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Can You Use Studio Monitors as Computer Speakers? (Answered)

Do you want to use your studio monitors as computer speakers? If so, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using the right type of speaker.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of speaker cables and how they can be used with studio monitors. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to pick the best speaker for your needs. So whether you’re looking to use your studio monitors as computer speakers or just get a little bit of extra sound out of them, make sure to read this article!

Image of two monitors on a table with an audio mixer. Source: john wolf, pexels
Image of two monitors on a table with an audio mixer. Source: John Wolf, Pexels

Can you use studio monitors as computer speakers? Using your studio monitor to listen to music is possible, but the quality of the sound will be compromised. Studio monitors were developed to provide a sound that is neutral and devoid of nuances and nuance.

What is a computer speaker?

Speakers for computers are typically the 2.1 channel speakers, and they are passive. An external 3.5-millimeter jack is required for operation.

There are computer speaker systems that have a subwoofer and others that do not. On the other hand, they are the best speakers for entertainment purposes like listening to music, watching movies, playing video games, etc.

What is a studio monitor?

Professional musicians and audio engineers will appreciate the studio monitor’s high-quality sound reproduction. It produces a sound that is natural and unaltered. There is no amplification or blending of frequencies available for them. Various studios, musical works, and even professional projects make use of it.

How to connect studio monitors to a computer without an audio interface?

Digital-to-analog converters (DACs) may be found in many modern electronic devices, including your desktop computer (PC or Mac), laptop, and even your phone. When you insert headphones into the headphone jack, you’ll hear the analog audio produced by the DAC.

Note, though, that the digital-to-analog converters (DACs) in your computer or phone won’t measure up to those in an audio interface. Second, the signal is not balanced before it reaches your speakers. Thus, noise might be added. Nonetheless, if you don’t have an audio interface, here’s how to hook up studio monitors to your PC.

To connect your studio monitors to your computer without an audio interface, you will need either a 3.5mm (1/8-inch) TRS to RCA connection or a 3.5mm TRS Male to Left and Right 1/4-inch TS cable. A 1/4″ input is standard on most studio monitors. This, however, is what will dictate the cable type required.

There is a wide range of lengths from which to choose when purchasing a cable, albeit the shorter they are, the better. Less signal loss will occur at higher frequencies if the cable is shorter. If you don’t have an audio interface, you may still use studio monitors with your computer by following these instructions.

Find the audio output on your computer.

There’s a 3.5mm jack for headphones to connect to the sound system. The connector is often a headphone jack, but it may also be a TRRS jack, which allows for microphone input and stereo output.

The inputs on your studio monitors need to be changed.

Most studio monitors include at least two inputs so that different devices may be used. A balanced 1/4-inch TRS jack and a balanced XLR jack are the two most frequent inputs.

Unbalanced inputs like RCA or a 3.5mm (1/8-inch) connector are typical on inexpensive monitors.

Invest in a high-quality extension cord for your studio’s speakers.

If there is an unbalanced jack, use it to connect directly from a computer. This is the RCA jack on the back of the aforementioned KRK.

In addition, 1/4-inch balanced input is a viable choice. The advantages of a well-balanced signal, however, would be lost.

Plug in the cables connecting the computer to the screens.

Assuming you have the necessary connection, you may now connect the screens to your PC.

One of the inputs on your cable may be red or ringed in red; the other, white. That’s meant to show which is the left and which is the right. However, switching them about won’t hurt anything. The color red represents the right side, whereas white represents the left.

What cables do you need for studio monitors?

There are several cable configurations required for different studio monitors. Cables for electricity, for bringing signals into your studio monitors, and for taking signals out of your studio monitors are all necessary. Power cables and input/output cables are the only two types of cables you’ll always need for your studio monitors, but other cords might vary depending on the monitors you choose.

Many different cables exist, which might be confusing if you’re trying to connect various musical instruments and audio equipment that employ varying connectors. Don’t worry, however; the muddle will be cleared up as we proceed.

You probably won’t need every single one of these wires, but it’s good to know what they’re for, just in case. Since studio monitors might have a variety of inputs and outputs, it’s important to know exactly what you’re connecting before purchasing cables. Remembering what tools you have and what they are for is the most important consideration.

Power cables (kettle cords)

If you are purchasing a pair of active studio monitors (monitors that have a built-in powered amplifier), then they will most probably already come with these cables. Usually, the power cables that come with studio monitors are your 3-pin kettle cord cables.

