The Top 10 Best Home Studio Monitors
Why Your Mixes Can Only Suck Without Quality Studio Monitors
Whether you’re recording, editing, mixing, mastering audio, or doing any media post-production, a sonically transparent monitoring system ensures your mix will translate well on every audio listening set up available. A good set of studio speakers will let you hear what you record without bias and in accurate detail. Common consumer-market speakers color the sound in ways that attribute ornaments to particular frequencies as to enhance the listeners perception of the audio. This can make them sound great for the everyday listener, but it’s a horrible starting point for the audio professional. If you’re looking to record quality music or work with audio in any form of media, it is absolutely imperative to start with choosing a quality, flat-response studio monitor.
What makes a good studio monitor?
So what makes a good set of studio speakers? And how should an accurate pair sound? This answer depends on your capacity to listen for how the real audio is supposed to sound, along with the accuracy in which the speakers reproduce those sounds in the context of your particular studio. So there is a direct relationship between your ear, the music you are making, the dimensions and set up of your room, and the monitors you use.
It is common that electronic music producers and DJ’s will use monitors that favour the low-end as there is plenty in the genres of music they produce. However, music that is created more acoustically with an emphasis on the songwriting, musicality, tonality and gear will require more flat-response studio monitors as these nuanced characteristics are very fickle to work with.
A Few Things To Consider When Buying Studio Monitors For Your Home:
You will notice that studio monitors are often marked Near-, Far-, or Mid-Field. These terms indicate the listening configuration the monitors are designed for: near-field being built for close listening and far-field designed to carry the sound over a greater distance with equal accuracy. Consider this design feature when choosing a pair of monitors for your home or small studio. If your studio is small, choose near-field monitors as you do not want the sound reflecting off of the walls and ceiling before reaching your ears. If choosing mid or far-field monitoring, be sure to have installed appropriate acoustic treatment in your studio as to get the most accurate reproduction of the audio.
Most small studio owners use powered monitors, also known as active monitors, as they contain their own power amplifiers, eliminating the need for an external power supply. Bi-amplified monitors means each of the two speakers have their own amp, allowing them to function optimally. Unpowered monitors, also referred to as passive monitors, require an external power amp which is ideal should you have a multi-speaker set up, in the case of surround sound. Do take into account that a majority of studio monitors are sold individually. This is so that if one blows, you can purchase a new one without having to buy a whole new pair. When making a purchase, be sure to check whether you are selecting a single monitor or a pair.
Our list for The 10 Best Home Studio Monitors features ten of the best performing, and most sought after studio monitors from premium brands which perfectly suit a home or small studio, each model for under $1000.00 a pair.
PreSonus Eris E5 Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-Amplified - 2-Way - Near-Field
The PreSonus Eris 5 sit confidently at the top of our list. At their price, with their components and features, they offer outstanding value for small or home studio monitors. Many problems arise in small studio spaces where due to size restrictions, you’re stuck working against a wall. Many studio monitors feature bass ports at the rear, directing the audio right at the wall, creating extreme low frequencies that cause the walls to vibrate and reflect the sound waves. These waves fill the air with false harmonics that ruin ones ability to hear an accurate response of the audio.
The PreSonus Eris 5 feature a front-firing bass port eliminating this issue, with additional Acoustic Tuning controls which allow you to cut the bass by up to 4dB to compensate for additional build up of bass. The Mid-Range and High Frequency dials are designed to address situations when mixing in spaces with high reflective surfaces or acoustic treatment, allowing you to acoustically tune the monitors to your room and musical genre.
Equipped with a 5.25” Kevlar low-frequency driver, a low-mass silk-dome tweeter, and responsive Class AB amplification, the E5 are a tool for establishing definition into your mix without spending a fortune. In addition to this, the Eris E5’s are built with unbalanced RCA as well as balanced TRS and XLR inputs, allowing you to connect them directly to just about any sound source you’re working with.
