Home studio monitors are becoming increasingly popular. Many still fail to realize what studio monitors are intended to be used for and the subtle differences between studio monitors and traditional speakers.
If you’re thinking of getting studio monitors for music production at home and don’t want to disturb others, a few critical questions might pop up in your head. Questions like are studio monitors loud? How loud can studio monitors go? Can they be used at low volumes effectively? And ideally, how loud should they be?
Studio monitors can be very loud, and even medium-sized monitors can reach sound levels north of 90db. The maximum volumes achievable depend primarily on the size and power of the studio monitor. But listening to music at sound pressure levels (SPL) over 85db for extended periods can be detrimental to your hearing and permanently damage your ears and is therefore never recommended.
Countless questions about studio monitors exist on forums online, questions like what are studio monitors used for? And can you use studio monitors for regular speakers? This article will help clear out any confusions you might have regarding studio monitors. Let’s get started!
How Loud Should Studio Monitors Be?
Listening to music louder than 90db for extended sessions is not recommended, leading to irreversible eardrum damage. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to keep the volume of your studio monitors in a range where you wouldn’t have to speak too loudly if you were to talk to someone.
Even sound levels above 85db for prolonged periods can increase the chances of injury. The safest audio levels with the best results are the 75db to 85db range. This range is safer on the ears, and the perceived loudness is also very flat in these levels. They are enabling music producers to better distinguish between the extremes of frequencies.
The style and genre of music also play an essential role in how loud your studio monitors should be. Some genres need higher volumes to appreciate specific frequencies better, while others don’t. Try listening to a song with dominating bass and compare it to a pop song with vocals to get an idea. The theme with lyrics will sound much louder in comparison.
To get a rough estimate of the loudness, you can use any SPL detecting application on your smartphone and use it to check the output levels from your studio monitor. A quiet room with good acoustics can even allow volumes lower than 75db for mixing purposes.
Overall, try to keep the loudness more or less the same. This is because, over time, we get better at judging the volumes of all the frequencies in that range. Inevitably though, we all suffer from varying stages of age-related hearing loss, which might force you to raise the volumes accordingly.
Setting the volume with these tips in mind will help you find the perfect book for you. Additionally, keeping the volume inside the safe levels can save you from experiencing any unnecessary hearing loss.
What Are Studio Monitors And What Are They Used For?
Professionals in recording studios commonly use studio monitors because of their ability to reproduce sound as accurately as possible. Their primary purpose and focus are to produce flat phase and frequency sound.
In simpler words, studio monitors produce clear audio and sound without any added color or effects. This accurate response is needed for music producers to assess how the raw unmastered music sounds like. This allows producers to make the right mixing choices and produce music that will sound good on any speaker setup.
Additionally, studio monitors are built to withstand high volumes. Sudden loud bursts of sound are not uncommon during a studio recording or playback sessions, and studio monitors are designed to fight them.
The Difference Between Traditional Speakers And Studio Monitors
Even though both are speakers and have the same job of producing sound, they are still designed with different intents and purposes.
Many people are under the misconception that studio monitors are better than conventional speakers for playing back music on, which isn’t always the case.
Traditional home setup speakers are designed to work with, and playback compressed, finished, and mastered recordings. These speakers don’t fare well with raw, unmastered music that is produced in recording studios.
Home hi-fi speakers all add different spices, colors, and effects to the original music in one way or the other. This enhances the listening experience and makes music more powerful and sound better to the ears even though the sound doesn’t stay true to the original audio.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as these speakers are made with consumers in mind. Consumers only wish to hear music that sounds pleasing; as long as it sounds good, they generally don’t care if the music they hear is actually what the producer intended or not.
On the other hand, Studio monitors are designed to be as flat as possible, with no extra effects added to the original track it produces. No imperfect notes remain hidden because of the incredible detail and flatness that sound studio monitors feature.
This helps music producers find issues and imperfections in the track and makes it a lot easier to balance out the sounds present.
Another more technical difference between the two speakers is that generally, home speakers are “passive” speakers and studio monitors are “active” speakers. Although as with most things, there are always exceptions.
Passive refers to speakers that need an external amplifier with speaker outputs. Active, on the other hand, means that amplifiers are built directly inside the speaker cabin. Therefore, there needs to be a connection to a line source with volume control -a dedicated monitor controller or audio interface.
How do you tell both these types apart, though? Well, you can always see if a speaker is an active speaker by checking for a mains inlet. Active speakers always have one.