music production home studio

(Photo by Lewis Guapo on Unsplash)

If you’re a music producer or an audiophile who is picky about your sound, quality studio monitors can ensure the accuracy of your music. Regular listening speakers tend to flatten or enhance certain parts of a track in order to create a pleasing listening experience. Studio monitors are designed to reproduce sound at the most accurate levels so that producers can hear flaws in their mix easily. The best studio monitors will give you balanced sound and tools to create music that sounds great on any audio system, whether it’s personal headphones, car speakers, or a home sound system.

The process of mixing and mastering music can be a complicated one. Music is composed of individual tracks – for example, vocals would live on one track, drums on another, etc. The amount of track layering depends on the genre and complexity of the song. During this process, different frequencies in each track can even be adjusted so that hearing-impaired individuals can hear all the parts of the song accurately. Research from the University of Oldenburg in Germany finds that individuals with hearing impairment favored louder vocals, elevated frequencies, and generally clearer mixes with fewer overlapping frequencies. Hearing aids cannot always completely address these issues. 

And sometimes those frequencies really do have more of an impact than you think. According to a study from McMaster University, people dance almost 12 percent more when a very low frequency bass is playing. Researchers at a concert manipulated the very-low bass-playing speakers, turning them on and off every two minutes. They found the amount of movement was 11.8 percent greater when the speakers were on, showing that it is in fact — all about that bass. The job of a music producer is to know how to manipulate sound for maximum impact.

If you’re excited to hear about the best studio monitors for every budget, keep reading! StudyFinds consulted expert sources to find the top recommendations on the internet for studio monitors that will help you produce a clean mix. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

Studio monitors
Studio monitor (Photo by wu yi on Unslpash)

The List: Best Studio Monitors, According to Audio Experts

 

1. Yamaha HS5

The Yamaha HS5’s and their newer model the HS8 are the best choice in the game for clarity and accuracy. Producers looking to purchase studio monitors for clean mixing and mastering with no extra frills or distraction should start here. “The Yamaha HS5 series are reference speakers which are built solely with mixing and monitoring in mind,” says MusicRadar. “There’s no Bluetooth or graphic EQ, and room correction is basic at best. For sheer accuracy, however, they’re hard to beat at this price range. Get your mix right on these and it’ll sound fantastic anywhere.”

Yamaha HS5
Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitors

Though there are built in filters and level control these speakers do not come with cables, and you’ll have to adjust to find the “sweet spot” for where you should position you and the speakers within the room for the most accurate sound. “Built-in Room Control and High Trim Response functions help the HS5s compensate for unruly room acoustics,” explains Popular Science. “The HS5 offers a somewhat narrow listening sweet spot, which means you’ll need to pay extra attention to the locations of your speakers and listening position. But once you get it right, you’ll start hearing elements of your mix that you never noticed before—for better or worse. Tough love, indeed.”

“There’s a lot to like about the Yamaha HS5, and we aren’t the only ones to think so,” writes Producer Hive. “These active studio monitors are small but powerful, with clear and accurate sound. Of course, we won’t get into the weeds as we have analyzed this studio monitor speaker in an in-depth review. In a nutshell, the Yamaha HS5s are flat and neutral-sounding. Expect crisp mids and highs with an equitable bass response for 5-inch studio monitors. This is not the best size for sub-bass, but you can move upstream to the HS8 and/or buy the subwoofer bundle.”

2. KRK Rokit 5 G4

If you’ve been around music producers you may be familiar with the black and yellow speakers you’ll often find in the setups of producers just starting out. “Yup, these are the KRK Rokit range and they are hugely popular amongst music producers — especially those specializing in electronic, hip-hop and pop,” says a reviewer at  Piano Dreamers. “Nevertheless, the KRK Rokit range is versatile and is suitable for all genres of music-making. For those starting out and really wanting to make leaps and bounds in their mixing ability I would definitely recommend the Rokit 5 G4’s as a starting point.”

