Due to the large number of studio monitoring speakers on the market today, it can be a daunting task to select the most suitable ones for your studio. We at Studio-Speakers.com want to make your research a lot easier, and so we have compiled a list of the best studio speakers in the budget range, the mid-price range, and the pro/high-price range. We give higher ratings to monitoring speakers made by reputable brands and that are very popular and well-reviewed by other users. We’ve found and reviewed only the best monitors, and then we’ve chosen the best of the best in each category.
If you’re not sure what to look for in a pair of monitoring speakers, then scroll down to our short buyer’s guide which is at the bottom of this page. Without further ado, we present to you the best studio monitoring speakers in each category.
Best Budget Studio Monitoring Speakers
KRK Rokit 5 G3
Price (MSRP): $149
Woofer: 5″ Aramid Glass Composite
Tweeter: 1″ Silk Dome
The KRK Rokit 5 G3 remains to be one of the most popular studio monitoring speakers in the world due to its high performance for the price. Its bright-yellow woofer cones are what you’ll probably notice first, but once you spend some with it, you’ll understand why Studio-Speakers.com have voted it as the best budget monitoring speakers. The Rokit 5 G3 is very versatile and offers a clear and solid sound. It delivers a solid punch for its small size, and its neutral frequency response works well for mixing almost any type of music. These speakers are also fun to mix with, which is why they’re frequently used in smaller studios as well as DJ booths. More expensive monitors may provide better performance than the Rokit 5 G3, but in this price range, they’re our pick for the best.
Read the full KRK Rokit 5 G3 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
JBL LSR 305
Price (MSRP): $149
Woofer: 5″ Long-throw
Tweeter: 1″ Neodymium soft-dome
Apart from looking good (many have said they look like Batman speakers which we think is a good thing!), the JBL LSR 305 also sounds great. For their size, they produce impressive bass, plus the highs also sound nice. The stereo imaging and depth are both excellent, and different instruments can be heard to be properly isolated in the mix. The midrange may be weaker when compared to more expensive monitors, but they still do a good job of achieving solid, well-balanced mixes.
Read the full JBL LSR 305 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
M-Audio BX5 D2
Price (MSRP): $149
Woofer: 5” Kevlar
Tweeter: 1” Silk Dome
The M-Audio BX5 D2 was the best-selling studio monitoring speakers in the US just a few years ago. Despite its compact size and low price, it sounds good and it can go as loud as you need it with nearfield placement. It also delivers an accurate impression of mix balances. While the BX5 D2 does have brighter high ends and less extended lows than the other monitors in this category, it still does a pretty good job at mixing rock, pop or acoustic.
Read the full M-Audio BX5 D2 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Best Mid-Priced Monitoring Speakers
The Yamaha HS7 is the successor to the Yamaha NS10, the world-renowned speaker which became the industry standard studio monitoring speaker for decades. The NS10 was very popular due to its ability to reveal shortcomings in recordings, and the HS7 was built with this in mind. Its neutral and uncolored sound makes it perfect for achieving well-balanced and neutral mixes. Despite its compact size, it can produce enough bass punch to eliminate the need for a subwoofer in most instances. It’s definitely a great choice for anyone who’s looking for smaller-sized studio monitor speakers that can do the job well, and are also commonly seen as the nearfield monitor of choice in professional recording studios.
Read the full Yamaha HS7 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
The KRK VXT6 wins the title of “Best Studio Monitoring Speakers” in the mid-price range. It sounds great across all frequencies and well-balanced at all volume levels. The quality is consistent in the low end, the midrange is very smooth, the clarity in the low-mids is impressive, and the highs are also nice and clear. They even perform very well in non-ideal studio environments. The KRK VXT6 is unrivaled in the mid-price range, hence our pick for the winner in this category.
Read the full KRK VXT6 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
The Genelec M030 was a very close competitor to winning the “Best Studio Monitoring Speakers” award in the mid-price range, only losing out for the top honors in this category as it’s a little weaker in the low-end than the VXT6s. The midrange is precise and natural sounding, the highs are very detailed, and the lows sound solid and uncompressed. It’s better at showing weaknesses in mixes than most of its competitors in this price range. It produces a big sound for its small size, and it even remains clean at higher sound pressure levels. If you don’t need the low frequency extension of the VXT6s, then the M030 becomes the clear winner in this category.
