Key Tips To Find The Perfect Playback Speaker Set

A clean electric guitar’s sound covers a frequency range of 80 Hz to 1,200 Hz, though some distortion settings can expand the sound wave to pass 6,000 Hz. However, not all home speaker systems will cover that entire range, so when you play back your music you could be missing some important notes and harmonics. Your standard passive amp speaker will be great for playing during rehearsals, but when it comes to listening to your recordings you will need high quality monitor speakers. Only these will let you hear the details and variations in the sound that will make a difference in the master tape. Now, how do you figure out which are the best speakers for this purpose? Here are some tips on choosing your best playback equipment.

Active speakers: how to identify them and why they’re the best

Most home speakers are hi-fi models with one audio input line. This equipment is passive, which means that it has only one power amplifier which takes electricity directly from another piece of equipment, like a computer or a stereo system. Instead, you will want active, or powered, speakers for playing your guitar recordings. It is easy to differentiate the two: active speakers will have their own mains inlet that you can see from the outside. These systems have many power amps built directly into the cabinet, so each individual speaker is powered independently. Not only will this system help boost the lower frequencies and improve the general sound fidelity, reproducing the sound of each string and its harmonics, but also, it will make it much easier to build in crossovers. Speaking of which…

Built-in crossovers and sound equalization

When you record your guitar, you want to be aware of all the variation in frequencies – the low tones, the mid-tones and the high tones. Most home speakers automatically equalize the output, which means that they boost certain frequencies, namely the lowest and highest, to create a nicer sound. Remember that the range of the speaker might not be the same as your guitar, so the speaker’s “highs” and “lows” might not be adequate for your instrument. As an artist, you want the complete opposite of automated equalization. You need speakers that reproduce all frequency ranges exactly as you recorded them, so you can later apply proper filtering and correct your mistakes. This fidelity is achieved through professional, active speakers with proper built-in crossovers. These devices will cancel overlapping frequencies from different speakers, which could distort the output. When you record your clean or distorted guitar with no filter, you need to value fidelity over enhancement. You need to be able to hear all mistakes and flaws on your tracks so you can correct them from the master’s table.

With the right monitor speakers, you will know exactly what you sound like

Audio fidelity should be your number one priority for your playback speaker set. You don’t need to empty your bank account to get a good quality sound system, a complete set of perfectly functional monitor speakers can be acquired for under $2,000. Remember that only a guitar track that plays well on an active speaker set will pass the test on any home device.

(Guest post from ShareMyGuitar blog contributor Jess Walters)

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