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$8 secondary mix speaker that replaces a MixCube or Yamaha NS10 speakers for a mix that sounds good on any system

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Review of the $8 USD BONBON / Annlend Bluetooth Shower Speaker (get it here):


It has been known since Les Paul invented multi-track recording that if you make your mix sound good on a cheap, tight speaker with little to no bass, it will sound good on ANY system…..from ten-thousand dollar speakers to smartphone ear buds.

Les Paul used to drive his car up to the studio, run a wire out to the car, and listen to his mix in his car on his car system. Not a car stereo, car systems were mono back then. Actually all systems were mono back then. Stereo didn’t become widespread until the late 1960s / early 1970s.

That’s another truth about mixing….if you make your mix sound good in mono, it will sound good in stereo. And it’s still important to sound good in mono, because a lot of dance clubs use mono, or near-mono mixes. Because if it’s a wide stereo mix with a lot of separation, one side of the room won’t hear the synth, and the other side of the room won’t hear the strings. Even some radio stations broadcast in mono. And when they don’t, some radio receivers are mono, especially portable ones, like someone might have at a work site for the crew to listen to.

So a lot of engineers mix on a substandard speaker without a lot of bass, and even a “cheap” sound. Starting in the 1970s, a lot of engineers used Yamaha NS10 speakers. (Story of that is here.) They cost 110 dollars for the pair:

That’s part of the reason that records from the 1970s mostly all sound good on cheap phone speakers or earbuds.

More recently a lot of engineers have used the Avantone MixCube speakers. They cost 250 dollars each:

But I’ve had very good luck with the 8 dollar single speaker the BONBON / Annlend Bluetooth Shower Speaker (get it here):

You can hang it on the wall on a single nail or screw.

It’s easy to pair (it shows up in Bluetooth settings as as BTS-C6).

No need to even set your mix to mono, this speaker turns a stereo mix into a mono output on a single speaker.

Try it. You’ll dig it.

Don’t turn it up much. Even the BEST commercial albums will sound like crap on this if you crank it. But at a volume you can talk loud over, this is a great one for a secondary speaker to test a mix as made on a better speaker as you go along the mix.

Look at every photo ever of a high-end studio. They all have (at least) two sets of speakers.One of them is huge and costs 20 grand. The other is a crappy small pair of speakers with no bass, and very NOT flat throughout the whole range

You’ll still want to listen on your good, flat studio monitors, but once you’ve got a mix about 2/3 done, start switching from your studio monitors to this Bluetooth speaker every 20 minutes or so.

It sounds surprisingly good and tight for a very cheap speaker with no bass. It’s really the perfect replacement for a MixCube for the studio with limited funds.

If you don’t love it for mixing, it still makes a nice shower speaker. But it really does make you mix your mixes in a way that they should sound good on anything.

Google and look at a bunch of studios. High end ones always have huge expensive speakers (usually to impress the client), and a small set that they do most of the mixing on. Here are a couple perfect examples:
and
When mixing, you can set your DAW up to go to your regular mix speakers, and your system to this little speaker, and then mix out to WAV, and play the mix on your desktop through this little speaker. Or just change the output in your Sound profile on your computer when you want to use this speaker.
Here’s a hint to sound better on small speakers. Double your bass line and raise it up an octave. In Midi, that’s easy. If it’s audio, use a pitch VST. Mix it quiet, but not gone. It’s all you’ll hear of the bass on a speaker with little or no bass. That process is a common secret weapon.
And now you know, too.

I was surprised how well this worked as secondary speaker to test mixes on, and this wouldn’t be for everyone. But it works.

I thought about a “before and after” example, but it would be so subjectivity that it wouldn’t be of much use. I’d basically have to provide a whole song (or 3) from my last record, where I didn’t use this speaker, and a whole song (or 3) from my new record, where I did use it.

And then when you notice that it absolutely does sound better, how to you factor in the issue of “I’ve gotten better at mixing from experience anyway since my last record.”

Do you know that old joke,
Q. “How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I dunno. What do you think?

The first studio I ever recorded in was Hyde Street Studios in San Fransisco, Studio A.

That was 1987. I was the client, not the engineer.

(the old Wally Heider studio). That’s a real studio where a lot of gold and platinum records have been made.

The engineer was the amazing Dave Bach, the guy who now makes the killer microphones.

They had FOUR sets of speakers, and the Neve desk was set up to switch between them:

-The giant “voice of god” 3-ways built into the wall (which were basically just for impressing the stoned client)

–Some smaller good mid level studio monitor speakers.

–Literally a set of Yamaha NS10 speakers

–A small crappy two-cassette boom box, that would have cost about 50 dollars back then. It had two probably 4-inch cheap paper speakers, which is likely about equivalent of the ones I’m suggesting here (since the manufacturing technology has gotten better), just that there were two of them, not one of them. But you could mono any of the speakers sets easily from the desk.

The point with having NO bass on the worst one is to replicate someone playing it on phone speakers.

All those great 70s albums, Bowie, Zeppelin, Stones, still sound great on an iPhone blasting out the speakers.

-MWD

 


Like inexpensive good audio? Check out this post:
The Neewer NW-800 IS NOT A CONDENSER MIC. And it seems pretty scammy.

Also check out these free VSTs I make.


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