Best Studio Monitors: The Definitive Guide for 2019

Best Studio Monitors SpeakersI know you’ve been in this kind of situation; you picked up a pair of high-priced pair of studio monitors, maybe something from the likes of Tannoy or Event as a start.

You read from professionals that you have the best monitors for a particular genre or a broad number of musical genres.

You couldn’t wait to plug it in and hear your favorite mix before you start recording.

After a few minutes into the music, you start questioning why those reviewers even considered giving it a 4/5 star when it sounds nothing more than your previous set of speakers.

8 Best Studio Monitors

01. Neumann KH 120 A

Neuhmann KH 120 A Studio Monitor

General

When a company renowned for making some of the finest microphones tried their hands on studio monitors, sound engineers had high expectations.

Two-Way Active Loudspeaker KH 120 AAnd to the surprise of many, Neumann went above and beyond to offer exceptional speakers.

The Neumann KH 120 deliver impeccable audio quality with exceptional accuracy.

KH 120 A Acoustical Controls

Designed for nearfield applications, the speakers weigh in at only 6kgs for you to carry them with ease whenever you go.

How can a speaker be so small, yet so mighty?

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Features

First things first. To get all the angles of a studio monitor, placement is of paramount importance.

KH120 Neumann in the homestudioNeumann goes a step further by providing a detailed guide to position your speakers.

From details on how to prepare a room, to correct angles, distance and time alignment, they ensure you get started with the right setting.

Neumann KH 120 A WooferThe 5.25-inch woofer and one-inch titanium fabric tweeter beat size limitation to deliver a response of 52Hz to 21kHz, +/- 3dB measured in a free field.

A feature worth mentioning is the aluminum front baffle bolted beautifully to the rest of the cabinet.

Neumann KH120 A Front & BackIt’s heavily contoured, perhaps to help with dispersion and accurate driver time alignment. Protecting the drivers is a metal grille.

To top it off, the Neumann badge intuitively lights up the white color when turned on and turns red when it’s on overload.

KH120 A Studio Monitor Left SideThe sound detail neither recess the mids nor pushes them.

They are plain and very revealing making them the perfect studio monitors for mixing and editing.

Front Neumann KH 120AThe transduction motors are powered by two 50W RMS/80W peak class A/B amplifiers and a 2kHz analog crossover to provide a smooth transition between the drivers.

Pros & Cons
  • Two 8mm threaded holes for easy wall installation
  • The sound is very revealing and detailed
  • High quality build with indestructible aluminum casing
  • Cost-effective
  • The tough grille protects the drivers from any kind of abuse
  • The electrical protection circuit ensures you don’t destroy the speakers by overloading
  • Designed for easy installation and setup
  • They are the most accurate studio monitors you can get
  • Low distortion
  • You can hear a slight hiss from the tweeters if you’re closer than 1 foot
  • They lack a standby option
Conclusion

If you’re ready to sample pure natural sound, the Neumann KH 120 is an extremely detailed studio monitor for professional use.

Supporting a wide sweet spot and stereo imaging, it’s difficult to get accurate and revealing speakers at that price range.

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02. Mackie HR824 MK2

Mackie HR824 MKII Monitor

General

How do you like the sound of active two-way studio monitors capable of high-definition audio that’s perfect for a wide range of sound mixing applications?

The Mackie HR824 MKII is an upgrade from the original Mackie HR824 which were released back in 1997.

And, just like with every upgrade, there are notable changes both on the inside and outside.

Suitable for home, office or studio settings, what are the big changes that Mackie offers in their new product?

Features

Donning a new and impressive design from EAW, the HR824 MKII now has a larger, curvier MDF cabinet sporting a high gloss piano-black finish.

Beyond the looks, the rounded edges reduce diffraction and carefully molds the waveguide for the tweeter to improve the acoustics.

One cool feature on the HR824 is the rotatable Mackie’s logo. Whether you mount the monitors upright or sideways, the logo will always look the right way up. Cool, right?

