If you are familiar with computer monitors but unfamiliar with pro audio speak, brace up for shock number one. A studio monitor is not a screen; it is a speaker of sorts used in studios of different types from home studios to television studios. Which leads to shock number two; there is a world of difference between the average speaker in your living room and a studio monitor.
Even if the information above is not new to you, the fact is that it is vital to understand why you need a studio monitor and not just any speaker that produces sound.
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Mixing music and casually listening to a Billboard Hot 100 track are very different. When mixing music, you should be able to tell the sounds apart.
The primary reason why is so you can catch flaws easily and quickly; then work out a way to correct these flaws by knowing which frequency to decrease or increase. With a typical speaker, you wouldn’t be able to tell sounds apart with precision, mainly because the average customer is not an audio engineer.
The typical loudspeaker does not undergo the same production process as the studio monitor. The intensive development process of the studio monitor is to make it more robust and rigid. Consequently, studio monitors are ideal for handling high volumes and sudden sound bursts, which are common occurrences in the studio.
Studio monitors produce sounds as is, with virtually non-existent interference. They do not feature the audio enhancement technologies found on regular home loudspeakers that aim to make sounds friendlier or more pleasant. Far from it, studio monitors take clarity as a watchword.
2 Factors to Consider When Shopping for the Best Studio Monitors
Typically, an average studio monitor would be miles better than any home loudspeaker for studio purposes. However, an average wouldn’t cut it for your studio. You need the best studio monitor that your budget can allow for. To make the distinction, you have to consider two important factors.
The best studio monitors have a wide frequency range. Furthermore, you have to pay attention to the variation across the frequency range.
Noise is a given in pro audio. It’s a lot like pathogens. Pathogens exist: However, to maintain your health you have to protect yourself from them.
Similarly, the best studio monitors employ technological advancements that enable them to eliminate most noise. This helps ensure that the audio range of the monitor is as clear as vodka.
Best Studio Monitors Under $300
Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitor
The Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor is a beast and one of the best studio monitors.
It features a towering 5-inch cone woofer and an improved 1-inch dome tweeter. Besides, it features proprietary high-end transducers and near field monitor technology that provide excellent high-resolution sound.
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The Yamaha HS5 also incorporates a high-performance bi-amp system, extensive room, and high TRIM response controls, and features dual XLR and TRS phone jack inputs that accept balanced and unbalanced signals.
Furthermore, Yamaha engineers optimized the design of the HS5 so that it guarantees low resonance and delivers the best accuracy in the sound reproduction of any device on the list. Conclusively, it features a proprietary cutting-edge noise reduction technology, and is one of the best studio monitors that money can buy
Samson Studio GT
Samson Technologies has slowly made a name in the pro audio industry, especially in the wireless microphone sub-industry pioneered by Samson Technologies.
The biggest draws for the Samson Studio GT are its high-performance 4.25-inch magnetically shielded, inverted cone, copolymer woofers;1-inch silk dome high-frequency drivers; and convenient USB interface for robust connectivity.
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Its precision is top-notch thanks to its beefy 2 x 20 watts of internal power that gives it the remarkable ability to produce crystal-clear, precise highs and lows.
Aside from its terrific performance, it offers a satisfying array of different connectivity options. Furthermore, it is easy to use, so you can seamlessly establish connections and fine-tune controls, and even provide enhanced control over your creations thanks to its inbuilt Cakewalk Sonar LE music production software.
The connectivity options include:
- TWO (2) XLR-1/4-inch combo inputs equipped with gain control and clip LED
- TWO (2) 1/8-inch stereo headphone outputs with level controls
KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5
There are many reasons why the KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor commands the relatively high price it does compared to other monitors on this list. However, the most important are that its performance is unrivaled.
Featuring a 1 soft dome tweeter and 5 glass-Aramid composite woofers, the Rokit 5 G3 delivers pristine vocal clarity whilst terrific extended bass is also available, and extended response of up to 35,000 Hz.
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Furthermore, it also features a proprietary bi-amped, class A/B amplifier that offers significant headroom, low distortion, and SPL (Sound Pressure Level) of up to 106 dB. Capping its already impressive feature set is its inbuilt ROKIT waveguide that ensures detailed imaging in the listening position.
You don�t need to be worried about durability either, as the KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor pair sports a compact, solid build that would last for years.
M-Audio AV32 10-Watt
Although it occupies the same price point as the Samson Studio GT, the M-Audio AV32 spec list is a little behind the Studio GT. Nonetheless, it features similar top-end performance, and it offers flexible connectivity to a variety of devices including your computer, tablet, mp3 device, or other mobile devices. Also, it offers you a convenient front headphone output to connect your headphone should you want to work privately.
