Studio monitors are essential equipment in a studio regardless of whether you are a professional audio mixing engineer or you are an average home studio music producer.
These studio monitors or speakers as per se are used to mix music because they are a medium of listening to what the mixing engineers are mixing. Unlike any ordinary speakers, studio monitors are built for the specific job of mixing music. They represent frequencies in a much broader spectrum than ordinary speakers.
With studio monitors, one can clearly pick up misrepresentations of frequencies in a specific track they are mixing. For example, if there is too much bass in a mix, the monitors will easy pick it up because of their high frequency response.
Certain studio monitors can pick up frequencies from a range of 50Hz to 20KHz. That means low frequencies as low as 50Hz are represented in the spectrum as well as frequencies as high as 20KHz. Such is a different scenario with ordinary speakers such as those found in home theater sound systems.
Therefore, in this article we are going to look at some of the best monitors for a home studio.
Our Picks Of Best Home Studio Monitors
Below are the studio monitors we have picked that best suite a home recording studio:
Neumann is a company which has been synonymous for building impeccable condenser microphones and when their eyes were now set on monitors, the results were simply marvelous.
Neumann KH 120 A monitors are designed for usage as nearfield loudspeakers that do not compromise in the quality of sound. With the good reputation of Neumann in the music equipment industry, one can be rest assured that the build standards of these monitors is second to non.
Here are some features Neumann KH 120 A Monitors possess:
- Compact aluminum cabinet which is magnetically shielded
- Robust front metal grille to protect from mechanical damage
- Compact bi-amplified nearfield monitor speakers
- Titanium fabric dome tweeters – ensuring there is low distortion and high frequency reproduction
- Composite sandwiched cone woofer designed to dampen breakup modes thereby, reducing harmonic distortion
Adam Audio A7X powered studio monitors are one of the most balanced and versatile monitors that are currently on the market.
The monitors have excellent performance across the entire frequency spectrum and have a very great sense of air as well as transparency in them than their predecessor the Adam Audio A7 monitors.
These monitors have tweeters with extended (X-ART) frequency response which distinguishes the old model from the new. The Accelerated Ribbon Technology has also tremendously improved the frequency response feature. The frequency response can now extend up to 50KHz.
Here are some features of Adam Audio A7X studio Monitors:
- A solid frequency response as low as 42Hz
- They are great for project studios
However, it is important to mention that the Adam Audio monitors do not have magnetic shielding around the woofers.
The JBL LSR305 is an active two-way powered monitor. This monitor is great for audio engineers and music producers who are serious in their production. The monitor can be used to mix music in the DAW software as well as when editing videos.
It is a bi-amplified monitor with magnetic-shielded 5 inch low frequency transducer and a 1 inch soft-dome high frequency transducer and image control wave guide. The rear panel has dual balanced XLR 1/4 inch TRS inputs as well as individual trims for Low frequency and High frequency.
Below are some specs:
- Frequency range of 43Hz to 24 KHz
- Input types: 1 XLR and 1 TRS balanced
- Max peak SPL: 108 dB SPL C-weighted
- Max peak input: +23 dBu
- LF trim control: +2 dB, 0, -2 dB
- HF trim control: +2 dB, 0, -2 dB
4. Yamaha HS8
Yamaha has been in the music equipment industry for long time now and one can be rest assured that they are here to stay. With the high reputation of Yamaha musical products, the Yamaha HS8 monitor is no compromise as it is one of the most popular studio monitors found in top studios worldwide.
The Yamaha HS8 monitor speaker is an active studio monitor that will help audio engineers and music producers to make better-sounding recordings. Be it in top studios or home studios, this studio monitor will definitely do a good job in the mixing of audio.
Here are some of its features:
- 8 inch cone woofer and 1 inch dome tweeter
- XLR and TRS phone jack inputs
- A frequency response of 38Hz to 30KHz with a power consumption of 60 watts
- Room Control and High Trim response controls
KRK systems is one of the most respected manufacturers of studio reference monitors. With their state-of-the-art design facility, KRK’s engineers create products that deliver natural and spectral response that is balanced with low distortion and high quality imaging.
The KRK RP6G3 reference monitor is no exception even after KRK was bought by the Gibson empire. This monitor still recognizably has the KRK design.
The KRK RP6G3 monitor is a 2-way active monitor with a price that is budget friendly to a home studio owner.
The monitor is bi-amplified with class A/B amplifiers which allows it to offer a large headroom with low distortion. It has a 1 soft-dome tweeter that provides clarity that is spotless and frequency extension of up to 35KHz.
Edifier is a China-based company that was founded by music lovers and it has been around for more than 20 years. They have more than 3000 employees serving in 70 countries worldwide.
The goal of its founders was to produce good performing products in several prices ranges that are designed well and pleasant to look at. The Edifier R1280T Bookshelf speakers are a living testimony of their goal.
