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The 10 Best Small Studio Monitors In [2020] - Home DJ Studio

Best Small Studio Monitors : 2020 Review

Comparing and figuring out what the best small studio monitors are can be a daunting task. In this review, we’ve done all the research for you and highly recommend the Presonus Eris E3.5.

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More than ever before musicians and producers are working and creating from home. With smaller studio space comes the need for quality studio monitors that don’t take up a lot of space.

The Best Compact Studio Monitors

Below are our picks of the ten best studio monitors that are on the smaller side. From budget-minded options to more professional gear you’re sure to find a small monitor to suit your needs.

Presonus Eris E3.5 Review (4.8/5)

Woofer Size: 3.5″ | Tweeter Size: 1″
Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20kHz
Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ TRS, 1 x Dual RCA Stereo, 1 x 1/8″ (aux in)
Size (W/H/D): 5.6″ – 8.3″ – 6.4″ | Weight: 6.4 lbs. (pair)

Pros

  • Impressive Sound – The Eris E3.5 offers excellent sound quality. Flat across all frequencies with no colorization. A great choice for mixing and mastering if you need small speakers.
  • Clean Design – Subtle and stylish. A beautiful matte finish with slight blue accents makes these an attractive addition to any studio space.
  • Not Heavy – At just 6.4 lbs these speakers are light enough for placement on bookshelves. Easy to move around and they’ll sit comfortably on isolation pads.
  • Affordable Price – These speakers deliver excellent value for money. Perfect if you don’t want to spend hundreds on a small set of speakers.

Cons

  • Small Sweet Spot – Placement is crucial with these speakers. The small sweet spot might not be ideal if you don’t have the room to position them accordingly.

The Presonus Eris E3.5 studio monitors are an excellent small set of speakers for your home studio. Accurate and satisfying balance across frequencies. The low end is a little soft but for mixing and monitoring, you want a flat response. An excellent option for beginners or seasoned professionals. If you’re looking for a lightweight and compact set of studio monitors these should be on your list.

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Mackie CR3 Review (4.7/5)

Woofer Size: 3″ | Tweeter Size: 0.75″
Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20kHz (-3)
Inputs: 1 x 1/8″ (AUX), 2 x 1/4″, 1 x Dual RCA Stereo
Size (W/H/D): 5.5″ – 8.2″ – 6.2″ | Weight: 9.4 lbs. (pair)

Pros

  • Budget Option – The Mackie CR3 studio monitors are one of the cheapest studio monitors available. If you have a whole small studio to kit out they are a great budget alternative to more expensive monitors.
  • Loud Despite The Size – For a 3-inch woofer these little speakers deliver in volume. Distortion is minimal at higher volumes which is hard to come by for speakers of this size.
  • Included Isolation Pads – An often overlooked accessory that can make a huge difference to your sound quality. They help prevent vibrations and encourages clean and smooth sound.
  • Front AUX Input – You can plug in your media device directly into the front of the main speaker. A great option for general listening.

Cons

  • Average Build Quality – At this price, I don’t expect high-end components. But it is worth mentioning that these are not the most hard-wearing speakers.

It’s hard not to consider the Mackie CR3 studio monitors when looking at small speakers. With a small 3-inch woofer they still offer good sound quality and volume. The green aesthetic may not be to everyone’s liking but they are certainly eye-catching. At such a low price they provide good value for money, even if they won’t last you a lifetime.

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>> FULL MACKIE CR3 REVIEW <<

Pioneer DM-40 Review (4.7/5)

Woofer Size: 4” | Tweeter Size: 0.75” 
Frequency Response: 70Hz – 30kHz
Inputs: 1 x Dual RCA Stereo, 1 x ⅛”
Size (W/H/D): 5.75” – 8.94” – 8.78” | Weight: 10.8 lbs (pair)

Pros

  • Heaps of Volume – The Pioneer DM-40 active monitor speakers pack a serious punch. Plenty of loudness without distortion to fill a good-sized studio space.
  • Satisfying Low End – The low-end is meaty. While they don’t have the depth of more expensive speakers they are a good option for DJs looking for extra oomph in a small speaker form factor.
  • Solid Build Quality – Quality wood cabinet provides good durability. Well crafted with good components. They come with a 1-year warranty if you happen to get a dud set.
  • Good Price Point – Considering the quality components these speakers are still very well priced. An excellent choice for beginners that want to stretch their studio budget.

