The Best Studio Monitors - All Prices Up To $1000

Studio Monitor

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Good studio monitors not only enable you to hear your mixes with a more neutral frequency response, they also help you perceive space. With a proper speaker setup, you can perceive panning and volume changes in a "space" in front of you. This makes mixing faster and easier.

Studio monitors also help your mix translate better across different systems. While proper referencing is still required during the mastering phase, making sure your tracks are properly balanced during mixing helps make the phase faster.

Speakers that are too large or too small for your mix room might also affect your perception of your music. Selecting the right size is crucial for treading the balance between minimizing errant frequencies and having the right amount of low end punch.

For this July 2022 Edition our rankings are based on more than 42,800 rating sources - a 21% increase over the previous Edition.

The Best Studio Monitors

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

The Best Cheap Studio Monitors Under $100

It's rare to see a sub $100 monitor to get high scores. Not only is the following entry affordable, but it also comes in a pair. This makes it great as a first pair of monitors for a fledgling studio.

NB: The street price listed below is for a pair of monitors.

PreSonus Eris E3.5 (Pair)

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 16400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
PreSonus Eris E3.5 3.5" Powered Studio Monitors
At publication time these were the Highest Rated Studio Monitors Under $100.

Cons

  • Cheap build
  • Low end lacking

Pros

  • Surprisingly good sound for critical listening
  • Great treble response
  • Portable
  • Tight bass

The PreSonus Eris E3.5 is a value priced studio monitor pair designed for reference and critical listening. Unlike most speakers in this price range, the tuning of the E3.5 has a more neutral response with a great transient response thanks to its kevlar LF Driver.

The HF driver is a standard size 1" tweeter as opposed to the 0.75" tweeters commonly seen on speakers at this range.

Knobs for high and low frequency boost/cut enable precise tuning to different rooms.

Input options include 2x TRS Balanced ins and 2x unbalanced RCA ins in the back and a 1/8" aux in the front. Speakers this size work best in smaller mixing rooms.

Because of the size and material, bass is on the lighter side. This is balanced with an accentuated treble response and a tight low frequency range. More often than not, many speakers sacrifice bass clarity for bass impact. The tight bass isn't wall shaking by any measure, but it helps balance low frequency elements better in an untreated room.

At the price however, some corners had to be cut. The materials feel a bit on the cheaper side and the wiring system between the speakers feels less secure than other connection methods. The bass response isn't the best for EDM producers but a subwoofer can fill in the lowest frequencies.

In a price range inhabited by generic speakers and unknown brands, PreSonus have hit a home run with the affordably priced Eris E3.5. While it's not a monitor that promises absolute top tier studio sound, it doesn't pretend to be.

Specifications

  • Driver: 3.5" Kevlar Woofer, 1" Silk Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 50W Class AB (25W per speaker)
  • Inputs: 2 x 1/4", 1 x Dual RCA Stereo, 1 x 1/8" (aux in)
  • Frequency Response: 80Hz-20kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.8kHz
  • Enclosure: Rear Ported
  • Controls: Level Knob, HI and LO tuning knobs
  • Dimensions: 8.3" x 5.6" x 6.4"
  • Weight: 6.4 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
All Things Gear Christian De Looper 90/100
Gearspace DrAudioBot 100/100
Gearspace xbr 100/100
Gearspace Sound-Guy 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Alden Acosta's Home Studio Monitors

Alden shares his experience with his studio monitors and points out a few quirks worth noting if you've considered purchasing them.

PreSonus Eris E4.5

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
PreSonus Eris E4.5 4.5" Powered Studio Monitors (Pair)

Cons

  • Limited headroom
  • Limited bass response, slightly congested mids
  • Pots get scratchy after a while

Pros

  • Neutral sound and clear high end
  • Includes useful accessories
  • Many input options
  • Lightweight and portable

These come as a pair with one of the speakers acting as an amplifier for both units.

I mulled the option of a pair of Eris 3.5's, with hopes of them serving as a secondary pair of monitors as soon as I upgraded to better boxes, but I didn't want to risk getting the low end all wrong with the album I'd soon be mixing.

The E4.5s sound neutral to my ears, with clear highs great for nearfield use. Mixing on these is a breeze and can even be used for content consumption if you don't mind the slightly harsh reference tuning on these speakers. As with any monitors, these will greatly benefit from an acoustically treated room and some isolation pads or stands. These are best used at a low to medium volume because although they can get quite loud; they start to distort and lose detail at little above "fun" volumes.

