Whether you have a home studio, or you use a real recording studio, having a professional grade studio monitor is an absolute must. Without professional grade studio monitors, you won’t be able to produce your best music.
As a matter of fact, using the wrong monitors could be the difference in producing a big hit, or something that gets very little airplay and the same goes for other recording equipment like studio headphones or in ear monitors.
Since you are reading this guide, chances are you want to produce great music. And that is only possible when you have the right studio monitors.
Now that you understand how important it is to use studio monitors, the question is, with so many different options available, which one would be right for you?
That’s a great question. And we are going to help you answer it.
One thing you must keep in mind is that there is no one size fits all. Everyone is different and will have different needs. So you must choose a monitor that meets your personal wants and needs.
While most monitors look exactly alike, there are no two studio monitors that are exactly the same. Each monitor will have different features, different performance capabilities, and yes, a different price tag.
Based on these different options, finding the right one can be a little tricky. Our goal with this article is to make the process a little easier.
We will be reviewing the top 5 best studio monitors currently available. This way you will be able to save a great deal of time when it comes to deciding which one will work best for you.
Top 5 Best Studio Monitors
The Presonus Eris E3.5-3.5" Near Field Studio Monitor is nothing but the truth. It utilizes a woven composite, low frequency driver that delivers cleaner overall sound.
It is the only true studio monitor that can be used for gaming, watching movies, multimedia, and of course, making big hits. It's basically a one stop shop for all things related to sound.
It is equipped with a one-inch silk-dome tweeter that gives it the ability to produce a very smooth and refined sound. The way the tweeter is designed, it's able to radiate sound with a fairly wide dispersion pattern.
This creates a large optimal listening area, also known as a sweet spot. This sweet spot allows you to move around without affecting the accuracy of the sound.
The Presonus Eris E3.5 features three different types of audio inputs. This means you can connect the monitor to almost any line level source. This would include a mixer, smartphone, or tablet.
And don’t worry, though the front panel headphone amplifier is loud and clear, it allows you the work in stealth mode. That means you never have to worry about disturbing anyone in your home.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the compact design. The Eris E3.5 is designed in a way that makes it perfect for any small space.
- Can also be used for gaming, watching movies, and multimedia.
- Studio quality industrial design.
- Features acoustic timing.
- Can connect to virtually any line level source.
- You may experience a buzzing sound coming from the connectors.
- The reviews speak for themselves!
- The only true studio monitor for multimedia, gaming, watching movies, or producing your next hit
- Now comes included with Studio One Prime and Studio Magic plug-in suite, over $1000 USD worth of music production software.
- 3.5-inch woven composite drivers produce a more powerful bass response with a more accurate overall sound.
- 1" ultra-low-mass silk-dome tweeters eliminate harshness and provide balanced high-frequency sound.
If it's the legendary JBL performance you want, that is exactly what you will get with the JBL Professional 305P MkII Next-Generation 5-Inch 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor.
It features next generation JBL transducers and new Boundary EQ. It even has a new, very sleek design. The HF and LF transducers have both been updated.
The new design helps optimize damping for superior transient response and impressive deep bass with lower harmonic distortion.
Anytime the speakers are placed on a workstation, or adjacent to walls, the new Boundary EQ ensures the neutral low frequency response has been properly restored.
The JBL Professional 305P MkII has a broad sweet spot. This means even if you are listening off axis, you will still be able to fine tune your mix.
- Flexible connectivity.
- Features next-generation JBL transducers and a new Boundary EQ.
- Has a broad sweet spot.
- The speakers have been known to rattle a bit.
- MkII series features next-generation JBL transducers, new Boundary EQ, and a sleek new design
- Updated HF and LF transducers: new design improvements result in optimized damping for superior transient response and impressive deep bass with lower harmonic distortion
- New boundary EQ: restores neutral low frequency response when speakers are placed on the work surface and adjacent to walls
- Sleek, modern design provides a dramatic flair to any studio
- Broad sweet spot: neutral frequency response across a wide area allows you to fine-tune your mix even while listening off-axis
With a price tag of only $89, the Mackie Studio Monitor is one of the best values for the money.
It features studio quality design, sound, and performance. To optimize sonic performance, it also comes with professional grade components. One such component is the 1/8 inches to stereo RCA cable that allows you to connect the computer output to the speakers.
The speaker placement switch gives you the freedom to choose which side gets the volume knob.
The panel volume knob, which is conveniently placed on the front of the monitor, lets you control the volume and power.
