The Best Studio Monitor Speakers for Music Production (2020 Guide)!
Goes without saying that monitors are essential in any recording studio. The market is overwhelmed with new models and to pick only seven of the best studio monitor speakers is not an easy task.
For proper recording, composing, mixing, and mastering, you will need a high-quality pair of studio monitor speakers. Every producer knows that is essential to listen to your tracks exactly how they sound. Therefore you cannot rely on just a pair of bookshelf speakers or your computer’s internal speakers. Devices that are designed to make the sound more attractive to your ears, rather than a proper flat response, are not recommended for home recording studios.
It is not quite right to simply make a list of the “best studio monitor speakers” or “best monitors for home studio” and successfully cover all your needs. Speaker preference is ultimately a personal thing. To make the right choice depends at first on your studio, it’s size, available space, your available budget, and of-course personal preference on the sound response.
There are plenty of cheap monitors in the market for beginner producers and those with basic home studios. However, not all affordable speakers are a compromise, since most hi-end brands managed to deliver a speaker that compares well with many of the more costly and premium alternatives. Yamaha, KRK, JBL, PreSonus, Genelec, Adam are just a few
The sound quality is subjective; what you like somebody else might hates!
Spending more money doesn’t guarantee better speakers. Studio monitors achieve full potential in rooms with acoustic that compliments them.
Your preference in music genres also affects the monitor selection as long as they provide a friendly, accurate, and flat sound.
For a good pair of home studio monitors, you do NOT have to spend big.
Contrary to common belief, studio monitors are not very expensive. There are plenty of excellent options available for less than $500 a pair. For home and semi-pro recording studios, those pairs are ideal, offering great audio, sound, and long-term use.
What to consider before buying your studio monitor speaker:
- Passive or Active:
Studio monitor speakers are separated into Active and Passive. Active monitors, also known as powered, have an amplifier built into them, so you don’t need anything else to start using them. Passive monitors, on the other hand, need an external amp to power them. In our list, we will explore active monitor speakers that the manufacturer adds the perfect internal amp with the speaker, leading to the best possible performance. If you want more details and a comparison of active and passive studio monitor speakers check this post by prostudiogear.com.
- Speaker size:
By speaker size, we mean woofer size. It’s pretty easy to recognize them by name. Yamaha HS5 has a 5″ inch woofer, HS7 has 7″inch, and so on. The size of the woofer is a fundamental matter to consider, and the choice should be proportionate to the size of your room. As well as the bass response you desire in your home recording studio. Big speakers sound better in big rooms and small speakers in smaller spaces. To own a tiny home studio and purchase speakers over 5 inches, is pointless.
- Frequency response:
The average human ears enjoy frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz. Studio monitors will specify their frequency range, something between 35Hz to 35kHz. Those specs should be expected on speakers with woofer over 8″ inch. On 5″ inch woofers, you will hear from 45Hz to 35kHz. Once again, the sound quality is subjective; what you like somebody else might hates!
Our top choices for the best studio monitor speakers in 2020 are:
- Yamaha HS 7
- KRK Rokit Rokit RP7 G4
- ADAM Audio T7V (new entry)
- JBL LSR 308
- FOCAL ALPHA 65
- PreSonus Eris E 8
- Genelec 8010A
Pieces of information, such as personal experience, reviews, characteristics, and budget, led us on this list of the best studio monitor speakers for home recording and music production.
Powerful enough for any studio, yet affordable enough for any budget:
Top 7 Best Studio Monitor Speakers in 2020 – Reviews
1. YAMAHA HS 5/7/8 Studio Monitor Speaker
Since 1980, the legendary NS10M, people were waiting for a modern equivalent of it, and years later Yamaha produced the new HS series. YAMAHA HS is available with 3 different woofer sizes, HS5= 5″, HS7= 6.5″ and HS8=8″.
Yamaha HS is a superb monitor speaker. It offers incredibly flat frequency response, outstanding clarity, and competence that you will not find in any other speaker at this price range. The cutting edge noise reduction technology and the integrated amplifier unit perfectly matched to each model of the series will deliver high-resolution sound. The mids and high frequencies are excellent balanced, and the bass response is clear to work perfectly when mixing mastering or producing. Highly suggested for pop, rock ad instrumental music, but not ideal for EDM or other bass dominant music genres.
The pair by Yamaha might not have any special feature that out-stands others but offers a nice depth of field and excellent sense of stereo positioning. There are both XLR and TRS jack inputs with the outputs to the main speakers on balanced XLRs. One of the reasons that put this pair on the top of our list of the best studio monitors is the nearly perfect reviews and ratings by users all around the globe.
