If you’re ready to step up your game and start producing music seriously, run of the mill consumer electronics speakers aren’t going to get the job done. What you’ll need is some studio speakers. But if this is your first time shopping for a studio speaker, you may be nervous. Don’t be! HotRate has tracked down 10 of the best studio monitors and provide you with in depth analysis of what each model brings to the table.
We’ll also help you understand all the important specs and features you should be paying attention to. So continue on to the reviews, or use our navigation menu to jump to the topic that interests you the most.
- 10 Best Studio Monitors in 2020
- 1. KRK Studio Monitor
- 2. HEDD Type 20 Studio Monitor
- 3. JBL LSR305 First-Generation 5″ Studio Monitor
- 4. Presonus E4.5-4.5″ Field Studio Monitor
- 5. Audioengine A5 Plus Speakers
- 6. Yamaha Hs8 Studio Monitor
- 7. IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors
- 8. ADAM Audio T5V 5″ Active Studio Monitor
- 9. Mackie XR624-6.5″ Professional Studio Monitor
- 10. Fluid Audio FX80 Studio Monitor
- Studio Monitors Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Studio Monitors in 2020
1. KRK Studio Monitor
The KRK Rokit has been one of the most trusted studio monitors for serious audio professionals for years, and the newest Rokit 6 offers some of the best performance for the price we've ever seen in the speaker market. This pair of monitor speakers comes well tuned right out of the box and offers a respectably wide frequency coverage that really sings in the highs.
This is a studio monitor through and through, with a neutral sense of flatness across the entire frequency curve, but the ability to adjust the settings means it can be used for more casual work as well. Knobs are available for both thet high and the low frequency levels. The bright yellow accents of these speakers may not appeal to everyone, it rocks some smooth curves and a case that's nicely finished, durable, and designed to reduce excessive vibration.
2. HEDD Type 20 Studio Monitor
An investment in the Type 20 from HEDD costs more than ten times each of the KRK studio monitors listed above, but the HEDD Type 20 is built with the most serious of audio professionals and music geeks in mind, and it's a situation where you get a lot for the extra you'll pay on this studio monitor. The frequency coverage range is broad here, but those numbers alone won't tell you how good the bass is.
And while the lows are a special standout, the performance here is some of the best at all points on the frequency coverage range. The woofers utilize a honeycomb system that ensures their integrity while still maintaining the power and audio integrity that serious sonic geeks crave, and the entire studio monitor is packed into a sturdy rubberized frame. Despite that power, this is a relatively small studio monitor, and a best choice for a home studio.
3. JBL LSR305 First-Generation 5″ Studio Monitor
You should generally exercise some level of caution when you see studio monitor speakers priced at only $150, but JBL has really pulled out all the stops to deliver quality monitoring specs and features for a price that even more casual consumers can afford. Despite being just five inches in design, this speaker can produced some exceptional bass, and it might be a smart choice for audiophiles with a more strategic setup, because the sound stage is just phenomenal.
The variety of connections here make this a flexible studio monitor to use regardless of whatever source devices you want to use. You can count on some quality sound performance regardless of whether you're breaking out your record collection or streaming music from your iPhone. And since the center imaging is so broad, it can maintain strong neutrality even in larger spaces.
4. Presonus E4.5-4.5″ Field Studio Monitor
The ProSonious Eris 4.5 probably shouldn't be the primary studio monitor you use if you're a serious producer looking to put down some new tracks. But if you're an audiophile, a musician, or an amateur sound engineer on a budget, these petite studio monitors offer some thudding bass that's surprising coming out of such a small frame. And since these speakers are highly customizable, you can tighten or loosen up the sonic experience to accommodate everything from discerning listening to a serious party..
While there are plenty of inputs for a variety of different source devices, one of the biggest selling points here has to be the Bluetooth connectivity. Wireless options are fairly rare in studio monitors, so it's nice to see a studio monitor that can double easily as a way to pump up the volume, let the frequencies go a little looser, and let off some steam.