Read the full Genelec M030A Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Focal Alpha 80
The Alpha 80 is one of the least expensive speakers in the Focal range of studio monitoring speakers and is an impressive performer. Superb imagery, accuracy and range are among the Alpha 80’s offerings. The lows are extended and strong, the highs are crisp and clear, and the midrange is good despite some coloration at times. It can also get extremely loud without any noticeable distortion, and can reveal subtle changes in a mix. Overall, the Alpha 80 is a good quality monitor that will reveal all the necessary details in your mix.
Read the full Focal Alpha 80 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Best Pro Monitoring Speakers
Price (MSRP): $749
Woofer: 7” Mid-Woofer
Tweeter: 2” X-ART ribbon
The successor to the legendary Adam A7, the Adam A7X monitors are exceptional studio monitoring speakers with so many advantages to offer and nearly no downsides. According to the company itself, the A7X is its best-selling nearfield monitor, which says a lot about the A7X, and we at Studio-Speakers.com can understand why. This two-way studio monitoring speaker sounds like a much more expensive and larger three-way monitor system. Due to its exceptional performance and the fact that there’s really nothing bad to say about it, we have given it our “Editor’s Choice” award for the best studio monitor in this category, and we would recommend it as one of the best nearfield monitors we’ve ever reviewed.
Read the full Adam A7X Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Price (MSRP): $795
Woofer: 6.5” woofer
Tweeter: 1″ Metal Dome
The larger sibling of the M030A, the M040 is another great sounding reference monitoring speaker from Genelec. It produces an even and detailed sound, and exceptional imaging to a nice and wide sweet spot. While it has more bass than the M030A, it still lacks the bass of competitive offerings like the A7X. Highs are crisp and clear and it has one of the best and most natural sounding midranges in the business. The M040 is another impressive studio monitoring speaker from Genelec that has found a home in many professional recording studios.
Read the full Genelec M040 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Focal CMS 65
The Focal CMS 65 is a very accurate and honest monitor that will let you hear exactly what you’re doing with your mixes. It’s frequency response is flat and it’s transparent, also offering excellent stereo imaging. The Focal CMS 65’s aluminum-magnesium tweeter produces clear, honest highs while the woofer achieves clear and punchy lows. The midrange is also smooth and balanced. While we did uncover some audible hiss and hum during our review which is more of a characteristic of lower-end speakers, the CMS 65 is a good studio monitoring speaker that is competitive against others in this category.
Read the full Focal CMS 65 Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Price (MSRP): $1249
Woofer: 7” carbon/rohacell/glass
This speaker is a little like the A7X on steroids; just add an extra woofer for more oomph in the low-end and you’ve got the A77X. The clarity of the sound it offers is incredible; it sounds good at low volumes and is able to maintain crystal-clear sonics at very loud sound pressure levels. It can accurately reproduce frequencies from 38Hz-50kHz and hardly breaks a sweat, with lows sounding natural and accurate while highs sound crystal clear and solid. The midrange is very detailed as well. As you would expect, it does a great job of highlighting the weaknesses in a mix. Due to its larger size, the A77X works better if placed a little further away from the listener, as it has a narrower sweet spot than its smaller sibling. It may be a little pricey, but if you have the means and the space, this really is an incredible studio monitoring speaker.
Read the full Adam A77X Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Focal Twin6 Be
This is Focal’s best-selling studio monitor in Focal’s entire range, and it’s also an award-winner. It’s the most versatile of the company’s SM6 studio monitoring series and is perfect for use in small professional studios, although like the A77X prefers a bit more space between it and the listener to produce best results. It has clear highs, punchy and accurate lows, a revealing mid-range, and excellent imaging. While some users find the bass a bit lacking in comparison to the A77X, others prefer the softer sounding tweeters and overall high-end sonics. It’s an impressive studio monitor that is great for recording, mastering and mixing.
Read the full Focal Twin6 Be Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Price (MSRP): $239
Driver: 5.25” cast aluminum
While less expensive than other monitors in this category, the MixCubes are not a replacement for high-quality set of primary studio monitors, but should instead be used as a complement to an existing set of high-quality monitoring speakers. Their main purpose is to check how mixes translate to lower-quality audio equipment and they do a really great job at that. While some people suggest using cheap hi-fi or computer speakers to do the MixCubes’ job, we strongly believe that the MixCubes are still a better option as cheap speakers just can’t offer the same level of clarity and low-distortion that the MixCubes do. For their price and the performance they offer, the MixCubes really offer excellent value for money as a secondary pair of monitors.
