Unfortunately, in many home recording setups, you can still find conventional hi-fi boxes from the electronics discounter. As a result, many users wonder why they can’t get their sounds and mixes under control. The reason for this is obvious: Because the hi-fi boxes used are not designed for this purpose, owners of appropriately equipped studios simply cannot properly assess the sounds and mixes they produce. Avarice is not always cool, and those who save on the monitor speakers are sure to save at the wrong end.
What good are the best equipment and the most wonderful plug-ins if it is not played back properly at the end of the recording chain? Best studio monitor speakers is the magic word that should sharpen your sound senses – and such studio monitors don’t always have to cost a fortune. At this point I would like to give you a few tips that can help you to make a definitive purchase decision.
Studio monitor vs. HiFi box
I don’t want to spend too much time comparing these two types of loudspeakers, but I would like to briefly point out the differences in advance. As already mentioned in the introduction, a hi-fi box is not designed for assessing a music production process, but is only designed for listening to songs that have already been produced. It should be fun to listen to (finished) music.
But the way to the finished music begins with the recording, where you often play and record individual instruments (whether “real” instruments via a microphone, synth sounds or virtual instruments in the computer). It is important that you hear the sound of the individual instruments as neutrally as possible so that you can judge them.
And that’s where we come to the first important point: HiFi boxes don’t sound neutral. On the contrary: they deliberately color the overall sound in order to convey a “pleasant” listening impression. With hi-fi speakers, the highs and lower mids as well as the bass are raised to a greater or lesser extent, so the mids (upper and middle) are usually not as present as they should be. But it is precisely the mids that are very important for music production, since this frequency range is where the main information of most instruments (and also the human voice) lies.
For example, listen to a CD by a “big rock band” (with several guitars). Can you really hear (differentiated) what the individual guitars are playing on your hi-fi speakers? And what does the bass do, what the keyboards do, what the backing vocals…? Probably not that good. It all sounds pretty powerful and “big”, but the individual elements are no longer really differentiated. With the studio monitor it should be more like a magnifying glass. You can also concentrate on the little things and details in a complex mix and set your focus accordingly.
Requirements for studio monitors
But what does a studio monitor have to be able to do so that you can avoid the above-mentioned problems from the start? Does it matter which studio monitor I use, the main thing is no longer a hi-fi box? Clear answer: No, it doesn’t matter. But unfortunately there is no magic formula as to which studio monitor is the right one for the individual application. When making a selection, you should definitely take your time and test as many monitors as you can and how you are still able to hear the differences. Make sure to take a break from listening to the test every now and then – in the perfumery you don’t smell a difference after the sixth scent in a row at the latest (and afterwards you “smell” like a moose).
For the (test) trip to the dealer, I can give you the following tip:
You should put together around five songs that you know very well and ask the dealer they trust that you can listen to them on the monitors of your choice. Do not use MO3s or the like for such a test, as the coding already results in a strong compression and reduction. The individual pieces should have different styles and come from different artists / bands so that you get a diverse impression. So don’t just use the “Hau-drauf” favorite heavy band, but also include a good pop song, an acoustic piece, etc. in your personal reference program – don’t be afraid to include a classical piece Can be used with a real orchestra – no other style of music offers you such a dynamic.
Positioning the speakers
Just as important as a good loudspeaker are its location and correct positioning. The best loudspeaker cannot show its class in a poor sounding room or misaligned. Therefore, you should deal with the room in which the speakers are to be used, as well as their respective placement and orientation, in peace.
In order to be able to correctly monitor and assess a stereo signal – L (left) and R (right) – the listening position must be aligned with a few factors so that the entire stereo width and the exact localization of individual signals can be understood. The only ideal speaker alignment for stereo signals is the so-called “ideal stereo triangle”. It is important to ensure that the two speakers together with the ideal listening position (also known as the “sweet spot”) result in an equilateral triangle, with each the three angles in the triangle is 60 °. This means that the distance from the listening position to each of the two speakers corresponds to the distance between the two speakers.