There is no shortage of options when it comes to
We are spoilt for choice, but with all that choice comes with it the chance to
make ill-informed decisions and ultimately, the wrong choice.
The discussion on monitoring is a long and much-laboured topic. So to
help you make a quick and informed decision here’s the Kazbar Systems
quick buy guide to choosing the right solution for you based on three simple
things – budget, size and sound.
The most obvious starting point. Thankfully there are great products at
all price points, and lower cost does not necessarily mean lower quality.
Whilst many speaker brands are pigeon-holed at certain price points the
main determining factors for their price are their design –
active or passive,
ported, sealed and transmission line cabinet designs, as well as whether they
offer a single, two-way, or full range three-way drivers.
Active two-way ported speakers are by far and away the most available
speaker-type on the market and best starting point if you are looking for a
monitor to cover all bases and applications. A dedicated tweeter and bass
driver will take care of highs and lows with ease whilst ever-improving designs
and efficiency means even small speakers can produce more than adequate low
end. And if you feel you are lacking enough bass you can also easily add a
sub-woofer to nearly any two-way speaker system at a later date spreading your
Size (is everything)
How big is your room? It’s easy to get some cheap and large monitors for
‘impressive’ low-end, loudness and eye-candy, but is this the best solution for
your small spare room? No. Large speakers need large spaces so you will not
miss their sweet-spot and allow their acoustic emissions to travel effectively
throughout the room.
Conversely get some under-powered and monitors with small drivers in a
large space you will be cranking up the volume to fill the void and risk
distortion, mechanical compression and other nasty artefacts which will
unnecessarily change the sound of your monitoring.
As a general rule of thumb you can use the following room size guide to
determine if you are in a small, medium or big space:
- Small (bedroom): anything under
- Medium (living space): between 1500ft
- Large (exceptionally large rooms):
Most of us will fall under the small space category making use of spare
rooms whilst others may have access to medium spaces where near and midfield
speakers will be absolutely fine. For those in large spaces then additional mid
and farfield monitors will want to be on your shopping list.
Professional monitoring needs to be as flat, neutral and transparent as
possible to allow you to hear all the flaws in a recording, mix or master, not
flatter, and ultimately allow you to make decisions quicker, easily.
Whilst large three-way speakers will generally be the most accurate
(with a dedicated tweeter, mid and bass driver) this precision is usually only
crucial for mastering engineers and those in large spaces for the power. For
the rest of us there are lots of extremely good two-way monitors, so you won’t
be compromising on sonic accuracy.
Cabinet size inherently affects the tone of the speaker, specifically
the low-end; the smaller the cab and drivers, the sooner the bass rolls off.
However this is not as bad as it sounds – modern small speaker designs can
easily reach 50Hz which is ample for most applications, plus additional
subwoofers instantly turns a modest two-way speaker system into a full range behemoth!
The sound of monitors will depend a lot on your room, it’s acoustics and
position of the speakers. A little attention to acoustics and positioning can
be just as effective and valuable as choosing monitors themselves – Monitors
are only as good as the room they are in.
Some speakers have EQ and room correction DSP built-in to help
compensate for these limitations and obstructions, such as having speakers
right up against walls which boosts bass and dramatically affects phase.
Even professionally designed rooms can suffer from phase, frequency and
acoustical issues. When inbuilt DSP and EQ can’t overcome these problems
products like the unique Trinnov room correction system can identify and
automatically compensate for these kinds of issues.
Kazbar Systems offer an Acoustic Treatment consultancy and installation service, we work with the best acousticians in the UK to provide you with the best possible results from your working environment, for more information about our acoustic treatment services and how they can benefit you, please click here