Read the full Avantone MixCubes Studio Monitor Speaker Review
Studio Monitoring Speakers Buyer’s Guide
Studio monitoring speakers are one of the most important tools that a mix or recording engineer will own. Monitoring speakers are a special type of speaker designed for the critical listening necessary during music production. Basically, a studio monitor is what you need to hear audio in its purest and clearest form, allowing you to create mixdowns that will translate well to a wide range of speaker systems and headphones. Generally, speakers are the weakest link in accurately reproducing sounds (they have many times more distortion than say an amplifier), and this is why top studios are willing to spend thousands of dollars on purchasing the best studio monitors. Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank to be able to get a quality monitor as there are many affordable ones on the market today.
Types of Studio Monitoring Speakers
Studio monitor speakers are available in passive and active varieties. Passive speakers are modular and are driven by an external amplifier. You’re going to need to spend extra on an amplifier with passive speakers. Active monitors, on the other hand, are powered by their own internal amplifiers. Active speaker manufacturers can carefully match the amplifier electronics and signal processing to improve the speaker performance, which is not easily done with passive monitors. Active monitors are now available at very affordable prices and are now by far the most popular way to purchase studio monitoring speakers, hence all monitors considered here are of the active type.
Studio monitoring speakers are also available in two popular styles, near-field and mid-field monitors. Near-field monitoring speakers are located close to the listener, usually next to a computer monitor or on the meter bridge of a large mixing desk. Due to their close proximity to the listener, the volume of the direct sound is much louder than the acoustics of the studio, making them practical for use in rooms with sub-optimal acoustics. They are also generally very compact, making them practical for use in smaller studios. Mid-field monitors, on the other hand, are much larger, and are typically set back some distance from the listener, meaning that good studio acoustics become more important. As mid-field monitoring speakers are generally much more expensive and require a much larger studio space, use of them is becoming increasingly rare in home and smaller studios. Also, most studios that use mid-field monitors also use near-field monitors. Hence, Studio-Speakers.com has focused on the much more accessible and versatile near-field monitoring speakers to review in this article.
Factors to Consider When Buying Monitoring Speakers
Budget – You should think about your budget before you start looking at monitors. Your studio monitoring speakers will be one of the biggest assets in your studio; you will use them every time you mix and the quality of your mix will always reflect what you can hear. There is a huge variation in the prices and quality of studio speakers, so figure out how much you’re willing to pay for a monitor. Just remember that they’re often sold separately, so the price typically reflects only one speaker. As much as possible, don’t go cheap on studio monitors if you’re serious about your music, spend as much as you can fit into your budget. We’ve picked out a selection of some of the best studio monitors currently available, all of them on this list represent excellent value for money at their price-point, shown in order of budget (low to high).
Sound – The speaker you choose must have a good balance of high end, low end, and midrange. You should also find one that has minimal distortion. Preferably, you shouldn’t need a subwoofer to save both money and space. You can refer to the detailed reviews for each speaker to get a better feel for each speaker’s performance, although all speakers listed represent excellent value.
Size – A monitor’s model number is often based on the size of its woofer. The size does not only indicate the physical dimension of the monitor, it also dictates the bass response. Basically, the bigger the woofer, the better and deeper the bass. When woofers become too big, they have difficulty moving quickly enough to accurately reproduce the critical mid-range frequencies and performance suffers. Also, larger speakers may not fit into a smaller studio. Studio-Speakers prefers monitors with around 6” woofers, as they provide a very good compromise between mid-range clarity and bass performance, all within a compact footprint that should fit most studios. You typically don’t need a subwoofer with 6” (and larger) woofers.
Placement flexibility – Front-ported models offer better placement flexibility as their sound is not as sensitive to placement near walls and to the acoustics of the room. While we generally favor the front-ported models for this reason, some of the rear-ported speakers have also made our list due to their impressive performance.
Appearance – You’re going to be looking at your monitoring speakers a lot, so you might as well choose something that you like the look of.
Studio monitoring speakers are an essential studio tool required to be able to create well-polished and balanced mixes. We’ve reviewed some excellent quality monitors on Studio-Speakers.com, and while only one model in each category has been awarded the title of “The Best Monitoring Speaker”, each of the monitors listed here is a great performer and offers excellent value for money. As the role of the studio monitor is so important in the recording and mixing process, and as you’ll be using them all the time, we recommend you purchase the best monitors your budget will allow (you may also want to get a good set of studio monitoring headphones to complement your monitors). We’ve provided a wide range of options for you to consider, and if you choose any of the monitors reviewed on this list you can rest assured that each has many happy owners and supporters.
If you have any questions about our list of the best studio monitoring speakers, or if you own one (or more) of the products reviewed and have some feedback, please feel free to leave a message in the comments section below.