It doesn’t matter if you are listening to music, or editing a video, if you need great sound, these monitors will deliver.
- Studio quality design.
- Professional grade components.
- Convenient front panel volume knob.
- Can help with all aspects of multimedia creation.
- Not very durable.
- Studio-quality design, sound and performance ideal for multimedia creation and entertainment
- Professional-grade components for optimized sonic performance.1/8 inches to stereo RCA cable to connect computer output to speakers
- Ultra-wide frequency range perfect for full-range multimedia (80 Hz - 20 kHz)
- Choose which side of your desk gets the volume knob with CR3's convenient speaker placement switch
- Convenient front panel volume knob with lit power ring gives you on/off/volume control and power indication where you need it. Plug your smartphone or other source right into the front of the speakers and listen instantly
The Yamaha HS5 features newly developed transducers which gives the monitor a very smooth response. This is achieved through the advanced magnetic field design. With this design the flow of the magnetic response is regulated. This results in a seamless, natural sonic transition.
Each speaker in the HS series uses an amplifier unit that perfectly matches the newly developed transducers. This amplifier unit is what ensures the speakers are able to deliver a high resolution sound on a consistent basis.
When it comes to controls and connectivity, the Yamaha HS5 is able to accommodate a wide range of sources. From mixers, to phone jacks, to keyboards, this monitor can handle it all. And thanks to the HS series cabinets, you will have low resonance and extremely accurate sound.
- Features high performance 70W power amplification.
- Accepts balanced and unbalanced signals.
- Some users have complained about the sound this monitor produces.
- 2-Way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor with 5" cone woofer and 1" dome tweeter
- 54Hz-30kHz frequency response
- 45W LF plus 25W HF bi-amp system for high-performance 70W power amplification
- Room Control and High TRIM response controls
- XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals
The M-Audio BX5 D3 is no ordinary loudspeaker. It is designed to deliver 100 watts of distributed power. This results in a studio-grade cohesive, accurate sound and ultra-wide range 52-35kHz frequency response.
The quality of sound is both superior and transparent. The inputs are versatile and conveniently located. You can easily connect to DJ gear, amplifiers, instruments, mixers, and much more.
One thing that makes this monitor so unique is the onboard acoustic space control. This feature customizes the sound output to the current listening environment. As a result you will have a sound that is sonically-true and reassuringly-accurate.
To help minimize air turbulence and acoustic distortion, the optimized rear ports extend the low frequency response down to 52Hz.
- Great connectivity. Can easily assimilate into almost any setup.
- Acoustic space control for precise sound adjustment.
- Outstanding transient response.
- 100 Watts of distributed power.
- It only comes with one monitor.
- Professional class A/B bi-amplified design with 100 watts of distributed power for studio-grade cohesive, accurate sound and ultra-wide range 52-35kHz frequency response covers full musical spectrum
- Superior transparent sound quality: 5” low-frequency drivers with Kevlar cones for rich, defined lows and 1” high-frequency drivers with natural silk domes and computer optimised waveguides for smooth, clear highs
- Versatile, conveniently located XLR balanced and 1/4” balanced/unbalanced inputs for connecting mixers, amplifiers, instruments, DJ gear and more
- Acoustic Space Control customises the sound output to the listening environment for sonically-true, reassuringly-accurate sound reproduction
- Extended low-frequency response down to 52Hz courtesy of optimized rear ports that minimize air turbulence and acoustic distortion
Best Studio Monitors Buyers Guide
Back in the day being able to record from your home was unheard of. It was something that most people thought was impossible.
They believed the only way you could record, produce and mix music was to spend thousands of dollars to go to a professional studio. And while that was the case just a few short years ago, thanks to technology, things have changed.
These days more and more people are starting to realize the benefit of having their own home studio. Not only is it convenient, but it saves money. When you can record, mix, and master music whenever you want, that puts you in the driver's seat.
No longer will you be forced to pay hundreds of dollars for a few hours of studio time. You will have your own setup and be able to make music whenever you want.
Now as you very well know, in order to produce a quality recording, you need a decent pair of studio monitors. They are an essential part of the recording and mixing process.
And just to be clear, regular speakers will not cut it. While they may be great for listening to music, when it comes to mixing and mastering, you need something that can deliver the best possible sound. Otherwise you will not be able to produce the best possible music.
With that being said, there are a few important things you will want to consider when it comes to purchasing studio monitors.
