The Top 5 Studio Monitors Reviewed
A professional-grade studio monitor is a must for any recording studio, radio studio, film set or home studio, but which one is right for you?
With varying features, performance and price tags, it can be tricky to decide which studio monitors will meet your needs.
Our goal with this article is to compare some of the better models available, so you can save time and be sure of grabbing a great model.
Short on time? Our recommendation for the best studio monitor is the Yamaha HS5.
Our round-up features of some of the best studio monitors on the market, and helps you determine which offers the best bang for your buck, and which studio monitors will give you the crystal-clear audio you’re after.
We go over each monitor in our buyers guide in detail below, but for those in a hurry here is a quick comparison table of the models we looked at:
Best Studio Monitors
One of the best-known names in audio equipment, Yamaha always deliver great quality. When it comes to the Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor, you can rely on them to deliver a great sonic platform. Although the Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor doesn’t feature added treble or bass frequencies, this isn’t a design flaw. Instead, the HS5 is created to deliver honest and accurate playback.
With newly developed transducers, an advanced magnetic field design ensures a regulated and seamless flow of magnetic response. As a result, you’ll benefit from continuous sonic transitions and a smooth response over a relatively wide range of bandwidth.
A bi-amp design, combined with a separate amp for both the woofer and tweeter, offers high-resolution sounds, with a flat response. Encased in carefully-designed cabinets, the low resonance enclosures increase accuracy and ensure you get the best sound reproduction. Inputs for numerous unbalanced and balanced sources ensure keyboards, mixers and audio jacks can be used with ease, whilst detailed settings give you complete control over sound production.
At just 20 x 24 x 32 inches, the 5” Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor is a great addition to any environment but may be well suited to smaller professional studios or home recording suites. Available in either black or white, you can combine exceptional functionality and great sound quality with a slick design when you opt for the Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor.
Retailing at around $200 for a single studio monitor, (less than many budget soundbars) you can sometimes pick up a pair at a reduced cost of around $370. Whilst these aren’t the cheapest studio monitors on the market, they do provide exceptional quality. With hundreds of happy customers, if you’re going to spend a little extra on your next studio monitors, the Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor may be the perfect choice.
- Includes (2) Yamaha HS5 studio monitors
- 2 Way bass reflex bi amplified near field studio monitor with 5 inch Cone woofer and 1 inch dome tweeter
- Has monitors emphasize sonic purity without any coloring or alternation of the original sound
- 54 hertz to 30 kilohertz frequency response; 45W LF plus 25W HF bi amp system for high-performance 70 watts power amplification
- XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals
The JBL Professional 308P MkII is an 8” two-way studio monitor, offering a maximum continuous/peak SPL of 102dB/112dB and 112 watts of overall power from custom, dual integrated, Class-D amplifiers. Producing high-quality audio equipment for over 70 years, JBL is continuing to set the bar high with these exquisite studio monitors. Subject to rigorous 100-hour testing on full power, you can expect them to last for years, whilst still producing the same great sound quality.
Although some users find alternative studio monitors deliver increased accuracy, the JBL Professional 308P MkII continually receives exceptional reviews. Described as ‘simply astounding’, and ‘phenomenal’, the JBL Professional 308P MkII isn’t out of place in professional environments or in a home setting.
JBL’s bespoke Image Control Waveguide gives detailed imaging and ensures recordings benefit from greater ambiance and depth, whilst the dedicated Slip Stream low-frequency port works in conjunction with the woofer to deliver a rich bass response, regardless of the playback level you choose. An improved design in the low-frequency transducers means the JBL Professional 308P MkII gives increased low-frequency linearity, reduced harmonic distortion and an optimized transient response. A winner at the 34th NAMM TEC Awards and the 33rd Annual Music and Sound Awards, JBL Professional 308P MkII is hard to beat.
With cabinet dimensions of 16.5″ x 10″ x 12.1″, the JBL Professional 308P MkII can be used in also any environment, and its sleek design is certainly one of the best out there. Whilst the JBL Professional 308P MkII offers an 8” monitor, JBL also 5” and 6” speakers in this range. Available at around $249 each, the JBL Professional 308P MkII may not be the cheapest option but it’s definitely one of the best.
- MkII series features next-generation JBL transducers, new Boundary EQ, and a sleek new design
- Updated HF and LF transducers: new design improvements result in optimized damping for superior transient response and impressive deep bass with lower harmonic distortion
- New boundary EQ: restores neutral low frequency response when speakers are placed on the work surface and adjacent to walls
- Sleek, modern design provides a dramatic flair to any studio
- Broad sweet spot: neutral frequency response across a wide area allows you to fine-tune your mix even while listening off-axis
Easy to integrate into almost any existing system, the KRK RP5G3- 59107 NA Rokit 5 is one of the most popular studio monitors in the world. Routinely used in professional and home environments, you can rely on the KRK RP5G3- 59107 NA Rokit 5 to deliver. A 2-way configuration, 5” low-frequency driver and a 1” high-frequency driver combine to produce great quality sound and accurate production.
With a total power of 50 watts, drawing 30 watts from LF and 20 watts from HF, the KRK RP5G3- 59107 NA Rokit 5 doesn’t feature the overall power capabilities of some other studio monitors on the market. When compared to the JBL Professional 308P MkII’s 112 watts of total power, for example, it does fall short. However, a peak SPL of 106dB and varied unbalanced and balanced connector options ensures the KRK RP5G3- 59107 NA Rokit 5 gives a solid and reliable performance.