Speaking of fun, I find that these speakers are not as "fun" sounding as my old Rokits with their boosted bass but analytical and blunt, revealing flaws in my recordings.

Eris 4.5 Rear Panel

Having the volume knob at the front seems like a no-brainer but there are manufacturers who opt to place the volume controls elsewhere. I feel this is a nod to users that might want to use these as their computer speakers forgoing an audio interface altogether.

Behind are some basic mid and high frequency adjustment options to dial in the sound to match your room response and ears. The +/- 6 dB range of adjustability is quite dramatic and can be heard by even less than golden ears.

The build quality is not bad, not stellar. It doesn't feel too premium but spartan in a good way. It gives you the impression that all the money your paying is going into sound quality. The word I would use is "adequate". It has reversed-dome woofers and permanently grilled tweeters, an added convenience for those with kids in the house. You don't have to worry about your young ones deforming your drivers!

Volume Knob Problem

What started out to be a minor inconvenience has since progressed into a major flaw. Upon researching online, exercising the volume knob should help this... but I've done that a lot and it hasn't helped a bit. I guess its time to take these in for service.

It's a good pair of nearfield monitors for a low price, but I would stop short of calling them great. I would recommend them as a first pair. But if you get these and the knobs are a little scratchy, get a replacement right away because it will get worse.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace ageshero 75/100
Gearank Alden Acosta 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The Best Studio Monitors Under $300

No longer in the "budget" category and more into the "entry-level" or "prosumer" category, this price range offers more recent technology for your growing studio needs. Flexible room compensation options, better electronics, and better materials for drivers and enclosures are usually what you'd expect in this range.

Note: All street prices listed below are for single monitors - not pairs.

KRK ROKIT 5 G4

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$189
KRK ROKIT 5 G4 5" Powered Studio Monitor

Cons

  • Digital controls feel gimmicky

Pros

  • Extended bass response
  • More neutral than its predecessors
  • Includes ISO-foam pads

The ROKIT 5, now on its 4th gen version, loses the round, egg-like curves of its predecessors in favor of a more traditional enclosure with rounded corners. It sports a 5" Kevlar woofer and 1" Kevlar Dome tweeter.

Tweaking controls are done on an app via Bluetooth, for better adjustments without leaving the "sweet spot".

It also includes ISO-foam pads for decoupling from surfaces.

While earlier ROKIT generations were criticized for having a bloated low-frequency range, the ROKIT 5 G4 has refined their sound signature and tightens it up with a front-firing port. It has a flat but extended response despite being on the smaller scale of studio monitors. EDM producers will be satisfied to still have the low-frequency extension with a more balanced midrange, leading to better mix translation.

On the flipside, the digital controls might be too gimmicky. While it's a great technological advancement, it might not be used that often anyway unless you move the speakers around a lot from studio to studio.

All in all, the ROKIT 5 G4 has made converts of former doubters of the ROKIT line. With its new, more balanced sound signature and more serious aesthetic, the KRK ROKIT 5 G4 earns its place as a serious contender at this price point.

Specifications

  • Driver: 5" Kevlar Woofer, 1" Kevlar Dome tweeter
  • Amplifier: 55W Class D
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4 combo
  • Frequency response: 43Hz-40kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 3 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Controlled via App
  • Dimensions: 11.22" x 7.48" x 9.49" "
  • Weight: 10.69 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Audio Science Review amirm 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

ADAM Audio T7V

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$275
ADAM Audio T7V 7" Powered Studio Monitor
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Studio Monitor Under $300.

Cons

  • No power indicator light

Pros

  • Amazing stereo imaging
  • Airy but neutral extended highs
  • Excellent midrange
  • Great overall value

Adam Audio studio monitors are recording community favorites due to their X-ART Ribbon tweeter technology and fast transient response. They started out with a cult following on message boards praising its "A" series models' high frequency finesse.

Their proprietary ribbon design is carried over from their "A" series to the more affordable "T" line. The T7V features a U-ART Ribbon tweeter capable of extending high-frequency projection of up to 25 khz.

Because of the extended high frequency production, it's great for balancing cymbals, synths and other layers with intense high frequency content without sounding shrill or fatiguing. The extended range allows it to give a sense of airiness to the sound without being too flattering.

This results in a wide and open stereo image with a strong phantom center and a wide sweet spot. Perfect for those that need a mixing environment where panning decisions can be placed accurately such as game audio and film sound engineering.

Note that the T7V does not have a power indicator so it might be a good habit anyway to turn off your monitors when not in use.

