- The 10 Best Monitors for Music Production:
- Three tips for choosing studio monitors
Finding the best monitors for music productions isn’t always easy because we all hear things differently. However, there are some features that every studio monitor needs to have, but more of that later.
Having in mind things like price, value for money, and overall usability, my vote goes to Focal Solo 6 since Focal is known for high-quality studio monitors but not just that. Solo 6 is proof of quality but comes at a high price tag.
As the best and much cheaper alternative, I would go with Adam Audio T5V. It can be my personal preference, but I really like Adam’s speakers. I used some passive speakers for live gigs also, and they sound amazing.
The 10 Best Monitors for Music Production:
1. Focal Solo 6
|Frequency Range||40 Hz – 40 kHz|
|Input Impedance||10 kOhms|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||113 dB|
Focal uses a proprietary Beryllium inverted dome tweeter for extended, accurate and efficient, and high-frequency performance up to 40 kHz.It is impossible to hear that 40 kHz, but this means that the breakup point is really high, so there is no chance for distortion.
This unique tweeter takes advantage of Beryllium’s impressive physical characteristics. It is paired with an equally unique w composite sandwich cone 6.5-inch woofer for extended bass response down the 40 Hz.
You get 250 watts of total power for maximum headroom and dynamic range, even at high volume levels. The tweeter itself has 100 watts of power and a separate amp. You may notice these speakers don’t have any cooling.
Focal invented their own amplification with totally new power consumption and heat generation of class D amplification. This system offers a unique set of power, precision, and sound.
2. JBL 305P MkII
|Frequency Range||39 Hz – 24 kHz|
|Input Impedance||600 Ohms|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||92 dB|
Let’s start with the most popular studio monitors, the JBL 305P MkII. The JBL is my favorite in the mid-price range. If your budget is under $300, get these or the KRKs.
The bass was not as detailed as the KRKs but still good. Still one of the best in this roundup. The highs were decent but reminded me of consumer speakers at times. Mids were very, very leveled, very nice for mixing.
The detail of sound was pretty good but not up to the Adam speakers’ level in this comparison. So, are these honest, meaning will they translate well to other listening environments like your car? Yes, not only that, they give you a comfortable sound never fatiguing your ear.
That said, a purely comfortable sound may not be the ideal sound for mixing. On the back, they are very similar to other studio monitors. They have a few basic options for customizing your EQ.
3. KRK Rokit 5 G4
|Frequency Range||43 Hz – 40 kHz|
|Input Impedance||5.12 kOhms|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||104 dB|
If you produce hip hop or EDM, you will like these monitors. They are used by many hip-hop, EDM, and pop artists like Skrillex, Steve Aoki, and Charlie Puth.
The bass from the KRK’s was clear, deep, and punchy. With these studio monitors, it is not all about the loud bass. These added punchiness and detail. The highs were excellent as well, no complaints at all.
The individual sounds’ detail was good, better than the Presonus but not as spacious as the Yamahas. I don’t believe these are as honest as the Yamaha and Adam speakers in this list, but they really well handled soft and loud volumes. This may be the best monitor for music production in this price range.
On the back, they come with XLR inputs only and a cool screen to adjust EQ, which makes these feel premium.
4. PreSonus Eris E5 XT
|Frequency Range||48 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Input Impedance||10 kOhms|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||102 dB|
Like the KRKs, this is also one of the top seller studio monitors on Amazon. XT monitors are the version of E5 monitors, which improve frequency response and create a wider sweet spot. When you mix with these, you may notice that the lows are not as detailed as the KRK.
High frequencies were not clear either. Hi-hat can sometimes be lost in the mix. Mids are excellent and sound much more even across frequencies, better than the KRKs.
They sound very balanced, but the detail of sound can’t compare to the competition, especially the Yamaha’s. I do believe these will give you great mixes. The Presonus monitors give you great acoustic tuning controls and lots of choices for inputs in the back and are reasonably priced.
These are not the best of the best, but they provide great value for the money.
5. Mackie CR5 XBT
|Frequency Range||50 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Input Impedance||20 kOhms|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||105 dB|
Mackie is producing two versions of these studio monitors, with or without Bluetooth. Since they have a budget price, I was expecting a budget sound, but I was wrong.
These are marketed as multimedia monitors instead of studio monitors, and looking at the back, that becomes apparent. You don’t get XLR inputs, and only one speaker is powered and sends the audio to the passive speaker but whatever, who cares they sound great.
The lows are nice, and the details are pretty good and good detail on the hi-hats too. The mids can blend with the lows at times, which is not great.
