Just think about it, you have just created an awesome song when you want to hear it, your studio monitor sounds like a song from Mars!! At best you can hardly hear your own song. Imagine this happening every time you hear anything. How frustrating it might get.
Understanding best studio monitors
When you mix music, your ears ultimately will guide your decisions on what adjustments to make—which frequencies to boost and which ones to roll off. The studio monitors you use for your playback make a big difference in how you hear those sounds. To get your mix just the way you want it, you don’t want your speakers adding any colouration—you want them to reproduce the sounds you’ve recorded accurately. This is the job of a quality studio monitor.
Studio monitors are designed to reproduce audio signals that are as flat as possible across the audible frequency spectrum. Unlike consumer stereo speakers that may be tweaked to produce a strong bass response and sound punchy, good studio monitors don’t emphasize particular frequencies over others.
Good studio monitors will give you accurate, consistent response no matter the volume level. This allows you to listen critically to how certain elements of the mix sound at different volumes. They also capture fleeting musical transients that add subtlety and nuance to the sounds they reproduce.
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Good studio monitors will provide minimal distortion, exceptional stereo imaging, a wide frequency response, neutral sound colouration, and a high volume level even with a small cabinet.
Important numbers and critical specifications you must know!!
When you’re shopping for studio monitors you’ll see a lot of numbers, terms, and acronyms such as frequency response, THD, and SPL, as well as more familiar terms like watts and driver sizes. (See the glossary at the end of this guide for full definitions.)
These specs theoretically provide a rough sketch of how the monitor will perform during recording, mixing, and mastering. Almost all the specs are the result of tests conducted by the manufacturer to determine the performance of their products.
While specifications are helpful, keep in mind that the tests that determine specs often are not standardized, so one manufacturer’s 0.01% THD may be another’s 0.3% THD. The information is still useful to you as a prospective buyer as long as you recognize that specs are just a starting point. Ultimately, you have to trust your ears—and those of gear reviewers and fellow musicians. There’s no substitute for careful, critical listening. Reading reviews both by experts and users can help you hone in on your best options.
Since you want accuracy from your monitors, one of the first things you will want to confirm is that they can handle the full frequency range of your recordings. Therefore studio monitors specs list the lowest frequency they handle in Hz (hertz) and the highest frequency in kHz (kilohertz). For most recording work a frequency response of 50Hz-20kHz is adequate. You can refer to this article for more details.
You want to see an indication of how much variation there will be across the frequency range. This is expressed in decibels. So, for instance, if a monitor’s frequency range spec is listed as 40Hz-21 kHz ± 2dB, that indicates that some frequencies may be louder or softer by as much as 2 decibels at various points across the full range.
For most applications, a rating of ± 3 dB or less will provide well-balanced sound.
Total harmonic distortion (THD)
You though the THD stands for THOR (at least I did!!). The spec for THD (total harmonic distortion) is an indicator of general accuracy, but in a different way than frequency response. THD lets you know how cleanly studio monitors can reproduce whatever audio you feed it. Most of the time the term THD really refers to THD+N, (Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise) so when you see THD, you can usually include noise in the equation.
As you already know, every audio circuit adds some noise and distortion; but the critical question is how much. Theoretically, a clean audio circuit should be very close to zero in the amount of distortion and noise it adds, i.e. about 0.001%. A poorly designed audio circuit will add quite a bit of distortion, in the range of anywhere from 0.3 to 1%. While you aren’t likely to see these types of numbers on monitors, you often will see numbers this high (and higher) on consumer audio speakers and headphones; another reason why you shouldn’t use them for recording.
While it’s usually not as much of a concern for studio monitors, the power of your studio monitors, measured in watts, might be a specification to consider particularly for larger rooms or studios. Generally, 10-60 watts should be plenty for a bedroom or home office-sized studio. Larger rooms and mid-sized studios may require more than that. With powered studio monitors that contain their own onboard amplifiers, manufacturers match wattage to each driver for optimal performance across the driver’s frequency range.
Near-, far-, or mid-field design
In case of studio monitors, you will see the terms like near-field, mid-field, or far-field within a studio monitor’s description. This refers to the listening configuration a monitor is designed for, with near-field being optimized for a close listening distance and far-field designed to carry the sound accurately over a greater distance.
Using a compact design and relatively small speakers, near-field monitors are good for most studio applications because they allow you to primarily hear the sound coming directly from the speakers, rather than sound that reflects off the walls and ceiling. They are positioned directly in front of you and angled inward so your head forms the point of an equilateral triangle between the two monitor enclosures. The optimal listening position is referred to as the “sweet spot.”
