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The monitor speakers are an extension of the ears, the budget invested in the speakers, the joy of creation and appreciation, and the improvement of the mixing quality are still the most obvious. This article will briefly introduce the types of monitor speakers, why multiple pairs of monitor speakers are used in professional recording studios, and the placement of monitor speakers.
Types of monitor speakers
Mid- and far-field monitor speakers
The mid- and far-field monitor speakers are also called full-band monitors or main monitor speakers. In the past, the mid-to-far field was usually placed behind the mixing console, but now it is usually embedded in the wall with the design and construction of the recording studio to integrate with the entire room. The reason why it is called a full-band speaker is that only the speaker has such a volume can it be complete and accurately cover the human hearing frequency range of 20Hz-20KHz.
The mid- and far-field speakers have obvious advantages in expressing large scenes, expressing the depth and layering of music, and listening to low-frequency dives. But doing more detailed editing and adjusting individual timbres, sometimes you are not as sure of listening on near-field monitoring.
The mid- and far-field monitor speakers are expensive, starting from 30,000 to 100,000, and ideally a pair of 150,000 to 200,000. And the acoustic environment of the room is demanding, which is not affordable for most home studios, and it is usually purchased by the unit. Therefore, whether to have a pair of well-modeled mid- and far-field monitor speakers is regarded as one of the signs of home studios, professional recording studios, and sound mixing studios. Near-field monitor speakers still dominate in home studios.
Near-field monitor speakers
Near-field monitor speakers are the most common monitor equipment in small studios and home recording studios. The commonly used sizes are 5-inch, 6-inch, and 8-inch two-way speakers.
Near-field monitor speakers are more suitable for listening at a distance of about one meter. From the perspective of frequency response, near-field monitor speakers can perform more accurately in mid and high frequencies, and the details in the sound can also be more clear. However, due to the volume and design power, it is not ideal for low-frequency diving, and the sound field and sense of depth are a circle smaller than that of mid- and far-field speakers.
The lower limit of low frequency playback is determined by the size of the woofer. The lower base frequency of the bass is 41 Hz. The 5-inch bass can dive to about 55Hz, and the 6-inch bass can reach about 45Hz. Mixing on near-field speakers with a small bass size (less than six inches) is difficult to manage the low frequency of songs as handily as in mid- and far-field monitor speakers. The low frequency is the foundation of the whole music. Therefore, when mixing on the near-field monitor speakers, you must be very careful with the low frequency processing.
Hierarchies like kick drum bass are difficult to perform well on small near-field monitors, so they are difficult to handle. Therefore, mixing should start at six inches at least, and eight inches is ideal. But for general arrangement, music appreciation, and application scenarios that do not have harsh requirements for low-frequency performance, 5-inch and 6-inch near-field monitoring accuracy is also sufficient.
Contrast error correction speakers
This type of speakers is neither used for mixing, but mainly for near-field and mid-to-far-field speakers, and is not suitable for listening to songs. But when the recording mixing enters a certain stage, when you encounter a bottleneck and can't make up your mind, it is used to compare error correction. Compared with the error-correcting speakers, the above-mentioned comparison error-correcting speakers are very unpleasant and basically have no musical taste, but they can easily expose the problems in the work, such as frequency defects, imbalances in proportion, and so on. Therefore, contrast correction speakers are also essential in the mixing studio.
Why use multiple pairs of monitor speakers
A professional recording studio usually has at least a pair of main monitor speakers and a pair of near-field monitor speakers. More mature home studios must have at least two pairs of near-field monitor speakers, or use a pair of 8-inch monitor speakers as the main monitor speakers, and then be equipped with a set of wrong speakers.
Because there is no pair of excellent, panacea speakers in the world. Different types and sizes of speakers have their advantages as well as their disadvantages. Therefore, a mix often requires repeated comparison and audition on more than two pairs of speakers. Multiple pairs of monitor speakers can form a mutual confirmation function, which is convenient for picking out mistakes and finding balance.
