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The Studio As A System

By December 30, 2012No Comments

Basics First

Our main control room should possess some major components that all work well together to produce high resolution, low distortion audio that has full bandwidth delivery. We should be able to recreate high pressure levels along with lower levels and hear the same layering and separation of all instruments and vocals. Both small and large monitors are needed. The small monitors assure everything is in the mix. The large monitors give us more of that everything.

Components Of The System

All components of our studio must be taken into consideration. The most important component is the monitor. How is the monitor to be mounted? What type of amplification is required and what will be our speaker cable that we need to match the amplifier to the monitor. How does the monitor interact with the room? Our speakers are not independent components that can be moved into a control room and expected to sound well. They are one part of an acoustical delivery system.

Mixing Console

Our monitors are connected to our mixing console. Everything within the studio that has an electronic signature will pass through the level control of the console. The circuits that occupy this level control, the input level circuits, are really the front end of our monitor system. If we have a loudspeaker monitor that is active or has its own amplifier or power source, we will need to route this signal through cables and into the crossover. If the system is passive, the cables will run from the amplifiers to the speakers which will have their own internal crossovers.

Now, we have our signal that must leave the electronic domain and convert to the analog domain so we can hear it. The signal leaves the output busses of our mixing console and then to our ears. When it strikes our ears it is also striking the room and with each reflected ray of energy we have a little bit of room sound adding itself to our sonic presentation.

Monitor Circuits

Mixing console manufacturers do not spend the money they need to raise the quality of the monitor circuits. These circuits are in the direct signal path and must be of highest quality. They are just as important as our mixing busses. They must have low noise and high quality audio presentation because the signal will always have to pass through our busses. If the monitor circuit is not of the highest quality then we will not really know what is really being recorded. This is a serious problem.

Price Point

the competition is fierce. Adding higher quality and thus higher costs can raise the final retail price into a price point category where the manufacturer may not be able to compete in. Even consoles that cost six figures are not removed from this cost cutting paradigm. Even a price increase for quality of a few dollars per channel can add two to three hundred to the retail price which could be a tipping point.

Poor Quality Equipment Level

This happens because there is not the concern for quality that there needs to be. It has migrated to non-professionalism that permeates through the recording world. Manufacturers have been able to pursue this cost/quality cutting course because studio owner’s equipment is not of high enough quality that they can hear a poorer sounding component that is part of the studio system.

Many Parts

The monitor system is composed of many different parts. Each one of these parts contributes to our overall system’s response. There are over 1,500 patents in our cell phones covering electronic processes that produce audio and video in our cell phones that interface with us as humans. The monitors in our control room must also interface with the cables. Careful attention needs to paid to the cabling that connects our interfaces.

Cables Are Important

These cables can be sources of interference and signal degradation between components. Professional gear is much more tolerant of changes produced by cabling because the signal outputs and inputs operate at higher levels than a similar situation in a personal listening hi-fi environment. Hi-fi equipment operates at lower levels so minute changes in cable response can be more readily noticed and detected.

Room Treatment Is Important,/strong>

Just as the sound quality can be impacted by lower quality components in our signal chain, the room surface treatment must be given the same care and attention to detail as our cabling selection. Each room surface must be addressed to determine what the acoustic treatment of those room surfaces should be in order to achieve the sonic goals of the room in which we are in.

Different Quality Sounds

Monitor rooms can have as many sonic flavors as monitors have different sound. It is imperative to match the room surface acoustic treatment to what the room is required to sonically reproduce without distortion. Room sound is room distortion. If it is a monitor/control room we have detail and revelation of each sound recorded as our objective. If is a hi-f- playback scenario, then we need more room sound present in the music.

Everything Works Together

Our studios are systems within systems. Our monitors are connected to our consoles and the signal then goes into our studios where we get to hear the results of all our knob twisting and slider moving. Our monitor room is also part of this system. It is the room that we hear our sound in. It is the final frontier that we must manage correctly so that the rest of our system sounds complete and accurate.


I am a structural engineer as well as a master furniture maker. I design cabinets for low frequency, activated carbon absorbers. Connect with me on Google+

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