Studio monitors are one of the most important parts of your home studio setup. Selecting the right monitors to meet your needs is not an easy task.
Many manufacturers create excellent products. Some have been around for decades while others are new contenders.
In this guide, we look at the best studio monitors available in the market today. From entry-level options to high-end choices in a range of categories.
Our Winners In Each Category
There is a staggering number of options when it comes to choosing studio monitors. But we’ve done all the hard work for you. Here are the top choices in some key categories, but you’ll find a more extensive summary and further options below.
Full Review Of The Top 13
Below you’ll find in-depth reviews for each monitor. There are several categories to explore. Plenty of high-quality choices are available so let’s dive into the details.
Presonus Eris E3.5 Review
- Affordable Price – Cheap yet still well constructed. Great for the budget-conscious home producer.
- Size – Excellent choice for production spaces where space is at a premium.
- Lightweight Speakers – At about 6.5 lbs (3kg), these are light enough to be placed on shelves if required.
- Balanced Output – They offer a flat frequency response. One of the best budget monitors for production work.
- Not Great For Larger Spaces – These 3.5-inch monitors will disappoint those who like loud output and want to fill a room with sound.
3.5-inch studio monitors tend to struggle to compete with larger studio monitors. The Eris E3.5 pair of studio monitors turn this perception on its head. It is a capable powered studio monitor that offers a very smooth and flat response.
At an aggressive price point, it’s among the best options for those starting out. The attractive design adds to the appeal. Matte finish coupled with distinct blue accents. At this price, it offers lots of value.
Read our full Presonus Eris E3.5 review for more detailed information.
Presonus Eris E3.5
Placing your studio monitors in the correct position will help to improve their performance. This can easily be achieved with a pair of stands or pads. Check out our guides for the best studio monitor stands and best studio monitor isolation pads to find out more.
JBL 305P MkII Review
- Broad Sound Stage – These sound great from a variety of angles. You won’t be limited to sitting directly in front of the speaker.
- Solid Low Frequencies – The thump is there for DJs and producers who like a more pronounced rumble. Bi-amp Class D amp design helps focus energy where needed.
- Useful Tuning Options – Effective options to adjust frequency cut-off points for accurate control. Especially useful for high-frequency output.
- Image Control Waveguide – Innovative technology from JBL that helps deliver an impressive stereo image within this price range.
- Balance Issues – Due to the increased emphasis on the lows, the overall balance is slightly off. Some slight tuning is required to get a flatter response.
The JBL 305p MkII is another excellent 5-inch 2-way design powered studio monitor. With the addition of Image Control Waveguide technology, it can also fill a room. The Class D amplifiers also do a good job of balancing output.
Balance is not as refined with a heftier bass response. For some, this will be a benefit, but for detailed studio work, you’ll need to do some tuning.
It has useful tuning options and impressive build quality. This makes them among the best studio monitors for DJs that want a heavier bass response.
Read our full JBL 305P MkII review for more detailed information.
JBL 305P MkII
Yamaha HS8 Review
- Fantastic Balance – As with all the HS series monitors, the balance is amazing. No emphasis on any specific frequency for accurate mastering.
- Powerful Bass – Low-frequency range is satisfying. Great for mixing and mastering bass-heavy music.
- Capable of Hanging – For a little more, you can pick up the install versions for mounting. A convenient option to free up space.
- Rugged – Yamaha doesn’t skimp on quality. Excellent materials and overall build quality.
- On The Pricier Side – Not the most affordable powered studio monitor for your home studio. If you need to stretch your budget, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The HS8 two-way bass-reflex monitor completes the range of excellent speakers from Yamaha. The ultra-flat response is a producer’s dream. Clean definition in the highs, smooth mids, and warm bass frequencies that are not boomy.
Low ear fatigue is perfect for producers that spend hours in the studio. When you factor in the excellent build quality, you have a monitor that will stand the test of time.