They are budget, type of monitor, speaker size, wattage rating, and frequency response. We’ve broken each one down below so you will know what to look for when you start your search.
Before you head out to buy a studio monitor, you should first figure out how much you can afford to spend on studio monitors. To determine your budget, you will first need to get an understanding of the different price ranges that are available.
You can find studio monitors for a few hundred dollars, all the way up to a few thousands dollars. This is one of those situations where you will get what you pay for just like if you buy a budget set of studio headphones.
The higher end models will have more features and better specifications. However, that doesn’t mean the more affordable monitors aren’t good options.
It really boils down to the type of recordings and mixes you plan on creating. Knowing this will help you figure out what features and specifications you need. It will also help you put together a solid budget.
Please know you don’t need the most expensive monitors to be a great producer. You just need a decent pair that will help you get the job done. You can always upgrade once you get more money in your pocket.
Type of Monitors
There are two types of studio monitors you can purchase. They are passive or active. Passive monitors are not equipped with an amplifier. They are basically speakers with no power. In order to power them up you will need to invest in an external amplifier. This means you will have more out of pocket expenses.
Active monitors, on the other hand, are equipped with an amplifier. That means you will be able to use it right out the box. Both types of monitors are a good option. The one you get will boil down to your personal preference.
The size of the speaker, also referred to as the size of the woofer, will have a huge impact on the overall sound that gets produced. In terms of bass response, the bigger the woofer the better. The clearer you can hear the way the bass is moving, the better you will be able to mix and master the track.
Keep in mind a bigger speaker will mean the monitor will also be bigger. This could present issues with space. If you have a small room, get a speaker size that will fit into that space. Small speakers can still be effective in the right environment.
The power rating of a studio monitor is determined by watts. This is extremely important and something that shouldn’t be overlooked. The higher the wattage rating, the more volume you will be able to get with your monitor.
Wattage also helps with minimizing some of the distortion and clippings you will often hear in recordings. And the less distortion you hear, the better the overall track will sound.
If you want to hear recording accurately, then you will need a flat frequency response in your studio monitors. The flatter the frequency response, the clearer the sound will be. Accurate sound is the key to mixing the perfect track.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Studio Monitors Worth It?
A better question is, what type of music do you want to create? Do you want to create good, quality music that people will love? Or sub par music that people completely ignore?
I am pretty sure you chose the first option. And if that is the case, then yes, studio monitors are indeed worth it.
If you have ever tried to mix and master a track, you know how difficult it can be. With a studio monitor the process can become a lot easier.
Top rated studio monitors like the ones listed in this article, provide accurate, crystal clear sound at a range of different frequencies. From low, to medium, to high, with a studio monitor you will be able to hear every little detail.
Another reason studio monitors are worth it is because they give you that real studio feel right in your home. If you have been trying to produce great tracks with a basic loudspeaker, you know how frustrating it can be.
Not only do you have a limited number of controllers, but the loudspeaker usually isn’t effective. With a studio monitor you will have more controllers that allow you to create better overall music.
Keep in mind studio monitors aren’t just for mixing and mastering music. They are also great for the everyday listening experience.
Do You Need 2 Studio Monitors?
When it comes to creating great music, you can never go wrong by having multiple monitors on hand. This will allow you to compare your mix on different speakers.
Each speaker will have a different sound. By hearing the different sound from the different speakers, you will be able to create music that sounds good on any type of speaker.
But here’s the deal. This doesn’t just apply to studio monitors. You should also listen to your music through multiple car speakers, earbuds, headphones etc. This is the only way you can truly understand how your music will sound in each of those environments.
If you do decide to purchase multiple monitors, make sure each one has different features and different characteristics. For example, you could get one set of drivers with large woofers, and another set with small woofers. You could also get a monitor that responds more like a boombox.
Having different types of monitors will push you to create awesome music.
What Size Studio Monitors Should I Buy?
In order to choose the right size studio monitor, you must first have a clear understanding of the size of the room it will be placed.
Since you are reading this, chances are you are the type of musician who produces music in a bedroom, or spare room, in your home. Most spare bedrooms don’t have a lot of additional space.
Luckily there are studio monitors that have been specifically designed for this type of situation.
To ensure you get the perfect size studio monitor, always follow this one rule. The larger the room, the bigger the studio monitors you can use.
However, that doesn’t not mean bigger studio monitors are better. It simply means they will better serve a larger room. It's all about context. So just like bigger monitors are great for larger rooms, small studio monitors are great for smaller rooms.