7 Best Studio Monitors For Home Studio Reviewed [2020]

best studio monitors for home studio reviewed

Studio monitors are one of the most important pieces of gear in your studio. Getting a pair that suits your studio space and the music you make is essential.

But choosing a set of monitors is difficult and will take you a ton of time if you do it properly. Some of the things you’ll need to learn about & consider include the monitor’s: frequency, SPL, size, power, connections, brands, etc…

So we went ahead and picked the 7 best studio monitors for every price range, and reviewed them below.

Ready? Let’s get started…

(P.S. If you want to learn more about the specific features, scroll down to our buyer’s guide at the bottom of this article. )

7 Best Studio Monitors For Home Studio Reviewed

1. Dynaudio BM5 MKIII – Best Overall

Dynaudio BM5 MKIII 100-Watt Studio Monitor Check Price
  • System: 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor
  • Tweeter: 1”
  • Woofer: 7”
  • Amplifier power: Tweeter – 50W, Woofer – 50W
  • Frequency Response: 42Hz – 24kHz
  • Max SPL: 118 dB 
  • Connections: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA

Dynaudio is a trusted monitor manufacturer for many producers. This product gives you their typical, consistent quality and performance.

Despite their small size, they pump out a massive sound with zero distortion, even at high volumes. The MKIII model gives you the latest in sound technology and the results are impressive.

The speakers feature low, mid, and high-frequency filters that help you tune the speakers to the space you’re working in. They also have a high pass filter if you want to combine them with a subwoofer.

They don’t have a conventional volume knob – instead, they have a level trim switch on the back. There’s an optional remote control that you can get to adjust this, but it’s expensive, and for most people, it’s just not necessary.

These speakers are incredibly accurate. You’ll be able to hear the truest version of your mix’s frequency response and dynamic range. Even with this extreme accuracy, they don’t really give you listening fatigue, even after long mixing sessions. 

They sound great for mixing in many different genres. These get our vote as the best overall monitors.

Pros:

  • Accurate, impressive sound
  • Works with different genres
  • Bass, mid, high-frequency filters

Cons:

  • For extended lows, you need a subwoofer
  • Volume adjusted switch
  • Expensive remote control for volume contro

2. KRK Rokit 5 G4 – Best Budget Monitors

KRK RP5 Rokit G4 Studio Monitor, Black (RP5G4-NA) Check Price
  • System: 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor
  • Tweeter: 1”
  • Woofer: 5”
  • Amplifier power: Total power 55W
  • Frequency Response: 43Hz – 40kHz
  • Max SPL: 104 dB 
  • Connections: Balanced TRS/XLR combo jacks

The KRK Rokit series has been a favorite of bedroom producers for a long time. Now on generation 4, this option from the Rokit line will help get you up and running on a smaller budget.

The Rokit 5 G4 is an entry-level model that still packs a punch. Some people do find that KRK monitors have an over-emphasized bass response, but others enjoy this punchy low-end.

The updates to this 4th generation model include an onboard DSP-driven graphic EQ. This gives you more control over the output than typical dip switches, so you can tune it more accurately to your room. The settings can also be adjusted with an app.

Although this model features a smaller woofer than the Dynaudio’s, its low-end response is similar. This means that it’s good for DJs and electronic dance music producers on a budget. 

That being said, we’ve also used them for mixing and mastering on a folk music record, and they worked great for that genre, too. The price tag on this one makes it a good competitor with the other models on our list.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Great low-end response for their size

Cons:

  • DSP EQ provides presets only
  • Not as detailed as more expensive monitors

3. Genelec 8040B – Premium Pick

Genelec 8040B Bi-Amplified Monitor System (Each) Black Check Price
  • System: 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor
  • Tweeter: 0.75”
  • Woofer: 6.5”
  • Amplifier power: Tweeter – 90W, Woofer – 90W
  • Frequency Response: 48Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 115 dB 
  • Connections: 1 x XLR

Genelec monitors are renowned for their excellent performance and accurate, uncolored frequency response.

The frequency response of these monitors is wide enough for most uses, with 2 powerful amplifiers that give off zero distortion when monitoring at higher levels.

All this comes at a price, but what you get is super detailed sound across the entire frequency range. You can hear every subtle nuance and fluctuation in tone and dynamics.

For some, Genelec speakers are too detailed, if there can be such a thing. Their detail is fatiguing for people who want a more “musical” speaker. If your budget allows it and you need zero compromises in sound quality, the 8040B’s will deliver for you, time and time again.