Best Studio Monitors Components!
The modern studio monitors are made of three primary parts: the drivers, the cabinet, and the electronic circuitry. Powered monitors—by far the most popular type these days—also include an internal amplifier.
It is not possible to single out all the components in this blog on studio monitors. Every part is designed to work in conjunction with all the others. Having a great driver doesn’t do much good if the cabinet isn’t properly designed for use with that driver.
There are two types of drivers in studio monitors: woofers and tweeters. The more uncommon three-way studio monitor also has a midrange driver.
They are electroacoustic transducers, which means that they convert electrical audio signal into sound. Most drivers only produce a portion of the audible frequency range, so multiple drivers are installed within the cabinet of a speaker to deliver a broader frequency response.
Drivers are powered by audio amplifiers. An amplifier increases low-power electronic audio signals to a level that is high enough to drive loudspeakers or headphones. Studio monitors are typically either bi-amped or tri-amped, which is the practice of using two or three audio amplifiers to amplify different audio frequency ranges. When an audio signal enters a speaker, its split into different frequency ranges using a component called a crossover. The split signals are then each sent to their own respective driver.
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A bi-amped speaker may contain a woofer (low range driver) and tweeter (high range driver). A tri-amped speaker may include a woofer, midrange driver, and tweeter. There are also subwoofers that can be integrated into your speaker setup separately. While specific frequency ranges vary, the low to high-frequency range order goes subwoofer, woofer, midrange, tweeter; all of which are different types of drivers.
In 2.1, 5.1, and 7.1 surround-sound monitoring setups there will be a separate subwoofer (the .1 in such configurations).
In two-way studio monitors, the woofer handles the low, low-mid, and midrange frequencies, while the tweeter handles the high-mids and high frequencies. With three-way studio monitors, a midrange driver is added to handle the midrange frequencies. When you add a subwoofer to your monitoring array, the sub takes over a portion of the low frequencies and all of the very low frequencies.
Manufacturers use different materials to construct their drivers. Silk, Mylar, glass, carbon, titanium, and metal alloys are all used to make tweeters.
Woofers, midrange drivers, and subwoofers are usually constructed in a conical shape with a dust cap at the centre and a flexible-but-tough surround that allows the cone and voice coil to move in and out. The cone is usually made from treated paper or cloth, polypropylene, fibreglass, or Kevlar. Paper and cloth are traditional cone materials used for their silk-like performance at a lower cost.
Polypropylene, fibreglass, and Kevlar are all alternative cone-building materials developed in a search to build the ultimate durable speaker cone. A lighter cone may have a faster transient response, which results in more accurate sound by responding more quickly to dynamic, high-frequency changes in the music.
In well-designed studio monitors cabinet gets maximum performance from its drivers. Engineers design the cabinet around the driver. It should be as non-resonant as possible so the cabinet doesn’t alter or colour the output in any way. For that reason, monitor cabinets are usually built from sturdy, stiff materials such as metal or dense plastics with internal bracing and specially designed joints to eliminate unwanted resonance.
The cabinet design often will also include ports or passive radiators—elements that aid the studio monitors in low-end reproduction, improving clarity and handling of bass frequencies. Edges on driver openings and monitor corners improve sound clarity and sound imaging by cutting down on sound wave diffraction.
This the part of the studio monitors is made of wood, aluminium, plastic, etc. that you can touch and hold. Speakers use either ported or sealed/closed cabinets. Ported speakers use a hole cut into the cabinet and a section of tubing to allow sound from the rear side of the speaker’s diaphragm (cone) to enhance the reproduction of low-end frequencies.
Aside from deciding whether you need a powered or unpowered monitor (more on that below), your main concern should be the types of connections it has. Check the inputs offered by the monitor to make sure they will work with your existing equipment. For connections, monitors usually have 1/4″, TRS, XLR, RCA, or S/PDIF jacks. Some offer only unbalanced or balanced inputs, and some have both.
How do I select my studio monitors?
The ideal monitor will vary from person to person and application to application. What works for you might not work for other musicians and vice versa, this is off course keeping in mind the information provided in this blog.
In general, in good studio monitors, you can trust, that your ears know very well and that you can listen to for extended periods of time without fatigue. The circuitry and speakers should be solid—capable of handling your volume and frequency-handling requirements along with peaks, pops, and raw recorded audio without faltering.
As with all things in life, you get what you pay for. There’s a pretty strong correlation between price and performance where monitors are concerned. Professional-level use warrants a professional-level budget, but hobbyists and recording musicians can stay within their budget and still buy monitors capable of providing solid audio guidance when recording and mixing their music.
