byAnderton09-26-201303:50 AM - edited 09-20-201309:23 PM
Before you set up your speakers, look over this check list of important basics
by Craig Anderton
If your speakers aren’t set up properly, you won’t be able to really hear what you’re doing. As the most popular kind of speaker for home studios is the near-field monitor, let’s look at some tips on how to set them up.
Distance: Set the speakers up so they’re at ear level, at two corners of an equilateral triangle with your head at the remaining corner, and about 3 feet (one meter) from each ear.
Reflections: Avoid placing speakers where their signals can reflect off surfaces before they hit your ears. For example, place speakers to the side of a mixer, not behind it, as the signals can reflect off the mixer surface. Also, be careful placing speakers too close to a wall, and definitely avoid corners as that can cause bass buildups.
Volume: Monitoring at soft levels doesn’t just save your ears, it sends less energy out into the room, which means fewer reflections off walls. But monitor at a consistent level, as the ear responds to frequencies differently at different levels. Then before signing off on a mix, check it out at both low and high levels, and make sure it works in either context.
Decoupling: If your speakers are sitting on a table or stand, vibrations can be transmitted from the speaker through whatever it’s sitting on. Place a layer of neoprene or a similar material (a thick mouse pad works) underneath the speaker to help provide some acoustic decoupling. If you want a more effective solution, try Radial Engineering's Recoil Stabilizers.
Craig Anderton is Editor Emeritus of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.