Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The 5 Steps To Set Up Your Monitor Speakers

It's time for another book excerpt. This time its from The Studio Builder's Handbook and covers the basic setup of your monitor speakers.
"While most home studios set their monitors up rather randomly, there are a number of general guidelines you can use to optimize your setup. Since most rooms are unique in some way, you may have to vary from the theoretical, but these are good places to start from.

1. Check The Distance Between The Monitors - If the monitors are too close together, the stereo field will lack definition, and if the monitors are too far apart, the focal point or “sweet spot” will be too far behind you and you’ll hear the left or the right side but not both together. The rule of thumb is that the speakers should be as far apart as their distance from the listening position. That is, if you’re 4 feet away from the monitors, then start by moving them 4 feet apart so that you make an equilateral triangle between you and the two monitors (see the graphic on the left).

That being said, it’s been found that 67 ½ inches from tweeter to tweeter seems to be an optimum distance between speakers, and focuses the speakers just behind your head (which is exactly what you want).

2. Check The Angle Of The Monitors - Not angling the speakers properly will cause smearing of the stereo field, which is a major cause of a lack of instrument definition. The correct angle is somewhat determined by taste, as some mixers preferring the monitors to be angled directly at their mixing position while others prefer the focal point (the point where the sound from the tweeters converges) anywhere from one to two feet behind them to widen the stereo field.

It’s been found over time that an angle of 30 degrees that’s focused about 18 inches behind the mixer’s head works the best in most cases.

A great trick for finding the correct angle is to mount a mirror over each tweeter and adjust the speakers so that your face is clearly seen in both mirrors at the same time when you are in your mixing position.

3. Check How The Monitors Are Mounted - If at all possible, it’s best to mount your monitor speakers on stands just directly behind the meter bridge of the console or edge of your desk. Not only will this improve the low frequency decoupling, but it will greatly decrease any unwanted reflections off the desk or console that can interfere with the frequency response.

Monitors that are placed directly on top of a computer desk or console meter bridge without any decoupling (isolation) are subject to comb filter effects, especially in the low end. That is, the sound travels through the desk or console, through the floor and reaches your ears first (because sound travels faster in denser material) before the direct sound from the monitors through the air gets there, which causes phase cancellation and a general smearing of the audio. This can be more or less severe depending if the speakers are placed directly on the wood or mounted on a piece of carpet or similar material (very popular). If you must set your speakers on the desk or console, the best way to de-couple them is to use the same method used when a commercial studio soffit mounts its main monitors. Set the near fields on a 1/2 or 3/4” piece of open cell neoprene, a thick mouse pad, or something like the Prime Acoustic Recoil Stabilizers, and de-coupling will no longer be an issue (although comb filtering from the reflections still might be).

4. Check How The Monitor Parameters Are Set - Almost everyone uses powered monitors these days, but don’t forget that many have a few parameter controls either on the front or rear. Be sure that these are set correctly for the application (make sure you read the manual) and are set the same on each monitor.

5. Check The Position Of The Tweeters - Many monitors are meant to be used in an upright position, yet users frequently will lay them down on their sides. That makes them easier to see over, but this results in a variety of acoustic anomalies that narrow the sweet spot and may result in holes in the frequency response. That being said, if the speakers are designed to lay on their sides, most mixers prefer that the tweeters be on the outside because the stereo field is widened. Sometimes tweeters to the inside works but that usually results in the stereo image smearing. Try it both ways and see which one works best for your application.

If your speakers are placed upright, be sure that the tweeters are head-height since the high frequency response at the mixers position will suffer if they’re too high and firing over your head. Sometimes it’s necessary to even flip them over and place them on their tops in order to get the proper tweeter height."

To read more book excerpts, follow this link to my website.
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1 comment:

Jack Nguyen said...

I read your article. Its gave me many tricks. How to attach my speaker with monitor and led. Now i easily attach my speaker with monitor. Thanks for sharing the post Jack Nguyen .


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