If you've been following the company for a while, you would know that their "A" series monitors are becoming modern studio standards. Many hit records of the 2010s were mixed on the A series from Country to Metal. Get the T7V if you're looking for crisp high frequencies. If your room is small or untreated, the high frequencies might not be directed properly.

Specifications

  • Driver: 7" Woofer, 1.9" Diameter Equivalent ribbon tweeter
  • Amplifier: 50W LF, 20W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 39 Hz - 25 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.6 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Input Sensitivity, High Shelf, Low Shelf
  • Dimensions: 13.7" x 8.3" x 11.5”
  • Weight: 15.7 lbs

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Paul White 96/100
Audioholics James Larson 80/100
Gearspace TheLegionOfDecency 90/100
TapeOp Geoff Stanfield 92/100
MusicTech John Pickford 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

ADAM Audio T7V Frequency Response Chart

ADAM Audio T7V Frequency Response Chart

Author's Pick

These are a moderately priced offering that get a lot of love from recording communities everywhere and which I've been using for years.

JBL 305P MkII

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 2500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$175
JBL 305P MkII 5" Powered Studio Monitor

Cons

  • Bass not its strong suit
  • Sounds "boring" to unaccustomed ears

Pros

  • Neutral frequency response
  • Fast transients on high and midrange
  • Wide sweet spot
  • Top tier sound at a good price

The JBL 305P MkII is an evolution of the original LSR 305 that came out years before. The 305P MkII has an improved tweeter and woofer design for even less distortion at higher volumes.

It also includes new boundary settings at the back panel to help fine tuning in your studio.

It features a specially designed "Image Control" waveguide found on their higher end 7 series and M2 reference speakers.

The primary reason I got into the LSR305 and eventually the 305P Mk II is the sound quality. The high end sounds muted at first listen especially when coming from brighter, more scooped sounding monitors but as you get acclimated, you get rewarded with great instrument separation. Favoring transient response over frequency hyping is something higher end brands like Focal and Genelec do when tuning their monitors.

My personal experience with the monitors after using them daily for years is that they translate very well. The midrange and highs are neutral enough for critical decisions while having enough of a lift for a more realistic presentation. Compared to the LSR305p that I had prior to them, they feel like they have better transient response on the midrange, this results in a better sounding stereo image and depth that gives you an almost visual experience with panning your sound.

5" doesn't push enough air for many low-end heavy songs. For this, a subwoofer would be ideal to complement the monitors.

The JBL 305P MkII is a consistent favorite among hobbyists and professionals for its sound and build quality as well as the price. While it lacks low end, this is an advantage for those that have relatively untreated rooms where excess low end might end up cluttering the sonic sphere.

Specifications

  • Driver: 5" woofer, 1" tweeter
  • Amplifier: 41W LF, 41W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4"
  • Frequency response: 39 Hz - 25 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 1725Hz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Input Sensitivity, Boundary EQ, HF Trim, Volume
  • Dimensions: 11.7" x 7.3" x 9.1"
  • Weight: 10.43 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Audio Science Review amirm 96/100
Erin's Audio Corner Erin 89/100
*Displayed values are prior to adjustments made by the Gearank Algorithm when evaluating the source.

JBL 305P MkII Frequency Response Chart

JBL 305P MkII Frequency Response Chart

The Best Studio Monitors under $500

Companies offer their mid-high tier products at this price range. Products at this price point usually have tech carried over from their previous generation higher-end products. This doesn't mean the tech is obsolete or bad, in fact, being able to access higher tier tech is a great thing this price point offers.

Note: All street prices listed below are for single monitors - not pairs.

Yamaha HS7

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 1750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$350
Yamaha HS7 Powered Studio Monitor

Cons

  • Bright power indicator light
  • Size not for untreated rooms

Pros

  • Exceptionally neutral
  • Mixes translate well to different devices
  • Built to last

Yamaha continues to be the go-to brand for studio monitors in the entry to the mid-tier market. Yamaha monitors are easy to spot, with their distinct white-colored cone woofers; an element carried over from their legendary NS-10 speaker.

Yamaha's signature sound is a flat low midrange, tight low frequencies, and a brutally revealing upper midrange spike that makes EQ mistakes painfully obvious.

It has a 6.7" woofer paired with a 1" dome tweeter mounted on vibration damping material to eliminate unwanted resonance for distortion and coloration free sound.

Another notable feature is the use of bigger magnets and matching advanced magnetic circuit design.

The HS7 comes with room and high-trim switches for adjusting the sound to the acoustics of your listening area.

