Getting the most out of your Studio Monitors and Choosing the right monitors for your space.

Genelec Big Speakers Small Room

Do you think this setup is good or bad?

There are always exceptions to the rule, but we need to first understand the rules in order to break them. So let’s have a look at these “rules” to better understand how your speakers are going to sound in your room.

Choosing an appropriate set of studio monitors is always a decision of weighing up your needs and wants, many factors come into play – space, budget, features and portability are just a few. Value will be determined by how well the speakers fulfils your needs, not simply by the cost or how many features they have. Genelec provide a lot of information about how best to exploit the performance of your monitor, these guidelines are laid out below.

The following diagrams will look at what influences your room and monitor position will have on your decision. With a bit of tweaking you should achieve the good results. Let’s look at what happens when bass hits a wall.

Bass and Walls



A free standing monitor has a flat frequency response

Genelec bass graph



Placing the monitor near walls boosts low frequencies;

one wall up to +6 dB

speaker in corner add bass
Genelec bass graph



A two-wall corner (or wall and desk) up to +12 dB

speaker in corner add bass
Genelec bass graph




A two-wall corner with floor (or desk or ceiling) boosts up to +18 dB

Speaker in the corner bass build up
Bass Graph

The Rear Wall Fallacy

It is commonly thought that the best place for your monitors is a good distance away from the wall behind them. This is not true! It’s because low frequency sound waves are omnidirectional and will radiate low frequencies spherically from the baffle of the speaker. When this sound wave hits the rear wall and bounces back towards the monitoring position it mixes with the front firing direct sound wave causing a low frequency cancellation.  As this is a cancellation it can’t be fixed with eq. This will dramatically alter how you’re hearing bass. It is better to move your monitors closer to the rear wall as this LF cancellation will be minimised or eliminated. Moving your monitors closer to the wall creates another problem, we now get a LF boost as noted above, this however is a much easier problem to correct, by either using GLM with SAM monitors or the provided dip switches on non SAM monitors.


Rear Wall Cancellation.

Place monitors less than 0.6 m from the wall behind it. This ensures that bass output level is not reduced due to comb filtering generated by back wall cancellations

Audio Wave Cancellation

Monitor Height

A monitor should be placed at the listener’s ear height or higher, typically ≥1.2 m from the floor. Floor reflection significantly colours sound. Large monitor systems are typically mounted above the listener’s ear height. Avoid having your monitors sitting directly on your desk tilted up. Instead look at getting some desktop speaker stands. Genelec offer some great solutions – CLICK HERE

Genelec speaker height


Monitor Angle

1.4 m is the average height between sitting and standing positions. Aim to mount your monitors less than 15 degrees above the listening height and never below that height.

Genelec Speaker position


Monitor Placement For Stereo

Use the room orientation that offers the best left/right symmetry – typically this is facing your monitors outwards from the smaller end of a rectangle. Place the monitors symmetrically in a 60 degree angle. Point them horizontally and vertically towards the listening position. Make sure the distance to both monitors is the same

Genelec Speaker stereo Placement


In Speaker Acoustic Adjustment

No Room is ideal and therefore most Studio Monitors use EQ adjustments to counteract adverse frequencies of your room. These can be found on the rear panel of the entire Genelec range.

Genelec speaker calibration eq


Reflective Surfaces

Aim to keep reflections to a minimum.

Hard surfaces such as glass, concrete, dry wall or MDF reflect sound. Soft materials such as rock/mineral wool, sofas, heavy curtains or thick carpets absorb sound energy. Thick layer of porous materials are needed to absorb lower frequencies.

Recording Studio room acoustic reflection

Dispersion/Treating Higher Frequencies

Irregular surfaces will scatter the incident sound wave – this is good and will help higher frequency dispersion. A combination of diffusive and absorptive surfaces can be very effective in reducing the audibility of reflections. Keep in mind diffusers are not really effective at treating low frequencies.

Recording Studio room acoustic dispersion


Optimised Room Geometry

Your room shape can help eliminate unwanted reflections. Optimal situation is when you hear more direct sound from the monitors than reflected sound at the listening position. Preventing room reflections from reaching the listening area reduces sound colouration and improves imaging

Recording Studio room acoustic dispersion

Acoustic Improvements

Front wall: Cut the room front corners at 30 degrees using high-mass materials (concrete, bricks, multi layered gypsum board, etc) In case building materials have medium mass, make sure to fill the empty space behind these walls with mineral wool.

Side walls: Use a combination of absorption and diffusion on the side wall surfaces. Note that thin layers of porous absorbers only reduce HF reflections

Rear: If the room is large enough, use diffusive element(s) on the back wall

Recording Studio acoustic solutions

All rooms will throw up some acoustic problems, however if you follow the suggestions above you will go a long way in reducing some of these issues. As I mentioned earlier though, there are always exceptions to the rules. I have seen and heard massive monitor systems work in a small room – this was more due to Genelecs SAM calibration and treatment. If you are not using SAM equiped speakers I would try to stick to the rules as best you can. Happy monitoring.

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