If you can hear it you can fix it..

A good set of monitors in your studio can be the difference between the life and death of your mix, the better the monitor the more you can hear what’s really happening in the playback.

The first thing to realise is that professional studio monitors are not designed to be like high quality home HI-FI or theatre speakers, in fact if you did an A/B test between them playing your favourite CD on each you would almost definitely prefer your HI-FI system over a flat pair of studio monitors.

The reason for this is that a properly balanced pair of studio monitors should have a flat response without any enhancement to the sound so that what you hear is what is really there, where as HI-FI speakers want to give you the best listening experience by tweaking the output and EQ to really make the track sizzle.

A good thing to remember is that when you hear the finished mixdown through a good pair of studio monitors it should be the worst (flattest) your track will ever sound, so if it sounds good there it should sound really good on everyone else’s HI-FI systems.

What makes one monitor better than another?  Well of course to a large extent this is very subjective and many hit songs have been mixed on what is considered less than ideal monitors but there a couple of things to watch for…

Be careful with units under $1000, as a lot of them tend to try and attract your purchase by colouring the EQ to sound more like HI-FI boxes, which you now know from the above is a bad thing. In the sub $1000 range I have personally found Tanoy, KRK, Mackie and the entry range of Genelec to be pretty good for the money.

When you are shopping for studio monitors take along your favourite track to A/B the various models, also because your ears start to adjust after a couple of minutes only do short listening stints to begin with.

I remember when I finally had the $$ to upgrade I took along a track that I had mixed on my old JBL’s (which sounded great on them & horrible on everything else) to see if the new ones would reveal my mix mistakes.

In this case I went for some semi pro 6�? Active Tanoy Precisions (around $3000 for the pair) as compared to others they immediately uncovered where I had gone wrong in my original mix and showed the areas that where causing the problems on other playback systems. Upon the first listen I could hear some low frequencies dominating the sound and that my high mid frequencies had been scooped way to much.

Finally as I wrote in beginning it really is a case of If you can’t hear it, you can’t fix it and if you have the money to go Pro $3000+ then I recommend you just do it, as it will save you so much time and heart ache in recording and mixing down your music.