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Studio monitors are speakers made for music production purposes such as editing, mixing, and monitoring. Besides that, You can also use them for day to day activities such as using it as an extension for your TV speakers or filmmaking. A studio monitor might include one or more drivers like the woofer, Tweeter, single driver subwoofers, and bass drum.
There are many different types of studio monitors available in the market; they are the mid-field, near-field, and far-field. Familiarizing yourself with their features and uses will help you make choices quite easily and quickly on the right studio monitor for you and your production requirements.
Know the Basic of Studio Monitor
The cabinet holds the electronic components of a monitor. The cabinet can be made using different substances such as wood, plastic, and metal.
Usually, studio monitors feature two different speakers or drivers.
The Tweeter is usually placed vertically above. They are typically shaped in the form of a dome or cone; they are made from a series of materials. They are known for producing high-frequency sounds, which usually start at about 2 kHz.
The second speaker is usually vertically placed under the Tweeter; this is called a woofer. They are commonly known to be shaped like a cone and are known for producing the mid to low frequency sounds, which are then displayed on monitors which have two drivers, also known as “two way.”
A third driver can be found in some monitors and also a mid-range speaker. The Tweeter makes high frequencies, the mid-range speaker produces mid frequencies, and the woofer makes low frequencies, this is how this three-way system works.
There is an electromagnet behind every Driver. The magnet goes on and off repeatedly, which makes the Driver go forward and backward really fast, which then produces a multiplex of audio signs. The vibration produced by the Driver vibrates the molecules in the air surrounding the Driver, which then creates sound waves to remake the sound (audio).
Near-Field Vs. Mid-Field Vs. Far-Field
Depending on your listening device, your monitor may have varying sounds. Due to this, most monitors are usually made to be used as near-field, mid-field, or far-field. They each have their advantages when used in a home studio setting. In general, in most professional recording and music production studio setup, the types of studio monitors will be chosen based on the studio sizes, monitor placement, and the listening distance.
When you are getting the equipment needed by your studio, it is vital to choose a monitor that fits your studio space. If your studio is cramped up, you won’t get good sound results, especially if you are using the far-field monitors, and it is the same thing if you use a near-field monitor in a larger space of about five feet.
1) Near-Field Monitors
The drivers in these monitors are usually small and are situated close to the listener at about two to three feet. Their closeness enables the produced sound to reach the listener’s ear more audibly than when it is bounced around the surfaces in the room. Near fields have been known to increase the amount of direct sound and reduce the amount of reflected sound.
Near-field monitors feature two speakers; these are the Tweeter and Woofer, also known as Driver.
Due to the small size of the near-field monitors, they can be placed on a stand or table that is close to the listener. They are specially made to be used close to the listener, which increases the amount of direct sound heard by the listener rather than the reflected sounds which bounce off the ceilings and walls.
This allows for a more detailed result and reduced effect of room acoustics. It is easier to pinpoint little problems in your mashups, such as clicks and pop sounds. Near fields have this advantage because they give a smaller frequency output; this is the measurement of the frequency range the monitor produces.
2) Mid-field Studio Monitors
These monitors have a larger cabinet to accommodate the bass extensions, they have an improved mid to high-frequency distribution at a farther distance. These monitors are made for a way bigger studio space.
They have bigger and stronger drivers that allow them to take up a large studio room with high sound quality, which is better than near-field monitors. They can be placed far away from the listener without any reduction in the quality of sound.
Because of their far-reaching abilities, it has an improved bass extension and a much higher volume. They are likely to overstate the model of the room, which includes the increase of numerous bass frequencies and auditive cancellations; these are usually linked to the dimension of the room, which could lead to incorrect readings.
3) Far-Field Monitors
These monitors are quite extensive, including the Driver, so they are fitted along the walls of the studio space, far away from the audience at about 10 feet away. They are most times hooked to the wall or inside the wall at the back of a mixing table. These monitors usually have about 2 to 3 speakers, which are the Tweeter, mid-range driver, and the low-range Driver.
They allow sounds to be heard all over the room, thereby using the acoustics of the room to their advantage by improving the sound output. The whole space in the room enables the expansion of low frequencies, that have a lengthier wavelength. Due to the added low end, far fields have a more enjoyable listening experience and general checking of mix stability.
Although the presence of bounced off sounds can make room modes that produce vibrations in the room, because of this, studio rooms that use far-field monitors usually have diffusers to reduce the vibrations.
Which One Should You Choose?
Near field monitors are ideal for more precise sounds in smaller rooms; this is because they need to be placed close to the listener. By reducing the distance, you will be able to hear the sound before it bounces off the walls and ceiling of your studio room.
The far-field monitors are placed at a distance of 10 feet and should be used in studio rooms that have been lined with vibration materials. They are specially made to resist high volumes.
