The best studio monitors for home recording can be hard to come by. It’s understandable though. Just one search on Google leads to tons of search results. So if you’re a first-timer (but serious) in finding your perfect match, you’d be more confused.
For this reason, we’ve prepared a buying guide for your reference.
Here, we’ve compiled the top 10 picks on the market and quick idea on what to look for this kind of product.
So before adding that studio monitor to your cart, stop for a while.
Make an informed decision. Read what you need to know about the top-rated products on the market here.
The best studio monitors in 2021
- Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor
- KRK Rokit 8 Powered Monitor
- Adam Audio A7X
- Neumann KH 120
- KRK Rokit 5 G4
- Yamaha HS5
- Avantone Pro Active MixCube
- Pioneer DJ DM-40
- JBL LSR305 Professional
- M-Audio AV42
The Yamaha HS8 has been around for decades and for reasons – consistency and accuracy. Yamaha has indeed committed to creating solidly performing monitors because they know you’re serious of your craft, and they are, too in engineering.
The HS Series is a top-of-the-line monitor through the years. Users love its transducers that allow them to achieve smooth responses over different bandwidths. It’s possible because of the innovative magnetic field design, which can control magnetic response flow.
It is also with a high-performance unit, and thanks to its bi-amp design separating the tweeter and the amplifier. As a result, this one delivers a high-quality sound.
I’d like to add it comes with two different response controls to match your room’s acoustics. These speakers can also deliver a balance of sources, including audio interfaces, keyboards, and mixers.
- Smooth and responsive transducers
- Detailed settings for accurate adjustments
- Sleek and small footprint
- Precise bi-amp design
- Nice, low resonance design
- Doesn’t have the shutdown function
- Can exhibit inherent noise floor that has to do with a design flaw
A 3-powered studio monitor is best for users who love powerful and durable monitors. Especially among newbie musicians or recording artists, the monitor pair is more than enough.
The KRK Rokit 8 is a solid choice among budding musicians that are serious in creating superb sound with an honest monitor delivering the sound they need to hear.
The KRK monitors come as a pair of heavy-duty monitors that won’t let you down in performance. The model is a bundle of bi-amped and class A or B amp which is able to deliver low distortion and offer a large headroom.
The KRK Rokit 8 also comes with a soft-dome tweeter that delivers an extended response reaching to 35 kHz along with superior sound clarity.
It is also packaged in an innovative yet elegant design, suiting any studio decoration and theme. Overall, the KRK Rokit 8 is a decent choice that you might want to take a look at for its excellent features.
- Bi-amped design
- Compact and elegant appearance
- 3-powered for a superb sound
- High frequency adjustments
- Excellent imaging for its waveguide
- A bit bulky
The Adam Audio A7X is another recommendation that I think you must know when comparing your options for a new monitor. It is packed with compact and solid features to appreciate even by advanced studio professionals.
The Adam Audio A7x has updated drivers, cabinet and amplifiers. This model is also with twice the power versus its predecessor has. In addition, the Adam Audio monitor has a two-way configuration for better performance.
This monitor also offer an extended frequency response at 50 kHz versus other models on the market can offer. It is with the Accelerating Ribbon Technology that’s also improved for the A7X.
It also has the X-ART tweeter that offers a higher max sound pressure and higher efficiency levels. This model is also redesigned with a 7-midwoofer along with a larger voice coil.
- Updated amplifier, cabinet and drivers
- Higher frequency response at 50 kHz
- 2-way configuration
- Additional controls (two shelf filters, a gain)
- Twice the power of predecessor
- Might arrive with wiring or switch related issues
- Rather expensive
- No acoustic space control
The Neumann KH 120 monitors are sought-after in the category for the superb sound and lovely imaging that you might not be able to find in other products in the same category. This model can deliver a balanced and tight, topnotch oozes by the time you turned them on.
One of the things that make it a top choice is its high frequency reproduction and low distortion. You will also appreciate his model is with a waveguide called the Elliptical Mathematically Modeled Dispersion that allows it to offer a smoother off the axis response.
It is also made with a rugged metal grille that makes it more durable for years of use. I’d also like to mention it has a durable and compact aluminum cabinet that is able to reduce resonances. This cabinet also offers heat dissipation.
The item also has panel ports to reduce bass compression. It is also quick to set up even in a small and tight space.
- Different input formats
- Flexible acoustic controls
- Precise sound reproduction
- Class AB amplifiers
- Rather bulky
- Some distortion concerns
Regardless you’re adding a new monitor into your collection, buying a replacement or your first ever monitor, check out the KRK ROKIT 5 G4. For one, it is lightweight at 13lbs, allowing you to bring it anywhere with better ease.
The G3 black studio monitor is a top-rated item known for its soft dome tweeter that can deliver extended response and superior clarity.
You might also be glad to know that this model is with an excellent waveguide technology, which can deliver great stereo imaging.
More so, this model is made of a lightweight composite woofer for tight bass and clear middle range.
