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For many audiophiles and gear enthusiasts, this is an important decision. Nearfield vs. midfield monitors: What’s the best choice?
Today, we’re going to explore your question. Let’s jump in!
What’s a Monitor?
A monitor is a loudspeaker that’s especially favored by music producers. This is because it’s particularly designed for professional production use.
Monitors are designed to play a flat frequency response. To put this in simpler terms, monitors produce a sound with little external influence. This flat frequency response helps you hear all the tiny little details. The source audio is left transparent and uncolored.
This is particularly helpful during music production or music mixing. You’re not consuming the music. Instead, you’re preparing for the music consumer. You want to hear the audio as it exactly sounds, no colorations added.
Otherwise, it may influence the editing. If you’re working in the studio, you’d want to catch any imperfections before you’re done. If you hear everything as it is, you won’t be adding any unnecessary frequencies.
What Are “Nearfield” and “Midfield”?
Don’t let the name confuse you. It’s quite self-explanatory. A nearfield monitor is a monitor that’s designed for restricted places. It’s basically a “close-distance” monitor. These types of monitors should be placed about one meter away from you.
Meanwhile, a midfield monitor is designed for a wider setup. It’s a “mid-distance” monitor. Such monitors should be placed two to four meters away from you.
Most nearfield monitors don’t take up a ton of space. They’re space-efficient two-way systems, which are suitable if you’re working in a bedroom studio.
With a nearfield monitor, you get a tweeter and a regularly-sized 4 – 8” second driver.
Nearfield monitors reduce any external influence from the room acoustics on the audio. With a nearfield monitor, the effect of the room on what you hear is decreased. But it can never be entirely eliminated. However, if you keep your playback level suitable, you could minimize this issue.
To get a perfect stereo image with nearfield monitors, you should set them up according to the shape of an equilateral triangle. The monitors should be equidistant from you and each other.
You should position yourself at the third corner of the triangle. When you “point” the speakers at your ears, the sound will collide in equal amounts.
- Good for limited spaces like bedroom studios
- Decreases below par room acoustics
- Delivers a realistic account of the audio
- Includes a louder playback
- Any small change in the distance could significantly impact what you hear
- Isn’t suitable to support higher volumes at wider distances
Midfield monitors are usually larger and more powerful than nearfield monitors. They have noticeably bigger woofers, which are often 8 – 10”. They also largely consist of three-way systems. In such designs, you get a tweeter and a midrange driver with the woofer.
You’ll notice that midfield monitors have larger cabinets for better bass extension. In addition to that, they have wider high-frequency dispersion and stronger power amplifiers. For this reason, they require a larger space where they’re spread far apart.
Due to their nature, midfield monitors are ideal for large studios where multiple people are listening.
- Better bass extension
- High-quality audio
- Can be placed at a wider distance
- Often amplify acoustic cancellations
Which Monitor Is Right for You?
Now you have some idea of what to expect from each of these monitors, but you’re still a little hesitant. Here are some details you should keep in mind. Let’s get technical.
When it comes to wattage, here’s what’s important. Wattage plays a detrimental factor in the dynamic range and volume. If you get more watts, you get better sound.
Nearfield monitors don’t have particularly big drivers. In fact, they’re small. This is why they don’t need a big amount of power to work.
If you’re working with a nearfield monitor, then you should expect a wattage between 15W and 100W.
You might be thinking that since midfield monitors are generally bigger, they’d need more power. Well, you’re right.
If you’re working with a midfield monitor, you should expect a wattage of 200W – 300W.
When you’re mixing, dynamic range undoubtedly comes into play. No one denies it’s an important factor. Now, you might be wondering what dynamic range exactly is.
In a frequency graph given by a monitor, you get the dynamic range. It’s the smallest point and largest point of an audio signal.
So for example, let’s say you get the sound with the smallest intensity. Let’s call it X.
Then you get the sound with the biggest intensity. Call it Y.
So X – Y = dynamic range.
Are you wondering how this factors into the picking process?
Well, a good monitor should have a good balance. The balance is achieved between low-intensity sounds and high-intensity sounds within a range that’s heard. When you do that, you get a perfect mix.
There’s a reason nearfield monitors give a good performance in smaller places. Their tweeters and drivers have a rich dynamic range.
When it comes to mixing, midfield monitors aren’t the perfect option. At best, their tweeters and drivers are just okay. But if you want clean, perfect mixing, midfield monitors aren’t what you should go for.
We all know the audible range of any able human. It’s between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. Frequency response is the array of frequencies a speaker can produce within that range.
You’ll find that as you get older, your hearing doesn’t reach 20 kHz. Frequencies less than 30 Hz are more than often felt instead of heard.
If you’re working with nearfield monitors, then you can’t hear anything below 45 dB. This is why they come in handy when you’re mixing.
With a midfield monitor, you get the same frequency range you get with a nearfield monitor. The only difference is that nearfield monitors are better at mixing.
Nearfield vs. Midfield Monitors Conclusion
Nearfield vs. midfield monitors —who wins?
Well, you know by now that it depends on various variables. It’s time for you to get up and gear up!
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