Icon Picks: Top 15 Studio Monitors
This roundup of Icon Picks features a selection of our favorite studio monitors that offer professional sound at a reasonable price.
Studio monitors are an essential part of any music recording studio, whether it is home-based or a professional space. However, there are a variety of quality studio monitors available on the market today. In addition, it can quickly become overwhelming weighing the differences between options and knowing which models best fits your needs.
To help narrow down the massive selection, we rounded up a list of professional sounding studio monitors that will help you get great mixes at a decent value.
Focal Solo6 Be
Whether you’re recording, mixing, or mastering, the Solo6 Be will translate your mixes will precision and accuracy. The 6.5″ composite sandwich mid-woofer combines neutrality in the midrange, fullness in the midbass, and deep bass that extends to 40Hz. The upper half sports a 1″ Beryllium inverted dome tweeter that offers a wide frequency response that reaches 40kHz. This professional sounding monitor is full, clear, and articulate!
The cabinet also features a front laminar bass port that helps extend the bass response. In addition, each driver gets its own amplifier with a total of 250W of power for a strong, distortion-free performance. The rear panel offers a standard XLR input connector and a host of controls for dialing in the best sonic results for your environment.Read more
Created by acclaimed industrial designer Harri Koskinen, every flagship M040 represents the optimum balance between affordability, world-leading innovation, and uncompromising performance. Discover the details in your mix with the precise on- and off-axis frequency reproduction of the Directivity Control Waveguide, and immerse bass reproduction of the Laminar Integrated Port. Both integrate into the breakthrough Natural Composite Enclosure, which itself is a huge step forward in sustainable, environmentally friendly enclosure design. Inside, Class D amplifiers power a 6 1/2 inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter, all combining to bring you color-free, accurate reproduction. With simple-to-use room response controls to accommodate any acoustic environment, the Genelec M040 will help you realize your true potential.Read more
Neumann KH 120
The KH 120 A is designed for use as a nearfield or as a rear loudspeaker in larger multi-channel systems. This model represents the latest in acoustic and electronic simulation and measurement technologies to ensure the most accurate sound reproduction possible. It has a Mathematically Modeled Dispersion waveguide, flexible acoustical controls, analog class-AB amplifiers, a large headroom analog input, and an extensive mounting hardware range. All of this provides the user with the maximum versatility over a wide variety of acoustic conditions, source equipment, and physical locations. Moreover, the KH 120 is perfect for tracking, mixing and mastering in music, broadcast, project and post-production studios.Read more
Dynaudio LYD 5 / LYD 8
The LYD series combines decades of experience in producing no-compromise reference systems for major studios all over the world.
Both the LYD 5 and LYD 8 models are ideal for any small studio setup. Dual 50-watt power amps feed the same drivers and smooth soft-dome tweeters as Dynaudio’s high-end speakers. For accurate sound reproduction, three switches make it quick to find your room’s best sound. First, tweak the Position switch to filter out reflective interference when placed within 20″ of a wall. Second, adjust the Sound Balance tilt-filter for a brighter or darker sound. Lastly, set the three-way Bass Extension switch to control your low end.Read more
Equator Audio D5
The D5 offers recording professionals a compact, affordable, and accurate nearfield solution. Focused attention was paid to the development details to ensure that they deliver professional sonic performance. These monitors feature an expensive coaxially designed transducer with a 5.25″ woofer and a 1″ silk tweeter. The frequency response is 53hz to 20khz. A new cutting-edge digital amplifier with breakthrough performance was designed specifically for the D5. The front baffle port allows you to position the D5 close to walls with no fear of the low-end choking.
The D5 studio monitors also have pro features such as balanced XLR and balanced/unbalanced TRS inputs as well as a boundary selection switch to select the appropriate monitor response for their room placement.Read more
Event 20/20 BAS
First released in 1995, the original 20/20 nearfield studio monitor revolutionized the recording industry.
The 20/20 BAS is a two-way front ported 250W speaker that incorporates several fundamental improvements over the original model. The speaker preserves the transducer design and cabinet volume of the traditional 20/20. Improvements on the high and low-frequency amplifiers, cabinet bracing, and overall construction improve audio characteristics, increase dynamics, and extend reliability. With ideas and technologies incorporated from Event’s flagship Opal speaker, this monitor delivers high output, low distortion, and superior dynamics.
Additionally, sustained high output performance and a new oversized toroidal power supply ensures sustained extreme low-frequency reproduction.Read more
The award-winning A7X is Adam’s best-selling nearfield monitor. It is one of the most balanced and versatile speakers currently on the market. Its ability to deliver precise sonic detail, clear sound image, tonal depth, and stereo localization inspires music producers.