Placement of monitor speakers
Most of the problems with mixing works are related to the monitoring environment and the placement of the monitor speakers. If the wrong sound is heard for a long time, the subjective standardized hearing will also be destroyed. Many people monitor speakers at home for several years, but the placement of the speakers is incorrect. Whenever I see an audiophile throw a pair of expensive speakers at random, I secretly chuckle in my heart.
The most ideal room state is as shown in the figure below, and the control rooms of most recording studios are also designed in this way. But in ordinary houses, bedrooms, temporary buildings, and environments that have not undergone strict acoustic design, how to place monitor speakers? Here are some principles for reference.
Based on past experience, I briefly summarized the main points of speaker placement in a non-standard recording studio environment.
1. The back of the speaker cannot be against the wall, and the left, right and back of the speaker cannot be against the corner of the wall. The shape of an ordinary room is generally irregular, so at least one meter of space should be left on both sides of the left and right speakers. If the sound is too close to the corner, the sound heard will rebound through the wall and form multiple reflections, resulting in the sound of the two speakers , And even there will be a significant difference in loudness.
2. Place the speakers in strict accordance with the equilateral triangle. After determining the listening position, use a ruler to measure the finest sound. The sound is different by one centimeter. You move for a long time by yourself, it is better to use a ruler to measure the efficiency, and the sound is almost right when the position is right. If there is no condition to place a 120cm equilateral triangle, you can consider a 90cm small equilateral triangle.
3. In principle, there should be no obstacles between the speakers and the ears. One bottle and one glass will cause changes in the sound. In professional terms, it is called comb filtering effect. The monitor will also destroy the sound field to varying degrees. Therefore, many recording studios choose to use a projector as a display, or place the display diagonally and place it at a relatively low angle, and try not to block or block the speakers as much as possible.
For the setting and placement of the monitor speakers, there is a booklet "Monitor Speaker Setup Guide" by Genelec. It is easy to understand and can be read for reference. For a general rectangular room, how to optimize the monitoring environment, "Monitor There are a few suggestions in the Speaker Setup Guide:
1. Use high-density materials (such as cement, bricks, multi-layer gypsum boards, etc.) to cut off the corners of the front wall and side walls at an angle of 30°. If the material used is not dense enough, use mineral wool to fill the space behind.
2. Use a combination of sound-absorbing and diffusing materials to treat the surface of the side wall. Please note that a thin perforated plate can only absorb high frequencies.
3. If the room size is sufficient, use sound-absorbing and diffusing materials to treat the surface of the back wall.
4. Use a lot of sound-absorbing materials at the back of the room or on the ceiling to absorb low frequencies. A well-designed and installed flat plate resonator can also absorb low frequencies.
5. Install sound-absorbing materials and diffusers on the ceiling of the listening area to reduce reflections from the ceiling.
6. Before buying monitor speakers, you must take the room factors into consideration. If the room environment is not ideal, you will not be able to use the potential of the monitor speakers, and you will not be able to hear the correct sound.
Suggestions for buying monitor speakers
1. The purchase of monitor speakers mainly depends on the purpose and budget. Although other equipment has become cheaper in recent years, the price of the speakers has still risen instead of falling. It is still the most expensive piece of equipment in the studio. The speakers are extremely valuable. Tens of thousands of mid-to-high-quality speakers bought five years ago can now be sold at an 8-9 discount if they are carefully maintained.
2. In the case of extremely poor room conditions, such as small space, irregular shape, and large reverberation, the sound heard by headphones is more reliable than the sound heard by monitor speakers. Because headphones are not suitable for long-term wear, if you need to work for a long time, you can buy a pair of 2000-3000 yuan speakers for transition. This price of 5-inch monitor speakers is fine for normal arrangement and listening, but if you want to really listen Knowing the level and depth of music, at least 10,000 yuan starts.
3. There is no direct relationship between the size and accuracy of speakers. A five-inch speaker with better quality at the same price will still have a higher accuracy than a six-inch speaker, except for a slight difference in low-frequency dive.