Choosing the right studio monitor speakers doesn’t have to be difficult. With the price of recording equipment decreasing over the years, this has made things like studio monitors more affordable than ever. It’s never been easier or more cost-efficient to set up your home recording studio.
Whether you’re just looking to save those big studio monitor bucks or you’re looking to take back the power of self-recording, finding the best of the best in the studio monitors is going to be absolutely pivotal.
That said, here are six important studio monitor speaker considerations to ensure you get a quality set the first time around:
1. Understand The Marketplace
It’s no secret that all studio monitors speakers share some of the same common features. Before you take to purchasing a pair, you’ll want to invest time, consideration, and careful research into the market.
The common goal all speaker aficionados have is for the speaker to make those recordings sound pristine as possible. When looking for your monitor speakers, being able to edit your recordings during mixing should be a key feature in your next set.
Helping establish a baseline in all monitors is going to help you understand what you should be expecting from the most basic studio monitor speaker, and how far your hard-earned spend should go in establishing the best of bunch. You can read more about the best studio monitors here.
2. Size, Fit, And Location
Being aware of how much space you have in your studio and the amount of space a set of monitor speakers require is pretty important. Sure, you’ve found yourself the best of the best in studio monitoring recording, but do you have the room?
The accuracy of the monitor is an important consideration in shopping, too. If you’ve got a large home recording studio and a small set of monitors, the accuracy in recording isn’t going to be right. You won’t be able to mix properly, and all efficiency is chucked out the window. No good!
Have you given much thought to where you’ll put them? Silly question, sure, but this often goes unchecked! In placing the monitors, you’ll want to create an equilateral triangle between you and the monitors themselves. This is the most surefire way to create the absolute best of stereo sound. Think of how much of a breeze editing and mixing will be!
One tip to remember is when setting up your new speakers, consider the old acoustics “38 percent” rule of thumb. In theory, this involves sitting 38 percent of the distance from one wall, or the length of the room. This is measured from either the rear or front wall. In utilizing the rule, this seemingly offers the best comprise of peaks versus nulls no matter the room size.
3. Power And Input Signal
Anyone in audio or acoustics knows that to get the absolute best sound, you need the most consistent power. In fact, understanding the ‘right’ power and signal aid in making your new studio monitor speakers as accurate as they can be.
Did you know that the amount of power can ultimately affect the volume of the signal, but can also affect the available dynamic range?
When shopping around, understanding that the more dynamic range the speakers possess ultimately means that those speakers can actually handle more input. Consider the loudness of the instruments you usually record with. If you record a lot of percussion or other blaring instruments, you absolutely should invest in all of that dynamic range!
The best of the best in studio monitor speakers always end up having much higher wattage than your run-of-the-mill monitor speakers. That’s a lot of extra power, and you’ll be able to hear that difference in even the tiniest of details! Not only that, but you have a lot more headroom for loud peaks, like bass, percussion, and punchy kick drums.
Considering the division in power input is also going to be an important distinction when shopping. Consider the options available:
- Single-Amp: One speaker.
- Bi-Amp: Two speakers, dedicated in providing low, middle, or high frequencies.
- Tri-Amp: Two speakers, dedicated in providing low, middle, or high frequencies.
The bi/tri amp studio monitor speakers tend to provide more accuracy. Why? They differentiate between certain frequencies! They can process frequencies much easier than a single-amp monitor can.
4. Drivers And Materials
Obviously, the most integral component to your studio monitors is the sound. That’s a big no-brainer. However, did you know that certain features of your monitors can affect the sound significantly? Well now you do!
The construction of the monitor can range from a lot of different materials, like paper or aluminum. Considering the construction, material and quality of each specific monitor should take priority in your decision. You won’t want to end up purchasing an extremely expensive pair made with cheap materials, so do your research!
That’s not the only thing you’ll want to study up on. If you’re concerned about sound quality, picking the right driver is going to be the most important. The right driver is going to make all the difference, especially when it’s mixing time.
5. Passive Vs. Active Systems
In shopping around, you’ll often come across monitors possessing either an active or passive system. There’s a big list for the pros and cons of each, so take your time in considering!
The passive system has a nice, rich history in the recording industry. If you’re looking at a passive system, understand that you’ll need to use an amplifier, too. If you have a smaller studio, the extra gear that the passive system possess might be a no-no.
On the other hand, the active system will include an amplifier. This way, you won’t have to concern yourself with any more extra equipment, which can be a major hassle.
If this is your first recording, consider an active system. They’re much easier to set up, don’t have as much equipment, and won’t take up a lot of space.
If you’re looking to take more control over your amp, consider the passive system in this instance.
Don’t forget your subwoofer when shopping! Usually, you’ll need to purchase this separately. These can help your monitor adjust to lower frequencies.
Considering what you record is going to be important here. If you’re constantly recording with low sounding instruments, like bass, a dedicated subwoofer is going to assist you in handling those sounds. Most subwoofers extend the lower frequency range from 45/50 Hz to 20 Hz.
Some home studios will have subwoofers built right in, though it’s not a commonality. In a simple home studio, don’t always expect to find a monitor speaker with a subwoofer.
If you are going to often be working with lower frequencies, consider the subwoofer investment. Do keep in mind the size of your space, as a subwoofer will take up more space than you think!
It’s never been easier or more cost-efficient to set up your very own home recording studio. Helping establish a standard baseline in all monitors is going to help you understand what you should be expecting from the most basic studio monitor speaker and what makes an expensive speaker expensive. Consider the amount of space, the subject of your work, and dedicated time you spend mixing when shopping for a stereo monitor.