Like the NS10 before it, the Yamaha HS7 is well received for its "flat" response, which translates into a natural mixing "feel". The highs and mids are very clear and transparent while the low end is just right for most mixing/mastering scenarios.

The build quality is excellent and there are no notable concerns about the sound though the power indicator light might be too bright for dimly lit studios.

The HS7 bridges the gap between their two models, the HS5 and the HS8. If you feel that the HS5 is a bit lacking on the low frequencies but don't want to get a sub, The HS7 is a good pick as long as your room is treated enough to dampen resonance.

Specifications

  • Driver: 6.7" Woofer, 1" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 60W LF, 35W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (TS)
  • Frequency Response: 43Hz-30kHz (-10dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 2kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Level Knob, Room Control Switch, High Trim Switch
  • Dimensions: 13.1" x 8.3" x 11.2"
  • Weight: 18.1 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Digital DJ Tips Editor 100/100
Sound On Sound Paul White 85/100
Harmony Central David Bryce 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Yamaha HS7 Frequency Response Chart

Yamaha HS7 Frequency Response Chart

Kali Audio IN-5

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$349

Cons

  • Need a good room to maximize tech benefits

Pros

  • Amazingly detailed without treble hype
  • Linear sweet spot - perfect for large studios
  • Neutral frequency response overall
  • Great build quality

At first glance, the IN-5 looks like a regular bi-amped studio monitor. On closer inspection, the midrange driver and high frequency driver are arranged coaxially with the midrange driver also functioning essentially as a waveguide.

Large magnets and voice coils in the drivers along with a tri-amped setup give high headroom and low distortion.

A front firing port with low turbulence, prevents chuffing and distortion. Boundary EQ at the back helps tailor the speakers to your room.

With this setup, the sweet spot becomes very wide and linear. Since the midrange driver is in line with the high frequency driver, phase issues and comb filtering are kept to a minimum. Having a better sense of how the high frequencies interact and intersect with the midrange is key to achieving a clear mix that isn't harsh at the top end.

The frequency response is neutral but because of the coaxial design, the high frequencies retain a lot of detail without boosting it.

To make most of this tech, it's important to have a well treated room. The sweet spot will lose its linearity if your room isn't prepped for it.

The Kali Audio IN-5 is a showcase of modern speaker design, executed well. Despite being a newer product, lots of people have grown to love the brand and the speakers; for good reason. Get it if you need great stereo space and have the room to do the speakers justice.

Specifications

  • Driver: 5" Woofer, 4" Paper midrange driver, 1" Textile Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 80W LF, 40W mF, 40W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA, 1 x 1/4"
  • Frequency response: 39Hz-25kHz (-10 dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: Not Specified
  • Enclosure: Front Ported
  • Controls: Volume, High Trim, Low Trim
  • Dimensions: 15.1" x 8.2" x 11.2"
  • Weight: 19 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Phil Ward 98/100
Erin's Audio Corner Erin 92/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Kali Audio IN-5 Frequency Response Chart

Kali Audio IN-5 Response Chart

Genelec 8010A

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$350
Genelec 8010A

Cons

  • Awkward XLR jack positioning

Pros

  • Portable
  • Surprisingly robust sound
  • Great Imaging

Genelec's flagship lines grace the worlds best recording studios. Despite the size, the 8010A packs a lot of low end punch and excellent imaging thanks to its minimal distortion.

The trademark Genelec MDE (Minimum Diffraction Enclosure) design ensures phase accuracy by dispersing reflections that would disrupt imaging.

As a carrier of the 8000 model number, the Genelec 8010A is made with the same engineering standards. This means that you're not getting a "budget version" of the brand's monitors.

It's positioned more as a portable studio monitor with a deceptively good low frequency extension and imaging for the size.

The only downside is that the XLR input is positioned in a way that might not allow for longer XLR plugs to fit.

The Genelec 8010A takes on the character and pedigree of its larger and more expensive siblings. If you're looking for a compact nearfield monitor with great low frequency extension and imaging, the 8010A should be high on your list.

Specifications

  • Driver: 3" Woofer, 0.75" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 25W LF, 25W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR
  • Frequency Response: 43Hz-30kHz (-10dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 2kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Level Knob, Room Control Switch, High Trim Switch
  • Dimensions: 8.3" x 5.6" x 6.4"
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs..

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Paul White 96/100
MusicTech Editor 100/100
MusicRadar Robbie Stamp 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Genelec 8010A Frequency Response Chart

Genelec 8010A Response Chart

Yamaha HS8

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 2900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$399
Yamaha HS8 8" 120W Bi-Amp Powered Studio Monitor
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Studio Monitor between $300 and $500.

