Studio Monitor Advice Pt 1 – Dubspot Instructors Give Home Studio Speaker Tips

Studio Monitor Advice Pt. 1 – What’s in Our Studios?

Studio Monitors are one of the most important investments you can make for your studio. I touched on the importance of monitor speakers a few months back in an article that Dubspot published on building a home studio. In that article, and again here, I want to emphasize that the speakers you are using to make music have a massive impact on your perception of recording.
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Monitor speakers play a specific role in the recording process. These speakers aim to achieve “zero coloration,” which is to say that all frequencies in the audio spectrum are presented equally with a “flat” response. As I’ve mentioned previously, Hi-Fi speakers (ie: Bose, Polk, Klipsch) can sometimes have a “sweet” sound compared to studio monitors. This is because Hi-Fi speakers are made with enjoyment in mind. They are manufactured with certain frequencies boosted or subtracted from the output to sound pleasing to our ears. On the other hand, monitor speakers may have a tendency to amplify parts of a mix that sound bad. This is their job. As a producer or engineer it’s your job to make the mix sound the best you possibly can on flat speakers to ensure that the mix will sound good on ALL speakers.

Most likely a new pair of studio monitors will delight your ears because they are often precision built with the perfect amount of amplification built-in to make them pump. Generally speaking, the more you spend, the better your sound. But there are a multitude of options on the market currently and economically-priced studio monitors can be a perfect upgrade to your studio if you’re looking for better sound. While we generally don’t review specific products on our blog, but we thought it would be a great idea to poll our instructors and staff to find out what everyone is currently using in their own studio.
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Dubspot Instructors on Studio Monitors:

I use Mackie HR824‘s. They’re powered, can reproduce sub without a subwoofer and I really enjoy working on them. I use them for production and DJing if I happen to be DJing at home, which is fairly rare unless I’m recording a mix. - Matt Shadetek

I use Mackie HR824‘s for production. I’m used to them and I like the sound. I also use a pair of Avantone Mixcubes for reference in mixing. The Mackie’s sound really good but you need to hear how the mix sounds on crappy speakers to know how your song may sound on other people’s systems. These are pretty mid-ranged focused, so if you can get your mix to sound decent on these and the Mackies, you’ll have a more solid mix that translates better between systems. I also use Sennheiser headphones for detail and a pair of crappy Altec-Lansing computer monitors for checking mixes on. KRK‘s are pretty decent and well priced for studio monitors.  They seem to be pretty popular these days. - Michele Darling

I find the JBL LSR series to be  the best all around monitors on the market today. Mixes and masters translate extremely well in the real world. - Daniel Wyatt

I currently use the JBL LSR4328 monitors and I’m very happy with them. I have owned everything from Events, M Audios, Blue Sky 2.1, Mackie HR824s.  My main advice would be to never skimp on monitors, get the best you can afford and keep upgrading throughout your life when you can.  Also keep in mind that every good pair of monitors should be accompanied by a good pair of headphones.  I would spend money on getting this stuff right before you run out and by every sound under the sun, because you can get a lot of use out of just one quality synth, but if your monitors are whack – well there you go. Also, don’t feel like you need to get 8in monitors, especially if you have a smaller room.  Might end up doing you more harm than good if you are in a tiny space. - Matt Cellitti

I use JBL 2325p’s. For 5″ monitors, they are great – nice and flat, accurate, and just enough bass for me to know what’s happening on the bottom end. If you need powered monitors and have $500, you could do a whole lot worse than these. - Thavius Beck

I’m all about the JBL LSR series these days. i’ve got a pair of the 4328s in NY and the 4326s in LA (cuz i’m in a smaller room). The room correction thing they do is pretty amazing…in NY where i’ve got higher ceilings and a bunch of bedroom junk in the room, they have a huge sweet spot with no additional room treatment. in LA, i’ve got a small boxy room without much stuff in it, so some additional bass trapping was necessary. i think lots of people starting out should spend a little less on monitors and get some good bass traps! - Jon Margulies

I’m using M-Audio EX66s and a sub courtesy of my years working there, but the word on the street is Focal monitors are the jam, a bunch of my respected sonic expert friends have them and they will soon be in my studio as well. The JBL LSR4328Ps are fantastic too. - Steve Nalepa

This is a no-brainer. If you’re on budget and like bass (and who doesn’t) Yamaha HS80M rule, and you can even add a great matched subwoofer. $700 for a pair and 400 for the sub. You might even get the combo for less. I also recommend the smaller HS50M($400 for a pair) as near fields, they look kind of reminiscent of the legendary NS10M that used to be a  standard in all major control rooms. These here are bit less boxy and throw some more bass, but nothing like the 80M, that really have a lovely low end (even without the sub) and are perfect for EDM/bass music. You can also use the 50M with the same sub if desk space is an issue.  We use all of those speakers at Dubspot and people love them. - Heinrich Zwahlen

I have Yamaha NS-10s (for 95% of time) and I check the bass on Mackie HR824‘s. I also use a couple crappy radios for checking balance. - Bill Lee

Currently, I’m using Yamaha HS80Ms with the matched HS10W subwoofer. It’s great sound for accurate mixing and plenty of bass response to punish annoying neighbors. - DJ Kiva

I use the KRK RP8G2 Rockit Studio Monitors. I get a clean sound when I use them in my studio. They are onvenient when it comes to connecting them, and they have XLRs, 1/4″ and RCA connections. It has a HF adjust. I only wish  it  had a LF level but over all good investment. - Jamie Glover

I use the KRK Rokit 5 Generation 2 monitors for my home studio.  Great price, easily available at many different retailers (I think even best buy is carrying them now), and the sound is accurate and solid for a small room. - Paul Laski

I use KRK Rokit 6 for studio and monitoring. I’ve been using them for many years. No complaints on sound, and they are very affordable.DJ ObAH
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Don’t forget to follow up with studio monitor advice part 2: Placement + Understanding The Sound of Your Room

Michael Walsh is a producer of audio/visual art and a journalist living in Southern California. Read more of his work at soundsdefygravity.com

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Unravel electronic music’s origins, build your chops, learn the language and theory, and make and play music the way you want. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the roots and lineage of a variety of electronic and dance music, strengthen their keyboard skills, and learn valuable music theory skills, deepening their creative practice and facilitating effective collaborations with musical partners.

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