When it comes to amplifying sound, you have a variety of options to choose from, including studio monitors and PA (public address) speakers.
If you’re not much aware of any one of the two, you will find both very similar in look, but both are designed for different purposes.
Studio monitors are designed for recording and production purposes, while PA speakers are designed for live performance and public speaking.
Studio monitors are designed to deliver accurate sound, allowing audio engineers and musicians to hear a precise representation of the sound they are creating or recording. On the other hand, PA speakers are for live performances with the primary goal of projecting sound over a wide area to a large audience.
Despite these differences, many wonder whether studio monitors can be used as PA speakers and vice versa.
You can use studio monitors as PA speakers but keep in mind saying we can achieve the same performance will be a lie. Studio monitors are designed for accurate and balanced sound reproduction in a controlled environment, such as a recording studio or a home theater. They are optimized for a flat frequency response and minimal coloration of the sound, which helps engineers and producers make critical mixing and mastering decisions.
On the other hand, PA speakers are designed for live sound reinforcement and optimized for high SPL (Sound Pressure Level) and clarity at high volumes. They often have a more pronounced low-end response and a more pronounced high-end response to help the sound cut through in a live environment.
So yes, it is possible to use studio monitors as PA speakers. They may not be able to handle the high SPL levels required for live sound reinforcement and may not provide enough coverage for a larger audience. Additionally, they may not have the rugged construction and weather resistance that PA speakers typically have.
What is the difference between a PA speaker and a monitor?
PA speakers and monitors are for different purposes. Some significant differences include the following:
PA speakers are placed for the audience, whereas monitors are for the performers. Simply put, PA speakers (also known as public address systems or front-of-house (FOH) speakers) are used to distribute enhanced sound to a large audience.
On the other hand, monitors (also known as stage monitors) are speakers used by professionals to hear the quality of audio reaching the audience.
PA speakers are to project sound over a wide area and often have a more powerful output than monitors. In addition, most speakers have a boosted bass and treble response that enhances their sound for a large audience.
On the contrary, studio monitors have a flat/neutral frequency response for accurate sound reproduction.
PA speakers are enormous and powerful. PA speakers used for larger venues are much larger than any studio monitor. Conversely, studio monitors are smaller and less potent than PA speakers.
PA speakers are generally more potent than studio monitors and can produce higher SPL (sound pressure level) to reach a larger audience. However, the monitor’s sound output is also low as these speakers are less powerful.
For this reason, monitors are also called close-field/near-field speakers.
Advantages Of Using Studio Monitors as PA Speakers
Advantages of using studio monitors as PA speakers include:
They Have a Sufficient Volume:
If you use studio monitors instead of PA speakers, you’ll have just enough sound in the room. In addition, the noise will never be too loud as monitors don’t support loud audio playback but still provide a decent audio output.
They Produce Clear Sounds:
Studio monitors deliver natural sound without any addition/reduction in the original sound. So, whatever you are watching/listening to, you can enjoy the sound in its 100% original form.
They Don’t Cause a lot of Noise Pollution:
PA speakers produce loud sounds. Such sounds can cause anxiety, stress, sleep disturbances, etc. Using monitors instead of PA speakers significantly decreases the noise pollution in the environment as the audio output is not too harsh. This way, other people and animals in the background aren’t disturbed.
They are Customizable:
You can pair studio monitors with accessories like microphones, controllers, subwoofers, etc. This way, you can change the audio output to your preference and enhance your hearing experience.
They are Budget Friendly:
PA speakers are costly. You can buy studio monitors if you want to save money and invest in an affordable variant. Monitors are as good speakers as PA but are available at an affordable price.
Disadvantages Of Using Studio Monitors as PA Speakers
Some disadvantages of using studio monitors include:
They’re Not Loud:
If you are looking for speakers for parties or other events such as concerts, sing-offs, etc., stay away from monitors. Studio monitors play something other than loud music, so if you use these speakers at a party, the noise distribution might be lousy.
They have A Flat Frequency Response:
Studio monitors present as raw sound as possible. The flat frequency response can be a major turn-off if you purchase the speaker for home theater.
The Audio Quality Is Not Clear:
Although studio monitors are known for presenting clear-quality sounds, the sound can sometimes be compromised. This degradation in audio quality might be due to placement, room acoustics, volume level, etc.
Factors to consider when using studio monitors as PA speakers:
- The size and layout of the performance space play a vital role in determining the audio quality produced by the studio monitors. Therefore, studio monitors are ideal for smaller rooms well-equipped with room acoustics. Otherwise, the audio might not be as clear.
- The size of the audience also affects the studio monitor’s performance. Studio monitors are best suited for small audiences as these speakers don’t play loud sounds.
- Studio monitors are for use in professional settings. These speakers are used while recording songs, albums, filmmaking, etc., as they don’t enhance the treble or bass and provide as raw sound as possible.
- Studio monitors perform best with additional equipment like mixers, controllers, amplifiers, etc. These tools grant you more control over the sound being played and let you make changes according to your likes.
- Setting up a studio monitor requires you to prepare the room, buy equipment, and make changes according to the system’s needs. So it is best to consider the budget for the sound reinforcement setup beforehand.
Using studio monitors as PA speakers can be a viable option under certain conditions, but it is critical to understand the distinctions between the two. In a nutshell, you can use studio monitors as PA speakers if you can compromise on the acoustic quality.
Studio monitors might or might not work for you, depending on your needs. Check this complete article to gain a better understanding of whether this music reinforcement system will work for you or not.