Studio Monitors

How to Find the Best Studio Monitors

If you are planning on recording music in a studio, it is important that you know how to find the best studio monitors. The monitor that you get will have a huge impact on the entire process, from editing and mixing to mastering. Not all monitors will be suitable for your specific needs, so you will therefore have to spend an adequate amount of time doing your research. The monitors you get will ultimately determine how your mix will sound on everything from headphones to car stereos and televisions.

Look at the Specs

When you are searching for the best studio monitors, it is incredibly important that you take a close look at the specs of each one. Some of the different specs that you will see with each monitor include the frequency response, driver size, SPL and THD. All of these things will play an important part in which monitors you should get. You should keep in mind that these specs are typically not standardized though, so they vary depending on the company that makes them.

Frequency Range

One of the most important things to look at when you are shopping for studio monitors is frequency range. When you take a look at any given monitor’s specs, you will be able to see the minimum frequency they can handle, which is represented in Hz or hertz, as well as the maximum frequency. If you are planning on recording in a studio, you will want to look for a frequency response of around 60Hz to 20kHz.

While it is important to consider the frequency range of each monitor you come across, you will also need to know how they are going to handle the frequencies. If your monitors cannot reproduce the frequencies without distortion and other issues, they are essentially worthless. Those who are planning on using a lot of low bass sounds in their music should think about getting a subwoofer of studio quality.

Total Harmonic Distortion

You will find that total harmonic distortion or simply THD is another factor that will affect your ability to record quality sounding music. This will give you an accurate idea as to how the monitor will be able to reproduce the sounds you give it. You can never completely avoid distortion with audio circuits, but you should keep it to a bare minimum. The right THD will ensure that distortion does not become a noticeable problem. Poor quality audio circuits add quite a bit of distortion, which is why you need the best one possible.

The Best Studio Monitors

Mackie CR4

Mackie is known for its high-quality studio monitors, and the CR4s are no exception. These multimedia monitors produce high-quality sound to say the least, but there is a lot that you will want to learn about them before making a decision.

Alesis Elevate 5 Review

Alesis is known for making high-quality studio monitors that have a lot to offer as a whole. If you are currently looking for a new pair of speakers to put in your studio, it is important that you take some time to look over the products they have to offer.

Presonus Eris E66

If you are currently looking for quality studio monitors, you will need to take a close look at these, before making up your mind. This Presonus Eris E66 review will help you to decide whether or not these monitors can meet your specific needs.

Behringer MS20

Whether you just need a new set of desktop speakers or you are planning on recording in a home studio, the Behringer MS20 is an excellent choice for many reasons. The more you learn about the features of this product, the more tempted you will be to buy it yourself.

Wattage

Wattage does come into play when trying to find the best studio monitors, but it’s certainly not the most important factor. The overall power of the monitors you get will be measured in the form of watts. Those who are looking for monitors to use at home for casual listening can settle for a wattage of 20-60 watts, but for a large sized studio you will need something more. It is important that you consider the size of the studio that you will be recording in. The larger the recording space, the more watts you will need. A 60-watt monitor is adequate for most small to medium-sized studios.

Listening Configuration

There are a few terms that you will need to be familiar with when searching for good quality studio monitors, including near, far, and mid-field. Near-field is the best monitor configuration for smaller listening areas, while near-field configurations are ideal for larger spaces because they are capable of distributing the sound over more of an area.

Near-field monitors are commonly used in recording studios because they will let you hear the sound that is coming right from the speakers as opposed to whatever bounces off the walls of the room. Those who are planning on listening to music and recording in a larger more open area should look for monitors with mid-field or far-field configurations. It is important to keep in mind that the listening configuration of the monitors you get is very important when it comes to hearing what you have recorded with absolute accuracy and clarity.

Monitor Components

There are a number of different parts that make up a standard studio monitor, and you will need to know what they are when shopping around for the right ones. The better of an understanding you have of these parts, the easier it will be to choose the best studio monitors to match your needs.

Drivers

Just about every monitor has two different kinds of drives—woofers and tweeters. Three-way monitors have a midrange driver, though they aren’t nearly as common as all the others.

With a two-way monitor setup, the subwoofer is responsible for handling the low to midrange frequencies. The tweeter takes care of the higher frequencies, and it’s an important job to say the least. The midrange driver that is found in three-way monitors exists for the sole purpose of enhancing the midrange frequencies. When a subwoofer is added to a monitor setup, it handles part of the lower frequencies and the entirety of the very low ones.

The overall construction and quality of the drivers depends on the company that made the monitor, so it varies quite a bit. There are a number of different materials that tweeters can be made from, including titanium, glass silk, carbon or even Mylar. It is crucial that you find monitors with sturdy drivers so you can count on them to stand the test of time.

