Have you ever taken the time to consider how to position studio monitors? Did you know that you may be hurting your mixes without even realizing it? This is a critical step in any home music studio.
The truth is, very few things affect our recording projects more than the monitoring source we've mixed them by. Learning how to position studio monitors is not impossible but it is critical. The good news is, this tip is absolutely free.
In reality your home music studio monitors are what your mixing/control station should be configured around.
So let's talk about how to position studio monitors in the space you have.
It's important to understand, at least a general idea of how sound waves travel. Without getting too technical let me give you an illustration.
Imagine throwing two small rocks into a pond about 2 feet apart. As each rock hit the water both would no doubtingly cause ripples. These ripples would begin to move across the pond until they eventually rippled into one another.
When the two sets of ripples hit together there would be visible effects. Some ripples would collide and essentially knock each other down. Others would magnify the ripple of its counterpart. Some would change direct after hitting. Still others would never hit and continue to move across the water until their energy was gone.
Though there is much more to the science about sound waves, this illustration does serve as a good visual. So let's put this picture into our equation as we learn how to position studio monitors.
Your studio monitors are much like the rocks in our illustration. When they produce audio, much of the sound travels outward into your room. Still certain frequencies also travel out of the back and sides of your monitor's speaker cabinet. These sound waves can be compared to our ripples across the water.
The goal of knowing how to position studio monitors is to eliminate as much "ripple" effect as possible. When sound waves collide, some frequencies are canceled while others are amplified.
Later this week I will post about how to control the acoustic of your room, which is the other side of this equation. For now, let's look at our starting point, monitor placement. To do that I will list some general concepts that apply.
Don't place your studio monitors in a corner.
In the typical smaller space for home recording, often the mixing desk ends up in a corner. Lower frequencies are amplified in corners. This would be great for live sound but not for the home studio.
Hearing more lows than your mix is producing will cause you to EQ less lows into your mix. Thus your final project will be too light on the low-end. This is because you were hearing something produced by the room, not your tracks. Get those studio monitors out of the corner.
Get those speakers off your desk.
For the same reasons noted above, it is best to have your speakers on in-dependant stands from your mixing desk. Lower frequencies are felt more as vibrations than heard like higher ones. When you share the same surface as your monitors, you will also feel/hear more lows than what is truly present in your mix.
Place them on your shortest wall if possible.
Now I know some will disagree with this theory on how to position studio monitors so let me explain. When you mix, you need to hear the purest sound, frequency wise, as possible. If your room is not exactly square then place your speakers on the shortest wall. This would mean most of their sound would travel further before any potential bounce occurs.
The exception here would be if the short wall forces them to be in the corner as well. In this case I would place them on the longest wall of the room and work on acoustical treatment of the room.
So where would you place your speakers then?
Keep in mind that room acoustics do play a role here. As I said I'll cover that later this week. Knowing the acoustic of my room I would place my speakers at ear height on separate stands in front of my desk. They would be on the shortest wall about 4 feet apart at their center. Each speaker would be angled in toward my listening spot about 30 degrees.
One post doesn't give enough room to cover everything about how to position studio monitors. With that in mind I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please add them to the section below.