Cons

  • No Tuning Options – These speakers don’t offer any options for adjusting the sound. While they sound great out of the box it would have been good to see at least Bass and Treble control.

The Pioneer DM-40 monitor speakers are a popular choice among DJs. Often included with beginner DJ equipment packages. It makes sense when you factor in the nice low end and high volume tolerance. Available in both black and white so you can match it to your studio decor. If you are a DJ these should be on your shortlist of options.

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Edifier R1850DB Review (4.6/5)

Woofer Size: 4″ | Tweeter Size: 0.75″
Frequency Response: 60Hz – 20kHz
Inputs: 2 x Dual RCA, Optical, Coaxial, Sub Out
Size (W/H/D): 6.1″ x 10″ x 8.8″ | Weight: 16.8 lbs (pair)

Pros

  • Flexible Connection Options – The R1850DB gives you plenty of choices in how you want to connect them. Excellent if you have a certain type of setup in mind.
  • Excellent Clarity – Sound quality is impressive. Highs are clean without any harshness. Mids are crisp with no muddy tones. The low end is satisfying but needs a sub for extra thump.
  • Long Warranty – An included 2-year warranty shows that Edifier believes in the build quality of these speakers. 
  • Added Remote Control – Tuning options are available at the rear but can be awkward to adjust. Luckily the included remote alleviates this problem.

Cons

  • Not The Flattest Response – While excellent as allrounders the R1850DB speakers start to push into the hi-fi style of sound. Not ideal if you plan on mixing and mastering music.

The Edifier R1850DB speakers offer an impressive number of features at a very good price. These are ideal if you are looking for a jack of all trades set of speakers. Excellent as computer speakers or as part of a compact home audio setup for your TV. Great sound quality sets these apart from other options. Worth considering if you don’t plan on using these for mastering your latest music creation.

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M-Audio AV32 Review (4.5/5)

Woofer Size: 3″ | Tweeter Size: 1″
Frequency Response: 80Hz-20kHz
Inputs: 2 x Stereo (RCA), 1 x 1/8″
Size (W/H/D): 5.1″ x 7.5″ x 6.1″ | Weight: 5.6 lbs (pair)

Pros

  • Pleasing Sound – For a 3-inch speaker the AV32 studio monitors offer a satisfying listening experience. No ear fatigue after several hours of listening. As with many 3-inch speakers, the low end is a little light.
  • AUX Input Option – Always good to see a front AUX input for an instant connection to external media devices. In a world of smartphones and Spotify, it’s a nice addition.
  • Decent Build Quality – While not as great as the M-Audio of yesteryear these speakers are still well built. But as with all speakers keep an eye on volume so you don’t blow them.
  • Compact – At just 5.6 lbs they are lightweight and easy to maneuver. A good choice for your computer setup as they won’t take up a great deal of space.

Cons

  • Rear Power Button – One minor gripe is the location of the power button. You can experience a slight hum when not playing anything. It would have been good to be able to turn these off without having to reach around the back.

M-Audio is no stranger to the audio game and their experience shines through here. The AV32 studio monitors provide clean sound quality in a compact and lightweight package. Easy to set up and use makes these a good option for beginners. Despite a few interesting design decisions like the power button placement they are still worth considering.

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IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Review (4.5/5)

Woofer Size: 3″ | Tweeter Size: 0.75″
Frequency Response: 45Hz – 22kHz (-10)
Inputs: 1 x Stereo (RCA), 1 x 1/8″ (AUX)
Size (W/H/D): 3.54″ x 7.09″ x 5.31″ | Weight: 3.79 lbs (pair)

Pros

  • Extremely Compact – If you need studio monitors but don’t like the space they take up these are for you. Super lightweight with a slim profile. Easy to find a natural spot for these.
  • Flat Response – Despite the small size, the sound quality is outstanding. A great balance between the frequencies making them excellent for production work.
  • EQ Options – Extra flexibility with EQ settings available. You can adjust both High and Low frequencies to accommodate your studio space.
  • Bluetooth Capable – Stream music from your device. This adds versatility beyond just using these as reference monitors.

Cons

  • Not Budget-Friendly – While the quality is excellent the price is high. If you want to stretch your budget you’ll need to look at other options.

The IK Multimedia iLoud Micro is the smallest and lightest studio monitor available on this list. An attractive set of speakers that deliver in both sound quality and loudness. Compact design is ideal for those that don’t want their reference monitors to dominate the desk. An expensive option but one that is worth the money.