Conclusion: One of the most accurate studio monitors is also super affordable. Unless you work in a big studio room, then the HS5 or HS7 will get the job done. The design is neat with a black plastic foil covering cabinets and white cone woofer that reminds us of the legendary NS10. But with remarkable improvements in sound quality is totally worth the investment.
Musicians who use it: Linkin Park, Kygo, Digitalism, Amine Edge
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 6.5″ / 8″|
|Frequency Response:||54Hz-30kHz / 43Hz – 30kHz / 38Hz – 30kHz|
|Output Power:||75W / 95W / 120W|
2. KRK ROKIT RP5/7/8/10 G4
KRK studio is well known for accurate, reliable, and innovative engineering audio equipment. I have changed a couple of studio monitors before I rest with the Rokit G4 RP7 by KRK. Fortunately, I had a friend back then working with a Rokit RP8 in his well-soundproofed studio room, and I got amazed by the power and sound quality of this pair.
KRK Rokit may not offer such a perfectly flat sound response as the HS by Yamaha, but it provides impressive deep and punchy bass, along with balanced and clear mids and highs. The ROKIT 7 G4 includes a 6,5” Kevlar Aramid Fiber composite yellow-colored woofer and a 1” soft-dome tweeter that reaches to frequencies up to 40kHz.
On the back of the speaker, it is probably the coolest feature of the new Rokit G4 line of studio monitors. The LCD graphic display with 25 different onboard EQ settings is ideal to correct the acoustic and get the most out of your audio if any environment. You can even calibrate EQ settings for proper speaker placement and level matching with the use of the real-time KRK Room Acoustic Analyzer app, available for both iOS and Android.
The KRK studio monitors come in four different woofer sizes, 5″,6,5″,8″ and 10″ as seen by the names Rokit RP5/RP7/RP8/RP10. The RP5 and RP7 are great for any small to a middle-sized recording studio. Otherwise, 8″ or 10″ is the choice if your room is relatively big. The biggest model of this series it’s a 3-way speaker, so you will not need to spend money on a new subwoofer.
Conclusion: The yellow feature woofer by KRK appears in most electronic recording studios and not only. The deep bass response and clear highs make it ideal for any music genres with punchy sounds. With a sweet price, the top-rated KRK RP7 is, without a doubt, an excellent choice for your home recording studio. This studio monitor will fit perfectly with the matched studio subwoofer by KRK.
Musicians who use it: Adam Port, &ME, Guy J, Skrillex, Kygo, Nicky Romero, and the majority of electronic music producers.
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 6,5″ / 8″ /10″|
|Frequency Response:||43Hz-40kHz / 42Hz – 40kHz / 36Hz – 40kHz / 26Hz – 40kHz|
|Output Power:||55W / 145W / 200W / 300W|
3. ADAM Audio T5V / T7V Powered Studio Monitor (new entry)
ADAM has been producing cutting edge active studio monitor speakers for many years. Well-known for its larger and vastly more expensive monitors, in work by many professional audio engineers and producers.
The T5V and the slightly bigger T7V are the company’s entry-level monitors, excellent for beginners with a tight budget. Both models have the 48mm U-ART ribbon tweeter which is made from a pleated polyamide film – a new design copied from ADAM’s premium S Series studio monitors. It’s a wonderfully efficient design (is moving air four times faster than conventional dome tweeters) offering a high-frequency response so clear and crisp that makes it dominant in its category.
These professional 2-way active studio monitors offer a well‑balanced overall sound with detailed mids and tight full-bodied bass. Loudspeakers with a five or seven-inch woofer are not going to reproduce a massive low-end, but the T7V will get the job done. Compared to the Yamaha HS series, the midrange is less expressive, but the overall frequency response is much broader.
ADAM’s T series only downsize is the rear-ported design and knobs for filter adjustment on the back (just a 2db boost or reduction on highs and lows). As well, it does not have a light indicator on the front to let you know when your speaker is ON or OFF.
Conclusion: ADAM did a great job producing a trustworthy studio monitor at a very attractive price. There are already plenty of impressed users praising its detailed accuracy and transparency, often compared to higher-end products. Both T7V and T5Vspeakers are designed to provide full‑range coverage, but they can also be used with THE ADAM Sub8 subwoofer to create a powerful 2.1 system.
|Models:||T5V / T7V|
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 7″|
|Frequency Response:||45Hz – 25kHz / 39Hz – 25kHz|
|Output Power:||50W / 50W|
4. JBL LSR 305 / 306 / 308 MKII Monitor Speaker
JBL is a popular brand not only for music producers but musicians and audiophiles of all kinds. It is also known for the production of high-quality studio monitors, PA systems and really powerful subwoofers.