These speakers are active nearfield monitors and the sound they produce is power and clear. Exactly what a home studio producer would want his/her monitors to sound like. The monitors also have multiple input options including Aux input which comes in handy. You are capable of plugging in two devices via the Aux at the same time.
The price of these monitors is very friendly for those home studio owners who are on a budget and are looking for monitors that will deliver good quality sound and durability.
Other Studio monitors to consider if you are on a budget are:
1. Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
2. KRK RP5G3W-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor
3. M-Audio AV42
4. Alesis M1 Active 320
A Guide To Follow when Choosing Studio Monitors
Below are some factors you need to consider before you purchase your home studio monitors:
There is this preconceived notion that one needs to spend more money in order to get high quality studio monitors. One way or the other, this may be true. However, there are some good quality affordable studio monitors out there that produce high quality sound. So there no need to break the bank in order to achieve good mixes in your home studio. After, all what good will expensive studio monitors do for a mixing engineer who doesn’t critically listen to what he/she is mixing?
Absolutely nothing good will come out of those mixes because he/she is relying on the expensive mixers to do the job rather than using their ears. They say mix with your ears and that is true. No expensive monitors will help you if you don’t critically listen to what is happening in your mixes.
With that aside, am not in any way saying expensive monitors are bad. But what am simply trying to put across is that there is no need to spend more money when you can achieve high quality sound with affordable monitors. However, if you have the money to spend, you can go for the more expensive monitors.
2. Size of the monitors
This will mostly depend on the space that you have in your home studio. If for example you have a small home studio, there is no need for you to buy big studio monitors that will just eat up the space you don’t initially have. It is best to go for small studio monitors that will fit in your small home studio especially if you are operating on a small desk setup.
In addition, with small studio monitors one will more than likely produce accurate results during mixing. But if there is enough space, one can purchase the larger monitors and mount them.
3. Frequency range of the monitors
Before purchasing studio monitors, it is of paramount importance that one considers the frequency range of the monitors they wish to purchase. This can be done by making sure that the monitors to be purchased handles all frequency ranges required by the recordings.
As earlier mentioned, some studio monitors handle frequencies ranging from 50Hz to 20KHz. This frequency spectrum is ideal for most recording work.
4. The power of monitors
This is a very important factor to consider. This is because the number of watts required by a small room differs from that of a large room. Large rooms require more watts in order to deliver sound in all corners of the room.
Purchasing monitors with lots of power is not an ideal thing to do in a small room home studio setup. This is because the small room will be overwhelmed by the sound these monitors will produce. Especially the low end frequencies like bass hence, making it difficult to mix.
However, studio monitors with a very small number of watts will have greater distortion and possibly clipping. This is because these monitors will most likely have a small dynamic range and headroom before the signals reach the peak point.
5. Woofers in the monitors
The size of the woofers should also be taken into consideration before purchasing studio monitors. The size of the woofers will be dependent upon the type of music the monitors will be used to mix. For music requiring less low end, monitors that are nearfields with 4 or 5 inch woofers will suffice.
For heavy music like hip hop and techno, one needs monitors with a more punchy feel in them in order for the low end like the bass to stand out.
6. Monitor cabinets
Another factor to consider when choosing monitors to purchase is monitor cabinets. It is important to mention that one can go for ported or closed cabinets,
However, most small monitors as well as a few larger ones have ported cabinets in order to help extend frequency response that is lower in order to support more bass. As beneficial as this may sound, the sonic accuracy of ported cabinets is not as precise as in closed cabinets.
This scenario is more noticeable in monitors having ported cabinets at the back and are placed too close to the wall. If one can not avoid placing these monitors close to the wall, then it will only be wise to choose monitors with ported cabinets that are at the front to allow more precision when mixing.
When choosing the monitors to purchase, it is important to find out if the monitor’s connections are compatible with your studio equipment like the interface. Studio monitors usually have connection jacks such as TSR, XLR, RCA with some having balanced or unbalanced inputs or even both.
Passive or Active?
Many music producers ask this question. Should I go for Active or Passive speakers?
Well passive monitors are simply monitors that require a separate amplifier or amplifiers in order to operate while active monitors do not. Active monitors have their own built-in amplifier in their cabinets thus, one can plug in the line-level signals from the mixer directly into the speakers.
It is important to note that with passive monitors, the monitors and the amplifier or amplifiers should be compatible in terms of their power rating.
Therefore, if you are a home studio producer of which this post is all about then active monitors will be a better choice to go for. This is because they are quick to set up and they don’t have too many components like passive monitors. That’s my opinion though.
If you can afford to buy passive monitors and an amplifier, then go for them. They will equally do the same task of mixing as active monitors.
The Best Monitors For A Home Studio “A Must Have”
The studio monitor world has a lot of competing brands and the competition is growing day by day. However, in order to find the best monitors for a home studio, the most important thing a music producer should consider is their budget i.e how much they are willing to spend on the monitors. It is pointless to spend too much money on expensive monitors while you leave your bank account or pockets dry. Only purchase studio monitors that are within your budget, but are good enough to handle all your recording needs.