Whilst the auto-standby feature may boost your eco credentials, some users have found this interfered with their listening experience. If an audio signal isn’t recognized for 30 minutes, the KRK RP5G3- 59107 NA Rokit 5 will automatically return to standby mode. However, KRK may have slightly misjudged this, as they don’t always pick up on low audio strengths, meaning you could find your monitor returning to standby even when it’s in use.
If you’re planning to use the KRK RP5G3- 59107 NA Rokit 5 for immersive sound and loud playback, however, they’re a great choice. Usually available at around $129, the KRK RP5G3- 59107 NA Rokit 5 certainly offers a lot for the price tag. Despite a little irritation with the auto-standby features, the sound quality makes these a viable option for any studio setup.
- An incredibly versatile powered nearfield studio monitor great for any style of music
- Soft-dome tweeter with optimized waveguide provides smooth pristine and articulate highs up to 35kHz
- Lightweight glass-aramid composite woofer delivers clear midrange and tight bass
- Flat low frequency adjustment adding versatility and improved accuracy for mixes that translate in different environments
- Superior low-end extension with optional setting of +2dB KRK bass boost acclaimed by music creators worldwide
4. Mackie CR4BT
With a vibrant green trim, the Mackie CR4BT will stand out anywhere, and that’s before you’ve even powered it up! Featuring professional-grade components, Mackie’s studio monitors feature 50 watts of total power, along with a user-friendly front control panel. A wide frequency range of 70Hz – 20 kHz means the Mackie CR4BT is great for any type of multimedia playback and the handy speaker placement switch ensures you can build your own custom setup to suit your needs.
Available to buy as a pair, you’ll also get a range of accessories when you buy the Mackie CR4BT. Shipping with a speaker-to-speaker cable, 1/8” RCA cable and acoustic isolation pads, you’ll have everything you need to get your new studio monitors set up straight away.
With simple connection options, you can rely on RCA, 1/8 or ¼ for your inputs, but the Mackie CR4BT also offers Bluetooth connectivity. The ability to playback multimedia from any Bluetooth-enabled devices ensures your studio monitors will be in regular use, whilst the increased connectivity means you can take full advantage of the enhanced sound quality the Mackie CR4BT offers, whatever you’re watching or listening too.
Whilst users tend to be impressed with the sound quality of the Mackie CR4BT, there have been complaints about its lifespan. With some users finding that their Mackie CR4BT studio monitors stop functioning after around a year of use, you may find the reduced lifespan outputting. However, happy customers have also reported great customer service from Mackie and swift resolution to any issues, so this may not be a deal-breaker.
Retailing at around $170 for a pair, the Mackie CR4BT are certainly budget-friendly. Whilst they may not offer the same level of accuracy as some of its more expensive counterparts, the Mackie CR4BT can still be a great choice for amateur and home environments.
- Studio-quality design, sound and performance ideal for multimedia creation and entertainment
- Stream music from any smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth enabled device
- Professional-grade components for optimized sonic performance
- Convenient front panel features including headphone out and aux in
- Tons of included accessories including monitor pads to get started right out of the box
Available in black, white or orange, you can enhance any studio with Rockville APM8W studio monitors. However, it isn’t just the sleek design and color options which make the Rockville APM8W a great choice. With RMS of 250 watt per pair, a quad amp design with independent, frequency-specific amps for each driver and compatibility with SMPS technology, the Rockville APM8W is undoubtedly a great piece of kit.
Featuring an RCA input and combined 1/4” and XML jack, as well as a high-speed USB input, the connectivity options on the Rockville APM8W mean that you’ll have no problem hooking up a whole range of sources. A great bi-amp studio monitor, with a peak output of 250 watt per speaker and a frequency response of 30Hz – 20 kHz ensures fantastic quality, whilst the majority users also report great accuracy and overall performance. Although some have noticed a slight hissing sound when no audio is playing, this doesn’t appear to be a universal issue.
Usually available at around $200 per pair, the Rockville APM8W is a great choice if you’re looking for high-quality, budget-friendly studio monitors. Whether you’re building a home studio, looking for the best way to incorporate surround sound into your room or stepping into a professional environment, the Rockville APM8W will give you the quality you need.
- Rockville APM8 8" 2-Way 500 Watt Active USB Studio Monitor Speakers in White (Pair). RMS: 250 Watt. Two-Way Active Studio Monitor Speaker System. Quad Amp Design: Each Driver Features Frequency Specific Independent Amplifiers.
- The enclosure is 0.5" thick while the front board of it is a full 1" thickness to give you the ultimate best sound quality! Comes in 3 enclosure finish options Wood finish painted black. Wood finish painted white. Wood finish with vinyl front board
- Full Range Class "D" Amplifier Circuitry with Auto-Switching Power Supply. LED Power on Indicator on Rear Panel. Ferro Fluid Enhanced 1.5" Neodymium Silk Dome Tweeter With Metal Grill Protection. Tweeter has 1" voice coil diameter
- 110 Volt compatible with SMPS technology. Every Speaker in Production Undergoes a Computer Generated Sound Check Test to Ensure it Upholds to our Specifications and Standards. We use a "6Sigma" style Quality Assurance of Each Product.
- Transducer Production Line to Make the SPL Performance Stable.One Complete Pair with Mater/Salve Output Connection with Included Noise Rejection Cabling.Includes a noise rejection cable to connect the 2 speakers together.The cable locks in secure & tight
Studio Monitor Comparison
This video does a great job of comparing some of the most popular studio monitor brands: