All posts by Tom Scan

Studio Monitor Setup Guide

Firstly, this is not an absolute guide…  The shape and size of your room, together with working around existing furniture mean that you often have to deviate from these suggestions to get the best results.  These are just some best practice ideas to make your setup the best it can be. 

I’m also not going to touch on the subject of room acoustics here, as that’s an entire topic to itself and i’ll dedicate more posts to that shortly, but first, lets check that you’ve got as much of the basics covered as possible. 

Monitoring "Triangle"
Monitoring “Triangle”

Positioning 
The tweeters of your monitors should ideally be positioned in an equilateral triangle with your main listening position, or rather… the imaginary lines should cross just behind where your head would be.  
Ideally the tweeters should be at ear height, or at least angled, pointing directly towards your ears at the listening position.
You should angle them in towards the mix position at about a 30 degree angle. 

 

Low Frequency Control
There’s a lot of different opinions  about where in the room you should set up your speakers, but what you really do need to remember is that the closer they are to any wall, the more the bass response will be increased. 

Many active monitors will have switches to compensate for this, or LF controls on the back to compensate for this effect, the basic rule of thumb is to reduce the LF by 6db for every wall it is next to. It would be ideal to not have them in the corners of the room, as you would want to roll off 12db of the bottom end for a balanced response and not many monitors let you do this amount.  

If you can have them more than a couple of feet away from a wall, then you should be able to leave the LF controls flat. 

 

Stands

An ideal home setup would generally be having your speakers on stands just behind your table, desk or console. 

Floorstanding Stands with Isolation Platforms

If you do have speakers mounted directly onto your desktop, then the desk would vibrate along with your speakers, essentially making the desk part of the speaker and altering the frequency response of the speakers. This is the same if you have speakers or stands that are directly onto floorboards. 

Stands don’t now just put the speakers at the right height, they can also isolate the speakers vibration. Carpet spikes have been trying to do this for years in the hifi world, and certainly trying to minimise contact area between your speakers and what they are sat on is always a good thing.  

One way to tackle this effect (if you have solid concrete floors) is to make your stands very heavy and dense, as heavy objects conduct vibrations far less than lightweight ones. Solid concrete breeze block towers will certainly do the job, but might not look as attractive as you may want. 

Ideally you would want an isolating device between the speaker and the surface it’s placed on. 

Desktop Iso-Acoustics Stands

Foam based isolators are cheap, and are better than nothing, but absorb only some of the vibrations, and of course, the lower the frequency of the sound, the less it absorbs. 

Our favourite ones here are currently the Iso-Acoustics range, these use a mix of plastic, rubber and metal poles to absorb the vibrations very effectively across the entire frequency spectrum and can have a very noticeable improvement in the bass and mid range response of speakers.  There are both desktop and floorstanding models.

 

Connections

XLR Cable

Most active monitor speakers have multiple ways of connecting the audio cables to them.  The best ones are either XLR or Stereo (TRS) Jack, as these can be “balanced connections” and these will have the lowest noise. 

If your output device also has a balanced output

1/4″ TRS Jack

(it won’t work if its not), then it will send two separate versions of the same signal to the speaker (called hot and cold). The cold signal will be the exact opposite of the hot, 180 degrees out of phase.
If any noise is picked up on the cable run, it would be picked up on both lines equally, so when the signal enters the receiving device (in this case the speaker) it inverts the cold line, making the original signal back in phase, but the noise is now 180 degrees out of phase and cancels itself out.  

 

 

Gain Staging.
Poor gain staging of your monitor chain will result in excessive hiss and noise from your speakers, just follow this simple guide to get the best from your speakers. 

Set your monitor output in your DAW to  -1dB. 
You shouldn’t be clipping your monitor output in your DAW, but it should be peaking as loud as possible without going over. 

To set your best monitoring range, set your interface output volume knob or monitor controller to its maximum setting and then adjust the volume control on your monitors until they are the loudest you would ever want them to be.  Then just turn your interface or monitor controller back down to normal working levels. 

This will give you both the best signal to noise level possible, but also the most useful gain control. 

 

Aston Halo Reflection Filter

Aston Halo 

In the decade or so since the the first reflection filter was released, they have become common place not only with home enthusiasts, but also with pro studios and producers who turn to them as a convenient way of recording in a single room with vocalists, to facilitate a more natural form of recording whilst songwriting. 

Fresh from the critically acclaimed release of their Microphone range, Aston unleash the mother (if your mother is rather large, as its 40% larger than the current industry leading competitor) of all mic reflection filters, its ridged design almost doubles the surface area and help to redirect any waves that do exist in the reflector away from bouncing back into the microphone. The spherical design increases the angles that the filter protects from reflected sound when recording, instead of working solely on the horizontal axis, as almost all the competition does. 

Aston claim that all these factors produce a much linear frequency response than conventional filters and these guys should know, as the Aston management spent years working with SE Electronics in the UK, so are very familiar with the performance of the competition and have really gone back to basics to radically re-engineer the reflection filter concept. 

The filter is due to start shipping in early 2016 at a UK RRP of £199. 

Aston Halo available at Scan Pro Audio here

View the entire Aston range at Scan here

front back
Back & Front View
 

Universal Audio – Live NAMM Webcasts with Special Guests

Universal Audio are once again webcasting their producer seminars from the Namm show this week over in Anaheim, with special guest sessions from Christian “Leggy” Langdon (The Pierces, Ed Sheeran), Mick Guzauski (Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams), Derek Ali (Kendrick Lamar, Top Dawg Ent), Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton) and UA stalwart Fab Dupont (Jennifer Lopez, Mark Ronson).

Sessions start at 3PM (11PM GMT) Thursday and 1PM (9PM GMT ) at the weekend.

Welcome to UA's NAMM 2016 Landing Page

Session times are as follows.

Fab Dupont
Daily 4.30pm PST  (GMT-8) 

Tracking and Mixing with Next-Generation Apollos (Daily)
Watch producer/engineer Fab demonstrate the next evolution of the Apollo interface and how it can expand your studio and your sound. Featuring the Dede track, “Sun Kissed Lover.”
 
Christian “Leggy” Langdon - Live Tracking with Apollo Twin 
Daily 3.30 / 5.00pm PST
Showcase Apollo Twin and the latest UAD plug-ins.
Featuring the Jasmine Ash track, “Talking.”
 

Mick Guzauski – Recording with Apollo
Thursday 3pm, Friday & Saturday 1pm
Showcase Track with Big Data.
 

Welcome to UA's NAMM 2016 Landing Page

Derek Ali Mixing with Apollo and UAD
Friday & Saturday 3pm
Showcase Track with Kendrick Lamar.
 

Vance Powell Mixing with Apollo and UAD
Sunday 1pm & 3pm
Showcase Track with Chris Stapleton.

Follow this link for the livestream 

Discover The Universal Audio Apollo Range @ Scan