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There is an endless list of equipment and accessories for your home studio. However, one item you may hold off on buying is a set of studio monitor stands.
Audio monitor stands may seem to be an unnecessary purchase when you are strapped for cash. Or you might think they’re only for music production. But let me tell you: they’re not!
Now, you might say I’m biased since I come from a music production background, but you need your studio monitors (a.k.a., your speakers) to perform their best. How else will you know if the audio in your final video sounds good?
In any scenario, where you’re delivering a product that includes audio to a client or sharing it online on social media or YouTube, you’ll want to make sure that the audio sounds good!
In either case, your audio needs to sound good for the whole production to be professional. In fact, one of the most common reasons short films aren’t selected for film festivals is that the audio isn’t up to par!
The only tools you have at your disposal for telling whether something sounds good and will translate well to other speakers are your monitors and your ears.
And to get your monitors to perform their best, you’ll need two things: studio monitor stands and a well-treated acoustically regulated room.
Here is a closer look at why you need studio monitor stands:
What Is a Studio Monitor Stand?
Studio monitor stands (a.k.a. audio monitor stands or speaker stands) are stands that are designed specifically to support studio monitors. The design typically includes a base platform, a central column, and an upper plate.
The column may be height-adjustable and include hollow channels for running cable. The upper plate is also sometimes adjustable to accommodate different sizes of speakers.
Some of the more expensive options are tiltable, allowing you to adjust the angle of the studio monitors. They might also include a core, which you can fill with dried sand to reduce vibrations further.
Advantages of Using Audio Monitor Stands
A studio monitor stand is useful when you need to improve the acoustics in your home studio. The stand makes it easier to position the monitors at a specific height or angle.
Here is a closer look at why monitor stands are essential:
- Reduce sound interference
- Limit vibrations
- Manage your cables
- Save floor space or desk space
The main advantage of a studio monitor stand is the reduction of sound interference. When you place a studio monitor on a desk or floor, some of the sound energy from the speakers are absorbed by the desk or floor while the remaining sound energy is reflected.
The sound reflections can carry around the room, creating a less-than-ideal listening environment. You may notice a lack of clarity, especially when listening to high sound pressure levels. Vibrations from the speaker can also rumble the surface that it rests on. During a bass-heavy track or an ominous drone, the desk or floor may start to vibrate.
Placing the studio monitor on a rubber mat may eliminate some of the vibrations and sound reflections. However, a monitor stand provides a more effective solution, as it provides a dedicated platform for the monitor.
Studio monitor stands also allow you to set the monitors at the perfect height and angle. The monitors should be directed toward your ears (with the tweeter at ear-level), which typically requires them to be several feet off the ground.
Cable management is another advantage of using studio monitor stands. The center column often has one or more channels for running cable. Instead of hanging off the back of the stand, the cables are hidden inside the stand.
Along with helping to maintain a cleaner studio, the cable channels isolate the cables from other equipment that may cause electrical interference.
Another reason to use a monitor stand is to save floor space or desk space. Depending on the size of your studio, desk, and gear, you may not have space on the desk for studio monitors. Monitor stands free up space, as only the base sits on the floor or desk.
How to Choose the Right Studio Monitor Stand
Most studio monitor stands have comparable designs. However, there are a few different types to choose from. The most affordable stands often include tripod bases and thin, adjustable poles with no hollow channels. The most expensive options have wide bases, thick central columns, and stylish designs.
When comparing options, look at the following features:
- Size and height
- Design of the base
- Rubber padding
- Cable channels
- Heavy core
- Floor stands vs. desktop stands
The overall appearance may also influence your buying decision. Monitor stands come in a variety of styles, including wood podium-style stands.
Size and Height
The first consideration is the size of the upper plate. The studio monitor sits on the upper plate. If the plate is too narrow, the speaker may not securely rest on the stand.
If you anticipate upgrading your studio monitors, you may also want to find a stand with an adjustable upper plate. Some upper plates can extend to accommodate wider speakers, allowing you to continue using the same stand.
Along with the size of the upper plate, you should check the height of the stand. In professional studios, the studio monitors are often positioned at least 46 inches off the ground. The height is often adjustable, but some cheaper options may only reach up to 36 inches.
The weight capacity is less of a concern and not always included in the product description as it typically surpasses the weight of the heaviest studio monitors. If the monitor can fit on the upper plate, it is unlikely to exceed the weight capacity. But make sure to check it anyway – if available!
Design of the Base
The base of the stand is one of the features that varies the most between different models. Some stands have tripod-style bases, rectangular bases with feet, or a set of legs. All types of bases are stable enough to support a studio monitor, but some designs help minimize vibrations.
The flat rectangular or triangular bases with feet tend to provide the most stability. They are also easier to move across the floor than tripod bases, as the tripod legs tend to fold as you move the stand.
The flat bases also typically have rubber feet. The rubber feet help isolate the stand from the floor, further reducing the transmission of vibrations. Along with rubber feet, some stands have spiked feet. The spikes act as decouplers by limiting contact with the floor.
Spiked feet and rubber feet are both suitable options for use on carpeting. Tripods are less likely to maintain balance when placed on a carpet, especially if the carpet has a deep pile.
Some stands include rubber padding or an upper plate with a lip around the edges to keep the studio monitor from falling over. As with rubber feet, rubber padding provides that added benefit of absorbing vibrations.
The column that supports the upper plate sometimes has hollow channels to run the cables from the studio monitors. Hiding the cables creates a tidier appearance and reduces the risk of electrical interference.
To minimize the bass sound waves traveling into the floor and for extra stability, good studio monitor stands have a heavy core.
To minimize the cost of transport, the stands might come with a hollow core, that you need to fill up with dried sand. This is an easy and inexpensive solution, but the benefits are great.
Floor Stands vs. Desktop Stands
The main difference between desktop and floor stands is the height. Floor stands are intended for placement on the floor, while desktop stands sit on desks.
As desktop stands are shorter, it is easier for sound energy from the studio monitors to reach the desk. The best desktop stands have flexible supports that act as shock absorbers to minimize vibrations.
Floor stands do not require the same level of shock absorption, as the floor can absorb more sound energy compared to a desk.
Stabilizers can be used as an alternative or addition to studio monitor stands. Most stabilizers are rectangular pieces of sound-absorbing foam.
The foam absorbs sound energy, keeping it from passing to the floor or desk. Just using foam stabilizers is not enough if you want your speakers to perform the best.
Studio monitor stands improve sound clarity and isolation. The stand separates the studio monitors from the floor or desk, preventing sound vibrations from carrying through to other surfaces. If you want to improve the acoustics in your home studio, monitor stands are essential items.
To choose the right stands, remember to check the size of the upper plate and the height of the stand. It should fit both your studio monitor and provide enough height for optimal monitoring.
About the author:
Jan Sørup is a videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.