Isn’t it time you spruce up your studio a bit? You can have the best software, instruments, and microphone but if you don’t have the best studio monitors installed, none of that will really make a difference.
You won’t really know what your recordings sound like, you won’t impress anyone visiting your studio and most of all you simply won’t enjoy music as much.
So let’s help you fix that problem.Below we listed some of the best studio monitors on the market.
Do you need studio monitors for beginners or are you ready to invest in high-end units?
We give you all the information so you can make an informed decision by reviewing these:
- 1 Studio Monitors Buyer’s Guide
- 1.1 Why do You Need Studio Monitors?
- 1.2 How to Pick the Best Studio Monitors
- 1.3 Best Cheap Studio Monitors
- 1.4 Should You Worry About Aesthetics?
- 1.5 Active Monitors or Passive?
- 1.6 Which Specs are the Most Important?
- 1.7 Do You Have the Right Drivers?
- 1.8 Do You Want Near Field or Far Field Speakers?
- 1.9 What is the Best in Terms of Amp Options?
- 1.10 How Will You Connect it to Your System?
- 1.11 What is the Sweet Spot?
- 2 Best Monitor Speakers for Your Studio
- 2.1 1. M-Audio AV32 10-Watt Compact Studio Monitor Speakers with 3-inch Woofer (Pair) 12″
- 2.2 2. Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers 2.0 Active Near Field Monitors – Studio Monitor Speaker Wooden Enclosure – 42 Watts RMS
- 2.3 3. Edifier R1280DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers – Optical Input – Wireless Studio Monitors – 4 Inch Near Field Speaker – 42w RMS – Wood Grain
- 3 Best Portable Studio Monitors
- 4 Best Pro Studio Speakers
- 5 Conclusion
Studio Monitors Buyer’s Guide
You only need to do a quick online search to become overwhelmed with all the options.
Then, only after some testing in the studio, will you really be able to see if it’s really what you wanted and worth the money you spent.
We want to save you that learning curve.We’re going to help you become as knowledgeable as a pro in less than five minutes. Let’s go.
Why do You Need Studio Monitors?
So you think your Hi-Fi speakers will do the job? How sure are you?
The reason speaker manufacturers invest time in developing different types is because different people require different things from their sound equipment.
A general listener who enjoys the radio and the latest music may find Hi-Fis are enough.
That’s not the case with people who are more particular about their music experience.
It’s definitely not the case when you’re producing music. And that’s why the studio monitor range was born.
A Hi-Fi may automatically boost certain frequencies as this gives listeners an enjoyable experience such as the power from enhanced bass notes.
But what if you need to detect mistakes in the music you produced in a home or professional studio?
If you’re mixing tracks you must listen through speakers that won’t distort or alter them.
You need speakers that give you a true representation of the audio so you can make changes until all frequencies are in balance:
- Vocals must be clear
- Bass and drums shouldn’t overpower anything
- No frequency must be too loud compared to others
- All the tracks on one record should be at the same volume level
The same requirements go for people who are very critical about music and want to listen to a recording to determine its true musical worth.
For this, you need studio speakers. Combined with accuracy you also need the right power to handle your unique application.
Hi-Fi and many other types will damage easier or not pump those low frequencies loud enough.
So if studio features are what you realize you need, let’s help you pick the best one when you start shopping.
How to Pick the Best Studio Monitors
So you’ve discovered what you really need but you still need to find the best buy.
What will work? JBL or Yamaha?
There are many to pick from and you need to give attention to this detail.
Best Cheap Studio Monitors
Let’s start with some good news: You don’t have to get the highest priced item to get the best, there are a lot of cheap studio monitors you can choose from.
When it comes to sound equipment it’s very much a subjective matter.
What works for someone else may not work for you. Manufacturers also attempt to help consumers by designing units for various price ranges.
They understand that not everyone can afford high-end speakers or it’s simply not such a high priority that you want to spend all of your budgets on that alone.
So all you need to do is find a model with the right features and accessories that also match your budget.
Don’t worry. It’s out there. Does Durability Matter if the Speakers Will be Stationary?
You may think it’s not necessary to spend a lot on a durable cabinet.
If you know you’re going to transport your speakers often—such as to a friend’s house or a live gig—there’s no question: You need highly durable speakers that won’t get damaged at the slightest bump.
But durability and cabinet quality also relate to sound.
