After we wrote an article on using PA speakers as studio monitors, many of our readers are curious to know whether it’s possible to use studio monitors as PA speakers.
So in this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about using studio monitors as PA speakers, whether it’s a good idea or not, and then I’ll share my personal thoughts on this subject.
But first, let’s quickly answer the question: can you use studio monitors as PA speakers?
You can use studio monitors as PA speakers. However, it’s not ideal to do so. That is because studio monitors are not designed to play audio at extremely high volume, unlike PA speakers. And you risk damaging the studio monitors when you use them as PA speakers.
Let’s quickly talk about studio monitors and PA speakers to establish the foundation. And then we’ll talk about the differences between the two. And then, I’ll follow that with whether you should ever use studio monitors as PA speakers in more detail. Let’s get right into it.
A studio monitor is a speaker designed for use in professional audio production studios. They are meant to be used in recording studios, film and TV studios, home studios, and the like.
Audio engineers and mixing professionals use studio monitors to make mixing decisions. They EQ and balance out the levels of the different musical instruments, effects, and vocals to make sure the final output sounds great using studio monitors.
And for this reason, studio monitors have been built purposely to output sound that is close to accurate. Due to this, studio monitors are designed to have a flat frequency response. They do not have additional EQs and frequency boosters that can be used to color sound.
This means that the sound from studio monitors sounds as flat and close to the original as possible. This sound has a relatively low volume and is crisp and accurate enough for sound engineers to be able to work on them.
PA speakers are speakers that are designed to play audio at a loud level so that everyone.
As we explained in our article on “PA speakers vs HiFi speakers,” the full form of PA is “public address.” So, in simpler terms, PA speakers are speakers designed to publicly address a group of people or audience.
The main purpose of these speakers is to project sound that is enough for everyone at the event to hear it audibly.
When an audio signal enters PA speakers, these speakers increase the audio signal’s amplitude. This increase in signal amplitude is responsible for the increased output audio loudness from PA speakers.
PA speakers are usually meant for public or outdoor use. Thus, the loudness of the sound they output is usually audible even over large areas. These are the speakers used in churches, concerts,
Difference Between Studio Monitors and PA Speakers
Although studio monitors and PA speakers can play playback audio through them, there are some key differences. Let’s take a look at them.
Firstly, studio monitors are designed to have a relatively low volume output and are meant for near-field applications. Near-field simply means they are designed to be close to the listener. And it sounds best when you’re sitting closer to them.
That is why lots of studio monitors are placed on stands or furniture that is close to the listener. This enables the listener to hear what is coming from the speakers directly.
Due to this, studio monitors apply virtually little to no boost to the audio signal that is played through them.
On the other hand, PA speakers are designed to play audio at loud decibels. Thus, they are primarily meant for far-field applications.
Also, because studio monitors apply virtually little to no increase to the audio signal that enters them, the sound they produce is usually in its original form. This sound tends to be accurate.
The quality of audio they produce is incredibly precise and has little to no background noise and distortion in it. That is why they are typically used for music production and filmmaking productions.
Unlike studio monitors, the focus of PA speakers is not on the accuracy of the sound but on its loudness. Due to this, PA speakers have their extreme high-end and low-end frequencies cut off. Thus, the sound produced by PA speakers is not as high quality as that produced by studio monitors.
Why Studio Monitors Can Be Used as PA Speakers
Although studio monitors are not designed to play audio at loud decibels, some can get incredibly loud.
There are different sizes of studio monitors available. Studio monitors usually come in 3.5, 5, 6.5, 7, and 8 inches. And besides the price difference among these different options, you can also distinguish among them based on how loud these studio monitors can play.
As you may have already guessed, the bigger studio monitors play louder than, the smaller ones. And that’s because there are bigger woofers and tweeters in them. By the way, if you’re curious to know how speakers, in general, work, check out this article on our blog.
So, if you own a larger studio monitor, it can definitely be used as a PA speaker. They can play loud enough to fill a small to medium-sized room with sound.
Why Studio Monitors Are Not Ideal As PA Speakers
Though studio monitors can be used as PA speakers, they are not ideal for such an application. This is because the drivers inside studio monitors have not been designed to produce a sound that is very loud.
The drivers in studio monitors cannot reproduce loud audio for long periods. Due to this, when studio monitors are pushed so hard, they may suffer damage.
Studio monitors are generally meant for near-field listening. What this means is that you must be closer to studio monitors when listening to audio from them. Therefore, studio monitors must not be driven at extremely high volume.
When driven at extremely high volumes for long periods, their drivers and coils may get damaged. This will cause the sound they produce to become distorted.
Any speaker that is used as a PA speaker must be able to produce a very loud sound for the masses to hear. The public must be able to hear the sound they produce, hence the name “Public address (PA)” speakers. Such speakers can be pushed very hard for extended periods of time.
Even though a studio monitor can serve as a PA speaker, I wouldn’t advise you to use them for such an application. This is because when you drive studio monitors at high volumes for an extended period, you can easily damage them. And this, in turn, will make them sound horrible.
Studio monitors are ideal for critical listening. They help you hear exactly what is happening in the mix being created. Therefore, they must be used in places where accurate audio reproduction is done, particularly studios.
They should not be used for live shows, and other public settings use. Thus, if you intend to reproduce loud audio for large audiences and in public places like cafes, bars, and live shows, you should use PA speakers instead of studio monitors.
In summary, a studio monitor can be used as a PA speaker. This is because it is capable of reproducing all frequencies of sound, and some can actually play quite loud.
However, ideally, you should not use studio monitors as PA speakers. This is because studio monitors have a flat frequency response and are meant for applications where accurate audio reproduction is required. Studio monitors do not reproduce sound with high output volumes.
Thus, when they are used as PA speakers, the music they reproduce may not be heard by the audience that is far from the studio monitors.