7 Mistakes To Avoid When Setting Up Studio Monitors

Correctly setting up studio monitors is crucial to ensure your audio productions aren't awash with problems. In this enlightening read, Joe Albano discusses 7 things which can be avoided.  

Joe is a musician, engineer, and producer in NYC. Over the years, as a small studio operator and freelance engineer, he's made recordings of all types from music & album production to v/o & post. He's also taught all aspects of recording and music technology at several NY audio schools, and has been writing articles for Recording magaz... Read More

Discussion

jimijames
Great article. Thanks!
Joe A
I'm glad it was helpful! :-)
Koolmeme
Hey Joe ... great article!

Two questions on point 7 ... background first ... SPL'd my 2.1 setup using a couple different methods/mics and found (not unexpectedly) that the further I went below the sub crossover frequency (120HZ) the greater the "pump" it provided relative to the 5" satellites as I toggled the sub on/off. So I chose to equalize the setup dBs at that crossover point.

Questions:

1) At what frequency should I attempt to "match" the dBs between the sub on/off states?
2) What criteria should be considered when setting a crossover frequency for a 2.1 setup that has a variable crossover setting? Room? Genre? Mixing vs Mastering vs ... etc.

Pre-thanks for your feedback!
Koolmeme
Oh, and Joe, to clarify, I am using a sub/satellite 2.1 set that splits the signal at the crossover point, i.e., the audio signal goes directly into the sub, the satellite signal is routed via the sub. They receive everything above the point, the sub everything below. Unless the sub is bypassed.
Joe A
Hi Koolmeme..

Re (1), sounds like your approach—match sub to satellites at the crossover point—is solid.. Ideally, you want the sub to pick up seamlessly from the satellites at a point where the smaller speakers are still more or less flat, just before or just as they start to roll off.. As to what the best crossover frequency will be (2), I'd say if you want the most neutral response (always the goal!), then it'll depend more on the size and low-frequency extension of the satellites than on genre or application.. I'd say 120 Hz is near the top of the range—I prefer around 80 Hz or so, but if the satellites are on the smaller side (
Joe A
Repost - the first post cut off the end of the text..

Hi Koolmeme..

Re (1), sounds like your approach—match sub to satellites at the crossover point—is solid.. Ideally, you want the sub to pick up seamlessly from the satellites at a point where the smaller speakers are still more or less flat, just before or just as they start to roll off.. As to what the best crossover frequency will be (2), I'd say if you want the most neutral response (always the goal!), then it'll depend more on the size and low-frequency extension of the satellites than on genre or application.. I'd say 120 Hz is near the top of the range—I prefer around 80 Hz or so, but if the satellites are on the smaller side (
Koolmeme
Thanks for your response. Went back and found these 5" satellites start rolling off at 100Hz. So I moved the crossover just a touch above that, down from the original 120Hz. Then re-matched sub on/off dBs at that level. Seems good for my setup with those satellites. Did a fresh ARC 2 correction and it improved the lower end of the clean signal. Much less correction required.
Joe A
Great! Sounds like now you've got the sub as well-optimized—as well-matched to the satellites—as possible, for the most neutral response. Hopefully this'll make for an even more trustworthy monitoring environment, at least as far as the low end.. :-)
Allan
Hi Joe, thank you very much for this article. It's very useful and it really helped me set up my studio speakers. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a set of KRK Rokit 5 monitoring speakers since many review sites (this was what made me decide on it http://studio-speakers.com/bestmonitoringspeakersreview/) said they're the best in their price range and I could only afford cheaper ones. These studio monitors sounded awful at first but after reading this article and following the suggestions it finally sounds better now. However, the bass still sounds a bit too much, do you have any suggestions on how to fix it? Thanks!
Joe A
Hi Allan -

I think the most likely way a 5" speaker would exhibit too much bass is if it's up against a room boundary (wall, floor, or worst of all, corner). If that's the case, that'd be the first thing I'd try, moving them a couple of feet away from walls and floor. If they were sitting on a resonant object (something hollow, for example) that could also over-emphasize bass. Of course you'll want to check that no tone controls are boosting the low end unintentionally. Any "Loudness" buttons should be off -- those are intended to compensate for quiet listening levels by strongly boosting bass, but they're notorious for overdoing it, and they should never be switched on for normal-level monitoring. And I assume you've checked the monitors with various commercial recordings as well as your own mixes. Hopefully one of these might be a contributing factor to an overly-bassy response, and addressing that will restore a more even balance.

Cheers,
Joe
daslicht
The triangle is actually less optimal, it should and 'behind' the head not in front of, no ?
Joe A
Yes, ideally the sweet spot point of the triangle would be at the back of the head -- if the image was an actual floorplan/diagram the little guy would be sitting a little closer (and the angle would be closer to the 60° specified).. :-) Of course, the equilateral triangle and 60° angle is an ideal reference point-- as long as the listening angle is not too much wider or narrower, the stereo image should be fine for mixing.

Cheers,
Joe
Untouchable_888
Hi. Thanks for writing this great article!
I don't understand the Fig. 6 diagram/image. I don't see how the monitors are positioned differently to do away with those reflections shown in the top portion of the image?

I also like how in your diagrams, there is no computer shown. How great!
Joe A
Hi.. You're right, you can't tell from the picture.. Many monitors have different dispersion characteristics in the horizontal and vertical planes -- so a particular model might have wide horizontal dispersion to allow for a more inclusive listening area, but narrower vertical dispersion to avoid reflections, as pictured. It's important to be familiar with the speaker's horizontal/vertical dispersion when placing them -- if they're meant to be positioned vertically, and you lay them on the sides (as many people do with console-top monitors), you may unintentionally narrow the listening area, and inadvertently cause more reflections off the console or table surface, as shown in the top picture.

Some monitors -- if they have different horizontal/vertical dispersion patterns -- even provide an option to unscrew the tweeters and rotate them 90°, to allow for either horizontal or vertical positioning with the appropriate dispersion characteristics at the critical higher frequencies.

Cheers,
Joe
Noobie
i used audio interface to record on fl studio 12.5 but my voice volume so low to hear and the music i cant even heard my music Its my first time to record with Audio Interface and i still dobt know how to solve that problem im the real noobie
Joe A
It sounds like you need to increase the input volume for your vocal mic. On the interface there should be a knob labelled Trim or Gain next to the mic input you're using. With the channel strip in record-ready mode (red light flashing) turn this up until the meter in that channel maxes out at around -6 dB and then record -- that should be plenty of level for your vocal. In playback the levels for the various channels should be set so that the level in the meter in the Master channel strip also tops out at around -6 to -3 dB (from the top). Then simply crank the listening level on your amp/speakers for a suitable monitoring level.

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