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Are Studio Monitors Necessary? (Do You REALLY Need Them?)

You do not need studio monitors to produce music, especially if you are a music production beginner/hobbyist. A quality pair of headphones will work at first. However, suppose you are serious about music/audio production. In that case, you will want to invest in a decent pair of studio monitors. 

Studio Monitors And Music Production

It can be hard to know whether you need a pair of studio monitors for your music/audio production rig. 

Doing a little research and getting to the bottom of this can help you save valuable time and perhaps even money!

Everyone’s studio gear needs are different, and I want to help you optimize your home studio setup.

In this article, we will see if studio monitors are necessary for your music production setup.

What Is A Studio Monitor?

‘Studio monitor’ is a technical term for a speaker that you use specifically for professional audio/music production.

Alesis Studio Monitor On Isolation Pad

Studio monitor speakers offer a wider frequency range and a more accurate audio reproduction than a regular speaker you’ll find in your phone, car, home stereo system, etc., which is why we use them for professional audio applications. 

Do You Need Studio Monitors?

Let’s dig into the question at hand!

Whether or not you need studio monitors depends on how serious you are with audio/music production and if you can spare the money. 

Pair Of Studio Monitors

For example, if you like to produce music for fun in your free time and are also not looking to invest a bunch of money in home studio gear, you will probably be fine without studio monitors; headphones should work just ok for you. 

On the other hand, if you are constantly working on music and consider yourself somewhat of a “serious” producer, you will definitely want to add some studio monitors to your audio/music production rig.

Before investing in a pair of studio monitors, consider your personal needs as a music producer and go from there. 

Why Are Studio Monitors Important?

Studio monitors are important because they give accurate audio reproduction and flat frequency response

This means that any audio you hear through a pair of studio monitors is faithful to its actual sound. 

This is different from headphones which all have their own frequency responses.

In my experience, I have found that mixes that I complete on studio monitors translate much better to other sound systems than headphone mixes. 

Music producers and audio engineers rely on studio monitors for their sound quality and performance.

Can You Produce Music On Headphones?

Yes, you can undoubtedly produce music using just headphones. 

In fact, I find myself producing with headphones even a bit more often than I do with studio monitors. 

Sennheiser HD25 Headphones

Remember, although headphones are great for writing and producing music, they are not as suitable for mixing and mastering since they do not have a flat frequency response. 

Even though you can produce music with just headphones, I recommend that even beginner music producers also invest in a decent pair of studio monitors if they can afford to. 

They might not be essential, but they are ideal and will enhance your music production experience.

Should You Mix On Studio Monitors Or Headphones?

Typically, you will want to mix and master on studio monitors because of their accurate audio reproduction and flat frequency response that headphones do not offer. 

I find that headphone mixes often lack depth and space in particular.

However, I want to share a fantastic tool with you that you can use to get great results mixing with headphones. 

It’s called Sonarworksand you can use it to look up and compensate for the frequency curve of your specific headphones. 

Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Speakers & Headphones with Measurement Microphone

This incredible software makes getting great headphone mixes possible, and I use it all the time! 

Although you can do it, you should be very wary of mixing with headphones and try to stick with monitors if possible.     

Should You Record On Studio Monitors Or Headphones?

When it comes to recording, headphones are the way to go! 

If you are recording something live with a microphone, you will want to use a quality pair of closed-back headphones to prevent audio from bleeding into your recording. 

beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones - Over-Ear, Closed-Back, Professional Design for Recording and Monitoring (80 Ohm, Grey)

If you were to use studio monitors to record, your microphone would pick up the intended audio and the audio coming from your speakers. 

This will practically ruin your recording!

However, if you are recording a virtual instrument plugin or anything else directly into your audio device/computer, recording with studio monitors is an option since there is no audio recording involved. 

Remember, if you are recording live audio using a microphone, you should always use closed-back studio headphones.  

Do You Need Two Studio Monitors?

For audio/music production purposes, you definitely need two studio monitors.

If you do not have two studio monitors for your music production rig, you will not be monitoring in a stereo field; you will have only a mono audio signal that is unsuitable for music production. 

Studio Monitor Placement

While it is technically possible to listen to music on only one studio monitor (this is also far from ideal), you certainly need two for audio/music production. 

Why Are Studio Monitors Sold Individually?

Companies sell studio monitors individually because every user’s needs to vary, and not everyone needs a set of two studio monitors.

For example, some people may want to replace a single broken studio monitor or acquire a decent speaker for playing music for purposes not related to music production. 

Not to mention, you can almost always find a set of speakers for sale if that’s what you are looking for. 

You can even find speaker bundles that include stands, cables, etc., making setting up your studio monitors very easy.

Selling studio monitors individually and in bundles allows consumers the most flexibility possible.

What Studio Monitors Are Good For Music Production Beginners?

KRK Rokit And Microphone

Here are a few of my top picks for beginner studio monitors:

  • The KRK Rokit 5s are some of the most recognizable and widely used studio monitors available.
  • The Yamaha HS5s come from a well-known and reliable manufacturer and are another excellent choice for entry-level studio monitors. 
  • The Mackie MR524s are not only reasonably affordable but they are also rated relatively high among their customers. 
  • The M-Audio BX5s are my final option for beginner studio monitors. They boast an ultra-low price and a ton of great customer reviews.

Out of all these options for beginner studio monitors, I would highly recommend the KRK Rokit 5s for their incredible sonic clarity and low-frequency response, given their price point. 

Check out this complete guide on how to set up KRK Rokit 5 Monitors.

Related Questions

Do Studio Monitors Need a Power Amplifier?

This depends on whether the monitor speaker is an active studio monitor or a passive monitor.

Active monitors (or powered studio monitors) have their own internal power source. They do not require an external power amplifier. In contrast, passive monitors do not have any internal power source and require an external power amplifier. 

Make sure to do your research when investing in studio monitors to know whether you will need an amplifier too!

What Should I Pay Attention To When Buying Studio Monitors?

Here are some things to pay attention to when looking for a pair of studio monitors for your studio setup:
– Price
– Size
– Features
– Customer reviews
– Frequency Response
– Power output
– Manufacturer Reliability
– Whether they will be compatible with your audio interface 
– Whether you want an active or passive speaker pair

Every producer’s needs are different, so take your time, research, and think things through when looking for studio monitors!

Final Words

As shown here, whether or not you need studio monitors depends on your music production needs and aspirations.

For example, a serious music producer who does their own mixing and mastering will definitely want a pair of quality studio monitors in your home studio to help them produce the most professional-sounding music that they can. 

On the other hand, if you are a music producer for a hobby and only work on music production for fun, you will probably be just fine without having studio monitors. 

However, if you can afford them, they will enhance your music production experience even as a novice. 

Before investing in studio monitors, consider your music production needs to decide whether or not you need them.  

So you now know if you need studio monitors but what about audio interfaces? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Check out this article discussing if you need an audio interface with studio monitors.

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