The Best Stage Monitors - Powered & Passive

Stage monitors

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Stage monitors allow performers to hear themselves and others on stage. Without stage or floor monitors it can be very difficult to stay in time and sing in tune.

We have decided to focus this gear guide on floor monitors (also called wedge/foldback speakers) since they provide good area coverage and they are what most people use. We may cover in-ear stage monitors at a later date.

Things to Consider When Buying Stage Monitors:

  • Powered (aka active) vs Passive

    Powered stage monitors come with built-in amplifiers, while passive ones require a separate amplifier. There's no clear winner between the two, rather, they each have their own advantages over the other. Powered stage monitor speakers make setup simple. Passive monitors require an amplifier. The most practical method is to consider your existing equipment when getting stage monitors, if you already have a dedicated amplifier, then get a passive monitor, if none, then go powered.

  • How many do you need?

    The number of monitors you need is influenced greatly by the size of the stage and the number of performers. The most ideal is to setup is a monitor for every performer, otherwise they may have to share a monitor.. A good rule of thumb is to start with two monitors for small to medium sized venues, and add as the need for more arises - you'll often need one dedicated to the drummer as it can be difficult to hear every performer from the back of the stage where the drummer is usually positioned.

  • Speaker Size and Weight

    The size of the speaker (LF Driver) is significant in that it will dictate the stage monitor's bass handling and projection. You will want smaller speakers (10 to 12") for vocals and other common instruments that include guitars and keyboards. While bass heavy instruments like drums and bass guitars will require bigger (12" to 15") woofers - note that some drummers use an additional subwoofer for stage monitoring. Mobility is an important consideration if you're performance venue constantly changes, and to help with that, we have put the weight of each stage monitor listed on the features section.

  • Can be used as FOH (Front of House) or General Speakers

    Most modern powered PA speakers can double as good stage monitors, making them great bang per buck choices. This means that they can serve as back up FOH speakers should your main one have problems.

Methodology

This guide complements our Powered and Passive PA speakers guide, and like the previous ones, we focused on stage monitors that are readily available at most major music stores. We then analysed the ratings provided by customers, expert reviewers and recommendations and fed all these data into the Gearank algorithm which allowed us to rank each monitor via their scores. The list is broken down into powered and passive categories for convenience. See How Gearank Works for further details on our methods.

The Best Powered Stage Monitors

These are market leading powered monitor speakers that are highly rated for as floor monitors. Incidentally, many of them are also great FOH speakers.

QSC K10

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 350+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$700
QSC K10 10 inch 1000 watt Powered PA Speaker

After making it to our list of Powered PA Speakers, the QSC K10 also makes an appearance in this list because of how good it performs as a stage monitor. With its 1000W power rating and it's wedge bumpers, the QSC K10 has enough headroom to provide clear audio monitoring even on big and loud stages. This speaker features GuardRail technology which discreetly protects the unit from being damaged by overload, while the ABS thermoplastic exterior provides ample external protection.

Features:

  • 10" LF Driver
  • 1.75" HF Driver
  • Bi-Amplified 1000W Class D (500W LF | 500W HF)
  • Frequency Range: 56Hz-20kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 129dB
  • Mounting: Pole (2 Angles), Floor Wedge, Fly
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS Combo (Mic/Line), 1 x XLR/TRS Combo (Line), 2 x RCA
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR (Direct), 1 x XLR (Line)
  • Weight: 32 lbs.

Pros

As evidenced by its high Gearank rating, reviews are consistent in saying that the QSC K10 sounds as good and clear as it gets. For its price and good reputation, the expectations of users are understandably high, but the QSC K10 met them all head on, with majority of users stating that their expectations were met if not exceeded. Other noteworthy features that get mentioned in reviews include its high headroom, setup flexibility (can be used as mains for small to medium venues), durability, and reliability. It is also quite light for its functionality and projection, which is further complemented by the well thought out handle positions. Drummers, vocalists, guitarists, and many other musicians gave this powered speaker their approval and recommendation.

Cons

There's not much in terms of complaints, and of the very few negative reviews, they are mostly about shipping issues, or due to users who are looking for more bass and switching to a more powerful model for bigger venues. I would add that the price is a bit steep for some, but the flexibility it offers makes it more than worth the cost.

Overall

If you have the budget, and you're looking for a quality powered speaker for use as floor monitors, then this is highly recommended.

