It’s already the 4th day of February. A lot has changed since the beginning of the new year.
I’m in a new house for one. I packed up and moved all of my stuff that was pretty well (but not perfectly) situated in the Buffalo Grove basement. Everything went to either my parents basement, to a storage unit or to my new house in Arlington Heights on Phelps Ave. It’s a much smaller house but an even bigger usable basement. It’s got a fireplace that’s 30 feet away from my mixing setup but makes for a nice view and warming feature from when I’m on that side of the room.
On a musical note, I am set up with the Audient id44 Interface on my windows music machine. It’s a little hiccupy to start. I’m not getting the responsiveness I want from midi composition and performance. Still tweaking that. The device defaulted to 24 / 96, which is interesting. I had all but resigned myself to a lower standard of 24 / 48 on my UA Apollo Twin Mk II and Apogee AD16/DA16 + RME 9652 setups to accommodate optical ADAT so I actually downgraded back to 48. working at 128 buffer right now but may try to half that again to 56 for lower latency.
I also bought new MONITORS! KRK Rokit 5s are now relegated to the corner on the floor and the speaker stands now feature Focal Alpha 65s. The older of the two KRKs was buzzing badly and I’ve been looking for a good reason to replace them. Likely looking to buy my way out of doubting my own mixing skills. One was a demo unit and one was new from Sweetwater.
In evaluating options, I considered 8″ drivers but know that I may not always be in such a big room so I settled for a middle ground size. They are still bigger than my Rokit5s were and louder than I ever mix at.
For brand, I have had a really strong impression from the Focal line. They obviously make very high end monitors (the Shape® line, the Solo®, the Twin® and the Trio® lines are all in the multiple thousands of dollars range that I can’t justify. As I said to my co-worker, these Alphas are the “Training Wheels” line from Focal, a premium professional monitor company.
I also strongly considered the Adam A7x monitors with the folded ribbon tweeters. The total cost netted out to $1500 though, about $500 more than these Focals and I think my gut wanted to see the Focal logo every day for the next 5 – 7 years.
So far, I’m pleased with the experience. Unboxing was easy and clearly thoughtful. How clever or artistic that process is has never been particularly important to me. Look and feel of the speaker cabinets is a clear step up and the sound quality has not disappointed. I did a burn-in of the speakers on the first day with 10 hours of orchestral music, mixed in with my Spotify playlist of reference tracks.
What I haven’t done (but I’m perfectly capable of setting up if and when I feel like it) is an A/B test using a Mackie Big Knob monitor selector I have. If I wanted to feel justified in my purchase and really compare old to new, this would be how I would do it. I think I’m just comfortable with the fact that $900 monitors are better than $200 monitors in my mind and that will translate to clearer audible information for mixing decisions and a more enjoyable mixing experience.
I’m aware that I may be fooling myself but I don’t want to be paralyzed by second guessing. Moving forward with music making.