Studio monitors are a very important purchase for your recording rig. Having the best studio monitors will not only help you make good mixes, but will save you from having many headaches along the way. I made a bad purchase previously by getting cheap studio monitors with a bad frequency range. The outcome, I had to burn a CD, go drive around, realize my bass was all off, then come back and alter it. After that, I had to repeat the whole process. This caused a lot of frustration from me. That being said, let's discuss what you should look for to get the best studio monitors.
What To Look For In Your Studio Monitor Purchase
There are to main points that you should look for when making your studio monitor purchase, and one to be aware of when mixing.
- Frequency Range: I mentioned in the previous section of this article what can happen if the speaker frequency range is sub par, and I cannot stress the importance of this enough. You need to have good frequency coverage. For more on frequency ranges, check out our article here.
- Quality: This might seem like a simple point, but keep in mind that you are trying to make the best recording possible. Having speakers that lack in quality will lead to poor recordings.
- Frequency Response: All speakers will have boosted frequencies in certain ranges, the best studio monitors will be as flat as possible. This is exactly what you want. An example of this would be some of the more popular headphones that have boosted bass. You DO NOT want any speakers that have this. Luckily, most studio monitors don't do this, but you should be aware if you are planning to use standard computer speakers.
Now let's take a look the best studio monitors currently available. (The following products contain affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I get paid if you click through and make a purchase.)
The Best Studio Monitors On A Budget
KRK Rokit 8 G4
- Frequency Range: 36Hz-40kHz
- Woofer Size: 8 inches
- Total Power: 203 Watts
The KRK Rokits are probably the most popular studio monitors for home studios, and there is a reason why. They are more affordable and produce a good sound quality. These are the most recognizable speaker brand in any studio by their yellow cone. The G4 8's weigh 22.6 lbs each. It is 15.75" tall by 10.47" wide by 12.17" deep. These KRK's have a max sound pressure level of 111 dB. You can use either a 1/4" or a XLR cable for connection.
- Frequency range: 38Hz-30kHz
- Woofer size: 8 inches
- Total power: 120 Watts
It's Yamaha, and they make great products. A little higher in price, but great sound quality and power. Yamaha makes great quality products in general, and their studio speakers are of no exception. The HS8's weigh 22.5 lbs each. They are 15.4" tall by 9.8" wide by 13.1" deep. You can use either a 1/4" TRS or XLR cable to connect these Yamaha's to your recording rig.
JBL has great sound quality, and these speakers are VERY affordable. JBL is a very reputable brand when it comes to speakers of any type. Their studio speakers are among these quality products. The 305's weigh 10.43 lbs per speaker. They are 11.7" tall by 7.3" wide by 9.1" deep. These JBL's have a max sound pressure level of 108 dB, and they can be connected by either a 1/4" TRS or a XLR cable.
These PreSonus monitors are a great deal. They have a lot of power and sound great. With a high and mid control to plus or minus 6 dB, these speakers should definitely be considered. The Eris E8 weighs 22.2 lbs per speaker. It is 15.1" tall by 9.8" wide by 11.7" deep. You can use a 1/4" TRS, XLR, or RCA cable to connect the speaker. The max sound pressure level is 105 dB. This PreSonus speaker features over temp protection, RF interference protection, frequency boost of highs and mids, and a low cut filter.
This ADAM Audio speaker is nothing short of quality. While it is a little higher in price than some of the others on this list, these sound excellent! The T7V weighs 15.7 lbs per speaker. It is 13.7" tall by 8.3" wide by 11.5" deep. You can use a XLR or a RCA cable to connect the speaker. The max sound pressure level is 110 dB.
Using The Best Studio Monitors Vs Headphones
You've most likely noticed that many producers have studio headphones they use as well when recording, and you might be asking yourself which would be the best to use. The answer to that is actually both. Think of how consumers generally listen to music. Generally, people listen to music in their cars, earbuds, bluetooth speakers, etc. Because of this, mixing with both headphones and studio monitors is a good choice.
That said, budget does play a part in what you can do. Having one of the best studio monitors or great headphones is better than having lower quality of one or the other. If your budget only allowed you to purchase one or the other, either will be a great option to use.
Connecting The Best Studio Monitors To Your Rig
To get the most out of the top selling studio monitors, they will almost every time be connected directly to your audio interface. The audio interface is kind of like the center of what everything plugs into like your recording computer, microphones, MIDI keyboard, etc. These studio speakers are most commonly connected using S/PDIF which carries 2 channels of audio.
There are 3 different types of cable connections that could be used to connect the speakers to the interface. These include:
- 1/4 TRS to 1/4 TRS
- 1/4 TS to 1/4 TS
- 1/4 TRS to XLR
The best option to use out of these if possible is the TRS to TRS because they are balanced signals, as well as grounded. This will result in the clearest sound.
Why Frequency Range And Response Matters
It is absolutely crucial to have a wider range of frequency and a balanced response. When it comes to the low-end of the frequency range, the lower number is crucial. The best studio speakers will have a number closer to 20 kHz. The average human ear can hear 20 Hz to 20 kHz and bass drum and bass guitar are within 20 Hz to 392 Hz/ To mix properly, you want to be able to hear as much of the bass sound as possible.
Conversely, the frequency response is also crucial of the low-end. You want as little of a boost or decline as possible. This could lead to a frustrating mix where the bass is not accurate, which will in return make you as the producer look incompetent.
When The Best Studio Monitors Need A Sub
The Types Of Controls Often Seen On The Best Studio Monitors
- Volume: Of course this controls how loud or soft the mix is (often defined by dB)
- On/Off or Power: Obviously, this is how you turn the speaker on. On some speakers it will be in the front, while others it is behind the speaker.
- EQ: This will help balance your mix to make it as flat of a response as possible to help ensure you are making conscious mixes.
- Filter: This might be called by a different name, but it generally does that same thing. Allowing you to cut out some of the high end or low end. I would honestly suggest to keep this in the middle to keep as balanced of a signal as possible.
Are Powerful Studio Monitors Better?
In short, no. However, you need to understand the best way to mix in your system. The only time I have ever cranked my speakers really loud is when I was showing a band their mix on playback. I could make a joke about musician hearing, but I will spare you my terrible comedy. When mixing, it is best to do it at a low volume, louder volume, and with headphones on. Just think about all the ways people listen to music. Additionally, you hear some frequencies different at low and at high volumes.
Does Weight Matter When Purchasing The Best Studio Monitors?
A Few Accessories To Accompany The Best Studio Monitors
To get the most out of the best studio monitors, you might consider adding one of these items for your recording rig. These will help get the best sound and angle for your speakers. These are not a necessity to have with your monitors, but will certainly help create an even better sound in your studio.
It is important to keep them at eye level, about 3 feet away from your listening position. This is sometimes difficult to achieve when sitting the speakers on your desk. Therefore, a pair of monitor stands will go a long way in helping you achieve the best set up.
Using a pair of isolation pads will help achieve better clarity from your speakers. Additionally, it will create a tighter bass sound. It does this by taking out some of a resonance of the room you are listening to your mixes in.
What The Woofer Size Means
How The Best Studio Speakers Effect Quality
When it comes to recording, quality is everything. There are some pieces of equipment that you can be more creative with in the start of your studio to save some money such as your plugins. Even your drum, guitar, and vocal microphones can be more budget friendly. However, having one of the top selling studio speakers will be more essential. You are limited by what you can hear. If you need any help about selecting the best studio speakers for your recording rig, we can be reached through our contact us.