JBL LSR 305, 306, and 308 offer 5″, 6″ and 8-inch woofer sizes, respectively, and cannot go unnoticed by anyone with a tight budget. The Mk II series (2nd generation) features updated high and low-frequency transducers, which respectively optimized damping for a superior sound response. This studio monitor offers excellent sound quality with smooth and precise mids and highs. Along with impressively deep bass with lower harmonic distortion, due to the slipstream low-frequency port design.
Even tho LSR is not such a popular monitor speaker compare to the above. It has satisfied users and hundreds of great reviews on the web, giving us one more reason to trust this series by JBL. However, there are a couple of reviews by users not satisfied with the performance of mid frequencies. We believe it is because of high standards or lousy room acoustics.
Conclusion: JBL studio monitors have a beautifully sleek, modern design that makes it a significant upgrade to any studio. To get a pair of pro-5-inch studio monitors with impressive performance, well-defined bass for such a low price, then it surely is an excellent “value for money” purchase. Its only minus, like the Yamaha HS series, is the limited manual frequency correction on the backside.
|Models:||LSR 305/LSR 306/LSR 308|
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 6″ / 8″|
|Frequency Response:||49Hz – 20kHz / 47Hz – 20kHz / 47Hz – 20kHz|
|Output Power:||82W / 112W / 112W|
5. FOCAL ALPHA 50/65/80
The award-winning by Music Tech, Focal Alpha 50/65/80 can satisfy even the most demanding users and owners of any recording studio. Focal professional is not a commercial brand like Yamaha and KRK but is very famous to experienced studio owners.
Focal Alpha is available in 3 different woofer sizes, 5″, 6,5″ and 8″ as indicates the models’ name. Its sound quality outperforms most of its competitors, with deep and clear bass, smooth high frequencies and balanced midrange response.
The ALPHA65 has a 6.5-inch powerful poly-glass cone subwoofer and 1-inch aluminum inverted dome tweeter. The Woofer has a 70W amplifier, and the tweeter has a 35W amp. It is giving total output power 103Watts with a frequency response of 40Hz to 22kHz. It also has room correction EQ, and you can connect up to 2 audio sources.
The details make the difference, and Focal Alpha even offers an automatic standby mode that turns off the speaker after 30 minutes of inactivity. A pretty useful feature for forgetful users like me. Important to add the 15mm thick MDF build, partially with a vinyl finish that will make your speaker handle any hardship.
A slide switch boosts the volume up to 6dB if needed, and twin shelving EQs with corner frequencies at 300Hz and 4.5kHz allows you to adjust the monitor’s frequency response at your desire.
Conclusion: As we mentioned before, Focal doesn’t have a big audience like other brands, but this small crowd gives excellent reviews. The price tag is the only misgiving of the Focal Alpha series. But if you want loud monitors with powerful bass and quality audio to vibe up your studio, then the Alpha 80 is a perfect choice.
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 6.5″ / 8″|
|Frequency Response:||45Hz – 22kHz / 40Hz – 22kHz / 35Hz – 22kHz|
|Output Power:||103W / 105W / 140W|
6. PreSonus Eris E 5/8/44/66
PreSonus is an American manufacturer with over 23 years in the professional audio equipment and software industry. Their gear and monitor speakers are in work in radio, TV, streaming music, online videos, and movie and gaming soundtracks.
The Eris series comes with 3.5″, 4,5″, 5″ and 8″-inch woofer. Plus two more models the 44 and 66 with dual woofers 4,5″ and 6.5″. Check out the full series review of the Presonus Eris E.
In general, the sound response of the E series is flat and precise. The mids are highly detailed and revealing, and the metal grid in front of the tweeter gives crisp and clear high frequencies up to 22KHz. The E5 may not be able to produce a significant amount of deep low frequencies. You do have a tight and solid bass but not on the level of the above models. The Eris E8, on the other hand, offers a deep and clear bass response that works perfectly well in a studio without the need for a sub. The 8-inch woofer offers 140W amp and 105 dB maximum SPL for intense studio sessions.
On the backside of the speaker, there are a bunch of EQ settings to adjust and correct the acoustic of your room:
- Mid-range controls (1 kHz): +/- 6 dB
- High frequencies controls (4.5 kHz): +/- 6 dB
- Switchable highpass filter: 80 Hz – 100 Hz
- Acoustic-Space switch: 0dB, -2 dB, -4 dB
As well, there are 3 input ports, RCA, TRS, and a balanced XLR.
The Presonus Eris has a relatively simple appearance, but the matte black finish gives a modern and sleek design to look great in any studio setup. It is also very portable, as it weighs around 10lbs, which is a few pounds lighter compared to most 5-inch studio speakers.
