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
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.
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.
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.
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.