Can You Use Studio Monitors as Computer Speakers?



You’re at the store looking for new computer speakers and find yourself stopping to look at the studio monitors section. If they’re good enough to use in a professional studio, it makes sense they would be enjoyable to casually listen to every day at home. While this theory is valid, it isn’t as simple as you’d expect.

Can you use studio monitors as computer speakers? Yes, you can listen to music on your studio monitor, but you’ll hear a different sound. Studio monitors were made to produce a sound that is flat and doesn’t have any uniqueness or color behind it. Computer speakers were built to play your music in a pleasing and enjoyable way.

With studio monitors and computer stereos, it’s all about what you’re intending to hear. If you want music that is unfiltered, studio monitors may be for you. I’ve decided to dig a little deeper to explain more about all the factors to consider when choosing studio monitors. This way, you’ll know for a fact if studio monitors are something you’d enjoy as much as computer speakers.


Why Are Studio Monitors and Computer Speakers Made?


Studio monitors were made with professional sound engineers in mind. They were created to sound raw and showcase any imperfections in a song so that these can be tweaked in the studio during recording and mixing. More critical listeners enjoy studio monitors more as they can pick up any type of inconsistencies or frequency pattern issues within each song.

Computer speakers are built to make all tracks sound as good as possible, this means they often enhance the bass tones giving songs a punchier and fuller sound.


Why You May Not Like the Sound From Studio Monitors


If you are a casual listener who enjoys the overall quality of a song, you may not enjoy a studio monitor in place of a computer speaker. They are made more with a music producer in mind, rather than the average consumer. Listening to a studio monitor will cause you to hear mixes in the song that are more imbalanced and not as enjoyable as your other music.

You’ll hear more recording flaws in the overall sound of your music. This could be something that turns you off to the overall listening experience. If this is something that may concern you, refrain from purchasing a studio monitor and check out the computer speakers instead.


What You’ll Hear While Listening to a Studio Monitor


As you listen closely to a studio monitor, you’ll hear flatness rather than a polished sound. There are separate amplifiers that work with a studio monitor so that each tone frequency is easier to hear. This causes the various tones to be clearer and more detailed. When a speaker has a built-in power amplifier like this one, it’s known as an active speaker.

The bass and treble featured in the songs you’re listening to will be a lot more balanced to hear, which will help you focus more on other instruments and sound happening within the song. This makes the overall sound of your music flatter and more precise. You’ll now find it easier to spot any type of imperfections featured within the music.

People who are very dedicated to accurate listening will enjoy studio monitors. It allows the listener to clearly hear what was originally heard in the studio while the song was being recorded.

If you’re interested in music or audio mixing, these are the best speakers for you. Computer speakers use more of a passive sound that delivers the fully designed version of the music. It’s released from a single amplifier with different tones and notes of the song all at once.

Many basic computer and at-home speakers have been created with the consumer in mind to enhance their experience.


How Well Can Studio Monitors Project?


If you’re purchasing a studio monitor, it’s understandable that you might assume they can project throughout the room as a basic speaker can. Unfortunately, that isn’t what you’ll find with studio monitors. They can only project their audio to reach a shorter distance.

When music is played in a room from a computer speaker, the room will naturally enhance the frequencies of the sound. This helps the audio sound a lot richer and enhanced. The main goal of a studio monitor is to keep the sound and frequencies from being enhanced too much.

If you’re planning to regularly listen to music solo from your computer, the projection of studio monitors shouldn’t negatively affect you. If your goal is to entertain a room full of people with music, computer speakers or similar may be a better choice. Smaller spaces work better at decreasing the sound frequency in each room.

You can experience the differences in sound given off by a studio monitor by walking around and listening to the music throughout different areas of the room. When you walk farther away, the sound won’t be as pleasing as when you sit right next to the monitor.

If you’re planning to only sit right next to the monitor all day on a computer, studio monitors can be an acceptable replacement for computer speakers.


Do Studio Monitors Look Different To Computer Speakers?


When purchasing a studio monitor, some people get anxious they might confuse it with a computer speaker. To help rid you of the confusion, there are a few different distinguishing features you’ll find in a studio monitor that you won’t see in a computer monitor and vice versa.


Bulkier Than Computer Speakers


Newer studio monitors will often come with amplifiers and crossovers built into it. The sound still has the ability to properly filter without needing to purchase extra equipment. Though this is convenient, you’ll notice that studio monitors are a lot bulkier than computer speakers. Because of this, you’ll have less room for extra items next to the computer on your desk.


Different Knobs to Adjust Sound


Studio monitors also include a dial that allows you to change different parts of the music you’re hearing. This means you can adjust the power levels of the music or use different music absorber options found on the speaker itself. Other studio monitors contain many different knobs and buttons to help adjust frequencies.

If you aren’t interested in changing the frequency of the sound of your music, it may be smarter to refrain from purchasing a studio monitor and go with a basic computer speaker which will probably just have a couple of simple knobs to alter the volume and the amount of treble/bass.


