Studio reference monitors: A Beginner’s Guide
Are you a musician or band and has just begun setting up your own recording studio but are confused about what studio monitors to buy? Well, you’re not alone…But here are some helpful hints to remember. In the most basic sense, Studio monitors are loudspeakers (sometimes powered, but sometimes not) that are used to monitor the playback of your recorded tracks, so that you can accurately hear, edit and mix those tracks and to assemble them into a song.
Suppose you’ve recorded a song for a contest you wish to enter. Recording all the parts of the song and getting the performances just right is only half of the battle. The next task is making the song radio ready – or making it sound more polished - like what you hear on the radio. To do this, many adjustments must be made to the recordings, and you must have an accurate and reliable set of speakers. Hearing what you’ve recorded in the most revealing way is the only way to perfect your recordings, and make them sound the best they can. Professional Studio Monitors from Fluid Audio can help you to hear your music more accurately, so you can make the necessary changes so your song is “radio ready”.
Before buying a pair of studio monitors, here are a few things to keep in mind:
A suitable size and geometry is recommended for your studio/room. This will reduce the amount of echo when sound bounces off the walls and back at your ears. Of course, the quieter the room the better. If possible, tests should be done on the room before you buy your monitors, so you know in advance at what frequencies there may be problems and where you may want to add soundproofing material. Eliminating these room problems will make monitors clearer sounding, and allow you to focus on the music your making.
Placement of your monitors
While setting up a dedicated room for professional equipment and making music, placement of your studio monitors is also very important. Audio monitoring offers the best results when your speakers are given the proper space to perform, which means not surrounding them with other equipment. They should also be placed high enough on your desk or console to be at ear-level. If they are too low on your desk, or too high, you will not be in the “sweet spot” of the speakers, and they will not sound as good as they can sound.
Standard or “Coaxial” monitors?
Traditionally, speaker drivers (the woofer that makes low frequencies, and the tweeter that makes high frequencies) were placed in a box in the easiest, cheapest way possible. That is mounted separately with the tweeter above the woofer. This is how 95% of speakers still are today. However, some designers noticed that if you mount the tweeter device in the center of the woofer, you get many benefits. The first being that box size can be minimized (which is actually a great benefit in most home studios). The second is, when properly designed, the coaxial speaker becomes a “point source” device, meaning all frequencies coming from one point in space. This greatly improves the off-axis response of the speaker, as well as the imaging and “sweet spot”. The monitors from Fluid Audio use this technology to great success.
The need for a subwoofer
Incorporating a subwoofer with your full range studio monitors will always make your music sound fuller, because the bass frequencies are extended down lower than the monitors themselves. However, whether you actually need a subwoofer in your work flow really depends on the content you are creating. Does your music have bass frequencies that extend that low? For most singer/songwriter type music, which is mostly just guitar or piano and vocal, the answer is probably “no”. If you’re a DJ or working exclusively on EDM, where the rhythm and beat is exaggerated for dance club use, then you definitely need a subwoofer to monitor that low frequency information.
If you want to make high quality recordings, you will need Studio monitor speakers in your audio chain. However, there are many factors to consider before you buy. Be sure to audition as many models you can before you decide, and keep in mind some of the potential issues mentioned above.