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Best Studio Monitors for 2019

A studio monitor is the most accurate way to listen to music, apart from playing it live. They will accurately reproduce all flaws as well as strengths in music, making them ideal for recording artists or audiophiles. Here are the best studio monitors to add to your sound system.

If you're a recording artist or just an audiophile, having high quality studio monitors is crucial. You want to be able to the music reproduced as accurately as possible. Monitors will also reproduces flat audio signals across audible frequency spectrums without selectively emphasizing certain frequencies. That being said, there are a wide variety of models and designs on the market. However, high-quality studio monitors can be expensive. 

How much should I expect to spend on a studio monitor?

Depending on the type and design, studio monitors have different prices ranging from under $100 for the budget models, to $10000+ for the premium models.

What features should I consider in a budget studio monitor?

  • Power: More wattage results in more headroom, and enables you to adjust compression, gates, and limiters as needed. Music peaks can require more power than an average music program material. Also, bi- and tri-amped studio monitors have a clearer sound and greater definition than a single-amped one. 
  • Ports: Most of the project studio monitors require ports to enhance the output level in case of low frequencies. However, closed cabinets have more precise sonic accuracy than ported cabinets. If your studio monitor is supposed to be placed close to a wall, then the ports need to be in front, or you could choose a closed cabinet. 
  • Size: Studio monitors come in various different sizes, so are available to fit what you need. If it is a small room, then a near-field monitor is adequate. Mid-field monitors have larger speaker cones. If enough room is available, both of them can be used to bring perspective. Also, non-powered monitors require a separate power amp, and therefore will take up additional space compared to a powered monitor.
  • Cabinet materials: A cabinet that is well designed for outstanding performance depends upon the driver. Drivers should be resonance-free to ensure that the cabinet does not affect the output. Sturdy and stiff materials are the best when building a monitor cabinet to get rid of unwanted resonance. 
Having a high quality studio monitor is a must. The benefits abound, but reason enough is that with a monitor, your tracks will play and translate well.

What are the more advanced features that I should consider in a high-end studio monitor?

  • Frequency range: High-quality speakers reproduce all sound ranges. Frequencies reproduced are devoid of any variations or distortions, for example, Studio Monitor HEDD Type 2o, which has a frequency spectrum between 50 kHz and 32 Hz. 
  • Sound quality: Advanced studio monitors guarantee acoustics that are close to a live reproduction of music without sound distortion, compression, or missing features (i.e. high notes, very low notes, muddling sounds together). This is usually guaranteed by the number and type of cones that output sound.
  • Drivers: High-quality drivers made using high proprietary technology ensures that perfect transducing is enhanced. Quality tweeter drivers are made of diamonds and nymidium, which are both expensive but can withstand pressure and function with less energy. 
  • Built-in amplifier: An active monitor (with a built-in amplifier) has an advantage of functioning without an external amp. Nowadays, a vast majority of monitors have compact amplifiers (onboard class D amplifiers). 
  • Materials used: Materials used to build studio monitors are expensive. For example, a single quality capacitor may cost approximately twice the cost of two mid-budget nearfields. However, their use results in high-quality sound. Crossover components that work best are usually bigger and more costly. Other components, such as cabinets, are made of high-grade wood or metal. Due to the quality of materials, high-end monitors are durable and last longer - between 25 and 30 years. 

1) Presonus Eris E5 available for $124 on Amazon

Key features
  • 1-inch tweeter and a 5.25-inch woofer
  • Internal bracing that suppresses resonance
  • Acoustic space settings enhance accurate mixing
  • Class AB bi-amplification 

Eris E5, a product form PreSonus Electronics Inc., is an active, two-way monitor (single). It has a sturdy cabinet and all of the common inputs to any line-level source, such as a mixer and an audio interface. Its top-notch design is perfect for any studio. 

Compared to the other monitors costing less than $200, it is considered a budget monitor. It has many good features including:

  • A smooth frequency response that results in accurate and consistent listening. In addition, it has perfect headroom because of class AB amplification. 
  • A wide range of acoustic tuning controls perfect for mitigating room irregularities and fitting various music genres.
  • A silk dome tweeter that radiates sound appropriately to reproduce high frequency and transients. 