Did you know the sound will alter if the cabinet is weak, too flexible or made of the wrong substance?
Metal, thick plastic or strong wood are best and this is something worth investing in.
After all, it makes today’s expense a long-term plan.
Should You Worry About Aesthetics?
The importance of this quality is up to you. Do you care about how your studio looks?
Here’s a tip: If you’re using them to build your business, you need to impress your visitors in every way possible and many people respond instantly to what they see.
Luckily manufacturers make very impressive looking speakers too but this feature doesn’t always have to be at the top of your priority list.
Active Monitors or Passive?
Here’s one of the big decisions. Do you want active or passive?
Active These units can play your audio even if not connected to an amplifier.
You simply need to hook it up to a sound source.
Obviously, this is a simple way, you don’t need much space to use them since there’s no amplifier you need to find some desk space for and there’s a monetary bonus too; no additional components needed.
Passive For a start, many of the best studio monitors are passive.
You have to purchase an amplifier but this actually enables you to make your studio more versatile.
You can manage the power coming through because you decide how big an amplifier you get.
External amplifiers are usually of a higher quality than the ones manufacturers place in active units so you’ll enjoy better audio in the long term.
However, it’s not a given that your studio monitors will be passive so you can determine your priorities and then shop accordingly.
Which Specs are the Most Important?
Looking at any marketing material you may be daunted by the many technical terms that seem to be vital for speakers of this kind. Let’s break down the most important ones for you.
Frequency Range This relates to whether you want very low or very high notes played.
You know some genres often incorporate very high notes so then a tweeter (see below) that can produce the high frequencies is essential.
On average a quality studio monitor should handle 50Hz to 20kHz. If you find something far outside these parameters you’re allowed to be impressed, but here’s a tip: Read reviews to ensure the monitor can both produce the notes and give it to you in clarity without distortion.
Power You’re correct to associate power with volume.
You want a speaker powerful enough to handle blasting your audio across the room.
So the Watts (W) it pushes out should suffice for the room you’ll be using them in. But power also relates to clarity.
You can crank up any speaker but the moment the audio starts distorting you won’t enjoy the output anymore.
Do You Have the Right Drivers?
Your speaker’s capabilities depend on the drivers inside.
These are the units that drive the audio outward:
- Woofers: You need a woofer to produce low frequencies
- Tweeters: These handle your high frequencies
They take the electrical signals produced by your system and start vibrating accordingly.
These vibrations are the sounds you hear when the speaker plays audio.
You need different drivers for different ranges—high, mid or low—because their shapes and forms determine the frequency of the output.
Here you have to look at their size to determine how much they can do.
If they’re super compact they won’t be able to do much but if you have limited space available you also don’t want a huge monitor.
Therefore you need a compromise between space and capabilities.
These are of course one of the most important components as your speaker won’t be of much use if it looks good but can’t reproduce the sounds you make in your studio.
Yes this is a priority item but once again, buy according to your need, not by simply taking the most expensive model.
Here’s an example: Different genres of music may favor different frequencies.
If you know you’re never going to use super low notes you can rather invest in a high-end tweeter than a woofer.
Remember it’s also possible to add an external subwoofer if necessary but note that this can become very overpowering and for sound accuracy, you may have to turn it down at times.
Do You Want Near Field or Far Field Speakers?
Here’s a matter that is often determined by the size and shape of your studio.
Will people listen to your speaker from afar or quite close to the units?
For the latter, you need near field speakers because it will angle sound directly at the listeners.
A far-field speaker has the capacity to throw sound across a large room or open space.
The sound then bounces around the room and this will be the audio you hear.
This is ideal if you play music in theaters or in the open air as these units can handle higher volumes.
You may think it’s best to get the loudest but if your audience stands right in front of the speakers they won’t have a clear audio experience if it’s channeled via far field units.
What is the Best in Terms of Amp Options?
Here it’s definitely a case of the more you have the better.
You can settle for a single amp speaker but then the signal is channeled via one amplifier and crossovers.
The benefit you get by using tri-amp rather than one of the others is better quality and clarity of all frequency ranges.
How Will You Connect it to Your System?
You don’t want to get your speaker, open the box and realize you can’t even use them in your current setup.
Instead of wasting money on purchasing new equipment to suit your speakers you need to make sure what you buy new is compatible with what you already have.