Additionally, you don’t have to identify the left or right-handed model, thanks to the symmetrical design.

In place of the aluminum-dome tweeter used in the old model, the high frequencies in the new Mackie HR824 MKII are now managed by a titanium-dome tweeter.

For the low-end and mid-range, the monitors have an 8.75-inch woofer incorporated with a synthetic cone, a 1.6-inch voice coil and a cast-magnesium chassis.

The lows can get down to 35Hz while the highs still sound tremendous at 20kHz. Just like the original model, the HR824 MKII has a distinguishable personality, but with improved performance.

The sound is neutral with minimal coloration. Combined with extremely detailed highs, you can rest assured of a reliable sound reproduction.

Perhaps more captivating is the clean front panel. Apart from the Mackies logo, there’s a round power button that lights up in white color only to turn red when the limiter sets in.

And that’s not all. The HR824 MKII is highly compatible with almost any audio gear thanks to the RCA, TRS, and XLR input connectors.

Last but not least, here are the pros and cons.

Pros & Cons
  • The monitors are OmniMount ready making ceiling or wall installation a no-brainer
  • The piano-black finish gives them a professional look
  • Integrated with a time-correction circuitry to ensure matching speakers
  • Each speaker has a calibration plot for easy setup
  • Drivers offer exceptional performance and have a built-in electronic protection in case of overuse
  • The rear panel controls are well labeled for ease of use
  • The low lights around the power pushbutton turn red when on overload
  • Surprisingly, there’s none, so far.
Conclusion

Are the Mackie HR824 MKII worth the investment?

A big yes!

They are great looking, reasonably priced, and offer a truly dynamic sound with an amazing depth.

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe these studio monitors are manufactured as close to perfection as they can get.

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03. Dynaudio BM5 MKIII

 

Dynaudio BM5 MKIII

General

Looking at the Dynaudio BM5 MKIII active near-field monitors, they almost look identical to the MKI but the specs differ greatly.

They are smaller and come in very handy especially if you have a small space for music production.

Besides their compact size, what other striking features can you expect from the BM5 MKIII?

Features

Getting the speakers out of the box, you’ll immediately be drawn in with their stunning design. Typically Dynaudio, they are sturdy and pragmatic.

To add to their beauty, each speaker box has an IsoAcoustic stand so that you can isolate the speakers from the surface you place them on and absorb any vibrations transmitted to the surface.

And get this. They can be tilted towards your ears to give you a better listening angle.

dynaudio bm5 mkiii

The lows can get as low as 42 Hz and the top frequency can stretch up to 24 kHz. For their size, these speakers can get really loud with an SPL of 118dB.

On first listen, the monitors sound too bright. But, as per Dynaudio instructions, you need to break in the speakers before you put them to use.

Approximately 10 hours of continuous play should do the trick.

You could also use the room adjustment settings at the back with a +/- 1dB switch for the high frequencies, a +2/-4dB switch for the mids and a +2/-2dB for the lows.

dynaudio-bm5-mkiii-back

Are you looking for a bass with real depth? The Dynaudio BM5 MKIII will sweep you off your feet for sure! It has bass so thick, precise and deep that you can feel it in your stomach.

Another impressive point about the BM5s is their consistency. You can achieve a detailed response both at low levels and high levels.

The exceptional stereo imaging and wide sweet spot these speakers offer means that regardless of your mix position, the frequency response remains unchanged.

Impressed?

Let’s dig even deeper with the pros and cons

Pros & Cons
  • The aluminum drivers come with updated amplifiers for even better performance
  • The monitors have frequency filter options for tuning
  • Unique Denmark-made design
  • The detail and accuracy are extraordinary
  • For their performance, the MK5s are reasonably priced
  • Capable of going really low and still maintain the detail and tightness
  • Comes with a standby mode
  • They have magnetic shielding
  • A remote control volume knob
  • XLR and RCA input connectors included
  • All the controls are at the back and might not appeal to everyone
Conclusion

Now it’s your turn to get the amazing Dynaudio BM5 MKIII for your home or studio recording.

