How to choose the right studio monitors

By | April 5, 2021


But a pair of really good HIFI speakers is not enough, you might be wondering? The simple answer is no, as the task of the classical speaker is to make the music sound as good as possible with everything that bass amplification, clear midrange and beautifying treble entails. Unlike the studio monitor whose main task is to reproduce the music as honestly as possible. This uncompromising rendering is a must when you have to make critical decisions in the heat of the mix. Studio monitors come in all their shapes and sizes, so it’s important to keep track of what you need and what you actually already have.

Active or passive?
The simple answer is that you should choose active studio monitors for both practical and financial reasons. Most modern studio monitors have built-in Class D amplifiers that do not require an external amplifier. There are some passive high-end monitors such as PMC, Amphion and ATC, as well as the classics Yamaha NS-10 and Avantone Mixcubes, which of course are also nice for those who have the knowledge and money. But for the common man, it is the active that counts.

The size and two- or three-way?
Near-field monitors, or nearfields as they are also called, are designed to sound good near the listener. These are also the most common in the home studio. Midfields, on the other hand, are adapted for larger rooms and are made to stand further away.

Many studio monitors have a speaker element and a treble and are then called two-way speakers, while others have two or more elements and are called accordingly. In short, it is about how wide bass, midrange and treble should be divided into two, three or more parts. A classic two-way speaker has a so-called woofer for the bass and a tweeter for midrange and treble. These are separated by a so-called crossover filter so that they (if the speaker is correctly designed) sound like a unit. A two-way speaker is more than enough for the smaller to normal-sized studio, but in a larger control room or mastering studio, three-way is often preferable. Larger speakers provide more bass but also require a larger and better acoustically treated room. Large studio monitors in a small room are therefore not recommended.

PSI A17-M is a personal favorite with its extremely straight frequency reproduction.

Ordinary studio monitors can handle frequencies down to about 40-60 Hz, which is relatively low. The only problem is that your room probably can not reproduce these frequencies correctly. The question then is if you really need a subwoofer that can handle all the way down to 20 Hz? The answer is determined by whether your room is acoustically treated or not. And then we are not talking about a little egg cartons in the ceiling, but a proper round of base traps, diffusers and other necessities – preferably professionally installed. A subwoofer can definitely add something with its comfortable bottom and air that is moved, but can also create new problems in the form of creating another crossover filter and things can start to rattle in the room. Therefore, think twice before upgrading downwards.

Which ones should you choose?
Finally, I want to recommend a bunch of really good studio monitors in different price ranges. I realize the comic (hoping to be helpful) that I contradict myself a bit by recommending so many. But hopefully the tangled jungle will at least be a little more accessible. In fact, it is impossible to say which ones are best for you. Here, price, needs and personal taste decide. Keep in mind the models below are approximate prices and that the price applies per piece and not the couple.

Entry models

The middle layer

Top class

Updated article from 2017-11-10

Also read: Do not miss Fredagstipset, which is a recurring series where Studio writer Jon Rinneby shares tips every Friday in, among other things, recording and mixing. Here you will find all Fredagstipset articles