The Best Studio Monitor Speakers for Home Recording in 2018
Goes without saying that monitors are essential in any recording studio. To pick only five of the best studio monitor speakers in the market is not an easy task.
You need to hear your tracks exactly how it sounds, therefore you cannot rely on a pair of headphones or any hi-fi or computer speakers. Devices that are designed to make the sound more attractive to your ears rather than a proper flat response.
It is not quite right to simply make a list of the “best studio monitor speakers” or “best studio monitors for electronic music” 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.
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 doesn’t affect the monitor selection. As long as they provide a nice, accurate and flat sound.
For a good pair of 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 a home and semi-pro recording studios, those pairs are ideal, offering great sound and long-term use.
What to consider before buying your monitor speaker
- Passive or Active
Studio monitor speakers are separated to 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.
- 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 very important 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!
Is a pair of studio monitors enough or I do 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 perspective. If you also add a nice pair of studio headphones then you have a large 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.
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 Cheap Audio Interface under $200 you will find popular brands that will include music production software such as Ableton Live. The same applies with The Best Cheap MIDI Keyboard and The Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers for Home Recording Studio.
Here you will find everything on how to build a home recording studio with under $600.
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. 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 you will need to buy a pair, and they are often sold separately, which can be a little confusing.
5 BEST STUDIO MONITOR SPEAKERS
1. YAMAHA HS 5/7/8
Since 1980 and after 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. Offers extremely flat frequency response, outstanding clarity and competence that you will not find in any other speaker at this price range. The high frequencies are excellent and the bass response is deep and clear but slighter weaker than the next monitors of our list.
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. One of the reasons that put this pair on the top of our list of the best studio monitors are the nearly perfect reviews and ratings by users all around the globe.
Conclusion: One of the most accurate studio monitor is also super affordable. Unless you work in a big studio room then the HS5 or maximum HS7 will get the job done. This white cone woofer reminds us the legendary NS10. But with remarkable improvements on sound quality is an 100% worth of 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:||70W / 95W / 120W|
2. KRK ROKIT G3 RP5/6/8/10
I have changed a couple of studio monitors before i rest with the Rokit G3 RP6 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 might not offer such a flat frequency response as the HS by Yamaha but it offers amazing deep, punchy and tight bass, along with clear and balanced mids and highs. At the back of the speaker, there are controls to adjust the high frequencies and LF settings in four steps -2dB, -1dB, 0dB and +2dB.
Rokit RP comes in four different woofer size, 5″,6″,8″ and 10″ as seen by the names RP5/RP6/RP8/RP10. RP5 and RP6 are great for any small recording studio. Otherwise 8″ or 10″ is the choice if you room is relatively big. The biggest model of this serie it’s a 3-way speaker.
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 ideally for any music genres with punchy sounds. With a sweet price, the top rated KRK RP6 is without a doubt a great investment.
Musicians who use it: Adam Port, &ME, Guy J, Skrillex, Kygo, Nicky Romero and the majority of electronic music producers.
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 6″ / 8″ /10″|
|Frequency Response:||45Hz-35kHz / 38Hz – 35kHz / 35Hz – 35kHz / 35Hz – 25kHz|
|Output Power:||50W / 73W / 100W / 113W|
3. JBL LSR 305 / 308
JBL is a popular brand not only to music producers but musicians of all kind. Is known for the production of studio monitors, PA systems and really amazing subwoofers.
JBL LSR 305 and 308 are 5 and 8 inch woofer size respectively and cannot go unnoticed by anyone with a tight budget. JBL LSR offers very good sound quality with smooth and precise mids and highs. The great low frequency extension is 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 hundred of great reviews on the web, giving us one more reason to trust this serie by JBL. However, there are a couple reviews by users not satisfied with the performance of mid frequencies. I personally believe is because of high standards or bad room acoustic.
Conclusion: Both LSR 305 and 308 are great options. But to get a pair of pro 5-inch studio monitors with impressive performance, well defined bass and smooth the mids and highs for such a low price then it surely is an excellent “value for money” purchase. The only minus is the relatively low output power, as 41 Watts (LSR305) don’t even come close to the 70Watts of Yamaha HS5.
|Models:||LSR 305/LSR 308|
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 8″|
|Frequency Response:||43Hz – 24kHz / 37Hz – 24kHz|
|Output Power:||41W / 56W|
4. 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 and with an outstanding lively. It’s sound quality outperforms most of it’s competitors, with deep and clear bass, smooth high frequencies and balanced midrange frequencies. This 2-way monitor speaker is complete with a powerful poly-glass cone subwoofer giving total output power 103Watts. It also has room correction EQ.
The details makes 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 kind of abuse.
Conclusion: As we mentioned before, Focal doesn’t have a big audience like other brands but this short crowd gives excellent reviews. The price tag is the only misgiving of the Focal Alpha serie.
|Woofer Size:||5″ / 6.5″ / 8″|
|Frequency Response:||45Hz – 22kHz / 40Hz – 22kHz / 35Hz – 22kHz|
|Output Power:||103W / 105W / 140W|
5. GENELEC 8010A
I still remember very well my first music production lesson with a friend and a great musician. In his music career, he got supported by global dj’s such as John Digweed, Hernan Cattaneo and others. I noticed the Genelec 8010 in the room but i could not find the output source that gave this powerful and crystal clear sound.
It turned out that this smooth, loud sound with a superb deep bass was coming from this tiny studio monitor. To add also the and accurate mids and highs made it perfect. It doesn’t fill your eye that this 3-inch woofer that is smaller than the size of your palm can offers such an amazing sound quality.
Genelec is a high-end brand with lots of fans, trusted by many musicians and used in many professional recording studios. If your pocket can afford it, is the top option in our list of the best studio monitors.
Conclusion: Genelec is the Lamborghini of speakers and 8010A is an amazing 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 expensive.
|Frequency Response:||74Hz – 20kHz|
Studio monitoring speakers are a very important studio tool for creating high-quality recordings and mixes. It is definitely a home studio tool that you don’t want to be stingy on.
Without a doubt is a hard choice but all options will fit perfectly in any home recording studio. All models above offer a nice flat and balanced sound, in a nice designed housing, available on many woofer sizes and with a friendly price tag. Since you’ll probably be using your monitor speakers a lot, it’s worth getting a pair that you’ll be very happy with.
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.