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Thread: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    I'm wanting to record and play back through my PC speakers. Right now I have cheap ones. Will upgrading make a substantial difference in sound quality?

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    If your hearing is good, absolutely. If you hear no difference, think of the money you're saving

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Sherry,

    I think your recording setup is going to be more crucial to your final sound quality than your speakers. Are you using a mic? A USB input? A set of PC speakers is relatively cheap, but if you already have speakers that you can connect through bluetooth, or stream to a TV with a sound system, etc. it would save you that expense.

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    I really don't know. But if the quality of your recording can only be appreciated on some excellent quality speakers, then most people will not hear it. Whereas if it sounds great on PC speakers more people will hear it sounding great.
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    All sound advice (sorry -no pun intended) from the three posters above, Sherry. I would especiall consider JeffD's comment. I mix on a set of studio headphones plus a set of Samson studio monitors, using both to get my final mix. The headphones are especially good for getting the stereo separation sorted out. I know that when I post to YT or the MC SAW Group many listeners may only listen on their laptop or PC speakers and will not hear what I was hearing through my setup at home. I listened recently to melodies played on a mandocello and the lowest notes, heard through the laptop speakers, were very indistinct, but when I put on headphones the sound was greatly improved. Good speakers cover a much wider dynamic range than the ones fitted to laptops or phones, and the bass frequencies especially benefit. Hi-fi speakers are often designed to favour particular frequencieswhile studio monitors are designed to give a flat response across a wide frequency range.

    You say you want to record as well as play back through your PC speakers. Recording through them will require you to use a microphone to get the sound into your computer, and so the quality of those speakers will have a big effect on the sound quality of your recording. Southern Man mentions the importance of the recording set-up you might be using.
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Yes. Better speakers will have much better sound. But I blue-tooth all my PC sound thru a cheap JBL portable speaker and it sounds great to me, for the price and ease of use anyway. Better sound usually means a better hit to your wallet.

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    If you play whatever you record on a pair of quality speakers, it should sound just like a pair of PC speakers.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Man View Post
    Sherry,

    I think your recording setup is going to be more crucial to your final sound quality than your speakers. Are you using a mic? A USB input? A set of PC speakers is relatively cheap, but if you already have speakers that you can connect through bluetooth, or stream to a TV with a sound system, etc. it would save you that expense.
    Other than what I do for work on my computer, i'm technologically challenged. I started a thread awhile back asking for suggestions, most of which left me like a deer in the headlights. Where I ended up is recording the backing track using a recording app on my phone, then emailing it to my PC. From there I can take a melody video on my phone while the backing track plays in the background. Haven't figured out how I'll synchronize the two.

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    I got what they labeled as 'studio monitor', as my PC speakers they didn't cost much ..1 powered, powers the other..
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Other than what I do for work on my computer, i'm technologically challenged. I started a thread awhile back asking for suggestions, most of which left me like a deer in the headlights. .
    Did that thread suggest a zoom/Tascam handheld recorder that you can plug a microphone into, like h4, and a pair of monitor headphones like Sennheiser, Beyerdynamics, Shure, AKG, audio-tecnica? That's the simplest setup that'll give you decent recording quality IMHO

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    I wouldn’t rely on home PC speakers or microphone for any aspect of recording or music playback.
    The suggestion to use headphones or Bluetooth to a JBL or other powered speaker is good.

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    The key question is “what is the intended use of the recording?” That will suggest solution directions. I record weekly lesson homework for zoom lessons. I use a Blue usb microphone, Band in a box backing tracks recorded into GarageBand. It’s fine for the purpose. I have good headphones and good speakers because I enjoy good sound, but the point is to capture realistically my lesson progress. It’s not created to be CD quality nor mixable for any other purpose.

    Your intended use and budget will inform your decision.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    The key question is “what is the intended use of the recording?”
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Find some recorded music you like and listen to the same recording on you r PC speakers, in your car , and then find someone who is audiophile with expensive speakers or just another musician who's spent money on small studio monitors. These days most recent cars have better sound while parked than most pc speakers, and most studio monitors (6" and up woofers) will have better sound than the car. If the car has a sub woofer, the bass might be better. Studio monitors are designed to accurately reproduce the recording, PC monitors and car stereos are designed to color the recording because they can't actually reproduce the sound of the recording. Sub woofers need to be very large to reproduce low frequencies well. the mandolin doesn't come close to those frequencies. Studio monitors also reproduce the high frequency transients better than a car or a PC or even a PA. These are more important for a mandolin (or a drum high hat). There is something called ear fatigue that occurs when you listen to music for hours on cheap speakers because the transient response is so noisy. I do most of my recording with very good headphones, but I do all of my mixes on 8" KRK studio monitors because the have excellent tweeters that cause very little ear fatigue.
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    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    I would concentrate on the recording quality rather than the playback quality, at least at first. A few reasons:

    Good recordings will last forever, and always sound as good as the playback system.

