We all love great sound. But to produce a truly great sounding
recording something more, than great gear, processors and
ears is needed. We can not produce great sounding music
without knowing and precise controlling what we actually do.
Therefore we need great speakers. Or, to be more exact,
great MONITORING SYSTEM, that is speakers, amplifier and
Each speaker is different. There is so many various studio
speakers on the market today, that this fact alone proves
that there is no one, ideal solution.
The configuration of monitoring for mixing
should be different than for mastering. And the very
important factor here is the room itself- it should not have
too much reverb but also it should not be completely
acoustically dead. The ideal positioning of monitors and the
listening position is a triangle with equal sides, with the
monitors slanted towards the listener, so the center axis of
each of them passes through the, respectively, left and
right ear. The height of the speakers should be such
that the hi frequency speakers should be at the ear height
or slightly above.
Systems of studio
monitoring and the
The monitoring system for the studio sound engineer
is of equal importance as the sight for the artist painting
It is the most important element of his equipment,
because the decisions he makes pare based on what
he hears. If the monitors are in any way underdeveloped,
will not be faithful to cast the situation of sound, and the sound
engineer will take the wrong decisions.
Let's say that the speakers have deficiency in treble. The engineer
will then add the appropriate frequency to hear it clearly and
it may lead
to too much treble in the finished recording. If the monitors
reflect the bass wrongly it will be impossible to set the
proper bass on tracks, especially for bass guitar and the drums.
impossible to dose something wee do not hear.
Of course, there are no perfect monitors, each model has its
advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, each engineer
hears the sound somewhat differently, so what is good for
one may not necessarily be as good for another. But there is
one, the most important general principle: you should be
with your equipment, knowing what it can do, what are main characteristics
of it's sound. Knowing that, you can always predict how the
sound heard in the studio and the mastering room will translate to
the outside world.
People listen to music using a very wide range of speakers
in a wide range of situations. Mastering must therefore always
have in mind the optimum sound for any situation or
listening system, so that the music played through any equipment
will sound in the best possible way. The
art of mixing and mastering the art is actually the art of "translating" the
sound of recording studio to "the outside world". Have you ever had the
impression that vocal in the mix made by you is somehow thin and
soft, the bass is inaudible or too hollow and the whole
sound is much
worse than the on recordings heard on the radio or on your
favorite CD's? Much of the guilt for this can lie in your monitors.
They act as a camera's lens, if the lens lies, who can say
what was the real shade of color?
In mixing and mastering studios 2 kinds of monitors are
widely used: the near and far field monitors. The first are small, usually
fairly flat in frequency response and they serve setting the
right balance of sounds during the mix, they are meant to
make sure the right balance of tracks will be correct in
relation to each other. Producer usually sits
fairly close to them. Far field monitors are the
uncompromising quality speakers, usually high-powered, capable of
delivering strong bass and subtleties of the highest tops, for critical
listening of finished mixes, or taking final decisions
during the shaping
of sound with mastering.
There is a huge diversity of speakers, both close and far field
produced by hundreds of companies from around the world,
with prices spanning from several hundred to several
thousand dollars. Which are the best? There is no answer to this question,
because each set has its advantages and its disadvantages,
despite of the price.
The mere fact of creating new models shows
that simply there is no "best" model, all of them are only more
or less close to ideal. You can say that the best speakers
and the best equipment for you is the one which you have and
know very well. There is however a question: What does it
mean to know your speakers? Knowing the speakers is being
aware of the characteristics of their work. If we know that
our speakers sound rather weak in the bass, we will be very
careful with adding the bass in the mix, because if we set
bass and will not hear it through our speakers we can be sure that
the bass heard on the speakers having better bass response will
exaggerated! Similar is the case with high tones. If we have
the speaker that sound not too clear, be careful of higher
tones, otherwise you will overshoot with their intensity. Conversely, if we know
that our columns have a tendency to highlight the tops and
sound rather bright,
try to hide it in the mix somewhat, because otherwise it
will be too much treble in the final mixdown.
What kind of speakers to choose - passive or active?
prefer the passive speakers of a very high, Hi Fi type quality
for audiophile music listening, it does not mean, however, that excellent results
can not be achieved using a typical linear studio equipment, if you know what
you do. Again, the whole thing depends on the engineer
personal preferences and his knowledge of equipment.
Principles of studio monitoring
Some axioms apply to all the studio monitoring gear, regardless of its price.
First of all, there should be nothing located between the
speaker and engineer's ear, the speakers should form
equilateral triangle with his head, axles of the speakers should pass through the
ear, the left speaker's axle thru the left ear and the right
axle thru the right ear. The height of their placement should be such that the
tweeter speaker is at the height of the engineer's ear, or a
Speakers should not be placed on unstable surface. They should be
set so that there is no resonance possible
between them and the ground. If they are not active ie, they do
not have their own built-in amplifiers, they should be
powered with superior sounding amplifier. I recommend audiophile
quality amplifiers and prefer them to linear studio
equipment. Amplifiers are also not perfect. The amplifier
can be connected to a hi class equalizer in order to obtain
the ideal sound depending on the room.
Monitors should have the highest possible quality
cables connecting them to the amplifier and a possible
equalizer, we recommend that the so-called bi-wiring, the
separate wiring for high and low tones. This provides a better
flow of electric current pulses between the amplifier and the column,
the lack of higher-frequency modulation generally produces much lower
response and better and more detailed, three-dimensional listening.
Generally, the principle is true that the heavier is the speaker,
the better. A solid, heavy and very rigid cabinet will
always sound better than the effect of a light and weak
overall quality of any cables, contacts, has an
important meaning. In a professional monitoring the
principle is that no compromises should be done.
Murphy's law is working right here, telling that if something can go bad
or make us any trouble in the future, it is for sure it
will. That is why everything should be done so well and reliably as
possible. Connectors and terminals should be the best grade,
gold-plated, which will prevent any
distortion in sound.
Listening room should be treated with deafening material, it can not have
reverb, but also it can not be completely "deaf".
Total deafening of the room using sponge, for example, is a
mistake. Artificially sounding room can lead to wrong
decisions during mixing or mastering. The room should be slightly "live", somewhat
resembling a normal, well-adapted large room for
the Hi-Fi listening. Music is always played in typical residential
rooms, it should therefore be created in a room with a bit
of good, well-balanced reverb, the total lack of reverb in
the studio control room is not desirable here.
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