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#38372 - 01/20/00 07:14 PM I think I need a mixer....
pearcebh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/10/99
Posts: 10
Loc: Orlando, Florida - USA
Hello hello!

I would like to set up a modest monitor/mixer environment. Any suggestions would be very helpful.

Here's what I have:

* A PC with Cubase

* 2 midi-able keyboards (a Korg and a Roland). I am not quite using the midi yet. I am still a beginner, and I've been spending most of my time practicing and learning to PLAY.

* An old receiver/amplifier and some speakers, and a halfway decent headset.

* An old radio shack DJ mixer

I'm tired of using headphones everytime I want to practice, and I get some crackling distortion when I play low chords through the stereo speakers. Besides, all the Christmas-tree wiring is giving me conniption fits.

Here's what I think I want to do:

1) Get a pair of shielded monitor speakers, so I won't have to use the headphones or the stereo speakers any more.

There's a requirement, though: I don't want to be evicted from my apartment, so smaller might be better than bigger.

If they're powered speakers, that's even better. I am considering a pair of Roland MA-8's for about $89 at a local music store.

Does anybody think I can do better for the price? Or even "better for just a bit more than that price?" The people at the store like to talk about "flat frequency response" and other things that make my head hurt.

Really, I'm just looking for speakers that I can play and sing along to.

2) I think I want to get a new mixer so that I can input the two keyboards and have room for future growth....but I am at a loss when it comes to determining what would be a good starting point. In a year or two, what might I want to add? A third keyboard? A drum device? The mixers I've seen go from 2-stereo-input to 12 or 16 input models with commensurate me a bit of a sticker-shock.

I would like to hear about your experiences. When you bought your first mixer, what did you like or not like about it? What would you have done differently had you known then what you know now?

I might be willing to spend a couple of hundred $'s on a decent mixer if I knew it would still have a useful and practical life in a couple of years. On the other hand, if there's an alternative way for me to acheive my immediate goal of having 2 keyboards play on the same set of speakers, then I'd love to save the mixer-money for a rainy day.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!

-- Brian in Florida

#38373 - 01/20/00 09:05 PM Re: I think I need a mixer....
buinu Offline

Registered: 09/27/98
Posts: 310
Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
First, be very careful when using your home stereo, you can blow the speakers very easily. You can get a fairly decent 12 channel rackmount line mixer for a couple of hundred dollars and it should last quite a while, but even the best line mixers will have quite a bit of noise. If you can swing $500+, check out Behringer, great mixers for a reasonable price and you come out with balanced ins and outs on 26 or more chanels. You will still need powered monitors or an amp and monitors. You might as well get used to the fact that even the cheap equipment is costly once you satrt putting everything together.

#38374 - 01/20/00 09:22 PM Re: I think I need a mixer....
pearcebh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/10/99
Posts: 10
Loc: Orlando, Florida - USA
Wow, I see that it can get expensive very quickly. I will look into your suggestion.

Thanks for taking the time to respond!

#38375 - 01/20/00 09:47 PM Re: I think I need a mixer....
Paul Ip Offline

Registered: 11/26/99
Posts: 241
Loc: Austin, Texas, U.S.A.

You have mentioned quite a few items in your posting that can be very costly. Can you tell us what is your overall budget? The Roland speakers MA-8 that you mentioned are not powerful enough even for your PC monitoring usage. Speakers with larger woofers (preferably 15 inch) give you much fuller sounds to reveal the real power of your keyboards. I have PA speakers with 12 inch woofers that cannot produce the low end punch that I wanted for electronic drum set. Besides using mixer and powered speakers, a cost effective solution is to buy a keyboard amplifier with built in mixer. There are many choices of keyboard amps in the market. Roland KC500 has a mixer for 8 discreet line inputs, its 15" woofer delivers very good low end punch and it can be linked to another KC500 to get you stereo setup in the future, its headphone out is very nice for late night practice of your instrument mix. FullCompass has a demo KC500 that sells for $410.91, a smaller demo KC300 with 12" woofer sells for $314.77, best prices you can find in U.S.

I have been playing synthesizers/keyboards for about 6 years and I gradually built up a system with more quality components that last for a long time - avoid buying toys that will not scale well with your future growth. I started out with a Mackie MS1202 mixer but outgrew it in less than 2 years and had to purchase a Mackie CR1604 VLZ - I still have to use the MS1202 as a sub mixer for convenience. The Mackies are very quiet but they are not very cheap. My Roland KC500 has been working for me for more than 3 years at home and on stage without any problems. Let me know how you think about building your own studio.

Paul Ip
from Texas

#38376 - 01/20/00 10:25 PM Re: I think I need a mixer....
pearcebh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/10/99
Posts: 10
Loc: Orlando, Florida - USA
Hi, Paul:

Thanks for your great response. Here's my thought process with regards to my "home studio" as you call it.

