If you’re in a rush, here are our 5 best studio monitors!
- Mackie CR 4-inch Studio Monitors
- M-Audio AV32 Reference Speakers – Professional
- KRK Rokit RP5 G3 Active Studio Monitors
- Fluid Audio F4 Advanced Monitors
- Yamaha HS8 Powered Bi-Amplified Studio Monitor
Studio monitors are special speakers that are quite different from the regular speakers used in commercial settings and in our homes. Regular speakers make sound more brilliant and rich by boosting frequencies. Studio monitors, on the other hand, are specially designed to create flat frequency response or “flat sound” as it’s commonly referred. These speakers simply produce sound as it is with zero distortions or enhancements. Therefore, what you hear when using studio monitors is the raw sound of whatever is playing.
While monitor speakers come in a variety of sizes, designs, and brands, they’re usually classified into 2 categories:
- Active Monitors
Also known as powered monitors, these monitor speakers come with built in power amplifiers. Therefore, you’ll not have to invest in a separate amp, which means less purchase cost and minimum maintenance.
- Passive Monitors
Complete opposites of active monitors, passive monitors don’t have a power amplifier. This means you have to purchase a separate amp when you buy these speakers. While these speakers may cost you more, they allow users the freedom of choosing amplifiers that best suit their specific studio monitor use.
So, why would anyone need to invest in studio monitors? Well, if you love music and like listening to your favorite songs at full blast, then studio monitors are of no use to you. However, if you’re passionate about music and like to create mixes for personal amusement or professional purposes, then a good pair of monitor speakers is one of the most essential tools you’ll need to fuel your passion. To ensure you have the best studio monitors, here’s a look at some of the top monitor speakers in the market.
1. Mackie CR 4-inch Monitor Speakers
Designed for multi-media creation and entertainment, Mackie CR 4-Inch Monitor Speakers deliver studio quality design, sound, and performance all in a sleek, small footprint design that doesn’t require much set-up space. This makes them the perfect option for professionals looking for top quality portable studio monitors.
Professional Grade Components
When it comes to selecting studio monitors, frequency response is the most important quality to look out for as it’s critical to achieving a good mix. This is why the Mackie CR 4-inch monitor speakers combine several great quality components to give pristine and accurate sound for any application. The monitor speakers feature 4” polypropylene-coated woofers that deliver great lows, a sound enhancing high frequency waveguide, and an all-wood cabinet that provide enhanced natural sonic character. These components combined provide an optimized sonic performance that allows you to hear every nuance of sound in full detail.
50 Watts of Power
Further boosting the sound quality of Mackie CR-4” Monitor Speakers are 50 watts of clean, articulate stereo sound. With this amount of power, you can go as loud as you want to and still manage to hear everything in unbelievable clarity.
- Comes with all the cables you need to get started right out of the box
- Has an auxiliary input for connecting to smartphones and other media devices
- Features headphone plugins perfect for instances when you want to work in silence
- Includes isolation pads that minimize boomy bass and provide an up or down tilt for more focused listening
- The volume knob which also doubles as an on/off switch is conveniently located at the front panel for easy reach
- Some users find the bass to be a little heavy for monitor speakers
Whether you’re a DJ or producer in need of monitors on a budget, these Mackie CR 4” speakers make an excellent buy. The sound produced is very clean and clear which means you’ll be able to save on money without compromising on quality.
2. M-Audio AV32 Reference Speakers – Professional
CHECK OUT: M-Audio AV32 Studio Monitor Full Review
The M-Audio AV32 Reference speakers are more than your average studio monitors. In addition to offering detailed and accurate sound reproduction, these speakers also offer multiple connectivity options. As a result, the reference speakers can be used for audio production, gaming, listening to music, watching videos, plus so much more.
Great Sound Range
Whether you’re playing high-pitched rock songs or smooth jazz, the M-Audio AV32 speakers ensure all sounds come out crystal clear. This is made possible by 3-inch polypropylene-coated woofers, which deliver tight accurate bass, and 1-inch ferrofluid-cooled silk cone tweeters that ensure pristine highs. These 2 features in turn are supported by Optimage IV tweeter waveguides, which give the speakers a vast and more detailed sound range by delivering extended bass and clear highs.
