Nothing is more important in a recording studio than a proper set of Studio Monitors. Studio monitors come in a variety of configurations with many different options. Active, or powered studio monitors have built in amplifiers, where everything from the power amp to crossover is included inside the speaker, and ready to rock direct from the manufacturer. Passive (unpowered) studio monitors use an external power amp, giving you the option to customize the setup of your monitoring rig.
Studio Monitors come in all shapes and sizes. Large studio monitors such as the Barefoot MicroMain26, Focal Twin6, and ATC SCM45a offer multiple drivers for low and mid frequencies. The size of the woofer determines the range and clarity of bass and lower midrange frequencies. These are very impressive sounding, always a client pleaser, and best suited to be the “mains” in your studio. Smaller Studio Monitors such as Yamaha NS10s or Auratones will usually include a much smaller low-frequency driver, or none at all, and focus more on the mid and high frequencies. Some studio monitors even include onboard DSP for acoustic management.
It is advisable to have a variety of studio monitors. Smaller studio monitors are ideal for getting the consumers perspective, they tend to imitate the sound we are used to hearing in our car, boombox, or computer monitors. Larger Studio Monitors are best for getting a feel for the low end, and airy top of a mix. This is best for translating to a larger hi-fi sound system like festival PA, or club environment.
Adding a subwoofer to any set of studio monitors can help dial in the low-frequencies. The Genelec 7050b, Adam Audio Sub10, or Neumann KH105 are great for any genre of music. With smaller studio monitors that don’t include a low-frequency driver, the sub frequencies can be overlooked, they can really muddy up a mix, and can be overbearing when listening on a larger system. You can add a switch to your system that turns the subwoofer on and off, giving your smaller studio monitors the ability to compete with their larger counterparts.
Be sure to use multiple sets of studio monitors to check mixes, and practice A/B between consumer speakers and professional reference monitors. Pair your studio monitors with a monitor management system such as the Dangerous Music Monitor ST, or the Mackie Big Knob, to make switching between sets of speakers or bypassing subwoofers easy.