Studio Monitors for producing Electronic Dance Music?
What to look for in studio monitors for producing electronic dance music?.
We all know what speakers are but when it comes to music production, there’s more to them than meets the eye (ear). Everyday hi-fi speakers have a deliberately coloured frequency range to enhance the listening experience. Typically, they are configured with some kind of “smiley face” configuration, with a boost in the low and high frequencies, and a dip in the midrange.
This coloured frequency response of many speakers is unsuitable for the music production studio. Imagine if you worked on your music through this smiley face EQ, you would likely overcompensate (or undercompensate) in certain frequency bands. And if someone with speakers that exhibited a different frequency response were to listen to your music, it would sound unnatural. To prevent this, music studios will employ Speaker Monitors.
- Speaker monitors.
Speaker monitors, or more commonly “Studio monitors” exhibit a neutral frequency response. This enables you to hear the audio in its purest form. When creating, mixing or mastering music you must be able to listen to it in this neutral form or you will make alterations that are inappropriate when the audio is played on other systems such as car, or Hi-Fi speakers.
- How much should you spend?
Speaker monitors can range from budget (approximately £120 per monitor) to over £15,000 per monitor. But how much you should spend depends on a number of factors such as the size and shape of the room you produce the music in.
The size of the room is important because it will affect how the audio emitting from your speaker monitors reflects off the different surfaces. Smaller rooms will more readily reflect frequencies and can result in more acoustical problems than larger rooms. Consequently, there are two types of monitor; nearfield and midfield.
Midfields are generally used in larger professional studio installations because they are designed to be positioned 3-4 metres away from your seated position. Nearfield monitors, however, are designed to be positioned 1.5- 2.5 metres from your seated position. Using these, because you’re positioned closer to the sound source, you receive a fairly accurate interpretation of the audio, even if you are not in an acoustically treated room.
Near field monitors cannot replicate the bass frequencies as well as midfield monitors, though, so many producers choose to add a subwoofer. This is an additional mono speaker that has a typical frequency range of 20 Hz to 120 Hz. However, these can create more problems than they solve if you’re in a small room.
Without wanting to bore you with too much acoustical theory, low frequencies produce very long waveforms. These propagate from the subwoofer, strike a surface, and then are reflected back. The reflected waves meet further original waves leaving the subwoofer, they mix together and it produces an inaccurate sound (usually a heavier bass).
Its because of this that you should consider acoustic treatment before introducing a subwoofer. Room treatment is a complex topic and something we will revisit in this blog, but the aim of treating a room is to prevent sound reflections from affecting the sound from the monitors.
In Part 2 of this blog we’ll talk about the differences between Passive or Active Monitors and Baffles and Ports.