Nearfield Monitors Take Centre Stage

For many home studios, the audio monitors are the last component that gets installed, but they are actually a vital tool in creating a transferable mix. Although you may be able to get away with using lesser-quality speakers if you really know what you’re doing (and know how to compensate for their frequency emphasis), having a decent set of flat-response nearfield monitors is a must…
(from DAW)

Basic Facts About Nearfield Monitors

The most important thing to know about nearfield monitors is that they are specifically designed to be listened to from close range – hence the name. The sonic field produced by such monitors is engineered to minimise the involvement of the room’s acoustics; typically, you should be sitting about three or four feet away from the speakers, and the speakers should be the same distance apart from each other. So, the correct setup would be an equilateral triangle with the speakers at two points and your head at the third.

The second most important thing to note is that studio monitors are not necessarily designed to sound ‘good’ – ideally, they should represent all frequencies with a smooth response curve, so you can spot any sonic problems in your recording. This is what is meant when we refer to monitors as being transparent – if the monitors don’t over- or under-represent any particular frequencies, then any such artefacts you hear must be in the mix itself.

This is why it’s not a good idea to use consumer gear for mixing or mastering; they are usually tuned to emphasise certain frequency ranges, to create the ‘best sound’ within the limitations of their build quality. If your speakers emphasise certain bass frequencies, your mixes will probably be a bit lacking in these same frequencies; and the reverse is also true.

Revealing The Truth About Nearfield Monitors

There’s a useful monitor forum over at studio central; here you can read a variety of comments on various nearfield monitor models. If you already have some decent monitors, the massive mastering blog has a good post on calibrating your monitor chain.

Regarding which nearfield monitors to buy, the Tannoy Reveal and Behringer Truth Series are quite popular, and recommended by many home studio enthusiasts; in the low budget end of the scale, however, I would recommend having a look at the Alesis M1 Active MkII or the Tapco S5.


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