What are Reference Speakers?

Not a lot of people are familiar with reference speakers or what they are in the first place. If you are one of them, then, you are definitely not alone. So, what are reference speakers?

What are Reference Speakers

Reference speakers are a type of audio equipment meant for studio use and mostly for mixing. Continue to read below to know more about reference speakers. This article aims to serve as your guide if you are looking for good quality speakers or you are planning to install a home theater soon.

What Does Reference Mean in the World of Speakers?

Those who are in the audio business often use the term reference every time they describe the qualities of loudspeakers. Reference may also refer to the specific amount of amplification that a speaker can do.

The term reference is also typically used by audiophiles to describe the characteristics of an AV equipment or loudspeaker without putting a lot of thought into what the word means.

Now that you know what reference means, how does it relate to reference speakers, and what makes them different from the rest of the speakers you can find out there?

An Overview of Reference Speakers

A reference speaker is something that can convincingly and naturally reproduce the sounds of voices and musical instruments.

If you use certain speakers when listening to music, you will be able to pick out some attributes when it comes to sound quality. Some of the words that often come to mind include detailed, transparent, and neutral. Audioholics and DJs use these words when describing the quality of sounds.

When using reference speakers, it is easy to spend long hours sitting down and listening as your favorite songs play in the background. Many people love these speakers because of the quality of the sounds they can produce.

This quality of reference speakers also makes them some of the best speakers you can get in the market right now. The natural quality of these speakers also allows you to categorize if your music is of excellent quality or not. Reference speakers are the only speakers that feature the technology that makes the whole process easy and possible.

History of Reference Speakers

Reference is the term often linked with the monitor used for decades at recording studios. Most of the time, this monitor is placed against the wall right in front of the recording equipment being used.

Back in the day, these were often huge JBL speakers that were not that reliable as far as the tone is concerned. However, they were quite durable enough and can even handle constant music mixing and remixing for 24 hours daily.

But with the rise of modern technological advancement, things have started to change, which means that the specifications of what makes speakers be considered reference speakers changed as well.

What are the Different Components of Reference Speakers?

Reference speakers have several components, and these include the following:


The majority of reference speakers today are bi-amplified, which means that each of them features two amps. These also come with a tweeter of high frequency and the woofer, both low and mid frequencies. Each of these speakers will have amplifiers of its own as long as you pick the right reference speaker that suits your needs.

Flat Response

Reference speakers have one primary purpose and that is to show you exactly what is happening in the track you are mixing. Flat response is all about giving you a better idea of how the different sounds in your mix are working.

Some of the features or devices that make it possible for a reference speaker to produce a flat response are built-in mixers, microphone pre-amps, and EQ settings.

It means that reference speakers also use state-of-the-art software that assures you that your songs will have a consistent translation across various platforms.

Magnetic Shield

If you have ever tried putting a magnet near an LCD computer screen, you might already know that magnets can be very damaging to devices, and speakers are not an exception.

The good news is that because reference speakers feature a magnetic shield, you can have peace of mind knowing that all of your hardware devices will be safe and free from damage.

What are the Different Types of Reference Speakers?

Just like regular speakers, reference speakers also have different types, namely active and passive reference speakers. Whatever you choose between these two will depend on your specific needs.

Active Reference Speakers

Many audiophiles and music lovers prefer using active reference speakers over passive ones as these feature built-in amps.

Active reference speakers are powered independently and connected to the mains. After plugging in the speaker cable, you can just turn it on, turn up its Audio Interface volume, and enjoy all your favorite songs and movies.

These reference speakers also have different designs and features, with some of them having built-in mixers, microphone pre-amps, and EQ settings. These extra features make it possible for you to mix sounds easily and quickly.

These features make active reference speakers a great option for bands, bar owners, professional public orators, and DJs who want to play live and prerecorded music without any issues.

Passive Reference Speakers

A passive reference speaker has a different design compared to that of its active counterparts. These reference speakers don’t feature built-in amplifiers, which means you will have to buy a mixer or amp separately after buying one.

You will then connect your passive reference speaker and amplifier or mixer, depending on what you are using. It means you will need more space and gear for the setup.

Since these are not all-in-one speaker systems, you have to make sure that the amp and speaker are compatible. Check the power and impedance ratings before you buy any component.

The Bottom Line

What are reference speakers? Reference speakers are high-quality speakers that can reproduce the sounds of songs and musical instruments accurately without enhancement. Since the subject is a bit tricky, only hardcore musical enthusiasts understand the term with no research.