There are countless ways you can upgrade your home recording studio, but one of our favourites involves something that creates no sound itself. In fact, often, it’s no more than a shaped lump of metal. We’re talking about studio monitor stands, which provide a dedicated space for your speakers to live. After all, your studio monitors are what connects you with the music you’ve recorded, so it makes sense to treat them with a bit of love.
Why are speaker stands one of our favourite upgrades? Allow us to explain our reasoning, and show you some great options out there for your home studio.
- The best studio monitors, from affordable to high-end
- Best studio desks: organise your recording studio gear
- The best studio chairs: are you sitting comfortably?
- The best PCs for music production
What are studio monitor stands?
Studio monitor stands are, essentially, very simple things. They function, as you’d imagine, by providing an elevated space on which your monitor speakers can stand. Their usefulness, however, far exceeds their simplicity. You see, as well as providing a dedicated space for your monitors to sit, they offer up certain benefits in the way of sound performance, which we’ll outline below. They also have certain practical benefits which, all told, make them one of the more useful purchases you can make to upgrade your recording studio.
What are their key features?
There are a couple of different forms of studio monitor stands you’ll find. Desktop studio monitor stands reside, as you’d imagine, on your desk and provide an elevated position for the speakers. Dedicated stands, meanwhile, are free-standing and allow you to decouple the speakers from your studio desk. Both types will likely feature – or at least give the option for – some kind of acoustic isolation which acts as a buffer between the stand and the bottom of the speaker. This enhances bass reproduction and lessens the vibrations caused at higher listening volumes.
Regardless of which type you opt for, you’ll want to ensure the speakers stands are sturdy and not likely to wobble. The ability to adjust the height is also important, as you’ll need to locate them at the correct height for your ears. Some stands also allow you to adjust the angle of the speaker, so you can find the perfect balance for your studio and listening position.
What are the benefits of using studio monitor stands?
Using monitor speakers stands should provide an instant benefit to your recording rig. This is because, unlike regular hi-fi speakers which are designed to fill a room with sound, studio monitors are designed for reference. They are engineered in such a way as to provide a tool for critical listening, helping producers balance and mix their sounds. If you can make a sound pleasing on a set of monitors, you can be confident it’ll sound good on any other speaker.
To do this, it’s important – essential, in fact – that the monitors sit level with the ears of whoever is using them. When you’re starting out, a set of shelves (or even a pile of books) can achieve this effect, but for those with an eye on improving their setup, a pair of specialist studio monitor stands make everything more… professional. Shelves, for example, are great for hi-fi speakers but for monitoring they can cause problems with bass frequencies.
This is where isolation comes in – separating the speaker from the floor, desk or shelf improves the sound reproduction massively as you’re not losing bass frequencies in the form of vibration.
There’s also the side benefit of practicality. It stands to reason that, as a producer, you have an ever-growing arsenal of gear. Everything from synths to samplers, and from audio interfaces to effects units. All this gear takes up valuable real estate on your studio desk, so removing the monitor speakers from the equation means you can add more essential gear to your setup.
Will studio monitor stands make me a better producer?
In the same way a more expensive guitar amp won’t necessarily make you a better guitarist, a set of dedicated studio monitor speakers will not in themselves make you better at producing. They will however improve the sound you can hear and give you a better chance of appraising your recordings which, in turn, will improve your ability.
Think about it as giving yourself the best chance of developing as a producer. With your speakers set in the correct position, you’re allowing your sound to breathe and ensuring all those competing frequencies can be properly balanced in the mix.
Here are some of the best studio monitor stands available today, with options for all budgets.
The best studio monitor stands available today
While the brand name itself is a misnomer – these are definitely studio stands, not stage – the On-Stage SMS6000-P make for a superb introduction to dedicated studio monitor stands. These free-standing stands are constructed from arc-welded steel and, as such, are tough as they come. With five different height positions, they are ideal for either seated or standing positions, and have swappable feet so can be located equally well on carpet or hard floors.
They come with a thin strip of foam which acts as a rudimentary isolator – we’d have preferred something more substantial – but otherwise these stands are the perfect upgrade for most home recording setups.
If your desk is large enough that you want the speakers to remain there, or if you have an elevated position for your screen already, then a decent on-desk speaker stand solution could be the answer. The IsoAcoustics ISO-155 are a great example of specialist on-desk stands that provide the isolation and elevation needed to mix and master accurately.
As the names suggests, isolation is a key benefit here thanks to the ISO-155’s floating design, ensuring bass frequencies are reproduced accurately and cleanly. The tilt adjustment means they can be precisely positioned to fit your environment, too.
For anyone with limited space in their studio, dedicated separate stands aren’t always a viable option. The Gator Clamp-On stands offer a great compromise, by enabling you to attach the stands directly to your desk. This both elevates and isolates the speaker, and also frees up valuable space on the desk itself.
The Gator stands are capable of holding relatively large monitor speakers – up to 60lbs each – and are tilt adjustable up to 15 degrees. All told an excellent solution for smaller studio owners.
While on-desk monitor stands are great as a solution, for the professional studio owner they can look a little bit… amateur. If you’re welcoming clients to your studio, you’re going to need something a little more visually impressive. The Argosy Spire Classic studio monitor stands fit the bill perfectly, providing the balance between the technical elements you need from a set of stands – isolation and elevation – yet still look like something from a high-end audiophile setup.
The Spire Classics come in both 36” and 42” variations, which is good as they’re not height adjustable, but if those height options work for you then they’re easy to recommend.
Ideally, in a set of studio monitor stands, you’ll want the perfect blend of sturdiness and isolation. Sturdiness ensures they won’t fall over and drop your prized monitors, and isolation means the sound you hear isn’t being impacted by vibrations.
The Ultimate Support MS-100 set of free-standing studio monitor stands delivers on both fronts. The aluminium construction is rigid and can withstand the odd wobble, while the high-density acoustic foam on which the monitors sit will guarantee nothing is lost sonically as the sound travels from the speaker to your ear. They’re expensive, sure, but as a one-off purchase they’re highly recommended.
For the more established studio, a set of high-quality monitor stands is a wise investment. The Argosy Spire 420i would make a great option for pro users thanks to a number of neat touches. The Spire 420i set features the same IsoAcoustic technology we outlined higher up the list, meaning the sound has the best possible isolation from its base, while Argosy claims the angle of the stand legs themselves has been chosen to ‘direct’ sound in the right direction.
Yes, these are more costly than the other options in the list, but the benefits are clear for those who can afford them. The in-stand cable routing is a nice touch too.