Presonus Eris 5 Features:
- Max SPL - 102 dB
- Frequency Response: 53 Hz - 22 kHz
- 45W 5.25 inches Kevlar bass driver
- 35W 1 inch silk dome
- Connections: 1- balanced XLR, 1- balanced ¼ inch TRS, 1- unbalanced RCA
- Weight: 10.2lbs
- Dimensions: 7 inches (w) x 7.68 inches (d) x 10.24 inches (h)
Home recordings are known to sound muffled, boomy, or have indistinct mid-range. Though the Eris 5 have been praised by audio professionals across genres, their incredible flat response makes them the ideal studio monitor for songwriters, composers in TV & radio, video post-production, and mix engineers working on diverse catalogues in small places.
Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-amplified - 2-Way - Near-field
Yamaha has long been a leader in near-field monitoring since their legendary NS10 model speaker came out in the 1970’s. Their latest HS Series of monitors is their most up to date series of monitors which offer the iconic Yamaha white-cone bass driver and a very clean, minimal design. This new lineup shares a design philosophy that underscores sonic purity without any added coloring or alteration of the original audio whatsoever. The HS Series near-field monitors deliver a succinct sound image, flat response and high resolution.
One competitive advantage that the HS series hold over their competition is the combination of their enclosures with a highly sophisticated driver mounting system. The drivers are encased in dense and resilient MDF ported enclosures designed to eliminate unwanted resonance and increase the accuracy of sound reproduction even when played at their extreme limit. An elaborate arrangement of screws and specially designed mounting rings eliminate unwanted vibration and resonance from within the unit, allowing the speaker to reach its full sonic potential without any interference from the enclosure itself.
The extra-thick 1” tweeter frames prevent resonance that may alter the purity of the treble, providing a high standard of accuracy of the high frequencies. The bi-amped design with dedicated amps for both the tweeter and driver ensure that each speaker delivers consistent, high-resolution, exceptionally flat response across the entire sound spectrum.
As with most high-quality modern reference monitors, the HS Series near-field design offers ROOM CONTROL options on the rear of the speaker, allowing you to attenuate (by -2dB or -4dB from 500Hz) any over exaggerated low end that may build up in your room, as well as a HIGH TRIM to boost or cut frequencies north of 2kHz (+2dB or -2dB)
Yamaha HS5 Features:
- Max SPL: 70W
- Frequency Response: 54Hz-30kHz
- 45W 5” driver
- 25W 1” dome tweeter
- Connection: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (TS)
- Dimenstions: (h x w x d) 11.2” x 6.7” x 8.7”
- Weight: 11.7 lbs.
All of these characteristics make the Yamaha HS Series some of the highest value small studio monitors on the market. With an flat frequency response and impressively tight and deep bottom end they prove to be optimal monitors for all genres of music and audio post-production. The HS Series can also be purchased with a 7” or 8” woofer for those in need of a lower frequency response or who are working in larger rooms.
Genelec 8010A Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-Amplified - 2-Way - Near-Field
Genelec monitors can be found in top professional recording studios around the world. This sonically transparent and balanced 8000 bi-amplified monitor series are trusted by professional engineers everywhere - Engineers who were, at one time, some of the only people able to justify their heavy price tag. Thankfully, Genelec have manufactured a more affordable model geared toward bedroom producers and engineers on the go that — though small — offer accurate frequency response, sound staging and a large sound for such a tiny monitor. (96dB SPL at 1m – a realistic listening distance for a monitor of this size.)
At the smallest end of the 8000 Series are the 8010A, a relatively light unit made of solid die-cast aluminum, faced with with metal driver grilles for protecting the speakers: 3" driver (80W) – ¾in tweeter (50W.) The back side of the unit holds the base port seated above five dip switches which contour low to high frequency responses to suit your room. The input connector is a balanced XLR input but it can be connected to an unbalanced source using the appropriate adaptor.
As many would expect a monitor of this size to produce harsh highs and upper-mids, none are found here at all. The Genelec 8010As possess a smooth and accurate top-end, a deep and well-balanced mid-range (excellent for vocal, reverbs and delays), and a clear low frequency spectrum offering plenty of punch and bass handling. Note: should you need a lower frequency range out of your monitors, the 8010As are compatible with Genelec’s 7050B subwoofer.
Genelec’s four-cornered rubber swivel base prevents slipping and allows for the monitor to be to be positioned upwards, downwards, or straight. This ensures the tweeter is always directed right at your ears. Alternatively, the 8010A can be mounted on a bracket or a stand.
