HOW TO SET UP STUDIO MONITORS

How To Set Up Studio Monitors [Ultimate Guide]

When you are ready to start your home studio, you have to be a bit technical on how to set up studio monitors, mixers, audio interface and recording software etc for your home studio. And when you don’t get any solution to these technical dilemmas you become frustrated.

Don’t worry, I also faced the same dilemma when I was setting up my home studio, but got rid of that, finding the solution from authentic sources like suggestions from established recordists and authentic books on recording setup.

After implementing those things, my studio was turned into the replica of a professional studio. I recorded several hit music with this setup.

I know many of you don’t have a reach to those authentic sources who will guide you to set up your home studio like a pro. So I am here to share my experiences with you which I think can help you a lot.

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How To Set up Studio Monitors For Your Home Studio

studio setup

Though home studio set up is a lengthy process, the toughest part of the process is to set up and calibrate studio monitors. There are several factors which directly or indirectly impact on the sound generated by your monitor.

So read this guide carefully before setting up the studio monitors which you have just purchased for your home studio.

Not purchased yet? Okay, before purchasing, have a look into the studio monitor comparison chart which I have created for you.

Here is the exact method of setting up studio monitors.

  1. Check the inputs and outputs of your studio monitor.
  2. Placement of studio monitors.
  3. Switch on the recording system and check the sound.
  4. Pink noise method for Proper alignment of Studio Monitors.
  5. Ear training method to understand the sound your studio monitor generate.

Things to Consider before Setting up Your Monitor

I will describe all of the above points in this article but 1st you should gain some knowledge of the room set up for your home studio. Remember, a properly optimized recording room will increase the quality of sound.

The cost of tweaking your room for better sound quality depends on your needs. You can use costly materials or go with budget materials. It’s all depends on you. So, here are the tweaks.

Space

The 1st requirement to build a home studio is the space. Though today we can set up a home studio in a very small space, for better results, you should have at least 15’X10′ large room.

As well as your room should have rounded corners as it will increase the reflections.

The most important thing you have to pay attention to your room size is Sound Pressure level (SPL). SPL or Sound Pressure Level of a studio speaker depends on the wattage of the amp and the size of the woofer.

So if you want to buy a big sized and heavy wattage monitor then you must set up your studio in a large room.

Here is the list of required room size according to the size and wattage of studio monitors.

Woofer Size Wattage Room Size (Minimum)
3″ to 3.5″ 15W to 30W 9’X7′
5″ to 6.5″ 30W to 60W 13’X10′
8″ to 10″ 60W to 100W 15’X10′
Above 10″ and Subwoofers 100W and Above Larger then 15’X10′

Sound Treatment

The 2nd very important thing we should know about is proper sound treatment. Without a proper sound-treated room, you can’t expect a good quality sound.

Many people misunderstand the term sound treatment as soundproofing but sound treatment is not about packing your room to stop the sound go out of that.

Sound treatment is a process to avoid the reflections of extra sounds by the walls so you could only listen to the original sound created by your studio monitors.

There are many sound treatment processes are in circulation, but the best and easiest way for home studios are buying soundproof boards and place them on the areas where the reflections are maximum.

Let’s find out the best soundproof boards for your studio here.

SoundProof Panels

Desktop Placement Vs Monitor Stands

The placement of your monitor speaker makes a big difference on the sound you get. If you have near-field studio monitors then you have to place them within 2-3 feet from your ears.

On the other hand, if your room has a wide area and you have far-field monitors you should place them a minimum 5-6 feets from your ears.

The main difference between near-field and far-field monitors is the amount of sound which dissolves into the air before reaching your ears.

Near-field monitors have small woofers with a wide dome which produce high-intensity sound when kept within 2-3 feet from your ears. If you increase the distance gradually, after a certain distance, you can notice a sudden drop in the intensity of sound.

This is the property of near-field monitors. This property applies too when you change the angle of speakers with respect to the listening source.

Far-field monitors are different. They have big size monitor, with high wattage. The intensity of sound is unaffected by the distance. But don’t compare them with PA speakers. Far-field monitors also have an intensity drop point. but its probably more than your room size.

So, If you have a near-field monitor you can place them on your recording table as well as you can use monitor stands but keep them within the hearing range.

For far-field monitors, I would like to suggest you use monitor stands as they are usually used for reference monitors.

One more thing – Near-field monitors are ideal for mixing so always use a best quality near-field monitor if you want your projects mixed by yourself.

Setup Process of Studio Monitor

Well, assuming you have a good sized and sound treated room for your studio, we are going to set up studio monitors in your studio.

Checking the Input/Output and the Type of Monitor

1st of all you should check out the input and output which you have been provided on your studio monitor.

there are 3 main types of input and output sockets.

  • 1/8″ TRS
  • XLR
  • RCA

It depends on your monitor manufacturers which input or output sockets you get on your monitor pairs.

Generally, individuals active studio monitors which don’t have any output sockets as there is no need to connect those speakers with each other.

But if you have a master-slave type of monitors then you must connect the slave with the master as the master speaker has built in amp which should be connected with the slave speaker to get sound.

Depending on your monitor’s input slot you have to buy or prepare the cable.

Note: Individually powered Studio monitors with XLR and TRS slots generally accepts balanced cables. If you have this option then I suggest you to must use balanced cables as they will increase your monitor’s headroom by 4dB which is far more then regular headroom.

With 4dB extra headroom, you can mix your projects far better then ago.

Placement of studio monitors

There are 3 places for placement of studio monitors.

