Professional musicians or DJs prefer using their very own dedicated speakers called studio monitors for their work. These speakers are a bit more advanced than regular speakers.
In this article, we will provide you lots of useful and technical information on this particular gadget that has been gaining popularity over the years. We will try to find out “does DJ need studio monitor?” to discover if studio monitors are worth the hype.
What is a studio monitor?
A studio monitor is a kind of speaker that is created for professional sound production. They are used in television studios, recording studios, filmmaking, and radio studios where sound production needs to be accurate and of top-grade quality.
The name may suggest that a studio monitor is like a television or computer monitor but the name has nothing to do with what the gadget is. In sound engineering, the term “monitor” illustrates that the speaker produces a flat phase and frequency. The frequency and phase do not change. This means that studio monitors deliver a precise reproduction of the source audio. The audio signal is transparent and the sound you hear has no distortions. It is the original and true sound.
Sometimes, studio monitors are designed for desks where they are near to the listener. The sound that the listener hears comes directly from the speaker, instead of reflecting off walls. Thus the sound does not pick up any external reverberation.
Conventionally, studio monitors are designed for larger areas like theatres and film sets, where the sound has to be accurately delivered to all corners.
Regular loudspeakers have compressors that amplify quiet sounds, hence lowering an audio signal’s dynamic range. Dynamic range is the difference between the largest and smallest values that the sound or audio signal can have. Thus the sound delivered by a normal loudspeaker is bass enhanced.
However, studio monitors don’t deliver bass enhanced sounds. There are two variants of studio monitors. Active studio monitors amplify but passive studio monitors do not amplify low volume sounds.
DJs and musicians usually use studio monitors to hear the actual and raw sounds of unprocessed tracks. Studio monitors must be able to handle unexpected high volumes and sudden sound bursts resulting from unmastered or unprocessed mixes.
The frequency of sounds produced by studio monitors cannot be boosted and hence they are true sounds and lack bass. The sound can only be projected over short distances.
Types of studio monitors
- Near-field monitors – They are designed to be near to the listener. They are used in home studios and recording studios. They are used in mixing and producing.
- Mid-field monitors – They are used in recording studios. They are perfect for large rooms and are placed further from the listener than the previously mentioned studio monitors. They are used by audio engineers for mixing.
- Far-field monitors – They are only found in recording studios. They are incorporated into the wall. They are not usually used for mixing but for listening by musicians and DJs.
Differences between studio monitors and regular speakers
- Studio monitors are more physically robust than conventional speakers.
- Conventional hi-fi speakers amplify sounds. This reduces the dynamic range of the sound and hence enhances its bass. However, studio monitors produce flat sounds without any bass effects.
- Hi-fi speakers cannot handle unprocessed and unmixed sounds. But studio monitors can.
- Studio monitors are either “active” or “passive”. Active speakers have in-built amplifiers while passive ones don’t. Meanwhile, conventional hi-fi speakers need external amplifiers as they don’t have in-built amplifiers.
We published a detailed article about the subtle difference between studio monitors and regulars.
What are studio monitors used for?
Studio monitors are used in recording studios for mixing, mastering, and sound production. They are used by DJs and musicians in professional recording studios.
- Studio monitors allow DJs and musicians to hear the original sound without any added modifications or embellishments. They are not meant for enjoying a finished and processed track.
- In concerts, they are positioned as inward-facing so that the DJ or musician can hear what is being played. They do not act like regular speakers because studio monitors do not produce amplified sounds which the crowd can enjoy.
- In production, they are used for mixing tones in the tracks and revealing the actual sound.
- They are not good for using with home theatres as they deliver raw sounds and not the mastered and bass-driven sounds listeners would enjoy.
- They are perfect for home studio use for editing purposes. Raw sounds can be edited and mastered to produce a finished track.
Benefits of using studio monitors
Studio monitors allow musicians, sound engineers, and DJs to hear what sounds they are working on.