Genelec 8010 Features:
- Max SPL: 96dB
- Frequency Response: 67Hz-25Hz
- Bass 25W Class D / Treble 25W
- 3” Bass Driver
- ¾” Tweeter
- Connections: XLR
- Weight 3.3lbs
- Dimensions: 7.7” x 4.7” x 4.5”
The Genelec 8010A’s are ideal for small music studios and mobile recording. Genelec monitors aren’t cheap and the reason to that is in the quality of design, sound and components — all of the same qualities found in the 8010As but at a very reasonable price.
M-Audio M3-8 Studio Monitors
Powered - Tri-Amplified - 3-way - Mid-Field
Musicians looking to upgrade their monitor set up to a 3-way sound should absolutely consider the M3-8 studio monitor by M-Audio. They are the perfect choice for obtaining the loudness, improved fidelity and precise stereo imaging of typical 3-way monitors but at a fraction of the cost. The M3-8’s feature a sophisticated in-line design, meaning the tweeter and mid-range speaker are mounted in-line with each other at the same point. This means that the mid-range and treble information reach your ears at exactly the same time, delivering ultimate clarity and detail.
Both the 8” driver and 5” mid-range speaker are made of Kevlar, known for delivering fast transient attack, tight bass, accurate mids, and the capacity to maintain a healthy sound while cranked. This, along with their size, provide copious amounts of body, punch volume while staying true the character of the original audio. And with 220W of power, you’ll have plenty of headroom for even the loudest mixes.
The rear of the monitor features built-in 3-band EQ which lets you adjust the sound to fit the size of your room and cater the styles of music you’re working on. There is an EQ bypass switch which makes A/B’ing your adjustments easier, as well as taking equalisation out of the signal path entirely. You’ll also find a low cut switch to filter out 80Hz or 100Hz should your room be generating too much low end.
M-Audio M3-8 Features:
- Max SPL: 220W Frequency Response:
- Frequency Response: 38Hz-22kHz with crossover at 450Hz and 3.9kHz
- 8” Kevlar bass driver
- 5” Kevlar mid-range
- 35W 1" silk dome tweeter
- Connections: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS, 1 x RCA
- Dimensions: (W x H x D): 10.6" x 17.1" x 11.2"
- Weight: 28.2 lbs.
The features of the M-Audio M3-8 make them an excellent choice for any genre of music and plenty of work in post-production. Their size and weight are perhaps better suited for medium to large sized rooms and placed more than one foot away from large flat surfaces which will reflect the sound, resulting in a surplus of exaggerated bass energy.
3-way monitors are ideal for engineers who spend hours in the studio, listening to mixes repeatedly, relying on unfatigued ears to make subtle adjustments. The M-Audio M3-8 are some of the lowest priced monitors of this kind and of superior quality. Their wood veneer front baffle with vinyl-laminated cabinet are sure to look great in any studio.
Yamaha MSP7 Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-Amplified - 2-Way - Near-Field
The Yamaha MSP7 are certainly a higher end model on our Top 10 list while remaining within the same price range as the others. They are geared toward the audio professional looking to upgrade from entry level monitors without jumping entirely into the upper echelons of pro studio speakers.
Listeners will experience a very precise sonic reproduction without any flattering bias on behalf of the monitor. The MSP7’s are fully powered, 2-way bi-amplified speakers, with an 80W amplifier driving a 6.5 inch polypropylene cone bass driver and a further 50W amplifier powering the one-inch, titanium-dome tweeter. This particular tweeter is capable of working up to 40kHz and is driven by a powerful magnetic circuit which presents an extremely fast response for meticulous reproduction of transients. The tweeter sits in a considerably deep waveguide to maintain a more constant dispersion of high end frequencies. The cabinet has two frontal ports to tune the bass to the listeners preference.
