Future musicians who are currently reading this article are probably ready to take the world by storm. They’ve exhausted all resources; exerted every effort to record each track that they need for their debut album. They are dying to see them hit the charts. Now only one thing stands in their way of achieving stardom…and that is a decent studio monitor that will actually let them hear what they have created.
For aspiring musical icons, it is not enough to receive overwhelming praise from their friends and family to prove their skills. They want an honest and straight-to-the-point opinion when it comes to the quality of their masterpieces. And what’s a better way to judge your work than by hearing it from a studio monitor? This machine’s purpose is to reproduce the sound you recorded as accurately as possible. It will not lie to you about your prospective career in the music industry.
It is important to know what to look for in this kind of speaker when buying one from a store. That is a rule that applies to anyone working for any specific audio project that requires accuracy in every detail.
Home Speakers vs. Studio Monitors
First, let me differentiate this particular machine to its common household counterpart, the Home Speakers. Studio monitors and home speakers are worlds apart in terms of performance, because they were made for different listening experiences. Both of them can transmit audio, but you will usually find it weird how the studio monitors sound, especially when it is your first time listening to it. This is because home speakers were designed for casual listening, wherein it adds a bit of ‘coloration’ to anything it plays, resulting to an ‘enhancement’ of whatever song you play.
The studio monitors were made with audio editing projects in mind. An effective monitor will not change anything in a track, meaning you can listen to your song in its most basic and undistorted form. It can determine how well your project will sound in headphones, speakers, or wherever else your audio can be played. Talk about one honest piece of technology.
That honest quality is what you should be looking for when searching for the perfect pair of studio monitors. It is the primary function that serves as the main reason why you are going for monitors in the first place, instead of settling for your usual home speakers.
Active vs. Passive
Moving deeper into the world of studio monitors, you will find that there are two main types you can choose from. The active monitors and passive monitors work differently, and it is vital to know the distinction.
Active monitors have built-in amplifiers, while passive ones do not. Though this sounds simple, it actually provides a wide gap of difference between the two. For one thing, it is more convenient to use
the active ones because you do not have to worry about the space that a separate amplifier would occupy in your room. This is particularly useful if your place is small or compressed. Many people who work on mixing tracks use these pairs without regret. Also, you can be sure that your amps work in perfect harmony with the rest of the speakers.
Passive monitors are a bit more difficult to use because of their lack of built-in amps. That may be a turn-off for beginners, but it does not necessarily mean that the active counterpart wins in every battle against these pairs. The absence of amps gives you the freedom to pick out whichever one you like, so long as it is compatible with your system. This means you can upgrade these pairs with an amp that is potentially better than the ones already within the active monitors.
Although either would work fine, I suggest you go with the beginner-friendly version.
Most people who are willing to guide you on your journey to finding the right studio monitors would tell you that it is all about knowing what kind of project you are working on. That is because monitors are diverse in nature, and there is always one that would suit your specific needs.
That said, we can still take a look at the specifications to give you a bit of an idea on what to look for.
The ‘frequency range’ of a studio monitor determines how much it can handle in terms of frequency. It is often good to see a monitor that can handle a wide range of frequencies, but it is also important to see if it can reproduce those frequencies without too much distortion. For your reference, a 50Hz-20kHz frequency range is usually considered satisfying. All you have to check now is if it can actually deliver those sounds in good quality.
Meanwhile, when looking at the ‘Total Harmonic Distortion’ or THD of a monitor, you would want to see if it is close to zero. Remember we are looking for an accurate and ‘honest’ kind of speaker, so having one that distorts sounds is a red flag. A 0.001% THD is good, while 1% is not impressive.
Sometimes, you will also see the words ‘near-field,’ ‘mid-field’ and ‘far-field’ within a machine’s description. This describes how far into a room your monitor can deliver quality audio. A near-field or a mid-field studio monitor is usually ideal for smaller spaces such as home studios.
There are a lot of things to consider when buying studio monitors, so we cannot really say it is easy to find the perfect pair. But your ears ought to be the judge of the performance of your speakers. Just keep in mind that the goal is to find an accurate pair that will reproduce audio as precisely as possible. This will help you keep track of your musical projects, since it will give you a clear picture of how it will sound anywhere else. Keep belting those notes, and keep rocking those tunes, because eventually you will find a pair of monitors that will suit your needs.