When it comes to mixing and mastering audio, studio monitors are an essential tool that will help the sound engineers do his job as accurately as possible. The sound quality of a monitor is the guide through the mixing process, which indicates what sounds need correction, equalizing or compressing.
It is very important for sound engineers to look for studio monitors that deliver neutral sound, without adding too much colorization or character to the mixes. Monitors with neutral sound treat all frequencies equally, and as a result, they make it easier for the engineer to understand which sounds lack the appropriate equalization or panning.
Furthermore, high quality studio monitors are responsible for the correct monitoring of the recording process. They allow the audio engineer to hear every detail, and they can easily spot any imperfections or mistakes that may occur during the recording, so that they can recommend corrections.
In order to use studio monitors to their maximum capabilities, you need to place them in a well-soundproofed studio environment. All professional recording studios have excellent soundproof environments, but if you are building your own home studio, you need to acquire foam panels and place them at the hardest surfaces of your room, so that you can reduce reflected sounds.
What is more, the low frequency ends that the monitors produce during playback, tend to cause vibrations that may reduce the overall quality of the sound. To eliminate this phenomenon, you need to put isolation pads under your studio monitors, which will absorb most of the vibrations, making your sound cleaner and brighter.
Last but not least, you need to consider the appropriate placement of the studio monitors. To achieve this, you should position the monitor unit in equal distances each one from the other, and equally distanced from the position of the sound engineer too. Monitor stands are also necessary, so that you can position the monitors at the appropriately, so that they have ear-level height.
Considerations before purchasing the studio monitors
The quality of the sound that the studio monitors delivers, is the most important factor considering audio mixing and mastering. You should look for monitors, which treat all frequencies the same, so that you can take advantage of the neutral sound results, and adjust the equalization of mix properly.
Furthermore, you should look for studio monitors with a solid structure and build, manufactured by experienced engineers and companies in the field of sound equipment. This way, you can be sure that they are sturdy enough to last, and function under rough occasions.
The studio monitors you are about to purchase must function properly. You should look for monitors with the appropriate connectivity, so that you can easily integrate them with the rest of your gear and sound equipment.
You need to read the reviews, experiment with the knobs and switches places on the units, and test the monitors yourself, so that you can get a taste of their sound, and their ability to produce the results you are looking for to mix and master your audio the way you want.
Most of the studio monitors available in the market come as bundles too. The bundled versions, include additional items, which are essential for every home or professional recording studio. Such items are: isolation pads, monitor stands, panel foam, cables and more.
The price of the products you are about to purchase, depends on the amount of money you are willing to invest into the studio monitors. For beginner sound engineers with limited budgets, there are also some very affordable high quality monitor solutions, which deliver amazing sound.
Best studio monitors for mixing and mastering
1 – Yamaha MSP7 STUDIO
The Yamaha MSP7 is a powerful studio monitor, with very clear and articulate sound. It takes some time to get used to its sound, but once you do, you can easily notice the detail and accuracy across the entire frequency spectrum.
The sound of the monitor is very balanced, both in the low and in the mid frequencies, which is great as it has no issues of muddiness or noise, especially in the low mid frequencies. The sound stage and the clarity of this monitor is amazing, especially when you consider its price point.
The Yamaha MSP7 adds no extra color or character to the sound, and maintains a very neutral result, ideal for audio mixing and mastering, as it allows the sound engineers to have a more objective perspective of the mix.
It is very easy to understand differences between well and poorly mixed songs with the particular monitor. It delivers such a detailed sound, that you can distinguish both the main instruments that stand out in the mix, and the secondary sounds as well.
The low ends of the Yamaha MSP7 tend to be weak for some users’ tastes, but it is our belief that they have a very helpful balance, which prevents the sound from becoming too warm. For those who want more bass, it is advised that you acquire a subwoofer to enhance the low end levels, although flat low frequencies are great for mixing.
The cleanness, brightness and accuracy across the frequency spectrum are only some of the advantages and capabilities this studio monitor has to offer. Its flat sound is perfect for sound engineers, especially beginners without much experience that want to focus on all frequencies equally, without being distracted by very warm, bassy low ends and harsh highs. One of the best mixing monitor solutions at a great price.
2 – M-Audio BX8
The M-Audio BX8 is a very clean sounding studio monitor offered at a great price point. It has very smooth low ends, maintaining a nice balance so that the sound does not get too bassy. Its high frequencies sound very bright, without becoming too harsh or annoying, which is very ear-pleasing both for the sound engineer and for the listener.
A very nice addition is the capability the monitor provides to the user, to adjust the mid frequencies to taste. This can be very helpful, in case you want to experiment with the middles during the mixing, in order to spot any equalization mishandles and muddiness. You can then turn the level back to zero, and determine how to correct the sound of the certain frequency band.
