Studio Monitor Speakers
If you want to learn to make your own beats, you have to realize that everything starts with sound. Being able to properly hear what you’re doing is crucial to making any type of music. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? You’ll be surprised how many people are producing music that sounds radically different on their phones, cars,, etc from how it sounds when they are making it. Why? because they simply weren’t using the right speakers. Making beats on your laptop/computer speakers are not going to make the cut. They just don’t pick up enough frequencies for you to hear your creations properly. You make think you can remedy this by plugging some bigger speakers into your computer or running it into your stereo to hear more bass and clarity, but there are problems with making beats like this as well. Headphones might work, but they would have to be of a certain quality.. and I’ll explain all of this now…
If you want to compare the most popular monitor speakers of the past year, check out our 2015 studio monitor comparison.
WHAT ARE MONITOR SPEAKERS?
All speakers are not created equal. Most speakers and headphones that you buy in the average electronics store are built for “color”, which means they’re made to alter the sound in certain ways, this explains why one given pair of speakers may sound bassier, muddier, thinner, fuller or brighter than another. These types of speakers are made for general listening and place an unnatural emphasis on certain aspects of the music over the others in an attempt to make everything sound pleasing. This is fine for casual listening and playback.. but it causes problems when it comes to actually producing and mixing music.
You might ask “What’s the big deal if I mix a beat using the regular home speakers? Most people listen to music on regular speakers anyway?”
Here’s the issue with that, point blank. When you’re putting together and mixing a beat, you cannot hear your music accurately in consumer-grade speakers. This is because the coloring masks undesirable sounds and other issues and might even make them sound GOOD in the speaker, but when you play back your music in a someone elses system, or in a car, the errors jump right out at you. Again, this is because all consumer-grade speakers are tuned differently.
Studio monitor speakers are speakers tuned to a flat response. In other words, they are built to be as accurate and uncolored as possible. This allows for you to hear every sound exactly as it is without any artificial bass boosts or anything like that. If you can mix your music on an accurate system, it will sound much more consistent when played back on other systems. Even studio monitor speakers have sonic differences between them, but they all are built to carry a flat frequency range making them all pretty much suitable for making beats. People just starting out usually buy monitors in the $300/pair range. KRK Rokit 5 and the M-Audio BX5 D2 are the most popular at this price. There are smaller “desktop monitors” that can be bought for as low as $70.00 a pair, but you get what you pay for. Usually the bass response in these small speakers are too weak for you to make decent hip-hop music.
Active vs Passive Monitors
When choosing your monitor speakers, theres two main types to choose from. Passive and Active.
Passive monitors require an amplifier to drive power to the monitor. Two downsides to this is that different amps produce different sonic qualities, and just using an amp adds another piece of equipment into your work space.
Active monitors have amplifiers built in to them. This presents the benefit of not needing a separate amp as the Passive monitors do, and knowing that the speaker was built with an amplifier particularly made for it for the best sonic performance. Active monitors are used more than passive ones in studios.
What to look for in a Studio Monitor
It’s advisable that your speakers be appropriate for the size of your room. If you’re mixing in a small space, then you’ll get much more accurate results with smaller monitors. However, minumum woofer size should be 5 inches. Monitors that have woofers that are usually 3″ to 4″ in diameter lack too much power in the low end.
Remember that technically speaking, studio monitors aren’t trying to sound good. They’re trying to sound as accurate and precise as possible. The ideal set of studio monitors should reveal every detail in your mix, both good and bad, while portraying an accurate balance across the entire frequency range.
It is important that your monitors can play back the sonics you need. I recommend monitor speakers that are able to reproduce tones from 50Hz on the low end to 20kHz on the high. This will insure that you’ll hear enough your lows and highs to make a beat with confidence.
You can learn more about studio monitors in our 2015 studio monitor comparison.