At the rear of the MSP7’s is an attractive, professionally designed frequency control panel which allows for further fine-tuning of the speakers output to the response of the studio environment and the genre at hand. This includes a continuous input sensitivity control, and LOW and HIGH trim switches that enable you to adjust the bass (-3dB. -1.5dB, +1.5dB at 45Hz), tweak the highs (-1.5dB, +1.5dB at 15Hz), as well as Low Cut Filter at 80Hz or 100Hz. These filters are a great feature to use in small rooms as to check the radio friendliness of mixes to assure your mix sounds great on bass-challenged speakers.
Yamaha MSP7 Features:
- Frequency Response: 45Hz - 40 Hz
- 80W 6.5” Polypropylene bass driver
- 50W 1” Titanium dome tweeter
- Dimensions: (D x W x H) 9.2” x 8.6” x 13”
- Connections: 1 x XLR
- Weight: 26.9 pounds
The Yamaha MSP7’s feature an LED on the front left corner which let you know the monitors are on, and also flash red should you push them to the point of peaking. You will only be able to connect the MSP7’s via XLR for maximum audio quality so if you’re looking to connect via RCA or TRS then consider checking out the Yamaha MSP5 or MSP3 — the same model with these inputs only smaller in size and less low frequency response.
Home studio owners will certainly have all their needs met with the MSP7’s. Their power and capacity in the low end with their considerably high frequency response make them a worthy investment for the serious home producer. These monitors will surely suffice for hyper detailed mixing across all genres, crystal clear sound design and audio post-production.
KRK Rokit 5 G3 Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-Amplified - 2-way - Near-field
KRK Rokit monitors are one of the most popular on our list and for several reasons. Aside from their recognizable yellow speaker and affordable price, they truly do offer plenty of value in their versatility, tight punchy bass with low-distortion performance, making them great for budding electronic and hip-hop producers.
In the high-end, the KRK Rokit’s feature a 1” soft-dome tweeter that provides smooth and clear-cut highs up to 35kHz. A Class A/B amplifier pushes a 5" Kevlar/glass-Aramid composite woofer delivering defined mids and a tight bass response, and provides ample headroom.
The front-firing bass port makes the KRK’s a great choice for the smaller studio owner as this helps contain the bouncing of low frequencies off nearby surfaces. The back panel offers integrated brick-wall limiters for the high and low frequencies which assure maximum headroom with minimum distortion, offering a balanced sound while you get your crank on.
Plug in to any system configuration with the variety of input selections, Unbalanced RCA, balanced 1/4”, or balanced XLR. The EQ parameters allow you to tailor the frequencies of the monitor to your room. As near-field monitors, be assured to position them in equal distance from each other as to your ears, in a perfect triangle, ideally backed away from the wall.
KRK Rokit 5 G3 Features:
- Max SPL: 106 dB
- Frequency Response: 45Hz-35kHz
- 30W 5” Kevlar/Aramid Bass Driver
- 20W 1” soft dome tweeter
- Connections: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS, 1 x RCA
- Dimensions: (H x W x D) 15 x 11 x 12 inches
- Weight: 14.8 pounds
Many users of the Rokit 5’s claim that there is some hyping of high and low frequencies. While composers, songwriters and mix engineers may frown upon this, it is often desired by many electronic producers as it is said to help them obtain the particular vibe they seek.
The KRK Rokit’s are available in a larger 6” and 8”, offering the exact same features and components, built to suit your needs of output, headroom and room size. Nobody seems to be complaining about the price as they all agree the quality far exceeds it.
Related | The Best USB Microphones
M-Audio BX5 D2 Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-Amplified - 2-Way - Near-Field
M-Audio is known for creating affordable entry level products that deliver surprising results, making them a fan favourite of budding young producers. The BX5 D2 are no exception, offering high performance with a professional, compact design at very affordable price.
Using premium components and Class A/B bi-amplification with 70W of distributed power, the BX5 D2 are solidly engineered full-range studio monitors that perform very well. A Blue LED light is recessed on the face of each monitor and shines brightest when the listener is positioned in the sweet spot — where the listener sits on-axis from the speaker's front.
The high-frequency silk-dome driver is fully isolated from the rest of the enclosure, ensuring minimum distortion while providing a smooth frequency response up to 22 kHz. A 5-Inch low-frequency driver with Kevlar cones supported in a rubber surround offers rich, articulate lows — an ideal monitor for mixing across genres or working in post-production and sound design.