For instance, if you mostly record yourself singing and playing acoustic guitar, a small pair of near-field monitors will likely meet your needs. If you’re producing hip-hop tracks to freestyle over or club-inspired pop songs, you may want to get a subwoofer-assisted 2.1 system.
Producing songs and soundtracks for video games, videos, movies, or television? A 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system is the way to go. If you’re recording rock bands or working with a wide variety of talent, consider monitors with 8″ woofers and plenty of power so your system will always be up to the task.
Some of the questions that you should try to get answer to are:
Why do you want studio monitors??
Before buying studio monitors, it’s important to know exactly what you want out of them. Prices can vary hugely from monitor to monitor, with a huge array of features across the spectrum. If you’re just starting out in the audio production world, you may well find that cheap, entry-level monitors can do everything you need, while more experienced engineers will require a more advanced – and costly – set.
Make sure that before you make your decision, you’re clear on what you’re looking for; a high-end setup may offer more functions, but if you’re not using these high end studio monitors then there’s no sense in wasting money, while buying cheaper studio monitors may prove to be a false economy if you quickly find you need something a little more high-tech and have to shell out for a new set, leaving your almost-new monitors collecting dust.
Budget off course you will find it everywhere!!
Once you’ve worked out your budget, the next step is ensuring you get maximum value for money.
Beyond that, you’ll find that different studio monitors have different pros and cons – light, easily-transportable monitors are ideal for those who move their monitors around regularly (for example if you don’t have a permanent studio space), whereas those who do have a dedicated home studio may prefer the more substantial look and sound of bulkier models – and some monitors are better at reproducing low or high-end frequencies.
Power wattage is extremely crucial
You could be forgiven for thinking that studio monitors power wattage equates purely to its maximum volume, but this is not the case. A higher-wattage set of studio monitors also provides a more detailed sound across a wider dynamic range, allowing you more control over your audio’s sound without experiencing distortion – cheaper studio monitors tend to have a lower wattage, meaning that your audio’s high and low-end frequencies are more prone to distortion, as the studio monitors cannot cope with the output required.
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Depending on the type of audio you’re looking to create – high bass levels are a particular problem on low-wattage studio monitors – you may need to consider monitors which can meet your demands.
Another thing to consider when deciding on the power you require is the size of your studio (we will discuss this further below) – although most home studios are fairly small and will not require a particularly powerful setup, a bigger room will require greater wattage. As a general rule, 50 watts in studio monitors is a good starting point for your home studio.
Studio monitors prioritize accuracy
It’s important to bear in mind that, unlike regular speakers, studio monitors aren’t designed to improve the sound of your audio as it plays back – in fact, it’s the complete opposite. While you may have a state-of-the-art hi-fi setup which plays your audio in all its glory, not everyone has that luxury – and studio monitors are designed to provide an accurate, warts-and-all representation of your recording, allowing you to recognise and remove any issues which may stand out when the audio is played on poor quality speakers.
Remember that your monitors aim to offer the best possible platform for improving your finished product, and won’t attempt to add a more powerful bass or a clearer high-end the way speakers do – they will expose any frequency problems that need amending so that your mastered recording sounds as good as possible; for casual listeners, a normal set of speakers will sound ‘better’ than a set of studio monitors, but for editing purposes, they lack the accuracy and detail a good studio monitor provides – so if you’re testing a studio monitor set out and the sound seems flat and under-powered, be aware that this is not a drawback, but a major plus point!
Ensure you have acoustics
Regardless of your budget, it’s important to take your room acoustics into account before taking the plunge into new studio monitors set. There’s little point in spending a small fortune on your setup, then putting it in a room that can’t get the most out of it – and the sound of your audio can be affected by everything from the size of a room to the various objects contained within it and the placement of the monitors themselves, so there can be a lot to consider.
Firstly, you’ll need to ensure your monitors are positioned well; ideally, if you’re buying a near-field set of monitors, you should be approximately 1-2 metres away when listening – the optimum listening position. If your room is big enough, you should look to keep your monitors at least 2.2m from walls in order to minimise the impact of the bass bouncing off the walls, while investing in speaker stands to keep your monitors at least a couple of feet off the ground. These tips should help you to reduce the effect of the room’s ambience on your audio, ensuring your monitors provide an accurate representation of your recordings.
Maximize your potential with a pair of studio monitors (or more!)