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- 3-inch polypropylene-coated woofers
- 1-inch ferrofluid-cooled silk cone tweeters
- New and improved OptImage IV tweeter waveguide
- 10-watt per channel amplifier (You may get the M-Audio AV32 studio monitor pair either as a 2.1 channel speaker system or as standalone speakers)
PreSonus Eris E4.5 2-Way
Featuring a black sleek design, 4.5-inch Kevlar low-frequency transducer, a 1-inch ultra-low mass silk dome high-frequency transducer, and 50-watt Class AB amplification, the PreSonus Eris E4.5 2-Way Powered Studio Monitors are a mix of elegance and high-powered performance.
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Its maximum continuous SPL of 100 dB and maximum frequency response of 20,000 Hz may pale in comparison to the KRK Rokit 5 G3 (maximum SPL of 106 dB and maximum frequency response of 35,000 Hz): However, it is cheaper and still boasts a terrific performance.
Furthermore, it offers a more extensive set of professional acoustic-adjustment controls than any studio monitor in its price range. The acoustic tuning controls include Midrange, HF, High Pass, and Acoustic Space settings for accurate mixing contour.
Additionally, it features RF interference output current limiting, over temperature, transient, and subsonic protection. Thanks to its extensive controls, the PreSonus Eris E4.5 can simulate different listening environments and flatten frequency response to enable more accurate mixing.
JBL LSR305 Studio Monitor
The major appeal of the JBL LSR305 Studio Monitor Pair is its versatility. It works effectively on a series of platforms and supports both XLR and TRS interfaces. Therefore, it adapts to your needs rather than you having to adapt to its configurations, as you would have to with other studio monitor models.
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In addition to its versatility, it produces outstanding sound, low-power frequency response, and an exciting bundle that include:
- TWO (2) 20-feet Balanced XLR cables
- TWO (2) 15-feet 1/4 inch TRS to XLR male cables
- ONE (1) 1/8 Inch to Dual XLR stereo cable
My Top Recommendation For Studio Monitors Under $300
Regardless, you should note that to get the best out of a studio monitor; you have to observe the capabilities of the monitor as regards high and lows, frequencies, and bass. If you’ve got the cash, then the Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor is the best studio monitor to get in our opinion.
Best Studio Monitors Under $500
Akai Professional RPM500
Designed for meticulous sound reproduction, the Akai RPM500 studio monitor is capable of handling multiple layers of music while providing a stunningly clear performance.
Some of its best features are:
Bi-Amplified Power�� The RPM500 can accurately respond to frequencies from 50Hz to 30kHz. The 90 W power is distributed, 50 W to the woofer and 40 W to the tweeters, the end result being ultra-efficient power with a minimal distortion of the sound.
Great Control�� The special features of the RPM500 allow you to fine-tune the monitor in all sorts of mixing environments. With the help of the HF Trim, MF Boost, and LF controls you’ll be able to find the balance you need. The built-in isolation decreases all structure-borne resonances.
Safety and Performance�� The RPM500 comes with special features like the built-in output current and over-temperature limiters that increase its durability, and a subsonic filter that makes the sounds clearer.
Akai’s RPM500 not only sounds good, but it looks great, as well. I know that when it comes to studio monitors, looks don’t count, only sound does, but it really is a nice feature. Maybe more developers should think about making their units this good looking.
I would recommend this product for everybody that seeks performance at a good price.
Best Studio Monitors Under $1000
Adam Audio A8X Studio Monitor
The Adam A8X is able to deliver clear, crisp sounds when you use it as a near-field or midfield monitor. This model is great when you want to hear all the sounds in your mix.
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Some of its top features include:
X-ART Tweeter�� The X-ART (or Extended Accelerating Ribbon Technology) tweeter utilizes new sound geometries to achieve unbelievable audio fidelity.
Large Mid-woofer�� The mid-woofer is 8.5 and can deliver very deep and tight bass response.
Double Bass Reflex Tubes�� The bass reflex tubes are positioned on the front of the monitor, and they have been specially designed to match the mid-woofer with the voice coil.
Tweeter and Mid-woofer Amplifiers�� With the help of the 50W A/B tweeter and the 150 W mid-woofer amplifiers, the A8X has enough power to stick your friends on the wall if you want to.
The only downside this monitor has is the huge mid-woofer. Even though is capable of producing clear sounds, it’s still very powerful. If your studio or apartment is not sound-insulated well enough, you can be sure your neighbors will start dancing to every tune you play. You won’t even be able to hear when they try to kick your door open and force you to turn down the music.
This model will be a great asset for every producer that values clear sounds all-around.