You could design your home studio space, and it may be too small for a far-field monitor. Also, far-field monitors rely so much on the room’s acoustics, so you would have to spend money to get the right monitor and accessories for your studio space.
Significant Features to Consider: Active Vs. Passive Monitors
Passive monitoring systems are adaptable; they require you to connect your speakers to the right crossover and amplifiers while active monitors have all that in-built, which is an advantage. You don’t have to get any extra accessories, and you have in mind that the amplifier inside is specially made to fit the speaker for an excellent sound execution.
Before you can play any signal that enters the monitor, it must be amplified. The two different systems which are passive and active can do this. A monitor that works passively is called a passive system, and the monitors that work in the active sense are called active systems.
This needs an external amplifier to aid the amplification of the input signal before going into the monitor. The signal that has been amplified is then sent through different electronic components inside the monitor known as the crossover network.
These do not need an external amplifier because it already has an in-built amplifier inside its cabinet. The input signal enters the monitor and passes through the crossover network then it separately amplifies each band before it is sent to the designated drivers.
In a studio monitor that has just one woofer and Tweeter, the signal will be divided into two separate bands, and each will have its amplifier. This is called a “bi-amp” system.
Some other systems use a third speaker, which divides the signal into three, which are low, mid, and high frequencies. These bands can each be amplified, which creates a “tri-amp” system.
When drivers are singly powered, they have a more definite and precise sound. Single-amp doesn’t sound as good as bi-amp and tri-amp even though they have similar prices.
There are several disadvantages and advantages when it comes to the use of passive and active monitors. The most significant difference between them is that the active monitors have an in-built amplifier and use an active crossover when compared to the passive monitor.
This reduces the amount of equipment in your studio room, seeing as the speakers work by themselves, and you don’t have to think about connecting your speakers to a crossover and amplifier. There are a reduced number of wires and math while producing the best sound quality. Passive also have their right side, with adaptable designs, you can easily and quickly upgrade your passive monitor, which lets you add new gears as you save up.
Significant Features to Consider: Ported or Closed?
You might notice those small studio monitors and a number of the large ones. Have a cabinet that is ported, which aids the extension of the frequency response and lowers it to allow more bass. This might have its benefits, but the acoustic accuracy of the ported cabinet won’t be as accurate as of that of the closed cabinet. It becomes worse if the ports are located behind the speakers and are also placed close to the wall or a corner. To get the best, choose a closed cabinet or a front port cabinet for accurate monitoring.
Studio Monitors Buying Guide
You need a studio monitor speaker that creates the most accurate, uncolored display of the music you are producing. When selecting your monitors, you need to consider another aspect other than accuracy; this guide has been put together to help you choose the right studio monitor for your studio room.
Power – How Many Watts Do I Need?
The power handling of a studio monitoring system may affect the sound output and not just the volume. It also helps decide the number of headroom you may have before the signal reaches the highest point and your dynamic range. If you want to hear a more explicit version of the sound, then it is best to use a high watt, and it also lets you make specific tweaks to limiters, gates, and compressors.
You could try listening to a mix with on different monitoring systems with varying wattage at the same volume; a higher wattage will give you more headroom. Most people don’t know that music heights such as kick drums or snare hits can need as much as ten times more power than the primary music program material. For a volume level that demands 20 watts then the music peak will need as much as 200 watts, if you got an amp that gives off 70 watts, then you will still need 130 watts to get to your desired need. This creates a more noticeable distortion and could also be clipping when at the musical height and in many pop music a kick drum, which occurs frequently. You might not need a whole lot of power but always know that more wattage will give you a higher sound quality, volume, and dynamic range.
Power- Single-amp, Bi-amp, and Tri-amp
To determine whether you will use a single-amp, bi-amp or tri-amp, you need to know how your input signal will be divided to give power to the studio monitor. Most studio monitors have two speakers, a tweeter is for high frequency and a woofer for the low frequencies and also midrange frequencies. You could also add a third speaker so low frequencies go to the woofer, and the mid-range speaker receives the mid-range frequencies. A crossover network divides the output of an amplifier, it then sends the right frequency every one of the speakers, the woofer gets the low frequencies and the Tweeter, the high frequencies. While in the bi-amp, the crossover network passes through different amplifiers, which then power the low and high-frequency drivers. A tri-amp divides the input signal into three to power the three amplifiers that each have low, mid, and low-frequency speakers singly.
Using a bi-amp and tri-amp system gives a correct frequency response and a better sound quality. By sending power to each speaker on its own instead of using the single amp, the drives can make a committed frequency range that is more accurate. When you compare the speakers of the single-amp, bi-amp, and tri-amp, you will notice that the bi-amp and tri-amp speakers let out a more precise sound than the single-amp, but they are all similar in size.
