In the age of technology, there is no single answer to a problem. There are always multiple solutions that aim towards solving a specific problem. The same is the case with speakers. When there are dozens of speakers types out there, it is essential to know the difference between studio monitors and speakers systems like a bookshelf, Hi-fi and home theatre systems.
Studio monitors are built to hear songs and reproduce the purest form without adding an extra boost to its frequency range.
The studio monitors have a flat frequency response and can easily be found in recording studios, radio stations, or a producer’s bedroom.
This article aims to give you significant differences between studio monitors and all other different kinds of systems like bookshelf speakers, regular speakers, and Hi-Fi speaker systems.
Bookshelf speakers Vs. Studio Monitors
The below mentioned points will give you some insights on major differences between studio monitors and regular speakers.
The first point that you see that differentiates both speakers from each other is how they are used.
Studio monitors have a flat frequency response making them best suited for an environment where actual reproduction of sound is an absolute necessary.
On the flip side, bookshelf speakers serve an entirely different purpose of making good music sound better. They are designed for commercial use so that the sound coming out of them pleases and excites your mood.
2) Audio spread
Audio spread refers to how far away the sound travels from the mouth of the speaker both in terms of length and width.
You may have felt that sound coming out of home theatre spreads evenly across the room. On the contrary, studio monitors tame the audio spread to a limited area only.
Different speakers based on audio spread sound different and best from different positions.
A near field studio monitor has less sound spread than a far-field studio monitor. This difference makes near field monitors sound good when kept in front of the producer, whereas far-field monitors are required to keep at a particular distance from the mixing desk.
However, listening to bookshelf speakers from proximity will give you a severe headache.
You are going to get remarkable audio quality if you keep them at a distance. The distance depends on the size of your room and the speaker size.
4) Passive Vs Active speakers
Most of the studio monitors you will see are active. Active speakers have an inbuilt amplifier and do not need an external amplifier to power them up.
On the other hand, bookshelf or regular speakers need an external amplifier to power them up. In most cases, they are passive.
Passive monitors require some basic setup before you use them whereas active speakers are hassle free and require no setup.
5) Overall Price
It is common to see a considerable price difference between both speaker systems if you are doing your research.
Studio monitors are cost-effective, whereas bookshelf monitors require a good investment from your pockets. You may ask why is there a huge price gap?
Such a considerable price gap is due to the audience both types of speaker systems target. Bookshelf speakers are made for commercial use.
A lot of money is thrown by notable brands in the marketing and production of commercial speakers. This so-called branding increases the product price exponentially.
Studio Monitors Vs. Hi-fi Speakers
This section will present you with some differences between studio monitors and Hi-Fi speakers. Let’s jump right into it.
1) Sound Quality
At its heart, sound quality is what will catch your ears after listening to both speakers. Listening to the same song on both speakers one by one can make you dance or think about all the instruments used in a song.
Studio monitors will give you a much flatter sound, revealing all the individual tracks of a song.
Whereas hi-fi speakers will make the sound coming out of them much exciting and fuller.
This is why you should always use a studio monitor to mix and master your songs.
The range refers to how far the audio travels from a speaker system.
Hi-fi speakers tend to cover a larger area as compared to studio monitors. These speakers create a surround sound that covers the area in the front and back of the speakers.
Studio monitors, however, cover a smaller area in front of the speakers only. Near field, monitors are suitable for small room settings, whereas far-field monitors sound good from a certain distance.
The studio monitors have two major types. You can either find them in the form of near field monitors or far-field monitors. Besides these two types, size also plays a significant role in determining a monitor’s sound profile and setup.
Hi-fi speakers come in various sizes and sound qualities. There is no definite type to a hi-fi or regular speaker.
4) Stress capacity
Stress capacity and life period differ significantly for different speaker systems. Studio monitors tolerate a high-stress condition, whereas a hi-fi or regular speaker may blow off at high stress.
The studio monitors find extensive use in audio related professions like music production.
Music production or mixing, in particular, requires a transparent sound with no colouration or boost to be balanced/appropriately mixed.
Regular or hi-fi speakers are extensively used in various types of settings.
You can locate them in clubs, homes, malls, and places like your car. The uses and production of regular speakers are increasing as you read this article.
Can I use bookshelf speakers as studio monitors?
Bookshelf speakers cannot replace studio monitors. Studio monitors have a flat frequency response and do not boost or add colour to a sound wave. Therefore, they are widely used in audio-related professions. On the other hand, bookshelf speakers add many colours or frequency boosts, making a sound much more exciting and brighter. Therefore, bookshelf or regular speakers produce a highly biased sound. However, a studio monitor is a worthy contender for replacing a bookshelf or a regular speaker.
External factors affecting sound profile of studio monitors
Now that we know the differences between studio monitors and regular speakers let’s see factors affecting the sound quality.
The first thing that affects the sound profile of a monitor is a room. Each room has a different size, design, build material and soundproofing. But, one characteristic of a room that you must never forget is its size.
It is best recommended to pick monitors that complement your room size. Large monitors will cause sonic disturbances in a small room most of the time. Therefore, getting a medium or small-sized monitor is best in case of a small room.
How you set up your studio desk predominantly affects the sound profile of the monitors. In addition, proper soundproofing of a room to avoid any conflict in frequencies is an absolute must for mixing music.
There are basic rules when you set up your studio. All the different rules point to the placement of studio monitors.
3) Placement of Monitor
There are few rules while setting monitors in a studio. Read them below.
- Try to get monitors in multiples of two,
- Incline monitors to your ear level,
- Make sure that the monitors are facing towards your direction,
- Keep monitors equidistant from each other and your sitting position.
4) Size of monitors
The size of a monitor also plays a significant role in getting an accurate sound from the monitors. Your room size and monitor size should complement each other.
Get small monitors for a small room and big monitors for a larger room. Depending on the room size and your preferred genre, you may or may not need a sub-woofer.
In addition, do not forget to calibrate your studio monitors as wrong volume levels can hugely mess up the sound profile of a studio monitor. It hardly takes two minutes.
The overall workstation also requires some basic setup. Make sure that the work desk is not slippery and monitors are not too close to the wall. For good sound sonics, always keep some distance between the monitors and the wall.
You may also pair far field monitors if the desk is positioned in the middle of a room. In this case, far field monitors can turn out to be more helpful than near field monitors alone.
All in all, there were some differences between studio monitors, bookshelf and regular speakers. I hope this article helps you out in understanding some of the characteristics of different speakers.
The type of speaker you buy depends on your current needs and profession. If you are related to the music/audio industry, studio monitors are the right choice for you.
Likewise, bookshelf speakers will be a worthy choice if you are looking for a general-purpose speaker system.
Lastly, tell me in the comments which type of speaker are you going to buy.