In a recording studio, quality speakers are by no means an option – they’re essential to achieving the perfect mix. But what makes them so different from regular speakers or even high-fidelity speakers? What does a studio monitor do differently from those in your living room?
What does a studio monitor do?
Studio monitors are loudspeakers housed in speaker enclosures specially designed for professional audio production applications where accurate audio reproduction is required. The speakers are designed to output a flat (linear) frequency response that accurately expresses the tonal qualities of the source audio.
In other words, studio monitors have little or no emphasis on any frequency within their frequency range. The speaker accurately reproduces the source audio’s tonal characteristics.
If you’re interested in learning how to choose a pair of monitors for yourself, check out the following article:
Related Content: A Guide on How to Choose Studio Monitors
It is common to hear the words “uncolored” or “transparent” in reference to flat frequency response. If the tone is altered, you will hear people say the tone has been “colored.”
Monitor speakers usually include more than one driver, one or two for low-frequency (LF) and one for high-frequency (HF) (e.g., a tweeter and a woofer). Sub-woofer monitors can be added to a monitor set up when needed and in a large enough room.
Studio monitors are essential for professional audio production, but what exactly do they do that other types of speakers don’t? Are they really necessary?
This article will explore what studio monitors are, what they do, and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Are Studio Monitors Necessary?
Now, you might be wondering, “are studio monitors really necessary for audio production?”
Studio monitors are necessary for achieving a great mix, whether it’s in a home studio or professional recording studio, because they have the ability to accurately reproduce the audio track enabling the listener to find and fix flaws in a recording.
Studio monitors reproduce the sound you’re recording with exceptional accuracy. They play a significant role in delivering balanced sound, enabling you to hear precisely what is in your mix or master: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
That said, it’s essential to know that all speakers, including studio monitors, will color the tone. However, studio monitors are designed to have a minimal effect on the audio quality.
Most consumer speakers will affect the sound, often boosting treble and bass frequencies. The resulting “smiley curve” EQ makes the music seem more robust and sharp.
Knowing that even studio monitors will have some impact on tone, once you do buy a pair, listen to a variety of music through them and get your ears used to their sound.
Listen and Pay attention to music that is comparable to your style. This will help you know what you should sound like when playing back your recordings.
When recording engineers and music professionals listen to music, they do so with a different mentality than ordinary listeners.
Usually, music consumers just want to enjoy the music they like as much as possible, and listeners simply want to get the most out of their favorite music.
It doesn’t matter if the music they’re hearing is a precise representation of what the artist had in mind, and the listeners’ personal, subjective impression is all that matters.
Consumers frequently opt for speakers that appear to improve their listening experience since they want to feel more connected with music.
Those recording the music (Musicians, producers, and sound engineers) want something distinct.
They need to hear the straightforward truth, and they need speakers that do not hide imperfections. And that holds true in the home studio as well.
If there are sour notes, outside noises, or off-balanced equalization, you want to address those issues. You’ll need speakers that provide considerably more detail than typical consumer-grade speakers.
At the mixing stage, you must ensure that the balance is correct. There’s a fine line between loud and thunderous, between roaring drums and the vocals being swamped by drums.
To make such mix decisions with any degree of confidence, you need accurate and linear speakers.
Lastly, I have to mention headphones. Headphones that are capable of producing professional-quality sound are fundamental, probably more so than monitors. A stereo pair of monitors are used when performing for the whole room, but editing is done using headphones. Monitors are used to check for quality, like putting the recording through quality control.
Okay, one last thing this time.
The ears will fatigue faster at close-range exposure to sound, so you won’t be able to listen to music on headphones as long as you will using monitors.
When talking about studio monitors and if they’re necessary, I often get asked about how many a person may need. Here are answers related to that.
Do you need 2 studio monitors?
To achieve correct stereo separation, having two speakers is required. Music production of a stereo track requires two studio monitors to create stereo sound accurately.
In other words, you’ll need proper stereo sound in order to produce music, which requires two speakers.
It’s recommended to buy two identical studio monitors that will have the same tonal qualities but listen to your mixes on as many sets of speakers as you can.
Listening in mono may not be a terrible idea, and you may use this as part of your music-making process. However, It is not recommended to use only a single monitor to create a complete, professional mix.
Why are studio monitors sold individually?
Studio monitor speakers are typically sold individually.
In general, studio monitors are sold individually because the end-user may not need a stereo pair. The end-user may need only a mono channel, or they may be adding to an existing set of monitors.
One reason is that many people use headphones for mixing and editing music projects, so one monitor speaker may be enough to get started.
Secondly, A single monitoring placed in the center is helpful for listening to a mix in true mono.
Remember that music from decades ago, such as classic rock, was mixed using a single studio monitor.
It can be hard to hear phase cancellation and filtering issues when using a pair of stereo speakers. Mono is still important, and you should be hitting the MONO button from time to time to check your mix.
You should always check your mix using the MONO button.
If your track sounds good in mono, it will probably sound fine in stereo. The opposite is not always true.
Studio monitors are essential for anyone who wants to create great-sounding audio recordings. They are different from regular speakers in that they output a flat frequency response, which accurately reproduces the source audio’s tonal qualities.
This makes them the perfect choice for anyone looking for an accurate representation of their audio recordings.