Studio Monitors: Who Needs Accurate Sound?
During the mixing and recording phases of a recording project your studio monitors will be the tool to give you accurate representation of sound so you can make the right choices as far as effects, sound positioning and sound levels are concerned. A good monitoring set up in your recording environment will have a flat frequency response from your monitors so that there is no coloration of frequencies. There are several factors that play a role in your monitoring performance such as monitor design, speaker placement, room considerations etc. as well as tools that help tweak your monitors to your specific recording environment.
One of the first decisions you will make about your monitors will be whether you choose passive or powered monitors. The current trend is leaning towards powered speakers, which incorporate powered amplifiers already inside their design. Powered monitors are widely accepted by professional and project studio community because of there compact design, good sound, expandability and of course no external amplifier. The "quality" sound is derived by crossovers, which is a electrical system designed to split the high frequencies to the tweeter and low to mid frequencies to the bigger speaker. This allows the tweeter and the main cone do what they are best designed to do.
Your mixing space needs to be treated like an instrument, the same way an acoustic guitar has different sounds due to material, shape and strings so does every individual room. There are certain things you can do to help create a good sounding room. The first and easiest thing to do is make sure there is even symmetry in your room, make sure your equipment layout, front/back and right/left imaging is consistent. Monitor placement in relation to the engineer can be explained by drawing a triangle with three even sides and putting the engineer at one point and the two speakers at the other two points. Don't be shy find your tape measure and measure it out if you have too. As far as height goes the tweeters need to be at ear level.
If you do all your mixes on the biggest set of speakers you can get your hands on how will that transfer over to Joe Blows modest stereo in his apartment? Remember you are mixing and mastering for Joe Blow to hear, that is why near field monitors are being used so commonly to match the systems found in most households. Remember what medium your fans, clients and customers will be listening with and monitor accordingly. For example see how your mixes transfer over to mono to get an idea of how your mix will sound on a clock radio or take your mix and play it in your car because that's where lots of people listen to music. It is important that your mixes translate on all types of mediums and think where do your listeners listen to your recordings.
There is a wide selection of studio monitors but you have to consider your budget first, then your room and then finally make and model. I don't care if you spend $2000 dollars on a set of monitors if your room isn't taken into consideration your monitors will sound like garbage. Once you pick your monitors in time you will get used to how they behave and you will be able to judge how they are performing in your recording space so don't sweat what brand you buy. I recommend purchasing a dB meter to check how your room is behaving and for serious tweaking, the Equator Room Analyzer, which will analyze individual frequencies and let you choose the perfect spot for your monitors.