Whether you are a professional musician, recording engineer, producer, or just getting started with your career in music you know that demoing products sold online is not an option, so frequently we’re left scanning for, and watching, reviews from others offering their opinions who have the product(s) we are interested in. So when it comes to purchasing a pair of professional studio monitors, there can be several things to look out for and keep in mind.
Since there are so many studio monitors to choose from, ranging from only a few hundred a pair all the way up to 10s of 1000s of dollars, this can make it difficult to identify and purchase what works best for your immediate situation in your room with your gear, etc. This is why figuring out what is going to get the right job done for you with no less and more more cost is a good approach.
Here are 4 rules to consider when purchasing studio monitors:
1 – What Are Your Goals?
Before buying anything, the first rule is to identify your needs. What exactly you are looking for – and why you are looking for it? Even if you are a beginner, you may know what your problems are and what are the possible solutions. Since studio monitor prices range from low to very high depending on their functionalities and features, it is best to know your exact purpose and budget before you go looking for what you can afford. If that question is difficult to answer, seek the advice of people who can evaluate your settings and budget and offer their suggestions as to which models would work best for your needs.
2 – Identify the speaker driver size and Power (Wattage) You Require
If you are a beginner, then you may not know that the purpose of a studio monitor is to reproduce detailed playback information across a wide sound dynamic range that is as “flat” (non emphasized in any particular spectrum of frequencies) as possible. Another common issue with low cost studio monitors is that they are often not efficient (or loud) enough when it comes to power wattage which results in distortion and low-quality sound. The physical size of your studio monitors and their drivers also matters. There is much to consider as far as power and size of speaker and how that will perform your room, but if you are mixing in the near-field (3 ft or so) then products offering a 5” or 8” 2-way design about 100Watts total should be reasonably sufficient overall.
3 – Setting the Wrong Expectations regarding your Studio Monitors
Another crucial fact to keep in mind is that studio monitors are not meant or designed to improve the sound of your audio files! The sooner that concept is released the closer you are to understanding their job and what to choose to get that job done. Instead, they are designed to be accurate and reveal problems in the audio that need to be fixed. This allows the listener to identify issues, if there are any, and correct them. Another thing that one should not expect from studio monitors is to hype the bass response. This again is an inappropriate expectation and not the purpose of the device. Just remember, “Flat is where it’s at.” So no hyping of any of the frequency spectrum is the main goal, otherwise you’ll never accurately hear back what you have recorded.
By identifying your goals, a monitor style and size that will work best in your studio environment and understanding that what you’re looking for is a system that will honestly reveal what is being or what has been recorded so that you can be sure each track sounds as it should, finding the right studio monitor should be a fairly clear task with many solutions available at different price points within the pro audio product market.