DJ Monitors vs. Studio Monitors – The Key Differences

DJ Monitors vs Studio Monitors

My cousin once told me that a studio monitor was better than a DJ monitor speaker for my home mixing. While I can clearly see how this mistake can be reached, it is not that simple explanation. They are both useful, but there’s a big difference. Also, both have different features for two distinct purposes.

They both have their advantages and main differences, as well as applications. This table should further break down those differences between DJ monitors vs. studio monitors.

Functional use

DJ Monitor Speaker

Studio Monitor

Regular Use Yes, DJ Monitors are similarly built as regular For listening in the original setting with no added sound
Party Use Used for the people to enjoy the music and audio coming out with amplifications. No
Beatmatching at home Great Not ideal (lack of bass)
Production Used to test the completed track on live speakers For mixing tones and arranging the actual sound without speaker input or limitations.
Home Theater Use Great No

Studio monitors are more useful for producing music than for DJing and listening. Could a studio monitor work connected to your DJ controller or as laptop speakers? Yes, they can. Are they ideal? Absolutely not.

The Difference Between DJ Monitors and Studio Monitors

The main difference between DJ monitors and studio monitors is that DJ monitors playback the recording in a pleasing way and are “colored” to sound a particular way by design, while studio monitors produce a flat frequency response to playback the audio recording precisely as intended.

Most DJ monitors have a predetermined frequency setting built into them to distort or amplify certain sounds, changing how a sound is heard through the speaker. That is great if you are mixing other people’s songs on your DJ controller, but not so good if you are the one making the tracks.

A studio monitor utilizes a flat frequency response for playback audio. This indicates that it doesn’t amplify any frequencies, such as the bass or treble frequencies in the sound wave.

That is often required in professional environments related to audio recording and mixing to ensure the speakers themselves are not influencing how the audio professional may edit the music or sound.

These differences aren’t apparent visually, which can make the purchase decision difficult. It would be best if you considered the purpose or usage of the speakers you are purchasing before choosing either option, as one may be more desirable for your specific application.

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What are DJ Monitor Speakers?

A DJ monitor speaker is a sort of speaker used by DJs that uses a magnet to launch a signal out of the cone-shaped interface and get sound travel. As you turn the volume knob, it boosts the electrical force that regulates the sound wave’s amplitude. 

Various speakers will have different restrictions on what they can produce. Since their primary function is to increase the frequency’s amplitude, they must modify the original sound wave to extend the distance in which it travels.

Also, the sound wave may take longer, so the speaker also needs to adjust the tone or the sound’s treble and bass to counterbalance the amplitude change. When you modify the treble setting on your monitors, you’re adjusting the amplitude or volume of those notes, and the same with the bass notes.

These tone switches change the range between the tops of the waves by lowering or raising the power for each of the different pitches. This change in amplitude for each type of wave changes the volume of each section. Are you still with me? I hope that wasn’t too scientific.

DJ monitor speakers cannot change the soundwave pitch; you would need a soundboard for that or some good editing software. 

Do You Need Studio Monitors for DJing?

They’re not a waste if you need precision, but you don’t need that when you’re DJing. 

Monitors are intended for producing music when you have 60 different audio streams, single snares, basses, etc. If you have too much or too little bass or treble, or any short range, your song might sound terrible on another system. 

When you’re DJing, your songs already have the technical stuff done – other than comprehensive EQ to make two tracks work better together, what comes out of the speakers is already guaranteed to sound good.

If you make a terrible mix on any set of speakers, it’ll sound bad, and a good mix will sound good. You don’t need a pancake-flat response curve. In fact, in most cases, a pancake-flat response is bad because it sounds boring. 

You never see a $5,000 car stereo system with a flat response. Heck, if people put $600 into their car, it’s for an amplifier and subwoofer 95% of the time. Because bass is fun, bass makes everything more fun.

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Plus, if you’re planning on playing in clubs, you’re totally unprepared for mixing on the systems because you’ve prepared on a system that sounds nothing like the club. 

If you’ve mixed on large speakers with a subwoofer, specifically a very nonaccurate (but far more enjoyable as a consequence) system, you’ll have a better idea of what will work.

Studio monitors cost loads more because they are incredibly flat, but that’s not something you want. They’re not designed to sound pleasant, just accurate. You don’t want accuracy unless you are producing music.

So many people now look at studio monitors, hear about what’s good, and say that’s the ones they need, not even realizing they are using the wrong tools for the job. 

It’s dance music, meant to be having fun with, and make you feel it while it makes you move. Speakers with flat response are the antithesis to this.

But if you’re also planning on producing music, then maybe you should check out this article:

Can You DJ with Studio Monitors? What’s the Difference? 

Sound Waves Explained

In a sound wave, the pitch equals the frequency, the number of times the wave moves through a given spot. 

The more accelerated it moves, the higher the pitch or frequency is. Imagine a muscle car driving by your window at night, which has a powerful but low pitch. The sound waves are moving gently through the air.

Parallel that to a glass bottle smashing in your kitchen. The pitch is higher, and the sound is over faster than the sound of the muscle car driving by. That is essential when it comes to DJ monitor speakers versus studio speakers.

dj monitors vs studio monitors

The other aspect to think about is the tone, which is the gap between each wave’s tops or bottoms, or the wavelength. Establishing the tone is about the same as establishing the frequency or timing of the sound.

Now think back to our case of an ocean wave. If you grabbed a photo, the tone would be the length between the top of one wave to the other.  The more distant the distance between the two would simply mean the more extended the frequency. 

Sound Waves Inside DJ Monitors vs. Studio Monitors

DJ monitors are designed to amplify or change the amplitude of the sound wave by increasing the power each wave has. A studio monitor leaves the sound wave virtual intact so that you can hear it in the raw form. The naked ear, so to say.

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A studio monitor causes no changes to the pitch, tone, or amp of the sound waves enabling you to set the sounds in their raw form for optimal sound quality over any device and obtaining the response uniform over all devices, enabling the device to make the changes.

That provides producers, editors, and other musical experts the means to hear the sound without restrictions or enrichment, which is ideal for someone who works produces sound in a studio. 

You aren’t going to be frustrated by a lack of bass when you listen back on another speaker or headphones because you have been monitoring the ‘authentic’ sound and not an intensified version of it.

It is also necessary to note that monitors time volume in decibels (dB), not frequency. A dB is a ratio of sound level pressure or SLP, used to define how you hear it. For reference, the human ear is the opening point for measurement, at 0 SPL.

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To Conclude All This

For a simple answer, a DJ monitor speaker is used for DJing and the enjoyment of the bass and sound, while a studio monitor is great for production. Having a related approach, the studio monitor has a different design altogether. A studio monitor doesn’t work the same as a DJ speaker in the same manner.

The DJ monitor speaker is the most common audio output device amongst DJs, and a studio monitor is utilized more on the back end of production. The circuit boards are created differently to manage different elements of the audio output.

A DJ monitor can handle an amplifier and other audio control devices to improve your personal sound experience. DJ monitor and studio monitor also come in all shapes and sizes, some with specific purposes, others with just general consumption in mind.

If you’re looking for a speaker, I would highly recommend the ElectroVoice ZLX. I think they are a better value than the QSC K10 that a lot of people recommend. Even though the QSC is a little better, I think the EV ZLX is the ‘best bang for the buck.’ 
So on a budget looking for a cheaper but also good option, I’d pick ZLX over the K10. You can buy a 12″ ZLX for about $150 less than a 10″ K10.

Tray Fiddy

Tray has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous DJ.... but that hasn't stopped him from mixing and researching audio equipment. Tray has over 12 years of experience DJing at home and events.

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