General information about studio monitors.

This article discusses active studio monitors. More detailed and complex information can be found in my mastering book.

A studio monitor is a very important tool for mixing and mastering. The difference between a traditional loudspeaker and a studio monitor is no longer negligible. If you have been using hi-fi speakers for mixing, it's time to change that habit because it's leading your ears in the wrong direction. Even with the cheapest studio monitors, you're better off than with an average speaker. Why? These special speakers are designed for this purpose.

Many speakers have a crossover. What is it? Essentially a filter. It only allows the low frequency into the bass speaker and the high frequency into the tweeter. But what seems simple can be very complicated. Each speaker has its own connection, which depends on the Ohm/Watt value, and not all of them are the best. The shape, size, and material of the speaker also matter. It's clear that a plastic box has a worse effect than a wooden one. In most hi-fi speakers, there is electronics that negatively affects the signal's sound fidelity. I'm talking about cheap mass-produced speakers as hi-fi speakers. When developing a studio monitor, however, great attention is paid to ensuring that the sound, electronics, speaker, material, and size are in harmony. Obviously, this doesn't work perfectly with every studio monitor, but there is a significant difference between a hi-fi and a cheaper studio monitor. When switching to a studio monitor, you won't be able to mix well at first. Some people take weeks to adjust, while others get used to the new sound in a few days. In the case of hi-fi speakers, only expensive equipment makes an exception, but their selection is more difficult, so if possible, stick to devices designed for this purpose!

Size is important. If a smaller studio monitor can produce bass as if it were on a large system, it suggests a small cheat. In this case, the appearance of the sub range is not due to the size of the box, but to the electronics built into it, which highlights the low frequencies. This comes with the disadvantage that the bass speaker is subjected to greater stress. In this case, the manufacturer needs to design the speaker to be suitable for this additional workload. However, the more electronic cheating, the more changes to the signal by the time it reaches the speakers. Don't get me wrong, these studio monitors can still be good, but it's very important to test the device's sound before you go into a buying frenzy. They're great as control monitors, and even if you don't spend a lot of money on sound, they'll still do the job. Generally, the price usually reflects the real performance.

Another important factor when purchasing a monitor is linearity and frequency response. Why is linearity important? It's simple. If a monitor plays back a certain frequency range louder, it's likely that during mixing or mastering, your ears will compensate and bring that range down, because your ears perceive linearity as natural. After a while, you'll get used to it and learn to mix properly on it, but for main listening, it's better to choose a monitor with less deviation! If you're considering buying two separate studio monitors, be sure to choose speakers with different characteristics! Some people work with three different speakers. They compose music on one because they like the sound, mix on another because it's linear, and test on a third to find errors. If you don't have money, it's fine to test your almost-finished music on a regular hi-fi system. The goal in mixing and mastering is to make your music sound good on as many systems as possible. Most people don't bother testing, thinking it will end up on the internet anyway. Unfortunately, this is a common trend and it's not good for musical taste.

Smart Master Mastering Plug-in

There are monitors - nearly all of them - where you can correct an unfavorable sound environment in the studio room with frequency regulation. If you don't work in a well-insulated studio room and the sound is unfavorable, or you can't place the speakers in the right position, this feature can be useful for correction. It's important to emphasize the clear fact that the primary goal of monitors is not to sound beautiful. The goal of the system is to hear all frequency ranges to the right degree, including the good and bad parts. Most hi-fi speakers are unsuitable for this purpose. Therefore, linearity is very important. Those whose ears have become accustomed to the sound of a less linear piece are still able to mix or master, but professional users can't afford to deviate from the standard, as this is what they always rely on. This is why professional studio engineers can tell you why a speaker's characteristics aren't good, while many who haven't listened to truly professional equipment give good ratings to average speakers.

More and more studio monitors are being sold with ribbon tweeters. However, it's worth noting that ribbon tweeters built into cheaper speakers can be disappointing. Many people don't like the sound because they deceive. They don't show the true sound. It's a personal decision what you choose.

For nearfield monitors, an important factor is how much the sound tires our ears. One cause of fatigue can be too much high-frequency content. The Adam A7 typically allows more highs, which can mislead us. On the other hand, it's also important whether we hear the low-frequency content as a hum or a clear frequency. If we're unable to determine the height of lower frequencies, this may be due to design reasons, or it may be because of the acoustics of the room. A good speaker also reproduces transients nicely, without washing them out.