tedlogan wrote: - will they approximate the soundstage etc of using monitors ?
monitors always sound different. with monitors the sound of the room is part of the equation, plus both ears hear the sound from both speakers. you can approximate it with fancy DSP processing, but it's never the same experience...
About the DSP processing... I absolutely love the the VRM DSP of my Focusrite stuff. (it's like having 24 dumb friends in my pocket... I'll explain later)
I have 2 units, the Saffire Pro24 DSP ($250) and the VRM Box Headphone amp (I caught the VRM Box on sale for $55, Awesome). VRM if I remember stands for Virtual Reference Monitoring... It's supposed to simulate 2 different things... 1- a real world environment (Studio or Bedroom or Livingroom... I really wish they would have more places like a car, club, lounge, shopping center) and 2- Multiple official speakers (Yamaha NS-10's, Rokits, Genelecs, Flat screen TV, Computer speakers... etc). Each Listening environment has multiple speaker setups you can use in the room and in multiple listening locations of that room... So basically there is a shitload of combinations.
Fishmonkey is correct in Saying it is not the same as the real thing... I agree, but I still absolutely Love my units and I will tell you why...
The very first time I switched into VRM mode, I hated it! I felt it sounded weird like someone just threw some chorus and reverb all over my track and it actually sounded a bit messy to me. But I went on and started flipping through the rooms and speakers... And after a while my brain stopped fighting the artificial sound and relaxed. VRM is trying to trick your brain into believing you are in those different places, but YOU KNOW you are not there and know what your headphones are supposed to sound like, so there is a big fight in the beginning. It actually wasn't until the 2nd or 3rd day when I was using the VRM late at night in my apartment, I had to take my headphones off cause I thought I had forgot and left my real monitors on and it was late... That's when I smiled cause I realized the VRM actually tricked me. Now I am familiar with the sound and let my brain relax right away and I'm 'there'.
About the 24 stupid friends... Although most of your friends are not recording engineers, when 9 out of 10 of them ask you 'why you put that 'whatever sound or vocal' so loud?...' Or say 'I can't hear what he/she is singing about' (when you play them or email your song)... You begin to realize you have a problem with your mix that you did not detect. They are listening from a completely different perspective than you OR are just more sensitive to different sounds than you. I get that from the VRM stuff. The way I use my VRM is not to sit there and write my whole song in a pretend environment with pretend speakers... I use my regular headphone mode (by the way this is Focusrite so the audio quality is top notch anyway through monitors or headphones as well as the Mic pre's), then occasionally switch into the VRM mode to check my work. If most of the 24 VRM modes sound like too much bass or my guitar is not cutting through, I know I need to fix that. Every mix that I have included using the VRM in turns out better than when I only go off 1 perspective. And I do this in the daytime as well as night... It has become my go-to tool for challenging my mix. To me some of the 24 modes sound less real than others, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that it is a different perspective.
BOTTOM LINE: I didn't like the VRM DSP at first... But I will punch you dead in your face if you try to take it from me now!!! One of the best tools in my little un-treated home studio, and truth is I bought the VRM Box a year later as a backup in case my home unit ever goes bad. VRM has never caught on in a big way, I'm guessing because of that initial fight in the brain... and maybe because of peoples past experiences with that VST plugin Red-something (I forget the name... was a little popular, but never really did it for me), but Focusrite has pretty close to nailed it!