You will find out that speakers are made from a series of materials around, ranging from paper to aluminum alloys to Kevlar and so much more. Manufacturers are continually bringing up new ideas, and if it interests you, then you could find write up on the different materials used in their making. Think about it – does it matter what they are made out of?
The kind of material used in the making of a speaker plays a vital role in how good the sound quality will be, but do you think you would buy a studio monitor because of the specific material used in its making? While we keep in mind the importance the material plays in the sound quality, you would realize that you will get disoriented you center your attention on the material used instead of focusing on the specific benefits when used.
EQ, Room Correction and Other Features
Most studio monitors characterize a type of EQ built in them, which aids the tuning of your studio space. Some have a digital processing unit that can increase the output of your acoustic space. No matter the useful features, always keep in mind that you can’t cheat physics. To change the sound in a wrong sounding room, you just need to get an EQ and room correction DSP; they also help improve a room that already has excellent acoustics. If your control room has uncontrolled acoustics, then no speaker can help that.
Do I Need A Subwoofer?
It depends on your intended use. A multi-speaker monitoring system with a subwoofer is vital if you are continually mixing sounds for motion pictures or TV. You need a stereo pair of studio monitors if you are mixing a recorded demo track for your band in the basement. You need to ask yourself – how will the audience listen to my track? You need a subwoofer to enable you to hear the low bass octaves, whether you will play it through a home theater system that has a sub or a high functioning club system. You don’t necessarily need a subwoofer seeing as you won’t benefit from the subwoofers wide range if you are just mixing music that will be listened to with an iPod or car system.
Studio Room’s Sizes & Space
Studio rooms come in varying sizes and characteristics. You may want to get the most massive woofer your budget can take, but that won’t be advisable. Pick a monitor size that works well with the size of your studio. A standard bedroom can accommodate a near-field studio monitor.
Without turning to maths, it is quite easy to see that a small room cannot accommodate a large monitor as it won’t allow the full development of the bass frequencies. Placing a subwoofer in a small room just causes sonic inaccuracies, you will feel all the volume dips and peaks all over the room, you will be able to hear some bass note. At the same time, the rest will be clouded and inaudible, which will make your studio have unstable sounds. When initiating frequency energy into your room, be very careful so that you do not spoil the perception of the importance of low end in your mix. Using acoustic treatment such as a bass trap will aid in the resolving of these issues, but no matter what you try, the size of your room is still limiting your abilities.
Monitor Placement and Isolation Options
There are no issues with this, place your studio monitors so that they form a boxy triangle and you are seated in the middle, in other words, put them separate from each other and far away from you. This creates the best frequency response and a clear stereo picture.
Using a speaker or studio monitor stand helps upgrade the sound and works better than just putting them on a table or mixing console. Sound will bounce off the desk, which makes the sound reach your ears seconds after the sound is released, which causes a minute comb filtering, which reduces the preciseness of your monitor. A pro tip: put a little mirror on a hard surface around or in the middle of your monitor and you. If you can see the reflection of the monitor from your mixing position, then the mirror acts as an acoustic surface and bounces sound to a none direct pathway to your ears, which causes a comb filter. Any hard-acoustic area that is between your monitor, and you should be corrected using a sound-absorbing substance. Speakers also send some of their energy into whatever surface they are placed on, thereby causing vibrations if they are not on their own. The right way to go is placing your studio monitors on stands and using isolation pads with them.
Types of Music You Are Recording, Monitoring & Mixing
If you record on a small scale, then all you need is a near-field studio monitor with 4″ or 6″ woofer. Still, if you are recording on a large scale such as improving or making hip-hop or rock music, then you need a powerful studio monitor and also a sub-woofer as it lets you hear the low frequencies a whole lot better while mixing.
Cost & Budget
Always stay within your budget, you should not spend lavishly on any music equipment you can’t afford, and that also includes studio monitors. Just choose the size that is suitable for your space and look for the most affordable brand you can find.
Types of Connections
Pick a studio monitor that is compatible with your mixers and the other audio devices you have in your studio.
Lots of the powered studio monitors have audio output through the XLR and ¼ “phone jacks. They are mainly found behind the studio monitors while you can find a single jack that takes the two types of plug-in in some cases.
Some other studio monitors have unbalanced input through an RCA jack or ¼” TS phone jack. These connections make life easy when you are joining studio monitors to audio devices.
When you finally get your choice of studio monitors, then make sure the acoustics in your room is right. If you are new to this, then budget some money for some absorbent acoustic material, which will let you hear your speakers and reduce bounced sounds. Sometimes, the degree of the acoustic treatment of the studio also affects the quality of the monitoring result.
Studio monitors present themselves in all shapes, specifications, and sizes; they all have their functions and form of application. You could get the ideal choice for you no matter if it is internally powered or not, ported or unported, near, or far-field.
Always remember you don’t have to get the best monitor; using our tips, you just have to get the right monitor for your studio space and needs.