Home Recording Series Vol 6 – Monitoring
Welcome to part 6 of our home recording blog series, this weeks focus is monitoring. Anyone hoping to get good results from a home recording setup needs to consider monitoring from both a recording and editing perspective.
Monitoring while Recording
If you’re playing along with a recorded mutltitrack, you’ll need to monitor through headphones to avoid leaking speaker signal into the mic while recording. Headphones with a closed back design are the best solution for this application, as the bleed from closed back headphones is minimal. A range of suitable closed back headphones can be found on the Shure.co.uk website.
An alternative is to use sound isolating earphones. This can work well if they are a professional range of earphones, such as Shure’s SE Sound Isolating range, but can be less convenient if you want to take them on or off quickly. Low cost consumer earphones or headphones are unsuitable due to poor sound isolation, which results in signal bleed when recording.
Real time: If you are overdubbing or recording to a pre-recorded multitrack, it is essential you can monitor the existing track in real time – meaning there is no latency. A few milliseconds may slightly alter your perception of pitch or tone, while more than 10 milliseconds can have a noticeable effect on your rhythm or timing. A good quality low latency soundcard is essential – one solution is to use the Shure X2u XLR-USB adapter that provides a headphone out for hardware based zero latency monitoring.
The X2u solves part of the latency issue, but latency can be a complicated subject matter – one that it a little much to cover in a home recording basics blog, but if you’d like to read more about software latency, what causes it, and how to minimise it’s effect – SoundOnSound have a very useful article.
Monitoring your Mix
For accurate mixing results you should consider a pair of headphones for critical listening along with flat, accurate monitoring speakers. A flat frequency response is essential for producing an accurate mix that translates well onto a wide range of consumer audio systems, however, for the best results – test your mix on as many speakers or headphones as possible to help you build up a picture of how well it will translate.
Closed headphones with a good flat frequency response include the Shure SRH940′s, however, if your budget will stretch far enough it’s also worth considering a pair of open back headphones, such as Shure’s 1440 or 1840 designs. An open back headphone is not suitable for monitoring while recording due to potential bleed, but for the mixing stage, they benefit from a more natural sound quality and wide stereo image.
Join us for the final installment of our home recording series (volume 7), where we look at recording devices and software. Subscribe to our RSS feed to be alerted. In the meantime, for more information on home recording products by Shure visit the home recording microphone page.