The music dynamics are excellent, to say the least, and the low frequency is really impressive.

Good luck and let me know your thoughts.

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04. ADAM Audio A7X 2-Way Studio Monitor

ADAM Audio A7X Studio Monitors

General

Now, this is where acoustics meets class. Refined from dedicated research and advanced technology, say hello to Adam Audio A7X nearfield monitors.

If the numerous awards are anything to go by, then this model has joined the ranks of the other AX Series.

Ready to experience ADAM’s best-selling speakers?

Here we go.

Features

The 7-inch Caron/Rohacell/Glass Fiber woofer prominently takes the center spot, supported by two bass ports at the bottom.

The secret for its popularity lies in the eXtended Accelerating Ribbon Technology (X-ART) tweeters and midranges.

It’s a concept that brings a significant improvement to the quality of audio you can reproduce with the A7X.

Unlike the flat diaphragm in most monitors, the A7X’s diaphragm is folded to give exceptionally wide dispersion, hence a lively output.

A 50W A/B amplifier drives the tweeter and a 100W Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) amplifier drives the woofer.

The point here is, using a PWM gives results in high efficiency of over 90%. In simple terms, PWMs eliminate the need for heat sinks and transformers.

Honestly speaking, ADAM engineers are precision-focused. The honeycomb structure of the HexaCone woofers ensures durability.

The Kevlar coating on both sides of the cone protects the cone from deformation.

Through a careful combination of voice coils of the right length and diameter, a magnet of just the correct size and the perfect cabinet volume, you can expect nothing short of optimal performance.

At the rear of the A7X, you’ll find balanced XLR, unbalanced RCA connectors, and additional controls.

Combining all the features above, it’s not surprising that with a frequency range of 42Hz to 50kHz, this model is in a class of its own.

And that’s not all.

Pros & Cons
  • State-of-the-art technology offers top performance
  • Attractive design
  • Great transparency throughout the frequency range
  • Stunning clarity and detail
  • They are designed for studio monitoring
  • The low end is excellent and you don’t need a subwoofer
  • Takes some getting used to
Conclusion

ADAM’s approach in creating the Adam Audio A7X is intriguing.

Get ready to learn some basics so that you know what you’re dealing with.

All in all, these are high-end monitoring speakers for professional music production.

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05. Focal Alpha Series

Focal Alpha Series Monitors

General

For all audiophiles and home or project studio artists, we’ve got some good news for you. French manufacturers, Focal, listened to you and created the mid-priced Focal Alpha Series.

These studio monitors are “specifically designed for professional music creation,” according to Focal.

They are the perfect speakers to work with in diverse environments. If you’re curious about the audio quality from the Alpha Series, here are the answers.

Features

The Focal Alpha Series comes in three models. To set things straight, all the models feature a 1-inch aluminum inverted dome tweeter, double front bass ports, and a Polyglass cone.

Starting from the smallest in the range, the Alpha 50 is composed of a 5-inch woofer/midrange speaker with a 20W amplifier.

The Alpha 65 has a 6.5-inch woofer featuring a 35W amplifier for the tweeter and a 70W amplifier for the woofer.

With such specs, it threatens most monitors offered at the same price range in terms of performance, especially on the low end.

Lastly, the Alpha 80 is the beast among studio monitors, composed of an 8-inch woofer/midrange speaker with a 100W amplifier, the tweeter comes with a 40W amplifier.

When it comes to frequency response, the Alpha 80 is capable of deep bass with lows of up to 35Hz. The highs can go up to 22kHz without causing any distortion.

While the Alpha 50s have a frequency response of 45Hz to 22kHz, the Alpha 65s frequency response ranges from 40Hz to 22kHz at +/- 3dB.

For the most part, the Alpha Series include XLR and unbalanced RCA input connectors and a detachable IEC power cable.

The cabinet has curved sides and sports a black finish with the Alpha 80s having the largest cabinet size at 15mm. For better listening, ensure that the tweeter is positioned at ear level.

