Buying a studio monitor can sometimes become a tough decision as they are usually very expensive, especially for a small-time music producer or those trying to build a home studio.
We have seen many times that studio monitors are sold individually, leading us to think that one studio monitor is enough for producing music. But how many studio monitors do we really need? Maybe I can mix well using one studio monitor? Will I be able to produce good music using one monitor?
The hard truth is one studio monitor is not enough to produce good music. It can work if you’re using it only for djing or for listening purposes. But for producing good music you need at least two studio monitors as the stereo surround is very important for mixing.
With only one monitor, there can only be a mono sound which will greatly hamper your music production and your mixing will not be as good compared to stereo mixing.
Can You Mix with Only One Studio Monitor?
It is possible to mix music with only one studio monitor. There will be an option in your DAW (Digital Work Station) where you can switch the audio to mono.
In the mono option, all the music mix will be on the same channel, meaning you can hear everything clearly only on one monitor.
In mono audio, when you use your earphone or your headphones, there will be no difference in the left or right ear, as both will be the same as everything is mix using the same channel.
The sound will be very upfront and clear to you. So mixing will be much easier.
If you only want to mix vocals, for example, one monitor might suffice as solo the vocal is usually mixed with a mono option but for full music production, you will eventually need a stereo mixing.
One Vs Two Studio Monitor Comparison
First of all, to give you an idea of what the differences are. When You play music from your favorite apps, you might notice that you hear some guitar tones more on the left side and piano on the right side. That is what we called stereo-mixed audio.
Stereo mixing is by far the most popular music production of all year round. You might stumble upon some mono sound once in a while, but in terms of good music sound, it will always be in a stereo mode.
This stereo sound is only possible by using two studio monitors. You will notice that in every reputable studio there will be at least two monitors which means they always mix with stereo sound.
So if you are serious about producing music, you need two studio monitors. One studio monitor can produce good results but not adequate enough compared to the two studio monitors because this tends to make it sound like you are listening with one ear instead of two ears.
Do You Really Need a Studio Monitor?
Studio monitors are very essential in producing good music. Most of the commercial speakers and headphones which are available on the market have been built to make them sound more crispy and nice. So you can’t hear the exact audio or raw music recorded in our DAW.
Studio monitors are built so you can hear the raw music you produced and mixed in any way you desire. If you cannot hear the exact raw audio in which case is true on commercial speakers, then mixing can be a real nightmare.
So always go with a studio monitor for music, as your reputation will dwindle down very fast if you go on using some commercial speakers or headphones.
You might also want to consider having a studio headphones, which will greatly improve your mixing capability.
Is One Studio Monitor Good Enough If You Are on a Budget?
If you are on a budget but you still want to produce good music, then one studio monitor can still work with you.
There are some people who work and still mix with mono, but as mentioned earlier in the article, without a stereo sound, the music will not be on par with other’s music production.
If you can’t afford two studio monitors, try to buy at least studio headphones and mix your music production by using that. These are some of the cheaper but good headphones out in the market today.
Many people prefer to work with a headphone instead of a Studio monitor so you can save money and also produce very good music with it.
Why Are Studio Monitors Sold Individually?
The main reason why studio monitors are sold individually is due to the fact that most music producers want to listen to their mix in mono sound.
For producing good mixing, music producers tend to listen in both stereo and mono and would set up another monitor at the center.
Also, two studio monitors are not enough for many producers who produce music for games or movies. They want a good surround sound that might use 5 or even 7 studio monitors.
There are usually two types of surround sound: 5.1 and 7.1. In a 5.1 surround sound, you will need 5 studio monitors and a woofer. 5.1 surround sound is set up like this: Two monitors placed left and right in front and two others placings left and right behind you and one monitor aligned center and placed right in front of you. There will also be a subwoofer on the floor in front.
In a 7.1 surround sound, the setup is almost like 5.1 setups but there will be 2 additional studio monitors placed left and right directly behind you.
Moreover, there is also a replacement option for this. If studio monitors are always sold in pairs it will be very difficult to buy only one monitor when one of the monitors broke and you only need one to replace.
Can I Still Work on One Studio Monitor If the Other One Breaks?
You can definitely work on one studio monitor if for some reason the other one broke. You just need to work with a mono sound.
But as I have said earlier in this article, you really need stereo mixing if you are serious enough on producing good music.
So, I would highly encourage you to get the other one repair or a new replacement so that you may have a better production.
Stereo music has always played a crucial part in the music business. The right amount of left and right panning is what makes a piece of music good or bad.
If you mix with just the right amount of panning (left and right control), your music will be at a different level than most beginners mixing. This is what we called the art of mixing. This is one of the criteria that differentiate between a pro and a newbie music producer.
You will never achieve that with just one studio monitor as there cannot be a stereo sound. All you will get is a mono. Even if you are the king of mixing. It is just not enough without some left and right mixing.
Some people might prefer to listen to mono, but most people will always prefer the good old stereo effect in music. So, one studio monitor is mostly not enough for a serious music producer in today’s world.