How To Set Up Studio Monitors

You’ve bought some awesome studio monitors that are sure to boost the quality of your audio recordings.

But, if they’re not placed correctly they’re not going to work as effectively as they were designed to, which can set you back in your creative pursuits. 

Should your studio monitors be horizontal? While you might think this works well, some studio monitors are not designed to be positioned horizontally, so always check their user guides first. 

There are other things to bear in mind when it comes to setting up your studio monitors in the best way. You’ve spent good money on your studio monitors so don’t let them go to waste! 

How To Set Up Studio Monitors: Top Tips

Keep Them Away From Walls

monitor setup pros and cons

One of the first things you need to do when setting up your studio monitors is to keep them away from the walls in your room. Aim for a distance of about 10 inches.

This is important to prevent soundwaves from bouncing off the walls and reflecting back to you, which can interfere with your audio recording. 

Encourage High Frequencies Reach Your Ear 

You will be able to properly hear the quality of high-frequency sounds if they’re directed right at your ear. This means you might have to move your studio equipment around a bit to ensure that when you sit down in front of the monitors their tweeters are in line with your ears. 

Invest In Monitor Stands

monitor on stand

Avoid putting your monitors directly onto your desk. Vibrations can be caused that will interfere with your audio recordings. Sounds from the monitors will also strike the hard surface of the desk and bounce off it before getting to your ears, therefore distorting the sounds you’re trying to hear.

In addition to the above, your desk will have a resonant frequency or two, which means that when you increase the volume of the monitors the desk will increase some of the frequency, which will cause you problems (via Presonus). 

A way to deal with all these problems is to make sure you purchase monitor stands that will create a space between the monitors and the desk. 

Keep It Symmetrical 

It’s not always easy to be able to set up your studio in exactly the way you want it, especially if you’re just starting out and you don’t have much space in the room. If you’re trying to turn your bedroom or spare room in the house into your studio, you’ll know how frustrating this can be.

But try to keep your equipment as symmetrical as possible. For instance, if your left monitor is two feet away from its nearest wall, aim to put the right monitor two feet away from the wall to which it’s closest. This ensures that reflections from the room won’t get in the way of your audio recording.

Studio Monitor Tips For Podcasts 

If you’re recording podcasts, you should record them in a small, quiet room. Monitors are designed to work well in smaller areas.

For podcast recordings, you don’t have to worry as much about monitor placement as you would, say, for music production. However, do concentrate on achieving symmetry. 

Set up the monitors at the same distance from each other in the middle of the room. Try to ensure that they have the same material around them, such as concrete or brick of walls. It’s a bad idea to have one monitor next to a window and the other next to a wall, as this will provide unbalanced sound because different materials will reflect sound at different frequencies.

While you might think you don’t need a studio monitor if you’re recording a podcast, bear in mind you’ll need to listen to your audio while it’s being recorded and again while it’s being edited!   

Studio Monitor Tips For Video Production

monitors setup for video production

If you want to make and stream videos, you’ll need to ensure that your monitors are placed in such a way that the sound in your videos will be perfect.

No matter how great your video looks, if the sound is off then this will be off-putting to your viewers. 

A good tip, and one that will also benefit you if you’re using your studio monitors for other purposes, is to form an equilateral triangle with your two monitors and your listening position.

Basically, the distance between the right and left monitor should be equal to the distance between the right monitor and your right ear as well as the left monitor and your left ear. This ensures balanced sound with pleasing tones in your videos. 

Studio Monitor Tips For Music Production

music production

If you’re using your studio monitors to produce music, the same rules apply as what we’ve already outlined.

You want the monitors to be level with your ears and you want the distance between them and you to be the same. 

You should also place bass traps behind your monitors. This will help to absorb sounds that bounce off the wall behind the studio monitors that you don’t want interfering with your music. 

Another important tip to improve your sound production is to avoid putting your desk in a corner of the room. If your monitors are too close to the corners, they will accumulate bass. Here’s an important rule to remember: low frequencies tend to accumulate wherever reflective surfaces meet (via Icon Collective). 

Do You Need A Subwoofer?

studio subwoofer

A subwoofer is a loudspeaker that reproduces low-pitched audio frequencies, otherwise known as bass as well as sub-bass. You don’t always need a subwoofer with your studio monitors, though. 

If you’re mixing music, you won’t need more than studio monitors. The same goes for if you’re recording podcasts or if your listeners are going to be listening to your music on devices like their phones or iPods.

You won’t need a subwoofer in these cases because it won’t really help to increase the range of those low-frequency sounds. Your studio monitors will have an adequate frequency response, so you don’t have to worry about adding a subwoofer to your studio. 

It’s always good to think about how your audience will be listening to your audio recordings. If these recordings are going to be played through a home theater system, it will help you to have a subwoofer so that your audience will be able to hear all the music’s elements.

The same goes for if you’re producing music with bass content, such as urban music genres, because your monitors won’t have the ability to convey all that bass on their own. 

When thinking about buying a subwoofer, it’s always good to take the size of your studio into consideration. If your studio is really small, adding a subwoofer to the equation is a bad idea. This is because subwoofers need a lot of space in order to work properly. For example, sounds that are below 100 Hz will require a minimum of 12 feet (via JoeySturgisTones). 

Since lower-frequency sounds require lots of space to complete full cycles, you could very well wind up with having too much bass, or you could experience muddiness because there’s no space for the frequencies to develop. 

What is muddiness? 

Muddiness refers to when music doesn’t have clarity and there’s a lack of separation between the sounds or instruments that are playing. 

Why do you need studio monitors for video production? 

You need studio monitors because they give you an accurate idea of what the sound coming from your mic is like. This gives you the chance to edit it so it will sound great on a variety of devices.  

Should you use one studio monitor or two? 

Generally, it’s always best to invest in two studio monitors. This is because they will give you stereo sound that will increase the quality of your audio recordings.  

Conclusion 

You can have the best and most expensive studio monitors in the world, but if you don’t set them up correctly in your studio you won’t achieve the quality sound that you were hoping to. 

In this article, we’ve provided you with tips on how to set up studio monitors, whether you’re keen on starting your own podcast or you want to produce music.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to set up your studio monitors much more effectively, ensuring that they work in the best way possible to take your sound to a higher level. 

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