So you are building or have already got yourself a studio set up and are now just adding the final components to the space. One of the fundamental aspects thereof is the monitor stands. Not only their placement in the room is essential, but also their height – So how tall should your studio monitors’ stands be?
When purchasing studio monitor stands, that have no downward tilt, one will typically want to select those with a height of between 47-44 inches tall (120-140 cm). Or, if you are a taller person, set them so that the tweeters, of your reference monitors, fire directly at your ears.
Suppose you are new to music production and editing. In that case, you may not be aware that the placement of monitors can drastically impact how you actually hear the sound emitted from the monitors. If you are still unsure after reading this article, then be sure to consult a sound technician, but for now, I encourage you to read on.
What About Your Main Monitors?
So we have discussed the height you need for reference monitors, but now we are looking at your main monitors and the height at which they should sit. When you are in a studio control room, and we are talking about your main monitors, which offers a sweet spot, regardless of whether you are sitting standing, the height of their placement should be at about 57-58 inches (145-148 centimeters).
The Height Of Surround Sound Speakers
For your surround sound speakers, you want to have the front three speakers’ tweeters sitting at as similar a height as possible. The center speaker, in particular, must not be more than a few degrees higher or lower than the other two speakers.
It is typically suggested that the surround speakers be placed with their tweeters at one’s ear level, but some would argue that their placement should be about 2 feet above your ears when seated.
Studio Monitor Placement
So we have looked at the heights at which the speakers should be sitting, but what about their placement? We need to consider all the potential components and variables that come into play when we examine the room’s natural sound stage.
We need to realize that in most scenarios, you may well only have two studio monitors; one will be placed to the left and the other to the right of you. Both of them are firing at you simultaneously, but they cannot tell how and where they ought to be sending the message, and thus it is up to us to ensure they are well-positioned.
Now it is not just the placement of the speakers that will have an effect, but also the landscape of the studio itself and the nature of the surfaces and such. Thankfully for us, though, the placement of one’s speakers is a simple enough task, and it can be easy to find the perfect placement.
To obtain a stereo image that accurately represents the sound you are producing, the speaker, along with the listener, should be positioned in a way that resembles an equilateral triangle.
There is some debate to this, though and ultimately, what some believe is that the listener’s “point of the triangle” should rather sit just behind their head and not precisely in line with it. So, in essence, you will have the mid-range drivers and tweeters aimed directly at your ears.
Recording studio designers are inclined to do this to give a greater sense of stereo listening even if you do not have surround sound. For a point of reference, it is suggested that this “point” be placed 16 inches behind the listener’s head.
Another variation in the placement, especially if we are looking at the placement for surround sound, is to have this point being placed at the center of the listener’s head, making for a more straightforward layout of the speakers.
Spacing Things Out
One fundamental point that we must iterate is that the speakers must be placed away from the walls. This even goes for walls that are treated. Ideally, the distance between the monitors and the wall is between 8 and 12 inches.
The reason for this is to avoid the sound waves from hitting the walls and reflecting. This ultimately causes a problem known as phase cancelation, and other detrimental acoustic phenomena can occur due to there not being the respective space provided.
Also, if at all possible, you must not place your desk in a corner of the room as this will give problems in terms of the natural buildup of bass that comes about when reflective surfaces meet.
That is why you want to opt for the center wall instead. You want to keep that triangle idea in mind and be sure to place the speakers in such a way that they are the same distance from the walls on either side of the room.
If you do this, it will ensure that your mix position is centered, and your monitors will offer a more honest sound to your ears. In any room, it is a good idea to set up your monitors along the longest wall, as this will mitigate any issues that reflections from the sidewalls may cause.
Why You Should Use Monitor Stands In The First Place
The key problem with putting your speakers directly on a desk is that it can very quickly hinder their ability to produce a clear and balanced sound. The reason for this is that the sound waves being emitted are rebounding off of a hard surface, causing reflection.
Another issue with placing them directly onto the desk is that the desk, dependant on the material it is made from, will boost specific frequencies and trick your ears into thinking that you need to lower them, when in fact, that is not the authentic sound.
Another reason it is a much better idea to go with stands is because of the placement of the speakers. For the most part, placing them onto a desk will put them in a position where they are below ear level, and we do not want this.
However, if you cannot afford monitor stands, there is another alternative that I feel I should mention. You can make use of monitor pads that can help mitigate any vibrations and resonance that might occur when a monitor is placed on a hard surface.
So we can see that there is a bit of space to work with, and finding the exact sweet spot for you and the room you are working in may be different from others. However, as it sits, the consensus is that you want your stands to be at the height of approximately 47-44 inches tall (120-140 cm).