They deliver flat sounds devoid of added bass. The sounds have no “coloration” or adulteration. Therefore, studio monitors adhere to more strict standards than conventional hi-fi speakers. Hi-fi systems usually boost frequencies to enhance bass to provide a more enjoyable listening experience.
Studio monitors are designed to expose the raw and true sounds. The sounds you hear are so clear and transparent that you can hear any mistake in the track being processed. To achieve this, creators have designed studio monitors with stiffness and lightness. These features are explained below:
Stiffness is necessary to prevent the speakers from altering the form of the sound that you hear from the sound that is being played. Thus stiffness prevents the coloration effect.
Lightness is essential to ensure that the speakers react as soon as they receive an audio signal. Woofers or bass drivers produce bass. Good and light woofers produce “fast bass”. If a very short bass sound is played, the speaker begins to reproduce that sound very quickly but when the bass sound is over, the speaker also stops reproducing that sound. Studio monitors include light woofers.
Do you need a studio monitor?
If you are a recording engineer or a professional DJ, you would indefinitely need a studio monitor to get unadulterated and accurate sounds. They produce true sounds with flat phase and frequency with little emphasis or de-emphasis of any specific frequencies like conventional speakers do.
Studio monitors deliver a precise reproduction of the tones of the track. The sounds have no alteration or coloration and no phase changes. Engineers get a realistic idea of the recording as the sound has very little distortion.
If they use regular speakers, which have a preference of low frequencies, your recording would be spoiled. This would occur because you would try to change the frequency values on a mixing table which would result in the track becoming useless for enjoyable listening.
Audio engineers and DJs want to hear the sound without the emphasis on specific frequencies that regular speakers provide. They need to hear every flaw in the recording so that they can correct it and deliver a perfect and finished track.
If they fail to do that, this may lead to a substandard recording. If the track sounds good on a flat studio monitor, that means it has no imperfections. Hence, it must sound superb on a home stereo system.
How much do studio monitors cost?
To produce clean sounds, the materials, design, and build of a studio monitor needs to be of top quality. You should look for brands that offer top-grade products at affordable prices. It is practical to spend within your maximum budget to ensure purchasing great studio monitors.
Studio monitors designed for professional recording studios are priced at thousands of dollars. Other brands that target normal consumers offer more affordable prices.
Studio monitors under $300
They are basic studio monitors for home studio or amateur music production. You can get some wonderful monitors at this cost if this is your maximum budget. They are powered near field monitors with built-in amplifiers.
However, achieving an accurate, unadulterated, and true perspective of your music is difficult at this price point. The bass response is not great. The design uses lower-quality materials. The sound is not detailed and polished.
Studio monitors between $300 and $500
The extra $200 promises larger size, robust construction, and better sound quality. At this price point, you will get superb professional-level monitors that are terrific for home studios, video editing, and other uses.
The monitors have top-notch components and engineering that outperform the $300 priced ones. They are powered near-field monitors that don’t need to be frequently upgraded or replaced. They provide the best features for their high price tag.
Studio monitors between $500 and $1000
These monitors are perfect for professional music production. They have top-notch components and engineering that rarely need to be replaced or upgraded. They have the following incredible features:
- A larger woofer for deeper bass
- Better tweeter design
- Quality cabinet build for terrific sound reproduction, clarity, and bass
- Volume can be raised without sound distortion
- Flatter frequency and hence, more enhanced bass
Although it is possible to use regular hi-fi speakers for sound production in a studio environment, there is no replacement for a decent studio monitor. Meanwhile, the sound quality of a conventional hi-fi speaker cannot be compared with that of a studio monitor.
Nevertheless, anybody who wants to produce sounds like musicians or DJs must own a pair of fabulous studio monitors.
Likewise, we have done a lot of exploring in compiling the information in this article to help you decide “does DJ need studio monitor?” We sincerely hope you found it useful and informative.