A pair of studio monitors is key to getting the most out of stereo recordings and is essential for making sure your audio channels are balanced correctly. For those with a larger budget, you may even consider an additional pair of studio monitors – purchasing a cheap pair for playback of your audio will allow you to get an idea of what your mix will sound like to the average consumer.
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Top 7 Studio Monitors in India
1. Yamaha MSP5 (Pair) Studio Monitor
Let us first talk about its anatomy:
This studio monitor looks small with their typical 5″ mid/low driver and 1″ metal tweeter, but they each weigh a hefty 4 KG. They are made of a solid, moulded, composite cabinet material that is essentially non-resonant.
The mid/low driver is driven by 40 watts and the tweeter by 27 watts of Class A/B power. Being a Class A/B amp, there is a large metal heat sink attached to the rear panel. Back panel has tuning switches allowing up to +/- 1.5 db of adjustment of the woofer or the tweeter, as well as inputs for XLR and TRS cables.
The unit has two front-firing bass reflex ports, a metal grille protecting the mid/low speaker, a LED indicator and a handy front-mounted gain pot. All in all, this studio monitor is superbly constructed.
This studio monitor lack deep lows (which is reasonable given the size of the speakers) and they have some sort of dip and a boost in the mids, which makes the overall sound more aggressive than with other speakers. I am so used to them that I have a hard time assessing sounds!
In any case, they have an excellent dynamic response, and at loud volumes, the vents blow so much air with the kicks that you can use them as hair dryers! Beyond a particular volume, you can hear air-swishing sounds from the vents, which is annoying (but only at very loud volumes, to rehearse with your deaf buddies, not a level you’d use for mixing).
2. PreSonus Eris E3.5 2-Way Active Studio Monitors
These studio monitors are some of the awesome stuff out there in the market and have very accurate sound signature.
Now the best part about these studio monitors is that in spite of coming at a low price, it has some of the very high-quality components, for example, the 3.5 in woofers in it is made of Kevlar. Can you believe that?? Other brands use cheap plastics, paper or some of the other cheap stuff. It also has one-inch tweeter at this price range; other high-end monitors use .75 inch tweeter.
Now let us talk about the connectivity, it has TRS, RCA (cable as well to connect directly to your computer) or it even has a little aux port right in the front so you can just connect your phones right to it. Now only as an addition, it also has tuning (just like high-end studio monitors) at the rear side. These can also be used with the quarter-inch balanced cable, but unfortunately, it is not provided with it.
Now the aesthetics is professional too. Very mature and very appealing. The overall construction is light; the cabinet feels little cheap. But at this price range, I think we cannot complain much at this point.
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Now related to sound, this studio monitor has a bit treble heavy and they can seem little harsh sometimes, but you also get accurate sound at the same time. So much so that, when it is playing, you know right away where the music is playing.
Tweeters are wide dispersion kind of tweeter; you can also sit at sides and feel the sound coming to you. You don’t necessarily have to the right in front of this studio monitor.
One of the customers had to say this about it:
Tight bass, not overpowering at all. Clear highs, a bit too clear for me. Mids shines, vocals are a treat on this baby. If you can’t afford a good stereo amp and bookshelf speakers don’t think any further, this is the best bet at this price range. Oh, they could have supplied better quality RCA to 3.5mm cables though.
Well, from all that we have researched about this studio monitor every word above stands true.
3. KRK ROKIT 5 G3 Powered Studio Monitors
This impressive studio monitor comes from the house of KRK. No, they are not designer brand! They just make studio monitors, speakers and other sound equipment. One of the most affordable setup.
It is a 5in monitor which is simply exceptional. KRK have other monitors in 6 & 8-inch options. I think they are all excellent option, but 5 inch is way more than you would need in your room (unless of course, it is a big room)
Let us first talk about anatomy:
Although, physically not a whole lot changed from G2 to G3; it still has the yellow glass composite woofer cone, 1” soft-dome tweeter, and slotted bass port on the bottom of the face.
The outline of the box changed a bit, becoming slightly less rounded and more angular, with a trapezoidal bevel defining the shape of the faceplate.
The back is also mostly unchanged, with the same I/O (balanced XLR and TRS, plus unbalanced RCA), and the same two controls the G2 had (volume as well as HF level adjustment), plus one more — a LF level adjustment with four positions (-2, -1, 0, and +2 dB).
