Garnish Music Production School in London

Acoustic Treatment and Positioning of Studio Monitor Speakers

The Art of MixingAcoustic Treatment and Positioning of Studio Monitor Speakers:

Okay so now it’s time to choose and position your studio monitor speakers and just dip your toe into the wonderful world of studio acoustic treatment. More on this on the Mixing and Mastering course

Most people listen to music in their cars or on a cheap home stereo sometimes even in mono. If your mix doesn’t sound good on a pair of small speakers, there’s not much point. A pair of ridiculously expensive active monitors may sound amazing, but no one else has them, so your mix will be lost in translation. In an ideal world you would like a pair of studio monitor speakers which are easy on the ear and capture an element of the ‘biggies’ you’d fine in big commercial studios, so perhaps a ported design like the Genelec 1031‘s I use here and a sealed box type like Yamaha NS10’s for more of a ‘truer’ sound. Truer is all to do with their skewed frequency response, lack of low frequency resonances, low distortion and remarkably accurate transient response behaviour, all of which are qualities of infinite baffle designs using small, responsive drivers. Ported designs are popular in programming rooms and projects studios because you get more low frequency output which we all know and love – especially if we’re woking on dance records!

Genelec studio monitor speakers

Genelec 8040a studio monitor speakers

If like me you don’t have space for two pairs of studio monitor speakers and like me given the choice of a ‘truer’ sealed box infinite baffle design or a more pleasing ported design, you’re going for the ported design you need to decide which ported studio monitor speakers you want. I’ve had my old Genelec 1031’s for donkeys years now and couldn’t recommend them enough! The new version of the old 10 series are the 80 series. I’ve heard that they aren’t as good as the older 10 series which personally makes me happy. If you have space, the 1032’s are a bigger and louder version of the 1031’s. In fact the whole Genelec 10 series always sounded the same right from the 1029’s right up to the 1032’s. Just the higher the number, the louder they got!

active monotor speakers focal-sm6

Focal SM-6. They do look nice don't they?!

I had a chat with Gav at Kazbar to get some info on popular choices these days and he recommended the Tannoy Reveal range starting at around £250 a pair if you’re on a budget which sounds really cheap to me, and Focal, a brand I hadn’t heard of before.

If you choose any of the common active brands on Gav’s or any good pro audio dealers website, I’m sure that you’ll get used to the curve, the room and as long as you check the mix in as many different environments as possible, I don’t see why you wouldn’t get the best results for your mixing ability.

I always recommend active speakers these days because the pain of even more studio cables, more hassle transporting, finding the right amp, messing about with crossovers if needed, and generally the greater margin for error is taken away by the guys in white coats at the testing centres of these popular brands. Let them do all the work so you can get on and enjoy mixing your record. Now there’s just the small matter of getting good at mixing!

studio monitor speaker positioning

Positioning:

I wouldn’t worry too much about exact angles when you decide where you are going to be sitting and where you are going to be placing your monitor speakers because you’re going to be moving around, which in itself is healthy for your mix because you’ll be getting a different perspective the more moving you do. For your main seating position, your head should be roughly one point of an equilateral triangle with each of the pair of your monitor speakers the other points of the triangle. So roughly an equal amount of distance between your head, each monitor speaker and distance between the speakers themselves.

Studio acoustic treatment:

As for studio acoustic treatment, and think next on the agenda is to write a whole piece on it, but very quickly, and you may need to do some Googling – you may want to start with some treatment behind your monitor speakers, consider a bass trap above your head and if you’re in a square room particularly, try some absorbing treatment to your left and right on the the wall.

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