Should You Turn Studio Monitors All the Way Up?

Your studio monitors are a central reference point for everything you hear while recording or mixing. Maybe you have a target volume where you know the mix sounds its best, or perhaps there is a certain volume level that never sounds good. Whatever it is, there’s most likely a sweet spot for monitoring your music, but should you turn your monitors all the way up?

You should not turn studio monitors all the way up because they can become too loud to listen to for extended periods. Clipping and distortion may also arise when you turn the volume all the way up. Studio monitors are different, and what works for one speaker won’t necessarily work for another. 

Every speaker has an ideal volume range to get the most out of it. In other words, some speakers sound bad when you turn them up all the way, and others are not so clear to catch transients and other little details in the mix. This article will focus on why you shouldn’t turn your monitors all the way up and what to do instead.

Table of Contents

Why You Shouldn’t Turn Your Monitors All the Way Up

You might be tempted to increase the volume to ensure you can hear every little detail. While this won’t damage your hearing to the extent of blasting music at a high volume, it can still be harmful.

Research backs this up; turning up your monitor’s volume above 70 dB (decibels) can damage your hearing, cause fatigue, and trigger stress.

Additionally, you might find it harder to concentrate as you have to listen to external noise at a higher volume.

It’s easy to forget about your speakers when you’re so focused on what’s happening on your screen. But turning your speakers up too high can actually damage them.

Loud sounds consume more amp power, and pushing an amplifier too hard can cause clipping, which, in turn, can potentially damage your speakers.

While it’s not suitable to turn your monitors too high, don’t turn them too low either. You don’t want to be hearing all the fan noise, air conditioner noise, and other things going on in your room.

Adjusting Your Monitor Volume During Recording

You need to find a good balance between clearing out the room noise and hearing. How, you might ask?

  • The first is with monitor placement. The speakers should be facing you, and you should be equidistant from each one. That way, you will hear the same sound in both ears at the same level, and you won’t have as much room noise getting in the way. Some people turn their monitors sideways for several reasons, which I’ve discussed in a separate article. Why Do People Turn their Studio Monitors Sideways?
  • The second is with adjusting the volume in dB. The general rule of thumb is to keep the volume at or below 80-85 dB. As loudness increases past the optimal level, the quality of your audio decreases. At very high volumes, you may experience clipping, which is a distortion of the audio signal. Too much clipping results in a very harsh-sounding audio track that is almost unlistenable.
  • The third is monitor calibration. Studio monitor calibration is a topic discussed in a more extensive article. Calibrating a studio will help you hear exactly what you are recording or mixing. This will help you avoid over or under-EQing your recordings.

The goal of speaker calibration is to adjust the sound pressure levels coming out of your speakers to represent an accurate stereo image. We’ve outlined a few steps to follow:

  1. Turn your monitors all the way down (volume to zero).
  2. Set your gear (interface, amp, preamp) to an output of 0dB (also called the unity gain). The unity gain allows the audio input level on the device to be equal to the output on the same device.
  3. Place your SPL meter in your listening position and set it to C-weighted and slow response.
  4. Play a -20dB pink noise and adjust your monitors one at a time until each reaches a volume between 75-85dB.

You can also adjust the volume on each monitor individually. Every room is different, but with a little calibration, you may find the “sweet spot” for your mixing.

I also recommend reading my full guide on comparing studio monitors and speakers. You’ll learn everything about their designs and purpose. Studio Monitors vs. Speakers – Everything You Need To Know

What To Do Before You Start Recording

You should always check your studio monitors to ensure they are not popping or humming before you start recording. As your ears naturally warm up as you start recording, you want to ensure you listen at a comfortable volume.

If the volume is too low, you can always turn the volume knob up. If it’s too loud, you can always turn it down. 

Find the Right Volume for You

Different audio experts like to work at different volumes. Some like to work at lower volumes that are soft on their ears, and others like to work at very high volumes.

The volume at which you work should be based on what works best for you. There are no rules when it comes to mixing and recording. There are only guidelines that you can use to help you make the best possible decision for your music.


There are some EQ settings you might want to try out before you really get into recording. Some people may call this “pre-EQing” their monitors, but I don’t really like that term because it doesn’t accurately reflect this meaning. It’s advisable to try out different settings to see which one sounds best. 

You can also do this with the track or the master fader. If you still aren’t sure what frequencies you want to cut or boost, don’t hesitate to ask a professional.

Take Advantage of Headroom

Generally, you want to turn up your monitors a bit above where you want them to be. Having a decent amount of headroom is important for a few different reasons. First, it will help prevent clipping and distortion. If you are hitting the max volume, your sound is going to be distorted, which is bad. 

If you have headroom, it allows the sound to swell suddenly past the max volume without distorting. That way, you don’t have to worry about clipping and can just focus on getting a good mix.


Monitoring is one of the most important steps in mixing, as this is where you can catch phase issues, frequencies that are too hot or too soft, as well as listen for anything out of place. Ideally, you want to have monitors set at a low volume so that you can focus on the sound itself instead of how loud it is.

Juan Louder

I started SoundStudioMagic to learn how to record my own audiobook at home, and now I'm addicted to all the latest techniques and gear.

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