Good (audio) monitors for film-scoring?

Hi fellow musicians and producers,

I was wondering if any of you could suggest a great pair of active monitors for film music?

I am going to buy a sub woofer but I am in need of a good pair of speakers.

Looking for about 500 Great British Pounds.

With thanks!

Oh, God. You really have to whittle things down. There a million options, so this thread could go on forever the way you have things set up. Find an online retailer, scroll through the selection, mull over the specs, and get specific.

I’ve got KEF monitors with custom cabs and custom Speakerlab subs, but I’m guessing you don’t want to build your own gear.

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Thanks for letting me know, but nothing custom made, I am looking for something simple really.

I was just hoping for people to suggest a few brands and models, nothing too crazy expensive but reasonable in terms of performance.


What exactly is “film music”?

I prefer mine to be a little lighter weight …

… seriously, though … that’s a pretty small budget for active monitors. What are you using now?

What is your room like? Hard to make suggestions based on no info.

Also, the sub situation could have a lot of impact on the speaker selection.

Virtual orchestra mixed with real orchestra, electronic elements interweaved in some instances,
My style of writing ranges from orchestral (Williams/Goldsmith) all the way to modern styles such as Zimmer etc.

I don’t write/mix Dance music or Metal.

I worked with normal stereo speakers ( B&W DM601 S3 ), but for the last few years I am working with lightweight headphones ( Sennheiser HD 238 Precision) .

Hmmm, I see.

I think this thread might be pointless unless I get out there and have a listen for my self.

I will probably have a good rummage through a few London shops and have a good listen/annoy the poor sales personnel :wink:

Thanks guys.

You pretty much summed it up there, I think. If you are unable to provide even basic room details, input from others will be extremely limited.

I think it’s pointless because even if I gave all the details you mentioned, the outcome would still be based on taste. Every speaker has its own characteristics and what would sound fantastic to some, could sound not very good to me.

So, I have to have a listen in the flesh to make up my mind.

Thanks for your input buddy.

This is the type of situation where having a relationship with a retailer you can trust really pays off.
They understand the full range of available speakers including the latest releases. Folks here mostly only know what they and their friends are using and maybe a few other options.

One question you haven’t answered is about your room, which is probably the single most important thing you need to understand to make a good speaker choice. It would be really helpful to the “poor sales personal” if you brought along the room’s dimensions & what are the walls and floor surfaces are like (hardwood, carpet, etc) and what other sound absorbing materials are in the room. Also keep in mind that those speakers will sound different in the store than in your studio space.

While this is a fine approach when selecting speakers for your home entertainment system - it is exactly the opposite of what’s needed for critical listening work. You don’t need speakers that make bad stuff sound better, you need speakers that make bad stuff sound bad. You should be looking for speakers that give you an honest and accurate representation of the sound and not something that flatters the sound.

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500 pounds for a monitor pair is not much of a budget for decent speakers (my current set of PMCs is about $15k and is nowhere near the top end). I think it’s pretty hard to beat the JBL 308P MKIIs for bang for the buck - I have a few sets lying around for utility speakers and they sound quite nice - with a sub and well tuned you could mix comfortably on them and they’d be a reasonably reliable reference.

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Completely agree, by what sounds good, I meant what works. I didn’t phrase it right.

Oh for sure. I am fully aware that great monitoring can be hugely expensive.

Cheers for the suggestion!

I remember coming across JBLs in the past and was hugely impressed.

Will check them out.

Hey there, I’m using Mackie MR624’s but I’d recommend buying MR824’s, the 8" model for DAT BASSSSS.
They can’t boast the ultra smooth top-end (silk twitters), but for 500 pounds you get overall nice monitors. Just be sure to have a prepared room and lower the tops by 2 dbs with the switch on the back. They are also sensitive in regards of where and how you place them. I’m using custom wooden stands with sand inside, 12 kilos each. I’d prefer cheaper monitors but placed well in a good room over awesome monitors that make my room sing along lol. I also recommend placing monitors according to the golden ratio of your room, there are calculators online.

I worked on Dynaudio BM15A’s once and i don’t see any major differences between them and Mackie MR624’s 'cept for the top-end. It’s not bad, it’s just specific, slightly bright or ‘made up’ if you will.

Good luck.

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If you’re checking out the JBL you may also want to check out the Kali LP-series.

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Hey, thanks so much! I have come across a great pair of Mackie speakers. I appreciate the recomendation!

Much appreciated!! Indeed, I have heard good things about the Kali speakers.

Room size is a HUGE issue
But you do you and get dat BASS.

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I’m not really sure I agree with the idea that speakers that are too big are an issue. I think 8" speakers in a small-ish room is more a matter of possibly wasting money. Then again, they can then also fill a larger room at a later time, thereby avoiding having to upgrade.

If it’s a matter of “too much bass” then it’s either a matter of too low frequencies or too much low frequencies - both things which can be addressed especially in Cubase/Nuendo by using a shelf and/or low cut filter in Control Room.

So to me size of speaker vs. room is more a matter of spending money wisely.

PS: Independently of the room I also think a lot of cheaper 8" speakers have bass that sounds “flabby”, or “loose”, compared to their 6" siblings.

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The problem I am faced with is that modern film scoring has a lot of bottom end driven percussions and synth bass notes. I would like to balance this out with a Sub Woofer, but in a subtle fashion, so really the monitors I am looking to get are painting half the picture.

I personally wouldn’t expect any pair of speakers, at least in my budget, to produce a massive bass.

In that case grab whatever monitors the budget allows. Grab a pair of 8s and you can roll the low end off on them if needed. Blend your sub to taste and you are good. set the crossover where you need on the sub. Make SURE when you get a sub it has a bypass switch and allows your top monitors to be full range. This way you can do most of your mixing and bump in the sub as needed or even leave it on the whole time with a foot switch.

I had to sell my 8s here as even with sound treatment the bass was too much for this small room. I opted for 6.5’ monitors which really give you the detail in the mids which is where most of the stuff is anyway.

Bass is generally difficult to set up in non-professional environments though. If I were you I’d consider just getting 8" speakers and then supplement with a pair of really good headphones that reproduces lower lows and doublecheck on them.

It’s easy enough to make a sub sound good in a room, but it’s way harder to tune so that what you hear is actually also reflecting the mix. Not trying to discourage you, just a heads-up.

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Completely agree, I am extremely used to a pair of Sennheiser’s headphones and all my clients are very happy with my mixes.

Checking with these , plus my speakers might be the way to go.