Best Studio Monitors of 2024 – Six Suitability Categories For You

studio monitors


The best studio monitors enable music producers to hear mixes with a more critical presentation, and help them perceive space. With great studio monitor speakers, you can better perceive Panning and volume changes in a “space” in front of you. Having a monitoring setup like this makes mixing faster and easier.

Studio monitors also help your music production translate better across different systems. What you hear in your studio setup might not be what others hear. This is because different speakers sound, well, differently.

Add the variable of different listening positions, mixing environments, and you have a lot to work around. While proper referencing is still required during the mastering phase, making sure your tracks are properly balanced during mixing helps make the phase faster. This process applies to first time mastering, and for Remastered songs.

Speakers that are too large or too small for your mix room might also affect your perception of your music. For example, if you have a small room, larger studio monitors won’t always be ideal. Selecting the right size is crucial for treading the balance between minimizing errant frequencies and having the right amount of low end punch.

The Best Studio Monitors – 2024

The Best Cheap Studio Monitors Under $100

It's rare to see a sub $100 monitor get high scores. Not only is the following entry affordable, but it also comes in a pair. This makes them the best home studio monitors for those looking for their first pair.

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

PreSonus Eris 3.5 3.5-inch Powered Studio Monitors 2nd Generation (Pair)

92
GEARANK
92 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.
$99.99
PreSonus
PreSonus Eris 3.5 3.5-inch Powered Studio Monitors 2nd Generation (Pair)

Cons

  • Limited low end

Pros

  • Great audio quality for the price
  • Pleasing quality
  • Improved voicing over predecessor
  • Compact form factor

The PreSonus Eris 3.5 2nd Gen studio monitors are compact, versatile speakers that deliver studio-quality sound. With 25 watts per side, these monitors provide clear, accurate audio with a 3.5-inch woven-composite woofer for tight bass and a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter for refined high frequencies. With high- and low-frequency controls, you can adjust the speaker’s response to match your room acoustics.

Eris 3.5 offers versatile connectivity with various audio sources via balanced ¼-inch TRS inputs, unbalanced ⅛-inch stereo and RCA inputs, and a front-panel headphone jack. The monitors also feature RF interference protection, output-current limiting, and a power-saving mode that engages after 40 minutes of inactivity.

Despite being compact, some users might find the limited low-end due to the small woofer size unsatisfactory. However, at this price, the Eris 3.5 monitors offer excellent value. They are a solid choice for budget-friendly studio speakers for bedroom studios, video production, and gaming setups.

Specifications

  • Driver: 3.5-inch, woven-composite, low-frequency driver
  • Amplifier: 50W Class AB (25W per speaker)
  • Inputs: 1 x Dual RCA Stereo, 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Frequency response: 80Hz-20kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.8kHz
  • Enclosure: Rear Ported
  • Controls: VolumeHigh Frequency (±6 dB, center 10 kHz, continuously variable)Low Frequency (±6 dB, center 100 Hz, continuously variable)
  • Dimensions: 8.3" x 5.6" x 6.4"
  • Weight: 6.4 lbs

Alden Acosta's Home Studio Monitors

Alden shares his experience with his sets of recording 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 2550+ ratings and reviews.
$199.95
PreSonus
PreSonus Eris E4.5 Review – 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

This pair of studio monitors has 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 active 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 audio monitors, these will greatly benefit from an acoustically treated room and some isolation pads. To make the most of your monitor speakers, get a good monitor stand, pick from our guide to the best studio monitor stands. These are best used at a low to medium volume because although they can get quite loud with high Max SPL. But 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 range 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, but not stellar either. It doesn't feel too premium, but still feels solid in a good way. It gives you the impression that all the money you're paying is going into sound quality. This monitor can be described as "adequate" in terms of delivering sound quality. It has reversed-dome woofers and permanently grilled tweeters, an added convenience for those with kids in the house. The speaker drivers are well protected from inadvertent damage.

Eris 4.5 Tweaking

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 near field speakers for a low price, but I would stop short of calling them great. I would recommend them as a first pair. Be aware that the knobs may develop scratchiness over time, and it is advisable to replace them before the condition worsens.

Rating Source Highlights
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Gearspaceageshero75/100
GearankAlden Acosta80/100
*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 studio monitors - not pairs.

