Once you have your home recording studio setup, complete with new equipment for the best listening experience, you should be good to go, right? Well, not so fast. All the tools are there, but you have to use them correctly to get the best experience possible.
Setting up your studio monitors correctly seems like a small detail, but it’s one of the most important factors in ensuring you have a clear picture of what you’re listening to. Here is a breakdown about how and why you need to position your full-range monitors correctly in the “sweet spot.”
Why Positioning is Important
Recording studio monitors allow you to listen back to what you have recorded. This is an incredibly important part of the editing process. If studio monitors are positioned correctly, then you can hear every single detail and flaw. Then, it’s up to you if the flaws can be fixed with editing or if the piece needs to be recorded again. Missing important details can lead to embarrassing problems with the final recording.
Sound waves will bounce off some surfaces and be absorbed by others. This is why you set up acoustic panels, diffusers, and bass traps inside your studio. However, even with all of the extra components, you need to ensure that your speakers are positioned in the right direction.
Some Key Rules to Follow
The monitors you have may have have different setup requirements than other brands or styles. These rules are not necessarily set in stone but they do give you a good guideline to start with. However, you should always default to the instructions included with your monitors when starting the setup process.
First, you need to choose where you’re going to put your desk. This is where you will be sitting when you are listening back to what you have recorded. Ideally, you will want to place your desk away from walls and leave enough room to set up your monitors away from the walls as well.
Not only does this allow for the best sound quality but it also gives easy access to the wiring which can save you a lot of time when troubleshooting.
Now that you have chosen the position of your desk, you can choose where to place your speakers. You want a triangle shape with the speakers making up two corners of the triangle and your head making the third corner. Imagine an equilateral triangle and, if necessary, break out the measuring tape. Angle the speakers to point toward your head.
You want the monitors to also be the same height as your ears. Obviously, monitors are bigger than your ears so, if possible, position the high-frequency tweeters to be at ear level. This gives the clearest sound possible.
Again, this is not a hard and fast rule, and it will not make your studio setup sound “bad” if you can’t achieve this positioning; this is simply a rule of thumb to follow.
If you have that measuring tape still handy, then you can use it to confirm your speaker placement. Ideally, you want at least 8 to 12 inches between your speakers and the walls. It’s also important to keep distances from walls consistent between your monitors. If one speaker is 8 inches away from the back wall and 3 feet away from the side wall then you should try to have your other speaker placed similarly when compared with the other walls.
If your monitors did not come with stands then you should seriously consider buying a set. This will help a lot with placing monitors at the same height as your ears as mentioned above.
Monitor stands are also designed to work better with sound when compared with other surfaces like placing your monitors on a desk or bookshelf. If you are placing your monitors on a desk or shelf then you can look at isolation pads to improve the sound quality.
Other Considerations When Setting Up
Now that you have your speakers placed, there are still a few things to consider before the job is done. Take a few moments to check out your setup and make sure everything is complete to ensure the best listening experience possible.
When placing your subwoofer, you will want to try and keep it on the same plane as your speakers. This is a fancy way of saying to place it in-line with the speakers. Ideally, somewhere in between the two speakers is where you will put the subwoofer.
Many speakers will include features to help improve sound quality based on various situations and setups. Review these features in the documentation included and make use of them if possible. No two studio setups will be the same, and you may run into some sound issues that can be resolved by using the features built into your speakers.
Finally, you will want to look at calibrating your speakers for optimal performance. Review how to calibrate a studio monitor setup and take the time to get the best listening experience possible.
If you don’t want to go through this process you can always hire a professional to do it for you. This may seem like too much expense for an amateur recording artist, but if you are serious about the quality in your studio, then you might want to consider taking on the extra expense.
To hit that sweet spot, follow these rules and consult your speaker’s instruction manual when in doubt. You will get a top quality studio experience without having to break the bank and purchase fancy new equipment.