A big issue in handling an audio course in distance mode is that there is little to no control over what students use. It’s bad enough that I have to deal with my own limitations as a multimedia practitioner when it comes to audio. But how do you manage the wide variances in the equipment available to the students? Even if I provide the highest quality audio samples I can come up with. There is no assurance that students will be able to appreciate them as their own output devices might not be able to faithfully reproduce everything that I want students to listen to.
While it’s usually the microphones which students take note of, it’s actually the speakers which I always hope they spend their money on. You may or may not get in to recording that much in the future. But as a multimedia practitioner, there will much more frequently (try always) be a need to be able to listen to audio at respectable quality levels.
My bare minimum would be a pair of studio reference headphones. They are fairly neutral sounding and therefore accurate as far as reproducing sound is concerned. A popular and affordable choice would be the Samson SR850 or SR950. The list of choices expand as the budget increases.
Those consumer earphones and headphones that flood most gadget stores are tuned towards certain tastes. But most have enhanced bass responses which a lot of casual listeners like. It’s typically not a good idea to use them for audio production. Earphones are a bad idea, as well. Aside from the health hazard that some of them are, they don’t stay exactly at the same place as your head moves. Even the slightest movement can change how you hear the sound from those tiny speakers. For monitoring, you need something consistent and relatively comfortable to wear.
Speakers come in so many sizes. Studio monitors typically have woofers that go between 3-10 inches. The size that you actually need will depend on the size of your room and how loud you are actually allowed to use them. For my personal usage at home, I stick with 5 inches as I think it’s already plenty loud and has decent and accurate bass response. But I also have a pair of 3 inchers when I don’t need so much volume.
The first speakers I ever got that were decent enough for audio production work was a pair of Samson MediaOne 5a’s. It made me stop wanting to use all the computer speakers I had before. The MediaOne line was a hybrid of sorts. While far from the best on either ends, they do remarkably well both as multimedia speakers for my music, movies and games and as monitors for my production work.
The new MediaOne line has Bluetooth connectivity, which makes it even more useful as part of your workstation and therefore remains highly recommended. At the same time, there are comparable models made by Alesis, Behringer, Mackie and Cerwin Vega.
The next step up would be the affordable lines of studio monitors that have thankfully become more common nowadays. They’re still pretty good for casual listening, but their real strength lies in being accurate enough to be regarded as real reference monitors. Unfortunately, what I mean by affordable is that they will typically cost around 8-12 thousand Pesos per piece that have 5-inch woofers. And this is the farthest I will go as far as recommending speakers to students is concerned. The popular KRK Rokit and JBL LSR series are great examples of these. You will also find comparable models from Samson, Alesis, M-Audio and Presonus.