How to position studio monitors

Near field (close to the listener) monitoring has become the choice of many engineers because of the cost and complexities associated with mounting monitors onto the walls. Positioning your studio monitors correctly is very important. Correct placement not only creates the proper stereo image, but also minimizes the effects of your room’s reflections. This is especially important in today’s project studios since the budget for room acoustics is often close to nothing. By taking some time and using your ears when setting up your monitors, you can create an optimal listening environment.

The most important consideration when evaluating room acoustics is the presence of reflective surfaces near the monitoring area. These can include flat tabletops, glass mirrors or framed pictures, large open walls and even the surface of your mixing console. Most reflecting sound will eventually reach the listening position, but since it is slightly delayed from the direct source, the result is random cancellation of some frequencies, or comb filtering. If possible, remove any and all reflective surfaces. You may also want to hang some acoustic foam on walls near the monitors. The design of your studio monitors will determine whether they should stand upright or can be laid flat. 

When positioning the monitors, you’ll want to set up what is commonly referred to as the “mix triangle”. In this ideal configuration, the space between the left and right monitor is equal to the distance from the listener to each monitor, forming an equilateral triangle.

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