Cons

  • May be too large for small studios
  • Not for those that want the biggest bass

Pros

  • Neutral response for critical listening
  • Excellent build quality
  • Versatile controls for different rooms
  • Still relatively affordable

Thanks to the success of the now legendary NS10 studio monitor, Yamaha continues to enjoy a favorable position in the near field monitoring market. As proof, they have secured multiple recommendations from us over the years due to the high ratings their monitors get.

The bigger 8" woofer allows for more headroom and low-end response, while the room and high-trim controls will let you adjust the sound to fit into different studio sizes.

There's actually nothing special when you look at the spec sheet, but Yamaha made all these small parts work together seamlessly - resulting in outstanding monitoring experience that's reflected by its high ratings and expert recommendations.

It also helps that the HS8 is relatively affordable (given the high quality); you'll have enough cash to spare to buy other important studio gear.

The HS8 is a great example of how good care at selecting elements result in the parts being greater than the whole. This results in a speaker that is accurate and reliable and is a definite upgrade for many entry level speakers and compares in performance with more expensive speakers. Their sound quality and long term durability/reliability also makes them great long term studio monitors for a studio. Getting used to them actually makes you a better mixer in the long run because of their neutrality.

That said, the HS8 might be too large for smaller studios. It's not a bass-heavy speaker despite its size, but a small untreated room might not be the best place to use these speakers. For smaller and untreated rooms, the HS5 may be a better pick.

The Yamaha HS8 is a good safe middle ground for those who want quality, reliability, and versatility. As always mentioned, it carries the legacy of the NS-10; a monitor knows for its flat and revealing frequency response. A cool looking white finish Yamaha HS8 version is also available at Sweetwater.com.

Specifications

  • Driver: 8" Woofer, 1" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 75W LF, 45W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (TS)
  • Frequency Response: 38Hz to 30kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Level Knob, Room Control Switch, High Trim Switch
  • Dimensions: 9.8" x 15.4" x 13.1"
  • Weight: 22.5 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Lance Tingey Lance Tingey 94/100
Gearspace gasolin 90/100
Gearspace Zack Daniels 95/100
MusicRadar Trevor Curwen 90/100
Perfect Acoustic Editor 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to adjustments made by the Gearank Algorithm when evaluating the source.

Yamaha HS8 Frequency Response Chart

Yamaha HS8 Frequency Response Chart

The Best Studio Monitors under $1000

At this price range, most companies offer their flagship models. This means that tech here is either cutting-edge or where lower-end models get some of it trickled down to them. Other companies with more expensive offerings seat their "prosumer" to "home professional" offerings here. For other brands, this is where they present speakers with larger woofer diameters and enclosure sizes.

Note: All street prices listed below are for single monitors - not pairs.

Genelec 8020D

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$535
Genelec 8020D 4 inch Powered Studio Monitor

Cons

  • Not enough sub bass for EDM

Pros

  • Great for small desks
  • Big, signature Genelec sound
  • Includes isolation stands
  • Pairs well with subwoofers

Genelec is known for their large, high end studio monitors. The 8020D is their take on the compact, 4" studio monitor for smaller studios.

It features Genelec's signature Minimum Diffraction Enclosure shape that reduces reflections on the speaker itself as well as the Directivity Control Waveguide for better directivity.

Despite its size, it's powered by a 50W LF Driver for better headroom at louder monitoring levels.

For smaller home setups with limited space, the Genelec 8020D is one of the best desktop monitor solutions. Aside from their sound, the included Iso-pod stands help isolate the speakers from the surface to prevent it from resonating and altering the response. Despite the size, bass response was still impactful without muddying up the sound. Not quite at the level EDM producers demand but enough to have a full sounding picture of your mix.

The thing to note about Genelec monitors is that their sound signature straddles the thin line between hi-fi and critical monitoring. It might be a bit too hi-fi for some that are used to Yamaha-styled frequency responses. It's also not the best for those looking for a deep sub bass response although it does pair well with subwoofers.

If you're looking for a great set of monitors for a small desk setup, the Genelec 8020D is a top pick. The bundled isolation solution, surprisingly good bass tightness and response makes it a great pick at this price point.

Specifications

  • Driver: 4" Woofer, 0.75" Diameter Equivalent ribbon tweeter
  • Amplifier: 50W LF, 50W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 56Hz-25kHz (-6dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 3.0kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Tone DIP switches, Sensitivity control
  • Dimensions: 9.5" (including Iso-Pod stand) x 6" x 5.6"
  • Weight: 7.0 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace babydaddymusic 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Genelec 8020D Frequency Response Chart

Genelec 8020D Frequency Response Chart

Genelec 8030C

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$695
Genelec 8030C 5" Powered Studio Monitor

Cons

  • None aside from price

Pros

  • Extremely clear transient response
  • Neutral sound signature helps mix translation
  • Topnotch build quality
  • Waveguide provides a wide sweet spot

The Genelec 8030C shares the same Minimum Diffraction Enclosure and Directivity Control Waveguide as others in the 8000 series.

It also includes an Iso-Pod stand for better surface isolation, preventing resonance.

The low distortion 5" woofer and 3/4" metal dome tweeter give great clarity for any genre.

If transparency is your top priority, then the 8030c delivers. The Genelec house sound feels like it leans more towards the hi-fi side but they still remain critical enough to have mixes translate well. The 8030c's transparency is great for those who work with intricate projects with a lot of layers.

It's not just about frequency response, but also transient response. The 8030c has a fast high frequency transient response that brings out details from dense mixes. Being able to pick out a light castanet hit in a sea of orchestral instruments is what separates great monitors from good monitors. All this is packaged in a premium feeling speaker that is built to last.

The only barrier to entry would be the cost as the 8030c's premium sound comes at a premium price

The 8030c sounds super detailed because It goes beyond frequency response - a crutch that cheaper monitors rely on to sound "expensive". Compared to monitors that "feel" clear because of a treble boost, the 8030c handles clarity with transient response and resolution. If you need a studio monitor for your mid-sized studio, the 8030C may just be the last speaker you need.

Specifications

  • Driver: 5" Woofer, 0.75" Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 50W LF, 50W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR
  • Frequency response: 47Hz-25kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 3 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls:Dip Switches for Desktop mode, Treble Tilt, Bass Roll-Off, Bass Tilt
  • Dimensions: 11.8" (with Iso-Pod) x 7.4"x 7.06"
  • Weight: 11 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace zephonic 90/100
Audio Science Review amirm 95/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Genelec 8030C Frequency Response Chart

Genelec 8030C Frequency Response Chart

Neumann KH 120 A

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$749
Neumann KH 120 5.25 inch Powered Studio Monitor
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Studio Monitor between $500 and $1000.

Cons

  • Sound isn't for impressing clients in the studio

Pros

  • Extremely critical sounding
  • Natural and lifelike sound signature
  • Premium components and build quality
  • Top choice for Mastering

Premium audio crafters Neumann bring their longtime expertise to create the KH120 Studio Monitors. The KH stands for "Klein + Hummel", a studio monitor company brought into the Sennheiser group of companies under the Neumann flag.

Neumann's Mathematically Modeled Dispersion waveguide ensures wide horizontal directivity with narrow vertical dispersion to prevent reflections on table and console surfaces.

You can spot the KH 120 A in many high end mixing and mastering studios. The sound quality brings a lifelike quality that is most apparent in well treated mixing and mastering environments.

The KH 120 A can sound very unforgiving. It's a quality that people look for in custom studio speakers. Mixing on a pair of unforgiving monitors is greatly rewarding when you finally "get it right" and it translates well. This can also be a detriment to those that use their studio monitors to "wow" clients as the neutral and unforgiving nature of the KH 120 A doesn't flatter even the best mixes.

The Neumann KH 120 is a true critical listening studio monitor that shreds bad mixes to pieces but rewards great ones with excellent translation.

Specifications

  • Driver: 5.25" LF driver, 1" HF driver
  • Amplifier: 50W (Continuous), 80W (Peak) LF, 50W (Continuous), 80W (Peak) HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 52Hz-21kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2kHz, 24 dB/octave
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Low, Mid and High adjustment, Output Level adjustment, Input gain
  • Dimensions: 10.87" x 7.12"x 8.62"
  • Weight: 14.3 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Hugh Robjohns 96/100
delamar Felix Baarss 100/100
Gearspace RonGherkins 95/100
Audiofanzine Wazana Records 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to adjustments made by the Gearank Algorithm when evaluating the source.

Neumann KH 120 Frequency Response Chart

Neumann KH 120 Response Chart

Things To Consider When Buying Studio Monitors

While most studio monitors are reasonably versatile, there's no one pair of monitors that can satisfy everybody, so you must find the ones that fit your needs and resources. The best studio monitor for you will depend mostly on the type of music you're producing, your studio space, and your budget.

