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The Best Studio Monitors

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🕚 Updated July 2022

Studio monitors do more than deliver "good" audio; they can pick up the slightest details in your audio frequency that can make or break the recording you've been slaving over. Below are some of the best ones out there.

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  Top Choice Best Wooden Design Compact Pair Premium Choice Best Value
 
  JBL Professional
Studio Monitor 305PMKII
Edifier
R1280T Bookshelf Speakers
IK Multimedia
iLoud Micro Monitor
Yamaha
HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
PreSonus
Eris 3.5 Pair
 
Our SummaryThis single monitor delivers impressive and precise audio.Here's another dependable option that packages deep bass in an MDF wood finish.This is a small, portable speaker system that can pack a punch.This studio monitor delivers colorful, high-clarity audio that checks all the boxes for audiophiles and promising engineers.This set of studio monitors combines industrial outer shells with smooth audio dispersion.
ProsJBL Image Control Waveguide, HF and LF transducers, sleek design, different size options.4-inch bass driver, calibrated and flared bass reflex port, bass, treble, and volume dials.Four Class-D amplifiers, 70W total power output, ultra-compact structure, has mini-jack, RCA, and Bluetooth connectivity.Bass-reflex, bi-amplified speaker, wide-range transducers, low-resonance enclosures, advanced port design, several connectivity options.Full-bodied bass, accurate sound, output-current limit, over-temperature setting, turn-on/off transient.
ConsLacking low-end bass in the extremes.Limited remote functionality, no Bluetooth connectivity.High-volume settings may cause some hissing and white noise.May need to purchase a subwoofer to access full capabilities.Lacking in some range and frequencies.
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The Best Studio Monitors

Three studio speaks and monitors.
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Buying Guide for Studio Monitors

Sound engineer listening on the studio monitor.
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Why buy studio monitors?

Studio monitors are essential if you are a professional or novice in the recording or producing industry. They provide the best way to mix and master a recording because of their ability to listen and pick up any imperfections while you create. They also offer a great way to hear your favorite TV show on full blast.

What should you consider in studio monitors?

  • System Bundling: While the key to any great studio monitor purchase would be its overall sound quality, it’s important to consider if you’re looking for a single or dual monitor system. You could expect that you’re potentially doubling your audio quality with two monitors at your bidding. Still, depending on the brand, a single monitor could be just as effective, if not more, given that you’re willing to pay a pretty penny. Consider your results through a bang-for-buck or spare-no-expense lens.
  • Positioning: Another essential factor to consider in advance is the overall size of your studio monitor(s). You may more than likely have the space for a single monitor in your studio or house, but when you begin to consider two monitors or even an additional subwoofer, then overall size needs to be accounted for so that you’re ensured the most comfortable fit in your surroundings.
  • Audio Enhancements: Finally, great audio is only ensured through a dependable supporting cast of audio perks and enhancements. The purpose of owning a studio monitor or two isn’t about getting loud surround sound. It’s about hearing everything. Consider a studio monitor that understands how to get a little help through an assortment of features that protect and carry out the full audio you’re looking for.

How are studio monitors different from regular speakers?

Studio monitors deceptively look similar to regular speakers; however, they are quite different from the norm. Regular speakers are passive, meaning they get their power from an amplifier, while studio monitors are active because of their built-in amplifiers. These amplifiers typically have more than one power amp in one unit, meaning that each woofer, midrange, and tweeter cones provide clearer and more accurate sound. They also have a crossover that splits frequencies to ensure they are directed to the right speaker. Lastly, studio monitors are designed to produce a flat sound and not emphasize one frequency so you can get a precise recording and pick up on any discrepancies.

Our Picks for the Best Studio Monitors

Top Choice

JBL 305P MKII Professional Studio Monitor

This single monitor delivers impressive and precise audio.

Pros: Belonging to JBL’s LSR3 series, the 305P Mk II features the JBL Image Control Waveguide, allowing precision, a dynamic range, and a broad sweet spot. On top of that, it features HF and LF transducers for high-response damping and deep bass. It’s a sleek design that’s visually appealing and is offered in a couple of different size options.

