If you’re engineering audio for a record, a film, or a TV series, you’ll need a tool that accurately reproduces audio. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the best studio monitors that you can pick up for a reasonable budget.
Your average hi-fi loudspeakers at home are simply inadequate when it comes to reproducing audio. Their audio replay is compressed, and they can’t cope with the loud bursts of sound that come from unmastered mixes.
That’s where studio monitors come in. Unlike home loudspeakers, these are tailor-made for use by audio production professionals. Studio monitors will give you an accurate representation of the recorded audio.
This means the audio is flat, uncompressed, and undistorted. Sound engineers and mixers in recording studios and film studios rely on these machines.
So now you might say: “Well, that’s great. But how do I know which studio monitor is the best for me?”
Well, it really depends on what you need. But worry not, we’ll talk in detail about what you should consider before buying a studio monitor and list a few of our personal recommendations to get you started on the right path. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
The Best Studio Monitors
Let’s list a few quality studio monitors to help you get on the right path:
If you’re just looking to get your first studio monitor, and you’re on a tight budget, KRK has you covered. The 4th generation of these Gibson monitors fits comfortably in a reasonable price range. They are an especially good fit for electronic music producers.
I mentioned that they are perfect for beginners and not only for an affordable price. The size of this monitor ideal for your desktop or beginner’s mixer setup. The unit comes with a combo XLR/TRS socket.
The KRK Rokit RP7 G4 is equipped with an intuitive EQ system. You can control through the rear panel using an LCD. This makes adjusting the EQ for your room hassle-free. You can try about 25 combinations till you find something comfortable.
All-in-all, the KRK Rokit RP7 G4 is a well-built studio monitor with enough customization options and quality sound reproduction at an affordable price.
While this setup is by no means easy on the wallet. However, If you want to go hardcore and get some high-quality monitors, this is a sweet deal. The 8000 Series is bundled as a pair of monitors alongside a GLM Adapter Kit.
This package ensures that you’ll need nothing else. The sound quality is premium. The build quality is top-notch.
One thing We have to mention is that the frequency range starts at 74Hz, so the lows of your recording could suffer a little. So, the decision of whether you should pay the premium price for this set is up to you.
We recommend this one who’s willing to take advantage of the GLM adapter for calibration to get the most out of this package.
If you had previous experience using monitors and want to upgrade, these might be ideal. For beginners, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to need all the fancy features of this one.
- 95 dB
- 65 Hz - 21 kHz (-3dB)
- Woofer 4 inch + Tweeter 3/4 inch metal dome + DCW
- Woofer 20 W + Tweeter 20 W
- 1 x RCA analog input
There’s something special about owning and using the product of an industry giant. In the same way, Canon is a giant of the photography industry, Yamaha is huge in the music industry. Some will swear by Yamaha’s products as the best in the business.
If you’d like a taste of their products and join the legions of devoted fans, we have just the thing for you. The Yamaha HS5 is a small but robust little studio monitor. For a reasonable price tag, you get to join the Yamaha army.
At this price range, The Yamaha HS5 is the best sounding monitor you can possibly at a 54Hz to 30kHz frequency range, the sound clarity and detail it provides are simply unmatched by anything in this price range. Just don’t count on many tweaking options.
- 54Hz - 30kHz frequency response
- 45W LF plus 25W HF bi-amp system for high-performance 70W power amplification
- XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals
- Large magnets in an Advanced Magnetic Circuit design
- Sold as a single unit (not as a pair)
JBL is a reliable brand and the JBL LSR305P MKII is no different. These are perfect for a first-time buyer.
We bet you won’t need to upgrade these monitors until you’re ready to spend big bucks on a fancy monitor. The monitor produces a faithful sound to what you record with an EQ that’s balanced.
One important thing to note is that the MKII is especially beginner-friendly since you won’t need to strictly configure your room in order to get the best results. So, if you don’t have much space to reorganize, consider this one.
At a frequency range of 43Hz to 24kHz, you’re getting a lot of room to experience and mix your recording properly.