ADAM Audio T5V

95
GEARANK
95 out of 100. Incorporating 700+ ratings and reviews.
$199.99
Adam Audio
ADAM Audio T5V 5″ Powered Studio Monitor

Cons

  • Power indicator awkwardly placed
  • Limited low extension

Pros

  • Ribbon tweeter gives amazing detail
  • Excellent value
  • Neutral sound
  • Easily configurable

The ADAM Audio T5V is a 5-inch powered studio monitor that has received positive reviews. It offers impressive sound quality for its price. It is suitable for near-field monitoring and features ribbon tweeters for clear high-end representation and a 5-inch woofer for accurate low-end response. The design exudes a professional look, with good connectivity options and standard controls on the back panel.

It has strong tonality, slight treble bias, but some clutter in the mid-range due to port interactions. Priced just under £300, the T5V is an excellent budget-friendly option, making it an attractive choice for those searching for an affordable studio monitor with exceptional sound quality.

Pros include impressive sound quality, affordability, sleek design, and suitability for near-field monitoring setups. At the same time, potential cons involve limited bass extension and some mid-range clutter.

Overall, the ADAM Audio T5V offers amazing value and performance, making it a solid choice for those with specific monitoring needs.

Specifications

  • Driver: 5" Woofer, 1.9" Diameter Equivalent ribbon tweeter
  • Amplifier: 50 W LF, 20W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 45 Hz - 25 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 3 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Input Sensitivity, Gain, High-Shelf, Low-Shelf
  • Dimensions: 111.7" x 7" x 11.7"
  • Weight: 12.6 lbs

ADAM Audio T7V

97
GEARANK
97 out of 100. Incorporating 950+ ratings and reviews.
$249.99
Adam Audio
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 by professional studio owners. They consistently praise 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 tweeters, 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. A wide sweet spot ensures consistent sound quality across with nearly any listening position. 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 one of the industry's best studio monitors. Many hit records of the 2010s were mixed on the A series from Country to Metal. The T7V is ideal for those who are into crisp high frequencies. If your room is small or untreated, the high frequencies might not be directed properly. Acoustic room treatment is highly recommended to maximize their potential.

Specifications

  • Driver: 7 inch 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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Sound On SoundPaul White96/100
AudioholicsJames Larson80/100
GearspaceTheLegionOfDecency90/100
TapeOpGeoff Stanfield92/100
MusicTechJohn Pickford90/100
*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

This is a moderately priced offering that gets 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.
$149.00
JBL Professional
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 detailed sound and depth that gives you an almost visual experience with panning your tracks.

A 5" speaker driver doesn't push enough air for many low-end heavy songs. For this, getting a studio subwoofer would be ideal to complement the monitors. The best studio subwoofer is specifically designed to help you better monitor bass heavy tracks.

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 bass frequencies 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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Audio Science Reviewamirm96/100
Erin's Audio CornerErin89/100
*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.
$349.99
Yamaha
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 is a big brand that produces musical gear for every facet of live performance and recording. They continue to be the go-to brand for Stage Monitors and studio monitors in the entry to the mid-tier market.

Yamaha studio 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 frequency 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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Digital DJ TipsEditor100/100
Sound On SoundPaul White85/100
Harmony CentralDavid Bryce96/100
*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

Genelec 8010A

95
GEARANK
95 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.
$350.00
Genelec
Genelec 8010A 50W 3″ Powered Studio Monitor

Cons

  • Awkward XLR jack positioning

Pros

  • Portable
  • Surprisingly robust sound
  • Great Imaging

Genelec's flagship lines grace the worlds best recording studios. The brand is known for their high end studio monitors. 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 speaker 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.

Genelec are known for their high-end, professional monitors. The Genelec 8010A takes on the character and pedigree of its larger and more expensive siblings. If you're looking for a compact nearfield studio 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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Sound On SoundPaul White96/100
MusicTechEditor100/100
MusicRadarRobbie Stamp90/100
*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 2950+ ratings and reviews.
$398.99
Yamaha
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 reference 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 curve. A cool looking white finish Yamaha HS8 version is also available atSweetwater.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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Lance TingeyLance Tingey94/100
Gearspacegasolin90/100
GearspaceZack Daniels95/100
MusicRadarTrevor Curwen90/100
Perfect AcousticEditor96/100
*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

Yamaha HS5 (Pair)

97
GEARANK
97 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.
$399.98
Yamaha
Yamaha HS5 5 inch Powered Studio Monitor (Pair)

Cons

  • Not ideal for bass-heavy music

Pros

  • Amazing for critical listening
  • Compact Size
  • Great build quality
  • Good value

The Yamaha HS5 is a highly regarded studio monitor that has gained popularity for its compact size and impressive sound quality. It's easy to see why this monitor has garnered such positive attention. First and foremost, the HS5's build quality is exceptional. The monitor pair features thick cabinets and a sturdy build that ensures durability while remaining surprisingly lightweight and ready to use straight out of the box.

