Studio monitors are a fundamental part of any home studio setup. In this guide, we breakdown a range of studio monitors that are ideally suited to beginners.
A precise and accurate studio monitor with excellent tuning options from one of the most respected audio brands.
A budget-priced pair of studio monitors that deliver a satisfying low-end along with plenty of volume.
In-Depth Review Of The Speakers
There are plenty of quality choices available for beginners. From affordable options that pack a punch to high-quality professional gear.
Yamaha HS7 Review
- Precise And Accurate – Definition and balance are superb. An excellent choice for analytical listening. Especially great for acoustic and vocal translation.
- Exceptional Build – High-quality materials. A solid and sturdy studio monitor that will last you a long time.
- Color Choice – Available in both black and white. These can fit in with any studio decor.
- Clean Tuning – No extra options beyond Room Control and High Trim. Despite this, the speakers sound perfect out of the box. These couple of options allow for fine-tuning to your space.
- On The Pricier Side – These are pushing the upper mid-tier price-wise. Excellent monitors but does need a bigger financial commitment.
Yamaha has a legendary reputation in the studio monitor space. And for good reason. The Yamaha HS7 is a quality speaker that delivers in both build and sound quality. A refined design with minimal tuning options. Easy to set up and quick to adjust to your studio space. Despite the price, it’s a monitor that I can easily recommend to beginners.
Read our full Yamaha HS7 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DM-40 Review
- Distinct Low End – The balance between frequencies is reasonable but there is a greater emphasis on the low end. Satisfying for lovers of bass but not as accurate as some producers may need.
- Ultra Affordable – Coming in a pair these are a bargain. If you are on a tight budget these are among the best available options.
- Loud – For only a 4-inch monitor these can deliver impressive volume levels. Can fill a room but the sweet spot is narrow.
- Excellent Clarity – Clean and crisp even at higher volumes. No muddiness or loss of distinction.
- No Tuning Options – Zero ability to adjust these to your studio environment. If you have an awkward space you’ll need to rely on external sources to adjust the sound.
The Pioneer DM-40 is a popular beginner set of studio monitors. At an attractive price, it’s often recommended along with entry-level DJ controllers. The more pronounced low end lends itself to bass-heavy genres. It offers great build quality and excellent sound without breaking the bank.
Read our full Pioneer DM-40 review for more detailed information.
Presonus Eris E5 Review
- Acoustic Tuning Options – Flexible tuning options give you full control. Adjust mid and high frequencies along with Acoustic Space and Low Cutoff.
- Variety of Inputs – RCA unbalanced will handle most connection types. Added balanced options in both XLR and TRS. You won’t have any trouble connecting these to your setup.
- Flat Delivery – Nice flat response with no frequency taking center stage. They will highlight flaws in your mix with ease. A great choice for beginner producers.
- Good Build Quality – Affordable monitors that will last. Solid build quality especially when you factor in the entry-level price.
- Noticeable Interference Issue – At low volumes, there is an audible hiss. This is due to interference from other electronic devices. Keep this in mind if you have a cramped studio space.
The Presonus Eris E5 is an excellent entry-level studio monitor. The 5.25-inch woofers deliver a satisfying low-end while retaining balance. Excellent tuning options with informative diagrams on the back help you to set these up in your studio. A budget alternative to more expensive options. Yet, they still maintain a good degree of flexibility and longevity.
Read our full Presonus Eris E5 review for more detailed information.
Presonus Eris E5
KRK Rokit 7 G4 Review
- Premium Quality – KRK has delivered an excellent level of build quality. Cutting corners is not something they do. This new generation continues that tradition of premium quality.
- Iconic Design – Some hate it but there is no denying the iconic appearance of KRK monitors. Distinct and eye-catching. The new generation offers a sleek and refined design.
- Advanced Tuning Options – Adjust to your studio easily with a wide range of tuning functions. Easy to navigate the LCD menu. Perfect for beginners.
- Excellent Balance – Satisfying response on all frequencies. Clarity and definition without too much colorization. A great option for producers.
- Premium Price – With high-quality comes a higher price. You do get what you pay for but a pair of these can quickly chew into a modest studio budget.
The KRK Rokit 7 G4 is another excellent option for beginners. The large 7-inch woofer delivers excellent low-end response. KRK studio monitors have been a favorite among producers for years. This new generation with improved styling and tuning functions is another hit. If you have room for bigger monitors and have a bit more to spend these should be on your list of choices.
KRK Rokit 7 G4
Presonus R65 Review
- Impressive Sonic Clarity – The definition these deliver is excellent. Mids and Highs are especially crisp and clear. The meaty 6.5-inch woofer delivers good bass response as well.