- Package Includes: (2) JBL 305P MkII 5" 2-Way Powered Studio Reference Monitor Monitoring Speaker....
- Next-generation JBL transducers for optimized transient response and improved linearity. Patented...
- Flexible connectivity with balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS inputs, +4dBu / -10dBV input-sensitivity switch...
- Crossover: 1725hz 4TH Order Acoustic Linkwitz-Riley. Input Sensitivity: 92 dB. Power Configuration:...
- System Distortion Criteria:
If you don’t really like to get into the nitty-gritty details of modification and just want to get accurately reproduced sound, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 might be for you. You won’t have to do much messing with EQ settings to get this one working.
Just makes sure to set them as close to your workstation as possible. The sound quality is at its best when you play recordings at a medium or low volume. TRS and RCA inputs are included.
The tuning options you might want to take advantage of are the low-end and high-end controls which are useful when it comes to tuning the monitor according to your room size. It’s a handy feature to have for sure.
- 3.5" Powered Studio Monit with Woven Composite Woofer
- 50W Class AB Amplification (pair)
- 1" Silk-dome Tweeter
If you don’t know ADAM Audio is a relative newcomer that made a name for themselves with innovative and high-quality products. The only problem? Their products were way out of budget for home studio owners.
Thankfully, ADAM Audio has blessed us with the T5V. It’s a reasonably-priced studio monitor aimed at people looking for a monitor to use in their home projects.
At an entry-level price tag, is it the great monitor people have been waiting for or an unfortunate disappointment?
The frequency range is pretty great. It ranges from 45 Hz to 25 kHz and is more than enough. The audio quality in general is excellent.
The small monitor is well-built and designed. Although, the performance isn’t as great at low-frequencies. Don’t be surprised, however. This is a common thing with small monitors.
Overall, I’d say this is a great choice for those who’ve seen ADAM products and wanted in on the action.
- Active Vertical 2-way Nearfield Monit with 50W 5" Woofer 20W U-ART Accelerated-ribbon Tweeter (each)
What to Consider Before Buying
The first thing you need to prepare is yourself, specifically, your ears. When we mentioned that studio monitors produce flat sounds, we mean it’s going to sound really different. There’s no bass boost or nice balance between highs and lows.
So, initially, everything will sound wrong. So listen differently, focus on the accuracy not the enjoyment of the sound.
The second thing you need to do is take specs with a big grain of salt. There’s going to be a lot of fancy terminology thrown around, SPL, THD, and frequency response.
While these specs are a helpful indication of the monitor’s performance, keep in mind that they are not standardized across the globe. Each manufacturer conducts its own tests and while two monitors have different numbers, they may be more similar than you think.
With that said, look out for these specs:
The accuracy of a monitor somewhat relies on its ability to handle your recording’s full frequency range.
The lowest frequency a monitor can handle is listed in Hz while the highest is listed in kHz. If a monitor can handle 50Hz to 20kHz, then it’s more than enough for the job.
THD or total harmonic distortion also indicates how accurate your monitor is. It indicates how much noise and distortion the monitor will produce.
The closer the number on this is to 0 the better. Anything more than 0.3% is terrible. Anything less is exactly what you’re looking for.
This one may not be as important as the rest, but it doesn’t hurt to know. Depending on the size of your studio, the wattage needs vary. 10 to 60 Watts is more than enough for a bedroom-sized studio. If you’re operating in a larger environment, you may need higher numbers.
This last one varies from near-field, mid-field, or far-field. This one also depends on your studio size. If you’re planning on setting up the monitors close to you, a near-field monitor is optimal.
While if you want to set them up far in the room, a mid-field or far-field monitor is better since you’ll have to account for sound reaching you accurately.
Best Studio Monitors – Wrapping Up
That’ll be all for our comprehensive studio monitors. They are essential tools for audio engineering due to their neutral sound reproduction. Remember to consider the things we listed before buying.
Set your ears for the flat sound reproduction. Also, make sure to check the specs, especially frequency range, THD, wattage, and field design.
Should you follow these tips, and do your research on the monitors we listed, you’ll have a great experience buying and using your first studio monitors.