The M-Audio BX8 has the ability of projecting very clear and precise sound, at almost any level. There are no hiss or distortion issues spotted no matter how much gain added, and this is due to the monitor’s capability to reduce noise and focus on the appropriate audio. As a result, the monitor has amazing loudness, perfect for all studio purposes.
Sometimes, the sound in the mid frequencies can become a little muddy or noisy. If such an issue occurs, try adjusting the middles, although it is advised that you keep the levels flat, for a neutral result. Additional equalization is recommended to solve the issue.
The monitor provides awesome sound when it comes to vocals. You can listen to every aspect of the vocals, with a nice airiness, which does not sound harsh or irritating at all. The low ends sound smooth, and the mid and high frequencies have great levels of accuracy, which make the overall sound clean and bright, with a subtle addition of color.
3 – JBL LSR308
The JBL LSR308 is one of the most phenomenal studio monitors available in the market. The particular monitor has amazing soundstage, especially when used as a pair, and it has a very broad frequency range, which makes the mixes sound amazing.
The monitor has a low frequency switch, which you can use to adjust the boost of your lows, although their sound is very balanced across the frequency spectrum, ideal for the mixing and mastering process. The low frequency switch has lots of power, and as a result you do not need a subwoofer to enhance the bass of your monitor in case you want to.
The loudness levels of the JBL LSR308 are excellent. The monitor provides very detailed sound, especially in the mid-high and high frequency, and it manages to produce clean sound in the low-mid frequencies, without any muddiness or noise.
The particular studio monitor is ported to the rear. It has a very bright LED on the front part, which indicates when the power is on, and it is a nice helpful addition to avoid forgetting the monitor turned on, while you do not work.
The JBL LSR308 works great in large spaces, such as professional studio with much room space, and its loudness is ideal for such situations, or when there are a lot of people in the room. There is a also a very slight hiss that can be detected during playback, especially if the monitor sound is not too loud.
Overall, the sound of the monitor is as accurate and clean as it get, and it has a very fast frequency response. The punchiness and the bright high frequencies are awesome advantages that enrich the quality of this studio monitor, and enhance the user experience. The JBL LSR308 is recommend to every sound engineer that wants high quality sound during the mixing or mastering process.
4 – BEHRINGER TRUTH B2031A
The Behringer Truth B2031A is a studio monitor of great sound quality and structure. The monitor is bi-amped, it has a very punchy sound especially in the middle frequencies and its low ends are deep without making the sound bass-focused.
The monitor has a fascinating mid/high crossover point, which makes the overall sound smooth and flat, a very ear-pleasing result that maintains a great balance for sudden frequency changes between instruments and vocals.
The structure of the Behringer Truth B2031A is excellent as well. The unit has a great and professional looking design, that provides a sense of trust for the user. The package includes cables that are detachable, and the switches responsible for the level adjustments feel solid and have the appropriate amount of resistance.
You can adjust the tonality and the levels of the monitor, although it is recommended that you stick with the factory defaults to ensure high sound quality. It has nice raw volume, a great capability considering it is a near field monitor.
The Behringer Truth B2031A comes with a satisfying documentation, and the user will find that it very easy to set up and operate the monitor. It can take some days to get used to the sound of the monitor, but it can get faster if you practice and experiment with the onboard adjustments.
Overall, the particular monitor is one of the most powerful and high quality sounding monitors in the market. Its professional look and solid build, along with the cleanness and balanced low ends, provide an excellent neutral sound result, perfect for mixing and mastering.
5 – Adam Audio F7
When we are talking about high quality studio monitors, the Adam Audio F7 is a must on the list. The monitor has amazing sounding top end, due to the ribbon tweeter. The sound it produces is clean and bright, without any harshness caused at the high ends.
The balanced sound of the monitor across the different frequencies is one the its main advantages that makes It stand out from the rest. The translation of the mixes is great, and the accuracy and detail of the monitor take the overall sound result to the next level.
The low frequencies are of the Adam Audio F7 are very nice. The monitor has very smooth bassy low ends, without too much focus on them to keep the sound balanced across the spectrum. The stereo imaging is fascinating and works great, making the sound open and creating a nice soundstage.
The vibrations caused by the low ends are kept to the minimum, and the tweeter provides an amazing high-end sound and has a great design as well. The onboard frequency adjustments are very helpful, and they make the mixing process more convenient if you experiment with them while working on different frequency bands of a sound.
All in all, the Adam Audio F7 is the right studio monitor for audio mixing and mastering. It has a very clean sound, great stereo imaging and nicely balanced low ends, which deliver a great sound result when combined together, at a very logical price point, considering its capabilities.