There’s a phrase that we often listen. << This speaker has a lot of bass and it’s awesome>>
But is that what we really want from a pair of studio monitors?
The answer is obvious.
Actually it is even worse when the speaker is cheap and has a lot of bass and high frequencies boosted.Of course it is better and more comfortable when you have two different set of speakers available in your studio but let’s say you can afford only one.
That means every mix you create, every decision you make and every adjustment you do is based on one pair of studio monitor. So if you have speakers that luck in spectrum balance means that you will create mixes that will also luck in spectrum balance too.This is obvious only when you understand what really means flat speaker!
It’s a shame to waste your time by doing things that which needs not to be done. So i will tell you an experience that i had with a friend and I will show you how to avoid this nightmare in order to get rid of wasted time in the studio. i will never forget, when i started a mix session in my friend’s studio years ago. He had available at the time some cheap speakers on his desk. They were not something special. Was some common speakers in 300 dollars range with a 5 inch woofer but they had a lot of bass and high frequencies boosted, as we say “Smile face response”
So we decided to do an experiment and tested a lot of different tracks in a lot of different genres in a lot of his projects as well. As we started the mixing session we thought “let’s start doing some eq tweakings here and there in various points in the mix”. When we finish mixing, we checked the track again and sounded like a nice mix.
But Here comes the interesting part. When we switched set of speakers and started working with an other set of well balanced speakers that he had available, we went back to the project just to check if we could listen the same things as we listened before.Unfortunately we felt so disappointed that we have spent so much time mixing with bumpy speakers. We had to go back and almost re-do the mixing session. That was a lot of pain indeed.
After we finished mixdown, we noticed that have made proper changes in the mix and we also had finished the session much faster without any guessing work. We also realized that we had completed the mix session in half time as we did with the bad balanced speakers and we were amazed of how much time and money you can really save just by using a pair of speakers with frequency balance across the spectrum.
To sum up this huge topic about studio monitors, here is a guide that you should have in mind when you buy studio monitors with no balance (from spectrum point of view).
1) Takes you more time to finish a mix session.
2) As long as Time=Money that cost’s you money as well.
3) You are making wrong decisions in the mix that makes your sound unprofessional.
4) You can’t rely on them as a final check of your productions (Because they are lying to you).
5) You get the wrong impression of any music that you are listening to.
6) Your ears get tired so quickly that you need more breaks very often.
These are the most common disadvantages when using a speaker with no flat response. When we say “flat” we mean flat from ears point of view, not pure flat response because every good speaker have slight anomalies every now and then across the spectrum.
Next time you want to buy a studio monitor that translates well, bellow is a guide that you should take it seriously if you want to avoid wasting time and money.
1) Make sure they have balanced frequency response and they are not boosting certain areas of the spectrum (don’t color the sound).
2) Make sure they have linear frequency response.
3) Spent time listening to a lot of music through them.
4) Make sure they have natural and tight sound (Don’t believe the hype “Natural sounding speakers are only for orchestral music”).
5) They have decent transient response.
6) They are not back ported speakers.
Of course studio monitor is a personal preference but these are some of the main guidelines about quality studio monitors that translate well.Finally, a very important thing to remember about studio monitors is this: When a speaker has this “smile face” frequency response like the photo below, you are loosing the most important frequency range of your mixes which is the mid range. You should always protect this range.
Next time you will listen to your mixes using speakers with this smile face response and you guess that your kick and bass have been mixed properly, Remember. They are not mixed properly because the built in equalizer of the speaker boosts the area around 80-100Hz as a result making wrong decisions and ruin all your mixes across the spectrum. Remember this quote. “When you are able to create balanced mixes using balanced speakers, then you will be sure that your mixes translates well in every sound system”.
Ronni Zag is an award winner producer from SAE college who loves music production
and sound design. He also loves blogging and sharing knowledge
with other producers as well.
His passion about music and audio technology led him to acquire a diploma and excel
as an electronic engineer specialized in audio field.