10 Best Studio Monitors/Speakers (2023)
Studio monitors and speakers are crucial elements of any recording or mixing setup. As critical listening is a vital part of music production, having a good quality pair of monitors will not only make your mixes and recordings much better, but they will also make the process more enjoyable.
Today there are many great studio monitors and speakers on the market for every budget. My top pick among them is Mackie CR-X Series, which features great value for their price with the high build quality, transparent sound, and valuable features. Though if you’re looking for the legendary pro-level studio monitors, check out the Adam Audio A7X monitors which are absolutely excellent.
If you are looking for something more affordable, I recommend you check out my budget pick, JBL 305P MKII, which provides great sound quality, bass performance, and durability for its price.
- 10 Best Studio Monitors/Speakers (2023)
- 1. Mackie CR-X Series
- 2. JBL 305P MKII
- 3. Adam Audio A7X
- 4. Yamaha HS5
- 5. BEHRINGER Truth B1031A
- 6. KRK RP5 Rokit G4
- 7. PreSonus Eris E44
- 8. Focal Alpha 80
- 9. PreSonus Sceptre S8
- 10. Neumann KH 120 A
- What are studio monitors?
- Are studio monitors really necessary?
- Can you use just one studio monitor?
- Difference between a studio monitor and a conventional speaker?
- Where to place your studio monitors?
10 Best Studio Monitors/Speakers (2023)
And now onto the full list:
1. Mackie CR-X Series
Mackie CR-X Series offers great multimedia monitors which can be used for content creation, gaming, and music production. The series come in 3”, 4”, 5”, and 8” speaker sizes with or without Bluetooth feature. For home studio music production, Mackie CR-X provides great performance for its price.
- Great value for the price
- Decent build quality
- Relatively neutral and balanced sound
- Simple and portable design with good connectivity options and Bluetooth
- 3” and 4” models lack a bit of lower frequency
The sound of the Mackie CR-X Series is quite transparent and balanced, which is great for recording and mixing. But, I recommend you to go for the 8” or at least the 5” models, as the 3” and 4” models lack a bit of lower frequency and do not provide the best sound for mixing.
Furthermore, the 1/4” jack, RCA, and Bluetooth connectivity options are more than enough for home studios. The lightweight yet sturdy design with all-wood cabinets also adds to the value of the speakers.
|Speaker Size||3”, 4”, 5”, 8”|
|Speaker Power||50W, 50W, 80W, 160W|
|Frequency Response||80Hz – 20 kHz, 65HZ – 20kHz, 69Hz – 20kHz, 40 Hz – 20 kHz|
Overall, Mackie CR-X Series is a great choice of monitors for home studios for beginners to use as primary as well as experienced producers to use as secondary monitors for music production.
JBL 305P MKII is a great pair of entry-level active studio monitor speakers with a highly affordable price and high-quality features. The 5” speakers equipped with 82 Watts of power output and 49 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response provide a high-quality and neutral sound for recording and mixing in home studios.
- The Image Control Waveguide technology
- Versatile with boundary EQ settings
- Great quality for an affordable price
- Durable construction
- A slight bit of low-level noise on louder volumes (though not much of a problem)
The speakers are designed with a technology called Image Control Waveguide, which delivers a broader soundstage with wider sweet spots. This is ideal for larger studio environments. Plus, the boundary EQ setting and HF cut to give you control over your sound to compensate for the environmental deficiencies.
The speakers sound good at high and medium volumes, but there is a bit of low level noise at louder volumes. Furthermore, I must also say that the lower frequencies are a bit dominant on the sound.
|Speaker Power||82 W|
|Frequency Response||49 Hz – 20 kHz|
To summarize, I think JBL 305P MKII offers great sound quality and control for its price. It may not be the most professional-sounding or loud studio monitors, but they are ideal choices for home studios and entry-level music producers.
Adam Audio A7X is the updated version of the legendary Adam A7 studio monitors. Handmade in Germany, they deliver highly detailed, clear, and precise sound with the 7” mid-woofer and new tech X-ART ribbon tweeter, providing ultra-high frequencies. They are top-notch studio monitors for professionals.
- Highly detailed, clear, and precise studio-quality sound, bi-amped
- Ribbon tweeter for ultra-high frequency response
- Great sound imaging
- Sturdy construction
- Not much! (apart form the price)
The first thing to notice with these monitors’ performance is the excellent details of the sound. The highs, mids, and bass frequencies are all flat and detailed with crystal clarity, making these monitors great for critical listening, mixing, and mastering.
The ribbon tweeter has an ultra-high frequency response beyond the human ear can detect, elevating the sound detail and achieving greater accuracy.
|Speaker Power||150 W|
|Frequency Response||42 Hz – 50 kHz|
There is nothing to say against these monitors. They are big and pricey, but it is normal as they are designed for professional studio use: These are premium quality studio monitors for professional music production studios and sound engineers.