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Because of its smaller size, the PreSonus Eris E5 is portable.
  • More power from its 80 watts class AB amplification. It has a similar sound to E8, but E8 has more headroom. 
  • Highs are detailed but not aggressive like other cheaper models. 
  • With a balanced XLR and TRS,  and an unbalanced RCA, connection to any sound source is possible.

What's not so good about it?

  • Lack of bass response is expected, due to the lower price point. Because of this, you cannot solely rely on it when mixing.
  • Front ports would have been preferable, but this model features rear ports only.
  • The sound profile is very flat.
  • A wide range of facilities
  • The sound is neutral and transparent
  • Feasible local adaptive filtering
  • Simplicity in design
  • Lacks auto-standby
  • Mediocre and shorter cables
  • Low-quality cabinets
  • Resonance is prevalent in the upper power range

2) Adam Audio A7X available for $749 on Amazon

Key features
  • Built-in PWM woofer amplifier and A/B tweeter amplifier
  • Appropriate room acoustic adjustments to enable its use in difficult environments
  • Ports on its front to allow required bass reproduction
  • Cabinet designed to reduce unwanted reflections

Adam Audio A7X is a nearfield monitor built by Adam Audio company. Currently, it is one of the most functional speakers with up-to-date features on the market. For example, its tweeter produces detailed highs and upper mids consistently for long periods. It has a number of awards including Best Studio Monitor in DJ Tech Awards. 

In comparison to other studio monitors costing less than $800, it is an expensive model. Nevertheless, it has good features to justify the price including the following:

  • Powerful and accurate bass response
  • Accurate reproduction of every sonic detail
  • State-of-the-art tweeter and amplifier reproduce clean and nuanced midrange frequencies
  • Distortions and breakups are prevented because of folded diaphragms

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

Compared to other models and its predecessor, (the E7), the Adam Audio E7X has unique features, including:

  • X-ART tweeter, a favorite to many, is fitted therein
  • Pulse fidelity and stereo imaging are outstanding
  • Clear high frequency. Frequency response extends to 50 kHz but its design is more efficient than E7 
  • Re-engineering of drivers to complement the twitter and doubling of the amplifier's output power
  • More bass power than the E7
  • Accurate midrange sound reproduction
  • Both E7 and E7X's woofers are identical from the front view, so you can fit these into your existing sound system

What's not so good about it?

Compared to some studio monitors, a supplemental instrument such as Sub 10 MK2 is essential if a significant low end is required. It has no sub-mute footswitch and is not as good looking as some other monitors. Also, loosely fit power cables may lead to extra expense in purchasing new ones. 

  • Outstanding performance
  • Appropriate for smaller rooms
  • Clear bass response
  • Accurate midrange
  • Woofer devoid of magnet shielding
  • Pricey in its category
  • Sometimes, power cables connection problems
  • Soundstage faulty, albeit minute fault

3) JBL LSR305 available for $169 on Amazon

Key features
  • Image Control Waveguide for ambient and deep recordings
  • Transducer with an outstanding performance
  • Balanced inputs: XLR and TRS
  • A frequency range of 43 Hz - 24 kHz

JBL LSR305 is a 5" studio monitor built by JBL company. It is two-way powered, bi-amplified, and includes US power code. M2 Master Reference Monitor, the JBL's flagship, results in this monitor's impressive performance. Compared to other monitors below $200, it is a budget model. However, good features abound in this studio monitor. These include: 

  • Big, powerful sound due to a quality class D amplifier
  • Neutral and accurate sound because of Image Control Waveguide (patent-pending design of JLB)
  • Smooth, high-frequency response and an appealing deep bass due to an outstanding woofer and tweeter
  • Balanced XLR and TRS inputs allow connection to any chosen signal source and maintain high signal quality
  • Low and high frequencies with "TRIM" switches that enable you to control the sound (bass and treble) according to your personal taste and room acoustics
  • A sensitivity switch that is compatible with a wide variety of signal sources

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Contrary to other models, all three series powered studio monitors, JBL LSR305 included, have incorporated the JBL's new technology - Image Control Waveguide
  • US power code is included in LSR305, contrary to LSR 305/230
  • Different from other speakers, it also has a consistent stereo image encompassing the whole room
  • Slip stream (JBL's patented), allows accurate bass response at low volume contrary to many monitors
  • LSR 305's woofer is five inches but LSR 308 has an eight-inch woofer

What's not so good about it?

