Now this is the section where you have to take your “cheap hat” off.
At least I hope you can. If there is one place though where you shouldn’t be stingy to spend some good money is when getting studio monitors.
Think about it this way . . . Imagine NASA is about to send someone in space. They spend millions on research, millions on training but when it comes time to spend money on the actual rocket that will carry the person in to space, they cheap out.
What do you think will happen? Yeah . . . total disaster!
Best Studio Monitors in 2017
Today, especially in 2017, there are some awesome studio monitors from brands like Neumann, Genelec, Yamaha and many more.
Since this whole site is mostly about making EDM Music (Bass heavy, and high end heavy tracks), we’re going to keep our focus on that.
|Neumann KH 120 A||1"||5.25"||10 7/8"||14.3lbs||52Hz to 21kHz||Check Price|
|Genelec MO40||1"||6 1/2"||13 1/4"||15.4lbs||44Hz to 21kHz||Check Price|
|Mackie HR824s||1.8"||8.75"||16.8"||34.6lbs||1.6kHz to 22kHz||Check Price|
|Adam A7X||2"||7"||11.0"||20.3lbs||42Hz to 50kHz||Check Price|
|KRK Rokit 5 G3||1"||5"||11.10"||14.1lbs||45Hz to 35kHz||Check Price|
|Yamaha HS8||1"||8"||15.4"||22.5lbs||38Hz to 30kHz||Check Price|
|Event Opal||1"||8"||10.7"||46.7lbs||80Hz to 20kHz|
NEUMANN KH 120 – Best For Making Music In A Small Room
Neumann’s new active studio monitor, the KH 120 A is designed to be used even in small studios. The makers describe it as compact at seventeen pounds, sixteen inches tall, eleven inches wide, and fourteen inches in depth.
This class-AB analog, bi-amplified studio monitor has a two-way system of speakers. As a compact studio monitor, it is made to be used as a near-field speaker for listening in smaller spaces; however, in a larger multi-channel system, the KH 120 can also be used as a rear loudspeaker, with a five-inch long throw bass driver, to compliment other monitors.
In order to create an effective off axis response to frequencies, the KH 120 has the addition of an MMD wave guide, or a Mathematically Modelled Dispersion. The MMD produces both low-distortion and high-frequency sounds in wide horizontal, as well as narrow vertical dispersion options. The frequency itself ranges 52 kHz — 21 kHz.
As for the bass, it has four different positions, and the acoustic controls have a treble and a low-mid function. The controls are made to monitor and adjust the output, suiting the needs of the setting in which the studio monitor is being used. These output level controls offer access to a variety of signal sources with the aid of the wide range input gain. The KH 120 monitor can be connected with a variety of different mounting hardware.
As for the physical features, KH 120 is boxy in shape, it has self-adhesive feet, and a titanium fabric dome in the front display. The composite sandwich cone, located on the front display, acts as a means to dampen the break-up modes. It measures 16.5 inches tall with an11 inch width, and a 14.3 inch depth.
The resonance of the studio monitor is de-emphasized due to the aluminium cabinet, which also controls the distribution of heat. The KH 120 is recommended by Neumann to be used for activities such as tracking, broadcasting, mixing, and to be used alongside post-production or editing software with its built-in amplifier.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as I personally use them
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Genelec M040 – The “Porsche” of Home Studio Monitors
Genelec’s M040 is a fairly small two way active studio monitor. Nine inches wide, thirteen inches tall, and weighing sixteen pounds, the studio monitor contains both an end driver and a low end driver.
When mixing dance music, the M040 monitor studio is able to reproduce low end frequencies, with the option of doing so for a music with less heavy bass, such as acoustic and more mainstream or commercial genres.
Genelec have designed the M040 with the intention of a studio monitor that allows for mechanical and audio ease when mixing music. One of the intentions behind this product is for it to be set up with multiple monitors. In this set up, the M040 can perform as a middle between a high-power monitor or a subwoofer, and perhaps also a passive studio monitor.
Built in to this active studio monitor are two drivers, one being mid-frequency, and measuring under six inches high. The other driver deals with low frequency, and is only one inch high. The monitor has rounded corners in its physical design, and is made with natural fiber composite material, which is fully recyclable (Genelec has made an effort in this aspect to be environmentally friendly).
It has a sound frequency response of 48 kHz to 20 kHz, with the precision being adjustable by the DCW (Directional Control Waveguide) for the on and off axis. The active crossover feature of the studio monitor allows the frequency response to act independently of the drive level or the driver’s particular electrical characteristics.