Inspired by the legendary Yamaha NS10 studio monitors, Yamaha HS5 is a great pair of active studio monitors specially designed for mixing and monitoring. They do not have any room correction or EQ, providing the flattest and most neutral sound possible and making them great for critical listening.
- Pretty clear and neutral sound, great for mixing and mastering
- Great value for the price
- Iconic design and sturdy construction
- The bass frequencies may not be enough for some genres
The sound quality of these speakers is pretty good, with a very neutral and flat response. The speakers are small and portable with a basic design. The construction is solid, and the stylish design is classic Yamaha style.
These speakers are hard to beat for the price with their transparent sound, ideal for recording and mixing. The only thing I can say is that the low-end frequencies are better in bigger models in the series. If you are producing more bass-focused genres, you should go for them. Also, the package does not include cables which is a shame.
|Speaker Power||70 W|
|Frequency Response||54 Hz – 30 kHz|
In short, Yamaha HS5 is a great and affordable studio monitor pair for beginners as well as professional musicians to use in their home studio.
Behringer Truth B1031A is a powerful pair of studio monitors with an 8” woofer and a 1″ silk dome tweeter, along with 150 Watts of power output. Its features like its wide sweet spot, great low-frequency response, and clear and loud sound make this one a great speaker for big-studio environments.
- Affordable price for the sound quality
- Clear and loud sound
- Wide soundstage with a wide sweet spot
- Great low-frequency response
- The higher-frequency performance might not be as good as the other pro-level options o nthis list.
The price these speakers are offered is another great plus. It is a bass-focused pair of monitors, so it is more recommended for genres with low-frequency emphasis. The higher-frequency performance of the monitors is not great.
The overall sound quality is good, with nice clarity and enough loudness. The wide soundstage performance provides a wide sweet spot range which is great for bigger areas as you do not have to sit at a certain angle.
|Speaker Power||150 W|
|Frequency Response||35Hz – 20kHz|
Overall, Behringer Truth B1031A is a great product for the offered price. It is highly recommended for beginners as well as professional use in home studios, especially for musicians looking for a good bass response.
KRK is one of the most-used brands in studios, and the RP5 Rokit G4 model is an ideal choice for small studios. It features Kevlar drivers, a bi-amp system, many tuning options with the onboard DSP with an LCD screen, and 25 different EQ settings. It gives you more than enough control over your sound.
- Balanced and clear sound with a bi-amp system
- Kevlar drivers
- Elegant design
- Versatile with many tuning options and app control
- Bass is slightly boosted
- Designed for small rooms and studios
While the sound quality and versatility are great with these monitors, the sound is slightly colored, as you may imagine. The sound is balanced overall frequencies with a bit of emphasis on bass, making the monitors more suitable for DJs.
The sound is less flat compared to other studio monitors in the price range, but it is still more neutral than most speakers and headphones. There are many tuning options that you can control with a dedicated app or with the screen on the back. The connectivity options are plenty with XLR, Bluetooth, USB, and MIDI.
|Speaker Power||55 W|
|Frequency Response||43Hz – 40KHz|
KRK RP5 Rokit G4 is a versatile speaker both for critical and casual listening for little environments. The package does not include a cable which is the biggest con of the product. Besides that, the elegant design, Kevlar woofer and tweeter, high connectivity, and sound tuning options make these speakers pretty appealing.
PreSonus Eris E44 is a high-quality studio monitor model with an unorthodox design called MTM. These speakers feature dual woofers to achieve wider sweet spots for the listeners. It is equipped with many different connection options and controls to fine-tune the sound as you like.
- Wider sweet spot with MTM design
- Good and detailed sound with a bi-amp system
- Many tone control options
- Includes Studio One Prime and Studio Magic plug-in software
- The bass frequencies relatively lack deepness
- Designed for small spaces.
The MTM midwoofer-tweeter-midwoofer design provides accurate frequency response with a very wide sweet spot. With the bi-amp system, the overall sound is quite transparent, good, and detailed. The speakers feature 3-band EQ two switches to control bass response.
The low-frequency range is relatively less deep than other models, and the overall volume of speakers is relatively low. They are ideal for small rooms, but you will have to go for the E66 model for deeper bass and higher volumes.
|Speaker Power||90 W|
|Frequency Response||55 Hz – 22 kHz|
PreSonus Eris E44 provides a good overall sound for critical listening as well as casual music listening. The connectivity options are plenty, and there is a model with Bluetooth. Plus, you get great music production software in the package.
Focal Alpha is one of the more pricey products on the list with its top-quality sound and construction. The 2-way active monitors have an 8” woofer and a 1” tweeter with 140-watt output power. The frequency response is between 35 Hz and 22 kHz. They sound very clear with great bass responses.
