Which Floor Monitor is Right for You?

There are many types and variations of monitors available.  Choosing which one is right for you depends on many factors, but more important than any other is what you will be monitoringSAX-15MPW_rightcorner_1000 with it.  Will you monitor only vocals or vocals and instruments?  What frequency range will those instruments inhabit?  Is it a bass guitar or kick drum?  Both need more low range response than most other instruments.  Keyboards are a full range instrument.  If you are monitoring a keyboard, you’ll want to determine how important monitoring the low range will be to how the keyboard is being played.  DJ and Karaoke performers will be sending full range signals, in the form of prerecorded songs, through their monitors.

Determining what frequency ranges you need to hear through your floor monitors helps you make the decision on which size speaker will suit you best.  The larger the speaker, the lower frequency it can produce.  For instance, the Seismic Audio SAX-15M-PW has a 15” speaker and can reach as low as 55 Hertz.

Next, the area that needs coverage should determined.  Coaxial designs, such as the Seismic Audio X-PW series we just examined, will offer a wider coverage area and serve very well as a general purpose floor monitor.  Designs that utilize a horn will allow the higher frequencies to cut through a higher stage volume.  Once again, the Seismic Audio X-PW series offers a horn beside having a coaxial woofer design.  It gives you the best of both worlds.  The Seismic Audio Faultline Series Floor Monitors offer bullet-proof titanium horns to cut through the loudest stage situations.

Finally, it becomes a choice between passive and active monitors.  An active, or powered, monitor has a power amplifier built into the cabinet.  A passive monitor must be connected to an external power amplifier to produce sound.  There are advantages to both designs.  Active monitors allow you to perform without an amp rack.  You also get consistency and reliability from the matched speaker and internal amp combination.  Both the Faultline and XPW series are active.  So are the PW series wedge monitors shown in this video.

One more advantage for the average working musician is that active monitors will come with volume and tone controls built into the cabinet.  If you are your own sound engineer, this lets you make adjustments quickly and easily even in the middle of a performance without leaving the stage or turning your back on the audience.

Passive monitors represent the traditional way of doing things.  This type of system is easy to connect requiring only a single line to be attached that carries both signal and power.  The cableSA-15MT_leftcorner_1000 run can go for long distances with little to no effect on the sound.  If you are using a simple monitor mix and already carrying an amp rack for you mains and subs, passive monitors can be the easiest solution to intergrate.  Passive monitors are less expensive, in general, and can work flawlessly for years and years if operated within their limits.  Take a look at the Seismic Audio SA-15MT to see how you can get more for less with passive floor monitors.

It is important to note that passive and active monitors will use different cables.  Passive monitors will need speaker cable.  Speaker cable is designed to carry amplified signals.  The thickness of it is measured in AWG or American Wire Gauge.  It is commonly referred to just as gauge.  You will typically see them offered between 12 and 16 AWG.  The smaller the number, the thicker the cable.  The more power you are sending, the thicker the cable you need.  Also, running longer distances should make you step up to the next larger gauge.  Speaker wire can be finished with nearly any connector.  The most common are ¼” TS, Banana and Speakon.  Watch this video to learn more about these connectors.

Active monitors need balanced cables.  Balanced cables add a ground wire inside the cable in addition to the usual positive and negative wires plus shielding that helps RF noise.  This is needed because the non-amplified line level signal required by active monitors is much more susceptible to this interference.  The most common balanced cables are ¼” TRS and XLR (microphone) cable.

There are a lot of factors to consider when picking out the right monitor for you.  Still not sure?  Contact our experts at 877-347-6423 and let them help you make the best decision. Browse our selection of PA/DJ and live sound floor monitors here.

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