Nothing beats the crisp, clear sound and sonic accuracy of a well built, smartly spec’d Studio Monitors. Welcome to the Studio Monitor Center – your one stop guide to the best studio monitors for you and your needs !
What monitors you use, in many ways determines the quality of your recording, mixing and listening experience. With an ever-growing number of features and permutations available, choosing one can be an overwhelming decision for both- the first time as well as seasoned buyer. But worry not, we have done all the homework for you!
Whether you are a professional musician or sound engineer, an amateur or enthusiast, or just someone looking for a progressive edge in your everyday listening experience, you are sure to find your perfect set of speakers here.
Choosing your own Studio Monitor
Ready to power up your recording with a set of Studio Monitors ? Great! Don’t let the endless number of models, features and options overwhelm you. Yes we know it can all get a little bit too exciting, so here are the three criterions we swear by to shoppers- first time or seasoned.
With Studio Monitors, as with other things in the digital age, bigger is not always better. The size of your Reference Speakers is determined by the size of your studio, listening distances and speaker placement; you want your choice of Monitors to be effective and efficient.
For a small to mid-sized studio in your home stick to Near Field Monitors with a cone of 5 to 6 inches. Larger home studios can usually accommodate an 8 inch cone model. Anything larger such as in the Mid to Large Field is recommended for medium to large professional studios- check your acoustics and make sure you need one to start with, and that you can actually accommodate it once there.
Studio Monitors focus on precision and therefore they aren’t looking to sound rich or moving. Instead they produce a flat sound for accurate reproduction. A good set of Studio Monitors therefore has a balanced output across the entire frequency range i.e. 20Hz to 20kHz and is built to handle sudden bursts of sound that may be found in raw recordings.
Give your needs a thorough consideration before you begin shopping. There is always a sweeter model or deal on the shelf to tempt you to spend more, but what is crucial is outlining the critical parameters of use. Consider acoustics, size and nature of the space you are recording in.
Woofer Monitors are increasingly popular, but are really only needed if your audio is going to be played in high-bass club or on a high definition surround system. If moving around, you may want to invest in portable speakers, and to optimize your monitor’s performance sweeten the deal with a good set of speaker stands.
Studio Monitors are a serious consideration for those serious about their sound and recordings. The rule of thumb with these speakers is to seek accurate, not rich sound. If you are buying one in-store, take along a few sample tracks to play and check. Strapped indoors? Check out our reviews for a more in-depth look at various models on the market and whether they fit your needs, budget and style.
Review of the Five Best Studio Monitors for You
M-Audio Studiophile Av-40
These self- powered Studio monitors pack quite a punch with its range of features and sumptuous good looks. Built on the legacy of M-Audio’s larger BX-5 model these two-way units are versatile in use and glorious in sound. Powered by internal Class-A/B amplifiers, the MDF base-reflex enclosures house a 4″polypropylene-coated woofer and a 1” ferrofluid-cooled silk dome tweeter for strong performance with low distortion.
Don’t let its modest 4 inch cones fool you- the Av-40 is a master of crisp and accurate sound and adopts professional OptImage III tweeter wave guide technology to bring out detail and clarity. Add to that smart magnetic shielding, and you have a devil of a Monitor that can work in the cosiest of studios without interfering with your electronic equipment.
These monitors are exclusively designed for professional musicians and amateur enthusiasts seeking to record, create and mix audio at home. Just hook these up into your gear and you are ready to go! Tempting, isn’t it ?
JBL LSR305 Studio Monitor
From rich lows to crisp highs, with its exceptionally wide frequency range the LSR305 from JBL is your monitor of choice for mixing and editing. Giving competition a run for its money, these active monitors are packed with features from JBL’s flagship M2 Master Reference Monitor. Taking on the most challenging and demanding of production styles, these monitors deliver sensational output with efficient Class D Amplifiers. The 3 Series speakers increase HF detail offering greater depth and ambience than your average monitor.
The LSR305 shines where most monitors struggle-JBL’s patented “Slip Stream” low-frequency port allows for even and accurate bass response at low playback levels. Further, its Image Control Waveguide offers a precise and accurate display of the sound field, powering your skills and imagination.
Clearly not a one trick pony, adding to its amazing sound these speakers boast of a broad sweet spot that delivers an even sonic output across unusually large working spaces- irrespective of room profile and acoustics. Impress you clients without rooting them to your chair with these studio monitors that are a perfect match for professional studios and engineers. Equipped with XLR and TRS balanced inputs, these units are sold individually.
Audioengine A2 + Premium Powered Desktop Speaker
The Audioengine A2+ Premium is a trailblazer in exceptional sonic output in an unbelievably compact size. An upgrade on previous versions, these speakers promise the quality that Audioengine is so popular for, plus more. These 6 x 4 x 5.25 inch speakers fit neatly and comfortably on your desktop, shelf or any corner of your workspace and are equipped with 3/4″ silk-dome tweeters and 2.75″ Kevlar woofers in its bass-reflex enclosure. A built in amp in the left speaker provides 30 watts of power (peak) per channel.
For those who seek a compact monitor with a strong bass range, the Audioengine A2 Premium is the answer, rated down to 65Hz at ±2.0dB. What’s more, these can be directly hooked up to your Mac or PC without the need for additional drivers; it’s just plug, play and listen with the A2s. This is one great option for those looking to fit big sound in small spaces or those just seeking a fantastic desktop speaker for gaming, music and videos.
Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
It’s the unfailingly accurate production and breakthrough technology of the Yamaha Studio Monitors that makes these white coned speakers synonymous with professional recording. Yamaha brings this expertise and innovation to the HS series that delight us with bi-amp drivers for astonishing accuracy and clarity with a flat response across its range.
Presenting the HS5- a rock star among studio monitors, this model features newly developed transducers. The HS5 delivers steady bass and yes it can go high- really high- with a frequency response of up to 30kHz. These 5” cones are accompanied by an upgraded 1” tweeter for delicious sound and inspiring output. The innovation does not stop here; the enclosure is crafted in a low resonance design and has progressive noise reduction technology that reduces audible noise up to 6dB.
Available in black and white finishes, the HS5 is a must-have for cutting edge recordings that revel in exceptional accuracy and clarity. With room control and high-trim controls, these monitors are guaranteed to deliver optimum sound in any room. A serious piece of technology for the ambitious and the professional, these near field monitors are about as good as it gets -yet.
Mackie CR4 4-Inch Studio Monitor
Bringing the best of professional technology to your desktop, the Mackie CR4 is a powerhouse for creativity and entertainment. These monitors have a wide frequency range that delivers clear and crisp sound through a 4” polypropylene coated woofer and .75” ferrofluid-cooled silk dome tweeter. The smooth waveguide design delivers unmatched clarity and sound dispersion across its sonic range while acoustic isolation pads minimise bass build up and provide greater tilt control for focussed listening.
What sets the CR-4 apart, however, is the user-friendly packaging of its professional grade technology. For one, the speakers are interchangeable which saves a lot of hassle. The front panel controls lets you modulate volume and power as well as plug in your smartphone for instant playback. Packing a host of features that make life simpler, the Mackie CR-4 is ideal for the home user who wants a little edge in his sound output. This is not a professional dream but make for killer computer speakers, bringing something special to your home entertainment system at affordable prices.
Studio Monitors VS HeadPhones
Types of Studio Monitors
Studio monitors can be classed and divided on a variety of criterion- from cabinet to cone, every aspect of these units is carefully co-ordinated for a precisely designed output. Broadly viewed, the Listening Distance and Amplifier Integration are two of the most vital criterion. However for those more passionate about detail, the possibilities are endless with various options in drivers, enclosures and features.
Active Monitors have a built in amplifier and are therefore internally powered. A minimal hassle option, they reduce your rack gear while assuring you that your amp is correctly configured to your speakers, producing a true-to-source sonic output.
Passive Monitors on the other hand connect to an external amplifier – this may mean more wiring, costs and maintenance but offers greater permutations when creating multi-array systems. Popular among professional sound engineers and producers- in part due to potential and in part nostalgia- these units require careful matching with the amplifier to ensure accurate output.
Advantages of Studio Monitors
Telling it like it is, Studio Monitors (aptly called ‘reference’ speakers) are designed to create a ‘flat sound’ or flat frequency response, thereby producing an accurate representation of the audio source (i.e. a ‘reference’). Unlike commercial and personal speakers which embellish sound by boosting certain frequencies, Studio Monitors keep it real by producing sound in the raw, without any added distortions or enhancements.
While the emphasis is clearly on accuracy, if you feel Studio Monitors do not sound good, think again! These speakers bring out every detail, every note and every sound with equal zest and fervour. The quality of experience of a Studio Monitor is far superior in that it isn’t strong in just a few sections of the audio spectrum; instead a good monitor will give you good sound across its frequency range.
Help Create High Quality Recordings
Exposing flaws in the sound so these can be corrected, Studio Monitors are vital to recording, editing, mixing or mastering audio. These speakers enable you make the necessary adjustments that ensure your tracks not only sound right, they also translate and play just as beautifully across different media and outputs- from pocket sized players to laptops to high-definition surround sound systems.
Who Needs a Studio Monitor?
A good Studio Monitor is for you no matter what your background, but if you belong to one of the following categories then it is a definite must-have:
- Professional studio Owners
- Home Studio Owners
- Recording & Mixing Engineers
- Musicians & Recording Artists
- Voice Over Artists
- Sound Engineers
- Audio Post Engineer
- Film & Documentary Makers
- Novice and professional Podcasters
- Music Enthusiasts & Hobbyists
- Students of Sound, Music, Drama or Media
The type of Monitor and model you need depends on your needs and current facilities and arrangements. But be assured that there is a perfect studio monitor out there for you, waiting to add that crisp accuracy to your listening and recording experience.
There is no substitute for a live demonstration- to hear a studio monitor’s sound and accuracy we recommend going in-store and giving it a go. But like all speakers, studio monitors too respond to a variety of factors in their performance- from the dimensions and acoustics of a space to the finer settings of your computer/ recording equipment. To know what a set of monitors sound like in your setup, you will need to plug them in and hit play.
It is however, a clever move to familiarize yourself with the features, pros and cons of a model before hand- with all those specifications, it’s easy to overlook the finer details when you are swept up by sound. Not only does it let you create a smart shortlist of monitors to choose from, it also gives you greater clarity on your own requirements and priorities.
Read here to find out more about Best Studio Monitors Under 300 and what to consider when buying. You can also browse through our extensive library of expert reviews that evaluate the potential and applications of each model.