Should Studio Monitors Be Vertical or Horizontal?

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Depending on how you place them, your studio monitors will differ in how you hear and mix tracks. To get the best out of comb filtering, accurate responses, and reduced phasing, you will want to place your speakers in a favorable position for your room and speaker.

What is the Most Favorable Position?

As a general rule of thumb, placing your studio monitor in a vertical position is the most favorable. Most people tend to place them sideways, but they bring about issues with the stereo image, comb filtering, and phasing. Initially, most manufacturers of studio monitors designed them to work well and efficiently in an upright position.

They are in such a way that the center of the speakers is on a single vertical line to allow sound from the two speakers to travel from the center and reach the listener simultaneously. So, to get the best possible results, go for the upright or vertical position.

Having your studio monitors set up correctly will have the sound reaching you simultaneously, resulting in an actual stereo image and a superb listening experience.

What Happens When You Put Your Speakers on the Sides?

Putting your speakers on the sides is not recommended because the results will not be as accurate as they are in the vertical position. It usually leads to the following:

  • Wave dispersion on the horizontal plane – Most studio monitors are built to release sound horizontally when upright and aim at minimizing vertical dispersion. The reason for this is to maximize stereo image width and prevent the mixing of equipment reflections. When you place your monitor on its side, the waves come out vertically, thus giving width to the vertical plane and minimizing stereo on the horizontal plane. The unfortunate result is the dropouts and blurred stereo image; however, placing your speakers in a vertical position improves wave dispersion horizontally. There are no inconsistencies unless you move your head up and down.
  • Woofer and tweeter are misaligned – The tweeter and woofer will be out of alignment if you place your studio monitor on the side. Doing this will create a greater distance between the tweeter and the woofer. The more significant distance will result in the sound reaching your ears at varying speeds.
  • Comb filtering – Because of sound from the two tweeters reaching the ear at different times, comb filtering happens in the cross-over areas. Cross over refers to the range of frequencies shared by two speakers in the same system. Comb filtering happens due to deconstructive interference in waveforms, thus bringing about quieter parts or nulls. When mixing, the cycles bring about a strange EQ effect that will mess with your accuracy.
  • Your woofer will be closer to your studio monitor stands or desk – In your studio monitor, the bass driver should always be pointed upwards and away from the bottom speaker. Sideways monitor orientation will result in bass frequency response issues.
  • Reduced cooling capabilities – If you are a power consumer, you might notice that the vertical fins on the heat sink are horizontal. The resulting problem is reduced cooling capabilities due to the room’s airflow along the natural temperature gradient.

Unless you have supersonic hearing, these issues won’t be significant because the delay is slight. However, it is essential to experiment with the speaker in several styles and see which position your speaker works best. Issues like skewing of frequency spectrum or phasing might be there. Some parts of the frequency spectrum might also have boosts or dips.

However, other than issues with your speaker, the room you are in can cause even more problems. Sounds in an untreated room can sound just as terrible, so ensure your room is sound treated.

Studio Computer Music Station set up

Why Do Many People Put Their Monitors in the Sideways Position?

Even though it’s not advisable, many individuals who own studio monitors tend to place them on their sides. The following are some of the reasons they do this:

  • In big studios, they do this to align the woofers at ear height.
  • To refrain from blocking the view of the control room.
  • So that the studio monitors can have more stability. Some studio monitors can be unstable in the upright position.
  • To prevent drivers from the other speakers from being blocked.

These are the main reasons why most studio monitors are on their sides. When you comb through the reasons, people do it because it’s more practical, not because it gives them good listening results. For some, however, it is the secondary monitors that are on the sides; main studio monitors are most of the time vertical or upright.

What if I Like How my Studio Monitor Sounds on the Side?

If you would be better off having your speakers on their sides, then go for it. To avoid comb filtering and phasing, we recommend moving your speakers inward to create a smaller triangle and tighten the listening space. Doing this will help you solve some problems you might encounter when the speaker is on the side. It might, however, result in you reducing your listening space. For maximum accuracy, however, keep your monitors vertical.

Can I Use my Studio Monitor on Their Side?

As said earlier, studio monitors are best in a vertical position. So especially if your dome tweeters are regular, you cannot use your monitor on their side. However, some studio monitors are usable on their side if they come with horizontal waveguides. We recommend contacting your manufacturer and inquiring about whether your monitor would be effective on their sides.

Conclusion

If you are a professional in mixing or frequently engage in attentive listening, we highly recommend having your studio monitors in a vertical position. Most of the time, horizontal orientation does not work and almost always negatively impacts sound quality. When setting up a new work set-up, it is, therefore, vital to plan and make room for having your speakers set to a vertical position to get the best possible results.

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