Top Notch Cabinets
Another great feature of these AV32 speakers from M-Audio is acoustically inert MDF cabinets with a bass reflex design. These cabinets are specially designed to eliminate clarity robbing resonances. Therefore, you can use the monitors alongside other electronic devices without worrying about the speakers picking up interference from the devices’ signals and ruining sound quality.
- Easy to set up
- The speakers are compatible with a wide range of gear including headphones, computers, gaming systems, mixers, tablets, mobile devices, and more thanks to the included 1/8 inch stereo jack and RCA inputs
- Feature and attractive black vinyl laminate finish that gives them a professional look
- RCA inputs, stereo auxiliary input, headphone output, and volume control are all conveniently located at the front panel
- The in-built amplifier provides 10 watts of power per channel. This is low compared to the other models in the same class.
If you’re looking to do some light mixing and editing, the M-Audio AV32 speakers are a good place to start. The speakers are powerful, super responsive, and deliver sound that is rich, clear, and accurate. Therefore, you’ll experience no limitations when expressing your creativity. What’s more, the versatile functionality makes these speakers a good buy as you get to enjoy the added bonus of using the monitors for other fun things.
3. KRK Rokit RP5 G3 Active Studio Monitors
After re-designing its popular Rokit series to include a few amazing enhancements, KRK has now managed to provide one of its best works in the RP5 G3 model. Despite having a compact and lightweight design, these speakers have several amazing qualities. They provide a broader and more accurate frequency response, feature one of the best cabinet designs, and offer improved speaker voicing. KRK even throws in an adjustment in power for better sound balance.
Front Firing Ports
With most studio monitors, firing ports are found at the back of the cabinet. This location usually causes the creation of bass coupling with the walls and corners of a room leading to more amplified low frequency sounds. KRK reverses this scenario by relocating the firing ports of the Rokit RP5 G3 reference speakers to the front of the cabinets. Consequently, you get to enjoy clean and accurate bass with reduced port turbulence. Thanks to this change in design, KRK has managed to satisfy one of the most sought after qualities in studio monitors: clear bass that’s not too “boomy” for mixing and recording purposes.
Although the GP5 G3 studio monitors don’t feature KRK’s popular Kevlar-Coned speakers, the included 5” glass-Aramid composite woofers are a great bargain for the price you pay. These woofers combine physical strength and stiffness with good self-damping to deliver a tighter sound.
- Come with a detailed manual that clearly explains how to setup the speakers
- The speakers are highly efficient with 15W of power driving the tweeter and 30W powering the mid-range bass
- Protects against sound distortion with MDF cabinets
- Has isolation pads that reduce reflected sounds
- Doesn’t deliver great sound from the beginning, as the speakers require 15 to 25 hours of use to reach optimum sonic qualities. This wait, however, is worthwhile as once the monitors have been “broken in”, the sound produced is superb.
KRK has completely upped its own game with this RP5 G3 model. This is saying a lot for a brand that has come to be known as one of the world’s most respected manufactures of studio monitors. So, if you want to enjoy the true power and performance of studio monitors without having to spend a lot, the KRK RoKit RP5 G3 Active Studio Monitors are one way to go.
4. Fluid Audio F4 Advanced Monitors
Designed with the intention of solving the most common problems expressed by many users of studio monitors, Fluid Audio F4 Advanced Monitors take budget monitors to a whole new level. Created using the same amount of time and expertise used on other Fluid Audio monitors, these speakers deliver great imaging, clear articulate midranges, and ample bass. Therefore, you can rely on these F4 Advanced Monitors to deliver professional studio sound quality.
Main Features of the Fluid Audio F4 Advanced Monitors
When mixing or producing music/videos, the quality of your creations highly depends on the sound quality of the monitor speakers you are using. For this reason, it’s essential that you use studio monitors with a reliable sound that translates well to your audiences speakers. This Fluid Audio F4 monitors are as reliable as they come. These monitors have the depth of soundstage and the sonic clarity that allow you to hear all the sounds of a song/recording even the most subtle trails. The speakers even feature a fader control on the front baffle that allows you to adjust volume easily without interrupting your workflow to ensure perfect results.