This means you need the right—and enough—connections:
- 3.5mm headphone jacks if you love listening through your earphones too or if you want to play sound via your smartphone
What is the Sweet Spot?
You’ll often hear it mentioned with sound equipment and it’s vital to note when it comes to studio monitors.
It all ties back to you wanting to hear the right representation of the tracks. In the sweet spot, you’ll hear this balanced audio very clearly.
But it takes some effort to identify this area and each pair will be different.
You must position the speakers correctly and—when you’re working—sit in the spot where you get optimum balance from the combination of the two units’ audio.
This means you and the two speakers form a triangle and you can see the importance of placing them level with you rather than above you.
So what do you have to shop for?
Ideally, you don’t want the sweet spot to be too small. If you have a large audience listening with you, you want all of them to enjoy good audio.
Alternatively, you want some space so you can move around—in your chair or walking—without compromising the quality of the audio you take in. The bigger the sweet spot the better.
Now it’s time to review a few products.
Best Monitor Speakers for Your Studio
1. M-Audio AV32 10-Watt Compact Studio Monitor Speakers with 3-inch Woofer (Pair) 12″
Such a stunning and classic look and technically impressive too.
Yes, this is an entry-level set of speakers but they’ll still do well in most studio setups.
Why? Because you have the benefit of:
- A 3” woofer so your low frequencies are covered
- You have RCA inputs as well as 1/8” output
- A 1” silk cone tweeter
That’s why it can boast of a frequency range of 80Hz – 20kHz.
Admittedly it’s not as impressive on the low sounds but for entry level and a good price, it should suffice.
It weighs only 5.48 lbs., so it’s not too difficult to carry. If you need portable speakers to share your sounds in various locations, these are good options.
One thing to love is that you can connect your headphones to this.
Some producers prefer listening via their earphones even while pumping the audio to the audience in the room.
Now you can do both or simply switch between the two easily.
All of this is encased in a striking black cabinet measuring 5.88”x 5.16”x 7.4”.
The one thing about them—remember they’re only entry level—is that you may experience a slight hum.
This is bound to get worse as they get older especially if pushed past their real capabilities.
2. Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers 2.0 Active Near Field Monitors
– Studio Monitor Speaker Wooden Enclosure – 42 Watts RMS
Is there anything as striking as wood exteriors? This connects modern features with the classic feel of old.
This also makes it easy to match to most décor styles so your speakers complement the room.
Remember studio speakers can be handy as part of your entertainment system and these units will make your living room feel warm and cozy still.
You can decide which look you prefer:
- Put the grill on for a sleek look
- Take it off for some character to reveal the drivers and prevent any blockage of audio
You’ll get a 6-ft. cable so you can easily position these on either side of your computer or TV.
However, this may be too short for a very large studio setup. Users find these require two very important very short timelines:
- It doesn’t take long to set up
- The break-in period is short
The knobs for volume, treble, and bass can be found on the side which is easily accessible.
Since you want utmost control when seated at your studio desk this is much better than wasting time to reach to the back of the unit.
It’s also nifty that you can connect to two sources via Aux; instead of unplugging cables you can just switch between the two. It’s awesome when great design helps you get work done faster.
Of course, it’s not a high-end unit so some parts aren’t of the best quality such as the jack input.
There’s also no auto shutoff.
Note that these are active and near-field units.
This makes them ideal for small studios since you don’t need to waste space on an amplifier and the sound will be heard clearly by everyone standing around.
3. Edifier R1280DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers – Optical Input – Wireless Studio Monitors – 4 Inch Near Field Speaker – 42w RMS – Wood Grain
Since cabling is usually in the way and studio owners always want the easiest way to connect to speakers, these units rank high on favorite lists because of their Bluetooth connectivity.
Of course, this isn’t the first choice of everyone and luckily the brand also gives you these options:
- Optical and coaxial inputs
- RCA connections
One important aspect for setting up is that it will only communicate with one device via Bluetooth at a time; so pick your primary device (laptop, phone or other devices) and try to stick to using that.
In such a setup, you don’t have to go through the pairing process multiple times.
It also allows for great versatility in operation thanks to the remote control or you can use the knobs on the side.
When you get to use them you’ll be impressed at the clear audio of even the lower frequencies which isn’t always the case in a more affordable price range like this.
They do weigh over 14 lbs.so these aren’t the most portable speakers, but if you’re setting up a studio that doesn’t matter, right?