Cons: There seems to be a slight hiss with this studio monitor. The Mk II may also have trouble with low-end bass in the extremes.

Bottom Line: Overall, this JBL speaker boasts exceptional sound quality: dynamic but never jarring.

 

Best Wooden Design

Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers

Here's another dependable option that packages deep bass in an MDF wood finish.

Review Geek's Review Score: 9/10

Pros: The studio monitor brand’s R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers find a way to mix classic style with high-end audio quality. This studio monitor set features a 4-inch bass driver alongside a calibrated and flared bass reflex port to deliver a voluminous presence throughout your studio or home. These bookshelf monitors measure 6.9 by 9.5 by 5.8 inches, but they pack deep audio power thanks to additional features like bass, treble, and volume dials on the active bookshelf speaker.

Cons: The speaker’s biggest con is that it doesn’t feature Bluetooth audio. The speakers also come with a remote, but it’s not equipped with an on/off button. Additionally, the speaker’s volume is difficult to measure with the volume dial.

Bottom Line: Edifier’s R1280T produces a sound comparable to high-end speakers at a relatively low price point. Its shortcomings are minimal and don’t affect the quality of the speaker’s sound.

 

Compact Pair

IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor

This is a small, portable speaker system that can pack a punch.

Pros: Don’t underestimate the audio production of this system despite its small size. The audio is crisp and precise, thanks to its four Class-D amplifiers and total power output of 70W. Along with its ultra-compact structure, you’ll have multiple connection options with mini-jack, RCA, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Cons: At some audio frequencies, there may be hissing and white noise at high-volume settings.

Bottom Line: These speakers are unrivaled when comparing the audio quality for the size of the speakers. These are great for those who enjoy on-the-go audio production.

 

Premium Choice

Yamaha

This studio monitor delivers colorful, high-clarity audio that checks all the boxes for audiophiles and promising engineers.

Pros: Yamaha’s HS series studio monitor provides you with extreme precision, thanks to its bass-reflex, bi-amplified speaker. The studio monitor features strong hardware inside the unit, like wide-range transducers, low-resonance enclosures, and an advanced port design for better noise reduction. You’ll also enjoy Yamaha’s extensive connectivity options and control settings.

Cons: While this studio monitor is a stellar option, it seems like it is best paired with an additional subwoofer, which can bump up your total expected cost if you don’t already own one.

Bottom Line: Though at a higher price than others, this is certainly the go-to premium option if you’re looking for an industry-level studio monitor.

 

Best Value

PreSonus Eris E3.5 Pair

This set of studio monitors combines industrial outer shells with smooth audio dispersion.

Pros: In pursuit of the best quality sound, this pair features 3.5-inch woven composite drivers for a full-bodied bass and a more accurate sound. Additional perks include various protection settings, like an output-current limit, over-temperature setting, and turn-on/off transient. It includes the Studio One Prime and Studio Magic plug-in suite, saving you thousands of dollars on music production software.

Cons: These monitors lack some range and frequencies—negligible to amateurs but undesirable to professionals.

Bottom Line: Strong, quality audio with generous features. However, it’s a selection that is best suited for casual audiophiles.

Final Thoughts

Studio monitors like these are essential to your production setup if you want crisp, accurate sound. Whether you’re an audio engineer or a casual music lover, there are portable options or larger at-home systems that can fit your needs. Take your sound from basic to refined with a quality studio monitor that can make all the difference.

Hollis Mills Hollis Mills
Hollis Mills is a freelance journalist and a content writer for LifeSavvy. He has a bachelor's degree in English literature, and as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, Hollis wrote and edited for the nationally recognized student newspaper, The Battalion. When he's not writing, you can find him complaining about Boston Celtics basketball or giving plenty of peanut butter biscuits to his always-hungry Catahoula dog, Blue. Read Full Bio »
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