Pros:

  • Incredibly accurate and detailed sound
  • Excellent design
  • Work across multiple genres

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Sound too hard to some ears

4. Yamaha HS8

YAMAHA HS8 Studio Monitor, Black, 8 Inch Check Price
  • System: 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor
  • Tweeter: 1”
  • Woofer: 8”
  • Amplifier power: Tweeter – 45W, Woofer – 75W
  • Frequency Response: 38Hz – 30kHz
  • Max SPL: Info not available 
  • Connections: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS

In so many professional music studios you walk into, you can spot Yamaha’s classic  black box and white cone monitor design. The legendary NS10 has been a studio staple for decades – and now, it has evolved into the HS8.

The NS10s were renowned for a hard and slightly ugly sound while still being accurate. They helped produce mixes that translated well to other speakers, and, famously, the radio.

The HS8s give you that accuracy but with a vastly improved listening experience. They’re much better for extended mixing sessions than the NS10s.

The design of these monitors eliminates unwanted noise and resonances to help produce the truest sonic result. The overall performance gives you clear results, and the bass output is solid enough for smaller spaces.

Pros:

  • Solid sonic results
  • Reasonable price

Cons:

  • Yamaha recommends having space around the speakers
  • Bass not that punchy

5. ADAM Audio A7X

Adam Audio A7X Powered Studio Monitor Check Price
  • System: 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor
  • Tweeter: 2”
  • Woofer: 7”
  • Amplifier power: Tweeter – 50W, Woofer – 100W
  • Frequency Response: 42Hz – 50kHz
  • Max SPL: 114 dB SPL 
  • Connections: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA

The A7X is an improved version of Adam’s popular A7 model. It produces a balanced sound across the entire frequency range that goes far beyond what our ears can even pick up.

The extent of the sound might not be super necessary, since we don’t hear beyond 20kHz – but these monitors do give you an accurate and detailed high end and transients project well.

Typically, monitors have their bass ports on the back, which limits your placement options for them. The A7X’s are different. They have 2 ports on the front, so in small bedroom studios, you can place them closer to the wall.

These monitors aren’t cheap, but neither is their sound. The bass range is adequate, not too punchy, but the mid and high-frequency ranges really shine. They produce an open sound which is pleasing to listen to for long periods, and they’re accurate and powerful enough for almost anything you’d want to use them for.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound reproduction 
  • Front bass ports

Cons:

  • Bass could punch more
  • Not cheap

6. Neumann KH 120 A

Neumann KH 120 A - Active Studio Monitor Check Price
  • System: 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor
  • Tweeter: 1”
  • Woofer: 5.25”
  • Amplifier power: Tweeter – 50W, Woofer – 50W
  • Frequency Response: 52Hz – 21kHz
  • Max SPL: 111.1 dB SPL 
  • Connections: 1 x XLR

Neumann is one of the most famous microphone manufacturers in the world. They are renowned for excellent design, character and sound quality. Their nearfield monitors continue this high standard.

These monitors have a wide sweet spot, so if you move around in front of a console, the stereo field won’t change very much.

They don’t have a big woofer, and that means the low end is a bit light for some applications. But, for those in small spaces with bass issues, these work well when you pair them with a good set of headphones.

Despite their small size, they compare well against some bigger designs and produce a clear and accurate sound. The attention to detail in the design reduces noise and protects the speaker from outside electrical interference. This speaker deserves its popularity.

Pros:

  • Wide and stable stereo image
  • Big sound for its size

Cons:

  • Would need a subwoofer for some applications 
  • Expensive for their size

7. Focal Solo6

Focal Solo6 Be 6.5 Inches Powered Studio Monitor Check Price
  • System: 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor
  • Tweeter: 1”
  • Woofer: 6.5”
  • Amplifier power: Tweeter – 100W, Woofer – 150W
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz – 40kHz
  • Max SPL: 113 dB SPL 
  • Connections: 1 x XLR

Focal makes great-looking speakers with technical specs to match. With a wide frequency range and powerful amplifiers, these monitors give good results in any application.

All frequency ranges sound great with this option. The low and high-mids are detailed and the high-end is open and airy. For speakers of this size, the bass is very solid, you don’t really need to buy a subwoofer

From testing these speakers across various genres, we felt that they helped us find things to fix and translated well to other speakers. The stereo imaging is excellent. These are perfect for long listening sessions.