It also offers a low frequency adjustment that customizes the monitors to your preference and that adjusts based on room acoustics.
Overall, the KRK ROKIT 5 G4 is a solid choice you should not miss when comparing your options.
- Offers a tight bass down to 45 kHz
- Sound clarity for its soft-dome tweeter
- Easier desktop recording
- Good even for beginners
- Lightweight for portability
- Might not be for those looking for a more solid bass kick
- Durability concerns on the black vinyl wrap
- Distortion issues for some users
The Yamaha HS5 is a reliable monitor that is perfect for starters looking to build a home studio, become a DJ, or come up with your own music. It is a top of the line studio monitor with superior accuracy and performance.
This item is notable for its high TRIM response controls and room control, making it more versatile than others on the market are. It can adapt to varying conditions for precise sound performance, regardless of room acoustics.
The Yamaha HS Series Monitor can offer high accuracy to deliver precise reference points. With it, you can make use of a reliable platform to create from the start to the end of the mixing process.
Overall, this monitor is ideal for starters and those looking to build a home studio or better their craft for its easy to use functions and reliable performance.
- State-of-the-art sound technology
- 70W power amplification
- With TRS and XLR phone jack inputs
- Added treble frequencies and bass
- Not for those looking for a louder sounding monitor
- Distortion issues at higher settings
Not to miss on your list is the Avantone Pro Active MixCube. It is a portable studio monitor that can offer superior sound performance and quality. It can deliver precise results, something helpful for achieving consistent sound.
It also has a compact size of 5.25 inches for portability and has an elegant retro cream color to match any room decoration.
This model can also offer nice resonance and distortion and has an excellent sound performance.
The Avantone Pro, which is sold as a single monitor, can offer a balanced input, and that’s thanks to its combination XLR input that can accept a balanced male XLR plug.
This item can also offer a system gain for its variable control that can adjust the signal sensitivity at the input. Also, this model has an illuminated switch for easy control of the amplifier section.
- Easy to use and control
- Can offer a balanced input
- Superb sound performance
- Illuminated switch
- Combo XLR input
- Color can be off for some users
- Rather expensive
If you’re looking for a good monitor that won’t break your bank, you might want to check out the Pioneer DJ DM-40. The DM-40 is a decent choice because it didn’t cut corners and compromise on the quality.
The Pioneer DJ DM-40, which is a top-rated studio monitor, can also deliver excellent sound performance for a home set up as well even if with an irregularly shaped room or varied acoustics.
It also has a compact design and has a duct grooves for reducing air friction. So even if it is against the wall, there will still be a bass kick. You will also appreciate its 3D stereo sound wherever you are, not necessarily in front of the speakers.
- Ideal for home setup and small spaces
- Versatile sound and superior audio quality
- DECO technology allows a wider sweet spot and extended reach
- Low distortion and crisp sound
- Eliminates crossover with aligned amp and tweeter
- Timeout feature is a nuisance for some users
- A bit disruptive design for some people
- No bass, less kick
JBL is a staple name among artists, singers, studio owners and musicians in general. This brand offers a whole host of music gears, tools and equipment and through the years has kept up with customer demands.
The JBL Professional LSR305 is another top of the line offering from their professional series. However, it is not at a hefty price tag surprisingly. So those on a budget for their first studio monitor, they’d be glad to know that JBL has something for them.
The JBL Professional five-inch monitor can offer greater ambience and depth in studio recordings for its increased HF detail. In addition to that, you’ll hear subtle details even when working on a dense mix.
There is also no need to stay in front of the monitors for adjustment because the JBL LSR305 is room-friendly.
Its wide range of sweet spot can also offer neutral sound even on a large studio and irregular room shape and acoustics.
- Bi-amp design
- 2-way powered studio monitor
- Quality sound performance
- Quick set up guide
- Smaller speaker
- Whining sound with a higher volume
- Might arrive with warped plastic covers
If you’re shopping around for a good studio monitor, you might want to check out the M-Audio AV42. The M-Audio standalone speakers are a good entry-level monitor for home studios and other tight spaces.
They come with uncovered cones that can improve the sound quality. This product is also ideal for connecting to virtually all mobile devices and gears, including laptops, computers, tablets and mobile phones.
And if you’re looking for connecting it with a gaming system, a mixer or a DJ gear, you can, too. It is a compact speaker that has a four-inch woofer for good sound performance. In addition, this monitor can deliver clear highs and a punchy bass.
- Small footprint and compact design
- Affordable and ideal starter monitor
- Enhanced sound quality
- Compatible for most gears like mobile device, computer and tablet
- Can be connected to different systems for its RCA inputs
- Not the most reliable woofer sound performance
- Whining sound for some users
Buying Guide for the Best Studio Monitors for Home Recording
What do you need to remember when shopping around for a monitor? We have prepared a short buying guide in the following for your reference.
On weighing between cabinet, do you need it closed or ported? One thing to note is that the ported type can help in extending the response of the frequency lower for added bass. However, the accuracy may not be as good as closed types.
