One of the most important parts of any production studio is the studio monitors.
Unlike ordinary hi-fi systems, studio monitors aim to represent sound in its purest form. This allows for accurate mixing and mastering of your music. A vital tool to ensure your latest musical creation sounds great. From headphones to huge sound systems.
Studio monitors are also great for general listening. Hearing music without any colorization gives you deeper insight into the music you love.
There is a lot to consider when choosing studio monitors. In this guide, we break down some of the major categories of studio monitors. You’ll learn what these categories have to offer and key features to keep an eye out for.
Plus two bonus sections that cover one of the most crucial accessories for studio monitors. Studio monitor stands and isolation pads.
Studio monitors will provide you with a listening experience that is second to none. The clear and defined sound will allow you to properly analyze your music. Whether that is for music production, sound editing for podcasts, or YouTube videos. Understanding how your project will sound is critical.
Studio monitors allow you to accurately mix and master your music so it sounds great on any sound system.
Selecting the right studio monitors for your needs is not an easy task. With so many options available it is important to be aware of some key features that you’ll want to look out for.
- When selecting studio monitors you’ll need to factor in your studio space. Both in size and sonic dynamics. Superior studio monitors will offer tuning options that allow you to refine the output to suit your space.
- Studio monitors are one area where quality is important. There are plenty of cheap speakers out there. But if you want great sound quality it’s important to buy a monitor from a reputable brand that has a history in the audio space.
- Studio monitors should also offer excellent value for money. Just because you can buy a studio monitor for thousands of dollars doesn’t mean you have to. Aim to strike the balance between audio profile, sound quality, and price.
Budget Studio Monitors
Studio monitors can be very expensive. Professional grade monitors can easily jump into the thousands of dollars. Luckily there is a range of more budget-friendly studio monitors. These are an excellent choice for beginners who may want more to spend on other components for their studio.
Budget studio monitors can still offer extra features despite the low price.
As with all products, quality can vary greatly based on price. There is a range of budget monitors available but not all of them are worth buying. If you are on a tight budget you’ll have to pay extra attention to reviews. With careful research, you can still get a quality set of monitors without breaking the bank.
- Build quality is the biggest concern with budget monitors. To save on costs the component quality needs to go down. Striking the balance between reasonable quality components and price is a tricky challenge.
- Usually, budget monitors will fall into smaller sized options. Be prepared for lower volume output. Also expect a softer low-end response with smaller monitors.
- Extra features are rare among budget monitors. But there are still some choices available that offer basic tuning options. Value for money is important but so is understanding what features you need. You can save a lot of money by going down a size or bypassing monitors with extra bells and whistles.
Small Studio Monitors
With the growth of independent music creation, there has been a growing need for quality small monitors. Not everyone has a large amount of space to dedicate to their recording studio. Large studio monitors can quickly gobble up your available space. They can also be overbearing and unnecessary for smaller spaces.
Studio monitors come in a range of sizes with the most common sizes ranging from 3 to 8 inches.
Small studio monitors give you more flexibility. High-quality sound reproduction in a compact form. While you’ll often find the lower frequencies to be lacking, the mids and highs can be amazing. Plus you can always invest in a subwoofer to improve low-end output. This is a great way to experience the sound output of larger monitors without taking up a lot of space on your work surface.
- Small studio monitors should be compact but well built. Pay extra attention to the quality of materials used. As they are smaller it is easier to knock them over and potentially cause damage.
- Flexibility is important for small studio monitors. Especially if you intend on using the studio monitors beyond music creation. Connection options like Bluetooth come in handy. So does easy access to volume control or front AUX input for media devices.
- Weight is another consideration. If you plan on using the studio monitors as bookshelf speakers you’ll want lightweight monitors. Many floating shelves or bookcases have limits to how much weight they can handle.
5 Inch Studio Monitors
One of the most popular sizes of studio monitors is the 5 inch range. These monitors offer a more well-rounded balance between low, mid, and high output. They also have a greater capacity to hit higher volumes without placing strain on the speaker.
5 Inch monitors are a popular choice for home studios.
When you move into the 5 inch category you’ll also see improved connection options and tuning controls. The 5 inch size is well suited for small to medium-sized studios. An excellent adaptable option if your studio space changes.
- Balance is important for all studio monitors. 5 inch monitors can offer excellent sound output but not all monitors are the same level of quality. Stick to established brands with a track record of producing high-quality studio gear.
- Tuning options are very important. While a 5 inch monitor is versatile it can still suffer from issues dependant on the studio space. Considering the price point for these monitors you’d want to ensure they come with some tuning options.
- The low-end output is generally good with 5 inch monitors but there is a lot of variation between models. Not all 5 inch models deliver a smooth low-end. If that is important to you it’s worth checking before buying.