5. Audioengine A5 Plus Speakers
The first thing you'll notice about the Audoengine A5+ is how great it looks. The rounded corners and polished black finish reflect design sensibilities that are timeless without being cliched. You can get two of these speakers for only $400, and the sound is some of the best in this price range. And since they don't need to be tethered together, you have a lot more flexibility to create a sound stage that matches your needs.
And these studio monitors are designed with the needs of the modern user in mind too. Two audio inputs are included, so you can hook up multiple devices at the same time. And since there's a USB port built in, you can even use it to charge your cell phone or other devices seamlessly. It also comes with a remote control that lets you control all the fundamentals.
6. Yamaha Hs8 Studio Monitor
If you're running a home studio or a more professional studio, the Yamaha HS8 is one of the most serious active monitors you'll find. The detail work here is as close to flawless as you'll find - and there's both an eight inch woofer and a two way bass reflex system that ensures some very impressive growl during the lowest frequency range. The relatively small power usage and the decent sound quality ensure it can work just as capably at home as in the studio.
In a clever choice, Yamaha has included two separate control systems. The room controls allow you to pretty easily adjust these studio monitors to perfectly respond to the acoustics of a given room. The high trim control of the Yamaha Hs8, meanwhile, makes it much easier to rein in potential distortion and issues at the high end. You don't even need to invest in a separate subwoofer.
7. IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors
If the words "studio monitor" make you think of big and bulky speakers in serious studios, you'll be seriously surprised by the IK Multimedia iLoud. These speakers are small enough to sit comfortably at the existing computer workstation in your home office or even take with you on the go. But despite being only 3 inches high, these speakers are remarkably loud and outstandingly small at the lower bass frequencies.
Part of that is accomplished thanks to the inclusion of four power amps (a surprising inclusion given exactly how small these speakers) and more practical solutions like the rubber vibration dampeners. And while all the standard cord ports are available for these speakers, you can also wirelessly connect it through the use of Bluetooth technology. You'll pay a decent price for them, but they offer pound for pound a level of performance that's virtually unmatched.
8. ADAM Audio T5V 5″ Active Studio Monitor
Whether you're looking for a balanced or an unbalanced connection, the Adam Audio T5V is well worth checking out. These monitors from Adam Audio produce some great sound clarity that can be tweaked to meet your needs with separate EQ controls for the highest and the lowest frequencies.
Despite being a 5 inch model, these monitors will leave a pretty small footprint on your desk space. They'll look cool wherever they end up too. Adam Audio complemented the classic black speaker body with some bold copper and silver accents to add a little more flair to a more or less traditional look.
9. Mackie XR624-6.5″ Professional Studio Monitor
The Mackie XR624 is a rather traditional looking monitor, but once you dig beneath the surface just a bit, you'll find one of the best suites of features around. The controls here are intuitive enough that even a new and inexperienced user can get the fundamentals working up in a matter of minutes, but you can really dig deep into your sound performance if you sink the time into learning it.
If you're a professional looking for professional level studio monitoring, this could be the model for you. The woofer itself is constructed from kevlar to reduce the vibration and create cleaner and clearer lows without sacrificing bass. There's a nice sense of clarity at every frequency, along with a Bass Frequency System that can further minimize distortion on the lower end. And the sound stage here is one of the fullest and most expansive we've come across in the speaker market.
10. Fluid Audio FX80 Studio Monitor
Fluid is a stereo manufacturer known for the quality of their bass performance, and that's especially true of the FX80. This may just make use of two amps, but it gives each the duty of handling either the highs and lows, and that's a choice that allows for a great level of clarity at the more extreme frequency levels. In terms of all around quality, this is a strong contender for the best budget studio monitor available today.
As a step up from the prior FX8, the changes made to this speaker are iterative rather than truly transformative. While a heat sink is removed, Fluid has completely redone the casing to sport a slicker and more modern design, and it packs in a brand new EQ switch too. This isn't a studio monitor that's going to turn heads, but it's professional enough to look good in any sound system.
