To make great recordings and mixes, good monitoring is absolutely essential. With the combination of a set of good studio monitors and studio headphones, you can get a clearer image of how your masterpiece is going to do in the big, wide world. The position of your studio monitors and the layout of your studio is therefore just as important. Here, we offer some golden rules when it comes to placing your monitors, so you can get nothing but the very best out of them.

The Finer Points of Studio Monitor Placement


Just like the ideal studio, the ideal studio monitor just doesn’t exist. The optimum sound will always depend on your personal preferences and this comes down to your specific tastes as well as how your body is built. A good monitor can therefore be different for different people. We can, however, look at the technical specs of a monitor, and important details like the frequency response, which needs to be as flat and neutral as possible. The ‘ideal’ monitor would be able to cover the full spectrum that falls within the range of human hearing, without peaks and troughs. This range is a tidy 20Hz to 20kHz. Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to build a monitor like this. Also, the really lower frequencies within this specific range can’t be nicely reproduced in smaller spaces, so near-field monitors in general can’t dip much lower than 50Hz.


You could always decide to expand your near-field setup with a subwoofer. By adding a sub, you can get a better idea of how your tracks are going to sound through a full-range PA system. Lower frequencies are not really ‘directional’, so one subwoofer is usually going to do the job and the placing doesn’t have to be quite so precise. However, it’s important not to place a subwoofer in a corner since this can lead to a ‘build-up’ in the low-end, making your monitoring setup sound dense and boomy. Instead, try to place your subwoofer at the same approximate level as your monitors. Also, if you place the sub too far away or too close, you’re likely to have phase problems.

Studio Space

Througout this blog, I’ll be referring to acoustic treatment at least a couple of times. Monitor placement and the acoustics of your studio space are utterly dependent on one another. Around 50% of the sound that you hear doesn’t actually come directly from your speakers but are reflections of the sound bouncing off every wall and bit of kit in your control room. In a well designed studio, these reflections are diffused as much as possible and every frequency is reflected equally to keep things balanced.


Every speaker has an ideal listening distance. Near-field monitors, for example, have the most optimally neutral sound when the listener is between 50cm and 150cm away. This kind of speaker offers a large number of advantages and as such, you’re likely to spot them in pretty much any studio. The acoustics of the space you’re listening in also has a smaller role to play when you can sit close to the monitors, and near-field monitors tend to deliver a realistic image of how your productions will sound for people listening at home through small speakers. Mid-field and large-field monitors have the best audio image when the listener is at a distance of 2 to 3 metres, so these are usually only found in larger studios with good acoustics.


For a realistic stereo image and a balanced frequency repsonse, it’s important that you arrange your studio furniture symmetrically. To start, you need to make sure that you, as a listener, forms the third point of an equilateral triangle with your monitors forming the other two points. In the image included below, you can see that the distance between the monitors is the same as the distance between the listener and the monitors. Next, you need to make sure that the audio reflections bouncing off the walls either side of you are hitting your ears at the same time. You can do this by simply ensuring that your left monitor and the left wall are the same distance apart as your right monitor and the right wall. Also make sure that the distance between your monitors and the back wall is different from the distance between your monitors and the side walls. Otherwise, specific frequencies will resonate in a particularly annoying way.

The Finer Points of Studio Monitor Placement


In contrast to standard hi-fi speakers, studio monitors have a very small sweet spot. They sound incredibly detailed and natural if you’re sitting right in front of them, but as soon as you stand up, the effect is lost. The high frequencies are the most focussed, so it’s important that the tweeters of your monitors are at ear height. It’s also essential that monitors designed to sit upright are not lain on their sides or vice verse, since this can completely distort the stereo image.


Studio monitors are often placed on a table or mixing desk where, since they’re making direct contact with the surface, will actually transfer vibrations through that surface. This has the undesirable effect of making the low-end sound less tight, and annoying resonance can occur. By putting monitor isolation pads under the monitors, no vibrations are transferred and this problem is avoided completely. You could also solve the issue using a set of speaker stands. Monitor pads and speaker stands come in various sizes, so make sure to pick out the model that’s able to handle the weight of your monitors, and that best fits their size.

See Also …

» All Studio Monitors

» What’s the Best Studio Monitor for Me?
» How To Connect Up Your Studio Monitors
» What Do You Need to Start Producing Music?
» What’s the Best DAW Software for Me?

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