Analog cables & digital cables

Some studio monitors include analog inputs, whereas others only have digital inputs. Analog inputs are the standard for studio monitors (such as XLR and jack connections). The audio signal is transmitted by an electrical current in analog connections. Sometimes the wires might cause interference and noise.

RCA cable

It is possible to transmit a sound signal using an electrical current or binary code across digital or analog lines. However, this problem may be avoided by using balanced wires (more on that in the next section).

Your audio signal is sent through binary code via digital wires (including optical audio connections). That’s great news since it means your signal won’t be disrupted by any nearby electrical wiring or devices.

Balanced cables

It is common for studio monitors to feature balanced XLR and RCA connections for input and output. Therefore, these inputs and outputs may only be used with balanced connections.

A series of balanced wires is required to reduce or get rid of unwanted interference and noise. Details on the two most common types of balanced cables, XLR and TRS jack cables, are provided below.

XLR Cables

Inputs for XLR cables should be standard on studio monitors. To get audio into your displays from some other source except the monitors, you’ll need to plug that source into one of these inputs. There may be a single input or many XLR inputs on your monitors.

If you’re using analog connections for your studio monitors, XLR cables are the gold standard. The 100 feet of uninterrupted signal transmission is possible because the wires are balanced. When it comes to analog cables, XLR cables are among the best. They are completely silent and may go up to 100 feet.

Jack cables (TRS)

Jack cables may be one of two varieties:

  • Tipsleeve (TS), an incongruous combination.
  • True TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) symmetry.

Instruments often use TS cables, which are unbalanced jack wires (such as guitar and bass). TS wires only allow for a single signal to be sent.

TS cable

Unbalanced jack cables are known as TS (Tip-Sleeve) cables. Since TS cables are often used for instruments, your displays likely won’t have a connection point for them. For this reason, you will “mic up” your instrument by connecting it to an amplifier.

Following that, a balanced signal will be sent from your other audio devices to your monitors. In addition, if a jack cable is being used to transmit the signal to your displays, it will be a TRS jack cable.

TRS cables, the balanced variant of TS cables, are used for stereo connections. Avoid conflating the two concepts. Although visually identical, the TRS jack cable has an additional line and portion at the point of connection.

TRS cable

Balanced jack cables are known as TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve). If the input signals on your studio monitors don’t come via an XLR connector, you may utilize balanced TRS jack cables instead. XLR and TRS jack inputs are often seen together on studio monitors.

Unbalanced cables

Depending on the kind of connections on your studio monitors, you may be dealing with unbalanced inputs and outputs. To counter this, most studio monitors have balanced input and output connections.

In order to use specific audio equipment, studio monitors will only have unbalanced connections, such as an unbalanced connection used to hook up studio monitors to computers and laptops.

Your studio monitors’ capabilities are limited only by the hardware and wiring at your disposal. Keep in mind that there may likely be some background noise and interference with unbalanced wires. That is not to say that they will make a tremendous amount of noise or that they will sound terrible. In practice, this simply means that these wires are more vulnerable to background noise and outside interference.

Auxiliary cables

Additional inputs may be included on certain studio speakers. Mini-jack connectors and RCA connections (to be covered in the next section) are both viable options for auxiliary inputs.

These may also serve as inputs for your studio monitors. Thus, a CD player, mobile phone, or any other device capable of transmitting audio signals through auxiliary wires may be plugged in.

RCA cables

When it comes to audio cables, RCA is considered to be the “vintage” standard (in addition to your standard-issue speaker wires). The distinctive white and red plugs on an RCA cable are a dead giveaway.

You may connect your turntable, CD player, smartphone, etc., to your studio monitors through RCA cables (identified by their white and red plugs). Once again, RCA cables are utilized for both inputs, this time into your studio’s stereo speakers. This meant that, once again, any audio device (record player, cd player, smartphone, etc.) could be plugged into your displays and played audibly.

If you plan on utilizing RCA cables, you should first examine your alternative input choices since they are imbalanced. When feasible, balanced signals should be used.

Optical digital cables

Depending on the high quality of your displays, an optical digital cable input may also be included. ADAT and S/PDIF audio signals may be sent through optical links.

On average, ADAT signals transport eight channels of audio at 48 kHz and four channels at 96 kHz. There are only two channels of sound that can be sent over S/PDIF.

ADAT and S/PDIF audio signals may be sent through optical digital wires. None of your data will be lost because of the high quality of these connections. You may use them to connect your mic preamp to your audio interface, and then your audio interface to your monitors, allowing you to send out a stereo mix to your speakers.

Tips on how to pick the best speaker for your needs

Decide how you’ll use the speakers.

