Our Top Tips for Choosing & Setting Up Studio Speakers
There are several important things to consider when it comes to choosing—and setting up—the right pair of studio monitors. Sure, you might want them to be a cool color, but other important factors include price, size, room acoustics and positioning.
Buying expensive studio monitors doesn’t guarantee your music is going to sound good. If it were only that easy, right?! Expensive speakers might be “better” in terms of build and sound quality, but there are external factors that can prevent you from getting your money’s worth.
Let’s jump into those factors below and help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your studio monitors!
The space you work in might be the single most important factor when choosing studio monitors. Where are you looking to place them? In your bedroom? A makeshift home studio? An acoustically treated music studio? How big, or small, is the room?
You might want to hold off on breaking the bank for expensive studio monitors if you’re producing in a room that isn’t acoustically treated—properly! Placing some acoustic foam on the wall seems like it’s enough, but that’s not the same as having it professionally treated.
When you hear music coming from your speakers it’s actually a combination of the original sound plus reflections, buildup, and cancellations being caused by the sound traveling through your room. No matter how expensive they are, the studio monitors are only as good as the room they sit in. Yes, there is absolutely a difference in quality between KRK Rokits and some of the high end studio monitors out there. But keep in mind, you only reap those rewards if your room allows it. Your room is also something to remember when setting your price point.
Bigger is not always better—especially when it comes to the size of your studio monitors. The size of your speakers should roughly match the size of your room. If you’re producing in a small bedroom, you’d rather choose a smaller monitor size (e.g. 3 or 5 inch). For larger rooms, you can get away with larger speakers. Don’t lose sight of what these monitors are for. You’re not building a nightclub. It’s a studio for you to produce, mix, master in. By appropriately sizing your monitors, it can also help a bedroom producer save some money (or spend the “saved” money on a better quality speaker instead of just a bigger one).
This one is a big question of a lot of the students in our Cosmic Academy bootcamp ask about. Placement is a major factor when it comes to getting the best possible sound from your speakers. Start by creating an equilateral triangle between you and your speakers. The distance from the left speaker to the right speaker should also be the same distance from your listening position to each speaker. Angling your speakers (60 degrees so that the triangle is equilateral) is also better than leaving them facing straight out.
If possible, center your desk in the room. You want equal distance from the speakers to the side walls. Most speakers are going to be standing vertically. Some monitors are meant to lay on their side, but only do so if that is the case. It’s up to you whether you choose to use speaker stands, or place them directly on the desk. When placing them on a desk, consider purchasing isolation pads for them to sit on.
Keeping the speakers a couple feet off the back wall will help minimize any buildup of low end frequency. This can be hard for those working in a smaller home studio. However, any little bit will help. You can also try and position the speakers to face the long side of the room. This comes down to your room’s natural shape. Square spaces are not ideal listening environments.
Finally, you want to have both monitors at ear level. Not above, not below. This is easy to accomplish with a two tier desk. Without one, monitor stands are an affordable option that allow you to set them at your desired height.
We hope this advice helps!