Within the M040 is a protection circuitry system, and though the studio monitor has no acoustic control, it does feature an automatic room response compensation.
Overall, the M040 studio monitor is engineered to be a sustainable product, and to work well in the majority of acoustic environments.
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Mackie HR824 MKII – One Of The Most Precise And Accurate
In fact, may producers report after mixing on these, they don’t even have to test their tracks on other speakers. It’s really that accurate!
The Mackie HR824s feature an aluminium cast zero-edge baffle that works to minimize the diffraction of your mix, and an internal structure that dampens any mid range artifacts.
These tools are used to control the sound waves for the optimal detail within their ranges, and to monitor the dispersion of the sound on and off the axis in transitions.
The metal surface is designed to reduce the vibration on the covering, as compared to a plastic or wooden baffle found on other products.
At the rear of the cabinet is the passive radiator. The passive radiator is intended as an improvement upon the ducted ports design. Instead, the vents take the formation of a the passive radiator, which forms as a flat piston, coupling to the air within.
As a result, the passive radiator needs little surface are compared to other alternatives. The capacity for it to reproduce lower distorted frequencies and raised SPL reportedly exceeds that of ducts or ports, with less distortion. It should be noted that with this passive feature, the Hrmk2 has a separate set of on board amps for each of its drivers as well as active crossovers and time-correction circuitry. The circuitry, with EQ and filter sections, can be used for tuning your collection of monitors.
They are hand-trimmed after their initial machine-manufacturing. This circuitry feature is what allows high and low frequencies to reach both of your ears simultaneously. The subwoofer on the HRMk2 monitor is both low-distortion and high precision, and just under nine-inches, with a titanium dome tweeter (the material being cooled by ferrofluid). The cabinets themselves are made of internally-braced wood for dampening sound waves within.
The material of the baffle used is in combination with the wood, and is considered to prevent a harsher sound. With a reflective black surface cabinet and a grey baffle, the aesthetic of the Mackie monitor is subdued. The designers have also attempted to avoid an intense glare in the white, LED indicator light. The Hrmk2 measures 21 inches high, 17 inches wide, and has a 14 inch depth.
It weighs thirty-five pounds, making it one of the heavier studio monitors. With its OmniMount, one of a brand of flexible mounts, it can be placed on your wall or ceiling, despite its substantial weight. With this feature, you can make use of the studio monitor without concern of its taking up too much floor space within your studio.
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Adam A7X – Super Detailed And Most Versatile
The Adam A7X is an active studio monitor that has been updated from older models with the addition of an X-ART tweeter, with a 50W A/B amplifier. These are not just popular with music producers but pretty much anyone who listens to music or audio. The Adam’s are quite popular in radio stations and even just for general music listening pleasure.
An example given by Adam of “accelerating ribbon technology,” this tweeter extends frequency response of waves, the responses themselves measuring up to 50kHz.
The A7X has had its maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Levels) increased in comparison to some of the older Adam models. Lower frequencies are integrated in this monitor with the A7X’s subwoofer as well as its 1.5 voice coil.
As a feature of this active studio monitor, the driver within has an amplifier of its own, such as the aforementioned amplifier of the tweeter. A 100W PWM amplifier drives the midwoofer on the A7X. On the front panel of the monitor are controls that you can use to adjust the volume of the monitor. One of the featured controls that tempers the volume separately from the on and off power switch, that is also located there.
From the rear panel you can control the 4dB high frequencies. The shell filters for higher and lower frequencies can also be controlled from the rear panel. The monitor comes with balanced and unbalanced connectors, so as to be able to combine it with other external devices and hardware, and in general increasing the compatibility for the A7X studio monitor. . The A7X is eleven inches high, and it has a particularly box-shaped design, with defined corners in a dark, matte grey color.
It can also be used for casual functions, such as a regular audio speaker, for cinematic purposes, or for gaming systems. The A7X active studio monitor has received several positive reviews from multiple, reputable sources, as featured on the Adam website, and is considered to be one of the more popular designs and brands of active studio monitors.
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KRK Rokit 5 G3 – Best Budget Studio Monitors
There is a wide range of choices when it comes to studio monitors. Truth is they are somewhat pricey. It’s just the nature of the beast. However, if you must get monitors and just can’t dish out what you should be then KRK Rokit’s should help you out. They are specifically for people who are just starting out.
If you are looking for super clarity in your mixes, you won’t be able to achieve them with these. However, as a beginner, this just might do the trick. While it may not suit your every need, the KRK Rokit 5 G3, does have a degree of merit as an affordable monitor.
