Studio Monitors (Reference Speakers)
When you're going to
studio monitors for your recording studio it's important to know that
these monitors are not supposed to provide a rich audio experience, as you would
expect from a hi-fi music system.
These studio monitor speakers are designed to provide
an accurate image of whatever sound source you are listening to, so you can hear
exactly what is going on in your production. When you hear the phrases "flat
frequency response" or "uncolored sound", this is what they mean. The speakers
tell the "cold hard truth" about your mix.
Studio monitors are also known as
reference speakers, as that is exactly what they should provide. A reference
sound. And that might be the most important point in choosing studio monitors.
How they sound in reference to other sound systems.
People will be listening to your music on
various sound systems, on small radios, in their car, on their $1000 hi-fi rig,
and you want your music to sound good on all of the above.
This is why an important part of mixing is
to test and learn how the sound transfers to other systems, really get to know
your speakers. Believe me, this has great impact on the end result of your mix.
Near-field studio monitors
Near-field or close-field monitors
are the most common types of studio monitors, especially in home recording
studios. They are designed for near field listening (sitting about 3 to 5 feet
away). Listening at this distance will make poor room acoustics less important
(as the sound hits your ears before bouncing off any other surfaces). This is
great for a home recording studio since you probably haven't had an acoustic
engineer designing your living room or bedroom.
An expression you may come across related
to monitoring sound is "sweet spot". This is the spot exactly in the
middle between the speakers, where you will hear the full stereo image. It might
read in studio monitor descriptions that they have a "large sweet spot". This
means that you can move your head around and still be able to hear the full
stereo sound. This is also known as a "uniform off-axis response".
Close to all studio mixing is done with
near-field studio speakers.
field studio monitors at zZounds.com
Mid and Far-field monitors
These monitors are usually not suitable at
all for a home recording studio. These are larger and more expensive and demand
an acoustically treated room to provide the proper reference sound.
Active vs. Passive monitors
You also have to choose between
passive speakers. Active speakers, a.k.a. powered or bi-amplified
speakers, have a built in power amplifier inside its casing.
monitors do not. Active studio monitors have some advantages over passive ones.
They save space, as they don't need that extra amplifier. The amp is matched to
the speaker so you don't have to worry about your external amp not matching your
Just keep in mind that when choosing
active monitors, each of them run on AC power.
passive studio monitors at zZounds.com
Studio Speaker placement
This is very important, as it can have great impact on your
monitors ability to perform right.
The speakers should not be placed
directly beside a wall or into a corner, and they should be placed on
separate from your recording desk. The stands should rest on spikes to
prevent vibrations from traveling through the floor.
The listener should be placed at the
tip of a perfect triangle according to the speakers. Say you place the
speakers 5 feet apart, then there has to be 5 feet from each speaker to your
ears. Angle the studio monitors directly towards the listener. Keep the
monitors tweeters (treble part of the speaker) level with your ears.
I know there are lots and lots of
discussions on how to do this. The pros and semi-pros treat this part as a
science. This is just a brief general description of how I do it.
Browse speaker stands from zZounds.com
I believe that getting to know your
speakers is the best way to be successful. Spend some time and learn how it
sounds in reference to other systems, then you can act accordingly when changing
My recommendation in studio monitors:
Behringer B2031A Truth Active Monitors