Before you start using studio monitors to mix and master an audio track, it is very crucial to calibrate studio monitors.
Studio monitors play an important role in mixing and mastering an audio track or a song. They have a flat frequency response, making them the best to use in recording and mixing studios.
An audio track mixed on studio monitors sounds excellent on the majority of the speaker systems out there. Therefore, studio monitors are an elementary part of every studio.
In this article, we discuss why it is necessary to calibrate studio monitors and balance them according to your room size.
Why should I calibrate my studio Monitors?
Before calibrating the studio monitors, it is good to know why is it important.
These three point summarises as to why you should calibrate studio monitors before using them.
1) All Rooms treat sound differently
At its basic, a recording or mixing studio is a room. It has specific dimensions, build material, size, acoustics, sound-proofing, design, and furniture. These characteristics of a room make them different from one another.
Therefore, a studio monitor at its factory calibration settings needs to be matched and calibrated accordingly with the room.
Out of the various characteristics we saw above, room size plays a significant role in how you are going to calibrate your studio monitors.
2) Right Monitoring Levels
As I said before, the size of a room is one of the most crucial factors that’ll guide you through calibrating a studio monitor.
The overall loudness of a sound wave is measured in decibel or dB. When calibrating studio monitors, you must keep the loudness of your studio monitors between 78 dB and 85 dB.
For small studios, it is best to calibrate monitors at 78 dB, whereas the appropriate loudness for large studios is generally 85 dB.
Keeping the monitoring levels according to the room size will help you get a precise and accurate mix of your songs.
3) To balance both the speakers
High-end studio monitors that have separate gain control knobs for each speaker are sometimes un-balanced in loudness. This unbalanced sound may make your mixes biased towards a particular speaker.
Such mixes will not sound good on any other speaker system. To avoid such an unusual and unwanted panning effect, you must calibrate your studio monitors.
Now that we have seen why it is crucial to calibrate monitors, let’s know the gain levels you should set your monitors to.
What Volume should I set my studio Monitors to?
In this section, we are setting a monitor level for mixing that suits the room size.
The volume that you should set your studio monitors while calibrating depends on room size. The volume range for calibrating monitors stays between 78 dB to 85 dB. A volume level of 78 dB for small rooms, whereas 85 dB is recommended for large rooms or studios.
In addition, if you consider a medium room, the volume level has to be judged intuitively, or you can also play around with various volume levels. Hence, in this case, you are required to calibrate your monitors more than once.
How to Calibrate Studio Monitors?
In this section, we are looking finally at how to calibrate studio monitors.
You will need two things before actually calibrating studio monitors.
- Pink Noise Generator,
- SPL Meter.
Pink noise generator is present in most of the DAWs and can be located easily.
SPL meter is used to measure sound levels at a higher precision, mostly same as that of a human ear.
The below steps will guide you on how to calibrate studio monitors.
1) Generate Pink Noise
The first step to balance and calibrate your monitors to complement your room size is to go into your DAW and create a channel for pink noise. next, set the level of pink noise to -20 dB.
Once you can hear the pink noise on the monitors, move on to the next step.
2) Pan the noise and setting a gain
Now, with noise coming out of the monitor, pan the noise to extreme left or right.
Panning the pink noise to the extreme left or extreme right will help you to calibrate each monitor individually and effectively.
3) Setting up the SPL Meter
The SPL meter is equipped with a lot of features. But, for us to calibrate studio monitors, we need to set two things:
- Set the response time to slow, and,
- Switch to C-weighted.
Next, hold or position the SPL meter to your ear level when you mix your songs while sitting on the chair. In addition, the position of SPL meter must in line with studio monitor.
Once you have applied these changes, move on to the last step of studio monitor calibration.
Lower the monitor volume down to 0 dB.
Increase the volume slowly as the SPL meter achieves the required volume level as per your room size.
5) Repeat for other monitor
Now that you have calibrated first monitor. Repeat the above steps for second monitor starting with 0 dB.
In conclusion, never forget to calibrate your studio monitors. It hardly takes any time and is pretty straightforward.
- Studio Monitors,
- Pink noise generator,
- SPL Meter.
By using pink noise and SPL meter, you can balance your studio monitors within minutes.
Note: Do not calibrate both the studio monitors at once. Balance the studio monitors individually, one after the other.