Tips when buying monitors
You see them in almost every studio, club or event. They are indispensable and extremely important for those involved with music, but they can also be found in all shapes and sizes. However, there are a number of things that you should take into account when you are going to buy a monitor. Let's get rid of 1 idea and that is: "the bigger the monitor, the better the sound", this is not true at all! Nor do we all have the equipment to measure a room or some of us still have to learn this. There is much more to say than what you are just going to read in this piece. Here are some tips that can help you and some brands that are well worth checking out.
Before we go shopping
Before you quickly go to the store or check the monitors online, there are quite a few questions you can ask yourself.
How big is my studio or space?
This is a hugely important question to ask yourself in advance. For example, if you have a small basement room as a studio, it is recommended not to buy large monitors. Monitors that are too large will fill the room completely, your sound will not be heard correctly. The size is usually expressed in "inches", using the example of our basement room we would rather be looking at 3" or 5" monitors, just to mention something. Are you still not completely satisfied? Don't worry, this doesn't necessarily mean you've made a bad purchase. How you send your sound through the monitors also plays a big role, turn the knobs of the equalizer of your mixer or the mixer in your software, tweak the knobs of your gear a bit more, for example. You will notice that you can also do a lot with this. Monitors alone do not give the sound you hope to get, because you determine this for a large part yourself. Monitors are also last in the “chain” and will show your final product if you have done the first steps correctly.
Has the room been acoustically treated?
This plays a very important role in your sound. A square room with bare, empty and straight walls, for example, will not benefit your sound. This all has to do with sound waves. Does this mean that you should quickly buy those expensive acoustic panels? Not at all, but we are getting closer to doing that though. Keep this question in mind when you buy monitors.
Which sound do I want?
Monitors have certain frequencies where they perform best. Some in the low rather than the high or vice versa, as well as monitors that sound more neutral on all frequencies. It is recommended to check this well in advance and to think about the sound you want. Remember that technically speaking, studio monitors aren’t trying to sound “good.” They’re trying to sound as accurate and precise as possible. The ideal set of studio monitors should reveal every detail in your mix, the good and bad, while hearing an accurate balance across the entire frequency range. Keep in mind that it’s almost impossible to predict how a set of studio monitors will sound in your room. You can make note of certain characteristics, but don’t expect them to sound exactly the same. Are you not yet familiar with frequencies? Online you can find tables that show frequencies and sounds, this way you can get an idea and compare.
Passive or active monitors?
Passive monitoring systems are modular in nature, you’ll need to match your speakers with the right amplifier and crossover. Active monitors have that built in, which presents a few benefits. You don’t have to deal with extra rack gear and you know the internal amplifier is specifically matched to that speaker for the best performance. Even professional studios worldwide rely on active systems with no regrets. You’ll probably appreciate both the convenience and performance you get from an active studio monitoring system.
Cabinet Ported or Closed?
You’ll find that many smaller studio monitors that have a ported cabinet which helps extend the frequency response lower for more bass. While this can be beneficial, the accuracy of ported cabinets may not be as precise as closed cabinets. This behavior is exaggerated if the ports are on the back of the speakers, and they are then placed too close to a wall. If you can’t avoid putting your studio monitors close to walls or corners, you may want to choose front-ported or closed designs for more accurate monitoring.
Brands and budget
Which brands can I trust?
You have so many brands these days that promise different things. Are only the featured ones really reliable? Certainly not, but there are some brands that have a good reputation because they have built this reputation over the years. Your budget will also play a big role, not all brands have different models at different price ranges. Below are some manufacturers of monitors with different price ranges.
Krk: These have had a good reputation for a long time and are recognizable by the yellow color. has been making studio monitors for over 25 years and have reengineered these fourth generation speakers. This brand usually offers 2-way monitors but also in different sizes. Their cabinet is ported and the opening is in the front, which can be useful if you don't have the space to move your monitors further from the wall.They also offer a range of subwoofers. Accurate and consistent sound quality; good value for the money, DSP-based EQ offers plenty of room-tuning options, tight-sounding bass, just to name a few positive features. You can already buy monitors from € 149 each. Definitely worth a look if you are just starting a studio or are looking for better monitors.
Adam Audio: This producer has something for everyone and therefore has a number of series on offer. With their industrial look, they also immediately stand out in your studio. Their "T" range is the cheapest but not the least. If you don't have a lot of budget, these are recommended. The cabinet is ported and the opening is at the back. If you can spend just a little more, their "AX" range is worth checking out. The cabinet is also ported in this one, but unlike the T series, the AX series has it at the front. Both series are 2 way monitors and can be found in different sizes. The T5v range starts from € 161 each and the A3X range from around € 250 each.
For those who are already a little more experienced with sound: The S Series is ADAM Audio’s new flagship reference monitoring range. They have five models of different sizes in this series. The result is a set of loudspeakers with an accurate frequency response and offering enhanced detail in the bass and mid-frequencies, and high overall performance. The range operates over wider frequency ranges compared to previous ADAM Audio designs. So there’s more bass extension and critical mid-range information, with a raised overall maximum output level but reduced distortion.
Genelec: Is a Finnish manufacturer and a brand you can rely on! They also have several series focusing on different aspects of music and not just for music alone. We recommend checking out their website because you will find so much information over there. Focused on what you want to do. Since the founding of Genelec in 1978, professional audio monitoring has been the core business. Neutral sounding products for any monitoring need from mono to multi-channel reproduction. Also as a customer of Genelec you'll receive support in all aspects of the field, from acoustic advice and calibration services to technical service and long product life.
With its unusually rounded, almost bulbous form, Genelec's instantly recognizable cabinet. It heralded the integration of Genelec's proprietary Directivity Control Waveguide (DCW), which shapes the baffle itself into optimized waveguides for the drivers. The cheapest in their offer starts from around 245 € each.
Are these the only brands you can trust? By no means, there are still many good brands. Some will be covered later!