The Best Studio Monitor Speakers are certainly not the most exciting things to think about or buy when setting up a studio. Microphones, quality pre-amplifiers, amazing compressors, etc. are much more fun to buy because you can play with them. You can adjust them and get different sounds from them. They are tangible and give you a good feeling. Loudspeakers, on the other hand, are just focused on you all day. They almost never need adjustments and are not exactly fun to play with.
But they are probably the most important part of every set-up, from the smallest installation for recordings from home to the largest studios on earth. Because they tell you how your mix sounds. You have to know them and you have to trust them. They influence, more than anything else in your studio, how the rest of the world hears your mixes, so choosing The Best studio monitor speakers on the market is of the utmost importance.
Today we’ll mention the best studio monitor speakers, semi-professional, or even professional studio, whether you have a limited budget or have saved a considerable amount of money. Studio monitors are exceptional in terms of sound accuracy, especially aimed at musicians and producers who mix or master tracks. Unlike typical market speakers of the popular brands we see on TV, most of them are on bass or treble frequencies or pay less attention to driver detail to appeal to the larger market.
List of the best studio monitor speakers
KRK Rokit RP7 G4
If you’ve ever set foot in the studio realm of an electronic music producer, chances are you’re familiar with KRK’s famous yellow speaker cones. The Rokit series – now in its fourth generation – is the affordable nearfield series from the Gibson-owned brand, and has a selection of nice features that make it worth mentioning. For starters, the G4 series is one of the first monitor series in this price range to have a graphic EQ function on the speaker itself.
The built-in digital signal processing (DSP) provides a range of utilities, including a room analyzer, to ensure that the speakers’ output compensates for any dead zones or sonic blind spots you may be unknowingly harboring in the room you’re mixing in. One of the best studio monitor speakers for smaller studios, and ideal for anything with lots of bass.
Focal Shape 65
Available in 40, 50 and 65 flavors, the latter of which we review here, Focal’s Shapes now sit between their budget-friendly Alpha series and the Solo6 Be – another 6.5″ two-way monitor – in terms of price. Aesthetically, the Shapes are an interesting departure from Focal’s other designs. The main speaker cabinet is black lacquered MDF with a luxurious walnut veneer, making it seem less “studio” and more “hi-con” – in fact, they would be just as at home in a home theater setup as in a production environment. Overall, this is one of the best studio monitor speakers.
JBL has been a major player in the audio world for generations. Their legendary reputation when it comes to pushing the limits of the design of studio monitors has given us the LSR305P. It offers excellent design features while maintaining affordability, and features a 5-inch woofer of modest size, balanced by a one-inch dome tweeter, both equally powerful. The active design denies the need for an additional amplifier. This saves space and makes this one of the best studio monitor speakers right now.
A unique design feature in the LSR305P’s is the inclusion of what JBL calls its image control waveguide. This helps the engineer to listen to the accurate reproduction of what they are working on, even if they are not in the so-called, the sweet spot. It should be noted that this is exactly the same technology as that used on the much more expensive M2 Master Reference Monitors from JBL. And it’s great to see it on a reasonably priced pair of monitors that would not be out of place in a small bedroom. The rear of the speakers is equipped with volume control, hi and low cut shelf operation, together with XLR and ¼ “TRS connections.
HEDD Audio Type 20
A newcomer to the studio monitor speakers market, Berlin-based HEDD Audio – founded by ex-Adam Audio MD Klaus Heinz and his son Dr. Frederik Knop – is quickly garnering a buzz. The Type 20s have a sleek, futuristic, slightly dinky appearance – but their ‘cute’ size is in no way indicative of their sound! With a frequency response of 32Hz to 50kHz, their front-ported three-way design (7.2″ woofer, 4″ midrange driver and 1″ ‘Air Motion Transformer’ tweeter) provides a scrumptious full-range presentation that completely blew us away. The best studio monitors out there right now.