Yamaha DBR10

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Yamaha DBR10

This highly rated powered speaker cabinet is a market favorite when it comes to portable and versatile speaker systems. Weighing in at just 23.2 lbs, the Yamaha DBR10 packs quite a lunch of punch, with its 10" LF Driver, 700W power rating and max SPL of 129dB. This portability combined with its mounting flexibility, and Yamaha's reputation for quality makes for a potent mixture of practical traits that many are looking for in a stage monitor.

Features:

  • 10" LF Driver
  • 1" HF Driver
  • Bi-Amplifier: 700W (500 LF | 200 HF)
  • Frequency Range: 55Hz-20kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 129dB
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 1 x Stereo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 23.2 lbs.

Pros

The most common commendation that this speaker gets in reviews is for its clean sound and good projection, specifically when considering its size and weight. Users who switched to this speaker was happy because they get the same, if not better, sound at a more affordable price point and more importantly, at just around half the weight compared to other models. While it does work great as FOH mains and side fills, experts have noted that it works even better as a floor monitor, with its clarity and quiet operation - especially for vocals and acoustic instruments.

Cons

The rating would have been higher if not for some users who wanted more bass and projection from its compact 10" speaker, they should have known better and bought something bigger. An expert reviewer cautioned that it can't handle too much lows, but said that this is a physical limitation rather than a fault on the speaker - and would not be an issue when used as a stage monitor.

Overall

If you are looking for a quality monitor that's light on your back and your bank, then definitely get this one.

Electro-Voice ZLX-12P

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$399
Electro-Voice ZLX-12P 12" Powered PA Speaker - 1000W

Electro-Voice is known for providing speakers with good specs at a more affordable price point, and the ZLX-12P is a good example of how successful their strategy is. At just under $400, this powered speaker can get really loud with its 1000W class D amplifier built in, which drives a 12" woofer and a 1.5" tweeter. Positioning flexibility makes this an even better deal, but what really made it a crowd favorite is its clean Hi-Fi sound, something unexpected in this price range.

Features:

  • 12" LF Driver
  • 1.5" HF Driver
  • Power Rating: 1000W Class D
  • Frequency Range: 50Hz - 20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 126dB
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 34.39 lbs.

Pros

While there's really no extra or special features to speak off, this speaker is known for doing what its supposed to do, excellently. What we found are mostly favorable reviews, commending the unit for its transparent sound and great projection. And this is specially obvious for users who have set up the EV ZLX-12P as a floor wedge, they reported that the high headroom allows for a musical sound that actually inspired them to play better.

Cons

This speaker is a bit on the heavy side at 34.39 lbs, but it still relatively light when compared to other active speakers with 12" woofers. Of the few other complaints, we found that they are mostly about shipping damage and manufacturing defect claims that would be resolved through the retail store.

Overall

This is easily a good bang per buck powered stage monitor that should be checked out if you're budget is limited.

Behringer Eurolive B205D

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 475+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Behringer Eurolive B205D 150 watt Powered PA Speaker

Behringer continues to provide affordable music gear that keeps other manufacturers on their toes, and they make it to this list with the compact and portable stage monitor Eurolive B205D. It is the smallest and lightest active speaker in this list, equipped with just a 5.25" LF driver, and a 150W amplifier which seem way under-powered compared to the others. But reviews reveal that the projection of this monitor is just enough for small stages and venues.

The Behringer Eurolive B205D portable PA speaker is ideal as a stage monitor for vocalists and keyboardists thanks to its mic stand mountable design. It's also a great speaker for small-scale public address - just plug a microphone directly into the B205D and you're ready to be heard. The 3-channel mixer gives you mic and line inputs, including RCAs for music players. And the 3-band EQ lets you fine-tune your sound easily. Whether you're looking for a convenient stage monitor or a portable PA system, the Behringer B205D is a solid choice.

Features:

  • 5.25" LF Driver
  • Amplifier: 150W
  • Frequency Range: 105Hz-10kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 112dB
  • Inputs : 1 x XLR, 2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 2 x RCA
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (Mic/Line)
  • Mounting: Floor Wedge, Pole
  • Weight: 7 lbs.

Pros

It's most obvious advantage is its portability, and is the reason why majority of reviewers bought and loved the product. But it's not just about portability because many have reported that the Eurolive B205D sounds great and projects louder than what they expected. From small cafes to a Las Vegas rock band stage, the general consensus is that it gets the job done quite well for the size. The ability to be mounted on a mic stand is also a plus, allowing the performer to better hear the sound coming off the speaker, and giving them easier access to the onboard controls which include a 3-channel mixer and EQ.

Cons

There were some who complained that they received the unit with some defects, while others had problems within a year. These can still be covered by warranty so it's not much of a deal breaker, especially considering the price tag. But it would still pay to handle and setup this compact active speaker carefully, specifically when mounting it on a mic stand, you don't want it to fall down during a performance.

