Studio monitors are a fundamental part of any home studio setup. This guide breaks down a range of studio monitors that are ideally suited to beginners. Below are our top two choices but be sure to read on for a more detailed analysis and an expanded selection that might include a monitor that will suit your needs better.
A precise and accurate studio monitor with excellent tuning options from one of the world’s most respected audio brands.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
An affordable monitor with a balanced and neutral sound profile, comprehensive tuning, and a wide sweet spot.
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 additional fine-tuning to adapt to your space.
- On The Pricier Side – These are pushing the upper mid-tier price-wise. Excellent monitors, but they do 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 both build and sound quality excellence. 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.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Review
- Detailed And Accurate Sound – Excellent response across the full frequency range and ultra-accurate. A good choice for serious studio work.
- Easy To Understand Tuning – A series of dip switches gives you access to various settings. It also features an easy-to-understand guide printed on the back of the monitor.
- Good Price Point – Excellent value for money. High-quality sound and components without the big price tag of some other monitors.
- Excellent Spacial Fidelity – The waveguide generates a generous 3D soundstage. Excellent for pinpointing elements in a mix.
- Price Creep – The original LP-6 was cheaper than this new version. Despite the higher price, it’s still well worth the money.
Kali Audio has rapidly established a reputation for excellent studio monitors. The updated LP-6 V2 is part of their entry-level range of monitors. It offers fantastic sound quality that is very neutral. This monitor is an affordable option for new producers that want as much accuracy as possible without breaking the bank.
Read our full Kali Audio LP-6 V2 review for more detailed information.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
Neumann KH 120 II Review
- Supreme Accuracy – The KH 120 II offers impeccable sound quality that you can rely on. The detail is superb and there is excellent extension and accuracy across the full frequency range.
- Excellent Acoustic Controls – You’ll have access to a range of acoustic controls to help you adapt the monitor to your space.
- Built To Last – Premium quality materials and precision engineering from a brand that has an established reputation as one of the best audio gear manufacturers in the world.
- Compact Choice – The small footprint is ideal for smaller studio spaces where space is often at a premium.
- Expensive – These are expensive, which might deter beginners from giving them a go.
If you want the absolute best in sound quality, the Neumann KH 120 II should be at the top of your list of options. While I don’t often recommend spending this much if you are a beginner, I’m willing to make an exception for this monitor. A superb piece of gear that is worth the high price of entry.
Neumann KH 120 II
Pioneer DM-50D Review
- Flexible Output – The DM-50D includes a convenient switch between DJ mode and Production Mode. This allows you quick and easy customization depending on what you are using them for.
- Ultra Affordable – Coming in a pair, these are a bargain. If you are on a tight budget, these are among the best options available today.
- Loud – For only a 5-inch monitor, these can deliver impressive volume levels. These monitors 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.
- Limited Tuning Options – Beyond the switch, no further tuning options are available. Some producers may find this element limiting.
The Pioneer DM-50D is a great beginner set of studio monitors. At an attractive price, it’s an easy recommendation 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-50D review for more detailed information.
KRK Classic 7 Review
- Appropriate Neutrality – The KRK Classic 7 offers a neutral response with just the slightest hint of colorization. Neutral enough for day-to-day studio work without sounding boring and lifeless.
- Iconic Appearance – It’s hard to look past the iconic yellow woofer. It’s a mainstay of studios worldwide and injects personality into your studio space.
- Fantastic Build Quality – Tough MDG enclosure with excellent black vinyl wrapping that can take a beating. Component quality is also high with a Glass Aramid woofer and a Soft Dome tweeter.
- Good Connections – You’ll have full flexibility to connect various gear thanks to three connection options. Balanced 1/4-inch TRS, balanced XLR connection, and an unbalanced RCA option.
- Frustrating Standby – The power-saving feature can be annoying since it switches off when it detects no input and frustratingly low input. If you use these at low volume levels, expect them to shut off at inopportune moments.
While KRK continues to power forward with its modern ROKIT line, there is still a home for the streamlined and easy-to-use Classic series. This large and capable monitor is easy to set up, quick to tune and provides you with the accuracy you’ll need in a studio setting.