Remarkably, these studio monitors are ideal for mixing and tracking, and if you’re looking a rich bass, go for the Alpha 80.

If you’re working in a confined space like a home studio, the Alpha 50 was designed just for you.

For high versatility to a wide array of music genres, the Alpha 65 will give you impeccable audio production.

I can say with all confidence that using these studio monitors for music production will give you satisfactory results and your clients will request very few revisions, if any.

So, after all that’s been said about the Alpha Series, what are the good and bad that you can expect?

Pros & Cons
  • Sound consistency is guaranteed
  • Neutrality with zero distortion
  • The automatic standby mode reduces power consumption
  • The sound quality of Alpha 50 is exceptional making it perfect for studio monitoring
  • The Alpha 80 does really well with the bass
  • High and low volumes don’t affect their tonal balance
  • The bass ports are positioned at the front thus avoiding wall effects
  • The monitors lack protection grille which makes them prone to scratches
Conclusion

The Focal Alpha Series offers pristine stereo imaging.

The wide sweet spot is really helpful to avoid surprises that you may want to change when you move around the room.

Are you ready to improve the efficiency of your mixing prowess?

Get yourself one of the Alpha Series studio monitors and you won’t regret it.

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06. Genelec 8340A

Genelec 8340A Studio Monitors

General

One fact we can say with authority when it comes to studio monitors is that Genelec’s designs will always be unshakeable.

This is apparent in the Genelec 8340A whose style is so captivating, it almost feels like it’s from the future!

The secret must be their engineering ingenuity that shows so much skill and expertise. If you don’t believe these sentiments, why don’t you join us as we explore the features?

Features

The flawless design comprises a 6.5-inch bass/midrange speaker and three quarter inch metal dome tweeter.

The housing is distinctively curvy and the small tweeter size gives the monitor an attractive slim profile.

Each speaker has an Iso-Pod stand capable of adjusting the listening angle to get that sweet spot. Furthermore, the 8340A has an aluminum die-cast enclosure, what Genelec engineers refer to as, Minimum Diffraction Enclosure (MDE).

Die-casting the enclosure of a speaker is an expensive undertaking that only shows how serious Genelec is about designing.

The system’s performance can be pushed to 110dB SPL with low end capable of going down to 38Hz (-6dB).

A reflex port exits the rear section to minimize noise, compression, and distortion. The result is flat frequency response, reduced listening fatigue, and exceptional imaging.

A built-in overload protection circuitry and magnetic shielding ensure smooth operation.

Another captivating feature of the 8340A is the comprehensive set of sockets at the rear panel. There’s an AES3 digital input and XLR analog input.

Additionally, you’ll find options to adjust LED brightness, automatic standby mode, and 14 DIP switches for EQ configuration.

For more flexibility, the 8340A monitors come integrated with rear support points for easy wall mounting.

Now, let’s explore the pros and cons.

Pros & Cons
  • Reflex port designed for high performance and low distortion
  • Built-in Iso-Pod stand for easy mounting, plus various mounting options
  • Compact design fits small environments
  • Myriad of options at the rear for enhanced controls
  • Overload protection circuitry
  • Analog and digital inputs
  • Impressive low frequency
  • None so far
Conclusion

For professional music production, two things that go hand in hand are quality monitoring and effective room treatment.

However, since it’s not possible to have access to both at the same time, Genelec 8340A takes care of your studio needs like never before.

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07. KRK ROKIT 5 G3

KRK ROKIT 5 G3 Studio Monitors

General

If you’re familiar with the signature yellow woofer scheme from Rokit, now there’s a smaller version, the KRK ROKIT 5 G3 active monitors.

Designed for small project studio music producers, DJs or beginners, they have mighty bass for a 5-inch speaker.

Despite manufacturing several highly acclaimed speakers, Rokit seems keen to command an even wider market.

Features

Interestingly, Rokit uses the glass-fiber technology (replacing the Kevlar-coned speakers) on this affordable pair of monitors for added efficiency. The design is simple but impactful.