Eris E monitor series is suitable for an extensive range of musicians. The versatility offered by the rear-panel controls on the speakers will fit ideally in a studio of most electronic and hip-hop music producers.
Conclusion: There may be some better studio monitors out there, but at this price range, not many speakers can beat the Eris. It’s light, portable, and if you have a small home studio, even the 3.5″ and 4.5″-inch model will cover your needs. Without a doubt, one of the best studio monitor speaker for the money.
|Frequency Response:||53Hz-22kHz / 35Hz-22kHz / 55Hz-22kHz / 45Hz- 22kHz|
|Output Power:||80W / 140W / 135W / 145W|
7. GENELEC 8010A
If you want to become a music producer, you need to be generous when it comes to sound quality. Genelec is a high-end brand, trusted by many musicians and used in many professional recording studios. If your pocket can afford it, Genelec sound is probably the best you will ever get in your home recording studio.
You will be amazed by the smooth and loud sound with a superb deep bass that comes out from this tiny studio monitor. To add also the smooth and accurate mids and highs that make it perfect for every producer to mix and master every music genre. It doesn’t fill your eye that this 3-inch woofer that is smaller than the size of your palm, but it does deliver a crystal clear sound.
Conclusion: Genelec is the Lamborghini of speakers, and 8010A is a fantastic studio monitor, but not very budget-friendly. There are also other similar models with bigger woofer size than 8010A, like the 8020CPM, 8030B, 8040B and 8050B, but except the first one, all the rest are very pricy.
|Frequency Response:||74Hz – 20kHz|
These were our top 6 picks for the best studio monitor speakers in the market today!
Image Source: bhphotovideo.com
How to properly place and set up your studio monitors:
One of the most important things you will do in your home studio is making sure that your monitors are set up and placed properly. Most sound engineers and music producers prefer using their monitors to create an equilateral triangle, and this is the best way to ensure that the proper balanced sound levels and frequencies are going to reach your ears.
If your monitors are placed too wide or facing straight ahead, you may end up missing low frequencies or create a weird stereo mono mix. Ideally, have a 3 feet distance between you and your speakers. It is also important that the height of your studio monitors needs to be on the same level to your ears.
Image Source: thomann.de
Check out this complete guide by Wikiaudio on how to set up your studio monitors.
Is a pair of studio monitors enough, or do I need a subwoofer?
For starters, a good pair of speakers is perfect. However, most semi-pro and pro studios have more than one pair. That way, they have the opportunity to listen to a track from different sound perspectives. If you also add a good pair of studio headphones, then you have a broad range of different sound outputs to help you get the best results in your productions.
The installation of a subwoofer in your studio is a nice idea but only to delight your ears. Otherwise, it will boost the bass, and you won’t hear an accurate sound to deliver proper mixing and mastering. If you still want a full-range bass sound in your home studio, check the best studio monitor subwoofers.
Can you use studio monitors for regular speakers?
Yes, you can use them, but not in big spaces and rooms. The bass and sound will not be heard if you will be sitting far from the monitor. You will need large studio monitors for a party or an event. Otherwise, they won’t work for you. Check some of the best powered speakers for DJs if you heave different audio needs.
What tools you will need to complete your home studio:
The additional tools that will complete your home recording studio are the audio interface, DAW, and MIDI keyboard. In our article The Best Audio Interface under $200 and The Best Thunderbolt interfaces, you will find popular brands that will include music production software such as Ableton Live.
Here you will find everything on how to build a home recording studio at under $600.
Monitoring speakers are an essential studio tool for creating high-quality recordings and mixes. Since you’ll probably be using your monitor speakers a lot, it’s worth getting a pair that you’ll be 100% pleased with the results. It is a studio tool that you should not be afraid to spend a little more.
The Yamaha studio monitor speaker will be ideal for nearly every musician out there. KRK and JBL are known world-wide for perfect studio monitors for electronic music. And no one can ignore the high-end sound quality of Genelec speakers.
The active monitor speaker market appears big nowadays, there are “too” many brands and models available. Without a doubt, it is a hard choice to make, but all options will fit perfectly in any home recording studio. All models above offer a nice flat and balanced sound, in a lovely designed housing, available on many woofer sizes and with a friendly price tag.
There were a few more models that could fit on that list such as Equator D5, Mackie MR5, but we preferred to keep the list tight and make your choice easier. Keep in mind that you will need to buy a pair, as they are often sold separately, which can be a little confusing.
Did you find this article helpful? Feel free to drop some knowledge on any of the studio monitors in this list or add your thoughts and questions.
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