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Many times, what seems to be a wimpy recording, really isn't wimpy at all, it's just that your monitor speakers are set up poorly. That's because it's really difficult to hear exactly what you're recording unless your monitors are set up well. Let's look at a few simple principles that can help you get the most out of your monitors regardless of the brand or type. While most sound studios seem to have a random amount of space between their monitors, there are number of general guidelines you can use to optimize your setup. Since most rooms are unique in some way in terms of dimensions or absorbing qualities, you may have to vary from the following outline a little, but these are good places to start from.
Check the distance between the monitors. If the monitors are too close together, the stereo field will lack definition. If the monitors are too far apart, the focal point--or sweet spot--will be too far behind your head, and you'll hear the left or the right side individually, but not both together as one. The rule of thumb is that the speakers should be as far apart from each other as their distance from the listening position. That is if your listening position is 4 feet away from the monitors, then start by moving them 4 feet apart so that you make an equilateral triangle between you and the two monitors.
That being said, it has been found that 67.5 inches from tweeter to tweeter, seems to be an optimum distance between speakers, and focuses the speakers, 3 to 6 inches behind you head, which is exactly what you want. Check the angle of the monitors, not angling the speakers properly will cause smearing of the stereo field, which is a major cause of a lack of instrument definition when you're listening to your mix. The correct angle is somewhat determined by taste, but some mixers prefer the monitor's angle directly at their mixing position, while others prefer the focal point--or the point where the sound from the tweeters converges--anywhere from 3 to 24 inches behind them, to widen the stereo field.
It's been found over time that an angle of 30 degrees that's focused about 18 inches behind the mixers head, works the best in most cases. A great trick for finding the correct angle is to mount a mirror over each tweeter and adjust the speakers so that your face is clearly seen in both mirrors at the same time when you're in the mixing position. Check how the monitors are mounted. If at all possible, it's best to mount your monitor speakers on stands just directly behind the meter bridge of the console or the edge of your desk. This gives you a much smoother frequency response.
Monitors that are placed directly on top of a computer desk or console meter bridge without using any isolation are subject to low-frequency cancellations. That's because the sound travels to the desk or console, then through the floor, and reaches your ears before the direct sound from the monitors through the air gets there. These cause some frequency cancellations and the general smearing effect of the audio. If you must set your speakers on a desk or console, place them on a 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch piece of open cell neoprene, a thick mouse pad or two or something like the Prime Acoustic Recoil Stabilizers. You'll be surprised how much better they sound as a result.
Check how the monitor parameters are set. Almost everyone uses powered monitors these days, but don't forget that many have a few parameter controls either on the front or the rear, such as volume or frequency roll-off controls. Be sure that these are set correctly for the application and make sure you read the manual, and that they're set identically on each monitor. Check the position of the tweeters. Many monitors are meant to be used in an upright position, users frequently will lay them down on their sides, that make some easier to see over, but the frequency response will suffer as a result.
That being said, if the speakers are designed to lay on their sides, most mixers prefer that the tweeters be on the outside, toward the walls, because the stereo field is widened. Sometimes tweeters to the inside works, but that usually results in a stereo image smearing, try it both ways and see which one works best for your application. If your speakers are placed upright, be sure that the tweeters are at head height while mixing. Since the high frequency response at the mixers position will suffer if they're too high and firing over your head. Sometimes it's necessary to even flip them over and place them on there tops in order to get the proper tweeter height.
To get the most out of your monitors, make sure that you check the distance between the monitors, the angle of the monitors, and how the monitors are mounted. Also, be sure that the parameters and tweeter position is set the same on both monitors.
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