IK Multimedia iLoud MTM
The iLoud MTMs, IK’s latest addition to its growing line of monitors, are packed with technology that their relatively low price point doesn’t suggest. The word ‘MTM’ refers to the D’Appolito configuration, which in this case places a 1″ tweeter between two 3.5″ mid-range woofers, with a bass reflex port at the rear. Everything is DSP-controlled and they can be tuned to your room courtesy of IK’s proprietary ARC calibration system, which is built into the speakers, and the measurement microphone is part of the package.
Clinical and brutally “honest,” the MTMs lift imaging to a level we’d expect from monitors costing three times as much. Subtle details in the mids and highs that previously went unnoticed become perfectly audible, making correcting individual elements in the mix almost supernaturally easy. The solidity and control in the low end are also remarkable for a speaker of this size, and they never seem to get really tiring. Overall, this is one of the best studio monitor speakers.
Neumann KH 120A
Best known as makers of many of the best microphones in the world, Neumann entered the market for studio monitors as early as 2010, when they took over the now-retired Klein + Hummel line. Their first release was the respectable ‘Neumann KH-line’, with the now popular Neumann KH 120. Striking features of these monitors are the Mathematically Modeled Dispersion (MMD) waveguide, the titanium dust dome drivers, and the composite sandwich cone design.
All this technology makes these speakers sound incredible. Clear in the highlights, but tight in the low section. They are great at getting your mixes to translate perfectly into real-world systems. But that obviously yields a price. If you like spending the money, these are certainly one of the best studio monitor speakers right now
Adam Audio A7X
Adam Audio is one of the youngest companies on this list. Already founded in 1999 in Germany. Currently, they offer three-line monitors, the high-end SX series, the budget F series, and the midrange AX series. No surprise, the AX series is the most popular. And inside, the Adam Audio A7X is by far the most sought-after model. Best known for his unique X-ART Tweeter, probably the most hi-tech tweeter design on this entire list. The specifications are very impressive, with the most striking being the ability to reproduce frequencies up to 50 kHz.
That goes far beyond the limit of human hearing! For reference only, the human ear can recognize sounds up to 20kHz when it’s young, but it decreases as you get older. But these speakers were not designed for dogs (which have a much higher frequency range than people, up to 60 kHz) to mix. They go up to 50 kHz to provide an extremely flat frequency response across the entire range, which we can hear people, which is about 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Another nice feature of the A7X is the front bass ports, which ensure better placement of walls in smaller rooms. Overall, this is one of the best studio monitor speakers to buy right now.
The NS-10 was, and still is, THE speaker in your studio to this day. It is actually difficult to find a photograph of the control room of one of the most legendary studios in the world without a few NS-10s sitting on the mixer. You will not find it difficult to see them, they are the speakers with the white cone woofers. But it is very difficult to find a few NS-10s, they were stopped in 2001 and those you do think are ridiculously expensive for second-hand speakers who are between 20 and 50 years old.
Yamaha has replaced the NS-10 with the HS8, which combines the sound of the classic with new technology. Directly recognizable with the same signature white coned woofers as the NS-10, these monitors have long since solidified their iconic status. Some of their salient features include a unique mounting system that minimizes vibration and improves their performance. They are also equipped with extra-large magnets that make them respond smoother, over a wider frequency range
And if you want a version with a smaller or higher power supply, they are also available. With Yamaha, the HS5 offers a 5 “cone, the HS7 with a 7” cone, and the HS8S with a larger 150 W driver. For monitors that are considered ‘professional’ quality by most, the Yamaha HS8s are about as cheap as they are. And are one of the best studio monitor speakers if you do not want to spend a fortune.
KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3
When you surf online, looking at photos of other people’s home studios, did you notice a few small speakers with yellow-colored woofers? If so, look at KRKs and most likely the KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5. The reason you see them everywhere is that there are no other monitors at the entry-level, which are more popular and more recommended than these. While most monitors in this lower price range receive many more complaints than praise.
It is a fact that you can read a review after reviewing these KRSs, without finding a single bad word. The other, more expensive speakers in this overview are clearly better than these KRKs in most ways, but for the price, they are just great. That is why they are the right choice for starting studios or for a very limited budget and are one of the best studio monitor speakers right now.