- Driver: 5″ Woofer, 1″ Dome Tweeter
- Amplifier: 30W LF, 20W HF
- Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS, 1 x RCA
- Frequency Response: 45Hz-35kHz (-10dB)
- Enclosure: Front Ported
- Controls: Volume, HF Level, LF Level
- Dimensions: 11.2″ x 7.4″ x 9.7″
- Weight: 7.7 KG
There are primarily two different positions for ports to be made in a speaker, in the rear, and the front. Conventional wisdom has it that the speakers that have a port in the back usually provide more bass than other types of speakers.
At times the monitors seemed a bit too saturated with bass. This is a phenomenon shared with the Rokit 5 G3s, which have a particularly prominent bass.
When it comes to bass, the exciting thing is that Hip-hop and EDM producers often turn to KRK Rokits because of their reputation for producing more bass than other monitors in their price range
When it comes down to the mixing process, bassy monitors aren’t going to result in more bass in your production; they’re going to result in less bass if they’re your primary mix tool. When you mix, you’re looking for balance.
Bassy monitors will likely cause you to turn down the bass because the obvious thing to do when you hear bass that is too prominent, is going to be to lower it to strengthen the balance in the mix.
Next thing you know, you show the track you mixed to your friends who play your track on a more average system without boosted bass, and the bass and low-end will seem to have vanished, and no one will be impressed.
With that said, don’t expect the G3s to be the most valuable tool when it comes down to mixing tracks in bass-heavy genres.
In short, they’re great for listening to the bass and may make your producing more enjoyable, but perhaps not so suitable for mixing bass unless you have supplementary or additional monitoring to check for accurate bass levels.
4. Yamaha HS5 PAIR 5-inch Powered Studio Monitors
Now, there is a story which compares the Yamaha HS series with the legendary NS10. I think that is a bit too much, but what it is a bass-reflex studio monitor which means that it won’t be able to replicate the agile impulse response of an infinite baffle speaker (in our case NS10).
Now one thing is for sure; the bass is never lost from their iconic white woofer to the beautiful Yamaha logo glowing in white. The rather simplistic design is not for everyone, and you may personally prefer a more extravagant design.
From the front you can visibly see the 5″ inch woofer and the 1″ tweeter; you can also see Yamaha’s logo and 12 bolts that are beautifully incorporated into the overall design.
The drivers used in this studio monitor delivers a superb audio performance that is considerably enhanced by a sophisticated mounting system.
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A scientific arrangement of screws and a specially designed mounting ring eliminate unwanted vibration and resonance, letting the speaker realize its full sonic potential without distortion or colouration.
Yamaha selects its magnets to optimize solid low-end response. Tweeter frames use an advanced smooth-contour design that minimizes losses, letting you hear high-frequency details with stunning accuracy.
Few features of this studio monitor are:
- High-performance drivers and mounting system.
- 5″ cone woofer, 1″ dome tweeter.
- Large magnets in an advanced magnetic circuit design.
- Built-in bi-amplification (45 watts LF, 25 watts).
- Dedicated power amps are perfectly matched to the woofer and tweeter.
- The enclosure is designed to kill unwanted resonances that can influence the sound.
- Room Control and High Trim response controls give you optimum response in any room.
5. Mackie CR4 (Pair) Creative Monitors
These studio monitors have stable build quality with very heavy right speakers and no flaw anywhere. It makes a much-sold impression, indeed.
At the back of them you can find, different connection option.
Some of its features are:
1. 4″ polypropylene-coated woofer and 3/4″ silk dome tweeter
2. Class A/B amplifier with 14 watts x 2 RMS (25 watts x 2 peaks)
3 Frequency response: 70-20,000 Hz (-3dB)
4. Peak SPL: 100 dB
5. Includes Avid Pro Tools First DAW plus The Music Collection bundle of 23 plugins
6. Front-panel volume knob with power ring LED display
7. Left/right speaker placement switch lets you decide which side of your workspace has the volume control
8. MDF bass-reflex cabinet with custom-tuned rear port
a. stereo balanced 1/4″ TRS line-level inputs
b. stereo unbalanced RCA line-level inputs
c. front-panel 1/8″ stereo auxiliary input
11. Included isolation pads minimize vibration and provide up or down tilt for more focused listening.
12. Includes 6′ speaker cable to connect the left and right speakers.
13. 6-1/8″W x 8-13/16″H x 7-5/16″D
14. weight: 6 Kgs (pair)
15. warranty: 1 year
You would find one symbol at the front of these monitors (kind of disco dance). At the rear end, there is a red button which makes these monitors work like a passive speaker when connected with a cable.
6. PreSonus ERIS E66 Studio Monitors
Let us talk about its anatomy:
It consists of a moulded, hard plastic enclosure with an excellent fit and form. They are not extravagant in their materials but are indeed well put together with excellent craftsmanship, an easy-to-clean surface and a beautiful overall appearance (and Kevlar woofers look cool).