These are powered so you won’t need an amplifier. This saves you space so they’re great for placing on your desk.
Note that they’re not designed for mounting. If you want them elevated you’ll need a shelf but the power cord is quite short.
Keep this in mind when planning your layout. Don’t worry about the look.
There are few things as stylish as the black wood grain exterior. The front is super modern and striking thanks to the stunning grills.
Best Portable Studio Monitors
Of course you won’t always use your monitors in one place.
You may be traveling for your craft or you need monitors for a live performance.
Studio monitors have features that are excellent in these circumstances but not any model will do.
We compiled a short list to help you decide.
4. Zotope SP111 Spire Studio
Why lug around a long list of studio items if one unit can do it all, or at least a lot of it?
This unit from iZotope is on our list of best studio monitors because it not only allows you to play your audio it even helps with mixing it.
That’s thanks to functions such as:
- Recording (mic feature and inputs for instruments
- Add effects
Much of this happens thanks to pairing with iOS apps. When you’re finished, you can play that audio or share it with friends via Wi-Fi.
It’s designed to help you share with other Spire users. This is the monitor for the new generation where everything is shared with so much passion.
You can start soon after receiving this because the setup is so easy, but note that it’s designed for iOS and not Android.
You also need iOS 10 or higher to operate it. At only 1.6 lbs., it’s probably the most portable friendly monitor you’ll find on this list.
This makes it easy for music lovers and serious musicians or studio owners to have a better way of doing things:
- Record your songs when the creativity strikes
- Mix easily if you don’t have space or time for large mixers
- Play your songs to others in absolute clarity
Let’s be fair:
This isn’t the best quality you’ll find on the market and plugging in a high-end mic will probably be necessary if you want a quality track.
But it does offer you the opportunity to record something quick which you can take back to the studio to refine or play tracks for others from a device that fits in your backpack.
In terms of being a studio monitor it’s adequate though not the best audio you’ll find on the list here.
5. IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors
Ultra-compact 3″ Studio Monitors with Bluetooth
These rate high in terms of portability because of their compact size of 10.6”x 3.54”x 7.09” but remember you need to carry two of them.
Still, this should suffice and their weight of 3.8 lbs. isn’t too bad either. They’re also popular because you can connect via Bluetooth.
This means you don’t have to set up a lot of cabling or even your computer to share your new tracks with others; simply link your smartphone.
Note that these won’t clearly fill a huge room as it’s ideally listened to from +/- 50cm away, making them nearfield speakers.
If Bluetooth isn’t your thing you can use the RCA connections but notes there’s no XLR or 1.4” jack input as on some of the larger—less portable—units.
Unfortunately, you’re going to pay a bit extra for high tech in small packages. Perhaps the impressive volume and low frequencies make up for this?
Some users complain about how cheap they feel but they definitely don’t look it as the casings are modern and striking.
You also can’t complain of low-end features when you see they included EQ options to compensate for units positioned against a wall.
They’ve powered studio monitors so you don’t need space for an amplifier. You already have four class D amps that will give you 50W of power.
That’s quite impressive for this size of the monitor. Being powered is also great especially if you’re traveling with your gear.
One less thing to set up or find space for.
6. Fender Passport Studio
Portable Powered Studio Monitors
This is the biggest portable units on this list but if you need some power, these are your best options.
Despite them still being compact enough to easily transport, you can get a whopping 150W from these.
Their small design doesn’t limit your options too much as you can adjust bass and treble levels easily.
We love the strip of silver at the bottom for decorative purposes but that also contains the controls. Really impressive aesthetics!
The casing is protective but this is also what makes it practical since it has a handle at the top.
If you’re going to travel a lot with your monitor it’s better to use something designed for that purpose.
There’s less chance of it getting damaged.
Compared to the other portable studio monitors, this is, unfortunately, the heaviest at 18.5 lbs.
The handle makes it easier to carry but be prepared for some heavy weighting.
The 5” woofer and the inverted dome tweeters give you good sound but of course not the best bass you’ll ever hear.
Once again these are designed to transport so they can’t contend with stationary studio monitors in all regards.
Some limitations include them not designed for tripod mounting and the connections are also limited:
- No Bluetooth
- You can only provide input via ¼” TRS connections.
- No RCA
What you will enjoy is the 1/8” headphone output.