I live in a 1 BR apartment, mostly for convenience and cost savings.

The audio equipment shares my living room with a television, couch, and a small "corner-style" computer desk. Oh, yeah...did I mention the 6-foot long aquarium? It's a bit cramped in here right now.

I have been taking keyboard lessons since February '99, and voice lessons for about 3 or 4 months now. My aim is to learn how to read, play, and write music. I suspect that in twenty years, I will still be learning new things about what makes music... well, "musical."

I would love to be in a band someday, even if I'm just playing cover tunes for a time!

I would love to write, record, and sell new music someday. I would love to play live someday.

But right now, I need to spend time learning and practicing.

Gotta learn to crawl before I can walk, walk before I run, and run before I fly.

And I want to do it all while excelling at my 40 to 50-hour a week job. You see, I love what I do. For now. It pays well, and so far, it's allowing me to build a wide and deep asset-base.

Barring any catastrophes or lawsuits, the day job will make me free one day, but only because I am being diligent.

Given all that, I love bass sounds, and I can probably afford most of the equipment you've mentioned...

However, I live in a 1BR apartment. It's small, and the walls and floors are thin. A 15" woofer would be a total gas, but I haven't the room nor, I suspect, the tolerant neighbors.

So for right now, I just need a setup that sounds good and doesn't take up lots of room. I understand that I may have to upgrade when I'm ready to get more serious, and I know I may not be able to jam loudly until then.

I will investigate all the gear you mentioned, though, before I buy anything. Who knows, I might change my mind. After all, that's why I posted the original note here.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to post your well-thought response. I will post here again as I review the equipment you listed. I most certainly will have some questions.

-- Brian in Florida

#38377 - 01/22/00 12:59 AM Re: I think I need a mixer....
Uncle Dave Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/01/99
Posts: 12800
Loc: Penn Yan, NY
I understand how you feel about the noise factor in an apartment. Here's a good solution with little compromise in sound:
( I have all this in stock for you )
1) Midiman 10 channel mixer, really small-will fit on your desk top
2) 2 Roland MA12 powered speakers - also small enought to fit on your desk alongside the PC. Big sound at low volume levels
3) for when no ones home - a powered subwoofer (100 watts) This will add fullness and life to all your playing and singing, and you can shut it off when the neighbors are home. But when you get a few minuts alone - crank it up!
Email me for the price. We're not supposed to sell on this site!

Uncle Dave

[This message has been edited by Uncle Dave (edited 01-22-2000).]
No longer monitoring this forum. Please visit for contact info

#38378 - 01/23/00 03:23 AM Re: I think I need a mixer....
Korgasm Offline

Registered: 12/16/99
Posts: 270
Loc: Australia
Don't skimp on getting cheap components! Bite the bullet and spend extra- I've tried being cheap in the past and it's just not worth it in the long run.

Mixer wise look at Behringer Euroracks- The newer MX2004 seems very good value with it's 8 mic channels and 4 stereo channels.

The Mackies are a lot more expensive, but as far as I am concerned they do sound better- better preamps. However, I reckon you are better off looking at the Behringer. I myself own an MX2642 4 buss rackmount which is great for keyboard sub mixing with it's 26 inputs.

Check out the new Alesis M1's for cheaper good quality powered monitors. Also Yamaha MSP5's I heard are good as are the Event 20/20's (active versions).

You wont be able to understand how you were able to monitor through your hifi after listening through a pair of dedicated monitor speakers! Hope I have been of assistance.

#38379 - 01/26/00 06:40 AM Re: I think I need a mixer....
WS Offline

Registered: 09/18/98
Posts: 618
You need a 4 buss mixer. Basically, it is like having 2 mixers in one. This allows you to listen to what you have previously recorded while recording new tracks on top of the old. If you just have a basic stereo mixer, you will be recording old tracks on top of new tracks...very messy. You can get a used Mackie 1202 between 150 and 200. If you can afford the new model, I would go with it.
The 1202 has 4 stereo channels and 4 mono channels so you should have plenty of room to grow. The best thing though is the quality and even if you end up with a large home studio you can always use the 1202 and be happy. If you had more money to spend then I would recommend one of their other units. (This is in reference to AUDIO .wavs which you will be recording at some point and has nothing to do with .mids).
Cheap powered speakers may be ok right now, and you might even be able to use them after you get a nicer amp/speaker setup, but you probably will not like the sound---especially after listening through headphones. You cannot mix a song using headphones (you need MONITOR speakers).
The EQ will be all wrong and it will not sound the same when played through a home stereo or car stereo (just something to be aware of).
As mentioned earlier, you can blow your home stereo equipment if you play your synths through them.


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