Studio monitors are speakers or speaker systems that monitor the sound in a recording studio. They can be connected to the output source of mixers, masters, radio, TV, and more. In most cases, the monitors are extremely important in the mixing and mastering process, since the sound engineer tunes the sound of the songs according to what he hears in the monitors. That’s why I truly believe is equally important to get the best studio monitors you can afford when you are building your home recording studio. You want the final product to be as accurately as possible and to sound great on any audio system.
A crucial feature of studio monitors is the linear response in frequency. This feature allows the monitor to play the full range of audio frequencies, not necessarily to the liking of most people. Let’s not forget that the human ear is being more sensitive in the mid-range frequency. The linearity of monitoring comes from choosing the best monitoring system you can afford.
Best studio monitors for a home recording studio
Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
There are two factors that should convince you to get this speaker for your home studio. It’s affordable and has plenty of features. It has 2 x aux inputs, it features studio sound quality, it has a remote control and a beautiful wooden design. If you decide to get Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers you will get 2 year warranty. It offers a transparent and rich sound reproduction that is faithful to the original source.
Mackie CR Series CR3 – 3″ Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors
This pair of studio monitors is ideal for mixing your songs in a home studio. The offer a frequency range from 80Hz to 20 kHz. It offers an aux input and a volume know that doubles as an on/off switch. Also, you can listen to music on these monitors via Bluetooth. Inside the box you will find cables, isolation pads.
KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitors
These studio monitors offer large headroom and low distortion thanks to the bi-amped class A/B amplifier. The waveguide is optimized for superior imaging and it provides great bass response, pristine clarity and frequencies up to 35 KHz. From this list, KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 are offering the closest sound you can get in professional recording studios.
Just like its name, this pair of studio monitor is all about portability. You may not get the quality of the the previous monitors in this list, but you will get a pair of affordable studio monitors that will do the job and they’ll still fit in your backpack. Designed for entry level, these 10-watt monitors offer RCA inputs for connecting mixers, laptops or audio interface. The frequency response is between 80 Hz and 20,000 Hz. The box contains the acoustic pads, power cable, stereo cable, 1/8” RCA cable, speaker wire, user guide and safety warranty manual.
If the mix sounds great on your monitors, it will eventually sound as good as Hi-Fi, PA (public address) in clubs or shows, boomboxes and PC speakers, headphones, phones, etc. That’s why everyone is trying to get that perfect sound on their studio monitors, and that’s why a cheap and rusty pair of monitors could down the sound quality of your song, even if you have recorded it on the best home studio microphone you can think of.
Another crucial factor when using studio monitors is the acoustics of the room in which you mix and master the songs. You really don’t want to mix your songs in a room that creates echoes, especially echoes from the monitors. The sound needs to be heard as clear as possible. If your room creates the echo effect, you should probably get informed about how to treat it acoustically.
Studio monitors: Active or passive?
Active monitors have a built-in amplifier. They have a separate amplifier for each of the speakers, depending on the frequency range played by the speaker. The advantages are that you do not need to buy a separate amplifier. The signal coming out of the mixer or audio interface can be played directly to the monitors. Active monitors are usually recommended for home studio setups.
Passive monitors do not have a built-in amplifier, so you need to buy a separate amplifier. The advantages are that you can use any amplifier, and you can change it later if you want with a better one. You can combine any monitors with any amplifier. One disadvantage is that the whole monitoring setup will need extra space on your studio desk, and you will need a set of extra cables (from the line output to the amplifier, then from the amplifier to the monitors).
Bass reflex vs. Sealed monitors
The monitors can feature ported (bass reflex) or sealed (closed cabinet designs). The bass reflex have an orifice that allows the air pushed by the speaker to circulate through. Both types sound good on low frequencies, but some will argue that sealed monitors sound better. I believe this is a personal choice, according to your own taste.
Nearfield vs midfield monitors
Depending on the way you have designed your setup, some monitors are located close to the sound engineer, others at a larger distance or medium. Depending on this factor, you can get a “nearfield” or “mid field”. You can also get monitors that are suited for larger or medium distances if you want to see how your mix sounds on high volumes. But in general, the nearfield monitors are the ones you should buy, especially if you are building a home recording studio.
Studio Monitors Placement
In general, the studio monitors should be placed on a special stand, symmetrically to the side walls of the mixing room. The head of the sound engineer should form an equilateral triangle with the nearfield monitors. The picture above is a good example in this regard.
Also, the mixing room should feature symmetrical arrangement of furniture, audio tools, and other elements. The mixing desk should be placed somewhere at 35%-40% distance on the long axis of the room, just like in the image above. The vertical or horizontal positioning of monitors is based on the manufacturer’s specifications and you will probably find those recommendations in the manual. If you are not following these known patterns of placement, you will experience a degradation of the stereo image, and thus you will have a lower quality mix. I am sure you don’t really want that.
The studio monitors you decide to buy are designed to help you mix the song in a way that sounds better than the original recordings. That’s way it’s important to choose a studio monitoring system that’s accurate and transparent. It is hard to pick the best studio monitors that fits all ears. They have various features that does not appeal to everyone. Also, the style of music you decide to mix is a good reference when you choose the monitors for your home studio.
You should consider factors like the size of the monitors (4-7 inch), nearfield or midflield, passive or active, ported or sealed. We hope that the selection above gave you a good idea on what the market has to offer at affordable prices. Don’t forget to buy studio monitor stands for your setup! What’s your favorite pair of studio monitors?
image sources: crossfadr.com