Studio Monitors 101
A Crash Course On Studio Monitors
What comes in mind when you think studio monitors? If you are a recording junkie or have had any conversation with a pro audio expert, you know there is a lot to cover in the world of studio monitors.
So we sat down with the pros around Cascio Music and were able to layout the basis to help kick start your studio monitor education. Let’s jump right in…
At the start of the recording industry, around the 1920’s, studio monitors were basically used just to check for noise interference and clear technical problems. Early monitors were known to be basic loudspeakers. The true high-end loudspeakers came from the movie production industry. By the 1940’s, the first quality loudspeaker developed solely as a studio monitor was the Altec Lansing Duplex 604 in 1944. The Altec Lansing 604 became the industry standard over the next 25 years, with over eleven model modifications. The Altec’s were then replaced by another notable brand - JBL. The 1980’s were also filled with the growth of the soft-dome monitors. By the 2000’s, there was a focus on “translation” meaning that engineers tended to choose monitors less for accuracy but for their ability to translate to a variety of systems (car radios, boom boxes etc.)
Anatomy of a Monitor
A studio monitor is a loudspeaker specifically designed for professional audio production applications. The main difference between a studio monitor and a basic speaker is the attention to precision. Studio monitors are built to produce a very flat frequency so that sound engineers can hear tiny details in a mix. A mix could sound great in headphones, but horrible in monitors. It all depends on what kind of headphones they are and if they add extra bass/treble. That is why studio monitors are so important. The flat response assists engineers when mixing so that they do not add additional bass, treble or other frequencies.
Types of Monitors
Monitors come in numerous sizes, shapes, colors and price points. There are also “Active” and “Passive” monitors. Passive monitors require you to plug in your speaker with an appropriate amplifier and crossover. An active monitor has everything already included inside, so all you have to do is plug it in to the source. Most in home monitors are 5" in size, but they can range up to 8". Home studio monitors are usually 5" because any bigger and the speaker may be too loud, which may be a problem if you have neighbors. Unless you have some type of soundproofing in your home, we recommend the 5" monitors. Professional studios have 8" or bigger monitors. Along with active and passive, There are also “near field” and “far field” monitors. Near field monitors are designed for listening at close distances. They typically sit on stands or on a desk. Far field monitors are usually mounted on a wall. Beyond monitors comes subwoofers which allows listeners to hear everything in the mix. Usually subwoofers are used when a mix is completed and the producer is playing the final mix to hear how everything comes together. Subwoofers can be dangerous while mixing because treble and bass can be added easily. So typically you would only want the subwoofer at the very end.
How do you set up monitors in a home studio?
The first step in setting up studio monitors is check if they are a good distance apart. A good rule of thumb is to have them an equal distance apart from each other and also to have your seat to be that same distance from the monitors. The angle of the monitors can also make an impact in your sound. Studies show that having the speakers at a 30 degree angle will work best for listening purposes. Mounting monitors is also a good way of reducing unwanted reflections. If monitors are placed directly on the desk, it can have an impact in the sound because the sound will travel through the desk before it hits your ear. So it is best to have the monitors mounted or on stands.
Cascio’s Top Brands
Our a few of our favorite monitor brands are Yamaha, Mackie and KRK. Here at Cascio, one of our favorites set of monitors are the Yamaha HS5’s. We like them for their “Flat” response when mixing. Some of our other favorites include the “Mackie HR624’s,” “The Presonus Eris 5,” and the classic “KRK Rocket’s.”
So there you have it! Congratulations on graduating Monitors 101! Keep on mixing, and let us know what you think in the comments. As always, follow us on all platforms to keep up to dates on musical news/contests.