Regarding design and aesthetics, the HS5 is available in black or white. It features an iconic white-coned woofer, creating a visually appealing and timeless look that complements any studio setting. When it comes to sound quality, the HS5 truly shines, delivering a clear and accurate sound that is perfect for producing, mixing, and mastering. However, it is worth noting that due to its 5-inch size, the monitor may be lacking in low-end for bass-heavy music.

In conclusion, the Yamaha HS5 is an excellent choice for anyone needing a versatile and affordable studio monitor. Its precision, durability, and reasonable price point make it a great option for those seeking accuracy, purity, and clarity in their sound reproduction. While the limited bass may pose an issue for those producing bass-heavy music, the overall quality and performance of the HS5 makes it a standout choice for many studio applications.

Specifications

  • Driver: 5″ Woofer, 1″ Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 45W LF, 25W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Frequency response: 54Hz – 30kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Level, Room Control, High Trim, Power
  • Dimensions: 11.2″ x 6.7″ x 8.7″
  • Weight: 11.7 lbs.

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 175+ ratings and reviews.
$550.00
Genelec
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 studio 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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Gearspacebabydaddymusic96/100
*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

97
GEARANK
97 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.
$695.00
Genelec
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 curves, 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 curves - 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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Gearspacezephonic90/100
Audio Science Reviewamirm95/100
*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.
$749.00
Neumann
Neumann KH 120 A 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
WebsiteSource*Rating Value
Sound On SoundHugh Robjohns96/100
delamarFelix Baarss100/100
GearspaceRonGherkins95/100
AudiofanzineWazana Records100/100
*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

Studio monitors are designed to be reasonably versatile. But there's no one pair of monitors that can satisfy everybody. So searching for the best studio monitor isn't as straightforward as one might hope. You must find the best studio speakers that fit your needs and resources. You also have to consider your existing recording studio equipment and the acoustic treatment of your room. 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

The best studio monitor speakers 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 LF Driver size (also called Woofers), and this is important for you to consider.

The general idea is that bigger LF woofers can handle more lows, while smaller ones can better represent the mid frequencies. In line with this, the best home studio monitors for bass heavy songs (hip hop, dance music, electronic music etc) would be ones with bigger woofers, 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

Frequency response 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 responses 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. This is where bass ports come in, as they can help provide deeper bass.

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 it's best to go for flat response studio monitors.

A professional music producer will usually have more than one set of monitors. And this is our recommendation, for you to have more sonic references to work with. With monitors that have good frequency range, you won't fall into the trap of overdoing Equalization, as you can hear the bass, mids, and treble clearly.

Can regular desktop speakers be used as monitors? The short answer is no - there is a big difference when comparing studio monitors vs speakers.

Power Rating

The best studio speaker monitors are powered speakers, so they come with built-in power amplifiers. The power rating of the amplifier, together with the speaker size, dictate the headroom and overall loudness limit of the unit. For mixing, you want volume levels to be just enough to cover your listening area, without getting it muddied or distorted. This is why for home studios, you'll get good results with the best small studio monitors.

When looking for the best speakers for a studio, loud is not always better, you don't want to tire your ears. Ear fatigue can negatively impact music production. Another important factor when working in home recording studios is that you also don't want to disturb the neighbors.

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. This means that the best studio speakers can be different depending on the room size, situation, and musical style.

Other factors to consider include listening distance, and noise from your sound system, or appliances like a nearby airconditioner fan.

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. You'll definitely notice an improvement in your listening experience when you're in the right position relative to the speaker. 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. You also have to consider room correction along with listener position. 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. You wouldn't have to worry much if you have a Soundproof Studio. But If your room is untreated (as in the case of a bedroom or home studio), the best choice are 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 Monitors Selection Methodology

The first Edition was published in 2016. The current edition was published on June 12, 2024

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 we focused on those that are specifically meant for studio monitoring use from big brands like Presonus, Neumann, IK Multimedia, KRK, Genelec, Yamaha, and more. Consumer hi fi speakers were not considered for this guide. For this edition, we ended up including 65 of them on our short-list, and collected over 34,107 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

Some of the home 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.

Image Credit: 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.

27 thoughts on “Best Studio Monitors of 2024 – Six Suitability Categories For You”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  4. 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.

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

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

      1. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

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