The 12 best studio monitors - Tech - Mixmag

The 12 best studio monitors

Which studio monitors work best for you?

  • Dave Turner
  • 18 February 2021

Whether you're DJing or making tunes, a good set of studio monitors is needed to ensure you can hear everything crispy, concise and clear. There's a whole bunch of monitors to choose from, with brands like KRK, Yamaha, JBL, M-Audio and more in the market.

As always with studio gear and DJ equipment, the decision isn't easy. It's an investment after all and you don't want to be blindly choosing what you're putting your well-earned cash into. That said, we've listed some of the best studio monitors out there to guide you along, much like we have with DJ controllers, DJ and studio headphones, mixers, turntables and turntables specifically for DJing.

Check out our top studio monitor picks below.

KRK Rokit G4

You'll likely have seen KRK's instantly recognisable yellow cone on the Instagram of your favourite DJ and producer. The Rokit G4 series is a go-to for electronic music artists and for good reason. G4 arrives in four options - the 5", 7", 8" and 10" (the 7" is pictured above), allowing you to be flexible in your choice depending on the studio space you have. The 7" is a bi-amp monitor that comes with a DSP-driven Graphic EQ with 25 settings and visual LCD screen, while the drivers made with Kevlar guarantee consistent sonic integrity across frequencies and ensure high clarity and concise sound reproduction. The 7" delivers frequency from 40hz to 40KHz, with a power output of 145 watts. If you were to go for the Rokit G4 10", this has a frequency response of 20hz to 40KHz with power output of 300 watts. Despite being one of the leading monitors technically, they also just look so stylish to fit neatly into a home studio. £135 upwards per monitor

Yamaha HS8

As you can probably tell from the name, Yamaha's HS8 active studio monitor is built around an 8" woofer, an ultra-responsive one at that and a 1" tweeter. These ensure low and mid frequencies are produced clearly, eliminating any risk of distortions or the like. Once again with Yamaha's iconic white cone, a staple since the NS series in the 1970s, the HS8's output totals at 120 watts. Design-wise, the HS8's MDF boxing has a damped acoustic response to cancel out any uninvited noise. These are a strong shout with a mid-range price. £227 per monitor

Adam Audio A7X

Adam Audio's A7X near-field monitors look mean, like they're made for techno. The 7" woofer is made from carbon, Rohacell and glass fibre and its casing looks fully industrial. The industrious feel is largley down to the golden X-ART tweeter that was handmade in Berlin. This comes with advanced dynamic range due to acoustically effective diaphragm surface that is 2.5 times bigger than a classic tweeter. The diaphragm is also folded, meaning distortions can be reduced to a minimum. Other highlights is the low compression in bass reproduction due to spacious bass reflex ports and low-distortion amplification thanks to the PWM amplifier and the A/B amplifier for the woofer and X-ART tweeter respectively. There's a reason the A7X is Adam Audio's best-selling near-field monitor. £442 per monitor

Genelec 8010A

These are for those with less space in the studio or those with a more nomadic studio approach. Genelec's 8010A two-way monitors are small. They're just 19.5 cm high and 12.1 cm wide, meaning you'll hardly notice them among your setup and they can effortlessly fit inside your backpack if you need to move from space to space. Plus a wait of 1.5 kg - not much more than a bag of sugar - means you won't break your back transporting them. They may be small but they're big in performance. They have an SPL of 105dB, each unit has 50 watts of amplifier power and the frequency response is 67 Hz to 25 kHz. You don't always need to go with the biggest to ensure you get the punch you need. £221 per monitor

Read this next: The 10 best DJ mixers

M-Audio BX5-D3

At £100 per unit, M-Audio's BX5-D3 monitors are a decent low-budget option that still deliver clean and clear sound. The Class A/B bi-amp delivers 100 watts of power, 60w of that being low frequency and 40w being high. You'll get accurate and powerful sound thanks to a 5" Kevlar woofer with damped rubber border, while intricate high frequencies are reproduced via the 1" silk dome tweeter. The internally flared port on the back of the unit minimises distortion and enhances bass response, of which can be altered with the acoustic space control. If you're starting out in production or DJing, these are an ideal choice. £100 per monitor

Focal Shape 65

The Focal Shape 65 monitors look so good, they'd equally be at home in your studio or having pride of place in your lounge. The MDF casing comes in walnut effect which definitely brings a high-brow connoisseur vibe with it. It's this, combined with the Flax sandwich cone and M-shaped inverted dome tweeter, that makes these units so easy on the eye. Obviously looks are important, but performance quality is what really matters when it comes to studio monitors. The Focal Shape 65s tick both boxes. The Flax cone ensures high internal damping, high flexural rigidity and high velocity of sound, while Poron® suspension in the M-shaped tweeter allows for a stronger linear frequency response curve below 6kHz. Focal's use of a Neutral Inductance Circuit technology stabilises the magnetic field which makes audio more precise. Exactly what you need. £520 per unit