Speaker Size

Most studio monitors have 2-way speakers where the sound is divided into Low Frequencies (LF) and High frequencies (HF) and are sent to two different speakers. HF driver (also called a Tweeter) sizes are mostly the same at around 1", but there are greater variations in the size of LF drivers (also called Woofers), and this is important for you to consider. The general idea is that bigger woofers can handle more lows, while smaller ones can better represent the mid frequencies. In line with this, go for bigger woofers if you expect to mix bass-heavy songs, while smaller woofers are recommended if you emphasize clarity of the mids - where most of the vocals and instruments are. For additional clarity on the bottom end, you can also get a Studio Monitor Subwoofer.

Frequency Response

This specifies the range of frequencies that the monitor can handle, and is usually directly related to the size of the HF and LF Drivers. Wider frequency response can handle more types of music, but these extra frequencies can compete for your attention, which may make you miss important sonic details. If you are into mostly DJ and electronic music, you'll want bigger monitors that can handle the added low frequencies that are usually associated with these styles. On the other hand, if you'll be working with acoustic instruments and vocals, the exaggerated bass can hinder you from mixing and balancing the frequencies properly, so its best to go for flat response studio monitors. We highly recommend having more than one set of monitors - for you to have more sonic references to work with.

Power Rating

The power rating of the amplifier, with speaker size, dictates the headroom and overall loudness limit of the unit. For mixing, you want the volume to be just enough to cover your listening area, without getting it muddied or distorted. You also don't want to tire your ears easily, or disturb your neighbors - so loud is not better. Volume becomes an issue when you have someone else listening with you, or when you audition mixes that are expected to be loud - like rock and electronic music.

Positioning and Sweet Spot

If you want to get the most out of your studio monitors, then you'll want to position them correctly and listen within their sweet spot position. Since each monitor has different baffle and waveguide designs, positioning to find the "sweet spot" will vary, so you'll want to read the manual and adjust your position accordingly. Speaker positioning is not fully covered here, but the video below can give you a good idea of its importance and application:

Mixing Environment

The type of speaker to choose will depend on your mixing environment as well. If your room is untreated (as in the case of a bedroom or home studio), it is best to choose smaller monitors and use headphones for checking low-frequency balance. Untreated rooms tend to bounce sound and have uneven resonances that may affect your perception of frequency levels. Larger speakers with higher volume may introduce a phenomenon called "standing waves" in spaces with parallel walls. This phenomenon causes the low frequencies to either bloat and gather in one spot or disappear entirely depending on where you stand in the room. Having carpeting as absorbers and uneven surfaces like bookshelves close to flat walls as diffusers can help but if you have no plans on fully treating your rooms, stick with speakers with woofers 5" in diameter or lower.

Best Studio Monitor Selection Methodology

The first Edition was published in 2016 and the current Edition was published on July 13, 2022.

The initial step was to look for the most popular and top-rated sub $1000 active studio monitors available from major USA based retailers. And for this July 2022 Edition, we ended up including 62 of them on our short-list, and collected over 42,800 relevant rating sources that include customer ratings, user and expert reviews, video reviews, forum posts, and more. The Gearank Algorithm processed this data to provide us with rating scores out of 100 that reflect market sentiment and overall user satisfaction. Finally, we divided the list into four price categories, Under $100 budget category, Under $300, Under $500 and Under $1000. We've also included detailed descriptions and specifications for each studio monitor, along with highlights of hands on reviews and important community discussions. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Some of the recording gear I use in my studio includes the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, Focusrite Scarlett Solo, Samson QH4 Headphone Amp and Cloudlifter CL-1. My mics include Aston Origin, Aston Element, Shure SM57, Rode NT1, Rode PodMic and MXL V67G.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: PreSonus Eris E4.5 Review.
Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Cropped photograph of the Yamaha HS8.

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers with the exception of the Eris 4.5 Rear Panel which was provided by Alden Acosta.

Comments

What about Tascam VL-S5 ?

What about Tascam VL-S5 ? They are the best inexpensive monitors that I've ever had. Incredible flat response. Ideal for small rooms. No bass amplify, clean treble sounds. You should check that out.. Thanks.

Thanks for the tip Emre,

Thanks for the tip Emre,

The Tascam VL-S5 has been discontinued in North America so we haven't published a Gearank Rating for them, but they do have good 5-star ratings at European retailers like Thomann.

