Do You Really Need Studio Monitor Stands? Studio monitors are great for having a clear, unbiased, and flat idea of what you have just recorded. This is, perhaps the main reason why people who work in music production spend thousands of dollars in monitoring equipment. But which is the best way to make your investment pay off in the best possible manner?
I have my own studio and I spent so many hours in there that it seems as if it was three lives already.
I tried it all to make it sound amazing and finally settled with multiple monitors and multiple stands. I learned a lot in the process of reaching my current set up and I’m ready to share it with you. Let´s tackle this tricky topic right away.
- What Are Studio Monitor Stands?
- Why Do You Need Studio Monitor Stands?
- Studio Monitors Sound Clarity And Isolation
- Where Should You Place Studio Monitor Stands?/a>
- Other Studio Tips For Studio Monitor Stands
1. What Are Studio Monitor Stands?
If you are reading this I assume you know what studio monitors are and why do you need them. Monitor stands are simply small, very robust and heavy towers to put your monitors on top of. They also have isolation foam that prevents your monitors from sounding too focused on the low end. Also, they allow you to place the monitors perfectly at your hearing height and at the correct distance from you and the screen.
Mostly, studio monitors don’t have a flat bottom either, they are actually held on little peaks minimizing sound transference to the ground.
A pair of monitor studio stands are two isolation towers that will help your monitors stay unbiased and reproduce the sound coming from your recordings more faithfully. In other words, they are the perfect companion for a pair of good studio monitors.
2. Why Do You Need Studio Monitor Stands?
You need monitor stands to hear an accurate representation of the sounds you’ve recorded in your studio.
You need monitor stands to work on the low end of that fat funky beat without losing clarity, punch, and definition. You need monitor stands to isolate the sound and make the most out of the investment you made on studio monitors. You need stands to select the height and create a perfect working triangle for your production desk.
The list could go on, but you get the idea.
Buying stands for your monitors is like buying a good mouse to work on your DAW without a headache. When I started, a long time ago, I had my 8” monitors on stands a little further away and some 5” monitors on the desk near me.
It took me a while before I realized (we’re talking months here) that the close-field 5” monitors were actually lying to me and that bottom end was not there. I could work it out most of the time having the 8” speakers behind them but I was definitely getting my 5” monitor investment thrown to the garbage can.
When I finally moved to a different place which was big enough to have everything on stands I could hear the difference and nowadays I can simply work my way on the 5” if I want to.
You need monitor stands to retain your monitor’s unbiased nature untouched and properly hear the low end just like the person listening to the track you´re working with would.
3. Studio Monitors Sound Clarity And Isolation
Let’s face it; studio monitors are the clearest and most boring sources to hear music from. Before buying, you asked yourself why do you need them and in that question, the word flat or clear must have appeared.
Studio Monitor Clarity
Clarity is not a word that comes from the audio world but rather from the visual realm. We all know what it means when you have clarity in the sound, though. It means that it is not biased; it is closer to the original. Well, when you work with up to 24 tracks, for example, that fit in a frequency spectrum, having clarity is being able to hear the entire spectrum from the lowest to the highest without any disturbances.
Mixing this way will assure you that the result will sound great regardless of where you play it afterward.
The importance of clarity is, in fact, so huge that it is one of the aspects of our studios that we spend the biggest amount of time and money on.
I always remember the golden rule a teacher used to say to me back in audio school “if it comes in colored, you can only paint it a certain way, if it comes in blank, you can do whatever you want with it.”
That’s absolutely true, the more clarity you have on the monitors, the more you can shape the mix; if a frequency is not clear, it will be a flaw in the final result.
The Yamaha HS Range of studio monitors are a very popular choice. They come in various sizes. I really like the Yamaha HS5.
Studio Monitor Isolation
“Clarity and isolation are not the same thing”
In fact, I would say that clarity is a consequence of isolation. There is a concept that we, studio people, use a lot which is “bleeding sound”. This term doesn’t have necessarily a bad connotation; it simply means that something other than we intended to record comes into the microphone.
For example, when you are recording drums, all the microphones bleed on each other. That is ok, it is a standard in the industry; it is impossible to isolate each. The principle is that the more isolation we are able to apply to the sound source, the more clarity we’ll have at the end of the day.
Studio monitor stands isolate the sound source from the surface using either rubber or foam and standing on peak points to avoid sound transferring to the ground.
Isolation gives you clarity, clarity gives you the ability to tweak the sound further letting your talent show.
4. Where Should You Place Studio Monitor Stands?
In all physical places, studio monitors should be placed equidistantly from you.
The best thing to do is to imagine a triangle formed between the screen and the monitors and yourself. You should be the tip of the triangle while the base should be formed by the two speakers and the screen. This means that they have to go on the sides of your screen facing you.
Another very important thing is studio monitors should be at the same height your head is at.
In fact, they need to be facing your ears exactly. Don’t overlook the height issue because it changes your perspective. Nowadays most people listen to music through headphones which are inside the ears and hence, having a bias for lows because your ears are above the speaker levels can take you to believe that a mix is ready when there is a huge flaw there.
You might already know this but the lows in your mix are what will make people move their feet and their head.
5. Other Studio Tips For Studio Monitor Stands
Studio monitors are not the only thing that will make your mixes stand out from the rest. There is a lot more to sound than just the monitors. Together with getting those studio monitor stands you can check the following items and find out if do you need them to be corrected or not.
Picking the right spot
This is super important in terms of a studio. If you are going to have studio monitors you are able to make noise without neighbors complaining. Pick the right spot first and run a volume check to see if everything is ok. You can even speak to your neighbors so they know you’re not a casual loud music listener, but working on your craft.
Watch Out With Tiles!
If you happen to have tiles in the room it is going to get complicated with sound rebound. Bob Rock, legendary producer for Metallica (Black Album included) said “it is not a rock record unless you have at least one guitar amp in the bathroom.” Well, that might be true for tracking a specific sound, but in your home studio, you should stay away from them as much as you can.
Vibrating Is Not Cool
“Studio monitors vibrate, it is a fact”
Low frequencies at high volumes will turn your speakers into rumbling machines instantly. This vibration will affect everything on your desktop unless it is isolated.
Imagine putting that state-of-the-art compressor you bought through the vibration of a speaker and risking one of the internal components to be loose and malfunctioning. Yeah, it is not my idea of fun either; that’s one more reason to get studio monitors stands.
Wires, Cables, Connections
Buying some great studio monitor stands and plugging those monitors with cheap RCA unbalanced cables is throwing your money away to the garbage can. Wire up your studio with good cables and you’ll notice the difference immediately.
Not only studio monitors need to have stands and form the triangle with you, all your studio needs to be treated for acoustics.
There are a million ways of doing DIY studio panels and isolation surfaces; there’s no need to spend a lot of money on those. If you buy your studio monitor stands and still have some heavy rebound around the place, you won’t be able to work with clarity and isolation either.
Getting studio monitors to do mixes and mastering is one of the biggest steps towards forming your ear as a producer or engineer. You’ll get used to hearing the textures, nuances and start differentiating what goes where and what needs what.
For those studio monitors to work perfectly as they were manufactured to do you need to sit them on proper studio monitor stands.