For a 30W power driving the 5-inch bass/midrange and a 15W power running the 1-inch dome tweeter, you’ll be forgiven to think they are not powerful enough for the studio.

But alas! The strength and tightness of sound that these speakers spit out will leave the critics mesmerized.

And that’s far from exaggeration. The speakers are also lightweight at about 13 pounds making them easy to move around.

The extended bass response can drop down to 45Hz and the high frequency can stretch up to 35kHz.

On switching on, you’ll notice a few seconds of delay. This means that the KRK ROKIT 5 G3 enters the Auto-Standby mode if not in use for thirty minutes.

The KRK logo at the front panel glows to yellow, which looks pretty cool.

Accompanying the mains switch at the rear panel is a 4-position rotary for high-frequency adjustment, a low-frequency adjustment knob with 1dB of boost, flat response, and 1dB to 2dB of cut.

The volume control has a gain range of -30dB to +6dB. Also included are balanced TRS, unbalanced RCA, and XLR connectors.

Impressive right?

So, what’s there to like and dislike?

Pros & Cons
  • Compact and sleek design
  • Powerful sound ideal for near-field monitoring
  • High- and low-frequency control can be adjusted separately to suit your environment
  • Padded cabinet to reduce resonance
  • A limiter to prevent damage to the speakers
  • ROKIT waveguide ensures detailed imaging
  • The front bass port allows for flexible positioning
  • May not be ideal for non-bass musical variations
Conclusion

Definitely a big sound for a small budget.

If you’re looking for enhanced low-end without the need for a sub, the KRK ROKIT 5 G3 nearfield monitors are a great choice.

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08. Yamaha HS8

Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor

General

Rarely do you see hundreds of positive customer reviews with 5-star ratings about a product. And when you do, the simple reason is QUALITY!

The Yamaha HS8 tames customers by combining affordability, outstanding audio production, and accuracy to offer irresistible studio monitors.

To truly understand why HS8 active studio monitors still hold their ground even after being released a few years back, let’s put these monitors to the test.

Features

To begin with, the minimalist style of the HS series continues to take precedence in the HS8. They tend to give simple, but beautiful first impressions.

The front panel is clean and features the iconic white 8-inch woofer and a one-inch dome tweeter. The glowing Yamaha logo completes the picture.

The HS8 has two themes. The black vinyl MDF cover has a white driver cone while the alternative is in all-white, which is really attractive.

Like all the other HS models, the back panel gives you access to all the controls and I/O ports.

These include the Level control which can mute the speaker or go up to -10dB, Room Control with 0 to -4dB attenuation, and High Trim with +2 to -2dB attenuation.

Also notable, is the bass port and the XLR and TRS input connectors.

Needless to say, the performance of the HS8 is unique and offers a flat response. The monitors can dig deep into the bass but still remain revealing.

The mids and trebles balance easily and make the music come out as natural as possible.

But, there’s one problem. The back bass ports call for careful placement against the wall. You’ll have to get it right to enjoy the full effects of your studio monitors.

The real deal, however, is the adaptability of the HS8s. Regardless of your room specifications, you can use the Room Acoustic Controls to tweak them for best response.

Pros & Cons
  • Easy mounting drivers included
  • Wide frequency response range of 38Hz to 30khz
  • Advanced Magnetic Circuit design provides a powerful and controlled dynamic response
  • Portable
  • Room Control and High Trim ensures you get the full potential of your monitors in any room
  • The enclosed design allows for low resonance
  • Ideal for wide applications including mastering and broadcast
  • Bi-amp system giving a 120W amplification
  • Capable of being loud
  • Clarity is assured
  • Noticeable hissing from the tweeters
  • The bass can be too deep for a small room
Conclusion

For what the Yamaha HS8 is worth, you can expect a lot from these studio monitors.

Their best selling point is that they don’t lie.

Bad mixes will sound really bad and good mixes will be a delight to listen to.

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