An excellent choice for a dedicated production studio where accuracy is paramount.
Read our full Yamaha HS8 review for more detailed information.
Yamaha HS7 Review
- Great Build Quality – Excellent materials and solid construction. A monitor that will last the distance.
- Clean Sound Profile – Flat frequency response for accurate mixing and mastering. Excellent dynamic range.
- Professional Design – Attractive and refined design that will suit both hobby and pro-level studio spaces.
- Excellent Tuning Options – Room control and high trim effectively adjust the output for your space.
- Narrow Sweetspot – The HS7 is a near-field monitor that doesn’t sound great outside of the narrow sweet spot.
Yamaha has an excellent reputation for powered studio monitors, and for good reason. They consistently deliver outstanding products. So much so that three of their monitors have made this list.
The Yamaha HS7 is a high-quality studio monitor that delivers outstanding audio quality thanks to the bi-amp design. It has a precise response across all frequencies and offers a balanced sound. No frequency takes the limelight.
While a little expensive compared to similar monitors, it is one of the best studio monitors currently available.
Read our full Yamaha HS7 review for more detailed information.
JBL One Series 104 Review
- Satisfying Sound – Smooth and even sound that retains a good level of neutrality for studio work.
- Compact Form Factor – Small space-saving design makes it easy to squeeze these into tight spaces.
- Loud Output – With a Max SPL of 104dB these get quite loud considering their diminutive footprint.
- Connection Flexibility – Access to balanced and unbalanced connections, a headphone port, and AUX.
- Rear Facing Port – For a desktop-focused monitor, I would have preferred a forward-facing port to minimize the bass build-up from walls.
The JBL One Series 104 is a superb choice if you have a small desk that struggles to accommodate larger monitors. The sound quality is fantastic though it does perform better at louder volume levels. At lower levels, the balance is a little off.
The build quality is also excellent, with a robust plastic cabinet and protective grilles for the drivers. The price point is also very approachable, offering a perfect balance between performance and cost.
These make an excellent alternative to computer speakers and are worth picking up for a small studio space.
Read our full JBL One Series 104 review for more detailed information.
JBL One Series 104
Mackie CR3-X Review
- Loud Output – For 3-inch woofers, these can get quite loud without too much distortion.
- Unique Design – Striking green design sets a statement and is a great alternative to other bland-looking monitors.
- Aggressive Price – One of the best studio monitors available at this price point. A cheap pair of monitors for new producers.
- Headphone Jack – Convenient headphone jack located at the front. Great for those that want to juggle between headphones and speakers.
- Build Quality – A very cheap price does result in a drop in build quality. Not the longest-lasting monitors available.
Mackie has a great range of entry-level active monitors. They offer producers an affordable and feature-packed option.
The Mackie CR3-X is a 3-inch monitor with a unique and striking design. Extra functionality takes these beyond other options at this size. The front AUX port allows for easy connection of media devices. The ability to toggle which speaker is the primary is also another benefit.
If you are looking for 3-inch speakers on a budget, these are one of the best studio monitors in this price range.
Read our full Mackie CR3-X review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DM-40D Review
- Budget Priced Speakers – Affordable price point for beginners that need to spread their budget.
- Output Flexibility – Offers two output modes. DJ and Production. A quick, simple, and effective way to adjust output based on what you are using them for.
- Satisfying Bass – The more pronounced low-frequency response will satisfy DJs that play bass-heavy music.
- Clear Sound Output – Even at higher volumes the sound output is clear and crisp.
- Not The Best Balance – Despite the Production mode the overall balance still leans heavier towards the lower-end. Not ideal for analytical listening.
Pioneer holds a commanding dominance in the pro DJ gear market. While they are not as well known in the studio monitor space, they still offer some great choices for producers. The DM-40D is a studio monitor that has been designed with DJing in mind.
The Pioneer DM-40D is an affordably priced entry-level studio monitor. Unfortunately, it isn’t as flat as other monitors, so it isn’t the best for precise analytical listening. But it does offer a forward-facing headphone port for added flexibility.
