a commercial-sounding mix on those systems, then I think it’s unlikely to be the fault of the speakers! 😀 Other relatively affordable closed-box nearfield options worth checking out include the Abacus Cortex, Quested S6R, and Unity Audio Mini Rock, but if you’ve got a larger budget then the gold standard for me continues to be the Neumann KH310 – always my first choice for on-location mixing sessions if I can get hold of it. If your budget is more limited, then check out the NHT Pro Super 2.1 (which I reviewed in the May 2016 Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast) and the Abacus C-Box 3 (which I reviewed in the July 2016 Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast), both of which are serious bargains for project-studio mixing, and could be combined with a subwoofer for a full-range system as funds allow. (Some affordable closed-box subwoofers to check out include B&W’s ASW608, Dynaudio’s 9S, NHT’s Super SS10, and SVS’s SB1000 Pro – the last of which I reviewed in the April 2023 Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast.) And do check out the second-hand market, because there are plenty of bargains to be had there as well: the Blue Sky Pro Desk & Media Desk; the Acoustic Energy AE22; and unported speakers from former manufacturers Harbeth and Klein & Hummel (look for the latter’s O96, O98, and O300 in particular). I’m continuing to test new monitoring systems first-hand on a rolling basis, and you’ll hear my verdicts on those in the ‘Unvarnished Review’ slot of my Cambridge-MT Patrons Podcast in the first instance. (A full list of all my Unvarnished Reviews can be found in the ‘Podcasts’ section of the Cambridge-MT Patron Rewards Directory.)

  • Amplifier Recommendations For Passive Monitors: This isn’t an area I’m personally much of an expert in, because I’ve mostly used active speakers, but there’s a really good introduction to the topic of studio amplifiers, together with specific product recommendations, in this Sound On Sound article: ‘All You Need To Know About Studio Power Amps’.

  • Acoustics Products: Auralex sell all manner of tried-and-tested acoustic foam products for reducing the problems of early reflections in your control room. GIK Acoustics and Real Traps sell a variety of ready-made mineral-fibre bass traps, but if you fancy saving some money by making your own, then check out the DIY wooden frames and acoustically transparent fabrics available from ATS Acoustics and Acoustimac.

  • Calculating Room Modes: In the book I’ve already mentioned a simple way of calculating the likely resonant frequencies of a room based on its dimensions, but if you’re dealing with room resonances a lot, then check out RealTraps’ little ModeCalcWindows logo utility, which provides a graphical overview of all three sets of room modes in a rectangular room at once.

  • Monitor Mounting Products: If you can, try to find monitor stands which have optional foot spikes and can be filled with sand for extra inertia. With speaker stands like this you shouldn’t really need any further monitor-isolation gadgets. However, if you’re unable to use decent solid stands, for whatever reason, then Primacoustic’s Recoil Stabilizer would certainly be worth investigating. Auralex’s MoPad are a cheaper alternative, but can’t provide the same additional inertia because the foam they’re made of is comparatively lightweight.

Further Reading