A lot more than you think goes into the process of recording audio to be later played for an audience. Speakers and recording devices aren’t magical by any stretch of the imagination; they aren’t always capable of recording and replaying audio frequencies and them being exactly how they sound in real life. Even with quality recording devices, if a sound engineer isn’t able to play those recorded sounds back to you properly, how can he be expected to mix the sounds together and release the most pleasing version of that audio?
This is where studio monitors come in. From the Yamaha NS-10, considered as the granddaddy of studio monitors, to the more modern Krk Rokit 5 G3, any home or professional studio makes use of studio monitors to provide what is called an “uncolored” version of the source audio.
What Is a Studio Monitor?
The name may be confusing to those new to the recording game. Studio monitors are a very specific kind of a loudspeaker used in music, film, and television industries. The reason why audio technicians and engineers use studio monitors over other loudspeakers is to reproduce audio as accurately as possible. They are referred to as monitors because they are intended to produce the minimal effect or the lack of effect on specific frequencies, allowing sound mixing personnel to “monitor” the sound.
What Is “Colored” Audio?
When audio is recorded, the sonic frequencies created are picked up and translated into electrical signals, so to speak. As with any sort of translations, they aren’t always 100% true to the source material. Take a look at any professional music recording studio, specifically the microphones. These are high quality, expensive pieces of hardware. They are intended to give the most accurate recording possible with regards to the frequencies of the vocals or instruments being played. Well recorded raw audio sounds as close to real life as possible, and isn’t “colored” by emphasizing certain frequencies over others.
Once they are played back in the recording studio, they can again be “colored” by the speakers reproducing the sound. Normal speakers might poorly play extremely high or low frequencies which don’t give a true representation of the audio recording. This makes it harder for the sound technicians to properly mix the sounds to the levels they’re supposed to be at.
How Quality Studio Monitors Help
Studio monitors are then employed to reduce the issue of sound coloration and make the lives of sound engineers a little easier. Their playback is intended to lack any distortion whatsoever of the frequencies that have been recorded. From there, those in the studio can then emphasize certain frequencies over the others via sound mixing and mastering skills. When given accurate “raw” audio, the changes made by the recording staff are going to be consistent across as many other different playback devices as possible.
Let me explain exactly what problem is trying to be fixed: If a recording studio plays back their finished songs after making certain aspects of the audio louder or quieter on a poor-quality speaker, everything may seem exactly how they’d like their finished product to sound. But let’s say the speaker in their studio didn’t play high-frequency noises well, so they boosted them in the studio to make them more appealing. When someone plays the song on better speakers, the high frequencies will now shine through and be way too high, changing the song entirely.
Professional Quality Means Professional Gear
So, those serious about making and distributing any form of audio recordings need proper studio monitors to make sure any changes they make to the original audio will play relatively consistent across a wide range of speakers owned by the consumers of their work.