Available in both black and white, it’s an excellent starting point. Especially for DJs looking for a studio monitor to connect to their DJ controller.
Read our full Pioneer DM-40D review for more detailed information.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Review
- Accurate Monitors – The frequency response is accurate and reliably flat. A good choice for mixing and mastering.
- Smooth Audio Delivery – Excellent performance at all volume levels with no distortion or sonic issues.
- Enticing Price – An approachable price point while maintaining high quality. Good choice for setting up a studio cheaply.
- Low Noise Port – The forward-facing bass port does chuff or impact sound quality in any way.
- Fiddly Switches – Extensive tuning options are fantastic but the small switches are a little fiddly.
Kali Audio burst onto the scene a few years ago with a fantastic range of studio monitors. The 6-inch LP-6 V2 is a refreshed and updated model that will appeal to savvy buyers that don’t want to spend too much but still demand accuracy.
Comprehensive tuning options ensure this monitor can adapt to your studio space, and the forward-facing port makes it a great choice for smaller spaces.
An excellent all-rounder that punches well above its price point.
Read our full Kali Audio LP-6 V2 review for more detailed information.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
ADAM Audio T7V Review
- Transparent Audio – The T7V is accurate and balanced across all frequencies with a high level of detail.
- Superb Highs – The U-ART tweeter delivers an exceptionally detailed high-frequency response.
- Professional Design – The build quality is excellent and the modern and restrained design will fit into any professional studio with ease.
- Good Value – Outstanding quality in both sound and build at a price point that is very reasonable.
- A Little Sharp – For some people the high frequencies from a ribbon tweeter can seem a bit harsh.
ADAM Audio is another reputable brand consistently delivers high-quality products for professional settings. The entry-level T7V has all the qualities I expect from a quality monitor. A fantastic sound that is clear, precise, and balanced.
Balanced and unbalanced connections are available along with some tuning options for both high and low frequencies but the rear-facing bass port could prove problematic if up against a wall.
At this price point, this is one of the best-value 7-inch monitors on the market.
Read our full ADAM Audio T7V review for more detailed information.
ADAM Audio T7V
PreSonus Eris E5 Review
- Loud And Clear – Powerful output that tops out at 102 dB. The audio quality is also clear without distortion.
- Input Flexibility – You’ll have access to balanced XLR and TRS along with an unbalanced RCA input. Excellent flexibility to connect various gear.
- High Build Quality – Despite a very low price point the build quality is fantastic. Tough cabinet and excellent components.
- Smooth Front Port – The forward-facing port ensures you don’t have to worry about bass build-up. The bass is also smooth and not muddy.
- Slight Imbalance – Fantastic midrange, but the highs are slightly brittle, and the lows could be warmer. Fairly neutral, but there are more refined options out there.
The PreSonus Eris E5 is an affordable studio monitor with a lot going for it. The balance between price and quality is excellent and the sound quality is leagues above what you would expect at this price point.
It might not be the most balanced of monitors, but it is neutral enough to be a viable option for studio work. The onboard tuning options can help address some issues and bring it closer to flat, but out of the box, don’t expect perfection.
While not perfect, there is little to fault when considering the low price point. A highly capable front-ported monitor.
Read our full PreSonus Eris E5 review for more detailed information.
Presonus Eris E5
Edifier R1280DB Review
- Hybrid Design – With a range of connection options, this pair of speakers is well suited to pull double duty. Use it for your home entertainment system or for the studio.
- Good Sound Quality – At standard volumes, these perform well and deliver a good listening experience.
- Bluetooth – Added flexibility to directly stream music to your speakers is a bonus.
- Remote Control – Speaking of its dual-use mentality, the added remote is a convenient way to control output.
- Distortion Issues – At higher volumes, these do struggle. Distortion starts to creep in, especially in the high-frequency spectrum.
