“If you can’t hear what you’re doing, you can better stop doing it.”
This quote brings us to the crucial point of placing your speakers within your studio. Since there are a lot of misconceptions about how to use your monitor speakers, I’ve listed a few tips.
Keep in mind that I wrote this from my own experience in my studio!
Science meets art
There is no such thing as a perfect monitor setup. Every setup will have its pro’s and con’s. Placing your speakers in your studio is partly science, and partly art. What I did, and keep doing to get the best monitoring setup, is constantly change a small thing. This can be both in the acoustics of the room or in the placement/calibration of my speakers. You need to make something that you can work with. The same goes for you, don’t get to excited about the Genelec’s or KRK’s, and go to a shop and listen to some speakers side by side, and ask if its okay to test them in your own studio!
Choosing speakers to work with is very personal, you can’t judge a studio by looking at the speakers! Its all about knowing your monitoring and your studio acoustics. You can place the best engineer in the best studio, but if this studio is equipped with B&W monitoring and the engineer is used to work with PMC’s, the engineer and the studio won’t perform at their best capabilities.
The center image
In cinema systems, they have made something called the center speaker, but for with music, we don’t have the convenience of a center speaker, we do have something called the center image. If you calibrate the placement of your speakers correctly, you will hear sound coming from the gap between the two monitor speakers.
A good practice to find the center image is to put both speakers on a large shelf, play back a mono sound (like a repeating snare drum), close your eyes, and ask a friend to push them towards, or pull them apart of each other till you can hear the strongest center image. The angle in which this will be is somewhere in between 45 and 90 degrees.
Dual Screen setups
One big mistake I see happening quite a few times in current setups is people using big dual screen setups which will lead to the speakers being more than 50 degrees apart. This will destroy almost all of your center image and will lead to mixes sounding more mono then anticipated.
A common practice to a lot people is to test out their mixes by playing them back on a telephone or in the car, so, why not bring these speakers into the studio? The big trick of the small speakers is that everything is coming out of one single cone. This way, its much easier to balance all separate channels.
White Sea Studio situation
At the White Sea, I use 40 years old, Philips MFB 587 speakers as main system. These speakers are known for utilizing an unique feedback circuit that corrects the woofer so the low frequency’s will stay accurate. Apart from that, I use Avantone mixcubes to do 90% of my balancing work at.
An aware viewer will notice that my Philips speakers are placed upside down. This is because of the massive meter bridge of the console. If I don’t want the sound to hit the back of the console, I need to lift the speakers up so high that the tweeters are pointing towards Pluto. Since low frequency’s are omni and high frequency’s are directional, I chose to place my speakers upside down.
If you guys liked this article, please let me know, and I will do a follow up post, which will be more in depth on speakers and room acoustics!