Recording and mixing music requires specialized equipment. Depending upon the size of your studio and what kind of music you are making, the equipment can be small and cost-friendly, or huge and expensive. Like other equipment, studio monitors can range all the way from small 3-inch monitors to huge 18-inch ones.
Before looking for the biggest studio monitor, you should understand the different types of monitors. These types include near-field, mid-field, and far-field monitors. This classification is based on the type of studio you have for recording, the type of sweet spot a studio monitor creates and the quality of sound.
Near-field monitors are designed for small/home studios. They are supposed to be placed near enough to the listeners that they can hear the sound coming out of the monitors directly. You should place your near-field monitor within three to five feet from the listeners.
This way, the listener gets to hear the sound without it bouncing off the walls or any other surface. Near field monitors are considered the best for music mixing. That’s why many professional studios have near field monitors as well as mid-field or far-field monitors. They don’t require much acoustic treatment of the studio.
Mid-Field monitors are larger, with a woofer driver size typically between 8-inches to 10-inches. They employ a three-way configuration: Woofer, tweeter, and subwoofer. Unlike near-field monitors that typically have a two-way configuration without the sub-woofer. They are great for small-sized professional studios, or large home studios.
Far field monitors are the biggest studio monitors available. They are usually mounted at a distance from the listeners, and are ideally designed for acoustically treated professional studios. FFM are also better suited to add sound effects to movies.
Far-Field monitors are able to deal with frequencies much lower than either mid-field or near-field monitors. They have a much better bass handling.
The largest and biggest studio monitors in use are by default far-field or in some cases mid-field. They are also called “main monitors”. Most near-field monitors have one high-frequency driver (Tweeter) coupled with a low-frequency driver (Woofer). Far-field monitors employ different design techniques.
Biggest Studio Monitors
Many classic studio configurations, usually designed for huge studios, are based on many studio units packaged as one. An example can be Adam Audio’s configuration dubbed “The Brooklyn.” It has four 12-inch monitors, two 21-inch subwoofers, an S-RT tweeter and a mid-range monitor with 10-inch drivers.
This is a classic example of a huge monitor setup, capable of handling amazing bass and very low frequencies. But in our picks for the three biggest studio monitors, we have chosen the biggest single unit monitors. Note that all of these are active monitors.
1. Genelec 1236A SAM Studio Monitor
The first one we have chosen is from the prestigious recording gear makers, Genelec. Their master studio monitor series is one of the best in far-field and mid-field studio monitors. The Genelec 1236A SAM lives up to the expectations.
It is considered the flagship unit of the whole range of Genelec Studio monitors. A marvel of acoustic engineering, it is equipped with Genelec’s Smart Active Monitoring. This makes it a powerful combination of classic great-sounding construction and high-tech tweaking and monitoring.
It houses two huge woofer drivers, 18-inch each, along with two 5-inch sub-woofers and a 1-inch tweeter compression. The powerful woofers are 1000W each.
1. Frequency range: 17 Hz to 27 kHz
2. An error range of mere ± 2 dB for a frequency range of 21 Hz – 20 kHz.
3. Intelligent signal sensing technology. Whenever the monitor is idle for a set time limit, it minimizes the power consumption to as low as 0.5 W.
4. Uses Directivity control waveguide, a patented Genelec technology that allows for a smooth frequency response across all frequencies.
5. It has 1 XLR analog input, 1 XLR (AES) Digital input/output and 2 RJ45 network ports.
2. Adam Audio S7A MK2 Main Monitor
The second biggest monitor on our list is from Adam Audio. The preferred choice of many industry giants, Adam S7A MK2 can be seen in some of the most prestigious professional studios. Its crown jewel is the handmade tweeters from Berlin, the X-ART tweeters. These especially designed tweeters have a larger effective diaphragm surface. About 2.5 times larger than other same-size tweeters.
The monitor employs two 15-inch woofers and two 9-inch subwoofers for midranges. And the X-ART tweeter has an equivalent diaphragm diameter of 2 inches.
1. Frequency range: 20 Hz to 50 kHz
2. Analog XLR input connectors
3. A total harmonic dispersion of less than 0.5%.
4. Thanks to the large woofers and good mid-range units, the stereo image resolution is very high.
3. ATC SCM300ASL Pro
Closing the big list is ATC’s main monitor, SCM300ASL Pro. With its 850W power amps and a super dome mid driver, it perfectly covers all of its frequency range. As other main monitors, it is especially effective in producing great bass.
This unit houses two 15-inch woofers, one mid-range subwoofer (3-inches) and a 1.25-inch tweeter.
1. Frequency Range: 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
2. Amplitude linearity (with error ±2dB) in the frequency range of 50 Hz to 12 kHz.
3. Input: Analog XLR
4. It comes with a long warranty of 6 years.
Big Near-Field Monitors
Now that we have seen three of the biggest far-field monitors, let’s take a look at three of the biggest near-field studio monitors. Near-field monitors have the dual potential of being used in home studios as well as large studios.
1. Neumann KH 310
Boasting a woofer of eight and a quarter inches, that could have easily placed it in the mid-field range. Neumann KH 310 is one of the biggest near-field studio monitors out there. Along with being one of the biggest, it is also one of the best near-field monitors.
It’s a 3-way monitor, having a subwoofer for extended mid-range control. The mid-range dome is specifically designed from an ultra lightweight fabric. That allows the perfectly flat replication of notes along with the mid-range.
The unit is also magnetically shielded. This allows the monitor to provide great reproduction of sound without even the barest hints of noise.
1. Frequency range: 30 Hz to 22 kHz
2. Input: XLR balanced
3. Amp Power (Woofers): 210 W
4. 1-inch tweeter and a 3-inch mid-range driver
2. Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor
The Yamaha HS series has always been a prestigious line of near-field monitors. The HS8, with its 8-inch woofer driver, is no exception. It carved out a big piece of the audiophile market for itself. The HS8 uses a 2-way configuration, through a woofer and a tweeter. It covers the whole range of frequencies exceptionally.
The specifically designed enclosure is effective against noise filtration. HS8 has an advanced room control feature that allows the monitor to be adjusted to virtually any kind of room arrangement and dimensions.
1. Frequency Range: 38 Hz to 30 kHz
2. 75 watts power output for woofer amplifier
3. Input: One XLR and TRS (both balanced)
4. Special tweeter and mounting design to produce perfectly smooth output on higher basses
3. Adam Audio A7X Powered Studio Monitor
Closing the list is Adam’s A7X, An extensively used near-field monitor. Along with a 7-inch woofer driver, it uses Adam’s characteristic X-ART technology for its tweeter. X-ART being eXtender- Accelerating Ribbon Technology, which gives the A7X an exceptional frequency response.
1. Frequency response: 42 Hz to 50 kHz
2. Input: XLR Balanced, RCA
3. Total Harmonic Dispersion is less the 0.5%
4. Especially chosen woofer materials: Carbon, Rohacell and Glass fiber for great dimensional stability.
Studio monitors come in all shapes and sizes. Size is one of the many factors you will have to consider once you choose a studio monitor that is right for you, and it is a very significant factor. The right sized monitor will not just be a great choice for your music, but also greatly affect your budget.
The biggest monitors often require costly designs and acoustic treatments of the studio. But they produce unmatched results especially insofar as sound effects and low frequencies are concerned.