Studio monitors are an essential part of every studio. They are crucial to audio recording and mixing requirements. This is the reason why people often disregard them as speakers. It is, however, a mistake, even though studio monitors are very different than commonly used Hi-fi speakers in the sense that they do not color the sound.
That doesn’t mean that studio monitors are somewhat less desirable as speakers. On the contrary, the high-quality components used in the construction of studio monitors and their focus on the accuracy of the sound makes them an excellent choice as conventional speakers as well.
Similarly, studio monitors can be used with the TV. If you are not satisfied with the sound your TV speakers produce, or you simply want to beef up the sound output, it’s usually a good idea to connect some dedicated speakers to your TV.
In home-theaters, surround sound speakers are usually connected to a TV. If you got your hands on a great pair of studio monitors, it is not that complicated to connect them to your TV. You just have to understand a few things about ports in a TV and in studio monitors.
Audio Ports in TV
There are usually four kinds of audio ports in a TV: HDMI, digital audio, coaxial digital and RCA stereo.
HDMI stands for High-Definition Media Input. It’s a single cable used for audio, video, and data (when connecting a computer).
Digital Audio is the optical port that uses a laser to transmit the audio signal. The sound quality is usually amazing through this port.
Coaxial digital is also a digital output. It is sturdier than optical cables, though not as crisp in quality.
RCA stereo is the unbalanced analog audio port. They are color-coded, red and white.
It is important to understand that most studio monitors use analog input. This means that the best options for audio ports in a TV, like HDMI and digital audio, cannot be utilized to connect the studio monitor unless you use an audio interface.
Ports in Studio Monitors
Now in studio monitors, the input is usually analog. This means if your TV has all the above options, you will most probably end up using the RCA ports.
Most common ports in studio monitors are TRS and XLR. Both analog and both balanced. Some studio monitors do take an RCA input. If the studio monitors you are trying to hook up to your TV have RCA inputs, your best bet would be to connect them using RCA to RCA.
If your studio monitor does not take RCA inputs, or your TV doesn’t have RCA output, there are other options to try before going for an audio interface unit.
Connecting Studio Monitors to TV
Setting up a connection between studio monitors and TV will depend upon the ports in both appliances.
RCA to RCA Connection
That would simply mean connecting red to red and white to white. It is different for monitors that are sold as a single unit, and those sold as a pair. In monitors sold as a single unit, both RCA ports would be on one speaker. For a pair, each monitor will have one input, either left (white RCA) or right (red RCA).
The right connection is important because otherwise you will be unable to adjust it using a remote control and it will keep blasting at full. You may have to go through the audio settings on the TV as well.
3.5mm to RCA
If your TV does not have RCA and your monitor does, there are 3.5mm (1/8 TRS) to RCA cables. Most TVs have an audio jack for headphones. The 3.5mm headphone jack can be connected to the TV output and the RCA to the monitor input. The correct option from the TV’s setting should be selected (headphone/audio output) for optimal monitor sound.
You can also use adaptors to make the connection from your TV to studio monitors. The simplest one would be to use a 3.5mm to ¼ inch adaptor. Your 3.5mm headphone jack is TRS. You can connect your studio monitor using the TRS cable, and using an adaptor, connect it to the 3.5mm headphone jack in your TV.
The same adaptor can be used in a TRS to XLR cable. XLR is one of the most common studio monitor inputs. Using the adaptor, you can convert the ¼ inch TRS cable to 3.5mm; connect that to the TV and the other end of XLR to your studio monitors.
It is important to note, however, that there is quite a lot of mismatch between a headphone out and a monitor input. The clarity that studio monitors are supposed to produce can get lost between the unwanted noises because of this mismatch.
So between the three options, RCA to RCA would be the best choice for connecting your studio monitors and your TV.
Monitor controllers are designed for making the connectivity of studio monitors easier. The original idea is to use monitor controllers when you are expanding your studio and bringing in more gear. Monitor controller will smooth the process of connecting everything to everything the right way.
A monitor controller allows multiple inputs and outputs, which means the right monitor controller will be able to take the output from your TV and convey it to the monitor input without a hitch. It will also take care of any impedance mismatch between the devices, and you will be able to hear the perfect reproduction of the sound.
Another way to connect the studio monitor to your TV would be to use a receiver. This option will probably cost you as much as a monitor controller, maybe more. But it will be a valuable purchase if you want to convert your setup to a home theatre in the future.
Like a monitor controller, a receiver has options for multiple inputs and outputs. You can even connect the digital out from your TV, like optical and HDMI into the receiver. Then you can take connect your monitor inputs to RCA, XLR or TRS in the receiver.
Studio Monitor to TV Problems
Though it is perfectly possible to connect your TV to your studio monitor, it may come with a few problems.
Connectivity, while possible, has a few issues. If your monitor and TV both have RCA input and output, you are in luck. If you have a high-tech studio monitor that accommodates a digital input, even better. But in other scenarios, you will have to invest in ensuring the perfect connectivity of your studio monitor and your TV.
This is probably the biggest problem in connecting your monitors to your TV. Most near-field monitors have a narrow sweet spot. In that particular place, you can hear the sounds with perfect crisp clarity. But outside that spot, the monitors might sound even worse than normal Hi-fi speakers.
The reason behind this is that studio monitors are specifically designed for clarity. They require placement, a bit of acoustic treatment, and adjustments to sound their best. They may even suffer from the wrong furniture and ornaments in the room.
And since our TVs are usually in our living rooms, with open spaces and no acoustic treatment, it may be hard to find a good place for your near-field studio monitors.
In these situations, mid-field and far-field studio monitors are better. They are designed for larger spaces and have a much wider sweet spot. Thanks to more variety in their input options, they might even be easier to hook up to the TV. But there would be no avoiding the price.
Studio monitors are specifically designed for mixing and recording. That is to say that they are designed for specific setups. Connecting your studio monitors to your TV might sound like a hassle, but just like a good studio setup, when done right, studio monitors can make your TV sound amazing.
But this good sound will require a bit more investing, preparation, and calculation than simply connecting a pair of speakers to your TV.