KRK Rokit 5 G4
KRK Rokit 5 G4

There are several models of the KRK Rokit’s, but the 5 G4’s allow for more calibration than before. “An accompanying KRK app allows you to calibrate the monitors to your room (it’s no substitute for Sonarworks, but it certainly helps),” says HyperBits. “The Rokit’s are known for their balanced low-end response and are built to be listened to for long hours with minimal ear fatigue. The KRKs are an excellent choice for new producers wishing to work for hours on end.”

“All in all, the ROKIT 5 G4 has made converts of former doubters of the ROKIT line,” writes Gear Rank. “With its new, more balanced sound signature and more serious aesthetic, the KRK ROKIT 5 G4 earns its place as one of the best studio monitor speakers at this price point. And you don’t have to be a music producer to appreciate its sound quality, even for casual listening experience.”

3. Genelec 8030C

The Genelec 8030C delivers more power and performance but in a smaller, compact footprint. “Genelec’s 8000 series has a sterling reputation among music producers, and the 8030C is the best of the bunch for mixing,” explains American Songwriter. “The reasons for this are that these studio monitors have exceptional directivity, dispersion, and an amazing ability to reveal fine details. Their mid-range response is really good, and, considering their size, the bass response is also excellent. Plus, they have a treble response that is nice and bright.”

This pair features rear panel room compensation switches that allow you to adjust for the acoustics of your room. “The 8000 series has a solid reputation in the music production community, and the 8030C is our pick of the litter,” writes Producer Hive. These monitor speakers feature a 5” woofer with a 0.75” metal dome tweeter with active crossover and protection circuits. Other notable features include XLR inputs, protection circuits, mains on/off, and manual frequency correction switches.

“This company has been creating such fantastic monitors for such a long time that anything with the Genelec name on it tends to be a life-long purchase,” explains Piano Dreamers. “This is no different with the 8030c’s. They are the most solid 5-inch woofer monitors on this list thanks to their die-cast aluminum enclosure.  They make up part of the 8000 series from Genelec that are so synonymous with durable, reliable, high-end studios all over the world. These are such clean sounding monitors that allow you to not only mix music, but take on dialogue or sound design jobs too.”

4. JBL LSR305P MKII

Another compact but powerful choice, the JBL LSR305P MKII for users still on a budget but want the benefit of a wide dynamic range and versatile sweet spot. “The value for the price point is unparalleled, and once you have a pair of the LSR305s you won’t need to upgrade until you’re ready to spend $1K+ on your next pair of monitors,” says HyperBits. “They offer a faithfully balanced EQ spectrum and are built to have a large ‘sweet spot’ — this means that even if your room setup isn’t perfect, you’re likely to get a better sound out of these monitors than others which rely on a more strict room configuration.”

JBL LSR305P MKII
JBL LSR305P MKII

New Boundary EQ settings help to compensate for variations in frequency caused by environment, and the HF Trim switch adjusts high-frequency output to room acoustics or personal preferences. “The 3 Series MkII is the company’s midrange studio reference monitor line, with models ranging from 5-inch to 8-inch drivers,” writes Popular Science. “The best fit for most home recording studios is the LSR 305P, a bi-amplified monitor with a 5-woofer and 1-inch dome tweeter enclosed in an MDF cabinet with a black PVC finish and a slick injection-molded ABS front baffle (a white version is also available). The enclosure features JBL’s rear-firing Slip Stream bass port design, engineered to produce accurate bass at low playback levels.”

“If you’re looking for a studio monitor that will help you make great mixes at home, the JBL 305P MkII’s well-balanced combination of clarity and power makes it perfect for the job,” explains Futurism. “As the current revision of the JBL LSR305, the 305P MkIIs offer the same neutral and flat nearfield performance as their predecessor, with the added bonus of a boundary EQ adjustment feature that allows users to adjust the speakers’ sound when placed on nearby walls or desktops.”