The range of speaker constructions fits specific speakers for varied purposes. An average set of bookshelf speakers is adequate for light music listening. A more robust listening experience is available by upgrading to floor-standing speakers. High-end consumers might also choose to have surround sound installed.

Consider your room’s furnishings.

The sound quality varies on various surfaces. Sound is reflected off of hard, flat surfaces while being absorbed by more irregular or soft ones. A smaller space also has a greater audible effect. Clap your hands in the middle of the room to get a feel for its size. The weaker the acoustic environment, the louder the speakers must be.

Image of a studio monitor and an audio mixer beside it. Source: cottonbro studio, pexels
Image of a studio monitor and an audio mixer beside it. Source: Cottonbro Studio, Pexels

Determine the space you have available.

Bookshelf speakers may be placed anywhere, even in a tiny bedroom, but floor-standing speakers won’t work. Even with plenty of soundproofing and a large number of soft furnishings, the noise level may be too high for the room’s inhabitants to bear. However, if you want a surround sound system for your TV, the speakers will need to be placed away from the wall and all around you.

Consider your budget.

The trap of high prices is easy to fall into. Although quality is not directly proportional to price, you will be drawn to the larger and more impressive appearing speakers or directed to them by the salesman. The results you get from a more costly speaker won’t guarantee that you won’t get the same results as a cheaper one. Try not to go above your allotted budget.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Can You Use Studio Monitors As Regular Computer Speakers? And How To Set It Up on Mac or Windows” from the Tunelighting YouTube channel.

A video called “Can You Use Studio Monitors As Regular Computer Speakers? And How To Set It Up on Mac or Windows” from the Tunelighting YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about studio monitors.

Sound differences between studio monitors and regular speakers

Manufacturers invest considerable time and energy into developing standard speakers with improved midrange, treble, and bass. However, studio monitors favor a flat response and don’t boost the system’s sound to keep the correct tempo.

Despite the fact that this may seem like a downside when utilizing studio monitors, it is really helpful for those who wish to preserve the original frequency range and tonal integrity of a song.

Do studio monitors sound better than speakers?

A common goal in the development of home stereo speakers is to improve the quality of the sound being produced. Studio monitors, on the other hand, are designed to not boost sound in any way so that all frequencies may be heard clearly. You’ll be able to acquire more precise mixing thanks to the improved purity and cleanliness of the sound.

How can I use monitor speakers instead of laptop speakers?

The first step is to activate the speakers on your display. The next step is to access “Sound” in the Settings menu. Your monitor should appear as a playback device under the “Playback” menu. Select it, and then click “Set as Default” if it isn’t currently the default device.

What is the difference between studio monitors and bookshelf speakers?

Their only real distinction is in their intended use. While studio monitors are often listened to from closer proximity, bookshelf speakers serve a more general function and may be used from a variety of listening distances.

Is a single studio monitor enough?

What you need to accomplish with sound is the determining factor. Mixing sound for television or movies requires a multi-speaker monitoring system with a subwoofer. It’s possible to get by with only a stereo set of studio monitors and some headphones if you’re mixing the demo recordings your band produced in the basement.

Conclusion

To sum it all up, make sure you know what type of speaker you’re using and buy the best one for your needs. We also suggest checking out our blog for more tips on home audio equipment. From selecting the right speakers to setting up a studio area, we’ve covered everything you need to be an audiophile at home!

However, just as you can’t become an expert cyclist by reading a book, you can’t become a great music producer by reading articles alone. It’s time to take action! Go and put what you have learned into practice.

This article covered what a computer speaker and a studio monitor are and how to connect studio monitors to a computer without an audio interface. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Speakers for computers are typically the 2.1 channel speakers, and they are passive.
  • Professional musicians and audio engineers will appreciate the studio monitor’s high-quality sound reproduction.
  • When you insert headphones into the headphone jack, you’ll hear the analog audio produced by the DAC.
  • Audio interfaces are external sound cards that may be plugged into your computer through a USB or Thunderbolt connection.
  • Amazon is a great place to get RCA jacks at a low price and with little hassle.
  • The frequency response of studio monitors is normally flat, meaning that neither the bass nor treble is boosted.
  • Buy an additional 2.1 channel speaker if you’re developing a home theater system and need more speakers to cover different areas of your room.
  • If your amp is only capable of producing 70 watts of clean power, you will fall short by 130 watts.
  • Setup of computer-connected studio monitors If you want to use studio monitors instead of your computer speakers, you’ll need to get the setup just right.
  • However, more than simply good sound is needed for gaming.

So, do you prefer to use a studio monitor as a computer speaker? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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