Some time ago we wrote an article about the importance of studio monitors. Today we are here to help you choose the right studio monitors for you.
Assuming you have your computer set up properly, a great sound card, your favorite DAW, lots of other stuff like microphones, instruments, controllers and a pretty nice music samples library, you are ready to produce your tracks. You put your headphones on and start working. When the dawn lights up your neighbourhood you are ready with your mix. The song sounds perfect. After all you spent all night for it to sound perfect!
The sound is actually unbalanced? The final effect is different and depends much on where do you play your tune?
Well, it seems that you need proper speakers. It is the same situation as when you try to improve the quality of your photos from holidays but your laptop screen has tight view angle.
And, as the computer screens are different and the same photo does not look the same across various devices, the same goes to the speakers. And for music production you will need to learn about several parameters. But after you do this homework you may be certain that your song will sound good even when played on old laptop.
This is an absolute basis. Standard hi-fi systems as well as speaker sets or even surround speakers, they all have one thing in common. They are configured to strengthen some frequencies (mostly it’s bass) while cutting down others (mainly the mid ones). If you produce your music using the equipment you use for listening you will most likely find it out. The bass will be weak, the mid tones will try to kill your ears. And you will hear hardly any hihats.
Studio monitors are designed to reproduce sound “as is”. It is like listening to the “naked” mix. If your music passes this test, it will sound good almost everywhere. That is why they are called “monitors” – they show how does the sound look like.
How many speakers in one speaker?
As the size does the difference, the number also does. The majority of studio monitors are either two-ways or three-ways. Each speaker in the monitor is responsible for certain sound frequency.
Bigger ones deal better with lower frequencies: bass sound is vibrating slower but the membrane needs more energy to move. High frequencies sound awful or not at all in bigger speakers.
On the other hand, small diameter allows the membrane to vibrate quickly but you will never hear any bass from such speaker. This is is a serious problem for the laptop speaker manufacturers. You can’t bypass physics.
To choose between two-ways and three-ways monitors you need to answer yourself one simple question: how big is your room and how far from your head are the speakers. The bigger the membrane diameter, the louder the speaker is. In louder speakers sound is often divided into three bands. For smaller studio needs it is enough to get a two-way monitors.
If you buy a small set of monitors you may need to get a subwoofer. This goes especially to all electronic music producers as the bass in these genres is crucial. However dealing with adjustments can be a pain in the neck. Bass might make your desk resonate. Bass may flow awkwardly in your room creating places where it sounds like a starting rocket and places where it can’t be heard.
This is to be set individually. But for many bedroom producers it is better to leave the woofer to listeners.
Speaking of bass: bass-reflex
To put it simple: it is a small hole in the speaker. Designed to “let the sound out” and produce clearer and more readable sound. Different models have it in different areas. Be sure that the hole doesn’t point at the wall. So if your producer desk is situated near the wall, be sure to have the bass-reflex in front of speakers.
There are available monitors without ports of call (no holes in da box). These produce more “closed” bass sound but they are not worse. Just different.
So, which one (or two) speakers are the best?
Frankly, it is hard to tell. As for now you have the basic knowledge which is useful in audio shop. You should do well. So now all you have to do is smash your piggy bank. It is sad that good monitors are so expensive. But if you buy the right ones they will serve you many years!