Why choosing studio monitors over Hi-Fi?
Studio Monitors should be looked at as more of a tool than anything else. Their main purpose is to make your music sound as flat and transparent as possible. This makes it easier to notice inconsistencies in your mix, giving you a more accurate idea as to how it will sound on other speakers. HiFi speakers, on the other hand, do their best to make music sound as flattering as possible, a common example of this would be overemphasised bass. This means that after finishing your mix on these speakers and listening elsewhere, your mix will likely lack the bass response it had in your studio.
Studio monitors are mainly “active”, which means the power amplifier is built into the speaker cabinet. You will need to connect them to a line source with volume control, such as an audio interface or a sound card, to hear the sound.
What's the difference between the main brands?
Several factors can affect the price, but you’ll often find there’s a huge amount of choice all competing at the same price range. Especially when it comes to beginner’s studio monitors and while they’re all good, some have specific features which may work more for you. Some brands have a huge amount of heritage, and other brands can be associated with a particular genre, making them more likely to gravitate toward them. But here are some of the key features you’ll find in some of our top picks:
Adam Audio was founded in 1990 in Berlin and quickly became a big name for their innovative technology and dedicated manufacturing process, with some elements still being done by hand. Their U-ART ribbon tweeter is a standout for us, offering a natural and organic sound, reworking their classic tweeter design in an incredibly affordable speaker.
Tannoy was founded in 1926, and has been designing and building studio monitors since the 1940s. Their speakers have naturally undergone significant changes over the years. Their striking dual concentric design looks incredible, delivers stunning accuracy, and is featured in their Tannoy Gold Series.
KRK Rokits have been a studio staple for over 30 years, particularly with the rise of home studios. After becoming synonymous with the EDM and Hip Hop genre, their iconic yellow cone design can be seen across countless studio tours and videos. Their latest version of the Rokit’s is the G4, featuring inbuilt DSP technology that makes them incredibly flexible speakers which will fit comfortably in most rooms.
Yamaha’s white cone has been spotted in major studios since the 1970s. Their latest version sounds a world away from the original NS10s (we don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing), offering a more transparent and flat response. These work great as your studio’s main speakers and are exceptional reference monitors.
Although they’re a new company, Kali Audio have some serious heritage and expertise in terms of design and manufacturing. Featuring, in our opinion, one of the best bass responses that the cost of these speakers has any right to offer. They’ve quickly made a name for themselves as an exceptional starting point for anyone looking to buy their first pair of studio monitors.
Our Accessories and Bundles
Speaker placement is often key to getting the most out of your speakers, impacting everything from stereo imaging to the sound of your room. A good rule is to have the speakers at the same distance from each other, 5ft for example, while also placing your seat at the same distance from both speakers. This results in an equilateral triangle.
The angle also makes a huge difference. Some studies have shown that 30 degrees is the perfect angle for listening. In regards to the speaker position itself, it’s a general rule to place them vertically, so that you keep the same distance between treble and bass speakers. If you need to place them horizontally for space reasons, remember to place tweeters on the outside!
The golden rule is not to place your monitors directly on your desk: it will absorb and amplify certain frequencies, compromising the listening experience. You can choose from floor and desk stands, as well as foam pads to combat this.
We’ve got plenty of options for you when it comes to working out where to put your speakers.
Isolating your speakers from the surface is one of the most important methods of achieving an accurate sound. We offer both floor standing and desktop stands for each of these speakers, to suit your space and get the most out of them.
Alternatively, if you're stuck for space, you can use isolation pads to achieve the same results as floor stands, while also saving room.
Very important but often overlooked is the cabling used with these speakers. We stock balanced cables to ensure they’re compatible with your interface, as well as offering you shielding from external interference and hum.
While there are many different types of cable types and connections, we always pair our speakers with balanced cables where possible. This ensures that your signal comes through at the highest quality with the lowest interference.
To save you going through endless options, we’ve put together a selection of bundles featuring speakers, stands and cables. This means that when you’ve chosen your speakers you have everything you need to get them up and running as soon as possible!
STUDIO MONITORS TERMS AND GOOD TO KNOW
WHAT'S A MONITOR?
There are a few things that make up an actual monitor. Taking a closer look at these helps distinguish one from the other and outlines what you’ll need to look out for! As aforementioned, speakers refer to tools used to listen to music, which enhance certain frequencies to appeal to the ear. Studio monitors, on the other hand, are designed not to colour the sound and reveal any imperfection and imbalance. Let's have a look at the main components of a monitor.
The tweeter is typically the smallest speaker that you see in the cabinet. It’s designed to project the high frequencies in your mix and works best when pointed towards the listener. Tweeters are very important for what is called ‘stereo imaging’. Since they reproduce higher-range audio cues, they tell our brains where sounds are coming from by creating an ‘image’. Most nearfield monitors have dome (aka cone) tweeters. An exception can be found in Adam Audio monitors that feature a ribbon tweeter. This type of tweeter is lighter and more flexible, resulting in a greater level of response.
The woofer on the other hand is the largest speaker you can see and is what’s replicating low frequencies. The larger the woofer, the easier it is to replicate lower frequencies, therefore, giving more accurate results.
WHAT ARE PORTED MONITORS?
You may have noticed that some cabinets have holes in them, monitors with these holes are called “ported”. Ports are where speakers take in and release air to keep a steady pressure as the speaker moves. While not often talked about, they can have some big implications on how your speakers sound in your room. Be careful when choosing ported monitors: if ports are located in the back, they will reflect off the wall and introduce new resonances. Monitors like Kali Audio, which are front ported, can be a great solution to this issue.
Nowadays, monitors often feature some form of control over the sound on them. These are great because they make your monitors far more adaptable to different room characteristics, especially in smaller spaces. It can be a simple switch, like on the Yahama HS series, that reduces low-end.There are also the DSP-driven controls, like the ones on the back of the Rokit G4’s, featuring room control making them one of the most flexible and controlled speakers in their range.
Size of Your Speakers
This is one of the questions we get most often when people are choosing their first monitor so we’ll try to break down why people may choose one over the other.
As we mentioned above, the size of your speakers can impact how it replicates the low-end frequencies in your mix. It can impact other things as well, for example the overall loudness and perceived dynamics of your mix.
The size of your room should also have a big impact on the size of your speakers. The smaller your room the more likely it is for nasty frequencies to build up, completely ruining your perception of a mix. Generally speaking, a 5” cone is recommend in smaller rooms but it can depend on what you using the speakers for in the first place. If you’re writing better music with a larger cone, you should go with that, just be prepared to make the adjustments when mixing!