Pioneer DJ DM-40
Pioneer, are not really known for their studio monitors. Better known for high-quality domestic audio products and of course their very impressive DJ product line. On the subject, we assume that Pioneer is planning to sell it to their regular DJ customers, but since music is ultimately music, how would these monitors work for non-DJs? They look sleek and professional and have a black/dark gray finish or in white. They are rather small in size, which is great if you are limited in space and made of wood (we assume MDF).
The left speaker is the main powered loudspeaker, with the built-in amplifier and the audio inputs, the on/off switch and the volume control. The right speaker is the slave. They are fresh, with nicely defined highs, rich mids, and spicy bass. The sound is full, with a lot of volumes (for the mentioned 21 watts each), giving you the illusion that you are actually listening to more expensive monitors. Overall, these are one of the best studio monitor speakers on the market.
The HS5 is the baby brother of the HS8 that we have already discussed and you will be glad that I will not start thinking about old photographs of mixing tables with NS-10 speakers. I think you already have too much for one article. As mentioned, it is the baby brother of the HS8 and is basically the same except with a smaller 5 “driver and less power. The 1-inch tweeter comes with some interesting specifications for performance because the frequency range is up to 30 kHz. Much like the Adam, we discussed rather clearly, nowhere near so high.
This has the same advantage as Adam’s design in producing a flatter frequency response to the human ear. This is very impressive since the HS5 is a fraction of the price of Adam. It is a good speaker for the price, but if you can stretch to buy the HS8s, I would like to recommend them because of the higher power and the wider dynamic range. All such things make this one of the best studio monitor speakers to buy right now.
Fluid Audio FX8
Fluid Audio says it prides itself on the importance of speaker imaging. The goal is to present a realistic soundstage where you can pinpoint and place each instrument exactly where you want it in the mix. A dual concentric design that does its job should achieve that goal, and in listening to some mixes on the FX8s, it becomes clear that there is a nicely detailed soundstage.
There is a very good sense of sound location throughout the stereo spread, as well as a decent sense of space from back to front. While mixing a track with the FX8s, we could clearly hear the instruments as we shifted them into position. Sound clarity is very good across the frequency range and the 8-inch woofers, combined with the port, give you plenty of bottom end; but if you think it’s too much for your situation, there’s no bass cut facility to help fix it. Overall, this is one of the best studio monitor speakers.
Mackie’s HR series professional monitors have been around for more than 20 years and have many fans, but the six-inch HR624 Mk2 costs more than $1,000 per pair, so it’s not cheap. The new XR series saves about a third of that price tag and offers a new rear port design and Class D amplification (remember that the HRs use a passive radiator panel and Class AB amplifiers). Despite the less impressive bass extension, the XR624 is particularly telling for songs with lots of guitar, and this can be a tough test even for the best monitors. Overall, this is one of the best studio monitor speakers.
IK Multimedia iLoud Micro
A sister product to the original single-speaker iLoud, these two speakers are described as “the world’s smallest active reference monitoring system for studios” and are designed for use in small ‘makeshift’ workspaces. iLoud Micro Monitor certainly has the look of a scaled-down ‘real’ monitoring system rather than a fancy pair of consumer-level computer speakers.
Externally, the speakers have an attractive ’roundness’ and are reassuringly heavy, although they are certainly small and light enough to carry around. There is a cable connection between the two speakers, with the left speaker containing all the controls and connectivity. Overall, this is one of the best studio monitor speakers.
Adam Audio T5V
The T5V is one of the most affordable Adam monitors to date. It is built around a 5-inch woofer and Adam’s U-ART (Unique Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter) tweeter. This Class-D powered two-way design with rear-ring bass reflex is the smallest of the new T Series designs. Sonically, the top end is very well tuned, while the HPS waveguide provides a wide horizontal sweet spot. This contributes greatly to the overall imaging and separation, which is excellent.
Although the cabinet is quite deep from front to back, the units feel compact. The low mid frequencies could be more prominent, but this is certainly not a game changer, and by setting the LF EQ to -2dB we achieved a much better result. Adam wants to make the T5V your first Adam monitor, and judging from what we heard here, you could easily make it a fan for life. Overall, this is one of the best studio monitor speakers.