The Rokit’s bass is able to resonate effectively within a studio or performance space. The extension is one of the more impressive features of this monitor. Compared to other monitors in this price range, the Rokits are definitely the pick of the litter.
Since the birth of Rokit’s new, third generation design, the monitor comes with several features. Depending on your preference, these additions could mean something of a bang for your buck. Some of these include a five inch, composite cone woofer made of glass, a one inch soft dome tweeter, and a frequency response between forty-five and thirty-five kHz. This adjustment in the frequency range comes with an improved-upon clarity from previous models.
The Rokit G3 also allows for more options when it comes to tuning adjustment in the frequency response. Adjustments like the one found on the Rokit monitor can mean it is more straightforward to match the frequency response with that of the acoustics within your workspace.
The general quality of a $320 monitor will mean that you might struggle with picking up certain aspects/sounds within the mix. Coupled with the hyped lows and highs, the difficulties with accuracy might make this a challenging monitor to use. However, they have been noted as having character that allows for a lot of fun with their use. Despite any aspects that may be compromised by the Rokit’s design, it is well worth considering for a novice producer.
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Yamaha HS8 – Little Low On Bass But Great Overall
When it comes to the Yamaha HS8, the monitor has a pretty tough legacy to live up to. Since the late 1970s, Yamaha has been known for producing the famed NS10M speakers. This means that that the HS has a poor reception from many of the NS10 purists.
One of the unfortunate drawbacks of the HS8 is its lower quality frequency, tending towards an uneven response. What’s more, the bass extension is also not known for its quality either. For these reasons, the HS8 is not a favourite for those who produce dance music.
The frequency itself ranges from forty-six to twenty-four kHz. Particularly the bottom end of the monitor’s frequency creates a deep and firm sound. The current model of the HS8 is similar to its original predecessor, the HS80M – for this reason, HS8 proves to be an upgraded system. Two of the most notable improvements are the drivers and the overall design of the monitor’s cabinet. For the drivers, the HS8 includes an eight inch cone woofer, and also a tweeter consisting of a one inch dome.
The cabinet is a two way ported design. For $600, the Yamaha HS8 is certainly a higher-grade studio monitor speaker. The HS8’s larger size is a contributor to its deep bass response. Despite this depth, the HS8’s mid-range has not been known to suffer as far as clarity is concerned. If you are looking for a newer version of the classic NS10, then the Yamaha HS8 could be an ideal pick for you. The concern of budget, however, might deter newer and more modern producers.
If money is not so much the issue, and you are looking for more of an investment item, then the HS8 might just be a viable option. Compared to Yamaha’s previous series of studio monitors, the HS8 has the potential for contemporary production. Naturally, the HS8 still retains its old-fashioned appeal and aesthetic, as seen in the classic white-cone woofer.
Do you want to invest, or do you want to obtain an affordable speaker till you can save up for something of a higher calibre? All of these are important things to consider before deciding to buy a $600 monitor, and if you reach a positive conclusion, you could find the results satisfying in a long-term speaker set.
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Adam Audio A77X – Electronic Music Producer’s Dream
According to professionals who have experience with this studio monitor, the A77X by Adam Audio is an item well worth its value. The only 3 Way Monitor (Woofer, tweeter AND Mids) on this list, and when you do get to the next level (I’m assuming after your tracks start to get picked up by famous Youtube channels), this is the way to go.
Adam’s studio monitor is known for being able to reproduce, in a seamless manner, frequencies between thirty-eight and fifty kHz. Along with this, the Adam A77X has a reputation among DJ’s for being a capable tool for using in either the studio or performance.
If you are at all familiar with studio monitors, you will know how a two-way system operates with its two bass ports. The A77X, has two woofers, both measuring seven inches cooperate at the same rate of thirty-eight kHz. Once reaching a rate of four-hundred kHz, one of the woofers will diminish and decrease its own effect gradually, while the other woofer will continue to play in a midrange that reaches up to three kHz.
The ultimate purpose and benefit of this is that it removes the chance of interferences and phase cancellations occurring within the midrange. This is such a significant quality because these distortions are most noticeable to the human ear when the audio is played from the speakers at a midrange, an area that the human ear is most sensitive to. Overall, this is a pleasing effect when it comes to the flat frequency response’s effect.
The lower pitches reproduced by the A77X are an untouched sound, lending an authenticity coveted by many electronic artists. The monitor itself is a horizontal design, which is innovative when compared to your typical vertical monitor design. One downside to this might be the difficulties when it comes to finding space within your studio. Obviously, a vertical monitor will take up less floor space. But one of the advantages to this structure is the foundation of a wide stereo.
