Whether you are upgrading a current pair of studio
monitors or are preparing to purchase your first
set, determining which monitors are best for you
can be a confusing and cumbersome task. Often
times, people search for the best value for their
money, but are unsure what monitors they should
choose. The following will provide you with some
practical advice to use when choosing your pair.
1. Know Your
The first thing you need to establish is what you will be using your
monitors for. Will you be producing hip hop beats, pop beats, or
R&b beats on the monitors? Will you be using your monitors for
songwriting or recording demos? What genre(s) of music will you
be working with primarily? Knowing this information is critical
when choosing a set of monitors. There are a multitude of
monitors to choose from each with their own unique equalization.
Some monitors are more pleasing to the ear than others
depending on what type of music or sounds will come through
them. People who work with a lot of hip hop beats have different
monitor needs than people who work with classical music.
Knowing what you will use your studio equipment for will be
beneficial to you in the long run.
This is probably one of the most obvious pieces of
advice but it is often overlooked. Take the time to
go to a music store and listen to monitors you are
potentially looking to purchase. Great places to do
this are Guitar Center and Sam Ash.
Create a mix CD of some music that you know well. Make sure it is
professionally mixed and mastered. Take this CD to the store and
play it over the monitors you are interested in. Do things sound too
bassy or boomy? Do the vocals hurt your ears when you listen? How
do the drums hit? Ask yourself these and others questions about
how the mix of the music translates through the monitors. Look for
detail in the low to mid range frequencies on the songs on your CD.
Listen for definition in the fingering of various live instruments (if
applicable) such as electric bass or cellos.
Also, pay attention to definition in the high frequencies
of the monitors. You don't want monitors that "color"
the frequency spectrum and give you an inaccurate
picture of what you're hearing. A "good" sounding
monitor is not always the best monitor, but a "bad"
sounding monitor can help make you competitive with
the industry professionals. A prime example of a
"bad" sounding set of monitors are the Yamaha
NS10s. In the music industry, it is widely believed
that if your music sounded good on these, then your
mixes would translate well on just about any stereo
system. Your CD may sound great at the first listen
but don't be fooled! Listen Critically.
3. Wor k with Your
Make sure you establish a budget for your purchase. No matter
whether you're a seasoned engineer or just an amateur
producer of pop beats, setting a budget for yourself will be
extremely helpful. Establish how much you want to spend on
your monitors as well as how much you are willing to invest in
the acoustic treatment of your room. Having your room
acoustically treated will ensure you are getting the most
accurate sound out of your studio monitors. Be prepared to
invest as much in your acoustic treatment as you do in your
monitors. Many people fail to acoustically treat their rooms
and consequently, end up getting used to inaccurate
representations of sound. This can result in mixes that do not
translate well to other speaker systems.
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