8 Inch Studio Monitors
Most manufacturers cap out their line of studio monitors at 8 inch. Anything bigger than this tends to start pushing into the PA speaker category. PA speakers are not good for a studio environment as they color the sound. If you do have a large studio space an 8 inch monitor will be ideal.
You might not need a subwoofer if you buy larger studio monitors.
8 inch monitors deliver a much better low-end response thanks to the big woofer. An essential component if you make bass-heavy music. Keep in mind these speakers are large and are not ideal for small spaces.
- Most studio monitors offer an excellent near-field listening experience (within 1 meter). Many larger monitors still have narrow sweet spots. Don’t expect that just because they are large that they will fill your large studio space with even sound. If you need to fill a room opt for a monitor with a larger sweet spot.
- The low-end is generally well looked after but the frequency response still varies between models. Anything with a rating beyond 20Hz you’ll feel more than hear. Excellent if you are buying 8 inch monitors for a solid low-end response.
- Tuning options are still a critical component of 8 inch monitors. Due to the large woofer and size of the cabinet, you may encounter some refraction issues. This depends heavily on your studio space. But, having good tuning options available can help smooth out the response.
Beginner Studio Monitors
We live in an age where anyone can get noticed thanks to the prevalence of social media. Many artist have launched their careers thanks to sharing their music online. This has lead to a surge in new talent looking to share their music with the world.
Studio monitors are ideal for producing music but not good for live performances.
This is where beginner studio monitors shine. While studio monitors may appear simple on the surface there is a lot of variation between models. Beginner monitors bridge the gap and offer easy to install and operate options. Perfect for creators wanting to get stuck into creating.
- When looking at beginner studio monitors you want to have a good idea of the size of the monitor you’ll be after. This will depend on your studio space.
- Connection options vary greatly depending on price point and different brands. Pay special attention to how you plan to connect the speakers and ensure they have the connection options you need.
- Basic tuning options are good to have even as a beginner. There can be a big difference in sound output based on your studio space. Having these up your sleeve will help you get the most out of your new monitors.
Studio Monitor Stands
Selecting studio monitors is a challenge. But there’s an accessory that will allow you to get the most out of your monitors. Studio monitor stands assist with bringing your monitors up to the correct ear level. They also help cut down on resonance and vibrations so that you experience the best possible output.
Studio monitor stands bring your monitors up to ear level for a better listening experience.
Choosing the right stands can make a huge difference in the acoustics of your home studio. Below are some of the key features you should consider when adding studio monitor stands to your setup.
- Studio monitor stands need to offer excellent stability. You’ll be placing your expensive studio monitors on top of them. You want a dependable surface that won’t wobble or tip easily.
- Good decoupling is also an essential component of studio monitor stands. They should help diffuse vibrations. This will give you cleaner audio delivery. A crucial component to get the most out of your studio monitors.
- Flexibility is also an important element. Studio monitor stands help bring your monitors up to the correct level so that the tweeters match your ears. Stands that offer height adjustment makes this process easier.
Studio Monitor Isolation Pads
Another accessory worth considering is a good set of isolation pads or discs. These handy items have one primary goal. To reduce vibrations from your studio monitors. This leads to many benefits. Tighter bass response and higher accuracy across the frequency range of your monitors.
Stands and pads combine to bring the best sound out of your studio monitors.
There are two main choices when it comes to isolation. Pads and Discs. Both are fantastic choices and can work in tandem with monitor stands to give you the absolute best output from your studio monitors. Here are some things to look out for when buying isolation pads.
- Isolation pads should feature high-density foam. This foam absorbs and traps vibrations. The foam should also be durable and not flake easily.
- Both isolation pads and discs will help decouple your monitors from surfaces. Even more so than most studio monitor stands. Pads and discs with high-quality construction and intelligent design will tackle vibrations with ease.
- It is also worth checking the load capacity of any isolation pad or disc you are looking to buy. Some studio monitors can be quite heavy. Your pads need to be able to comfortably handle the weight. This is important both for stability and vibration control.
Choosing The Right Gear
Choosing studio monitors is not as easy as it appears. If you are serious about your productions you’ll want to allocate a good amount of money for monitors. You’ll spend countless hours listening back to your music and making adjustments. You want refined and clean sound with little ear fatigue.
Good monitors coupled with high-quality stands and isolation pads will give you superior sound. Positioning and placement are crucial for studio monitors so it’s important to get this right.
The enjoyment you’ll get from listening to your favorite music is hard to beat. You’ll hear details you’ve never heard before. The flat response delivers an experience as close to sitting there in the studio with the artist.
While hi-fi systems are satisfying, studio monitors will open you up to a whole new appreciation of music and sound.
I wish you many hours of enjoying listening to music with your new studio monitors!