Thank you. I have a small

Thank you. I have a small space, not ideal but not terrible. I have two Tascam 5" monitors, they seem good to me (not Abbey Road but...). I record fingerstyle acoustic guitar and singing, some digital drums sometimes but not much. Power is not an issue but it's not for eveyone.
Whatever speakers you choose, whatever music you play, try recording/mixing acoustic - instrument, singing etc. when assessing your speaker placement. If it works like that, it will work with electronic textures but it's much easier to hear "where you are" for the accuracy that we're all looking for. Like the man in the video says, acoustics is a huge subject. Set up your monitors then try mic placements in different parts of the room, hang up a towel behind your mic(s) etc. When you've sorted out your monitors, learn your room. Cheers.

If you want flat a bunch of

If you want flat a bunch of these are junk. My comments reflect the flatness concern. The Jbl 305 are excellent, actually well ahead of ALL in it's price range, and mostly keep up with any few at a higher price they don't beat. The actually have controlled bass deeper than any 5 inch out there. The are industry disrupting good speakers, and a lot of pro engineers agree. The Prosonus Scepter are also excellent. I can't speak for every model, so there may be other ones that come off flat. But Yams are generally mid boost sounding crap. KRk's are bass boosted crap. The ranks are crap if flatness matters, and it generally does. You don't necessarily need expensive monitors if you don't want flatness and excellence. You can use a variety of cheap hifi speakers for comparison, and you should, in different rooms if possible. Good speakers often have the opposite effect vs what is claimed. They don't as often 'reveal the flaws' as they 'make everything sound better' so a weak mix can sound good on great monitors. Beware of that and use a variety of whatever speakers to reveal weaknesses. But also be aware of room nodes. 8 feet is common ceiling height so don't get too much energy in that bass freq. Mix in a big room with higher ceiling if you can, but check it in a normal smallish room.

I don't know of the monitor

I don't know if the monitor comes in pairs or single for the price shown,i mean krk rockit 6.

The street prices above, and

The street prices above, and the prices at both Sweetwater and Amazon, are all for a single speaker.

Today we removed the JBL

Today we removed the JBL LSR308 Mark 1 from the recommended list above because it has been superseded and is no longer widely available in North America.

For those who are interested,

For those who are interested, if you want to avoid big dips in your response due to the comb filtering that occurs when the direct sound from high frequency driver combines with reflected sound from that same driver, try sandwiching a mirror on top of table tops or nearby flat surfaces to determine if you can see a reflection of the high frequency driver. If you can, then you need to move the loudspeakers, change the configuration of the table, or even change the angle of the table so as to eliminate the reflections. The effects of such early reflections are easy to verify by sweeping with a sine wave and observing on an RTA. Basically, if you want accurate response for mixing, you need to create a Reflection Free Zone for the mix position. Not very many people are hip to this technique, but it can really improve the accuracy of your monitoring.

No Yamaha HS5? They sound the

No Yamaha HS5? They sound the closest to the classic industry standard Yamaha NS10.

take a look at the Samson

Take a look at the Samson Resolv series (SE6/SE8, RXA6). reference monitors with flat response at a very attractive price.

Thanks for the tip - we will

Thanks for the tip - we will include the Samson Resolv series of studio monitors in our data set when we next update this guide.

As promised, we did analyze

As promised, we did analyze the Samson Resolv range while we were working on the new version of this guide which was published today.

Unfortunately they didn't make the cut this time around, but you can see the Samson Resolv Gearank Scores in our music gear database.

Interesting list of the best

Interesting list of the best studio speakers. I don't normally see the Mackie HR624mk2, the PreSonus Eris E5, and a couple other monitoring speakers on other best speakers lists. Never tried the two that I've mentioned either so I don't know if they really are great. I've tried majority of the monitoring speakers on other lists, like the Rokit 5, JBL LSR 305, Adam A7X, Yamaha HS7 (my favorite), Focal Alpha 80, Genelec M030A, Focal CMS 65, etc and they're all great as well. Currently I'm using the M-Audio BX5 D2 studio monitors but I'm looking to get a new set so maybe I'll give the PreSonus Eris E5 a try.

I'm glad you found our guide

I'm glad you found our guide interesting Mitch.

The reason our lists of recommended gear are sometimes different to other websites is because Gearank Guides are based upon detailed statistical and sentiment analysis of customer reviews, expert reviews, and forum discussions - a process which is enhanced by our use of the Gearank Algorithm.

This enables us find the gear that musicians actually rate highly themselves making us less susceptible to marketing influences than would otherwise be the case in many instances.

If you'd like to know more about our methodology then please read How Gearank Works.