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What Are Reference Monitor Speakers?

Choosing the Best Reference Monitor Speaker for Beats,

My Current Set Up as of August 1, 2013
My Current Set Up as of August 1, 2013

When choosing your first pair of reference monitor speakers for your home studio, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get, cause you’re new!

Really though, to start up, I’m sure you’re excited to get anything just to get going! However, there are a few things to keep in mind, and be aware of, with reference monitor speakers.

For speakers, I recommend the Yahama HS8 Reference Monitor Speakers:

What is the Purpose of a Reference Monitor Speaker?

If you’re brand new to audio production, I’m sure you’re not up to date with terminology such as flat response, frequency response, active monitors, XLR, TRS, or even what to expect out of a reference monitor speaker.

What are Reference Monitor Speakers

The purpose of reference monitor speakers is to give you a true representation of what is going on within your song while mixing. This is known as flat response.

So what’s the difference between regular Logitech computer speakers, compared to reference monitor speakers?

Sometimes consumer speakers (speakers you will buy at electronic shops) enhance certain parts of music to make it sound better for the listener. But you don’t want this. You want to hear the music as it is, so you can make accurate adjustments while mixing.

Or, a smaller speaker that is popular is the KRK Rokit 5‘s (Currently a best seller on Amazon!):

Flat Response in Reference Monitor Speakers,

With audio production, your speakers are important. You want them to be as accurate as possible so when you go to make your song, mix it, and master it, that your song translates very well across other speakers.

If the song you are mixing sounds good on your reference monitor speakers, but when you listen on other speakers, such as your vehicle speakers, or iPod earbuds, and it sounds like a different mix, or the bass is way too loud, this is what I mean by translate. This is why it’s important to have speakers that give you an accurate representation of what is actually going on inside the song, so you can make accurate adjustments to have your song translate across all platforms fairly consistently.

Your speakers, and understanding how your speakers sound within your room, is a huge part of learning how to mix.

5″ Woofer, or 8″ Woofer

Bx5a Deluxe Front

Now, when I first started, I purchased the M-Audio Bx5a Deluxe’s. These were great while starting up, however, when first plugging them in I was not impressed with the bass because of the 5″ speaker. Also, your room has a part to play in this, but that’s a whole different topic on acoustics and acoustic treatment.

If you are working with heavy bass music, such as rap, dance, EDM, or dubstep, I would recommend an 8″ speaker. In my experience, the 5″ speaker just wasn’t hitting low enough for my liking. When having my 5″ Bx5a’s, I ended up purchasing a subwoofer with them to help with the lows.

When I moved on to the Yamaha HS80m’s, I brought my sub with me, which I still feel completes even the 8’s with hearing an accurate low-end of the track.

Also just for an idea, the 5″ Bx5a Deluxe speaker only hits 56Hz, whereas the Yamaha HS80m’s 8″ woofer hits at 42Hz. If you’re working with 808’s, or deep basslines, these can hit around 40-60Hz. So as you can see, those 5″ speakers won’t, or just barely, be hitting the frequencies you’re wanting to hear for accurate mixing!

Active Vs. Passive Reference Monitor Speakers,

Yamaha HS80m Speakers

Personally, I prefer active reference monitor speakers over passive.

Active means that the speaker itself has an amplifier in it, therefore you just need a power cable which comes with the speaker (plug in your speaker cable as well, which usually does not come with reference monitor speakers), turn it on, turn up the volume on your audio interface, and you are good to go. It really is that easy, and active speakers help tremendously in this process.

Passive speakers are speakers that need an amplifier. So this means you have to buy your speakers, then purchase a separate amplifier. This means more gear, and more space.

An active reference monitor speaker will make things a lot easier for you. It’s pretty much just plug in play if you have speaker cables, and an audio interface.

What is Bi-Amplified?

On these reference monitor speakers you usually have two speakers, the tweeter (highs) and woofer (mids and lows).

Bi-amplified simply means that it has two amplifiers so that each speaker gets its own amp!

What About Magnetically Shielded Reference Monitor Speakers?

What are Reference Monitor Speakers Panoramic

If you’ve ever taken a magnet to a LCD computer screen, or a hard drive, then you know the effects, and damages, a magnet can do!

Most reference monitor speakers nowadays are magnetically shielded. These will prevent issues to other hardware devices, and still allow your speakers to be close to your set up!

What happens is your computer monitor screen can start to stretch to one side, and it can evenutally make your hard drive stop working!

Getting The Best Reference Monitor,

As you can see, there’s a lot of knowledge to know about reference monitor speakers before purchasing a pair. Now to get the perfect pair of speakers for your set up takes even more knowledge ;).

This requires understanding your room, understanding how well you know mixing, and your price range you can afford!

When starting up, even getting a low-end pair of reference monitors, such as the Bx5a deluxes, will put a smile on your face. Once you grow in experience, you can upgrade as necessary when you start to understand more about audio, and your production skills start to increase.

Keep in mind, this is a very basic understanding of reference monitor speakers to give you an understanding of what they are, and how to get started up quickly. As most things in life, things can get real technical!

Hooking Up my Reference Monitors Speakers!?

If you’re not quite sure how you set up reference monitor speakers, the best route to take is with an audio interface, and TRS 1/4″ cables.

Here is a tutorial on setting up reference monitor speakers with an audio interface!

Hope this has helped! 😉



GratuiTous runs a FL Studio training platform, and has taught beatmaking with FL Studio since 2011! He was an electrician for 10 years in Canada, and loves learning best practices of beatmaking! Learn about GratuiTous. 👉
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