The question of whether you need an Amp for music production has been one that upcoming music producers have grappled with for the longest time. In the art of music production, sounds are the key ingredients, and great care is always, and amplifiers are a critical component in the music production industry.
What is an amplifier?
An amplifier is a device which is used to increase the amplitude of a signal without changing other parameters of the waveform such as frequency or wave shape.
We can describe an amplifier as a circuit in electronics, and it is used to perform a variety of functions in many electronic systems.
- 420 Dual-Phase Lock-In Amplifier (Wikipedia)
There are different types of amplifiers where every kind of signal classifies an amplifier. Usually refers to a band of frequencies that the amp handles the function that they perform within an electronic system.
Let’s take a look at amplifiers which are frequently used in the music production industry.
Audio Frequency Amplifiers
Audio frequency amplifiers are used to amplify signals in the range of human hearing that approximately 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Majority of Hi-fi amplifiers can extend this range up to 100kHz while others have a high-frequency restriction of up to 15kHz or less.
Intermediate Frequency Amplifiers
Intermediate Frequency amplifiers are tuned amplifiers used in radio devices, TV sets, and radar devices.
The primary purpose is to provide the majority of the voltage amplification of a TV or radar signals before the audio or video information carried by the signal is separated or demodulated from the radio signal.
Radio Frequency amplifiers are tuned amplifiers in which tuned circuit equipment governs the frequency of operation.
These amplifiers are a type of audio amps that handling frequencies from around 20 kHz to up to about 100 kHz ranges.
Wideband amplifiers must have a constant gain from DC to several tens of MHz range.
DC amplifiers are used to amplify DC (0 Hz) voltages or very low-frequency signals where the DC level of the signal is an important parameter.
The Output Properties of Amplifiers
Amplifiers are used to increase the amplitude of a voltage or current or to increase the amount of power available usually from an AC signal wave. There are three categories of amplifiers and are classified to the properties of their output.
- Voltage amplifiers.
- Current amplifiers.
- Power amplifiers.
Why Do We Need Headphone Amplifiers?
Some of the reasons why a music producer would require headphone amplifiers are:
Monitoring during recording
During the recording of an instrument, a musician would need to hear to what’s already recorded. With that being said, they can play or sing in rhythm with the rest of the track.
Playing this sound through your studio monitor speakers isn’t the best option as the sound would spill over the studio and lack clarity. When you got a couple of musicians whom all need an amplifier, a headphone amplifier would be your best bet.
Monitoring During Mixing
I would advise against mixing a whole track through a pair of headphones. It’s because we hear sound and music very differently through a pair of headphones compared to listening to the same music through studio monitors.
Any sound that you listen to using headphones is at much closer proximity than a set of studio speakers. The sound you hear from the studio speakers can be played at a much higher volume and also interacts with the environment and sound of the room you’re in.
Only use headphones to mix tracks when you want to listen to smaller details within a mix. You also want to check how the tracks sound through headphones as there is a huge music fan base. That’s because people listen to music exclusively through their headphones, and you want to make sure how your tracks will sound using headphones.
Types & Purposes of Headphone Amps
When it comes to the chassis (the physical container of the electronics), you have three main types:
- PortableThe portable kind is designed to be slim and fit into your pocket. They accept audio from your smartphone or MP3 player and then deliver the power to your headphones through a battery. They have to be recharged after some time.
- DesktopDesktop headphone amps typically drive one or two sets of cans but can have up to four outputs and even a set for studio monitors. They are larger and are designed to sit on your desk where you can reach the volume knob.
- RackmountLastly, there is the rackmount variety that is designed to be racked into your standard 19-inch wide rack with the rest of your studio signal processing gear. These usually have four to six headphone jacks each and can be daisy-chained to one another to double or triple the number of outputs.
Headphones and amplifiers
A headset is like the smaller representation of big speakers that use of amps. Using an amplifier generally boosts the sound.
You will hear sounds that you have never heard before in a particular song. It brings out the beauty in a song.
All the subtle spicy beats and feels included during production becomes pronounced.
If there were to be an error, the use of an amplifier makes it easily spotted and corrected during production.
The use of amplifiers is, however, not without its disadvantages. It might be hard to know whether your amp is compatible with your headset or not.
This dramatically hinders quality in production if not correctly decided. It is most times necessary to have a keen knowledge of what you want to purchase. Ultimately headphones are very crucial in any good musical production. They help treat sounds on a different depth.
If you are still looking for studio headphones, check out our guide for in-depth explanation: Top 9 Studio Headphones in 2019 Under 200$
Do you need amplifiers for your studio monitors while producing music?
Studio monitors naturally produce top-quality sounds, and this happens without the shield of defects.
It doesn’t add any extra feel to the sounds that are in the original production or track.
