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Tough Choices

Buying studio gear can be quite a pleasurable activity. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be gained through researching what’s out there, compiling a shortlist and looking around for deals. And with things like Eurorack modules or microphones, there’s always room for one more, even in the smallest studio.

Tough Choices Leader 0921.But buying equipment can also be stressful and difficult, and never more so than in the case of loudspeakers. Our relationship with monitors isn’t a casual fling. It’s a serious, long‑term commitment. It doesn’t really make sense to own a collection of speakers, in the same way we might amass mics or synths. We don’t want lots of different pairs that we can wheel out as circumstances demand: we’re looking for ‘the ones’, enduring companions that will support us through good and bad times in the control room.

So, there’s a lot riding on our choice of speakers. But it’s a uniquely difficult choice to make. Speakers that impress in a dealer showroom or someone else’s studio might sound completely different when we get them into our own space. As no two speakers can be in the same place at the same time, it’s hard to do fair A/B or blind comparisons. And even if we can, initial impressions aren’t always the most reliable guide to the long‑term usefulness of a loudspeaker.

Our relationship with monitors isn’t a casual fling. It’s a serious, long‑term commitment.

Perhaps the hardest thing about choosing speakers, though, is simply that there is so much choice. Whatever your budget, there will be tens or possibly even hundreds of options, all tugging at your credit card in slightly different ways, all with their own distinctive selling points. Will DSP correction be an advantage for you, or should you just look for the pair with the best electro‑acoustic performance? Should you get three‑way speakers, or will the same money get you a better two‑way pair? What are the benefits and costs of alternative technologies such as dual‑concentric drivers and ribbon tweeters? Will a separate subwoofer be a help or a hindrance?

In such a competitive market, there are very few downright bad speakers out there — but there are certainly speakers that are right and wrong for particular individuals and rooms. Sound On Sound can’t choose monitors for you, but what we can do is inform your decision. Chris Korff’s cover feature this month breaks down the wall of options that can seem so intimidating. It will help you figure out what features are really important for you, and identify the models that have the potential to be good life partners for you and your studio. I hope it makes buying speakers less stressful and more pleasurable!

Sam Inglis Editor In Chief