The tweeter itself is a pleated diaphragm aligned within the speaker in several stripes. The three dimensional shape of this membrane is what increases the acoustic output more than double what it would be without. As a speaker that can cost up to eighteen-hundred dollars, you should really consider whether or not your use of it would justify the expense. A77X might best be recommended to experienced, pro-DJ’s, with the lifestyle and studio space to support it.
JBL LSR6328P – Amazing Flat Response
The JBL LSR6328P is a multi-channel music playing studio monitor. For this reason, it is an ideal choice when Spatial Reference is a factor in your decision. The linear spatial reference aspect of the monitor’s design is what controls the flatter off-axis response.
This is what creates the “flat” sound associated with many quality speakers. The frequency response itself measures between twenty and fifty kHz. The heavy low-pitches give a tactile experience to the listener, hence the reason it is so desired. The fact that the LSR does this makes it a worthwhile option for performance, especially when creating the ideal party or club environment.
The braking of these drivers also works to extend the low frequency response. The titanium composite high frequency transducer has a wave guide, which controls the frequency pattern. The frequency pattern control is of course an important aspect of this speaker, but another part of pattern control involves the horn-loaded tweeter of the studio monitor. This is the essence of the studio monitor’s dispersion angle, which is exactly what it sounds like: a horn that controls the angle at which the sound is dispersed from the speaker.
Many people don’t enjoy the sound of a horn-loaded treble, however. One of the disadvantages is that this effect can be too “forward” – some find that this comes with a lack of refinement. However, the shielded high frequency transducer acts to reduce any interference that may result from using the speaker with a video monitor in close proximity. And concerning the level of resonance within smaller spaces – the high density baffler, a dark sphere that contains the inner workings, serves to make the speaker suitable for such places.
Speaking of smaller spaces, the monitor has reinforced enclosure and mounted points. With these mounted points and the enclosure, you can actually mount your speaker onto surfaces in your installation. If you have a small studio space, you will be looking for something economic as far layout. This feature of the LSR will solve that problem for you.
When you take into account its various features, and if you’re a fan of that “in your face” treble, it is a reasonable option for an experienced DJ. However, if you are buying it for the space-saving features, I would recommend you put your money towards your studio first.
Event Opal – Top Of The Food Chain
At the higher end of the price spectrum, we have the well-established Event Opal. A design actually intended to be the best two way monitor ever produced, the Opal studio monitor has had a reputation ever since its initial release in 2008. And at more than $2000, it certainly has its merits.
Event has placed all their focus into every aspect of the monitor. Each piece was carefully and individually crafted within the company. The owners of Event claiming nothing was obtained from other brands, nothing being “bought off the shelf.”
It consists of an eight inch woofer made up of a combination of paper and carbon fibre in the cone, a tweeter measuring one inch and made up of Aluminium and Magnesium alloy in the dome, and its frequency ranges from thirty-five to twenty-two kHz.
This is especially helped by the fact that the woofer is made of a series of active and passive voice coils. As a result, the level of distortion found with the Opal are at an amazingly low rate. It is thanks to all these qualities that clarity and precision is what the Opal is known for.
Testimonials have reported that the sound that the Opal produces in a studio setting is something remarkable to behold. This is primarily because of the sheer accuracy that the monitor maintains. The frequency range is played with such a significant amount of clarity, the overall affect proves to be impressive. The monitor also eliminates the need for a subwoofer, due to the heavily accurate bass response.
One of the main factors for the Opal’s renown is that it is built to work well with electronically produced music. This is somewhat of a rare thing to find in the higher-grade studio monitors. Electronic music has its own sets of challenges to be concerned with when it comes to using studio monitors.
This is what leads to issues with frequency response and accuracy. Apparently not so with the Opal studio monitor. Its bright and open sound certainly has it contending as one of the best two-way port monitors there is, if not the absolute best. The sound is that much more palatable because it does not have heavy distortion to work through.
While Event’s Opal certainly has its qualities, it is not necessarily worth dumping all your savings on, if it is not truly the investment you’re prepared for. That being said, given the Opal’s versatility, and the clarity it produces, it might just be exactly what you need, and improve the overall quality of your studio set.
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Best Studio Monitors – Buyer’s Guide
Hopefully you know the importance of Great question. Why the heck do you even need studio monitors when you should able to mix or on your home stereo system or your normal computer speakers right?
Well here is the low down on that . . .