- Distinctive Design – Tired of all the various black boxes out there? These offer a distinct and unique look.
- Ideal for Electronic Instruments – Excellent clarity. These are perfect for keyboards and other instruments.
- Large Sweet Spot – The unfolded AMT diaphragm tweeter delivers a generous sweet spot. A big difference when compared with standard 1-inch tweeters.
- Not The Best Value – The R65 is expensive. When you compare with similarly priced speakers the value here is not ideal.
The Presonus R65 is unique in this list due to the unfolded AMT diaphragm design. This delivers a wide sweet spot and exceptionally accurate response. The balance between frequencies is also another strong component. While I find these underwhelming as a DJ/producer they are excellent for precise delivery of mids and highs.
JBL 306P MkII Review
- Detailed Soundstage – The 306P MkII has an impressive and broad sound stage. Excellent for filling a room with sound.
- Affordable – While a noticeable jump up in price form the 305P MkII these are still affordable. Excellent value for money.
- Good Shielding – This monitor handles external interference well. You can leave your phone around or other electronic devices without fear.
- Great At All Volumes – Impressive at high volume and equally so at low volumes. Excellent flexibility if you need to mix and master at variable output levels.
- Scratch and Fingerprint Magnet – The shiny exterior looks great but will quickly attract dust. Likewise, it is easy to get scratches on the surface.
The JBL 306P MkII is another excellent studio monitor. The response across frequencies is tight and well balanced. The broad sweet spot also makes these a good option for people that want to fill their studio with sound. They are also offered at a great price. A solid choice for beginners on a budget.
JBL 306P MkII
Presonus Eris E4.5 Review
- Nice Frequency Balance – While I prefer the E5 these still deliver a satisfying balance. The lows can be a little muddy but for general mixing and listening these are a huge step up from multimedia speakers.
- Budget Alternative – Coming as a pair these are outstanding value for money. Even better than speakers that are double the price.
- Attractive Design – I’m a big fan of the subtle design aesthetic. A smart looking monitor that can integrate cleanly into your studio setup.
- Compact Size – Speaking of integration the more compact size is great for smaller studios.
- Hum – Much like the E5 these can suffer from interference issues. Keep other electronics at a reasonable distance and you should be fine.
Presonus makes the list again with the Eris E4.5 model. While not as full-bodied as the Eris E5 it is still a great choice for beginners. This studio monitor is well suited to a smaller studio setup. Low and high-frequency adjustment is also available. An excellent budget option to the E5.
Read our full PreSonus Eris E4.5 review for more detailed information.
Presonus Eris E4.5
Mackie CR4-X Review
- High Value – The CR4-X is a budget-priced 4-inch studio monitor. Despite this, it still delivers on the sound front. A good upgrade over multimedia speakers.
- Stylish – The updated design retains the iconic Mackie green. More refined and professional looking than the previous generation. A statement piece for your studio.
- Front Panel Options – AUX option for headphone listening is a nice touch. Front-facing volume control is also very convenient.
- Position Select – Option to set which speaker is the primary. Adds flexibility to which side you want the volume control.
- Lacks Tuning – No way to adjust the output. At this price, it’s not a surprise but still worth mentioning.
The new generation Mackie CR4-X is a great choice for beginners with a slim budget. An attractive looking studio monitor that delivers a relatively flat response. But, these are not ideal for dedicated analytical listening. If you are looking for an upgrade from multimedia speakers these are great. You maintain some of the flexibility of those speakers but get to enjoy a flatter response.
Read our full Mackie CR4-X review for more detailed information.
Focal Audio SHAPE 65 Review
- Amazing Response – The Shape 65 delivers outstanding performance. Clear and balanced across all frequency ranges. Excellent clarity for analytical listening.
- Premium Engineering – This speaker sits in the upper realm of studio monitors. Complex and intelligent design for maximum performance. It is very heavy but with that comes outstanding durability.
- Detailed Tuning – Excellent suite of tuning options available. Very easy to get the most out of these monitors based on your specific studio arrangement.
- Good Sweet Spot – Less directional shift results in a broad sweet spot. This makes it easy to find a comfortable spot for your monitors.
- Very Expensive – We are talking about premium-grade studio monitors. As a result, these are exceptionally expensive.
The Focal Audio Shape 65 is an amazing sounding monitor. Detailed mids, crisp highs, and warm low end. There is not much to fault here except for the price tag. For beginners, this may be an unnecessary first step. But, if you have plenty to spend these will not disappoint. Great if you want to avoid the inevitable upgrade process from beginner to pro gear.
Focal Audio SHAPE 65
Edifier S1000DB Review
- Good Sound Quality – The S1000DB offers up a good balance in frequencies. The highs are not harsh and the mids are pleasant. The low end is smooth but a little underwhelming.
