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What Is a Studio Monitor and What Are They Used For

What is a Studio Monitor

While an ordinary home speaker or hi-fi speaker can deal with everyday jams for working out or for mini room concerts, it’s not the best option for professional audio production.

If you’re mixing high-quality sounds to produce the best music, go for studio monitor speakers. No ifs or buts, you’ll thank me later.

Here’s a guide on what is a studio monitor and how it’s different from regular speakers.

Table of Contents

Why Do You Need a Studio Monitor?

Of course, we can’t deny that studio monitors cost much more than hi-fi speakers and home speakers.

If you’re not into mixing and producing or don’t care about the frequencies or sound bursts, then yes, go for other types on the menu list.

But for those who do, you know how vital accurate audios are.

You can’t produce a good film with bad audio, you can’t mix good songs with terrible frequencies, and you can’t have a quality project with off-putting sounds.

For these kinds of projects, most recording studios have studio monitors to ensure that they catch the bass response, flat frequency response, and audio signal accurately as they mix.

In other words, studio monitors give you the raw sound.

And so, having a studio monitor system enables them to mix the sound as it is and deliver a polished and near-perfect final productthat’s why you need it too!

What Is the Sound Difference Between Powered and Studio Monitors?

What Is the Sound Difference Between Powered and Studio Monitors-

Yes, they look alike!

But there are a few notable differences between powered speakers and studio monitors that you might want to take note of.

Powered Speakers

Powered speakers are more often used for listening to songs for fun. The sound this monitor speaker produces is usually added with some layers to make them sound better.

  • Sound Projection: For greater distances; best for larger spaces 
  • Best Places for This Speaker: Living room, outdoors
  • Sound Quality: High-frequency response, heavy bass response, an elevated sound
  • Best Purpose: Entertainment (i.e., theater, music room, etc.)

Studio Monitors  

Studio monitors, on the other hand, are best for producers.

Before you release mixes for people to her, you must be sure that you’re releasing a polished sound. The last thing you want is to miss the crucial differences and produce poor-quality sound.

  • Sound Projection: Smaller spaces  
  • Best Places for This Speaker: Small bedroom, studios
  • Sound Quality: Flat audio response; stays true to the original and raw sound
  • Best Purpose: Sound production or home audio recording (i.e., home studio, passive studio, studios in general, etc.)

How to Set Up Studio Monitors

How to Set-Up Studio Monitors

Setting up a studio monitor system is easy, but there are a few differences if you compare it to building a – let’s say – a typical hi-fi speakers setup.

Studio Logistics

Again, studio monitors are for producing. So, it’s important to get the right placement and positioning in your home studio or any studio for that matter.

With the correct placement of the studio monitors, the sound waves hit your ears more directly without unnecessarily bouncing off walls or surfaces. Let’s make that expensive purchases worth it!

1.) Set Up Your Desks Away From Corners or Walls

Before purchasing an expensive studio monitor, check first if you have enough studio space to accommodate the maximized placement of your unit.

If possible, place your desk away from corners or walls where there’s a potential for the sound bursts to get trapped.

Like near-field monitors in recording studios, you want the waves to “move freely” before it reaches your ears. 

2.) Make Sure You Get the Studio Monitor Orientation Right

Most studio monitors are placed vertically unless otherwise mentioned by the manual. You may think that the differences are insignificant, but trust us, it matters!

3.) Set the Perfect Studio Monitor Position

Set the Perfect Studio Monitor Position

From where you usually sit, you and your studio monitors should form an equilateral triangle. The pair of studio monitors should be symmetrical (well, yeah, otherwise, it’s not an equilateral triangle).

You may check out this Youtube video to visualize it.

The height of your studio monitor should also be at your ear level so that you can hear the sound directly.

You could also set up a soffit mount for a more clean-cut sound!

Finding the Right Pair of Studio Monitors

Finding the Right Pair of Monitor Speakers

But let’s say you DON’T have a big enough studio space to fit in your studio monitors and set it up with meticulous positions.

That’s alright too.

You can always adjust from there and get studio monitors that are more fitting for your studio.

Get the Right Size

The easiest adjustment is the size. Get a studio monitor that is apt for the room.

Don’t worry! A smaller unit doesn’t mean poorer quality!

There may be some differences with the bass response, but the bulk of good features of a studio monitor comes from the materials inside, not from the sizing.

And if space is really a problem, there’s no point in getting a big monitor since it won’t even fit.


Studio monitors are not cheap at all. They’re twice or thrice the price of hi-fi speakers.

Don’t feel pressured to buy the most expensive studio monitor out there if it’s not within budget. We’re telling you, what matters the most is how it delivers the purpose.

You can worry about the size and brand later on when you upgrade!

Audio Frequency

Audio Frequency

And concerning the two factors I mentioned, focus instead on the audio frequency of the studio monitor you’re getting.

Some monitors are small in size but have good quality.

Some are not as high-end in terms of the brand but have an impressive audio frequency! It’s also best to research the studio monitor you’re eyeing.

Here’s a guide on how to check if your speakers are intact and delivering the right audio.

The cables you use will also affect the quality of your audio. Make sure you choose good-quality ones!

Studio Headphones

And, of course, if you can’t really fit giant units into your studio, you can always opt for a pair of studio headphones. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Studio headphones still give you the same quality, but MORE DIRECTLY to your ears.

But of course, there are just cons that you may need to consider (i.e., uncomfortable to use all day, too enclosed, etc.).

Studio Monitor Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Studio Monitor Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

What Is the Difference Between Active and Passive Speakers or Passive Monitors?

First off, studio monitors fall under the active speakers‘ category. Hi-fi speakers, on the other hand, are passive monitors.

The distinction lies in the amplifier that these two types have. The amplifier is already built-in for active ones, so all you have to do is plug it into a line source, and there you go!

Passive ones, on the other hand, don’t have a built-in amplifier. You usually need to plug it into an external unit if you want to amp up the volume.

For example, a hi-fi speaker for personal use WON’T usually need an amplifier unless you want to use it at a party.

Can You Use Studio Monitors for Home/Hi-fi Use?

Technically, you can – but it wouldn’t be as good since you get the extra layers of a hi-fi speaker. Imagine watching a movie with flat, boring audio.


Why the Wide Price Range?

Unlike an audio interface, studio monitors are for professional use, it also means a higher quality of materials and features.


Indeed, you now have a COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE of studio monitors!

Next time you’re presented with a menu of speaker units, I’m confident you know which to pick. Just remember to go for the one that will cater to your production needs!

Check out my guide on the Best Studio Monitors Under $300 and Best Studio Monitors Under $200!

Enjoy creating and listening to those fire tracks!

About the author


After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.