The notable frequency ranges are the upper mids, which glisten with clarity yet provide heavy punch, optimal for vocals, percussion, delays and reverbs. A magnetic shielding eradicates interference with other electronic equipment such as video monitors, vintage outboard audio processors, and mobile phones for uninterrupted listening.
On the rear of the M-Audio BX5 D2’s is where you’ll find the custom bass port designed to minimize air turbulence and resulting distortion while adding additional low frequency information. Get a solid connection to a wide range of audio sources through either XLR or TRS balanced/unbalanced 1/4" inputs. Unlike some of the other home studio monitors of this sort, the BX5 D2 do not offer frequency controls as to compensate for the shortcomings of your room so be sure to have a workable environment if you plan to do more surgical mixing.
M-Audio BX5 D2 Features:
- Max SPL: 70W
- Frequency Response: 56Hz - 22kHz
- 40W 5” Kevlar bass driver
- 30W 1” silk-dome tweeter with integrated waveguides
- Connections: Balanced XLR and 1/4 inputs
- Dimensions: (H x W x D) 7.7” x 7” x 10”
- Weight: 11lbs
As it is quite easy to hear the shortcomings of small, lower budget monitors when compared directly with large, high-quality studio monitors, the M-Audio BX5 D2 offer outstanding value in their class. They are not to be underestimated and are an impressive bargain for beginner producers, musicians, film/post-production, or as a second pair.
JBL LSR305 3-Series Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-amplified - 2-Way - Near-Field
The JBL LSR305 are an extremely affordable studio reference monitor with unique characteristics that make it one-of-a-kind in its class. JBL incorporated waveguide technology from their M2 Master Reference Monitors — a $26,000 pair of speakers — into a $300.00 pair of studio speakers. The technology is called ‘image control waveguide’ which are curved bumps within the concave recessing that surrounds the tweeter. This spreads out the wave form and creates an extremely wide center image that seems to follow you around the room.
JBL’s transducers are legendary for their performance. Using a 1” damped woven composite Neodymium tweeter and a 5” long-throw bass driver, the 3 Series are designed to reproduce the most subtle micro level dynamics of your mix. With impressive deep bass and a smoother high frequency response, the LSR305’s are a well rounded pair of studio monitors fit for all studio uses.
JBL’s patented Slip Stream low frequency bass port at the rear of the monitor works with the woofer to produce accurate bass response at all levels of playback, even very low. The port takes a double-flared shape designed to reduce turbulence, offering an all around consistent bottom end. Also at the rear of the monitor are high and low frequency trim controls allowing the listener to fine-tune the amount of bass and treble to suite room acoustics and personal taste. Plugin to balanced XLR inputs and 6mm TRS inputs to connect to a variety of pro and consumer audio sources while maintaining professional signal quality.
JBL LSR305 Features:
- Max SPL: 108dB
- Frequency Response 43 Hz-24 kHz
- 41W Class D 5” Bass driver
- 41W Class D 1” tweeter
- Connections: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS Balanced
- Dimensions (H x W x D) 11.75" x 7.28" x 9.88"
- Weight: (10.12 lbs)
JBL take great pride in their products. Each 3 Series model is subjected to a vigorous 100 hour power test, in which the speaker is cranked at full output for 100 hours without failure.
They developed LSR (Linear Spatial Reference) which takes into account 1,200 times more data as to produce a sound that ‘sounds right’ in any working space as opposed to a single axis measurement like other manufacturers.
This broadened centre image creates a big expansive soundstage, sure to fill up any room. Perfect for showing work to clients and guests visiting your studio.
Mackie MR5mk3 Studio Monitors
Powered - Bi-amplified - 2-Way - Near-Field
Mackie MR5mk3 offer plenty of features to enhance the listening experience and are a great entry level studio monitor. Similar to the JBL LSR305’s, they sport an enhanced waveguide system for a wider sweetspot. This minimizes diffraction and reflections, allowing the listener to get a great sound from anywhere in the room with optimal stereo imaging.
Quality electronics as well as custom-matched amps and drivers add pure clarity and balance, rivalling everything else in their price range. The Mackie MR5mk3 offer full-range, natural character from their added punch and bass extension provided by custom-tuned ports and an all-wood cabinet insulated with sound-tightening acoustic absorption material.