Woofers, subwoofers and midrange drivers are made into a sort of cone shape with a cap on top to prevent dust accumulation. The material of the cap usually consists of cloth or something similar, but it is also important. Monitors with lighter cones tend to respond faster to transient sound, which can mean an increase in overall accuracy when playing back sound.

Cabinets

If you want to get the most out of the monitors you purchase, it is extremely important that you look for the right cabinet. The cabinet surrounds the driver, and it should ideally have a non-resonant design so the output isn’t affected. A vast majority of these cabinets are very tough and durable, made of rigid materials like metal or very hard plastics. You definitely don’t want a monitor with a cheap cabinet, because you will just be wasting your money.

These days most cabinets have passive radiators, which help with reproducing lower sounds and boosting clarity. The more time you spend looking at what kind of cabinet each monitor has, the easier it will be to make the right decision.

Circuitry

Monitors have different types of connections, and you will need to look for a monitor with the right ones to match your needs. Some of the standard connections that you can expect from this equipment include RCA, TRS, and XLR. Certain monitors have balanced or unbalanced inputs, and others offer both.

Powered Studio Monitors

A powered studio monitor or active monitor is perfect if you have a home studio that you plan on recording in. These monitors have amplifiers built in, so you won’t have to worry about getting a separate amp. When you take the time to look into these monitors, you will find that a lot of them have speakers with a dedicated power amp for ideal functionality.

Unpowered Studio Monitors

An unpowered studio monitor offers lots of benefits that you should look into before making a final decision either way. These monitors need an external power amp, so you will have more options when it comes to selecting the ideal components to match your specific requirements. The circuitry in these monitors is also great when it comes to separating low and high frequencies.

Volume Controllers

If you really want to get the best possible sound when recording music in a studio, you might want to use numerous pairs of monitors. A lot of people use near-field and mid-field monitors when recording in a smaller to medium sized studio because of the many benefits that are associated with doing so. Regardless of which setup you choose to use, you will absolutely need a quality studio volume controller that will allow you to balance the audio levels of the monitors in a split second. Remember to look for controllers for all of the different outputs that you will require. If you plan on going back and forth between audio sources, you will absolutely need a volume controller that can do this.

Choosing the Right Studio Monitors

The very best studio monitor for you will depend on what exactly you plan on doing. The fact is that there is no single monitor that is perfect for everyone, so you will need to keep this in mind. You will need monitors that you can rely on day after day, because otherwise you are just throwing your money out the window. Consistency and reliability are two of the most important factors to consider before deciding on anything in particular.

If you are planning on recording mostly vocals and acoustic guitar, you will probably do just fine with some near-field monitors. Take the time to look into the different options you have while considering the ideal uses of each one. The more you learn about the different types of monitors, the easier it will be to make the right decision.

Price

A quality pair of studio monitors can easily cost a few thousand dollars, and you typically get what you pay for. If you only spend two or three hundred dollars on your monitors, you cannot realistically expect to get much out of them. The more you are willing to spend, the better the results are going to be. There are quite a few quality speakers that can be purchased for several hundred dollars, but you will need to do some research.

If you want to save as much money as possible on your new studio monitors, you will need to make a point of looking around and seeing what different places online have to offer. The internet can be an excellent resource for saving money on this type of sound equipment.

Terms You Should Know

There are certain terms relating to studio monitors that you should be aware of when looking for the right ones, including:

  • Balanced: This has to do with the low frequency aspect of the audio signal, and it typically ranges from 20Hz all the way to 160Hz.
  • Cabinet: A cabinet is what surrounds the driver within the monitor, and it can serve numerous purposes. A quality cabinet is absolutely imperative for a good pair of monitors.
  • Decoupling: This term refers to when sound waves “bend” when they are sent in another direction by an object of some kind.
  • Driver: The part of the speaker that is active and generates soundwaves.
  • Frequency: Certain sounds that are defined primarily by pitch. Some examples of this would be treble, bass and midrange frequencies.
  • Mastering: This is one of the last phases of the recording process, and it involves putting everything together for printing and distribution.
  • Midrange: Midrange frequencies go from 150Hz to 3kHz.
  • Mixing: This involves tweaking and changing the balance levels of the recordings with a mixer. Anyone who wants to record in a home studio will need a good and reliable mixer.

Final Thoughts

There are many considerations to make before you can get the absolute best studio monitors to match all of your needs. With all of these options to choose from, you will certainly want to take the time to find out what you have to choose from. Not all studio monitors will be able to accommodate your requirements, so you will need to keep this in mind when trying to select the right ones. The monitors you get will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the sound quality of your recordings, so you will therefore need to devote enough time to reviewing the many options you have.