Recording and mixing music is becoming easier and easier to do in a home studio. One of the most important parts of building a home studio is purchasing a quality pair of studio monitors.
Given the fact that this article is for those building a home studio, we’ll assume that you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars. Contrary to what some might think, however, there are plenty of excellent studio monitors available for less than $1,000 for a pair.
Why Do I Need Good Studio Monitors?
Buying good studio monitors is especially important for those who intend to mix at home. While you might be able to get away with tracking using headphones, getting an accurate frequency response during the mixing process is key to achieving a good mix.
It’s important to note that buying monitors is not the only step needed in accurately monitoring music – treating a room is also an important step. A bad sounding room can make great monitors sound bad, but that's a deep enough subject that it deserves its own article.
How Were The Winners Determined?
Of course when it comes to music gear, there is objectively no such thing as the best. Studio monitors might sound great for one person, and horrible for the next. Having said that, there are certainly monitors that are more conducive to mixing music. In order to come up with this mix we searched the web high and low for recommendations, and then tallied the results. Our main sources for recommendations came from the likes of Gearslutz and reddit subreddits like /r/AudioEngineering and /r/WeAreTheMusicMakers. Finally, we also looked at recommendations in our own Equipboard community. Using these resources we counted only votes from people with first hand experience. In other words, we did not count anyone who said something along the lines of “I heard from a friend…” or “ So-and-so studio uses…”
So, without further ado, here are our results!
Best Studio Monitors
1. Yamaha HS8
Total Votes: 50
Yamaha has long ben hailed as a king when it comes to monitoring, as you will see in this list. The HS8 studio monitors are an update to the well-respected HS80, and many suggest that they are among the flattest and most accurate speakers in this price range. That’s great for those who need monitors for mixing. Unlike other, smaller monitors, HS8’s are also accurate when it comes to bass response, meaning that user’s won’t necessarily need a subwoofer, although you might still want one if you’re going to mix particularly bass-heavy music.
- “Excellent overall response, great monitors all around.”
- “Don’t even hesitate, pull the trigger.”
- “My mixes really really improved moving to them from some budget Alesis units.”
- “I use the Yamaha HS80m's that go down to 40hz and even then I had to do appropriate treatment for them.”
- “[Get] Yamaha HS8's, no question. And create a treated room.”
2. Equator D5
Total Votes: 31
A little cheaper than the HS8’s the Equator D5’s were also voted among the flattest in response, especially in the ‘even-more-budget-minded’ tier. In fact, these speakers have even been making waves in professional audio settings. Despite this, one thing to consider, which will likely offset the price, is the fact that the D5’s only have a 5” woofer, meaning that users might want to consider a subwoofer along with the monitors for more accurate bass response.
- “The speakers have fantastic clarity and frequency response for their price point.”
- “The Equator D5's will be too small for EDM, if you want those, you'll have to get a sub.”
- “I demoed both and went with the Equator D5s. It's a year later and I still love them.”
- “They translate very well to other systems, and have good clarity.”
- “If you're looking for that perfect set of small footprint monitors to add to your room OR as your main set of speakers then you need to give these a try.”
3. Yamaha HS5
Total Votes: 22
Like the idea of Yamaha’s monitors but don’t want to spend $700 on monitors? Well, the HS5’s have been getting rave reviews too, almost as good as the HS8’s. While these monitors will not offer bass response as accurate as the HS8’s, with a sub they will do just fine. With a dimension of 7 x 9 x 12 inches, the HS5's may be a better fit in a smaller home studio than the HS8’s, which have a larger footprint of 14 x 16 x 21 inches. In a smaller room, larger speakers can be a little too loud, so for those with smaller rooms, the HS5’s might be just the right size of speaker.
- “Hs5's with the Yamaha sub woofer...Magic!”
- “The HS5s are great but you aren’t gonna get low/sub bass. They are however, detailed IMO.”
- “The Hs5's are great for a second reference monitor or with the Yamaha sub, great for hearing all the frequency's.”
- “I have the Yamaha Hs5 they are honest.”
4. KRK Rokit 8
Total Votes: 13
Ah yes, the KRK Rokit series. KRK has been gaining a lot of popularity over the past few years, and with good reason – their monitors sound great. Unfortunately, that can sometimes be a problem for those starting out in the audio world. While the KRK Rokit series sounds great, they don’t provide the flattest response, meaning mixes might sound a little different out of the studio than in it. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that audio engineers should stay away from them, it just means that when mixing with these monitors, users should get to know the monitors and where they add or subtract frequencies. These monitors will be especially good for those who intend to use their monitors for simple home listening as well as audio engineering.
- “If you’re a new producer who is tired of mixing on headphones and wants a well-built, faithful monitor that will help you make better music without breaking the bank, these might just be the monitors you’re looking for.”
- “I always found the Krk Rokit range to have a mushy and boomy sort of sound.”
- “KRKs are some of the most colored speakers out there.”
- “I have them and I love them. They are large, and if you dont have the proper space for them it does get a bit tricky -- they are definitely loud, with great range.”
- “I've got a pair, and they're fantastic.”
5. JBL LSR305
Total Votes: 12
Another company making waves more in recent times, JBL’s LSR305 monitors are great for the budding mixing engineer. Producing a relatively flat frequency response compared to other monitors in this price range, the LSR305 is a great choice for those with a relatively small room. Because of the fact that these monitors are 5-inches, there may be some issues in lower frequencies, however again this could definitely be remedied with a subwoofer like the JBL LSR310S or with careful consideration to the fact that bass is lacking. Reviewers have also suggested that the midrange might be a little bit attenuated, however these kinds of issues exist in all monitors. All that it means is that the user should get to know them.
- “The mids and the highs have great clarity.”
- “I think the LSR305s are a game changer.”
- “IMHO a huge bang for the buck.”
- “The 305's just translate big time.”
These monitors also got mentioned a fair bit, but did not make the top 5. Click on the name of the monitor for more information about it!
6. Yamaha NS10 (9 votes)
7. Mackie MR5 (8 votes)
8. KRK Rokit 5 (6 votes)
9. KRK Rokit 6 (5 votes)
10. JBL LSR308 (4 votes)
10. M-Audio BX5a (4 votes)
Did your studio monitors make the cut?
We'd love to know - was this helpful? Want to drop some knowledge on any of the studio monitors in this list? Any other studio monitors you feel should be in the running? Did we mess up a product name, link, or price? Use the comments below to let us know!