Other features that help to enhance the sound quality of these F4 Advanced Monitors are:
- Magnetic shielding that eliminates interference with other electronic devices
- Composite paper cones on the 4” frequency drivers which deliver powerful and dynamic lows
- Integrated waveguides that ensure flat responses
- External amplifier heat sink that maximizes efficiency while keeping temperatures low
- Has a compact size that allows flexible placement in a variety of settings
- Highly versatile with uses ranging from video editing to mixing albums
- Offers 30watts of amplification power
- Uses magnetic shielding to eliminate interference with other electronic equipment
- The speakers are fitted with vinly-laminated MDF cabinets
- Feature a high quality build
- Comes with acoustic isolation pads
- A few users have commented that the cable provided for connecting the two speakers is of inferior quality
This studio monitor model has managed to successfully juggle the thin line between cost and quality compromises. Although affordable and small, the speakers deliver a remarkable good frequency response on the various frequencies covered. Some users have even expressed surprise at how well the speakers handle lows.
5. Yamaha HS8 Powered Bi-Amplified Studio Monitor
The Yamaha Powered Bi-Amplified Studio Monitors feature the highest price in this list of studio monitors, and with good reason. The features found on these Yamaha studio monitors are far above what you would expect in budget monitor speakers.
Here’s a quick look at those unique features as well as the good and bad points of these bi-amplified monitor speakers from Yamaha.
This Yamaha Bi-Amplified studio monitors use elegant 8” white-cone woofers that deliver superior audio performance that’s further enhanced by MDF cabinets with damped acoustic response. Designed to deliver the full sonic potential, these MDF cabinets employ a unique construction design, which firmly anchors the corners of the MDF enclosures to eliminate unwanted resonance, and increase the accuracy of sound reproduction to the limit. This construction design also helps to enhance the durability of the cabinets.
Also included is a speaker port design that adopts Yamaha’s renowned noise reduction technology, which reduces the generation of a vortex at either end of the port. This vortex reduction in turn minimizes the generation of air vibration inside the port. Since air vibrations within a speaker port are known to cause unwanted noise, this port design significantly helps to enhance the overall clarity of your sound productions.
Extra Large Magnets
Another feature that enhances woofer performance is an advanced magnetic circuit design with large magnets. These magnets help provide a powerful, uniform, and tightly controlled flux field, which delivers exceptionally smooth and accurate responses over a wide frequency range.
Room Matching Controls
The size, shape, and surface acoustics of the room in which you’re using your studio monitors as well as the arrangement of the monitors in that room can affect speaker response making it impossible for you to enjoy the full potential of your speakers. These Yamaha Bi-Amplified studio monitors protect against this with adjustable controls that ensure optimum response in any room. These controls include:
- Room control which allows you to reduce the unnatural exaggerated low-end that occurs when speakers are placed next to walls
- High trim that allows for more flexible control over high frequency responses
- XLR and TRS phone jacks for accommodating a range of balanced and unbalanced sources such as keyboards, audio interfaces, etc.
- Delivers up to 120 watts of power output
- The monitors’ 1” dome tweeter has an extra thick frame that minimizes any resonance that can interfere with sound clarity
- The featured noise reduction technology reduces noise by up to 6dB
- Quite heavy compared to other studio monitors
In addition to sounding great, this Yamaha Powered Bi-Amplified monitor speakers deliver accuracy that you can trust. The monitors translate accurately to a wide range of reproduction systems. So, any mix that sounds great on the Yamaha HS8 will sound good on anything. This is more than what you can say for a good number of other studio monitors.
Studio monitors are without a doubt must-haves for anyone who wants to record, mix, or produce music. However, there’s no one studio monitor model that fits all. Every artist needs different pieces of equipment and hopefully the information in this article can help you determine which monitor speakers will make a good investment for you.