Studio monitors need to provide an accurate representation of your music. Whether you are recording, editing, mixing, or mastering audio, the monitors need to be as sonically transparent as possible so that the mix will translate well to headphones, in the car, television and other playback systems.
Active vs. Passive
Passive monitors require a matching amplifier . Active monitors have that built in, which means that you save on space, wiring, a d can be confident in the knowledge that the internal amplifier is specifically matched to the speaker for best performance.
The power handling of the speakers is going to have a big effect on the overall sound, and not just in terms of volume. This also determines the dynamic range; the amount of headroom before the signal begins to distort. With more power you will be able to hear more transient detail, and be better able to make precise adjustments to compressors, limiters, and gates.
Ported or Closed Cabinets.
Many smaller studio monitors (and some larger ones) have a ported cabinet that helps extend the frequency response for more bass. This can be beneficial, but the sonic accuracy is often not as accurate as closed cabinets.
In many home studio setups you may not be able to avoid studio monitors close to walls or corners, so choosing front-ported or closed designs can give more accurate monitoring.
EQ and Room Correction.
Some monitors may have EQ built in to help tune the speakers to the room. Some have digital processing to help optimise their performance in the acoustic space they are located. These can help, but ultimately they cannot make a bad sounding room sound great!
Acoustic treatment might be necessary for the space they are located in.
Do You Need A Sub?
This depends on the music you are producing and mixing for. For video it can be extremely helpful. For a band’s demo tracks recorded in the garage, probably not.
How will your intended audience listen to the music you have produced? Will they be listening on a home theatre system with a sub, or on a PA system setup to playback dance music? Then a sub will be essential. If your music will primary be listened to by people on their phone or in their car, then a sub probably won’t add great benefit to your monitoring system.
Placement and Isolation
A pair of stereo studio monitors should be placed so that form an equilateral triangle with your head when in your seated position for mixing. This will give the most accurate frequency response and clearest stereo image.
Speaker stands can help improve the sound of your monitors by isolating them from the desk or console, where sound will reflect off them and arrive at your ears slightly after the direct sound, causing a comb, and result in less accuracy in your mix.
Isolation pads can also help with this, by absorbing the movement and sound between the monitor and surface they are placed on.
Technically speaking, studio monitors are not trying to make the sound ‘good’. They are trying to sound as accurate and as precise as possible. An ideal set of monitors will reveal the finer details of your mix, both the good and the bad, and being balanced across the entire frequency range.
Yamaha’s history of producing quality studio monitors that have been used on countless recording, mixing and mastering sessions around the world is well known.
The Yamaha HS series is a great place to start investigating monitors for your studio. Offering exception accuracy, these speakers are the most trusted in the business.