Electronic Musician has a great article on properly choosing the correct studio monitors. This is one of the most critical elements to getting outstanding and proper mixes from your control room whether you run a small or large studio or a bedroom/basement production facility.
They open with this question, which nails it:
WHAT is the only component in your studio through which every recorded and mixed sound will pass? Your monitors. The quality and performance of your studio monitors are crucial to your productions, yet it’s amazing how many people will postpone purchasing good monitors while they go ahead and spend money on plug-ins, microphones, or outboard gear. The cold, hard truth is that if you really want to hear what’s going on in your recordings and mixes, you need to choose the right monitors.
The first step in picking the right loudspeakers is identifying the application and environment in which you’ll be using them. Bedroom studios don’t call for huge, “mains”-type monitors, and such speakers may actually be counterproductive in small rooms by (a) taking up too much space, (b) overpowering the room and exciting room resonances, and (c) pissing off your neighbors or spouse. A singer-songwriter who is recording acoustic music can prioritize sonic accuracy over high SPL and butt-thumping bottom. On the other hand, if you’re working with clients who like to listen loud and who produce music with a lot of bass, small monitors won’t cut it. Laws of physics still apply: The only way to move a lot of air is with a large driver.
Understanding the Specs – When researching monitors, you’ll encounter a lot of specifications, some of which are more meaningful than others. One spec that can be taken with a grain of salt is frequency response—one, it doesn’t tell you anything about the way the speaker sounds; and two, it can be subject to change based upon the speaker’s placement in the listening environment (though frequency response does provide a general idea of low-frequency extension). Maximum SPL (sound pressure level), measured in decibels, gives you an idea of the speaker’s peak volume capability, while long-term SPL indicates how loud the speaker can play over a long period of time. Keep in mind that if you are working an eight-hour day, to protect your hearing, you should be listening at SPLs in the mid-80s, and in most cases, these specs are way louder than that.
Get the whole scoop over here at eMusician.com