The boxes were not heavy due in part to their efficient A/B amplification. They run warm but not hot, and there was no audible chuffing of the front panel ports.
The rear panel includes switches for tuning the monitor’s frequency response to your studio environment. The back panel of this studio monitor provides unbalanced RCA and balanced TRS and XLR jacks, with a trim pot to accommodate a variety of input levels.
The remaining rear-panel controls tailor this studio monitor’s response within the listening environment. The High-Frequency trim provides 6 dB of boost or cut using a 10kHz shelf, and the Mid control offers 6 dB of boost or cut with a peaking curve centred at 1 kHz.
The Low Cutoff switch has positions for Flat plus 80 Hz and 100 Hz, both of which engage a filter with a slope of -12 dB per octave. The Acoustic Space switch compensates for the bass boost that occurs when a monitor is placed near a wall or corner by reducing the level of frequencies below 800 Hz by 2 or 4 dB:
It is defeated when set to 0 dB. Also on the rear panel are an IEC power receptacle, the power switch, and a voltage selector.
Inputs are, conveniently, a balanced XLR, TRS quarter-inch and unbalanced -10 dB RCA phono plug. Class A/B amplification provides 140 watts to the woofers and 90 watts to the tweeters.
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Controls include continuously variable mid and high-frequency adjustment, a variable high pass filter and Acoustic Space control—a low-mid dip at flat/-2 dB or -4 dB.
This studio monitor employs a D’Appolito arrangement—or MTM, mid-woofer/tweeter). Together with a pair of identical 6.5-inch Kevlar fibre woofers sharing the same frequency range, placed less than one wavelength apart at their highest operational frequency, and cradles a 1.25-inch silk dome high-frequency driver in between provides a very sharp sound.
The woofers’ signals propagate together, acting as a single significant driver, “partially containing the dispersion of the tweeter, minimizing phase displacement.
7. KRK Rokit 4 G3 4″ Monitors
It is a 30W, two-way studio monitor designed for those seeking affordability and compactness in equal measure. The system consists of a four-inch Kevlar woofer and a one-inch soft dome tweeter, bi-amplified with 10W to the tweeter and 20W to the woofer.
The frequency response of these studio monitors is quoted from 51Hz up to 35kHz, with the crossover point at 2.3kHz. We received a pair in the black finish, but you can get them in white or silver too.
Now, this studio monitor pair is not just any other ordinary pair of monitors. These are a pair of individual monitors which means they have their kettle lead input and their controls.
This means these studio monitors operate independent of each other, as is the case of professional monitors. Now at the back of it, it has three knobs with many different buttons (these buttons are self-explanatory). Let us talk about these three buttons.
There is a volume control knob at the bottom. You have two frequency knobs right above the volume control knob. So primarily these are set and forget kind of settings and used for adjusting EQs.
Some good to know information about these studio monitors:
1. It is now on its third revision or “generation,” and comprises several models. The ROKIT 4 G3 the smallest model in the current lineup, measuring only 8.31″ H x 6.09″ W x 8.82″ D and weighing a very reasonable 8.67 pounds. Frequency response is rated at 51 Hz – 35 kHz.
2. The two-way design features a yellow 4″ Aramid glass composite woofer (it’s KRK – of course, it’s yellow!) and a 1″ soft dome tweeter. The crossover frequency is 2.3 kHz.
3. The front edges of the monitor faces are curved to reduce edge diffraction. The cabinets are ported and feature front-firing “slot” ports below the woofers. Front-firing ports do not suffer from the placement issues associated with rearward-firing ports; furthermore.
4. There’s plenty of connectivity, with an unbalanced RCA input as well as 1/4″ TRS and XLR balanced inputs located on the rear panel. Whether you want to hook them up to your mobile audio player or tablet, a DJ rig in your hotel room to prep for the evening’s show, or your high-end audio interface at home, you’re set with these studio monitors.
- These studio monitors don’t have grilles. Since most people tend to remove grilles from their studio monitors, chances are you won’t miss them. But on speakers like these that practically beg to go along with you on your mobile musical adventures, a protective grille might come in handy.
- While mixing on the ROKIT 4 G3 is certainly possible, as with any small monitor speaker you may want to check your mixes occasionally on other/larger speakers to get a better idea of what’s happening in the lowest octave or two. This, of course, will be more important if you’re recording and mixing bass-heavy dance music, and less so if you’re editing and mixing dialogue for a corporate video project. However, there’s certainly enough low end that you can do credible mixes once you “learn” the speakers.