Vocals in the mix will not impress you. Adam speakers on this list are totally on point for vocals, but those are twice the price of the Mackies. Although I would highly recommend these speakers because they offer great value for money; however, from time to time, they do sound like consumer speakers.
6. Yamaha HS5
|Frequency Range||54 Hz – 30 kHz|
|Input Impedance||10 kOhms|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||100 dB|
These have the best sound space among all the monitors here. It created the 3d space of sound. It’s clear to see why artists like Phineas and Twenty One Pilots use them.
Prepare yourself for the mids, and they are the most pronounced among all these speakers, almost distracting. If you have a room that is not acoustically treated, the mids will reflect and may start to annoy you.
The base is excellent on these.HS5 are all about the clarity. The highs are never harsh but are sometimes overshadowed by those mids.
If we compare them to the legendary Yamaha NS10, they are more pleasant because of the better lows and highs. These are probably the flattest studio monitors among all of these.
Make sure you treat your room, and these will serve you well.
7. Adam Audio T5V
|Frequency Range||45 Hz – 25 kHz|
|Input Impedance||20 kOhm|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||106 dB|
These have a smaller footprint size-wise, but they are taller than some speakers on this list. These have ribbon tweeters that are immediately recognizable. Ribbon tweeters are supposed to be more comfortable for listening for long sessions without fatiguing your ears.
I wouldn’t say these are very pleasant, but we don’t always need enjoyable speakers for mixing. The lows are not as pronounced as the KRKs but still very clear. The sub-low frequencies are kind of lost, too, but the mids are very detailed with beautiful separation.
You will be able to hear the bass, mids, and highs clearly and pick up sounds very nice. The clarity in vocals is so good. You can heat the details in sounds like “F” and “D”.
In comparison to the Yamaha’s, the mid are never harsh. For more power and more of a low end, you can pair these with a sub.
8. Barefoot Sound Footprint 02
|Frequency Range||42Hz – 45kHz|
|Input Impedance||50 kOhm|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||90dB|
The Footprint 02 is smaller and more portable than Footprint01 but follows the same audio quality and design as its predecessor.
Thes 3-way active monitor features Barefoot’s sounds signature dual force technology with 6.5” signature side-mounted paper cones subwoofers. It also has a dual ring radiator tweeter, and an aluminum cone mid-range driver set within the front sub baffle.
This generates the acoustic focus to be in the center of the cabinet. It’s tough to resist this package in a cabinet, with sleek rounded corners and edges, which minimize distortion and coloration.
Footprint 02 offers 60% of the volume of the Footprint 01s. These monitors have the same stunning characteristics that made the Footprint 01 one of the best studio monitors.
Unparalleled sound quality, a wide dynamic range, and smooth face extension, all of this in a more streamlined and affordable package. It also includes a controller that offers various EQ possibilities.
9. ATC SEM 25a
|Frequency Range||47Hz – 22kHz|
|Input Impedance||10 kOhm|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||109dB|
ATC monitors have been handmade in the UK since 1974, utilizing in-house engineering and driver manufacturing. The SEM 25a is a 3-way design combining a 6.5-inch woofer with a 3-inch mid-range driver and 1-inch tweeter, all driven by 235 watts of total power.
A bass boost control on the back panel allows for low-frequency shaping. This is a cool feature since studio monitors lack on the low end sometimes but don’t exaggerate. I suggest boosting the bass up to 30%.
Highs and mids are clear and crisp, and with a little extra bass boost, you get perfect monitors for music production. Frequency response ranges from 37 Hz to 22 kHz. You got separate monitors for left and right.
For larger rooms and midfield, applications check out the SEM45 with dual 6.5-inch drivers and the fantastic SEM150 with a 15-inch woofer and 350 Watts of power.
10. Genelec 8351 BP
|Frequency Range||32 Hz to 43 kHz|
|Input Impedance||1250 Ohm|
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level||118 dB|
- Power – 250 W
- Frequency Range – 32 Hz to 43 kHz
- Input Impedance – 1250 Ohm
- Maximum Sound Pressure Level – 118 dB
Genelec, the company from Finland, has been crafting fantastic studio monitors for decades. They are one of the first companies to enter the high-end studio monitor market.
I still remember being blown away by them when I first heard them many years ago.
8351 PB is among the latest generation Genelac in which they combined acoustically concealed dual inch woofers with a 5-inch mid-range and a 1-inch tweeter and a constant directivity waveguide or driven by an incredible 550 watts of power.
