Studio Monitors – Do your research before you invest
studio monitors are designed for total accuracy, choosing the right model and brand for your ears, your taste, and your room requires good diligence and some patience so you can be sure you’ve seen and heard all you can before your final decision.
When looking for recording studio monitors that will be the right choice for you, certain factors require your attention.
Professional, higher-end monitors are going to be expensive. You might have to spend a sizeable chunk of money depending on the brand and features. If you have the funds, you can get professional monitors and enjoy the benefits that they provide. If you are on a smaller budget, finding a more affordable alternative that still provides all the features of the expensive models is a challenge.
Fluid Audio took that challenge years ago and has been delivering pro-level gear at affordable prices for years. Fluid Audio has recently released the FX50 and FX80 coax bi-amplified studio reference monitors designed to deliver all of the professional-grade features from brands charging thousands, but at prices in the low hundreds. Years of research have culminated in Fluid Audio’s ability to achieve this nearly impossible feat.
Due to average room sizing, “near field” monitors are the customary choice for home recording studios as they’re designed to be listened to from a short distance of between three to five feet. Then there are mid and far-field monitors that are larger and more expensive than near field monitors. With these monitors, it is a pre-requisite that the studio has been designed to be acoustically balanced and be large enough to accommodate the low frequencies these larger models produce.
Studio monitors can also be classified into either passive or active. The passive monitors require a separate power amp while active monitors have amplifiers built into their casings. Active monitors are more popular due to their ability to separately amplify each driver on its own resulting in a super clean and clear audio soundscape. Also, having to spend the time and money to get a separate power amplifier is a further cost to consider.
Driver size is another important thing to look for in a monitor. Monitors with a wide frequency range are highly desirable. The least expensive recording studio monitors are likely to be those with a driver size of around five inches. Though these monitors do not necessarily emit a substantial amount of bass frequencies, they are suitable for small er recording environments. For superior frequencies and bass response, an eight-inch driver is highly recommended by most professionals - but only in rooms large enough to reproduce the lowest bass frequencies without causing acoustic issues, otherwise, they are working against your ability to produce mixes that will translate from your room to other playback systems. This is why many professionals use bass traps and other acoustical treatments.
If you are looking to pick up additional bass frequencies, the strategic placement of monitors can also come in handy. You can work with the studio space available to increase the effectiveness of your mixes so go ahead and experiment with monitor placement, just remember to always create a perfect triangle between the center of each driver to the center of your head where you are listening. Anything less will result in additional phasing issues and make mixing more difficult.
Broadly speaking, to find good monitors you need to find equipment that fits into your budget but still has the right driver size for your room. And unlike high fidelity home stereo speakers, studio reference monitors like the Fluid Audio FX50 and FX80 should truthfully reflect what has been recorded without any sonic embellishments. Reproducing recorded tracks with no additional coloration is the ultimate test for your recording studio monitors. So bring tracks that you know well and spend time with different brands and models to see which one catches your ear - just remember you’re not listening for the ‘best-sounding’ monitors, you’re listening for the pair that are only reproducing what is already on the mix file you have chosen to demo. Flat is where it’s at!