- Poor Balance – Balance is not ideal due to its more colored sound output.
The Edifier R1280DB steps away from the traditional expectation of monitors. It’s an attractive set of speakers that are well suited to both the studio and your general music needs. The sound is flat but not as precise as other monitors available.
Bluetooth connectivity and conveniently placed tuning options make it a flexible choice. Where it does suffer is at louder volumes. Distortion is a problem if you push these to their limit.
But they are one of the best studio monitors for your entertainment needs and studio work.
Read our full Edifier R1280DB review for more detailed information.
KRK ROKIT 10-3 G4 Review
- Superb Midrange – Thanks to the additional driver you’ll experience a smooth and inviting midrange that is a joy to listen to.
- Detailed Tuning Options – Extensive customization thanks to the onboard DSP. Also, full control via an App for extra convenience.
- High Volume Ceiling – With a max SPL of 112 dB these deliver loud and clear output that is perfect for DJ practice sessions.
- Iconic Design – The legendary combination of a black cabinet with yellow woofers is instantly recognizable and attractive.
- Large Footprint – This 10-inch studio monitor is both large and heavy. Ensure you have enough space for it.
Studio monitors can be a little underwhelming for DJing practice sessions due to the flatter response and lower volume levels. The ROKIT 10-3 G4 resolves all these issues with a bombastic output that still retains good accuracy.
With extensive tuning flexibility, it is easy to sculpt the output to suit different applications. Bump up the bass when DJing, but also have the capacity to level things out when you want to get down to some serious studio work.
If you want an engaging and fun monitor that packs a punch, the ROKIT 10-3 G4 should be on your list of options.
KRK ROKIT 10-3 G4
Genelec 8331 Review
- Impeccable Sound – Genelec is among the best in the business. This monitor offers near-flawless sound with high accuracy and neutrality.
- Wide Dispersion – The unique three-way design offers wide and even dispersion with focused directivity.
- Superb Dimensionality – Stereo imaging is outstanding, with excellent depth and detail.
- Ingenious Design – The configuration of the drivers grants the 8331 a compact form factor that is far less bulky than other 3-way monitors.
- Very High Price Point – Premium quality and supreme engineering result in a hefty and eye-watering price tag.
For serious studio work, you need a seriously capable monitor and the Genelec 8331 is among the absolute best. A sublime sound profile that is both accurate and engaging with no fatigue over longer sessions.
The build quality is also excellent, as you would expect from a monitor at this price point. Tuning flexibility ensures you can adapt to any environment. A superb monitor that is best suited for a professional studio space, whether that is commercial or at home.
A lovingly engineered monitor that is unmatched in the industry. While it is expensive the quality is undeniable.
Read our full Genelec 8331 review for more detailed information.
Things To Consider Before Purchasing
Selecting monitors for your studio is difficult. There are many things you need to consider. Spending some time assessing your needs goes a long way to ensure you get the right monitors for your needs. Below you’ll find some of the most critical things to factor in when selecting monitors.
What Size Is The Best?
Active studio monitors come in a variety of sizes. They typically range from 3 inches up to 8 inches.
Studio monitors with 4-inch woofers and lower will deliver less volume. It also results in a less pronounced low-end. These monitors will also generally be quieter than bigger monitors. Larger monitors give you greater depth in lower frequencies.
Understanding your needs plays a big role here. It can influence what size is best for you. Items like studio size and table size will narrow your options.
Bigger isn’t always better. Just because a studio monitor is large doesn’t mean it is well-balanced.
How Does Studio Size Impact Your Choices?
This is where studio size also comes into the equation. Large monitors will not only take up a lot of space but may also be too overbearing for your studio. It is important to pick a size that is appropriate for your studio space.
Some home studios don’t require large monitors to fill the space with sound.
Most monitors operate best in the near field. This is generally about 1 meter (3-4ft) from where you are sitting. This is also why they are commonly referred to as reference monitors.