Separate volume control is required, and the speaker requires its own power plug. Also, its white LED is always on. Some inescapable hiss is common but only at close range. 

  • Portable because it is light
  • Detailed sound
  • Affordable
  • Fits well in small rooms
  • Lack lower end sub-response
  • Surface gets dusty and scratches easily
  • Not too loud
  • Rear ported hence need care to position near walls

4) Yamaha HS8 available for $181 on Amazon

Key features
  • Bi-amp design; both woofer and tweeter have separate amplifier
  • Frequency response: 38 Hz to 30 kHz
  • XLR and TRS input connectors
  • Near-field size 

The HS8 is a product from Yamaha and one of the various monitors in the HS Series monitors. The HS8 is available in white and black colors. Compared to other monitors above $400, it is a budget model. It has good features including the following:

  • Speakers deliver consistent, high-resolution sound with flat response
  • Cabinets eliminate unwanted resonance - built from dense and resilient MDF
  • Room control enables attenuation of unnatural low-end if speakers are close to walls
  • High trim enables you to control the high-frequency response. It adapts to the acoustics of rooms with different characteristics 
  • Great critical listening is possible because of an accurate output

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Precise and honest reference unlike other monitors with additional treble or bass frequencies
  • Best possible mix due to the speakers with original unaltered sound
  • Port design is specified to reduce and control vortex ensuring a clear overall sound
  • Compared to JBL, they have less bass and JBL will be more useful in a huge room
  • Better performing compared to others of the same price
  • Similar design to NS10, but bass is more impressive
  • Yamaha is ported for good bass output compared to NS10's closed cabinet

What's not so good about it?

  • A noticeable hiss from tweeters but no hiss at low volume
  • For bass intensive music, a subwoofer may be required particularly in large rooms
  • Heavy emphasis on bass affects the midrange
  • Unsuitable for small rooms; requires large rooms
  • Decent price
  • Strongly engineered
  • Clear sound
  • Good looks and quality
  • Ports at the back hence can't place against walls
  • All controls at the back
  • Non-magnetic seals

5) KRK RP6G3-NA Rokit 6 Generation 3

Key features
  • 1" soft-dome tweeter and a 6" woofer
  • Bi-amped with a typical class A/B amplifier
  • Frequency response ranges between 38 Hz and 35 kHz
  • Multiple input connections: XLR, TRS, RCA

This studio monitor is built by KRK Systems, Inc. Its accurate monitoring is an impressive feature. Weight and dimensions are 20 kg and 29x33x23 cm respectively, and it's also available in white and black. Compared to other models below $400, it is a budget model. Impressive features in the monitor include:

  • Excellent bass performance and vocal clarity
  • Connects to a broad range of studio equipment
  • Can be conveniently positioned because of its bass port in front
  • A 2-way active monitor
  • Superior imaging from its optimized waveguide

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Proprietary Waveguide enables it to function exceptionally from other models
  • Similar to other models it has a rectangular cabinet built from MDF
  • An auto-mute system saves power by putting the speaker into a sleep mode if unused after 30 minutes
  • Some KRK monitors can outperform it, but they are more expensive
  • Its woofer has a distinct yellow woven cone and is slightly recessed

What's not so good about it?

Its 3D soundstage is not the same as the high-end speakers. The power switch is at the rear panel and convenient in its use. Since it is huge and heavy, it is not easily portable. Its field is also difficult to adjust. 

