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Now that your listening position is placed correctly in the room, it's time to set up your monitor speakers. In this video, I'm going to show you how to get the most out of your monitors, regardless of the brand or type. While most home studios seem to have a random amount of space between their monitors, there are a number of general guidelines you can use to optimize your setup. Since most rooms are unique in some way in terms of dimensions or acoustic qualities, you may have to vary from the following outline a little, but these are good places to start. 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 will hear the left or right side individually, but not both together as one. The rule of thumb is that the speaker should be as far apart as their distance from the listening position. That is if your listening position is four feet away from the monitors then start by moving them four feet apart so that you can make an equilateral triangle between you and the two monitors. That being said, it's been found that 67.5 inches from tweeter to tweeter seems to be an optimum distance between speakers and focuses them three to six inches behind your 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. Some mixers prefer the monitors angle directly at their mixing position, while others prefer the focal point anywhere from three to twenty-four inches behind them to widen the stereo field. The focal point is where the sound from the tweeters converges. It's been found over time that an angle of thirty degrees where it's focused about eighteen inches behind the mixer's 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 the computer console or console meter bridge without any isolation are subject to low-frequency cancellations.
This is because the sound travels faster through the desk or console and reaches your ears before the direct sound from the monitors through the air. This causes some frequency cancellation and a general smearing effect of the audio. If you must set your speakers on the desk or console, place them on a 1/2" or 3/4" piece of open cell neoprene, a thick mouse pad or two, or something like the prime acoustic recoil stabilizers. You will 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 on the front or the rear. Be sure that these are set correctly for the application by reading the manual. Then set them the same on each monitor. Check the position of the tweeters. Many monitors are meant to be used in an upright position, yet users frequently will lay them down on their sides. That makes them easier to see over, but the frequency response suffers 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 towards the walls because the stereo field is widened.
Sometimes speakers to the inside works, but that usually results in the stereo-image smearing. Try it both ways and see which one works best for you. If your speakers are placed upright, be sure that the speakers are at head height. The high-frequency response at the mixer's 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 their tops in order to get the proper tweeter height.
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