Studio Monitors on a Budget, But With Quaility

M-Audio Dx4 – Studio Monitors For Audio Recording

Two things that are necessary to a successful audio recording are adequate sound treatment and good, flat, accurate studio monitors. Having one without the other makes no sense. Imagine having the most expensive, accurate, best studio monitor pair ever created, and then setting them up in a room with a build-up of muddy bass or massive high-frequency reflections. Your mix would be very harsh to the ears. Your best studio monitor pair is going to be great for capturing that terrible sound… and accurately. And the opposite is true also. You may have the best sounding home studio possible. But with crappy studio monitors, that great sound will not be captured accurately. So having both good sound treatment and accurate studio monitors are essential in the audio recording process.

Here is my experience with my first completed audio recording.

Digital Drawing of a Raw Speaker - No Cabinet - Studio Monitors Page

Photo by OpenClips / CC0 1.0

So there I was, needing studio monitors for my band to make good audio recordings. At the time I didn’t realize the importance of acoustic sound treatment. I was still under the belief that anything could be corrected in the mix. Wow, I was dumb. Not only did I not know what I was doing, but my computer audio setup and recording program was not even capable of extensive editing. I did a bunch of studying on mic positioning, eq, compression, etc., so I thought I had everything I needed to know. So we recorded, in a metal room. And while recording audio, everything really seemed okay. I knew the close dynamic mic setup would not be as heavily impacted by the walls as the room condenser mics. Mixing the overhead drum condenser mics was going to be a task. Well, in the end, the whole thing ended up sounding rather tinny. I mixed the entire thing in my bedroom. The studio monitors were set up incorrectly and I never gave my ears any time to rest. Having to run back and forth to my car to test the mix was a pain. And I was over-using vst plugins because they were new and awesome to me. The band did end up with a product that we are still to this day very proud of. But in hindsight most everything was recorded and mixed incorrectly. So after the completion of that process, I made a list of everything I wanted to improve upon before the next audio recording. I did more studying and decided to next time prioritize on recording studio design and acoustic sound treatment. I had already done research on the studio monitors I had, and the reviews were good. So I figured I should give them another chance. These studio monitors are the M-Audio DX4‘s. Not the best studio monitor pair by any means, but a very cost effective alternative. Many of the reviews I read compared the response to some of the best studio monitor setups used by professional engineers.

So then I set out to treat my room and test the response. I used the REW Room EQ Wizard program. After learning how to use it and studying reflections and bass build-up, I treated the room with homemade DIY bass traps and DIY broadband absorbers (couch cushions). Using a Behringer ECM8000 condenser measurement mic, I obsessed over the sound of the room for a few weeks. But finally I was able to get my room within 3db throughout the entire frequency. Because the M-audio DX4 studio monitors only have a 4-inch woofer, the bass can be a little lacking. By moving them back closer to the wall, the rear bass port was able to work its magic and and improve the accuracy. I still use the M-Audio DX4‘s, because I know them so well now. But I still need to get a subwoofer, because the bass is a bit over-compensated in the final mix. Overall, not a bad product for the money.

For specs, click here.

For more info, click M-Audio DX4