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Focal Audio SHAPE 40 Review (4.4/5)

Woofer Size: 4″ | Tweeter Size: 1″
Frequency Response: 60Hz – 35kHz (-3)
Inputs: 1 x Stereo (RCA), 1 x XLR
Size (W/H/D): 6.3″ x 10.1″ x 7.9″ | Weight: 16.1 lbs (pair)

Pros

  • Accurate and Clear – Once you break these in these speakers sound amazing. Clarity is very impressive and more importantly, they are super accurate. Perfect for mixing and mastering.
  • Great Tuning Options – Tweaking your speakers to accommodate your studio space is critical. Plenty of flexibility here to achieve that.
  • Excellent In Small Studios – Having speakers close to you often leads to issues with sound quality. These are specifically designed with small studios in mind. Fantastic near field listening experience.
  • Premium Quality – From the wood cabinet to the glass-fiber speaker, the quality is present. Great if you prefer to spend more from the outset and have a set of speakers that will last.

Cons

  • Expensive – While these speakers sound amazing the price is a little high for what you get. You can get a reasonably similar level of quality from cheaper speakers.

The Focal Audio Shape 40 studio monitors are another premium-priced option available. While still more affordable than professional studio gear they are still expensive. If you are serious about your music studio it’s worth looking into these. Excellent sound quality and premium grade materials set these apart from other monitors on this list.

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Mackie CR4 Review (4.3/5)

Woofer Size: 4″ | Tweeter Size: 0.75″
Frequency Response: 70Hz – 20kHz (-3dB)
Inputs: 1 x Dual RCA Stereo, 2 x 1/4″
Size (W/H/D): 12.5″ x 16.3″ x 9.5″ | Weight: 12 lbs. (pair)

Pros

  • Good Sound Quality – The soundscape on the Mackie CR4 monitors is well centered. The High’s are nice but not as clean as the Mids. The Low end is meaty enough without sounding boomy.
  • Different Design – The sci-fi feeling edge these provide will be appealing to some. They certainly add color to what may otherwise be a bland work surface.
  • Loud – Volume level on these speakers is also good. Distortion is also not an issue at higher volumes which can be a problem with other small monitors.
  • Value For Money – It’s hard to fault these when you factor in the price point. A cheap 4-inch option that is great for the budget-conscious.

Cons

  • Quality Issues – Unfortunately these speakers will not last a long time. Expect to get a few years out of them before you’ll need to look at an upgrade.

The CR4 is the 4-inch version of Mackie’s entry-level range of studio monitors. Attractive design coupled with solid performance. But, the build quality isn’t the best. But what you do get is a great sounding speaker for an aggressively low price. Excellent for a beginner on a budget that wants a clear and flat monitor to begin their mixing journey with.

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M-Audio AV42 Review (4.3/5)

Woofer Size: 4″ | Tweeter Size: 1″
Frequency Response: 75Hz – 20kHz
Inputs: 1 x Stereo (RCA), 1 x 1/8″
Size (W/H/D): 5.7″ – 8.4″ – 7.4″ | Weight: 7.8 lbs. (pair)

Pros

  • Full-Bodied Sound – Listening experience is pleasant. Mids and Highs are the standout elements. The Lows are also nice to round out the experience.
  • Performs Well At Loud Volumes – These seem to sound better the louder they are. If you like your music loud these will satisfy.
  • Budget-Minded Price Point – M-Audio has kept things simple. They’ve managed to offer an affordable entry-level speaker that doesn’t break the bank. 
  • Light – The previous iteration of this speaker was a lot heavier and did run hotter. A good improvement on this front.

Cons

  • Disappointing For Critical Listening – Despite the rich sound, the balance between frequencies is not ideal. Some EQ options would have been good here.

Another affordable option from M-Audio. Take all the positives I mentioned for the AV32’s and bring them to a 4-inch model. With a minimal increase in the price point, you get a little more oomph to handle the low end. While a sub would still be ideal these speakers are easy to listen to. Even if they are not as accurate as other studio monitors.

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Samson MediaOne BT3 Review (4.2/5)

Woofer Size: 3″ | Tweeter Size: 1″
Frequency Response: 80Hz – 27kHz
Inputs: 1 x Stereo (RCA), 1 x 1/8″ (AUX)
Size (W/H/D): 7.55″ x 10.47″ x 7.83″ | Weight: 11.44 lbs (pair)

Pros

  • Good Clarity – For a small studio monitor the MediaOne BT3 performs well to deliver clear and crisp sound. Excellent for spotting details in your mix.
  • Long Bluetooth Range – Robust Bluetooth that extends beyond the usual 30ft range. Excellent for streaming your favorite music. 
  • Cheap – Super affordable price point makes these an attractive option for people on a budget. Despite the low price build quality is good.