50 Watts of Class AB amplification is equally matched to the 5.25" polypropylene driver and 1" silk-dome tweeter. At the rear of the monitor are two levels of bass boost (+2dB, +4dB), plus a boost/cut (-2dB, +2dB) for the highs. These two controls allow you to fine-tune your frequency response to your room, speaker placement, and musical genre — incredibly handy for the home studio. With balanced XLR and TRS connectors, plus an RCA - you can have flexible input connectivity to integrate your monitors into a variety of studio setups.
Mackie MR5mk3 Features:
- Max SLP: 108 dB
- Frequency Response: 45Hz - 20kHz
- 50 watts of Class AB amplification
- 30W 5.25" polypropylene bass driver
- 20W 1" silk-dome tweeter
- Connections: balanced XLR and TRS; unbalanced RCA
- Weight: 14.3 pounds
- Dimensions: ( H x W x D ) 11.3” x 7.8" x 10.9" inches
The Mackie MR5mk3 have an excellent transient response, optimal for punchy drums, percussion and quick-transient audio sources. They are praised for their tight lows without the boomy resonance and are known for their smooth, detailed highs. Use the Mackie MR5mk3’s for any genre of music or post-production task. They can also be found in a 6.5” and 8” model for those in need of more volume and lower frequency response.
Avantone Active Mixcube Studio Monitor
Powered - Near-Field
A list of the best studio monitors for a home studio would not be complete without a grot box. Grot Box is slang for a small, low-quality, bass-challenged studio monitor used to verify the integrity of a mix by simulating playback from cheap consumer-playback devices such as radios, televisions, computers, portable boomboxes, etc. People listen on such a plethora of devices — it is impossible that each one will have the capacity to reproduce the range of sounds you so meticulously sculpted on your full-range studio monitors. Therefore it is the mix engineers job to assure that a mix translates reasonably well across all devices, both lo‑fi and hi‑fi, making a strong impact no matter what the listening medium. Enter the Avantone MixCube mono reference monitor.
The original grot box was the Auretone 5C, a legendary but previously discontinued model of reference monitors that garnered a reputation for sounding so horrid that any mix to come through them sounding reasonably intact ought to similarly survive playback through even the lowest quality of end-user systems — an important consideration for mass market releases. Upon the death of Auretone’s founder, Jack Wilson, in 2005 production of the 5C’s stopped completely, leaving a hole in the market for competitors like Avantone to fill.
This “horrid” sound has a frequency response that is quite heavy on the mid-range, the essential section of the mix featuring key melodic instruments such as vocals, keyboards, lead guitars, horns, etc. As a limited number of audio systems sufficiently manage low-frequency information, and high frequencies are easily lost if music is listened to outside of the “sweet spot” or overshadowed through mismanagement of frequencies, a mix on this speaker is much more likely to translate successfully across all speakers. It is very common for engineers listen to reference a mix in mono through a single Avantone speaker as they have an exceptional ability to communicate relative balance information. This removes problems of inter-speaker phasing giving a mono-compatibility check and an overall sound indication of a well balanced result.
Avantone Active MixCube Features:
- Max SPL: 104dB
- Frequency Response: 90Hz-17kHz (Accessible Musical Range)
- 5.25" shielded full-range 8 ohm drivers
- 60 watt Class A/B amplifier
- Connections: Inputs: XLR & TRS (combo jack) +4 balanced and -10 unbalanced
- Weight: 7Lbs
Avantone have now become studio staples around the world, becoming renowned in their own right even as a new breed of Auratone have re-entered the market. Professional engineers everywhere use either a pair, or more commonly, a single speaker during mixdown. Grot boxes are not “everything” speakers. They are more complimentary to your main studio monitors. They serve a very crucial and unique function for anyone serious about obtaining a radio-ready production. Simply put, the only regret you'll have after buying an Avantone Mixcube is that you didn't buy one earlier. Take it from the pro’s.
Have you got a favourite pair of studio monitors perfectly suited for home or small studio recording or post-production that you don't see in our list? Add them in the comments below and tell us what you love about them.