Many producers prefer listening through earphones and having these in the speakers means there’s less switching of cabling and fewer cords running to your mobile device or laptop.
Best Pro Studio Speakers
What is your priority?If it’s to create a high-end music studio your speakers need to help you send the right message to your clients or anyone coming to listen.
This is when you invest in Pro studio speakers so you can prove your tracks are on par with the market leaders’.
7. JBL LSR305 Professional Studio Monitor
This pair from JBL incorporate many features that add that X factor when listening in a studio.
They are room friendly so your audience—or you—will hear everything clearly.
Combined with this is a quite a large sweet spot. This is a prime feature on real Pro studio monitors.
They aren’t made for carrying around a lot and the weight of just over 25 lbs. confirms this. So what do they sound like?
In both small and large studios, these can deliver quite impressive audio. You’ll think you installed speakers such as the ones for live shows.
Meanwhile that clear and loud sounds come from a 5” long throw driver and a 1” tweeter made of Neodymium.
You do have limited connections unfortunately but the basics are there. The speakers tend to him if you connect it to power sources with any defects.
This relates to the sensitivity of active speakers so don’t give up on them before you tested them thoroughly with different electric feeds.
This set incorporates upgrades of other JBL models and it shows.
Of course they look great too although not all consumers prefer the shiny exterior to matte.
8. Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor
The Dance Producers Choice
First off, let’s confirm that this is a single unit and not a set of two as many studio monitors are.
If this is what you want to get ready to pay little more than usual as this is a high-end model.
But if you need to impress people, it may be worth it. Luckily, we also found them extremely durable so this will be a long-term investment.
They’ll keep you a while and you’ll enjoy them a lot since they do produce some of the best audio in the business.
You don’t even have to turn that volume knob all the way around before the audio is blasting ahead.
What’s great about these is that they’re great for starting up your studio.
You could have a normal room that you don’t have the budget to treat yet and these will make it sound as if you already did. That’s thanks to:
- Room control
- Trim options
The tech inside actually allows the speaker to make adjustments based on:
- Room size
- Room shape
- Surface of room
And the great casings will impress visitors or clients too.
The brand does have them in white, which is the ultra-modern option for the producer of today.
Alternatively, they could fit with your living room décor if you’re using these for a home entertainment system.
It might be overkill but those movies will sound epic. It has an 8” woofer which is one of the biggest on this list. No wonder it can handle 38Hz.
Because it’s a pro speaker, it must be compatible with many other sound studio equipment.
This can connect via TRS or XLR. Granted it’s not perfect because you probably want Bluetooth too, right?
Hopefully, we’ll see it in a different Yamaha model in the future.
The classic look suits most studios and the range includes subwoofers if you know you’ll need that extra bass.Yamaha enables you to kit out your studio in style.
9. KRK RP4G3
4″ High Performance Studio Monitors – Black (Pair)
Will some color be the thing that ends up in your studio?We were impressed by these KRK units that could give you clear sounds up to 35kHz.
That’s quite high above the norm so worth a professional studio owner’s consideration.
As a bonus, these—a pair—will cost you somewhat less than the Yamaha also reviewed here.
They weigh less too at 19 lbs.– not ideal for portable units but you can even move them around your studio easier.
The low end is not as impressive as the high frequencies. This means you have to figure out what your priorities are in terms of your application.
Will you miss those low sounds and could it be fixed by adding a subwoofer? Of course, this means some extra costs. The pair is designed for:
There’s quite low distortion and the sweet spot isn’t too limited.
This is also one of the brand’s smaller designs so these would probably fit even in your small home studio.
They’re powered so you don’t even need space for an amplifier. The 4” woofer is not very impressive. After all, you’ve seen better options on this list of reviews.
But this is still a great option in terms of combining affordable pricing with high-quality features.If you’re shopping on a budget, this could be your solution.
Did you find it easy to pick a winner? Remember the best studio monitors are mostly subjective because they must fit in with your applications.
However, we felt the Edifier R1280T is one of the best home studio monitors because it’s dynamic to have equipment that performs at least somewhat in various aspects. Remember this is for smaller studios.
However, if upgrading your studio with one of best high end studio monitors is a priority the Yamaha HS8 may be for you because you can make adjustments based on room size and shape. What’s at the top of your priority list?
Check Out The Review Of The Best Studio Monitors