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Chapter 1: Using Nearfield Monitors

AUDIO FILES (To download all WAV examples at once: 11MB ZIP)

  • LFSineTones:(Ex01.01:WAV/MP3
    Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! This file contains a chromatic scale of sinewave tones spanning 24Hz-262Hz. This file is useful for hearing the bass response of monitoring systems, as well as distortion and turbulence anomalies. Table 1.1 in Section 1.4 gives a listing of which frequencies and pitches occur at which times in the file.

  • PinkNoise: (Ex01.03:WAV/MP3
    This file contains a full-range pink-noise test signal, which can be used (amongst many other things) to highlight the comb-filtering between the different drivers of a multi-driver speaker.

  • StereoTest: (Ex01.02:WAV/MP3
    This file contains a repeating pattern of four noise bursts: the first only in the left channel; the second only in the right channel; the third in both channels; and the fourth in both channels, but with the right channel out of polarity with the left channel. You can use this file to confirm correct stereo speaker setup and assess the stability of your phantom image.


  • Corrections: On page 6, line 19, it should read "the lowest fundamental from a bass guitar is around 41Hz", not 44Hz as printed, and this assumes a regular four-string bass, as that's the fundamental frequency of its low 'E' (as shown in Table 1.1 on page 23). Also, the nodes and antinodes in Figure 1.8 on page 22 should be the opposite way round, as shown in this updated version. These issues have been corrected for the most recent reprints.


  • Affordable Nearfield Monitor Systems: As discussed at length in the book, I strongly recommend unported speakers when working on a budget, and 2.1 systems also tend to be more practical and affordable for small-studio applications. In this context, my first recommendations are from Blue Sky, who sell a number of unported 2.1 systems, including the Pro Desk MkIII, Media Desk MkII, and Exo2. My own studio nearfields are an earlier incarnation of the Pro Desk system. Another good option comes from Acoustic Energy, who offer unported AE22 and Pro Sat nearfields , either of which can be combined into a 2.1 system with their Pro Sub unported subwoofer. I mention some NHT monitors in the book, but these have now been discontinued. They do still offer the Super Zero 2 mini-monitor, though, which is also unported and might still be worth investigating if your budget and/or room dimensions are particularly cramped.

  • Acoustics Products: Auralex sell all manner of tried-and-tested acoustic foam products for reducing the problems of early reflections in your control room. GIK Acoustics and Real Traps sell a variety of ready-made mineral-fibre bass traps, but if you fancy saving some money by making your own, then check out the DIY wooden frames available from ATS Acoustics and Acoustimac -- the latter also do 'DIY EZ Wraps', which are bags prefabricated from acoustic fabric to fit standard 2x4-foot mineral-wool slabs.

  • Calculating Room Modes: In the book I've already mentioned a simple way of calculating the likely resonant frequencies of a room based on its dimensions, but if you're dealing with room resonances a lot, then check out RealTraps' little ModeCalc utility, which provides a graphical overview of all three sets of room modes in a rectangular room at once.

  • Monitor Mounting Products: If you can, try to find monitor stands which have optional foot spikes and can be filled with sand for extra inertia. With speaker stands like this you shouldn't really need any further monitor-isolation gadgets. However, if you're unable to use decent solid stands, for whatever reason, then Primacoustic's Recoil Stabilizer would certainly be worth investigating. Auralex's Mo Pads are a cheaper alternative, but can't provide the same additional inertia because the foam they're made of is comparatively lightweight.


  • Speaker Porting: More information on the side-effects.

  • Yamaha NS10 & Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube: Here's an interesting article about the unique characteristics of the Yamaha NS10, the most famous studio nearfield monitor. Plus this excellent research paper contains exceptionally detailed laboratory tests comparing the Yamaha NS10 and Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube to three dozen different studio monitors.

  • Debunking The 'Speakers On Their Sides' Myth: Sound On Sound Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns gives more detail on why speakers shouldn't normally be mounted on their sides.

  • Phase & Polarity: A more detailed article on phase and polarity, with explanatory diagrams and lots of practical case-studies.

  • Build Your Own Acoustic Diffuser: If you want to get more serious about diffusing reflections in your studio space, rather than just absorbing them, then check out this DIY instruction page, one of a number on the web which explain the practicalities of building a professional-grade modular diffuser as described in this BBC Research Report.

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