PreSonus Eris E3.5

Prime for the audio engineers out there. You get cleaner, crispier sound with the PreSonus Eris 3.5s thanks to the 3.5-inch woofer. Then there's the 1" silk-dome tweeter which adds to that well-round sound and guarantees tight reproduction of transients and high frequencies. High and low frequencies can be adjusted with simple controls, and the volume button is conveniently positioned on the front meaning you can be sitting on your desk and won't have to reach around the back of the monitor to turn it up or down. They may be compact (a plus for those with smaller spaces to work with) and very affordable, but they dish out a feisty 50 watts of power, with an onboard 25 watt/side power amplifier. £79 for pair

IK Multimedia iLoud MTM

Being compact doesn't mean poor performance qualities. IK Multimedia's iLoud MTM proves this, with 100 watts RMS total power per speaker and 103dB SPL maximum sound pressure. IK rightly shouts about the extended low-end on the iLoud MTM, with bass response down to 40Hz. The monitors also use a Physical Response Linearization (PRL™) system which adjusts the system's performance as the music plays. This is done by using a model of the enclosure’s design, construction and materials and the electro-mechanical measurements of the units. Thanks to the monitors being DSP-controlled, IK promises "unbelievably realistic, natural sound like you’ve never heard." There's a tilt mount - to be titled from zero to 20 degrees - so you can point them towards you wherever you're sitting. As well as black, they also come in a white finish, so your studio setup doesn't have to be so one-dimensional in colour. £279 per monitor

Read this next: The 7 best studio headphones

Mackie HR824 MKII

There are features aplenty that make Mackie's HR824 MKII monitors a decent addition to your setup. The Zero Edge Baffle comes with curvature that's engineered so well that diffraction is at a minimum, there's a passive radiator instead of a port, meaning low frequencies are reproduced with lower distortion, separate onboard amps per driver, onboard active crossovers and time-correction circuitry. Protection circuitry is also built in to act as a safety net from input levels that could be dangerous. The inside of the cabinets are padded out with open-cell adiabatic foam, helping to absorb internal reflections and dampen standing waves. As they're able to be positioned either on their side or upright, the Mackie logo can be rotated to suit. It's the little things! £732 per monitor

Alesis Elevate 5 MKII

Alesis has plenty to shout about with the Elevate 5 MKII monitors. Beautifully designed with custom black wooden cabinets and sculpture-like 5" woofers and 1" silk-dome tweeters, these desktop speakers are perfect for the Aesthetic Is Important studio bods out there. The wooden cabinets - constructed from dense MDF - ensure natural bass is delivered (the bass can be boosted by the flick of a switch on the rear of the unit), also guaranteeing full lows and clean highs. Any volume adjustments can be made easily with the knob suitably placed on the front along with a headphone input. You're able to get up to 80 watts of power in total. Importantly, all your gear can be connected thanks to RCA jacks and a pair of 1/4" TRS jacks. £99

Neumann KH310A

Berlin brand Neumann's KH310 A L G is made to work incredibly well with vocals. So if you're a house producer bringing the soul, these are worth checking out. A specially-designed fabric mid-range dome is what makes the three-way near-field monitors ideal for vocals, as well as spoken word, guitars and other gear that works in the mid-range field. Another thing the KH310 prides itself on is the Mathematically Modeled Dispersion waveguide, which makes sure sound waves hit with supreme accuracy. The Class AB amplifiers are thermally protected and deliver 210 watts of power, while sound pressure rises to 116.3 dB. If you work with a lot of bass, you'll be pleased to see it goes down to a frequency of 34 Hz. All that goodness means you will have to fork out for these. £2950 for a pair

Dynaudio Core 59

Made in Denmark, the Dynaudio Core 59 are sleek and slick monitors, representing the kinda laidback cool feel of Copenhagen's residents. Yes, they look stunning, but do they perform? The answer to that question is a simple yes. Each unit is individually calibrated before it leaves the factory and key features include an advanced DSP (contributing towards steady sound balance and bass extension) and an Esotar Pro tweeter equipped with a 150 watt amp. That's on top of a whopping 500 watts power each for the woofers and mid-range drivers. The units themselves can be positioned however you like, whether that's standing upright or on its side. That capability comes with the choice to rotate the Orbit baffle, allowing it to be used in the left, right, or centre-channel orientation, and you can also put the woofer above the tweeter/midrange assembly. Unsure? Dynacore says the Core 59 will "give you everything you need to hear." Again, this is for the most dedicated of studio heads out there at a high price. £2200 per monitor

Dave Turner is Mixmag's Commercial Content Editor, follow him on Twitter

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