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The right monitors for your studio?

Focal Alpha Studio Monitors
Focal Alpha Studio Monitors
There are a lot of important aspects to consider when purchasing studio monitors from budget, positioning and how they are installed. So we caught up with Garry Robson of SCV distribution to help provide a few top tips when choosing the right monitors for your studio setup.

Your monitors are, probably, the most important studio gear you will own. You will judge everything by them; mix-balance, eq, tuning, even evaluating other new equipment such as compressors, mics, pre's, etc., so they have to be right - or as near as you can get.

However, even the finest studio monitors are not magic and, as such, cannot fix a poor sounding control room, so, assuming that your room is not wildly 'out' and that you have studied, and followed, as much acoustic advice as you can take, followed by the installation of acoustic panels, diffusers and bass traps, you should be ready to choose your monitors.

Budget?

You cannot buy what you cannot afford but, you should aim for the very best you can. That said, however, there is no point installing a 4,200 GBP pair of Focal SM9s into a tiny box room nor a pair of Alpha 50s in a large control room where you will be seated 2-3 metres away from them.

Which ones are right for you?

Different people will have different views on this - loudspeaker performance is subjective. But, after decades of demo’ing monitors, I can tell you that the preferred method by 99% of engineers, is NOT to listen to material they are working on, their own recent mixes, etc., but mastered material they know well, old favourites they have heard just about everywhere. The closer the monitors reproduce these tracks to the memory you have of them, the better. Of course, as your monitors improve, you may start hearing details on favorite songs that you’d not heard before.

Positioning?

There are a lot of publications out there giving guidance on room treatment and monitor positioning that you should read but, there are some basics. You are aiming for, roughly, an equilateral triangle, of which the L&R monitors are two corners and your seating position is the third. If we supposed that the tweeters had lazers coming from them, they should be converging just behind your head. Try and avoid being ‘outside’ the triangle, ie; with the lazers meeting in front of you.

Stands?

Whether you already have floor stands or are wanting to mount your monitors on your desk, work surface, etc., I highly recommend you invest in a pair of IsoAcoustics mounts. You will not regret it!

Focal Alpha 50, 65 and 80

This is an extremely impressive range of monitors from the lower price bracket of Focal studio monitors, comprising the Alpha 50 (5” woofer), Alpha 65 (6.5”) and the Alpha 80 (no prizes for guessing its woofer diameter). The most popular Alpha is the 65 as it suits most rooms and still delivers plenty of low end. You might think you want the Alpha 80s because of their extended bass response but, unless your room is well treated and of a size around 25sqm or more, they will probably be too large for you. the Alpha 50 is an outstanding performer and, at a reasonable price per pair, will suit any small to medium room.

Focal Solo6 Be & Twin6 Be

Probably the most famous of the Focal range, there are now over 1,500 Twins installed in the UK alone! With its dual woofers and Beryllium tweeter, delivering a frequency range of 40Hz-40kHz, the Twin6 has won the hearts of many producers, engineers and artists for their own studios. The Solo6 has the same amp’s and drivers, but only one woofer.

Focal Trio6 Be

The Trio6 was launched in 2015 and has already made it’s mark as a new standard. It is a three way, ported monitor, employing the same Beryllium tweeter as its big brother, the SM9, with a 5” mid and 8” woofer. It also features Focal’s patented Focus Mode where it can be switched from a full range 35Hz-40kHz 3-way to a 90Hz-20kHz 2-way monitor via a standard type, latching, foot switch (not included).

SM9

The pinnacle. Trusted by so many famous engineers, producers and artists for recording, mixing and mastering. Virtually flat response from 30Hz to 40kHz /-3db and including Focal’s patented Focus mode. Weighing in at 35kg each (left and right), they may not suit if you are wanting to regularly take your monitors with you to other studios but, for the ultimate studio monitoring system, they are hard to beat.

Garry Robson’s background has been in the manufacture and sale of recording studio equipment since 1976. Most of his teens and early twenties was spent in recording studios with his friend, Gary Numan. They’d been playing together since we were kids (in the late 60s) and whilst Numan concentrated on making it as an artist, Garry was more interested in studio engineering and production.

Garry is also the brand manager of Focal, Bricasti, IsoAcoustics, Audix, Avantone, Millennia, Fostex, Snowsound and more!

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Posted on 27 Jun 2016 16:29 to category : Instruments News

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