- Attractive Design – There is no denying these look great. An excellent option if you want to add a little more style to your setup.
- Remote Control – Convenient remote control. Great if you have intentions to use these beyond a studio environment.
- Bluetooth – Bluetooth connectivity adds some further flexibility. It can be a bit fiddly at times but still good to have.
- Not The Loudest – Despite the size the volume output may not be enough for some. If you have intentions of playing your music very loud I’d suggest looking at other options.
The Edifier S1000DB is a good hybrid speaker system. It offers up a relatively flat response while maintaining multimedia system functionality. I wouldn’t select these as my dedicated studio pair. But, as a secondary set of monitors to use for general listening these are great. Once you get used to flat response monitors you’ll want that sound everywhere in your house. This is where they shine.
Our Expert Buying Guide
Taking the plunge into studio monitors is challenging. There are many price points and big differences in quality. Here are some key things to consider when buying studio monitors.
Studio Monitors VS DJ Speakers
Before buying studio monitors it is important to understand what you are getting. There are many reviews out there complaining of the lack of “bass” in studio monitors. The primary purpose of studio monitors is to deliver a flat response often at the expense of colorized sound delivery. Studio monitors are also used in a near-field environment. You generally have to be within 1 meter of the speaker to find the sweet spot (though this varies between monitors)
Classic Hi-Fi systems color sound and place more emphasis on the low end. Studio monitors aim to deliver a neutral response that represents what the original recording sounded like. It can take a bit of getting used to if you’ve grown up on Hi-Fi systems.
For accurate and precise mixing and mastering, studio monitors are important. Using a Hi-Fi system you may not be able to hear all the fine details and adjust your mix accordingly. As a general rule of thumb if your latest creation sounds good on studio monitors it will sound good on other speaker systems.
Studio monitors are not used in a live performance setting. For this, you’ll need DJ speakers.
On the other side of the spectrum are DJ speakers. These are specifically designed for filling larger areas with sound. A balance between frequencies is less important here. Instead, a satisfying low end and good clarity take the spotlight. If you plan on playing gigs these PA style speakers are more suited to the task. I would not suggest using studio monitors as your performance gear.
Selecting A Size
One of the most prominent features of studio monitors is woofer size. Smaller woofers will struggle to deliver a smooth bass response. Larger woofers can handle the low end better but need to be well balanced with the other frequencies.
Your required volume also plays a role in determining a preferred size. Usually the bigger the speaker the more volume. But volume levels are also affected by the studio space and monitor placement. A bigger speaker will also give you more room to turn it up without pushing the speaker to its limits. This prevents wear and tear.
Larger woofers also result in larger cabinets. If you have a small studio space be mindful of where you’ll be placing the speakers. Many bigger studio monitors are heavy due to solid wood construction. You’ll want a stable and secure surface. Also factor in the possibility for speaker stands or isolation pads.
There are three primary connection types you’ll encounter.
RCA connections are widespread and you’ll likely already be familiar with the classic red and white cables. They are a flexible option that is widely supported by other hardware like DJ controllers. This connection type sends unbalanced signals. This makes them more prone to external interference.
TRS and XLR are the most common balanced audio connection types.
The other two options offer balanced signals. TRS is a very common connector that you’ll also be familiar with. The most common use is for headphones. These ¼ or ⅛ inch connectors are a great option for a balanced signal. Finally, the XLR connection is also popular among studio monitor manufacturers. These also send a balanced signal but offer clips to secure them in place. A good option to prevent unplugging your monitors by accident.
Balancing Budget and Value
When setting up your studio I would advise you to plan and budget accordingly. There are many parts of your studio space where you can still buy quality equipment without spending too much. This helps free up more of your budget for other gear.
Studio monitors are one of the most important parts of your studio. It is worth investing a little more to get better quality monitors. At the same time, there is room for value buying. There are plenty of affordable studio monitors that deliver excellent sound.
Finding the balance between quality and price is difficult. But, if in doubt always leave as much room in your budget for monitors. You won’t regret it the first time you listen to your favorite tracks and discover details you’ve never heard before.
Which One Should You Buy?
There are plenty of excellent choices available for people buying their first set of monitors. While the studio monitor market can be confusing a few options rise to the top.
For ease of use and excellent quality, you can’t go past the Yamaha HS7. An industry juggernaut that continues to provide fantastic gear. The sound quality is amazing and unmatched at that price point.
But if you are on a tighter budget the Pioneer DM-40 studio monitors are also a good option. A cheap stepping stone into the world of studio monitors. While not as balanced I’ve not heard anyone complain about a slightly meatier low end.
No matter which monitor you end up buying I’d like to welcome you to a whole new world of enjoying music!