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The Most Important Things to Consider When Buying Studio Monitors

When you are recording and mixing music, it is important to have access to a good set of studio monitors. Studios spend thousands of dollars on monitor speakers, but you can find excellent new and used monitors for under $200. If you are willing to spend a little more, you will find incredible sounding studio monitors for under $1000.

The final mix and Dynamic range

Good quality monitors bring so much to the final mix. Home studio engineers often get a little carried away when recording. They start adding many elements of fine detail to tracks only to lose those fine details in the final mix. The cause for fine details disappearing is often due to poor monitors.

If your monitor speakers are not powerful enough to deliver wide dynamic range elements of your music, it will become lost in the mix. This is often due to poor studio monitors. That part of your music is there. It is just that your ears can not hear it due to a weak dynamic range.

Speaker power is very important

The more power you have in your monitors, the better. This is not for volume, but to deliver a greater dynamic range in the songs you are mixing. You want as much "headroom" as possible. The higher the wattage, the greater the dynamic range. This means you have more to mix with.

When you have a monitor system that is powerful. It is important to learn that loud is not always best. Don't drive your speakers to full capacity, as you will experience elements of clipping and distortion.

If you are driving your monitors too hard, you will lose the more delicate elements of the track, and your mix will become dependant on the more dominant aspects of the track, making the final mix sound bass heavy or top heavy.

Room adjustment and EQ

Even in the budget ranges, studio monitors come with room controls. That is designed to help you tune your speakers to the acoustics of a room. More expensive monitors have automated digital processors to achieve the optimum sound from a particular environment.

There are two important things to consider with room adjustment controls. First, This is not a magic, miracle-working tool. If your room has an echo, it will always have an echo. Bad acoustics are bad acoustics. There is nothing you can do about it unless you start acoustically treating your studio space.

If your studio space has good acoustics, the adjustment controls will make your monitors sound amazing. You can tell the difference when a good set of monitors have been tuned to the room they are in.

On budget studio monitors do not expect much from the room adjustment controls. I find on some budget monitors the room adjustment controls can make a bad room sound worse, as the manufacturers have used cheap EQ controls. This is fine; I would rather see budget speaker manufacturers concentrate on the actual speakers and not the room EQ.

Amplification should always be a factor

You have found the perfect monitors. But what about the amplifier. Incredible speakers will not sound incredible unless you have an amplifier, that will do them justice. You do not have to spend the earth on an amplifier as you will probably have spent most of your budget on speakers.

You need an amplifier that is powerful. The same rules apply to amplifiers as to speakers. You need to consider the dynamic range The more power you have. The more of the dynamic range will be delivered to the speakers. Don't get caught up bi and tri amplification unless you have a big budget. Look for a good quality amplifier with more than enough power to drive your speakers.

Speaker placement

For optimum sound, you need to find your sweet spot. You monitor speakers should be placed at an angle, pointing at you. The speakers should be equal distance apart from each other. Your head should also be at an equal distance apart from the speakers.

In short, You head and the speakers need to be the same distance apart, forming a triangle. With the speakers angled towards your ears. This will create a sweet spot. The spot where the stereo is at its most perfect point. And the most accurate frequency response can be delivered.

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