Studio Monitors Buyer’s Guide
So what is the difference, really, between studio monitor and a more traditional speaker? Monitor speakers are designed inherently for use in music production. Studio monitor speakers are designed to offer a flat frequency response – and that means they’ll deliver you music with a bias towards accuracy rather than on creating the sort of experience you want to hear.
That said, most studio monitors can make great listening speakers too. The standard settings for the best studio monitors are designed for a flat frequency response, but you can usually adjust them to suit a wide range of different musical styles and moods. We’ll touch base on what some of the more important specs and features mean so you can find speakers monitors even if you decide to venture beyond out 10 best studio monitors list.
The frequency response range can be represented on a chart that represents bass performance at the lowest end and treble at the highest, with mids falling squarely between them. Most manufacturers will list a frequency response listing, and that often goes outside the human hearing range of 20 to 20,000 Hz.
A wider frequency range can improve your sound quality, and it can especially do one of the best jobs of creating a sound stage and improving sound imaging. What that means is that there will be a greater sense of space and positioning between different instruments on a track. The best studio monitors will typically offer a wide frequency response. But a wider range of frequencies alone doesn’t make for the best studio monitors. You’ll want to check out more detailed response analysis charts if you really want to find the best studio monitors.
Sensitivity tells you how loud a speaker can get, and it’s measured in decibels. But as with the frequency response, just reading the number displayed under the specs only tells you a portion of the story. Monitors will often suffer from distortion once you start to crank up the volume. For that reason, you may want to dig a little deeper into the specs to see how bad the distortion is and when it starts to become apparent.
And just because monitors promise a high sensitivity doesn’t mean that such volumes are safe to maintain. Once you start approaching 100 decibels, you get close to events that can cause long term hearing loss. Studio monitors mainly exist to help you listen more thoughtfully to music, so the question of how loud monitors can get will matter much less than it would dealing with outdoor party speakers.
Since studio monitors are always self powered, you don’t need to worry about your power output too much. But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be a concern at all. A higher maximum power output can really accelerate the power costs in your home, and the power demands on monitors can get seriously high when you start moving into the more serious monitors meant for professional sound production.
Smaller monitors are going to generally offer poorer sound quality on a case by case basis simply because more space means more room for packing in extra drivers and subwoofers. But that doesn’t mean that small monitors don’t have an advantage. One particular standout is the IK Multimedia iLoud. These monitors are incredibly tiny, but they also offer some serious heft that’s appropriate for both discerning music nerds and more serious producers, DJs, and musicians.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Best Affordable Studio Monitors?
We like the JBL LSR305. These active monitors are a really great deal. If you want the best studio monitor for under $200, you’ll have a hard time finding an active monitor that offers more bang for your buck. These monitors are an especially strong choice for curious customers who are looking to get their toes wet in the world of more serious listening or recording.
Do You Need Two Studio Monitors?
Even the best studio monitor isn’t going to do yo that much good if you only have one. Spatial imaging and a sense of depth are important in studio recordings, and to really appreciate that depth requires two monitor speakers. You may even want to add more active monitors to your setup if you’re dealing with more complicated and layered music.
Are Studio Monitors Worth it?
If you’re looking to produce or edit music professionally, you’ll definitely want to get at least one good studio monitor, but these active studio monitor speakers can be useful for the home too. Their highly balanced audio quality makes them a great choice for audiophiles passionate about listening to music the way it was intended.
Are Mackie Studio Monitors good?
Yes. Mackie isn’t the most well known speaker manufacturer, but they have a reputation among audiophiles and musicians for producing some of the best studio performance around. We’ve featured the XR624 above, but they offer plenty of great speakers for both home studios and more professional arrangements.
If you’re looking for the best studio monitor, you’re in luck. The reviews above can help you understand the 10 best studio monitor speakers, and our guid can help you extend your search if you want to extend your research beyond our 10 best studio monitors list as well. And if yo have a strong opinion on any of the studio monitor speakers we’ve highlighted here, we encourage you to leave your thoughts below.