KRK Classic 7
Presonus Eris E7 XT 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.
- A Little Bright – The top end is a little sharp. Thankfully you can adjust the output via the tuning options, but out of the box, it can be a little too sharp for some people.
The Presonus Eris E7 XT is an excellent entry-level studio monitor. The 6.25-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 E7 XT review for more detailed information.
PreSonus Eris E7 XT
Presonus R65 V2 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 a good bass response as well.
- More Tuning Options – The second generation of R series monitors gives you further control over output. Plenty of flexibility to adjust to your studio space.
- 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 V2 is expensive. The value here is not ideal when you compare it with similarly priced speakers.
The Presonus R65 V2 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. These are excellent for precise delivery of mids and highs.
Read our full PreSonus R65 V2 review for more detailed information.
PreSonus R65 V2
JBL 306P MkII Review
- Detailed Soundstage – The 306P MkII has an impressive and broad soundstage. Excellent for filling a room with sound.
- Affordable – While a noticeable jump up in price from 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 volumes 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.
Read our full JBL 306P MkII review for more detailed information.
JBL 306P MkII
Tannoy Reveal 502 Review
- Impressive Sound Profile – For monitors in this price category, the Tannoy Reveal 502 gets a lot right. The balance between lows, mids, and highs is good, and neutrality is also better than you often get at this price.
- Clean Aesthetic – This is a professional-looking monitor while still offering some personality. The bulbous curvature is sleek and inviting, and this monitor can comfortably blend into a modern studio setting.
- Superb Value – The Reveal 502 represents excellent value for money. It might not be the cheapest, but within this price bracket, it is easily one of the most capable options.
- Broad Delivery – The sweet spot is wide and generous, allowing for easy placement within your studio space. It’s also a good choice if you work in tandem with a partner.
- Restrictive Tuning – The tuning functionality on the Reveal 502 is restricted to a simple high-frequency switch. You won’t have any control over low-frequency output, which could be a deal breaker for some.
The Tannoy Reveal 502 is an appealing choice due to its cost-to-performance ratio. Sound quality is well beyond what you often get at this price point, and the build quality is also very respectable. While it doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles, it is an attractive monitor that is worth considering if you don’t want to spend too much.
Tannoy Reveal 502
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
Behringer B1031A Review
- Good Value – The B1031A is another excellent value-for-money option. Reasonably priced while still giving you access to good sound quality.
- Very Loud – With the ability to hit 113dB, this speaker is loud enough to fill your studio space with sound. Lots of headroom to play with
- Overload Protection – Built-in overload protection helps keep your speaker safe.
- Tuning Options – Despite the budget price, you still get quality tuning options. Low-frequency, high-frequency, and room compensation help smooth out the output.
- Unbalanced Highs – Despite a decent balance, the B1031A doesn’t have the best-sounding highs. Slightly tinny and too sharp.
The Behringer B1031A is a budget alternative to more expensive speakers. Offering a solid set of features, it’s worth considering if you like your music loud. While not the best for analytical listening, it still offers a pleasant soundscape. With a design that is reminiscent of another popular speaker, it will also make a pronounced statement in your studio.
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, you must understand what you are getting. Many reviews out there complain 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.
Studio monitors are not used in a live performance setting. For this, you’ll need DJ speakers.
As a general rule of thumb, if your latest creation sounds good on studio monitors, it will sound good on other speaker systems.
On the other side of the spectrum are DJ speakers. These are specifically designed to fill larger areas with sound. A balance between frequencies is less important here. Instead, a satisfying low end and good clarity take the spotlight.
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 must 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 will place 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 of speaker stands or isolation pads as a way to increase stability and provide decoupling from surfaces.
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 feature 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 money 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.
Should I Turn Off My Studio Monitors Every Night?
It would be best if you switched off your monitors every night. It saves you money on your electricity bill, is good for the environment, and prolongs the life of your monitors.
Which One Should You Buy?
Plenty of excellent choices are 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 Kali Audio LP-6 V2 is also a good option. A cheaper stepping stone into the world of studio monitors while still retaining a high degree of quality.
No matter which monitor you buy, I’d like to welcome you to a new world of enjoying music!