Pros:

  • Very musical sound reproduction
  • Great design and construction 

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Some say they are too “hi-fi”

Best Studio Monitors Buyer’s Guide

best studio monitors buyer's guide

Short Summary: Any good studio monitor will have the following features checked:

  • A wide frequency response
  • They shouldn’t color or hype the sound, e.g. boost highs or lows
  • Enough detail to hear the smallest irregularity 
  • Zero distortion
  • They allow your mixes to translate well to other speakers/listening environments

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common questions.

Active Monitors vs. Passive Monitors

Active monitors have built-in amplifiers within the speaker cabinet and connect directly to your soundcard or mixer. Passive monitors need an external amplifier to drive the speaker.

All the monitors reviewed here are active monitors. Unless you want to create a very specialized monitoring system, active monitors are the way to go. 99% of professional studios use active monitors.

Apart from being more compact and requiring less cabling, active monitors use 2 amplifiers (bi-amplified) in each speaker, or 3 for larger monitors. 

This means that each amplifier is optimized for each speaker and sends it the right amount of power. You get less distortion, less unwanted artifacts in the sound, and greater accuracy.

If you need to listen at high volumes, make sure that your amplifiers are powerful enough so that you don’t overload them and produce distortion.

Frequency Range

The human hearing range is about 20Hz – 20 kHz. Ideally, the frequency response of your monitors would match that, but this often isn’t possible for many reasons.

First, budget considerations. The wider the frequency range, the more expensive the monitor. We made sure to include monitors here that won’t break your bank and still go down to the 40 Hz range, though.

The size of the woofer goes with the degree of bass it can reproduce accurately – bigger equals lower.

It’s important to note that you need a lot of power to get an accurate bass sound. If your woofer amplifier isn’t powerful enough, the bass will distort at higher volumes.

At the other end of the scale, speakers always go at least as high as 20kHz, with some going far beyond. But, all designs aren’t equal.  Some are rated to go well beyond human hearing range but aren’t actually better than ones that only go to 20kHz.

Subwoofer or not?

If you need to extend the lower frequency range of your monitoring system, you can add a subwoofer.

This can come later when you have more money to spare. Depending on the size of your monitoring environment, too much bass can be a problem. 

Having monitors that are a bit bass light and then judging sub-bass on your headphones is a good compromise. We recommend starting off without a subwoofer and seeing how your studio responds.

Filters, EQ, Dip-switches

Lots of monitors come with additional features to shape the frequency response of the monitors so they can better fit the listening environment. You usually see this in filters that adjust the lows, the highs, and sometimes the mids.

Positioning

Where you’ll place your speakers is important to consider. When choosing a pair of monitors, read their manual to see if there are any special placement instructions.

Placing speakers too close to a wall almost always increases the bass in the listening environment because of the proximity effect. Some speakers have bass ports on the rear, others on the front. It’s good to look at all this if space is an issue for you.

Acoustic Treatment

No matter how good the monitors, if space itself has acoustic issues – standing waves, echo, vibrations, etc. – these need to be dealt with so that your monitors and mixes can shine.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. Some minor adjustments can give you much better results.

Studio Monitors vs. Normal Speakers

Studio monitors are designed to give you a real sense of what your mix actually sounds like. Unlike hi-fi speakers, they don’t color or hype the sound to make it more pleasant.

When your monitors are performing as they should, your mixes should translate to different sound systems and spaces and still sound amazing in terms of frequency balance, dynamics, and stereo image.

Conclusion and Takeaway

If you’re new to producing music, we recommend KRK’s Rokit 5 G4 monitors. They have a good frequency response, they can be loud without distorting, and they’re relatively cheap. They could satisfy your needs for a long time before you need to upgrade anything.

Yes, you might want to upgrade later, because when you get more experienced at mixing, you’ll want to hear more detail in your productions. Budget monitors can show inaccuracies when you listen with other speakers and in other listening environments, i.e. a club, and that makes your mixes sound unprofessional. 

Your music should have the same impact on your listeners as the other music you love. An upgrade to your monitors later on can make a big difference in that.

If you’re already a more experienced sound engineer, producer, or musician, then you need the best. You probably need to work in a variety of genres and applications, including mastering, and you can’t compromise your output with sub-standard monitors.

If this is you, we recommend Genelec’s 8040B. These monitors produce incredibly accurate results, zero distortion, and an excellent stereo field. There are good reasons that you see this brand in all the top studios in the world. 

Their quality is tried and tested. In a room with decent acoustics, these monitors enable you to produce music confidently that will translate well to other speakers.