A 50 Watt A/B amplifier drives the X-ART tweeter while a 100 Watt PWM amplifier powers the 7″ bass/mid-woofer. This design achieves a transparent and nuanced reproduction of the midrange frequencies with a seamless transition in the crossover from the woofer. Despite its compact housing, the bass response is powerful and precise, operating in the range of 42Hz to 2.5kHz.Read more
Yamaha HS Series
Ever since the 1970’s the iconic white woofer and signature sound of Yamaha’s nearfield reference monitors have become a genuine industry standard for a reason – their accuracy. Unlike studio monitors with added bass or treble frequencies which may sound more flattering at first, HS Series speakers were designed to give you the most honest, precise reference possible. There design provides an ideal sonic platform to build on throughout the mixing process. By combining acquired knowledge and expertise with state-of-the-art sound technologies, Yamaha’s speaker engineering team have examined, then optimized, every aspect that has contributed to making these monitors the most trusted in the business.
The second generation HS Series also adds a new 6.5″ model to the lineup, bringing its exceptional accuracy to an even greater variety of recording environments.Read more
JBL LSR 305 / LSR 308
JBL’s 3 Series Powered Studio Monitors deliver professional performance at an affordable price. The LSR 305 and LSR 308 models feature JBL’s new Waveguide technology. In conjunction with 3 Series high-performance transducers and system components, the Image Control Waveguide lets you hear the highest detail and depth in your recordings.
This latest series in JBL’s lineup also delivers an expansive stereo perspective, which widens the listener’s sweet spot immensely. This means you don’t have to be right in front of the speakers to make accurate adjustments to your mix. The powerful drivers and tweeter offer a wide frequency range on both models, producing impressive deep bass and smooth high-frequency response beyond the range of human hearing. On the rear are room EQ controls to fine-tune the monitor’s frequency response to match what’s going on in your room, as well as a bass port providing the extended low end.Read more
PreSonus Eris E5
PreSonus Eris E5 2-way active studio monitors offer you an inexpensive way to get an accurate sound. These high-definition active studio monitors feature a robust five-inch Kevlar woofer which helps break up reflected energy, so fewer delayed reflections reach the listener’s ear. The silk dome tweeter is designed to radiate sound with a wide dispersion pattern, creating a larger sweet spot. The result is a smooth and refined sound that accurately reproduces transients and high frequencies.
The Eris-series also offers extensive acoustic tuning controls. The three-position Acoustic Space switch helps to compensate for the boundary bass boost that can occur when a monitor is placed in a corner or near a wall. High and Mid controls help to mitigate room anomalies, while a Low Cutoff filter makes it easy to integrate a subwoofer into your monitor setup.Read more
KRK ROKIT 6 G3
KRK’s ROKIT 6 Generation 3 powered studio monitors offer professional performance and accuracy for recording, mixing, mastering and playback. The system sports of a 1” soft dome tweeter and 6” glass-Aramid composite woofer. It delivers high frequencies up to 35kHz, vocal clarity, and extended bass response. The proprietary bi-amped, class A/B amplifier grants SPL up to 107dB. The ROKIT waveguide is designed to ensure detailed imaging in the listening position. The front-firing bass port reduces boundary coupling to allow flexible positioning in the room while the engineered surface reduces diffraction distortion. Multiple input connections ensure the ROKIT 6 G3 will easily integrate into any system configuration. The ROKIT 6 G3 also provides ample power for larger rooms, where smaller monitors might not be enough.Read more
IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor
The ultra-compact iLoud Micro Monitor is designed specifically for smaller bedroom studios, and are small enough to slip into a travel bag for use on the road. The 3″ front ported neodymium drivers deliver a flat frequency response from 55 Hz to 20 kHz. The smooth and transparent 3/4″ silk dome tweeters bring out the high-end detail of your favorite recordings. In addition, iLoud Micro Monitors pair over Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming from your laptop or phoneRead more
The Mackie HR624mk2 active studio monitors bring significant improvements to the widely-used originals. New features such as a cast aluminum Zero Edge baffle, an optimized waveguide, and internal cabinet damping help to give the HR624mk2 even more accurate, natural sound reproduction. Designed with high-definition audio in mind, this THX pm3-certified monitor provides exceptional clarity for video, film, and video game projects.
The HR624mk2 sports a 6.7″ low-distortion woofer and a 1″ titanium dome tweeter to provide clear, lifelike sound across a full frequency spectrum. Also, internal amplifiers provide 140W of total power for a strong performance.
The rear panel of the cabinet has XLR, TRS, and RCA input connectors for compatibility with virtually any audio gear you can throw at it. Controls for LF and HF filters, along with acoustic space matching allow you to customize the monitor to your specific workspace for optimum performance.Read more
Avantone Pro Active MixCubes
The Avantone MixCubes mini reference monitors capture the legacy of the 5C Sound Cubes used in virtually all-major studios for over 25 years. This ultra-portable monitor gives you the ability to hear what your mixes will sound like on bass-challenged real-world systems such as computers, televisions, car stereos, and iPod docking stations. These full-range, active MixCubes are 6-1/2″ tall, and sport a 5-1/4″ speaker that provides excellent sound reproduction for great reference mixing. The shielded cabinets allow you to place them next to computer monitors.Read more
AC Worldwide Star Wars Family
Because it’s Star Wars! This one is more for fun than audio referencing. The award-winning Star Wars Speakers by ACW deliver a high-end portable sound for their size. Also, these Bluetooth speakers pack a 10W Subwoofer and offer support for smartphone apps.Read more