DJs and sound engineers use studio monitors for mixing, mastering, and music production. Both traditional hi-fi speakers and studio monitors are engineered using cutting edge technology and come with a number of features.
If you want the music to have flat and unadulterated sound, studio monitors should be your go-to gadget. If you are a diehard bass lover, then conventional speakers are meant for you.
This article is a much-hyped discussion of the battle between studio monitors vs regular speakers. We will tell you all there is to know about studio monitors, their differences with regular speakers, who they are manufactured for, and the pros of using them. We will try to find out who is a better contender between studio monitors and regular speakers.
What Is A Studio Monitor?
A studio monitor is a speaker that is widely used by professional musicians for accurate sound production. They deliver flat frequencies and their sound is true and immaculate. The sound has no extra bass incorporated into it.
They are used in concerts, theaters and film sets where the sound has to be precisely delivered to all corners. They are used in television studios and recording studios because they produce top-grade sound quality. They can also be positioned on desks from where the sound reaches the listener directly without reverberating off walls.
Differences Between Studio Monitors and Regular Speakers
Studio monitors and powered regular speakers look deceptively alike. However, they are created to perform differently. There are a plethora of differences between them which are related below.
Studio monitors are dedicated speakers designed to deliver high-grade studio quality tones and beats. They are used for professional recording, mixing, and mastering. Regular speakers are crafted for everyday, casual listening.
Monitors produce a flat frequency response to reproduce the recording accurately without adding any coloration or adulteration. This is a requirement in professional environments where recording and mixing are done. The speakers don’t influence the editing of the sound by an audio professional.
Powered bookshelf speakers are intended for personal listening and are designed to play the tracks enjoyably. They are often “colored” to produce a particular kind of tone or beat.
Regular speakers enhance sound quality with rich and powerful bass, mids, and highs. They boost the bottom end which makes tracks dynamic. They also enhance the top end, resulting in crisp sounds. The result is a “smiley curve” for all frequencies.
Studio monitors do not enhance sound and deliver a flat response to all frequencies. They retain true frequencies. They are consistent and natural sounding.
Purpose of Use
The purpose of bookshelf speakers is to ensure you enjoy music in its finished state. The purpose of studio monitors is to offer a clean slate for the creation of tracks or mixes, which would eventually be converted into finished products. They reproduce sound without any coloration. They give greatly detailed sounds and no extra sugar.
Studio monitors are designed for critical listening and picking up sonic imperfections. They don’t emphasize any particular frequency and give the most correct impression of the mix you are building so that you can effortlessly detect any flaws in it.
Regular speakers are called far-field speakers because they disperse sound evenly throughout large listening areas. They sound good in any room and from all directions. They are perfect for a living room or a den. They provide distortion-free music for social gatherings and home theaters.
Studio monitors are usually called near field or reference monitors because they are used in small spaces and low volume conditions of a recording studio. They are ideal for studios and small areas as these regions don’t allow the sound to be reflected off walls. Hence, the true frequency of the sound is not enhanced or reduced.
Regular speakers, besides being used for entertainment purposes, are popular among content creators, video editors and audio creators since their audio production doesn’t need much intense levels of scrutinized sound.
Studio monitors are preferred by DJs, sound engineers and musicians for professional-level sound engineering in music studios.
Studio monitors are equipped with integrated power amplifiers that are needed for the specifications and performance of the monitors. They are incorporated with reference amplifiers which are vital for clean sound reproduction. Therefore they are called active speakers.
Monitors can have numerous power amplifiers in one unit, which are known as individual dedicated power amplifiers. This means that a woofer (for bass), midrange and tweeter cones (for treble) are driven separately, ensuring a more accurate sound.
The woofer doesn’t take power from other speakers in the system which a passive regular speaker would because it is driven by only one amplifier for all speakers.
Regular speakers are mostly passive speakers because they are run by an external power amplifier or tuner or a dedicated standalone amplifier. They have only one amplifier for all speakers in the system. They have speaker outputs.
Since monitors are equipped with a dedicated amplifier for each speaker, they are also integrated with crossovers, which are placed before the amplifiers. Crossovers divide frequencies so that they reach the correct driver/speaker.
This prevents overlap between the woofer, tweeter, and midrange speaker and enhances clarity and precision which allows you to hear every detail in the tracks.
Studio monitors, because they are active, have a mains connection. The amplifier is built into the speaker cabinet. It needs to be connected to a line source with volume control, which can be an audio interface or a monitor controller.
Regular passive speakers have audio input connections, which arise from a central amplifier. They have a mains inlet on the back. The audio input has an XLR connector for connecting microphones.
Regular speakers can’t be used for mastering as their sounds lack detail which could lead to an imbalanced mix. They aren’t accurate and fool-proof.
Studio monitors can’t be used for casual listening because, being near field speakers, they don’t deliver sound uniformly throughout all areas in a listening space. The music sounds different as you move about through the room.
Advantages of Studio Monitors
Unlike conventional speakers, studio monitors give a uniform frequency response. They are found in major recording studios where mixing and mastering of music are done. The sound needs to be neutral and without any distortion.
As you try to improve the tracks by listening to them, you are hearing the actual track and not a distorted version. There is no shift in frequencies in the tracks you are trying to edit.
Studio monitors can display and record without modifying the track so that you can hear it as it is.
On the other hand, regular speakers are not suitable for listening to sound recordings like studio monitors.
Using studio monitors you can effortlessly hear background noise or flaws in the vocals. These faults can then be improved during music processing. This saves the sound engineer time in finding flaws. This is more helpful for beginners since they are not experienced enough to discover and correct mistakes at the moment.
Studio monitors produce low harmonic distortion which creates a clean and transparent sound. Hence they have a high image quality.
They don’t require external amplifiers because they have built-in ones. This is an advantage because amplifiers distort sound greatly.
It is better to invest in a top-grade studio monitor because they deliver better sound quality than a heavy combination of regular speakers and amplifiers.
Who Are Studio Monitors For?
Studio monitors are used by DJs and sound engineers for mixing, mastering, and sound production in professional recording studios.
They allow DJs to hear the actual track with its true beats and tones without any adulteration or coloration. They are not designed for relishing a finished product.
They produce true sounds with flat phases and frequencies with little emphasis or de-emphasis of any specific frequencies like conventional speakers do. They deliver a precise reproduction of the track without any distortion.
Audio engineers need to hear every flaw in the track being played so that they can correct it. The monitor reveals the imperfections of the song which can be corrected to make it sound pleasing. Therefore, it will sound terrific on regular powered speakers.
They are ideal for home recording studios where raw sounds can be edited and processed to craft a finished track.
They are placed facing a DJ or musician in concerts so that he or she can hear the track as it truly sounds.
They are not designed like conventional speakers because they don’t deliver bass-driven amplified sounds which the audience loves. Hence, they are not good for home theater systems.
Regular speakers can’t replace studio monitors because they don’t deliver accurate sounds. Meanwhile, studio monitors can’t spread sound uniformly throughout a listening area.
Studio monitors are indispensable among DJs and professionals because of their immaculate and true sound deliverance.
We have crafted this article keeping both newbies and professionals in mind to give you a precise perspective of the supremacy of studio monitors in the audio production industry.
The debate of studio monitors vs regular speakers is a subject we have tried capturing as accurately as possible in this article. We do hope you found it handy. Thanks for taking the step to read this article!