Studio Monitors vs Home Speakers
Home speakers are designed to ‘modify’ existing sound. Some have more treble (Highs), some have more bass (Lows) and so on. Basically, each home speaker has it’s own ‘style’ to it.
Studio Monitors on the other hand, are “designed” to make sure that what goes in is what comes out. So basically, you get the most accurate representation of your music. If it sounds a certain way on your studio monitors, that means your track will sound pretty much the same everywhere else. So if a track that you recently mixed sounds good overall (Good balance of highs and lows, etc), it will sound like that pretty much anywhere else.
What Size Studio Monitors Do I Need
There are three main factors to keep in mind when selecting a pair of studio monitors:
- Active or Passive
- How flat are they (Frequency Response)?
A common question and an important one. Honestly, it all depends on where you will put them. Most go for 10 inch studio monitors but (Height). My studio monitors are a little bit over that and that is why Neumann KH 120 are the best bedroom studio monitors.
Although there is a wide range of choices for studio monitor size. Portability in general is not a concern, as it will have a more or less permanent home within your studio. With this in mind, consider the dimensions. After going to all the trouble of choosing your studio monitor, imagine your disappointment if you were to find there was not enough room on your desk (speaking from personal experience). If you’re in a smaller studio, consider getting some speaker stands for your monitor.
Make sure, though, that whatever surface you settle on is sturdy – some studio monitors can weigh up to twenty pounds!
Passive Vs. Active
There are two main types of studio monitors, passive and active. Passive monitors, also known as “unpowered” act exclusively as speakers. With a passive monitor, you have to buy an additional power source.
An active (“powered”) monitor is made with a built-in amplifier. Luckily, 99% of the studio monitors out there are Active. Even the ones used by your favorite producers so don’t worry about it.
Frequency response (Flat Response)
One of the most important things to keep in mind is always go for the best flat studio monitors.
As far as studio monitors vs home speakers go (As mentioned earlier), this right here is the KEY difference.
Home speakers don’t have a ‘flat response’. That’s why you can’t mix on them.
What is a ‘Flat Response’?
It basically means whatever sound is going in your studio monitors is the exact sound that comes out as well.
The flatter the response, the more accurate your sound is going to be on every other speaker (Club, Car, Friend’s house, etc) in the world.
Think about pouring water through a filter (Sound Monitor). Once that water comes out through the filter, it’s clean enough to drink through any type of glass (Plastic, Bronze, Crystal etc). Plus it will most likely taste the same as well.
Once you mix your track on monitors with the flattest frequency, the more your track will ‘taste’ the same on other listening environments (Club, Car, Friend’s house, etc).
A human’s natural hearing range spans between 20kHz-20kHz, so naturally this is an important aspect of your speakers. The monitor will have a specific range, and this will typically look somewhere along the lines of 35kHz-35kHz or 37Hz-24kHzm. The lower end, such as at 35Hz suggests the bass frequencies that go below that number cannot be handled by that monitor speaker. No worries here because
What’s most important to keep in mind is that the sound signature of this monitor needs to be a flat one. This is what really makes the studio monitor. Keep an eye out for this detail amidst all the colorful language of advertising, as a claim of “flat and transparent” features could mean something entirely different. These tips should help you to navigate the marketing-speak and find the studio monitor that’s right for you.
I’ve heard people talk about getting ‘beginner’ monitors but that is ridiculous. I would rather spend that beginner money ($100 to $500) on getting proper music production courses or something of that nature. So when I do decide to purchase real quality monitors, I would have a better idea on making real professional EDM music.
DON’T BE CHEAP when it comes to getting studio monitors. Seriously.
Best Way To Select Studio Monitors
Now after you’ve done some research and I hope this section helped. The final test is to go to your local music store and hear the difference yourself. That’s how everyone buys them so don’t worry about asking the clerk. They expect it.
This is how everyone else does it and how I did it myself as well (I went down to the local Tome Lee Music we have here).
In fact, it was because of this ‘listening test’ that I completely got sold on the Neuman KH 120 A. The size is perfect for my small room (Definitely the best small studio monitors), the sound is WAY BETTER then Rokits (Which are just crappy) and the bass is way better than Yamaha HS8s (Which I originally went in to get).
FUN FACT: Sometimes you might hear things like two way or three way monitors. The difference is simple. Two way simply refers to the number of speakers (One is a tweeter and one is for the Bass).
Three way is a monitor that that has three speakers (Tweeter, One for bass and one for the sounds in the middle of .
The reason I didn’t get the HS8s was because they were huge in size, and the low end (Bass) was not as good as compared to the Neumann’s.