    Poor quality recording will always sound less good

    A decent pair of headphones is a whole lot less money than an amplification system for mixing. I use a $40 pair of headphones, a couple of condenser mics, a digital recorder, and free computer software. This system works very good and is very flexible -- it is very portable, and not bad for recording "live. Total price is around $400 -- and the microphones account for most of it. (By the way, the standard mics installed in the digital recorder are of very decent quality.

    A good playback system can cost a fortune, depending on what one wants. And what sounds good to your ears may differ from what sounds good to someone else.

    My playback system consists of a pair of "bookshelf" Klipsch speakers, a middle channel, a 200-watt Sony amplifier, and a 300-watt powered subwoofer. It sounds like a good home stereo -- because it is my home stereo. But it's only as good as the recording.
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    You'll get more advancement in your sound quality by focusing on your input rather than your output. As long as you are recording through your cell-phone, your audio quality is going to be quite limited (that is no kind of shot, as I also record through my cell-phone).

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Caring about speakers, for me, boils down to whether you need to mix audio for release.
    If you are self-mixing your own multi-tracks, you need the correct speakers.
    If not, perfect is the enemy of good enough.

    100% agree with Southern Man. Focus on the sounds you make in the room and capturing them well and the tracks will take care of you.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Thanks for your input, everyone. The recording stuff is really beyond my understanding. Maybe I'll run into someone local who can help me set something up.

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    fwiw: I bought a set of Klipsch speakers (expensive, for me at least) primarily for classical music played through my computer sound card. They sounded pretty good when volume was turned up loud enough for the neighbors to "enjoy". At low enough volume to avoid complaints from fellow citizens and housemates, I couldn't hear any improvement over the cheapos I replaced. I went back to the cheapos.

    full disclosure - my hearing is no better than the average 75 year old's. probably worse.
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    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Quote Originally Posted by HonketyHank View Post
    ... I couldn't hear any improvement over the cheapos I replaced. I went back to the cheapos..
    Awesome.

    There is no such thing as a "perfect" acoustic reproducer - just like there is no perfect mandolin. Everything is in the ear (and the desires) of the listener.

    In the early 80's, I designed and installed a custom, six-way, dual-amplifier system in a house I built, including a stereo ambience-recovery system and stereo 15-inch subwoofers baffled to the basement. A total of sixteen drivers. I have no need for something like that anymore, since my tastes have changed

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    A decade or so ago I took the cheap speakers off the computer and bought a better speaker. They weren't expensive, and only about 7 watts, but they still sound good when listening to music and they can be loud enough to hear them in the next room when I am working. Being able to turn them up a bit without losing a tight bass sound is important, these work and as I said they weren't expensive. I have custom built P.A. and monitor speakers that folks have liked a lot and have preferred to high quality P.A. speakers, you don't need anything pricey or large, just better than the cheap speakers that came with the cumputer.
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Well .... what I did was purchase a small surround sound setup and it does quite well. Gear always makes a difference. You just have to decide how important that difference is and how much you are willing to spend to achieve it. R/
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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Computer speakers are generally going to be inadequate in bass response and imaging. Bonafide studio monitors are going to be way more $$ than you want or need. Near field powered speakers would be a decent compromise. Edifier has some decent offerings at a reasonable price on Amazon. I would also invest in some quality headphones, they will open up a whole new world to the music you listen to on YouTube. I've had a pair of Sony MDR 7506's for decades. And you thought acoustic mandolin was going to be simple…

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    Default Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    Computer speakers are generally going to be inadequate in bass response and imaging. Bonafide studio monitors are going to be way more $$ than you want or need. Near field powered speakers would be a decent compromise. Edifier has some decent offerings at a reasonable price on Amazon. I would also invest in some quality headphones, they will open up a whole new world to the music you listen to on YouTube. I've had a pair of Sony MDR 7506's for decades. And you thought acoustic mandolin was going to be simple…
    TWO THUMBS UP for the Edifiers. I have one set hooked up to the flatscreen in my bedroom, and another I use for the music in my spare room. Decent sound and enough volume for you to actually hear it.
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    Question Re: How Much Difference Do Speakers Make?

    How do you tell the difference once your living has damaged your hearing.. ?

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