  1. On your recording table (Near-Field monitors)
  2. On monitor stands within 2-3 feet from your mixing chair (Near-field monitors)
  3. At the corner of your mixer table from 3 to 5 feet (far-field monitors)

Make sure the angle of your monitors should the same as the image shown below.

Monitor studio placement

As well as the height of your monitor speakers is same as your ear. See the image below for better understanding.

studio monitor height

As you have seen that the angle and height of monitors exactly pointed to your years the sound generated by them perfectly observed by you.

The distance depends on the size of the monitor which I have given above in this article. But the alignment of studio monitors must satisfy the above images.

I know you are wondered about how to perfectly align your monitors like the images above. So, I have a “Pink Noise” method which I will describe below in this article. But 1st off all plugin your monitors with audio interfaces and mixers.

Connecting with Audio Interfaces or Audio Mixers

Today the trend of mixers are decreasing. Audio interfaces alone are now capable of a producing great quality audio. If you have a decent audio interface equipped with good preamps and AD/DA converter, there is no need to own an audio mixer.

Instead, we can invest in controllers for better mixing experiences.

Well, connect your balanced cables with inputs of your monitor pairs and outputs of your audio interface. Make sure your system is turned off or you will spoil your audio interface and monitors.

Switch on The System and checking the Sound

Now switch on the system – Computer, Audio Interface, and Monitor pair while the volume key turned down to zero. Start a pre-recorded audio project or song and slowly turn the volume up on your audio mixer as well as your monitor pairs.

When you are able to listen to the sounds clearly, stop turning the knobs.

Pink Noise Method to proper alignment of Studio Monitor

To properly calibrate your studio monitor by pink noise method, you should have 2 things handy.

  • An SPL meter – SPL Meter is an electronic device which measures the intensity of a sound accurately. Checkout SPL meter on Amazon
  • Tone generator software – Normally you will find this in your DAW. Just open your DAW software and look for tone generator plugin in it.

How to calibrate Studio Monitors – The Procedure

Waves tone generator

  1. Place your monitors as defined on the above diagram and switch on the system. Turn your audio interface’s volume down. Open your DAW software and look for a tone generator plugin.
  2. Open the tone generator plugin and you will see some options like wave type selection, type of tone, sound level etc.
  3. Set the wave type to the sine wave and type tone into pink noise. Also, check 0dB on the sound level option in the tone generator. Leave all other settings intact.
  4. Now turn the volume knob of your audio interface so you could listen to the pink noise generated by the system.
  5. Now once again turn all the volume knobs down (Audio interface and studio monitor volume knobs).

85dB Standard volume SPL meter technique

  1. Now turn on the SPL meter and keep it exactly where your face would be at the time of mixing. Now turn your audio interface volume knob up to the unity gain.
  2. Unity Gain – It is a level at which the signal level is neither boosted nor attenuated. Generally, unity gain is marked as “0” or “U” on the audio devices. For your audio interface, it would be 0. You can consult your audio interface manufacturer for further information on unity gain of your device.
  3. Now go to one of the monitors and turn its volume knob up while measuring the SPL meter levels. Stop turning the knob when you see the SPL meter level exactly 82dB.
  4. Repeat the step 3 with the 2nd monitor.
  5. Now play some music and observe the level of sound sitting in your mixing chair. Also, try to find out the sweet spot. Observe as it is clear sounding or not. If not, you can level up 1dB-3dB for better reference. But above 85dB the sound is so loud to mix so always keep your volume levels below 85dB.
  6. If you have a subwoofer, you can also calibrate that with this method.

Voila, Now your studio monitors are now properly calibrated. Now its time to train your year for your 1st mix.

Ear training Method to understanding the Sound

This is the most important step which I tell everyone to follow for a proper mixing. Especially if you have a budget studio monitors, you must have trained your ears with those monitors.

The procedure is simple yet very effective.

  1. Choose a few audio tracks etc which you love to listen.
  2. Keep in mind that the genre of your chosen audio tracks must match the genre which you are going to mix.
  3. Wake up in the early morning. I know guys waking up in the morning is too tuff for us. I was not an exception. But with courage, you can do this.
  4. Lock you studio doors. Start your system and play the tracks one by one. Remember, keep the volume level the same at which you wanna mix your projects.
  5. Observe the low-frequency sounds. Observe the intensity of kick drum. Then observe the intensity of the bass lines.
  6. Now come into the mid-range frequencies. Observe the mid-range drum items, guitar and other mid-range instruments etc.
  7. Now come to the high-frequency range. Observe all high-frequency items like snare and other percussion items.
  8. Last, come to the vocals. Because vocals have a wide range of frequencies so you have to observe them with quite a more attention.
  9. Repeat the process with other songs and audio tracks.
  10. Don’t mix any project at day-1. Instead, repeat the process for 3-4 days.
  11. After 3-4 days your ears probably calibrated with the monitors and you are now ready to mix your projects.
  12. Note: Before every session, always listen to the same audio tracks for quick “Ear-alignment”.

Conclusion

The important thing is, if you want to be successful in any field then you should gain all the available knowledge regarding that field. This is the key to success.

The motive behind this website is to provide the pre-purchase guide for studio monitors. These guides and reviews which I publish in this blog can help you a lot to choose a better studio monitor for your studio.

Calibrating studio monitors as per your control room space is a tuff job for newbie recordists. If you have an existing studio, you probably realize that how to set up studio monitors for better output? I think this guide would have solved this question.

Even if you have any query you can comment below, I would be very grateful to solve your queries. share this article with your recordist friends on social media as it would help them too.

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