Overall

Easily the best compact stage monitor in the market today, since you can save a lot by buying this unit, we recommend that you also get a mic stand to get the most benefit.

JBL EON610

85
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$400
JBL EON610 Powered PA Speaker

The JBL EON 610 is easily one of the most popular active loudspeakers in the market today, and while many use it as their main FOH speaker, a good many others have put it to good use as a stage monitor. With its wedge shape, you can lay it on the floor and have a high headroom active monitor speaker that will be enough for even big stages and loud bands. And since it has a smaller 10" speaker, it has more clarity and details, making it great for vocals and instruments that do not require much bass.

Features:

  • 10" LF Driver
  • 1" HF Driver
  • Bi-amplified: 700W LF and 300W HF
  • Frequency Range: 52Hz-20kHz (±10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 124dB
  • Inputs : 2 x XLR-1/4" combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (thru)
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Fly
  • Weight: 26 lbs.

Pros

The majority of the many positive reviews the EON610 received are from users who were happy with its versatility. And many mention how it performed flawlessly, and quietly, with no hum or hiss, and it specially worked well as a stage monitor. Some even reported using it as monitors at big amphitheaters, and other big venues and it passed their expectations with flying colors. Even critics who prefer speakers with wooden baffles were impressed with the quality of the sound coming from its plastic exterior.

Cons

There were some who mis-understood the Bluetooth capability as having the means to stream music, so they were disappointed to find that it is only meant for convenient EQ adjustments. Some also complained that it was not available for iOS devices at the time of their review. Note that I looked at the ratings of the JBL Eon app on both Google App and iTunes and found that not many liked the apps, citing disconnection and other issues. Since EQ can be done externally, the unit should still perform well even with this issue.

Overall

If you're looking for a reliable, powerful and clear sounding stage monitor that can double as a FOH speaker when needed, then check this one out.

Behringer Eurolive F1320D

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$270
Behringer Eurolive F1320D Powered Monitor Speaker Cabinet

The Behringer Eurolive F1320D is a 300-watt powered speaker that's specifically designed for stage monitor use. While it can be set on a pole, the controls and the logo are positioned in such a way that works and looks great for floor monitor use. And since its from Behringer, you can expect that they pack in as many features as they can, including a 3-Band EQ, while sticking to a very accessible price tag.

Features:

  • 12" LF Driver
  • 1" HF Driver
  • Bi-Amplified 160W LF | 40W HF
  • Impedance 8 ohms
  • Frequency Range: 60Hz-16kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 115dB
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 34.5 lbs.

Pros

From electric guitarists who use amp-modeling processors, to bluegrass players, to vocalists and other musicians, many agree that the Eurolive F1320D is impressively loud for its size and it sounds good. Many appreciate the EQ control, which allows the performer to personalize his monitor to taste and to emphasize specific frequencies - making it great for different types of instruments.

Cons

Most of the complaints point to the speaker's lack of power, but being rated at 200W, this should have been expected. Some reviewers were hoping it could handle loud stages but found that it can't and rated it lower. While the power is indeed limited, it will be enough for most small to medium size venue stages. There was also a user who tried it for electronic drums and found that it was not a good match.

Overall

If you are a musician who plays small venue gigs, and want an affordable powered stage monitor that you can tweak to your liking, this is highly recommended.

The Best Passive Stage Monitors

If you already have an amplifier, or you want to setup your stage monitors using a dedicated amplifier, then check out these four highly rated passive stage monitors.

Yamaha Club V Series SM15V

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$410
Yamaha Club V Series SM15V 15" Passive Stage Monitor Speaker CabinetYamaha Club V Series SM15V 15" Passive Stage Monitor Speaker Cabinet

The Yamaha Club series has been a popular choice for many for a long time now, and so it is of no surprise that the fifth generation secured a spot in this list with the SM15V. Compared to the previous versions, this one has a larger enclosure for better low-frequency performance, improved HF and LF drivers for higher power handling, enhanced crossovers, and sturdier grilles. With its peak power at 1000W, this passive stage monitor can get loud when needed, and with its bigger 15" LF driver, it can handle instruments with extreme lows like kick drums and bass guitars.

Features:

  • 15" LF Driver
  • 2" HF Driver
  • Continuous Power: 250W
  • Program Power: 500W
  • Peak Power: 1000W
  • Impedance 8 ohms
  • Frequency Range: 55Hz - 16kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 99dB
  • Weight: 61.7 lbs.

