The two most significant components of a home studio are studio monitors and microphone due to an obvious logic given that is, if the right tools are available for recording and replicating the audio, half of the battle of attaining an excellent sound mix has already been achieved. Any home recording studio is incomplete without a monitor pair. But due to the vast range of products available, it becomes a daunting task to choose a right home studio monitor. The home studio monitor must provide an accurate and uncolored presentation of the recorded music but there is lot more to consider for selecting studio monitors.
Before diving deep into the details, it is necessary to know your monitoring needs and find answers to few questions like: What is the difference between home studio monitors and a normal speaker system? What kind of music is to be recorded? How much wattage is required? Subwoofer is required or not? And many other questions like this.
This home studio monitors buying guide will help you in getting answers to all your queries to find an appropriate set of monitors as per your budget and recording needs.
Difference between home studio monitors and home speakers
Studio monitors are capable to deliver the sound of unmixed and raw recordings as well with a very little degree of coloration which helps in listening to the project with greater accuracy and can handle louder dynamic peaks as well while in home speakers only recorded music can be reproduced in its finished form, which may also have coloration to a greater extent which flatters the sound for a pleasant hearing experience.
While buying a monitor it is important to prepare yourself to listen to the things with an entirely different bent of mind because if you are finding effects like bass boost, you would get a disappointment. The focus while listening should be how accurately your home studio monitor speakers reproduce sounds in your studio environment.
Lot of terms and numbers are encountered in your journey to buy suitable monitors for home studio like total harmonic distortion (THD), frequency response, watts, driver size and many more. These specifications give you a thumbnail draft about the performance of your monitor and these are helpful but before finalizing it is important to trust your ears as there is no substitute to careful listening.
Frequency Range: Monitors must be able to handle the complete frequency range of your recordings and must be able to reproduce all the required frequencies without any distortions and variations.
Power Requirement: Power handling capacity of the system affects the overall sound in a significant way. High power or more wattage means every transient detail can be heard and thus better precise adjustments can be made. Higher wattage gives more headroom more dynamic range and obviously more volume.
Active vs Passive Monitors
Active monitors have internal power amplifiers while passive monitors require external amplifiers, thus, active monitors also known as Powered studio monitors is the most popular choice since they are based on the concept of “plug and play”.
On the other hand a Passive monitor gives you flexibility in selecting the components and making it a multi speaker array set-up. For those already having a power amplifier, passive speakers may give a price advantage.
A properly designed monitor cabinet can extract maximum performance from the monitor. The sonic accuracy is better in closed cabinets when compared to the portable cabinets.
Positioning of monitors
Near-field monitors are best for most of the studio applications because they create detailed and highly focused stage in a small area which helps in proper evaluation of the sound for mixing while minimizing the acoustic effects in room.
Near-field monitors are compact and can be placed even on desk but it is better to place them up to the ear level.
Subwoofer or No Subwoofer
Requirement of subwoofer depends on the task being performed. Mixing of sound for TV requires the addition of subwoofer while for a demo track for band; only a pair of studio monitors is required. A subwoofer can reduce the bass load off from small stereo woofers because of its increased power supply and size. But subwoofers can only be added when there is an acoustic treatment in the room as then you can easily take care of mid/high frequencies.
An important aspect of buying a best home studio monitor is that one has to learn the monitors because even if you are using a best monitor, the ears are to be completely employed to adapt to the home studio monitor speakers and then the mixes can be adjusted accordingly. After mixing only you will better get to know of what is the best that suits your mixing style.
While deciding for the best home studio monitors there are three guidelines to ensure a good monitor:
Price, Brand and Quality
In case of music gears there is no such thing as The Best. The perception of every person may be different while voting for the best product. Yamaha has always been a leader in the list favorite studio monitors and HS8 powered studio monitor from Yamaha illustrates it the best. They are the most speakers for home studio in this price range as they are excellent in giving overall response. With HS8 details can be heard quite well in mixes. Rokits are also good monitors for home studio but if deciding between KRK Rokit 8 and HS 8, HS8’s are better performer in music production and mixing as they have accurate bass production and an accurate high end detail.
There are, no doubt, number of models to suite everyone’s pocket and taste but spending more money does not guarantee a best home studio monitors. Buying best home studio monitors is essential for those who are mixing at home. The foundation of the music can also be laid down with the help of headphones but getting an accurate frequency response is all that matters in the mixing process.