How to Lay Out Studio for Best Monitoring & Mixing – 4 Things To Avoid


If you have a bit of talent and enough time, your chances of being successful are quite high. Still, one of the things that you need to invest in is a professional recording studio.

You don’t need to own the space – renting is a good idea, as long as you are allowed to add soundproofing and adequate equipment. But what good is all this if you mess it up with wrong positioning?

Believe it or not, where and how you put your monitors plays a critical role in achieving a rich and powerful sound. We have prepared a few tips on how to layout the studio for best monitoring and mixing, including an insight into the things that you should avoid. So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive straight in!

Why Is Studio Layout Important For Monitoring And Mixing

As we have mentioned above, there is no need to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on studio equipment, if you don’t know how to position them. But why is it so important? Because of the sound quality that you will be getting. Average studio equipment features a few speakers, audio interface, mics, and a computer that you will use for monitoring the recording process.

Believe it or not, if you mess up the positioning of speakers and mixing/monitoring audio interface, you are risking to mess up frequency response and background noise isolation. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to adjust monitors to the right height and tilt, as well as to find your listening position and arrange the whole working station.

How To Layout Studio For Best Monitoring And Mixing

Laying out the studio for best monitoring and mixing doesn’t require much effort. In this section, we will cover and inform you of the main aspects of proper positioning.

Find your listening position (38% rule)

Photo from attackmagazine.com

If you would ask anyone experienced with how to layout a studio, they would probably mention the 38% rule. But what is it and should you consider it mandatory? Well, you should take it more as a principle that you can adjust according to the size and shape of your room. It was found by Wes Lachot and is thought to be the optimum position for listening if you are in a rectangular studio.

By calculating the 38% length of your room and putting that mark in the direction facing back off the front wall (in the middle of the left and right sidewalls), you will get the first 38% rule listening position. If you are not satisfied with acoustics, and you don’t think that the frequency response is at it’s optimum, try doing the same, only putting the 38% mark back from the rear wall.

Remember, never sit at the back wall, especially if you care about filtering background noise. Now it is not uncommon that people can’t place the 38% mark. If this is the case, you can experiment with any range from 33 to 40%, and try to find the best position. Remember, while this rule may solve the positioning issues, you should still be open for compromise and further adjustments.

Studio Monitor Placement (equilateral triangle)

If you want to get optimum positioning for monitoring and mixing, you may want to consider forming an equilateral triangle with your equipment. Whether it is monitors or speakers, the idea is that two of these will act as the base of the triangle, while the position that you are sitting at, is the top of it.

You should also try to set monitors about 3 feet apart from each other, and your working position, to achieve the best compression effect. Last but not least, try to avoid placing monitors and speakers directly at the back and rear walls, unless you want these messing up with the sound of noise isolation and frequency response!

Height and Tilt of Studio Monitors

As you can imagine, height and tilt are equally, if not more important, than the equilateral triangle principle. Besides, putting your monitors and speakers anywhere from 47 to 56 inches from the floor seems like a great idea. For the tilt, it all depends if you want that surround effect or not.

You want it to tilt to 15 degrees at most, as anything else increases the chance of messing up frequency response. Additionally, mounted speakers at 2 feet from the ground will allow the best results when it comes to the surrounding vibe.

Photo from theguitarjunky.com

4 Things To Avoid When Laying Out Your Studio

There are specific positioning tips to avoid to achieve the best results. These are mostly related to the design and size of your studio:

Small spaces

Believe it or not, the size of your recording apartment has a significant impact on the quality of sound you will get. Yes, renting a smaller room might be a budget-friendly option, especially if you are starting. On the other hand, we can assure you that by spending a bit more money and skimping on unnecessary equipment, you will be closer to the best results.

Noise

There are two ways that noise is related to your recording studio. First, it’s because you will be the source of the noise while you are creating your tracks, so you may want to find a room that will not affect the neighbors. External effects, including cars, weather conditions, and neighbors, may have an impact on the quality of your recording. Therefore, soundproofing is an ideal solution.

Bad Flooring

While most studios feature a carpet as the primary solution for flooring, there is one problem with that: it will absorb high frequencies and hinder your acoustics. That’s why you may want to think about investing in hardwood or concrete flooring, which may make more foot noise, but it is going to be better for your recording (choose a downstairs room).

Bad Acoustics

The acoustics are probably the most important when it comes to the design of your studio. Yes, we know that as a beginner you may not be able to affect these much, especially if you are on a tight budget. However, investing in a room with higher ceilings and asymmetrical walls will do wonders. Also, much like we have mentioned above, the bigger the room, the better the acoustics will be!

Photo from iconcollective.com

Add Acoustic Treatment

If you are working with a clear studio room, adding an acoustic treatment is an affordable way to improve the sound quality. Why? Control sound reflections. Still, you should be aware that this doesn’t mean you don’t need soundproofing, especially if your studio is in an area with a lot of noise. The three main things you want to invest in would be bass traps, acoustic panels, and diffusers.

Photo from auralex.com

Position And Arrange Your Workstation

Apart from the recording gear that includes monitors and speakers, you will need to position and arrange your workstation starting from the desk and chair. Yes, you can bring in the same chair that you use for working on your computer, but we recommend checking out some of the affordable online market offers and finding the best desk and chair offer for home recording.

Photo from audiomentor.com

Conclusion And Final Thoughts

With proper research and time, investing in laying out the studio for best monitoring and mixing is not that hard. The principles mentioned above stand as guidelines that you can follow to achieve optimum results. Always remember that every studio unique, meaning that you should compromise and adjust according to your potential!

Featured Image Source: Flickr, Author: Miguel Mendez

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MusicGearo

MusicGearo is a blog site created by passionate music producers for the music lover who wants to build a home studio or purchase various music performance or production gear.It also addresses those who already own home studios but need to learn how to get the most out of the gear they already own.

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