Tag Archives: guide

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. 

 

Compressors: What does what?

compressor image

 

Compressors: What does What?

Many people use compressors in their music, and can usually describe to you what the compressor is doing to their track, (If they can’t do that, it’s probably not the most listenable stuff in the world….), however, many people just stick on a preset, and dont bother understanding what the various options/processes within the compressor,

Here is the Scan guide to Compressor Knobs……….

The Compressor can be used at all stages of your studio work, recording tracks, mixing down and mastering the final product.
Its job is to ‘turn down’ the volume of a signal, if the signal has gone above a certain volume level. It’s exactly the same as a person turning the volume knob down, albeit much faster and much more accurate.

Terms:

Threshold: The threshold setting determines the level at which the compressor starts to act on the signal. It is listed in dB (decibels).

Ratio: The ratio is the amount that the compressor affects the signal. For example, a ratio of 2:1 means that if a signal goes 1dB over the threshold setting, its output from the compressor is only 1/2dB louder.
At 6:1, for every 6 dB going over the threshold only 1 dB extra will be heard.

Attack: This controls how soon the compressor kicks in. i.e. how quickly the volume is reduced once the incoming signal exceeds the threshold.
The attack is defined in milliseconds (ms), the lower the number, the faster the attack.

Release: The release parameter controls how long the compressor continues affecting the signal once it has started. Like the attack, the release is termed in milliseconds.

Gain: Adding compression usually results in the overall level of the sound dropping. Using the Gain control you can dial the level back up to where it was beforehand.
The signal is listed in decibels.

Knee:  A soft knee slowly increases the compression ratio as the level increases and eventually reaches the compression ratio set by the user.
When you set a Knee value, think of the Threshold as a range, rather than one point.
For input levels below this range, the compressor does nothing. As you enter the range, the compressor will become gradually more active, until it is fully “on” at the top end of the range
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A free Windows based software studio guide.

Everyone loves something for nothing and it has to be said the are some astounding free or donationware plug in’s and even sequencers out there.

This morning I stumbled across Synthgeeks “A free Windows based software studio” guide over on KVR and thought we should bring it to the attention of our readers, as the’s whole host of cool plugin’s there that even us guys here haven’t seen during our extensive time trawling the web. Having spent a bit of time working through the huge list that’s in the article we have to agree that the are certainly tools there suitable for both the newest user and even the seasoned pro and given the price of pretty much nothing (donations always encouraged) the really isn’t an excuse not to check them out.

So grab a nice comfy chair and make yourself a coffee then check out all the goodness over at the Synthgeek site.

A free Windows based software studio guide.