5. PreSonus Eris 4.5

These monitors deliver the same studio quality sound and accuracy that professional Eris monitors are known for, but in a smaller, compact form that can be used in home studios. “The PreSonus Eris E4.5 is an excellent choice for budget-conscious musicians and producers,” writes Roadie Music. “Despite their compact size, these monitors pack a punch with their 4.5-inch Kevlar woofers and 1-inch silk dome tweeters. They offer a smooth frequency response and adjustable acoustic controls, allowing you to tailor the sound to your listening environment.” 

PreSonus Eris 4.5
PreSonus Eris 4.5

The E4.5s offer easy to use controls and flexible input options, and is designed for a large sweet spot of listening, allowing you to move around and still get accurate sound. “The E4.5s sound neutral to my ears, with clear highs great for nearfield use,” writes a reviewer at Gear Rank. “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 or stands.”

“When I listened to these, I tried not to think of them as just media speakers as so many reviewers before me had mentioned,” says Piano Dreamers. “To my surprise, they were quite accurate! The highs were very crisp, and whilst the bass wasn’t altogether there, I did not feel like it was unnoticeable. The mids were very rich and warm, and the center image was well defined.”

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Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations

About Elsa Lee

Elsa is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and marketer based out of the Los Angeles area. She has been writing for 7 years.

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14 Comments

  1. Ron says:

    You don’t say a word about ATC active speakers, which are some of the best & most reputable in the world! What’s wrong with you?

    1. Corbin Bernson says:

      😐

    2. Yona says:

      My best guess is that their just shilling out. Either that or their utterly incompetent. Even if this list had had “entry level” in the title it wouldn’t have been very accurate imho. Truly a shame…

    3. Ashley says:

      They deleted my original comment, so here’s the abstract: This is not a good list. At all. Go somewhere else if you want to make an educated buying decision. Ideally a retailer where you can actually listen to aome monitors.

    4. Ashley says:

      My best guess: their trying to make the most affiliate money or just don’t have a good grasp on the subject matter. As an entry level list, this still wouldn’t be good, but at least understandeable? But as a “Top 5 over all” list this is a joke, yes. Not a single three-way…

  2. Yona says:

    This list is genuinely a joke. No “expert” would have any of these monitors, except for maaaybe the Genelec’s, in their top 5. Much less an actual engineer! If this was called the “top 5 studio monitors, based on popularity and the affiliate cut we could get”, it would have been more accurate. Not a ~single~ three way speaker?! No Adam, no Focal, no ATC, almost no mid range and no high end speakers at all?!?!?! Honestly, it’s a shame what some media outlets publish these days.

  3. Jimmy R. says:

    Where are the Focal Monitors?????

    1. Robert L Wicker says:

      They are on layaway. 🤣

  4. Morrie says:

    I had the LSR305mk2 (loved them and probably should not have sold them). That said, I have Adam Audio T5V now and I think they are even better. When I compared them to the HS5 the Adam was much better. They have EQ switches on the back. Set them flat for mastering or boost the base and treble for more fun/engaging listening. The T7V even beats the amazing HS8 in my opinion… did I mention they are also cheaper? 🙂

  5. Shadowman23 says:

    Crap article probably written to shill out the top sold brands. You should have renamed the article to “top sold studio monitors” not “best.”

    Indeed no mention of ATC, PMC, Focal, Barefoot, Neumann, or HEDD or any other manufacturer of high end studio monitors. The only thing that comes remotely close but still nowhere near the level of quality are the genelecs you mentioned, but otherwise this list is useless.

  6. Anchovies Sardinsky says:

    What a waste of everybody’s time and effort this so-called article is…

  7. Left Armstrong says:

    Most anything by Adam is superior to everything on this list. My number 1 monitor is the Meyer HD1. I got goosebumps when I first auditioned them. Meyer just put out an updated version recently with the latest developments from the last 20 something years, but I have not heard them yet. Everything else on this list is underwhelming at best. The Genelecs are what most rental and truck companies provide as a bare minimum option for professional monitoring. Most of the Engineers of exceptional skill will specify something else if they care.

  8. Brian Ridgway says:

    Puh thet ick

  9. Tommy says:

    Lame list. They chose the KRK rockit? How about the S4 V8?