- While these studio monitors deliver decent maximum SPL performance considering their small size, those who like things ridiculously loud may wish for a bit “more.
Studio monitors glossary
1/4″ jack — Also known as phone plug. Unbalanced connection using a phone-patching cord connector. The most basic connection in audio.
2.1 — A monitoring setup with two main monitors and a separate subwoofer for handling bass frequencies.
5.1 surround sound — see surround sound.
7.1 surround sound — see surround sound.
Bass — Refers to the low-frequency portion of an audio signal usually from 20Hz up to about 150Hz. Also generically refers to notes with a low pitch.
Balanced — An audio circuit with two shielded conductors running at the reverse polarity and equal at the ground. Balanced wiring provides noise-free transfer of audio in areas susceptible to electrical interference, like recording studios and live sound venues. Requires balanced I/O and balanced cables.
Biamplification or Bi-amped — The practice of using separate power amplifiers and a crossover network to drive separate elements in a loudspeaker cabinet. Often combined with active amplification, where the amplifiers are built into the cabinet of the speaker.
Cabinet — Also cab or speaker cabinet. Cabinet commonly refers to the enclosure a driver is mounted in. The enclosure serves several purposes besides simply housing the driver and its circuitry. It prevents negative phase sound waves from the rear of the driver causing phase cancellation with the positive phase sound waves from the front of the driver and also improves the efficiency and frequency response of the drivers.
Decoupling — Or decouple. The process of isolating monitors from their supporting structure to prevent undesired transmission of sound and vibration. Specially designed pads and stands serve this function.
Diffraction — The bending of a sound wave that occurs when it is deflected from its path by an object.
Driver — Refers to the raw speaker mounted in the cabinet or enclosure. It is the active part of the speaker system that actually creates the soundwaves.
Ear fatigue — Condition which occurs after many hours of listening and working with audio, usually while mixing. Seems to happen especially often when monitoring audio at high volumes or when listening to audio with exaggerated frequencies, e.g. too much treble or midrange.
Flat sound — Also flat response. A speaker or other piece of audio equipment with flat response won’t naturally boost or cut any frequency when an audio signal is played through it. Theoretically, a flat input signal will emerge just as flat as it went in although this is practically impossible with current monitor technology. The term originates from frequency response graphs where flat response is represented as a flat line devoid of peaks or valleys.
Frequency — Refers to specific sounds and certain segments of audio defined by its pitch, e.g. treble frequencies, midrange frequencies, bass frequencies, etc. The standard definition for frequency is the number of times an event occurs within a unit of time. The frequency of sound vibrations related to their wavelength results in the pitch of the notes we hear in music. The open low E string on a bass guitar generates a fundamental frequency of 41.5Hz. The high open E string on a standard guitar generates a fundamental frequency of 1.3kHz.
Frequency range — The range of frequencies a piece of audio gear can transmit or reproduce. Usually specified in form such as 20Hz-20kHz. When combined with THD it gives you some idea of the accuracy of the component. The wider the frequency range, the more frequencies you will hear clearly.
Frequency response — The result of frequency range versus amplitude. The spec (20Hz-20kHz ±3dB) means that for a given input signal the listed range of frequencies (20Hz-20khz) will be reproduced within the specified range of levels (±3dB) compared to the original signal. Any frequencies outside this range may or may not be within the range of levels. For example: a piece of equipment with a flat frequency response will give you a more accurate impression of how your audio really sounds.
Hertz — Abbreviated Hz. Hertz is the unit used to measure frequencies and one Hertz is equal to one cycle per second, e.g. a 60Hz sine wave completes 60 cycles per second. Kilohertz—abbreviated kHz—is often used once the cycles per second pass one thousand. The Hertz is named for Heinrich Hertz, a 19th-century German physicist who was one of the first scientists to study radio waves.
I/O — Short for input/output. Generally refers to the connections on audio gear.
Mastering — A process in which the final recording of an audio performance is prepared and processed for its intended distribution media. This usually involves using limiting, compression, EQ, normalization, stereo imaging, and editing to achieve a professional and consistent sound aimed for modern radio and quality playback equipment.
Midrange — Refers to the middle-frequency portion of an audio signal usually from 150Hz up to about 2.5kHz. Also generically refers to notes with a medium pitch.
Midrange driver — The driver in a multi-driver speaker designated to reproduce the midrange frequencies.
Mixing — The process of using a mixer, either hardware or software, to adjust and balance levels and frequency content of an audio performance or recorded audio in an effort to pleasingly enhance the audio.
