I've read a lot of articles on how speakers should be set up in a studio. They differ from post to post but the general gist is the same.
I haven't found much information though on how to get your speakers into the best position. For those of us on low budgets without custom designed rooms and soffit mounted monitors, I think this method is very useful. It's improved my mixes far more than any other piece of gear has, but then again maybe I'm not a true gearslut!
I originally posted this to my new blog but shortened it down for GS as most people on here are aware of how monitors should be setup. This post is for those who have their monitors in a rough position (equidistant from listener and each other, at 60º, etc). The full article with more information and rambling can be found here
. Thoughts/comments/criticism welcomed!
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With the monitors in a rough position and important spots on the floor and ceiling marked with blue masking tape (mix position and rough position of tweeters), I began to adjust my monitors. I began by playing music in mono. By using a stereo source, it will not be possible to correctly balance the monitors as the signal coming from each speaker is different. Luckily, I was able to do this all from the control panel of my interface, though you can do the same using any DAW.
Before touching the monitor positions, I applied a high pass/low cut filter. The frequency and slope of this filter that you use is up to you. I used a 12db or 18db per octave filter set somewhere between 140-200hz (depending on the music being played). I experimented with different filters and frequencies to see which gave the best result. I picked the frequency based on the bass line being played and the tuning of the kick drum. The filter was used to remove (or attenuate) the fundamental frequency while leaving the second harmonic intact. I then sat at the mix position and listened. I adjusted each monitor in turn by small amounts. After each tweak, I would sit down at the mix position again and listen. What I was attempting to do with each tweak of the speakers was improve the clarity of the bass.
Note: The bass will become clearest when the speakers are working together in phase.
When I removed the high pass filter, I felt the earth move. I’d never heard so much bass coming from my tiny Genelecs! I spent a good few hours tweaking and setting up my monitors. If you put in a few hours at the beginning, you’ll save yourself a lot of time with phase and bass issues during a mix.
The theory here is to create as much bass as possible without changing anything but the position of the monitors. The more bass you can attain, the more in phase your speakers will be.
Despite the lack of acoustic bass energy, the brain still recognises the harmonic content of the bass. It reconstructs the fundamental frequency so you can still hear it, you just can’t feel it. This works very well in small and untreated rooms as you don’t have any bass problems while setting up because the bass heard is psychoacoustic, not acoustic.