They have amplifiers incorporated in their cabinet. Studio monitors are devices designed for accuracy in the studio.
Headphones also perform this function, but studio monitors do so more intensively. Studio monitors are specifically designed to inspire precision in any musical production.
There are many studio monitors that you can choose for your home studio. In the end, purchase largely depends on your taste.
Active vs. Passive Studio Monitors
There are two kinds of studio monitors, the active ones and the passive studio monitors. The active ones are further subdivided into those which the drivers possess distinct amplifiers and the ones with inbuilt amplifiers serving all the drivers through the regular passive crossover.
The passive ones need external appendages of amplifiers.
They do not have built-in amplifiers in their cabinets like the active monitors. For passive monitors, you need amplifiers.
- Behringer A500 Amplifier (Wikipedia)
In the case of active studio monitors, you do not need amplifiers as they already are present in them.
Have you been asking yourself, “do I need studio monitors for music production?”, then, the answer is, yes.
If you need help and direction about studio monitors, then feel free to check our post about Types of Studio Monitors: NearField vs. MidField vs. FarField. It will give you a further explanation and also helps you decide what type of monitors are the right choice for your home studio.
You need them as every good music production relies on them. Imagine you created a beat and probably felt the bass was too much.
It might be because the sound on your headphone was not accurate and you probably reduced the bass.
Imagine that you eventually hear the sound on another platform only to discover that the bass was lacking. Such might be the downside of not having a studio monitor.
Are Studio Amps Worth It?
- SPL Phonitor 2 ( Flickr by funkosauras )
Studio amplifiers are a great choice if you want to set up a recording studio. Whether for home or professional studios, they provide very clear sounds.
Most studio amplifiers are made compact. This convenient aid handling makes them easily movable and manageable.
The ease is usually found to be quite beneficial to the handler. Also, it’s not a mystery that studio amplifiers are not necessarily confined to the booth.
You can use them within the studio, but also for live performances. This versatility provides valuable returns to the technician.
It also helps him grow the studio arm and the live band session of the business.
When a studio amplifier is well set up with other equipment, you can attain the most precise possible audio output.
These other types of equipment require perfect studio monitors and good speakers. Setting them well provides the technicians or clients with the intended result.
Generally, due to their numerous advantages, studio amplifiers are considered to be worth it.
Advantages and disadvantages of using an amplifier in your studio
The amplifiers come in various forms. It has various advantages and disadvantages.
All these help us to answer the question, “do you need an amplifier for music production?”
The instrumentation amplifier is beneficial primarily in the testing of instruments, measurement of calibration, and output of various equipment.
It has several advantages and a few disadvantages as well.
One of the advantages of this kind of amplifier is that it does not require impedance matching. This makes it an excellent choice for the testing and measurement of equipment.
With low DC offset, high open-loop gain, and high common-mode rejection ratio, it does not produce any noticeable noise. Accuracy is constant.
The instrumentation amplifier is stable and ideal for both long term and short term use.
It works mainly with the input.
It is not primarily dependent on other factors that are influential in the value of the output in later stages.
When it’s instrumentation amplifier, you are allowed to amplify relatively tiny sound input.
The instrumentation amplifier has one major disadvantage. When there’s a transmission of noise or sound over a long-range, there is a superposition of the original wave.
That leads to a dependence on special cables which can help to cancel out the superimposition.
The Advantages of Common Emitter (CE) amplifiers
1. Possession of low input impedance
2. A high output impedance
3. A high voltage gain and a high current gain.
Disadvantages of Common Emitter (CE) Amplifiers
The disadvantages are that
1. They have high output resistance.
2. They have an inadequate response to high frequencies.
3. They have high thermal instabilities and very unstable voltage gain.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Common Base (CB) Amplifiers
For the Common Base (CB) amplifiers, they have significant advantages.
They include near equality of current into current out- in reality.
The current out is slightly less than the current in. Also, the common base amplifier acts as a sort of current buffer, taking current input at low impedance.
It also delivers it as higher impedance output at nearly the same current.
The shortcomings of this amplifier include its requirement of two DC sources, less gain than CE amplifiers. It also requires a lower amplification factor than its CE counterpart and so on.
Other types of amplifiers exist, and they all come with their fair share of advantages and disadvantages.
Amplifiers of their various kinds are generally very useful in the production of great sound output.
Although they possess their disadvantages, these shortcomings are outweighed by the many advantages they possess.
Amplifiers have a wide range of benefits within and outside the studio. It would always be a great idea to acquire one.
From the above, we hope we have answered the question “do you need an amplifier for music production?” that has been bugging you since you thought of acquiring a studio.
Credit to Feature Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/amplifier-audio-dial-knobs-139612/