Monitor — Also studio monitor or reference monitor. A speaker system specifically designed for high-fidelity playback of audio material for critical listening during the recording and mixing process. Varieties include near-field, surround, active, and passive. Near-field monitors are designed to be used in very close proximity to the listener to reduce interference from the room acoustics. Active monitors have built-in power amps that eliminate the need for an external amplifier. Passive monitors require an external power amplifier.
Near-field monitor — A monitor designed to be placed closer to you—or more specifically, your ears—than anything that might interfere with the sound waves coming from the speaker, such as a wall, ceiling, furniture etc. See sweet spot for placement suggestions.
Phase — A measurement in degrees that specifies how far along in its cycle a sound wave is, with a complete cycle being 360 degrees. If two waves are out of phase it results in cancellation of parts of both waves. Two identical waves exactly 180 degrees out of phase will completely cancel each other out.
RCA — More correctly called a phono plug, this connection was developed and popularized by Radio Corporation of America (RCA) for use with their audio equipment
Reference monitor — Also soffit-mounted monitor. A large, traditional monitor used in specialized installations with an infinite baffle in professional music studios. These expensive monitor setups reside eight to 10 feet or more away from the listening position.
S/PDIF — Abbreviation of Sony Philips Digital Interface Format. Interface for digital audio that uses either optical or coaxial cables for transmission. S/PDIF is based on the AES/EBU standard and can provide two channels of 24-bit/96kHz audio in one direction. Only use 70ohm S/PDIF cable to make a S/PDIF connection. Some monitors have S/PIDF connectors.
SPL — Sound Pressure Level. The measurement of the volume, or amplitude, of a sound wave. SPLs are measured in decibels (dB).
Sound wave — A series of compressions in the air that transmit sound. Sound waves are represented visually by a wavy, horizontal line with the upper part of the wave indicating compression and the lower part indicating rarefaction.
Subwoofer — A driver used to reproduce very low frequencies and sometimes housed in a separate enclosure from the woofer, midrange driver, and tweeter.
Surround sound — Multi-channel audio system that creates a 3D sound stage. Developed by Dolby Labs, surround sound typically includes 5.1 channels, meaning a centre channel; l/r front channels; l/r rear channels; and a subwoofer. A second configuration, 7.1 adds two surround speakers at the sides for a more encompassing audio field.
Sweet spot — The optimal listening position for studio reference monitors. Provides the listener with the right blend of tonal balance, stereo separation, detail, and overall sound image. In general, the sweet spot for a pair of near-field monitors is three to five feet in front of and midway between the pair, with the listener’s ears about the same level as the top of the woofer and bottom of the tweeter. Your head and the two monitors should form an imaginary equilateral triangle. Some monitors have a wide sweet spot that is easy to find, while others require more experimentation with placement.
THD — Total Harmonic Distortion. Nearly all electronic components distort the audio signal that passes through their circuitry to a greater or lesser degree. The measurement of this distortion is usually represented as a decimal percentage of the signal; i.e. — <0.03%. The closer the percentage is to zero the less distortion and the more transparent the sound. Typically the specification for THD actually refers to THD+N, which is THD plus Noise.
Transient response — often used to mean slew rate, which is the ability of the speaker to accurately track fast changes in amplitude, which results in clear, clean, accurate sound. Since a low slew rate can result in poor transient response, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably in reference to speakers. A speaker with a high slew rate has better transient response and therefore sounds more accurate. Transients are critical bits of high-frequency sound our ears and brains use to recognize sounds.
Treble — Refers to the high-frequency portion of an audio signal usually from 3kHz up to about 20kHz. Also generically refers to notes with a high pitch.
TRS — Stands for Tip, Ring, Sleeve. TRS is a balanced circuit that uses a phone plug-style connection with three conductors (the tip, the ring, and the sleeve) instead of just two (the tip and the sleeve).
Tweeter — The high-frequency driver in a multi-driver speaker.
Unbalanced — An audio circuit whose two conductors are unequal at the ground, usually because one conductor operates as a ground. An unbalanced audio circuit is more susceptible to noise problems than balanced circuits. Noise can be combated by keeping cables as short as possible.
Woofer — The low-frequency driver in a multi-driver speaker. Woofers are designed to accurately reproduce low frequencies which require more excursion of the driver than high frequencies. Woofers used in very low-frequency applications are called subwoofers.
XLR — Balanced, circular three-pin connector typically used for microphone and line-level signals. Each pin is a separate channel, but pin 1 is always ground.