Maximizing Your Studio Monitors
Setting Up Your Monitors
No matter what studio monitors (speakers) you are using, here are some tips for getting the best results in your space.
Setting up your studio monitors is critically important, and here are pointers to get you started. Place the monitors away from nearby walls, both behind and to the side. I like to have at least 3′ behind my monitors if I can, and the farther the walls are away to the sides, the better. Place the monitors in an equal-sided triangle, with the speakers at two of the triangle corners and the third corner being your listening position. Place the monitor tweeters at or slightly above ear level. Aim the center focus of the tweeters slightly behind your head, not directly at your ears. Isolate the monitors from your desk or stands using isolation stands, such as the IsoAcoustics Acoustic Isolation Stands or Argosy Spire i-stand Speaker Stands or Ultimate Support MS-80 desktop monitor stands. .
Learn Your Monitors
Once you have the monitors set up in your studio, you need to acclimate your ears to how they sound. Despite all monitors claiming to be “flat,” they each sound a bit different and will also respond differently in your room. Over the years, I’ve reviewed and evaluated many different studio monitors, in a number of different rooms. The number one tool I’ve used to quickly learn a pair of speakers is a reference collection of music – songs that reveal particular aspects of a monitor’s performance: bass response, treble clarity, imaging, dynamics, and so on. It doesn’t matter what songs you use, just that they tell you something about the monitors. I like to use a variety of musical styles, and I always include some of my own mixes. I play the songs back at the highest resolution available – off a CD or preferably at 24-bit resolution through a great converter. A minute or so of listening to each song tells me what I need to know, and I move on to the next song. In 20 minutes, I’ve got the monitors figured out, and I can get to work! To learn more about how to select the best monitors for your studio, check out our Studio Monitors Buying Guide.
JBL LSR305, KRK ROKIT 5, YAMAHA HS5,
MACKIE MR5MK3, PRESONUS ERISs E5
When you’re in the studio, your monitors are your main portal into your music, so having good ones is essential. After all, superior recording, mixing, and mastering is impossible if you can’t accurately hear what you’re doing. Customers often ask Sales Engineers, “What’s the best studio monitor?” That’s a tough question, especially when you’re on a budget. Your monitors need to ensure that your music translates well across listening systems — earbuds, headphones, speakers, computers, and automobile stereos. You also need to LIKE the way they sound. After all, you’ll be listening to them for long periods of time. Luckily, Sweetwater carries several studio monitors that offer excellent quality without emptying your wallet.
The JBL LSR305 is great for mixing music, editing video, or completing any other task that requires accurate sound. The LSR305 features a 5″ woofer (driven by 41 watts) and a 1″ tweeter (driven by 41 watts), and it includes many advanced features from JBL’s flagship M2 system. JBL’s proprietary Image Control Waveguide creates a wide stereo panorama with a rock-solid phantom center. These monitors also produce a detailed sound with a broad sweet spot, so working on them is a joy. The LSR305 is a top performer, earning the acclaim of renowned engineers, including Frank Filipetti.
KRK monitors are incredibly popular — you can spot their distinctive yellow woofers in studios all over the world. The KRK ROKIT 5 comes loaded with an innovative Class AB amplifier pushing a 5″ composite woofer (30 watts) and 1″ soft-dome tweeter (20 watts), providing you with the high-headroom, low-distortion performance you need to hear the hidden details of your mix. They offer amazing sound quality and accuracy, and their legendary low-end response makes them a favorite among EDM and hip-hop producers.
Yamaha’s nearfield monitors, with their iconic white-coned woofers, have been mainstays in studios since the days of the NS-10 (if you don’t know what that is, ask your dad). The Yamaha HS5 improves upon Yamaha’s original design, employing retooled bi-amplified drivers and a ported enclosure that supplies you with amazing accuracy and incredibly low levels of coloration. Featuring a 5″ cone woofer (45 watts) and 1″ dome tweeter (25 watts), the HS5 is revered for its translatability — if your mix sounds good on a set of these, it’ll sound good everywhere.
In the ’90s, Mackie rewrote the book on nearfield studio monitoring, and the Mackie MR5mk3 is their latest contribution. Its enhanced waveguide provides you with a wider sweet spot, while custom-tuned rear porting ensures smooth, extended bass. On top of that, customizable frequency controls dial in the perfect response for your space. Featuring a 5.25″ polypropylene cone woofer (30 watts) and 1″ silk-dome tweeter (20 watts), MR5mk3s are excellent studio monitors.
The PreSonus Eris E5 is priced like a high-end multimedia speaker, but that’s where the similarities end. Each monitor is loaded with a 70-watt Class AB amp that drives a robust 5.25″ Kevlar woofer that offers excellent low-frequency reproduction with next to no distortion, and a 1″ silk-dome tweeter that delivers smooth and balanced highs. Acoustic tuning controls make contouring your system’s frequency response to your room a breeze. Mix a song on these — you’ll be amazed at how well it translates from one stereo to another.
I personally like the way the M1 Active MK3 Premium 5" Alesis Studio Monitors sound. I have used these monitors for several years now and continue to produce amazing sound mixes through them. For a reasonable price you can beat it!
RELATED ARTICLES AND BLOG ENTRIES
Studio Monitor Placement – 5 Tips for Optimal Sound
In-ear Monitors for Studio Engineers — Why You Need Them!
Mixing With a Subwoofer: Good or Bad?
How Loud Should You Mix?
JBL Announces LSR mk2 Studio Monitors
Winter NAMM 2016: Alesis Elevate Monitors