Cons

  • Not Very Balanced – While very clear the balance between the frequencies is underwhelming. Not great for using as your primary monitors for mastering.
  • Soft Low End – As is often the case with 3-inch monitors the low end is lacking. If you like a meatier low end I’d suggest looking at other options.

The Samson MediaOne BT3 is a well constructed and clear sounding studio monitor. The emphasis here seems to be more on multimedia and general listening purposes. Excellent Bluetooth makes these a great candidate for replacing generic computer speakers. But, for professional mixing and mastering, they do fall short.

>> CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON <<

Picking The Perfect Small Studio Monitors

When you are looking at buying small studio monitors there are some key things that you need to consider. Below are some points to check before selecting your speakers.

Dimensions

The first thing to consider is the physical dimensions of the speakers. If you are after compact monitors the differences between a 3-inch and a 4-inch monitor are substantial.

Before selecting monitors stakes some time to measure out the space that you plan to place them in. Visualize how they will look in the broader scheme of your studio area.

You may also want to consider monitor stands and isolation pads as accessories. This can add to the footprint so keep this in mind when measuring out your space.

Even if you have a small space there are some fantastic compact monitors available. 

Phot of different sized studio monitors

Choosing the right size studio monitors is an important part of setting up your studio.

Weight

The other crucial component to factor in is the weight of the speakers. There can be a big difference between various models.

If you plan on having the speakers placed on your desk you can accommodate heavier speakers. But, if you want to place them on bookshelves it’s worth aiming to get light speakers. This will reduce pressure on your shelf. Especially if you have floating shelves installed that can only handle a certain amount of weight.

While I always recommend isolation pads they become even more important if you place speakers on shelves. The vibrations can begin to move your speaker and you run the risk of them falling off. Isolation pads will disperse vibrations and keep your monitors secure. Likewise, monitor stands are a good option to prevent speakers from falling.

Studio Space

Understanding your studio space is also important when selecting small monitors. Take some time to assess what you need from your speakers.

If you have a large area you may want more versatile monitors. Flexibility to move them around along with tuning options are ideal.

Tuning options allow you to adjust the output based on your space. For example, you can minimize low-end output for smaller spaces to prevent sound refraction.

If your main need is for near-field monitoring the size of the space becomes less important. Placement of the speakers comes to the fore in these situations.

Adding A Subwoofer

Another item to consider is if you want to add a subwoofer to your setup. Small monitors tend to have a softer low-end. If you want a fuller bass response you’ll need to look at adding a subwoofer to your setup.

Close up photo of a subwoofer.

Adding a subwoofer to your home studio can enhance your experience.

You can look at this further down the line but it is worth considering before buying speakers. Once again assess the available space you have to work with and where you may find room for a sizable subwoofer.

When adding a subwoofer it is ideal to have speakers that have some tuning options. The sound dynamics will change so having access to tweak output will give you a better result.

Does Size Matter?

One thing I’d like to cover is if are you missing out by buying smaller monitors. In one way you will but in other ways, you won’t.

There is no denying you get a better result from larger monitors. The bigger woofers fill out low-end response better and you often also gain access to louder volume ranges. Distortion with smaller speakers is not uncommon if you push the volume.

But, big monitors can be overkill for a small studio space. If you plan on near field monitoring at reasonable volumes you won’t need big speakers. Moving down to smaller monitors saves you money. In some cases, you may be able to invest in higher quality speakers because the smaller monitors are cheaper.

As with any purchase for your studio having an understanding of you needs is critical to making the right choice.

The Best Near Field Studio Monitors

There are several excellent options available in the small studio monitor market. If you are looking for excellent monitoring speakers on the smaller side the Presonus Eris E3.5 is our choice. They are affordable, attractive, and most importantly deliver a nice flat response.

>> CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON <<

But if you do need to stretch your budget further the Mackie CR3’s are a close second. While not the best-built speaker the value for money is excellent.

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Patryk Biernacki

Patryk Biernacki

For over 20 years I've been involved in the world of DJing. Now I want to share my experience so that DJing is more accessible for anyone with a passion for music.

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