- Detailed and bright sound with great space and separation, bi-amp system
- Great low-end frequencies
- Wide sweet spot, horizontally and vertically
- Elegant-looking design with sturdy construction
- No volume level control
- A bit pricey
These monitors have a bi-amp system and provide a premium quality sound with great details, great space, and separation for mixing and mastering as well as recording. The sweet spot range is quite wide, and the onboard EQ works great for room compensation.
Another plus of the monitors is their elegant looks. The build quality is also good with class AB amplification. There is no volume level control onboard, which is the only letdown, in my opinion.
|Speaker Power||140 W|
|Frequency Response||35Hz – 22kHz|
In short, the Focal Alpha 80 sounds and performs great compared to budget models on the market. They are high-end models, which is reflected in the price, but if you want to upgrade your budget studio setup, these classy monitors might be the right choice.
9. PreSonus Sceptre S8
PreSonus Sceptre S8 is an ultra-flat-sounding high-end pair of studio monitors. They are a great choice for mixing and recording with a great balanced sound and a very broad sweet spot. It features 8” speakers with 140 watts output power and a refined set of tuning options, more than enough for most studios.
- Very broad sweet spot
- Highly flat response, clear sound, bi-amp system
- Good tuning options
- Big and heavy monitors
- Pricey product
These bi-amped monitors are great choices for any music producer to mix, master, and record, analyzing and pinpointing errors. All of the frequencies are right where they need to be, and the soundstage is quite large.
|Speaker Power||180 W|
|Frequency Response||46 Hz – 20 kHz|
The only thing to say against these monitors is that they are not very portable and they are a bit pricey. But, the sound quality and transparency considered these monitors are great for any studio.
Neumann KH 120 A is a professional studio monitor with a compact size but big performance. It has a very flat, clear, and definite sound for critical listening and music production. The 5.25” speakers are equipped with two amps, 100 W power output, and a 52 Hz to 21kHz frequency response.
- Very flat sound, great for critical listening
- Clear and definite sound bi-amped system
- Great build quality
- Compact size
- Pricey monitors
There is a 3-band EQ for sound shaping, which is simple yet enough. The high-quality aluminum makes the speakers lightweight yet durable, and the speakers do not vibrate at all when in use, thanks to their innovative design. In terms of transparent sound, these are some of the best monitors on the market.
|Speaker Power||100 W|
|Frequency Response||52 Hz – 21 kHz|
In short, Neumann KH 120A is a high-performing yet compact pair of studio monitors with ideal features for professional mixing, mastering, and recording. Either in home studios or professional studios, they can get the job done without hesitation.
What are studio monitors?
Studio monitors are specially designed speakers aimed at delivering the most accurate representation of your music without any coloration by effects or sonic adjustments. They sound as flat and natural as possible for critical listening, recording, editing, mixing, or mastering audio.
Unlike regular speakers such as home-cinema or hi-fi speakers, studio monitors are designed to sound “bad.” By bad, I actually mean honest. Regular speakers are designed to sound well in any space, altering the audio they have. But, studio monitors stay loyal to the audio with accurate sound.
Are studio monitors really necessary?
Studio monitors provide the most honest sound possible with the flattest and most accurate reproduction. If you want to analyze the sound of your recorded tracks or mixes with critical listening, you should go for studio monitors instead of regular speakers or headphones.
Think of it this way: Studio monitors act as the mirrors for our recorded, mastered, or mixed tracks. The better the mirror is, or the more transparent, neutral, and flatter the monitor’s sound is, the better we analyze our tracks and find out how to manipulate the audio of our tracks. But, if we use a filtered mirror, we would be seeing a better or modified version of our tracks which would fool and mislead us.
Can you use just one studio monitor?
As most music is recorded and mixed in stereo instead of mono, you will need dual studio monitors to achieve the best sound possible. Sonic features, such as panning, can only be made with stereo configurations. So, using two monitors in a stereo configuration is the best way to sound professional.
Difference between a studio monitor and a conventional speaker?
A studio monitor is designed to reproduce the most honest sound possible with maximum transparency. The flatter the sound is, the better for a studio monitor. However, conventional speakers are designed to sound good in any environment, adjusting the sound to its best with sacrificing accuracy.
Where to place your studio monitors?
Listening distance is an important factor for studio monitors. Each monitor has a sweet spot where the audio waves reach an ideal position. For nearfield monitors, it is fairly close to speakers, while for midfield monitors, it is further away. Check your monitor’s specs to find the ideal placement.
Studio monitors are vital tools for any music production setup, either in-home or professional studios. They function as mirrors for our tracks where we can listen to our recordings and mixes to analyze the errors and results. The better the mirror reflects our tracks, the better we analyze, criticize and get control over them.
When buying studio monitors, there are many things to consider, such as size, power, sound quality, and price. When all things considered, I highly recommend the Mackie CR-X Series, as all of the models in the series create a great balance between performance, price, and versatility.
For tighter budgets, I recommend the JBL 305P MKII, some of the best entry-level studio monitors on the market with their highly balanced sound and great sound imaging performance.