(Guide) Proper Studio Monitor Placement for Home Studios

Many of us who are trying to crank out pro recordings in our home studios have been upset with how our mixes translate to the outside world.

As we learn more about recording, we eventually realize that this is usually caused by poor monitoring in our control rooms.

Well, this may give a little insight to improving your recording studio monitoring and therefore the ability for your mixes to translate.

I’ve been using Mackie HR824s since I started back in 2001. I’ve recorded and mixed nearly 700 songs in 2 different rooms.

After recording and mixing for about a year and a half in my current room, I decided that I wasn’t happy with the results and I thought maybe my monitors had something to do with it. I decided to move my monitors.

Why Change Monitoring?

In particular, I was noticing that my mixes all seemed to have the same tonality, regardless of the project. It was as if I was applying the same EQ curve to every project that I was doing.

My sound was a little dark in the high end but had too much 200-400Hz mess. When listening to major label CDs on my monitors I thought they sounded too bright and too mid scooped.

This tells me that my monitors are also too bright and too mid scooped. So, I figured I’d experiment a little and see what happened.

“I’m convinced that the single most important aspect of achieving amazing sounding recordings lies directly in where you put your studio monitors.”

The Room

My room is about 12′ x 15′. It used to be set up so that the monitors were shooting across the 12′ length. In other words, they were shooting towards a wall that was only 12′ away. I have 12 2′ x 4′ bass traps throughout the room and I have unopened packages of Rockwool in all the corners.

They are not pretty but are supposed to be effective at absorbing low end. The Rockwool packages are 2′ x ‘4 x 16”. My room is certainly not ideal for pro-level recording, but I think it’s quite a bit better than your average home recording room.

What did I change?

In my rig I used up until last week, my monitors were about 2′ from the wall and centered within the room. I had bass traps in between the wall and the monitors as well. I wanted to experiment with using more space behind the monitors.

So, I rotated my entire recording rig 90 degrees. Essentially, my left monitor is in the same place it was. I may be moved it a foot or so. The right speaker was moved about 8 feet or so. Now my monitors have about 6 feet of distance from the wall instead of the 2′ previously.

What does it sound like?

I didn’t have the time to do any acoustic treatments on this new rig. In fact, all my treatments from my older rig are still in place. I was blown away by the lack of low end.

It’s amazing how my low end (which was fairly massive) turned into almost nothing. I’ve had members of the recordingreview.com forum sometimes complain that their monitors have no low end.

Well, I must admit that if I had just gotten the Mackie HR824s I would also argue that the didn’t have much low end, either. In other words, moving the studio monitors around in the room had an enormous effect on the bass.

Why did I do this experiment?

I recently took my entire studio rig out to a record a band in their killer practice space. I set my studio monitors on a card table. (I use homemade speaker stands normally and hate the sound of studio monitors on a table or desk).

Anyway, the low end was mega massive.

In fact, it was too much. The low mids were also insanely massive. In this instance, I’m in the center of a 30′ x 40′ x 12′ room which is basically dead because of all the couches and banners they had set up. After hearing a difference that was so different that it made accurate monitoring impossible, I decided to play around with my room.

Conclusion

I’m convinced that the single most important aspect of achieving amazing sounding recordings lies directly in where you put your studio monitors.

In fact, the difference between a card table in a big room, position A in my control room, and position B in my control room is too different that you wouldn’t even know they were the same speakers. I’ve contemplated saving up for big boy Adams monitors. Every big boy I talked to said not to bother if you don’t have a professionally designed acoustic space. Now I know why.

The difference was downright amazing. So if you are having problems with your mixes not translating correctly or you just don’t like the sound of your studio monitors…..MOVE THEM!!!

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