Mixing engineers care more about fidelity and sound than almost any other people on earth, so why would anybody use a sub-par monitor?
It sounds counter-intuitive but that’s what we’re about to do. We’re not striking out against the conventional wisdom of the day. The benefits of using a “sub-par monitor” are now widely appreciated in the engineering community.
The term “sub-par” is a bit of a red herring. Maybe “sub-optimal” is more accurate. Take the Avantone Mix Cube, a cube shaped monitor with decreased frequency extension in both the low and high end. And yes, that’s intentional. What you’re left with is a honky mid-range, usually in mono. How does anybody find themselves attracted to such listening situations?
A little background: the Mix Cube is a modern homage to the Auratone 5C Sound Cube, a child of the 70’s. Sound Cubes were long ago discontinued, but the advantages of such speakers have been resurrected, with the Mix Cube being one of the most notable entries in the market.
What’s so great about mid-range monitors? The truth, for better or worse, is that most people don’t listen on high fidelity systems. Or they might be listening in sonically chaotic environments. In every instance, what they’re most likely to hear is the mid-range, missing out on the crystalline highs and infinite low end you’ve sculpted.
A Mix Cube will make sure that the meat of the mix translates to your listeners. It is a useful tool to put you in their ears. If you can make it work with a Mix Cube, then your mix should translate to most systems.
Most engineers choose to use a single Avantone for mono listening, thereby increasing the difficulty of the mix. If you’ve mixed in mono, you’ll understand the challenges, and how it improves your stereo mix. So imagine doing that on a speaker that constricts your frequency possibilities.
At the price point, it might also be tempting to use pair of Mix Cubes for your monitoring rig. Most engineers consider Mix Cubes to be specialty listening tools and would avoid listening to them all the time. If you choose that route, you should be careful that you don’t overhype high and low end information by checking your mixes on other systems.
The Behritone can shed light on any mix though. With lows petering out below 150 Hz, you’ll discover just how defined the upper bass frequencies are, which certainly impacts the vibe on a high fidelity system. And while the speakers are focused right around the mids, you won’t find that highs are completely sacrificed.
In fact, it is their relative clarity and definition that gives them such a following. Even with reduced response, Mix Cubes display an incredibly accurate sonic picture, with transients fully intact, and all the separation you need to hear “inside” the mix. Pulling that off in a limited frequency range is no easy feat, and one that has endeared the Mix Cube to engineers everywhere.
If you already have a decent pair of monitors, you can get a lot of mileage from A/B’ing them with a mono Mix Cube. But these tools are powerful enough that you could make them your first monitors, as long as you’re willing to test drive your mix on some other systems. Don’t discount these small speakers, which pack a huge punch.