While recovering, I’ve been reading bits of Mike Senior’s Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio. It’s rather pleasant on the ego that a lot of his secrets are stuff I’m already doing, I have to admit. Ah, smug mode. But I have encountered a couple of facts I didn’t know about, regarding monitor speakers.
Senior is a big fan of dedicated speaker stands – heavy ones – to prevent bass resonance through floors and walls. Resonance leads to inaccurate bass mixes. I have in fact had bass resonance issues, and they have mislead me, so this is relevant to my interests. But if, like me, you lack room for stands, or have other issues that force your monitor speakers onto walls or shelves, he suggests these isolation pads, essentially to prevent the shelf from becoming a soundboard and creating resonance.
Now, as soon as I saw that product photo, I recognised the foam they used. It’s the same foam I used when building my mandolin and zouk travel cases. You can buy it for a few dollars a square foot, locally.
Even better than that, I have some left over from the case project, along with my trusty $3 thrift shop electric carving knife.
Now, I did not have enough left to pad my Bose that way. I don’t use the Bose for monitoring, so it’s not that big a deal, but I did want to add some of that isolation since I tested them anyway, and found huge resonance off the shelf and wall. To some degree, that’s by speaker design – Bose wants that – but while I shouldn’t really use them for monitoring, I have done in the past, anyway.
So I studied the effect Senior described, and ended up building a mat out of alternating layers of reasonably thick leather (for mass) and this weird semi-corded velvet (also for mass, but also for motion-absorption) that I already had.
I did some before and after testing, and the differences were stark in both cases.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that to my surprise Bose speakers could have a bit of definition and precision, given ludicrous amounts of room treatment. But the bass was still a bit unfocused. With this padding thrown in, the low end has finally joined the party. The low bass popped right into focus, becoming genuinely crisp and well-defined. It was unanticipatedly, almost shockingly better. And the x77s’ low end – insofar as it has it – became almost laser-like.
It’s super-fun to listen to recordings with really well-engineered bass parts now, just to follow along. I’ve been listening to lots of recordings with particularly good bassists, just for that.
So, there y’go. $10 or less to improved monitoring. Who knew it could be so simple?