Advice on studio monitors
1. What are studio monitors?
Studio monitors are speakers used to mix and master homemade tracks. When mixing, you'll balance the individual sound tracks, in order to get the best result. That way, for example, the drums won't dominate, and vocals and instruments will sound good together. When mastering, you could apply additional sound corrections. Because a neutral sound is important here, studio monitors render the sound as true to nature as possible. Does it sound good on studio monitors? In that case, it'll also sound like the producer intended on other sound installations. That means studio monitors are essential.
The studio monitors in our assortment have a built-in amplifier, meaning they are active. On top of that, they're near-field monitors, speakers that you should place within 2 meters of your ears. This type of speaker is most practical for home use. But which studio monitors do you need at home? As we'll see, there are various shapes and sizes.
2. What size do you need?
Studio monitors range from small to large. Manufacturers indicate the size of studio speakers in inches. More specifically: the size, in inches, of the largest woofer. The smaller the woofer, the smaller the speaker cabinet. Small active studio monitors usually have lower power than large studio monitors. This means small speakers don't sufficiently fill large spaces with sound, whereas large monitor speakers are an overkill in small spaces. Do you have a small home studio, or do you produce music from your room? In that case, a size of 4, 5, or 6 inches will be most suitable. Got a larger, semi-professional studio? Go for 6-, 8-, or 10-inch studio speakers.
3. Do you need 2-way or 3-way speakers?
Studio monitors come in two kinds, namely 2-way and 3-way. A 2-way studio monitor has 2 speaker drivers; a tweeter for the treble, and a woofer that takes care of middle and low tones. A 3-way studio monitor has 3 drivers, as middle and low are separate here. 3-way studio speakers have a wider frequency spectrum and let you hear even more details. Most studio monitors are 2-way. This is sufficient for mixing dance music. When every detail is equally important, for example in the case of a complex movie score, a 3-way monitor speaker is desirable.
4. What kind of connectors do you need?
Studio monitors have connectors at the back, inputs for sound. Connectors you might find are XLR, jack, and RCA. Jack, also called TRS, and XLR are balanced. In short, this means the signal is free of interference and white noise. RCA, also called a phono connector, is unbalanced. At a distance over 5 meters, you might hear light white noise. In small studios, your studio monitors will usually be close to your audio interface or sound card, and each of the 3 connectors will get you where you want to be. Got a big studio, or just want the very best? Choose XLR or jack. For your convenience, we recommend adjusting your studio speaker inputs to your audio interface outputs, or the other way around.
5. Do you need 1 or 2 speakers?
Most studio monitors are sold individually. Some studio monitors, however, come in sets. For producing music, you'll need good stereo sound, meaning 2 speakers. That's why we recommend buying 2 identical studio monitors, or going for a set of 2 monitor speakers. For each studio monitor, we'll tell you if it's an individual speaker or a set of 2.
6. What's the best setup?
The sound quality of your studio monitors depends in part on their placement in the studio. The best way to set them up is in an equilateral triangle with your head, at least 30 centimeters away from the wall. We recommend a 60-degree listening angle. Make sure the tweeters in the studio monitors are at ear height. Use speaker stands for this if necessary. When done right, you should now be in 'the sweet spot', the place where stereo sound is best. In order to get the best sound out of your studio monitors, you should also use monitor pads. These are acoustic foam mats that dampen resonance and vibrations from your speakers.
What else do you need?
Apart from a fast computer and an audio interface, you'll need more to make your (home) studio complete. Think, for example, of audio software for producing music, which producers call Digital Audio Workstation or DAW. Don't forget cables for your studio monitors either, tough. These aren't included by the manufacturer. In addition to these essential accessories, we also recommend speaker stands and monitor pads.