Near Field Speaker Placement: How to Instantly Improve Your Studio Sound

One thing most recording studio owners overlook (from the smallest home studio to the largest multi-room setup) is the placement of the monitors. This can make a huge difference in frequency balance and stereo field, and while it should be the first thing to tackle before you start serious listening, it’s usually left for later when something doesn’t sound right. Here are some things you can experiment with that will get you to the exact correct location for your room. Don’t be surprised to find that those speakers you didn’t think sounded great before suddenly come to life.

A. Check the distance between the monitors.

If the monitors are too close together, the stereo field will blur without clear spatial definition. If the monitors are too far apart, the focal point or “sweet spot” will be too far behind you and you will hear either the left or the right side, but not both at the same time. A general rule of thumb is that the speakers should be as far apart as the distance from the listening position. That is, if you are 4 feet away from the monitors, start by moving them 4 feet away. You can adjust them in or out from there.

B. Check tThe angle of the monitors.

An incorrect tilt will again cause spots in the stereo field, which ultimately means you will hear a blur from the instrument. The correct angle is strictly determined by taste, with some mixers preferring the monitors to be tilted directly into their mixing position, while others prefer the focal point (the point where the sound from the tweeters converges) anywhere from three to four. twelve inches behind them to eliminate some of the “hype” from the speakers (if they have any).

vs. Dial hHow are the monitors mounted?.

Monitors that are mounted directly on top of a console meter bridge or on a computer desk without any decoupling are subject to comb filter effects, especially at the low end. That is, the sound travels through the console or desk, then through the floor, and reaches your ears before the direct sound from the monitors through the air (because it is a denser material and travels faster), causing phase cancellation. This can be more or less severe depending on whether the speakers are mounted directly to the metal meter bridge or desk, or whether they are mounted on a mat or similar material that covers the metal meter bridge (very popular). The best way to undock the monitors is to use the same method that is used when mounting the main monitors in the ceiling. Place nearby fields on a 1/2 “or 3/4” piece of open cell neoprene (soft rubber) and decoupling will no longer be a problem.

D. Check tThe position of the tweeters.

Most mixers prefer the tweeters of a two- or three-way system to be on the outside, thus broadening the stereo field. Occasionally the inward tweeters work, but they usually cause spots in the stereo image. Experiment with both, however, because you never know.

E. Check tThe desktop or the console itself.

The angle of the desk or console, the type of materials used for the panels, knobs, keyboards and switches, the type of paint, and the size and composition of the armrest all make a difference in the sound due to the reflections they cause. phase cancellation. If the sound from nearby fields on the top of the desk or meter bridge is unacceptable, try moving them towards you with extenders or placing them on stands behind the desk or console (remember to undock them).

A near-field monitor can sometimes get an unwarranted bad rap due to any of the above issues. It takes a bit of experimentation before you can tell that a particular monitor doesn’t work for you. You will be amazed at the difference an inch can sometimes make.

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