  • Affordable
  • Multiple connections
  • Outstanding tonal balance
  • Easy to use
  • Not as loud as expected
  • Less clear than high-end speakers
  • Picks heavy AM signals
  • Sometimes loose

6) Audioengine A5+ available for $433 on Amazon

Key features
  • Frequency range: 50 Hz - 22 kHz
  • 5" Kevlar woofer and 0.75" silk dome tweeter
  • Bluetooth aptX-HD with high fidelity
  • Analogue inputs included

Audioengine A5+ is built by the Audioengine company based in Austin, Texas. Being wireless, it has a remote control but incorporates analogue features. It is small, but has a deep, clean sounding bass. Compared to other monitors below $499, it is an expensive monitor. However, it has impressive features such as:

  • Excellent wireless stereo audio
  • Multiple Connections: aux or RCA input and Bluetooth connections
  • A variety of colours to choose from: satin black, white or the slightly expensive bamboo finish
  • Big, powerful sound appropriate for any room
  • Built-in power amps in wood cabinets
  • Network setup, buttons, and passwords are not required to function
  • The black foam material is padded at the bottom of each speaker to reduce unwanted vibrations with the surface placed on

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • New A5+ Wireless and A5+  look identical
  • Contrary to other monitors, it has a wireless music system that works perfectly with all music, apps, and devices
  • It incorporates an analogue amplifier which sounds incredible
  • Though iLoud Micro Monitor has identical features, Audioengine A5+ Wireless is good looking and has a wider stereo image

What's not so good about it?

If the source switch is absent, multiple sounds can play simultaneously. For larger rooms, a subwoofer is needed if a proper bass response is required. Also, only analogue inputs are incorporated.

  • Impressive audio
  • Optional wire connecting
  • Subwoofer can be used
  • Room filling sound with no distortion
  • Pricey
  • Very heavy
  • Lacks source knob
  • Restricted remote control

7) Mackie MR5 mk3

Key features
  • Frequency response: 57 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Acoustic space control and HF filters
  • Enhance waveguide system
  • 5.25" polypropylene woofer and 1" silk dome tweeter

Mackie MR5 mk3 is one of the monitors in the MR series built by Mackie company. It weighs 12.1 pounds and measures 11.3"x7.8"x10.9". It is also enclosed with a solid MDF and finished with a black vinyl wrap. Same as other models below $200, it is a budget model. It has good features that include:

  • When positioned close to a wall, its acoustic space switch enables you to adjust the low-frequency response
  • All-wood cabinet with an acoustic absorption material
  • Extended bass response due to a custom tuned rear porting
  • It can be optimized for any environment because of its HF fillers and acoustic space control
  • A logarithmic waveguide that enhances stereo imaging
  • Also, its high-frequency filter enables it to work in any room appropriately

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Different from the preceding model (MR 5 mk2), it includes a tweeter waveguide and its bass reflex port is differently configured, among other changes
  • Best sounding monitor for its price with remarkable performance
  • Its tweeter is ensconced in a new waveguide different from other monitors
  • Like other models, its tweeter is 1" and the class A/B amp apt for this price

What's not so good about it?

  • Small input trim knob makes it hard to distinguish the volumes of each speaker
  • 5" driver doesn't produce air displacement in equal measure to an 8" driver 
  • Wattage is not as high as other models of higher price such as Mackie MR824 
  • Less costly
  • Enhanced stereo imaging
  • Smooth and well balanced sound
  • Excellent imaging and transient response
  • Lacks bass cut filter settings
  • Imperfect specs
  • Bass isn't great

8) EVE Audio SC205 available for $599 on Amazon

Key features
  • 5" SilverCone woofer
  • PWM amplifier and AMT tweeter
  • Frequency range: 53 Hz - 21 kHz
  • Input: balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA

EVE Audio SC205 is a 2-way 6" studio monitor built by EveAudio. It weighs 5 kg and measures 6.89"x10.83"x9.17". It also has impressive features for its price. Compared to others with a price below $600, it is an expensive model. Its great features include the following:

  • Exceptional sound due to its astounding output level and impressive bass frequency response
  • Mounting on walls or relevant microphone and speaker stands is possible because it has threaded screw inserts on the back and bottom
  • Accurate and powerful low end
  • Precise and detailed high frequency
  • The monitor can be tailored to your way of work using different filter settings and accurate volume control

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Compared to speakers of the same proportion, it has a bigger dynamic range
  • Its proprietary AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeter is unique in this monitor, different from other models
  •  Like SC204, it delivers greater linear excursion because of its 1" voice coil 
  • Maximum headroom with limited distortion compared to other models 
  • Ribbon tweeters are used just like models from Adam Audio, but some features look similar
  • Neutral tone and easy to listen to, even for long sessions

What's not so good about it?