Frequency response reaches down to 30 Hz and up to 34 kHz. 8351 can be networked, and the on-board SAM DSP power can accurately calibrate the monitor’s level, timing, and EQ performance for your specific studio.
It also gives you flexible computer control of your entire system of monitors and subwoofers. The 8351 BP combines a remarkable legacy a speaker design with today’s state-of-the-art technology
Three tips for choosing studio monitors
Tip 1 – Choose monitors that fit your room
The common idea you hear is that the bigger the speaker, the better. That you should buy the biggest monitor you can afford because the bigger the cone you get, the bigger the bass response.
Although this is technically true, I suggest you forget about it because the speaker’s size is irrelevant. Depending on the size of your room, you might be better suited to a smaller speaker, let’s say a 5-inch cone.
Suppose you have a tiny room go with the 5 or 6-inch speakers. Speaker this size can produce a substantial volume and a great response that perfectly fits the room.
Tip 2 – Buy studio monitors that fit your budget
More money doesn’t always guarantee better sound quality. Although with a price increase, you get more clarity and details. Go with what you have, and try to get the most out of it.
Million-dollar speakers will not mean much if your room sounds terrible, so pay attention to making a good room for a home studio.
This is an excellent time for music-making. Nowadays, the market offers a ton of possibilities for a decent price point. Under $500, you can get a pair of speakers that even some professional studios use and, over time, add a bass speaker.
Always have in mind that the equation goes like this: the speaker+the room+the placement=overall sound.
Here is one real-life example so you can see what I am talking about. This is Jacquire King. Grammy award-winning producer and behind him are the KRK Rokit 5 G4, the speakers I reviewed on this list. These speakers cost under $200 apiece. So if this Grammy winner can mix on these, what is your excuse.
Tip 3 – Choose a pair and don’t look back
It’s not all about the speakers, so don’t focus too much attention on them. You should think about mics, preamps, the room, interface, conversion, etc.
After all the guys who play instruments, there are so many factors, and if the speakers are the only obstacle on your way, you are one lucky person.
The best studios in the world have at least one flaw, so don’t expect yours to be perfect. After all, people will not listen to your music on your speakers.
Here a pro tip: use the pro mixes as the reference for how these things should sound on the speakers you have in your room and use that as a reference. Don’t chase speakers; chase the sound.
Can I use studio monitors to listen to music?
Sure you can, although studio monitors have a different purpose. Their purpose is to create such a mix that will sound the same or at least good across all devices. Of course, that’s impossible, but studio monitors are there to provide a better picture of the “real world.”
Do you need monitors to produce music?
Yes and no. I already explained that you should chase the sound, and if you memorize the excellent mix and learn how to achieve that sound on the speakers you have, you’ll be fine, but the studio monitors will save you time and make your life a lot easier. If you don’t use studio speakers or headphones, one mix can sound good on your device but bad on others.
Should I get studio monitors or headphones?
There are some apparent differences, the benefits, and downsides of both.
- Portable – you can take them anywhere with you; that is one undeniable advantage
- No room acoustic – you can easily save money on studio setup because with headphones, there is no need for room adjusting
- No bouncing – sound goes directly to your ears; it doesn’t bounce around through the room
- Increase details – you can hear small details more clearly on headphones
- Real word picture – if you mix tracks on headphones, you might want to check it out on your phone, in a car, or somewhere else to make sure everything sounds great. With studio monitors, there is no need to do that. That’s the whole purpose of studio monitors.
- No ear fatigue – with studio monitors, you can listen to music for more extended periods without being uncomfortable.
- Levels – you can better check levels of instruments and vocals on studio speakers versus headphones where details and levels are louder, but sometimes they don’t replicate the real-world picture.
Pro tip – If you decide to choose studio monitors over headphones, but your room is not treated acoustically, and you might have some echo. Mix at the lower volume. This way, the sound will bounce less, and you’ll be able to hear more details in the mix.
I hope I brought you some answers with this article. If not, let me know down below in the comment section.
So, I would go with Adam or KRK for the mid-range price tag, while for the higher price tag, I would go with Focal or Genelec. Since there are speakers on this list who offer excellent performance under $300 for a pair, I wouldn’t go over $700 for a pair, but that’s just me.
We all know music equipment is expensive, and speakers are just the tip of the iceberg. Whatever you do, there is a huge possibility that you will need a lot more equipment.
Don’t waste all of your energy, choosing the right speaker but spend time learning mixing and recording techniques. Spend time on achieving a great acoustic in your room. These all matter, so like I said, it’s not all about the speakers, but they make a difference, that’s for sure.
This article was last updated on September 2, 2021 .