Because of this, you don’t need to have a massive monitor. But if you want to fill your studio space with sound, a larger monitor has a greater chance of achieving this.
It’s also worth considering the amount of space you’ll need for your desktop computer or laptop. Where possible, try to prevent vibrations that will impact your other hardware, as this can lead to causing issues with your computer or laptop.
Do You Want To Add A Subwoofer?
Adding a subwoofer to your studio is an excellent addition. The low-end response is smoother and places less strain on your primary monitors. In the end, everything ends up sounding more balanced and even.
This is where a combination of 4-inch or lower-sized monitors and a subwoofer may be a better choice than large monitors.
For lovers of bass or if you produce bass-heavy music, it’s a worthwhile investment. But before you go handing over your money it’s important to check that your speakers can support a subwoofer.
Ideally, you’ll want some tuning options too. I also suggest exploring acoustic treatment options like diffusion panels and bass traps to balance your acoustic space.
Do You Need Tuning Options?
Having access to tuning options opens up the flexibility to adjust the output. A studio monitor can sound great in one location but horrible in another.
Factors like sound refraction, dampening materials, and monitor placement all impact sound quality.
No studio monitors can handle all studio types. This is where tuning options shine. You can adjust output to handle the nuances of your personal space.
You can lower the high end if they sound harsh in your studio. Likewise, you can tweak the low-frequency levels. This becomes especially important if you incorporate a subwoofer into your setup.
A monitor with a good selection of tuning options is more likely to be able to adapt to your needs. Even as your studio space changes.
What Connection Options Are Available?
Connectivity is quite the buzzword in today’s modern world. But when it comes to studio monitors, it’s very important. How you plan to connect your speakers can play a big role in output.
XLR is a popular balanced connection type since it offers clips to secure the cable.
Unbalanced RCA connections can suffer from external electronic interference. Balanced options like TRS or XLR are good to have. Extras like Bluetooth are a bonus but not a necessity.
Details like cable quality and length also play a role here. Some speakers don’t come with the best cables, so you may need to invest in upgrading them.
How Much Do You Have To Spend?
Above all else, your budget will be a big factor. Price points vary greatly. Entry-level options are an affordable way to experience a flatter response. But from there, the price can quickly skyrocket as you push into the realm of professional gear.
While it can be tempting to skimp on monitors, it’s among the few areas I suggest you invest in. A good set of monitors can last you a long time. Having to upgrade within a few years can add up quickly. As with a lot in life, you get what you pay for.
This is also why I like to recommend powered monitors over passive monitors. You don’t need to invest in Amps. This reduces compatibility issues and the risk of blowing your speakers.
What Are Studio Monitors?
Studio monitors are speakers that aim to deliver an accurate representation of the recorded material. Unlike Hi-Fi systems, they do not adjust the output. As a result, they are perfectly suited to music artists and sound engineers.
Are Monitor Speakers Good For Listening To Music?
Studio monitors are great for listening to music. They are ideal if you enjoy hearing recordings without alterations or like to listen for hidden details. Perfect for Audiophiles.
Which One Should You Buy?
Sound is as subjective as art. What sounds good to one person may sound rubbish to another. This is where it is difficult to declare an outright best studio monitor. There are so many variables at play.
I’ve highlighted the PreSonus Eris E3.5 as an excellent compact and affordable entry-level option, but it will not be the right choice for everyone. The JBL 305P MkII is another worthy option if you want something a little meatier.
With that said every monitor on this list is one I can recommend. Budget options for those buying their first set to more substantial choices for seasoned professionals.
Plenty of audiophiles out there will be quick to point out the flaws in certain monitors. And while they often make valid points for most people, the differences are minor. And in some cases, indistinguishable.
No matter what monitor you buy, you’ll be in for an exciting time. Experiencing music that is as close to how it sounded in the studio is an eye (or should I say ear) opening experience. This an experience I recommend to anyone with a passion for music.
Presonus Eris E3.5