I'm unsure whether or not, in my current situation, I should invest in some studio monitors. I'm a college student, attending my local university but living in the dorms a block away from my house. I know that monitors are crucial to mixing, but I am just a hobbyist and dabbling in recording to record demos of songs I have and to make myself a more proficient musician. I don't have a separate monitoring area- I track and do everything in the same room at my parent's house. It sucks not having a separate, isolated room but doing everything with headphones has worked the past year.

My girlfriend and my drummer (both have experience in the acoustics field) told me that I won't need speaker monitors since there is no isolation and I would be using headphones to monitor. But I want the speakers because I'm a very materialistic person and they would sound nice and look nice lol. The main reason would be so I can listen to my music from my laptop on something that sounds nice. Do I need to get monitors in this situation? sorry for the long paragraphs

tl;dr version: Do I need monitors even though I don't have any isolation between mixing and tracking areas?
Personally, I don't see how having your tracking and mixing areas in the same area would have any impact on whether you need monitors.

The short answer to your question is; yes, you need monitors. In my opinion, and the opinion of most anyone with some experience, everyone who is doing any kind of mixing needs monitors.

Mixing in headphones is ok as a second reference, but for a primary reference, monitors are important. Having a sound-treated room helps too, but with near-field monitors, they're designed to be used in pretty close proximity to the listener, thus taking a lot of the room acoustics out of the equation.

So long story short, yes, invest in some monitors. Get the best you can afford to buy, it absolutely won't be wasted money. Once you mix on them, you'll see.

On a side-note, mute the monitors and use headphones while tracking since it's done in the same area, problem solved. This is common.
Thanks a lot for the thorough response.

I was also going to question about the acoustics of the room but you answered that for me. I'm still learning, and I'm just a beginner when it comes to mixing so I'm not always entirely sure what I'm doing.

I've just been kind of overwhelmed. I'm short on cash (typical poor college student lol) but I will be playing music for the rest of my life and plan on keeping and expanding my stuff. I just wasn't sure if I needed it now or if I should wait til I have my own place and more room to spread out.
if you're just a hobbyist, you don't REALLY need monitors. good monitors will help immensely, but since you're just doing it for fun you can get by with a good set of headphones for a while. if you've only got ~$100 or so, pick up some good flat response headphones.

if your budget is a bit more, look on your local CL for some used m-audios or whatnot (and also decide whether you want to spend the money on monitors, or if you'd rather/would have more use for more effects, upgrading your guitar/amp/whatever). cheap, crappy monitors won't do you much good.
My girlfriend and I were talking and she clarified that she thinks I would enjoy spending the money on a higher quality guitar and possibly amp before investing in more home recording equipment. She's probably right but the guitars I want are so expensive that I wouldn't be able to get the speakers for quite a while.

I have been looking at the KRK Rokits for some time now. I listened through them at Guitar Center and I think they sound really good for their price, I think they would be perfect. As for when I get them, maybe I can get the 5s for Christmas or something. I've been using Sennheiser 280 Pros and really want to get some speakers but I'm unsure of what to do.
Last edited by strat335 at Oct 26, 2009,
No, you won't be monitoring through the monitors as you track, but you most certainly will be using the monitors when you mix, and that is when they will play a crucial role.