But if you cannot help but place the monitor near to the corners or walls, you may want to choose closed or front-ported designs to offer better monitoring.
This has to do with the power of your monitor. For a home office studio or a bedroom studio, wattage between 10 and 60 watts can be enough but should be higher for a larger studio.
Check on the connection type. Look for the inputs and find out if they will work with your device. Take note that some only offer balanced/unbalanced inputs, but others have both of them.
There you have what to check when shopping around for a monitor so that you can come up with a better decision.
What’s Size I should Buy?
Monitors come in different sizes (5″, 7″, 8″, 10″, and so on). Choosing the perfect size of your monitor is crucial, and it’s going to make or break your recording experience.
As a general rule of thumb, a 5″ studio monitor will fit just fine in a small home recording studio. Matter of fact, this size is also used by some professionals who have their own home recording studio. This monitor size is also perfect for beginners alike.
As you progress in recording music, you might prefer a more powerful speaker, which offers more bass response, as well as better sound clarity. Now this is where you should consider getting a larger studio monitor.
Check out this cool video “3 Tips for Choosing Studio Monitors” for more help.
Factors To Consider When Buying a Studio Monitor
Active or Passive?
Generally, monitors fall into two types—active and passive. Let’s define each one in a simple manner. Passive monitors are modular, which means you need a speaker with the right amplifier and crossover to go with it.
On the other hand, active monitors already come with built in components.
This type of monitor saves space because you do not need extra accessories for it to work. However, if you still want to get the best result, you can match the internal amplifier to a specific speaker.
Knowing and understanding the right power capacity of your monitor is important as it will greatly impact how it sounds in conclusion. Along with the overall sound, wattage also affects the volume, dynamic range, and amount of headroom for signals peak, among others.
Having a studio monitor that has higher wattage means that it gives more transient details. This allows you to make more precise adjustments to compressors, limiters, and gates.
It is important to mind the type of drivers used in the overall sound monitor as it will greatly impact the sound quality. More specifically, let’s talk about the design, types, and sizes of a driver.
The most common design for a studio monitor includes two speakers (tweeter and woofer) and a port.
Tweeters are treble speakers that are designed to reproduce the high frequencies, usually from 2,000 Hz to 20,000 Hz. While, woofers are bass speakers that are designed to reproduce the low frequencies, usually from 40 Hz to 5,000 Hz.
Generally, the larger the woofer size, the better bass response you get.
Now, let’s get to the ports. Ports or radiators are holes in the monitor cabinet that allow the sound to go out aside from the actual woofer and tweeter. Their primary purpose is to produce better bass response in, especially with smaller size woofers.
Consider Your Budget
It goes without saying that a studio monitor’s price is directly proportional to its quality. If you want the monitor for your sound production, chances are, it will probably cost you a couple of hundred (or even thousands) dollars.
Typically, those with studio monitors higher prices have a larger woofer size which makes for tighter and deeper bass response, better tweeter design and overall construction for greatly focused highs.
Not to mention a better cabinet design and construction for an enhanced sound reproduction, imaging and clarity. You will also get higher wattage which creates more volume and flatter frequency response.
As you work on with your business, you’ll realize that getting the best sound monitor is a good investment. So, think carefully on which one to pick because you’ll be stuck working with it for a long time. Plus, buying a sound monitor is no joke, considering its price range.
Most manufacturers recommend that you initially use sound monitors for a couple of hours, in order for it to settle in mechanically. So, basically, break-in period is when sound monitors take its time for all of its components to reach its full potential, which makes for the best possible performance of sound monitors.
It also greatly helps when you play heavy music with a lot of bass and music signals of a broad frequency spectrum and different volumes for a certain period of time.
The number of hours will depend from one model to another. However, the most commonly followed break-in period is around 20 hours.
What Type Of Music You Produce
Do not forget the music genre you’re producing since it also has to be taken into account. Because different music styles need different setup, you need a specific design of your studio monitor.
If you’re producing a lot of acoustic styled music, you’re better off with a small pair of near-field monitors, which have speakers located at a close distance to you. This helps minimize the effects of sound bouncing off walls or the ceiling.
If your niche is hip hop, pop, or any music with an upbeat tune, the best studio monitor for you should consist a subwoofer, which is a specialized woofer solely designed to handle bass reproduction.
If you create songs and soundtracks more often used in video games, TV shows, or movies, a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system will be the best arrangement for you.
And if you spend most of your time recording and producing songs from rock bands or with a variety of talent, pick a studio monitor with 8’ woofers and a high wattage.
When it comes to giving you a clear audio and excellent transient response, the Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor should be your top choice. With its premium features and respected manufacturer, you should consider getting this one for your recording studio.
The HS8 has an 8 inch cone woofer, 1 inch dome tweeter, and 60 watts, which is enough to give you the best studio to create the perfect mix. You can never go wrong with its durable construction and smart features.