Active Monitors v.s. Passive Monitors
There are a lot of different pros and cons to using active and passive monitors, but the biggest difference between the two is that active monitors have a power amplifier built in and utilize an active crossover as opposed to a passive one. This means one less piece of rackmount gear for your studio as your speakers power themselves and there is no need to worry about matching your speakers with an amplifier and crossover. Less wires, less math and quality audio. While this might seem to point you in the direction of active monitors, don't give up on passive so easily. With modular designs, passive monitors offer studio owners the ability to easily upgrade their system, which allows for you to add new pieces as you save up more money.
When you're building out a studio, it's important to pick monitors based on your room's size. Tight quarters won't yield great audio results if you are using far-field monitors and the same can be said if you're farther than five feet from near-fields in a larger setting.
For clean sounds in smaller rooms, near-field monitors are ideal as they are meant to be placed closer in range to where you're sitting. By keeping this distance small, these types of monitors allow you to hear audio before it hits the rest of the space you work in. In terms of far-field monitors, these speakers should be placed 10 feet from where you are listening and used in studios that have been treated with acoustic material. These monitors are designed to withstand higher volumes.
As asked by Ryan McGuire last week in the blog, The Questions You Need To Ask Yourself When Upgrading Monitors, are you making music that has a massive low-end? If you are big into hip-hop or electronic music, subwoofers can be an incredible resource for you and your studio. Subwoofers extend your set-up's frequency response by enabling you to make better decisions when mixing the low-frequency portion of your recordings.
Handling the high-frequency side of things, tweeters come in many different forms, but there are three definitive types predominantly used in the studio setting; soft dome, ribbon and metal. All three bring different elements to the table, as soft dome is thought to be more manageable for longer sessions, ribbon offers a larger area of frequency that allows for making easier decisions and metal tends to be more detailed.