Older Monitors Require More Equipment


Older studio monitors are available for recreational purposes and look different than the average studio monitor. They contain a sound system that requires the monitor to be paired up with a crossover and amplifier. These both filter the different frequencies being emitted from a song. Filtering the frequencies helps them remain in a certain range.


How Else Can Studio Monitors Be Used?


Other than playing in a smaller room from your computer, there are other places studio monitors can be found. Here are a few other areas you can use a studio monitor:

  • Recording Studio- This is where studio monitors were originally used. Recording studios were built to support different frequencies of sound. Many are placed throughout the room to detect different pitch frequencies, so recording artists and producers can easily mix new sounds with the music heard from these monitors.
  • Home Theaters- If you’re listening to music or watching a film in your home theatre, studio monitors can be used to provide a more detailed sound experience. This normally requires several different studio monitors spread throughout the theatre since they don’t transmit sound to long distances.
  • Video Game Playing- Many people will use studio monitors throughout their video game playing experience. It helps deepen and enhance the quality of the game you’re playing, especially if the game is being played right next to the monitor. If you want to play your game away from the computer, you may want to install more than one monitor to capture the full sound.


How to Connect Your Studio Monitor to Your Computer


Connecting a studio monitor can sometimes be a fairly tricky process to tackle. This is because they connect and operate very differently than how you would set up a computer speaker. Once you learn the necessary way to link the respective monitor and computer equipment together, you should have your computer’s music emitting from your studio monitors in no time.

Below are the following steps to follow in order to connect your studio monitors to your PC computer.


1) Look to see what inputs the studio monitors have


I have a pair of Yamaha HS7 monitor speakers which I also use as computer speakers most of the time. On the back, they have two input options one is for an XLR cable and one is for a 3/4 inch instrument jack (guitar cable). I tend to use the latter.


2) Connect speakers into an audio interface. 


The way I connect two separate speakers to my laptop is via an audio interface. Plug the cable from each speaker into the speaker outputs usually on the back of the audio interface as shown in the picture below:



3) Plug the interface into your PC or Mac


All modern audio interfaces should have a USB connection making it easier to connect to your laptop or computer:


4) Select the audio interface as the audio device on the computer


On a mac this is done by going to > System Preferences > Sound > Output > Select a device for sound output

On a PC it is done by going to control panel > sound > playback

The sound from your computer should then come out of your monitor speakers.


Are Studio Monitors Good For Playing Video Games?


As briefly mentioned earlier, studio monitors can be used to enhance audio throughout several different activities — one of those being video games. Many people will choose to buy speakers specific for gaming, while others will want to use their studio monitors for their gaming experience as well.

If you are hoping to use studio monitors for gaming, it’s usually best to use them if you’re playing up close on your computer. If your game is being played on a game console and you’re sitting far away from it, you can still use a studio monitor, but consider scattering several ones all over your room, so the sound continues to carry throughout your area.

Studio monitors can especially come in handy if you’re playing video games that are a little more intense with music that matches the seriousness of the game or games with instrumental features.

You won’t be able to just walk into a store and purchase the first studio monitor you find. Instead, you’ll need to find a monitor that can easily produce frequencies that can blend the midranges and high frequencies of your game.


Are Studio Headphones Also Good For Listening to Music?


Studio headphones can be put to the same purposes as studio monitors. They provide a flat sound with a lower and flatter frequency response. Like studio monitors, they are made for you to spot any imperfections in the music that you’re listening to. This means that they won’t be pleasing to users who are only listening to find a pleasing and enjoyable sound.

When you use studio headphones to listen to your music, you’ll hear less bass. These headphones help to keep the bass at normal levels rather than at higher levels like commercial headphones. If the bass is set at lower levels than commercial headphones allow, then you’re able to hear other elements of the song as well.

These headphones have also been designed to be used for long time periods since they are intended for studio professionals to use when mixing music. Because of this, you’ll notice they are very comfortable and made to sit on your ears for a while. These headphones are also sturdy and durable. So you’ll be able to keep them for extended periods of time.

If you want to show a deeper appreciation for all of the elements and instruments that go into a full song, these are great for you to purchase. If you’d rather listen to a song after it has been corrected and has a loud bass sound, you may want to purchase commercial headphones.


Studio Monitors Vs. Computer Speakers


When making the decision about whether studio monitors will work just as efficiently as computer speakers, you’ll want to keep the factors above in mind. Studio monitors were created with the intention of only being used by audio professionals.

Studio monitors are likely to cost a lot more than a pair of computer speakers because they are designed for professional use. A lot of the extra features and quality you are paying for are not worth it for just regular music listening.

It is also tricky to connect most monitor speakers directly to a computer or laptop, so if you don’t already have an audio interface, you might find it difficult to get connected at all.

If you’d rather find speakers that emit the filtered audio that you are used to hearing, computer speakers will be the smartest purchase for you. Make sure you’re considering all the factors involved in your decision before making an investment in these studio monitors.

Rob Wreglesworth

Rob has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous rock star....but that hasn't stopped him from writing and recording music in his home studio. Rob has over 15 years experience of recording music at home.

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