Pros

Loud and clear is how many describe the Yamaha SM15V. As a monitor, many liked its high headroom and good projection, it can easily handle loud instruments with low frequencies, including bass guitars and drum kits. Another common theme among reviewers and experts is their appreciation of the unit's clarity and audio quality. The company attributes this to the help of Eminence which custom designed the drivers to meet Yamaha's preferences.

Cons

There were some low ratings that were attributed to shipping issues, which is unfortunate. Some complained about the bulky size of this speaker and its weight, but then again, this should be expected of a bigger 15" woofer.

Overall

Overall, the Yamaha Club V Series SM15V is highly recommended.

Electro-Voice TX1152FM

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 5+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$849
Electro-Voice TX1152FM Tour-X 15" Passive Floor Monitor Speaker Cabinet

One look at this passive speaker and you'll notice the difference, the tweeter and woofer have dedicated baffles. According to the company, this is designed to ensure that the sound coming from the two drivers are properly synchronized, resulting in a fuller and clearer sound for the one using the monitor. With a peak power of 2000W and 15" LF Driver, this monitor is meant for handling louder mixes, including those with more bass.

Features:

  • 15" LF Driver
  • 1.25" HF Driver
  • Continuous Power: 500W
  • Program Power: 1000W
  • Peak Power: 2000W
  • Impedance 8 ohms
  • Frequency Range: 65Hz - 20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 134dB
  • Mounting: Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 51.81 lbs.

Pros

Reviews are consistent in stating that this monitor has a crisp and clean sound, and some reviewers add that it won against more popular brands when they compared sound quality in actual live performance scenarios. The standout appeal of the exterior was also commended, along with its sturdy design.

Cons

Of the few complaints it received, the price tag gets the most comment, because it is priced quite steep for a stage monitor. But considering its reliability and sound quality, many feel that their investment for the TX1152FM is justified.

Overall

If you have the budget, and you are looking for a full sounding passive stage monitor for your setup, then check out the EV TX1152FM.

Peavey PV 12M

85
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$200
Peavey PV 12M Passive Floor Monitor Speaker Cabinet

Peavey's passive speaker PV12M makes this list with its great specs that translates well in actual use. It features a 12" Sheffield Pro 1200+ woofer with a larger than usual 2.5" voice coil, and a 1.4-inch titanium-diaphragm compression, with a combined peak power of 1000W. While it can be pole mounted, the PV 12M is specifically designed for floor wedge use, with its logo positioned horizontally. Thanks to its distinct trapezoidal enclosure, it can be angled at either 30 or 45 degrees from the floor.

Features:

  • 12" LF Driver
  • 2.5" HF Driver
  • Continuous Power: 250W
  • Program Power: 500W
  • Peak Power: 1000W
  • Impedance 8 ohms
  • Frequency Range: 51Hz - 21kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127dB
  • Inputs: 2 x 1/4" (Parallel)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (Parallel)
  • Mounting: Floor Wedge, Pole
  • Weight: 37 lbs.

Pros

Experienced users commend the PV 12M's reliability, delivering consistent sound quality gig after gig. Some users even report having used this stage monitor for years without fail. Special mentions were also given to how it handles vocals nicely, making it highly recommended for church choirs and other productions were vocals are prominent.

Cons

There was a user who complained about the positioning of the ports, which prevents the speaker to be setup in an upright position, this is however understandable given it can be mounted on a pole. There were some users who lamented the durability of the horn, saying that it blew up on them and were replaced, to be fair, this issue is far from a common occurrence since majority is happy with the unit's reliability.

Overall

With its accessible price tag, good power rating and Peavey's reputation for reliability, the Peavey PV 12M should be considered if you're looking for a 12" passive stage monitor.

Comments

Nice overview. I would add

Nice overview. I would add that the Peavey PV 12M horn drivers do blow. From my experience, that happens about every 8-10 years if the monitor is used 3-4 times a week in performance and rehearsal. My bands have pushed these units to the limit. They've been impressive and held up to everything we've thrown at them.
How do I know they blow every 8-10 years? I date my drivers when I install them, originally because I was curious as to how long they last. I'm glad I started to do that as I doubt I would remember accurately when I had last replaced them.
These guys are extremely durable and will deliver clean, crisp audio for decades. the pole mount allowed us to use one as a main when we blew a speaker once. And like most Peavey gear, these speakers will handle much more power than Peavey says they will.

I'd like to have seen more

I'd like to have seen more reviews of monitors with a 10" woofer. I know that Yamaha makes one. I have two of the Kustom 10" and I like them for my situation which is in a small church with a relatively small staging area. There has to be other 10" monitors out there under $300.

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