To get excellent performance, a subwoofer might be needed to complement it. Otherwise, Audio TS 108 might be better. Also, different from other models, it is not strong in the higher frequencies. One knob is used for all the functions. 

  • Setting up is simple
  • Impressive bass response
  • Good looking
  • Natural, enough mids, smooth and crisp highs
  • Quite expensive
  • No waveguide
  • Cabinet uses MDF
  • Low end not that deep

9) Dynaudio LYD 7 available for $669 on Amazon

Key features
  • Bi-amped speaker with class-D amplification
  • Two different tunings
  • 1" soft dome tweeter and 7" driver
  • Frequency response: 55 Hz - 19 kHz

Dynaudio LYD7 is a Personal Reference monitor built by a Danish company, Dynaudio. It weighs 8 kg and measures 186x320x296 mm (WxHxD). Its 7" woofer extends bass, and an excellent DSP regulates frequency response appropriately. 

Compared to other models below $700, it is an expensive model. it also has impressive features, including:

  • Accurate sound reproduction due to a good tweeter, amps, and drivers
  • Sound balance influences overall speaker response
  • You can fine-tune your monitor for total neutrality using its position and sound balance
  • It has three DSP switches that help you to get your room's best sound
  • A bass extension allows regulation of the low-end frequency response

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Different from other models, it has a white front baffle whose edges are bevelled to limit audio colouration
  • Sound balance switch is a switch not used before, and one in the three DSP switches. Others are Position and Bass extension switches
  • Sounds better than most ported near-fields
  • More details for long, different from models like Neumann KH 120A which also has a better sound

What's not so good about it?

The upper-midrange band sounds slightly understated. Its bass reproduction sound is not as good as some models that cost less, like Yamaha and JBL. Also, it is not completely perfect because it has a slightly muddy bass reproduction.

  • Same sound at different volume levels
  • High crossover frequency
  • Excellent depth and imaging
  • Impressive bass extension
  • Slightly expensive
  • Power-status LED on the back
  • Flatter and tighter bass reproduction

10) Focal Alpha 80 available for $498 on Amazon

Key features
  • Frequency response: 35 Hz - 22 kHz
  • 8" woofer/midrange speaker
  • 1" dome tweeter
  • 40W tweeter amplifier and 100W woofer amplifier

The Focal Alpha 80 is an active 2-way monitor built by Focal, a French brand. It is ideal for music that requires a high power reserve or rich bass. Its quality design and components are its impressive features.

Compared to monitors below $500, it is an expensive model. However, it has good features such as:

  • Tonal balance is evident at all volumes
  • Minimal sensitivity to wall's effect
  • Maintains its sound in the whole room because of its low directivity
  • It has an attenuated power consumption
  • It can be tailored to complement the surrounding
  • Accurate reproduction of audio signals

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other studio monitors?

  • Cabinets are larger than other near-field monitors
  • Extended low-end reproduction is offered in this monitor, contrary to other monitors of the same price
  • The difference between Focal Alpha 80 and the other two in the Alpha series, is the cabinet and woofer size, maximum SPL and amplification 
  • Reduction of power consumption is specific to this monitor

What's not so good about it?

When placed against a wall, there will be an unwanted low frequency unless you use correct settings (LF shelf control). Also, when RCA and XLR inputs are connected simultaneously, a hum is present in the monitors but disappears when one of them is unplugged. A slight definition deficit also results around 90 Hz. 

  • Great audio
  • Keeps tonal balance in all listening levels
  • Good imaging
  • Connection to two audio sources is possible
  • Constant auto standby
  • Not that attractive
  • EQ trim control lacks detents

In conclusion...

A good studio monitor brings an elegance in the headroom, perfect for any audiophile to get the most out of their music or any other sound source. With this in mind, great features in a studio monitor perfect the course. Before all of the feature considerations though, your budget counts and will determine the kind of monitor you can purchase. If you consider the important features for you, any monitor can serve your purpose no matter the price. 

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