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Wanting to start mixing but unsure of how your studio monitors should be setup. Don’t worry we have you covered with a complete guide to studio monitor placement.
If you don’t have your speakers set up properly, then you will never get what you’re after in the mix because your sound won’t translate accurately to the outside world. If it doesn’t sound good where it’s coming from inside your studio, imagine how much that poor sounding mix would suck when you play it live!
We’ve all heard stories of bands who have spent a fortune on their equipment and their recordings are nothing short of disaster and disappointment. There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting money on gear that’s simply not suitable for you or your style.
What Is A Studio Monitor?
A studio monitor is a loudspeaker designed specifically for audio production applications, such as recording studios, film and video editing suites, broadcast facilities, and similar post-production environments.
Studio monitors are usually thoughts of as being “flat”, meaning that they have a very neutral frequency response without any deliberately added coloration or sonic signature. This is in contrast to consumer-oriented loudspeakers, which are usually designed to sound good in a particular room or home environment, and may not have a flat frequency response.
The main benefit of using studio monitors is that you can trust what you’re hearing is an accurate representation of the audio signal. This is essential for making critical decisions about your mix, such as levels, EQ, and effects.
Tips for Studio Monitor Placement
Now that you know what studio monitors are and why they’re important, it’s time to learn how to set them up in your room properly. Here are five things to consider studio monitor placement:
When mixing in your home studio, you should treat it as a “virtual live environment.” To do this, you must set up your monitoring environment to be acoustically as similar as possible to a larger room or live performance space. You do this by creating an ambience of controlled reverberation and reflection.
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Ideally, you’ll want to treat your room as if you were using an outside live space, like a studio or concert hall. Of course, this is often easier said than done, but there are many DIY solutions that you can try out before dropping tons of cash on sophisticated treatment products.
The first step in creating this ambience is where you set up your monitors in the room. Poor speaker placement can ruin all your hard work with the best equipment and signal chain.
Speaker placement is extremely important, especially when using a subwoofer. Most monitors and studio speakers work best in close proximity to the listener—usually within three feet. If the speakers are too far away from the listening position, you will experience phase issues and bass will sound “boomy.” Never sit more than three feet away from your monitors.
Poor speaker placement can ruin all your hard work with the best equipment and signal chain.
Speaker placement can be tricky and challenging. Unless you’re using a subwoofer, the speakers should be placed no more than three feet apart.
This means you need to find enough space behind your speakers so that there is at least one foot of room between them and the listening position, or they may be difficult to control in the mix. If you are using a subwoofer, it is best to place it in the center of your speakers or, at worst, two feet away from the front wall.
This is important to know because if the subwoofer is placed too close to the listening position, your monitor speakers will actually be creating the bass frequencies that your subwoofer will normally produce. If you have a subwoofer, you’ll want to adjust it as far away from the mixing position as possible before performing any additional mixing tweaks.
Once you’ve found a suitable place for your monitors and subwoofer in your room, it’s time to place them in that spot. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is, if you are using a computer-based system such as digital monitors. However if you’re only using analog monitors and an analog mixer, then that’s where things get a bit tricky.
If the speakers are too far away from the listening position, you will experience phase issues and bass will sound “boomy.”
Ideally, your speakers should be placed as close to the listening position (three feet or less) as possible. This will ensure that you get a clear, accurate stereo image from the speakers.
If you have a vertical rectangular room, place the monitors directly in front of you with the tweeters at ear level and as close to your head as possible. The tweeters should be slightly toed-in towards your listening position (to your left if sitting on your right, to the right if seated on your left).
If you have a horizontal rectangular room, then place your monitors directly in front of you, though this time with the tweeters slightly below ear level.
If you have a triangular shaped room, the best placement for your monitors will be directly in front and at ear level, but slightly angled towards the wall behind you. This will help to avoid comb filtering effects.
If you don’t have a triangular shaped room, you’ll want to place the monitors in front of you with the tweeters slightly below ear level. Having them angled towards the wall behind you will reduce comb filtering effects.
In any case, set up your monitor speakers on stands or a shelf, and consider using heavy-duty velcro straps to ensure that your monitors stay in place. Now that you have your speakers situated correctly, it’s time to consider the acoustics of your room.
Ideally you want to tweeters of the monitors at ear level. If this is not possible, you will want to angle the monitors towards your ears. This helps to reduce phase issues and comb filtering effects.
You also want to place the monitors as close to the listener as possible. This will help keep the stereo image clear and accurate.
The Room in Relation to Studio Monitor Placement
One of the biggest problems with having a listening room that’s either too small or too big is that your monitors will sound different depending on where you stand. Speakers in smaller rooms will often sound overly bassy, while speakers in bigger rooms can sound harsh and lacking in bass frequencies.
If you are using the wrong sized room, or the wrong sized speakers, it’s going to be difficult to get an accurate mix.
The key factor in determining proper speaker placement is finding a point in the room that offers the best sound for your space and equipment. If you have a small room, try to keep your mix consistent across all monitors and subwoofer. Place your monitors at different heights on stands so that their respective sounds are consistent no matter where you stand.
Keeping your mix consistent across all monitors and subwoofer.
It is important to note that in all cases, if you hear a bass buildup or phase issues coming from the monitors, try and clear up any standing waves by moving the speakers away from reflective walls. A rule of thumb: The speaker should be as far as possible away from walls, corners, and large furniture pieces. This will help reduce comb filtering effects that can ruin your mix.
Our advice: If you have a small room, or if you are using the wrong sized speakers, it’s going to be difficult to get an accurate mix. Look for monitors and speakers that allow you to place them within the three-foot rule.
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Conclusion for Studio Monitor Placement
Having the right monitors, speakers, and subwoofer are essential for getting the best possible sound quality. If you’re on a tight budget, you can opt for subwoofers that offer decent bass response. You’ll have to take everything with a grain of salt—you may have to go through some trial and error before you find the components that work well for your mixing style.
However, don’t neglect the quality of your monitors. You should invest in the best speakers you can afford to get the best possible sound. And keep in mind that having the right monitor speakers and subwoofer will go a long way towards maximizing your mixing skills.