Studio Monitor Placement – Tips for getting the most from your speakers
Those who are new to music creation have many questions concerning studio reference monitors and a lot of time and effort is invested in finding the best ones to buy for their recording studio. However, even after buying their first studio monitors, the next critical question is how to set up their monitors correctly. This is very important because you could be squandering the potential of great sounding monitors if they are not positioned in your correctly.
There are plenty of suitable—even excellent—studio monitors out there, at all sizes and price points, but the setup is just as critical as choosing a good pair.
The Ideal Mixing Position
Engineers using speakers to monitor audio in professional studios has been around a long time now, and even though each speaker and each room is different, there are several rules that are universal, that all Engineers agree on.
The two fundamental points for standard monitor placement recommended by mixing Engineers are:
- When mixing, your head should form an equilateral triangle with your monitors: This is somewhat common sense, but if one speaker is farther away from the mixing position than the other, it will have a farther path to travel and be lower in efficiency by the time it reaches your ear.
- Your ears should be on the same level as the tweeters: Since high frequencies are more directional, or “beamy”, the further off-axis you are from the tweeter, the less high frequency you will hear from your speaker.
Though most monitors come with a recommendation for placement, a Professional Engineer should be able to judge if the frequencies in the mix are balanced or the monitor placement needs to be further adjusted. These small adjustments help to get your room acoustically optimized for mixing.
Besides the ones mentioned above, there are some additional tips that you must keep in mind while setting up studio monitors.
Don’t place your studio monitors too close to walls
It’s understandable that you would want to maximize the usable space in your room by putting furniture against the walls, but ideally, you should leave a little space between your speakers and the wall behind them. Close proximity to walls creates “boundary effects” such as acoustic “loading”, which boosts low frequencies and effectively changes the response of your monitors. Your monitors should ideally be placed a minimum of 6 to 10 inches away from the wall behind it — 2-3 feet is better; this will minimize bass build-up from the nearby walls. (Of course, if your monitors have EQing options, you can account for this).
Place your monitors on a sturdy stand
You can’t make contemporary music without bass, and that bass energy causes your studio monitor cabinets to resonate or vibrate. But to get the best performance from your monitors, you must take steps to ensure that this bass is not transferred to the surface on which your monitors sit. The best way to eliminate these problems is to buy desktop stands. Stands not only elevate or angle your monitors for perfect positioning, they also serve as an acoustic isolation system. Stands ensure that all the vibration energy generated by your monitors will get directed toward the listener, instead of transferring it to the surface, they are sitting on.
Distance from monitors while mixing
Most likely, if you’re working in your home studio, you will use what is called “near-field” monitors. They are called near field because they are intended to be used at about a one-meter distance. Remember that if this distance increases, the influence of the room on the sound also increases (due to wall reflections), and that’s what we want to avoid.
By following these simple instructions, you can optimize the position of your monitors in your room which will help you monitor more accurately and create better mixes!