Being able to hear your mixes in intricate detail is the most important aspect of music production. That means that choosing the best studio monitor is a key decision for you as a music producer. Hearing your mixes in detail means you can improve them and iron out inconsistencies, so getting the best monitor speaker for your studio is a surefire way to drastically improve your music-making.
It will also help avoid that common scenario: where you spend hours labouring over a mix that sounds amazing on your (not so great) monitoring system, and then you play it elsewhere and it sounds awful. If this is happening to you with your mixes, then it could be time to upgrade your studio monitoring set-up, and that's where this guide comes in!
Great studio monitor speakers are essentially designed to reveal an accurate picture of the audio you're producing. This honest reflection of your music might uncover some flaws in your mixing technique, but that is ‘a good thing’! Hearing your mistakes means you can fix them, making informed choices about what might need changing, confident that the music you're hearing in your studio will translate to other systems that you play it on and, importantly, still sound great.
We've rounded up what we consider to be some of the best studio monitors currently on the market, from budget options to pro-quality monitoring set-up – along with the best prices online right now. We've reviewed everything in this guide too.
We've also included some in-depth buying advice at the end of this guide, so if you'd like to learn more about the best speakers for music production, we'd recommend you head straight there. On the other hand, if you'd rather get straight to the products, keep scrolling.
Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech magazines and currently runs Computer Music which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.
Best studio monitors: Quick list
Want to get to the good stuff without reading walls of text? Well, here you'll find a roundup of all the best studio monitors, with links to read more if you like what you see.
One of the most popular studio monitors for electronic music production, the KRK Rokit's distinctive yellow cones are feature packed and great for smaller studios.
If you're looking to step up from a set of beginner studio monitors, then the Focal Shape 65 offers the perfect balance between audiophile quality and affordability.
Best compact monitors
If you're after a studio monitor that doesn't take up too much room without compromising on sound quality, the Genelec 8010A will fit right in.
Best for home studios
If you're looking to get your home studio up and running, then the IK Multimedia iLoud MTM offers the perfect balance between size, audio quality, and affordability.
Best for transparency
If you want to hear everything that's wrong with your mix, the Yamaha HS5's ultra clarity and transparency will ensure you can get on top of any issues.
The best studio monitors 2023
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Here you'll find full writeups for all of the best studio monitors. We test the products featured in our guides extensively so that our recommendations deliver for your specific needs.
If you've ever stepped foot inside the studio domain of an electronic music producer, the chances are you're familiar with the famous yellow speaker cones of KRK. The Rokit series - now in its fourth generation - is the Gibson-owned brand's affordable nearfield range, and has a selection of neat features which make it worthy of note.
For starters, the G4 range is among the first monitor series at this price bracket to include a graphic EQ function on the speaker itself. In-built digital signal processing (DSP) offers a suite of tools, including a room analyser, to ensure the speakers' output compensates the space you're mixing in for any dead zones or sonic blind spots you may be unwittingly harbouring.
In our tests, the KRK Rokits came out on top as one of the best studio monitors for smaller studios, and for us, they are ideal for anything bass-heavy.
Read the KRK Rokit G4 review
- Today's best KRK Rokit 7 G4 deals
Available in 40, 50 and 65 flavours, the latter of which we’re reviewing here, the Shapes, from Focal, now sit between their budget-friendly Alpha series and the Solo6 Be - another 6.5" two-way monitor - in terms of price.
Aesthetically, the Shapes are an interesting departure from Focal’s other designs. The main speaker cabinet is black-painted MDF with a luxurious walnut veneer, appearing less ‘studio spaceship’ and more ‘hi- connoisseur’ – in fact, they’d look just as at home in a domestic cinema setup as in a production environment.
Interestingly, the Shapes are non-ported, with dual 6.5" passive radiators (one on each side of the monitor).
Read the Focal Shape 65 review
Best compact monitors
At the smallest end of the Genelec 8000 bi-amplified monitor series is the 8010A. Though relatively light (1.5kg each), the 8010As are solid thanks to the die-cast aluminium enclosure, with metal driver grilles to prevent damage in transit. Portability is key, with power and input sockets neatly tucked in at the rear.
They come with tiltable Iso-Pod rubber stands attached, simultaneously taking care of axis angle and transmission reduction. They feature standard 8000 series mounting sockets for a variety of options, from truss hanging to floor stands.
These are rear-ported (bass reflex) enclosures, and just beneath the port is a recess housing five dip switches. Three contour the low-frequency response: -2dB and -4dB bass tilts which combine for -6dB, and Desktop Control which dips -4dB at 200Hz.
Read the Genelec 8010A review
Best for home studios
IK’s latest addition to its growing monitor range, the iLoud MTMs are crammed with tech that belies their relatively low price point. The ‘MTM’ bit refers to the D’Appolito configuration, which, in this case, places a 1” tweeter in between two 3.5” mid-range woofers, with a bass reflex port around the back. Everything is DSP-controlled and they can be calibrated to suit your room courtesy of IK’s proprietary ARC calibration system, which is built right into the speakers and the measurement mic comes bundled as part of the package.
The MTMs are clinical and brutally ‘honest’ and take imaging to a level that we’d expect to hear from monitors costing three times as much. Subtle mid/high details that previously went unnoticed become perfectly audible, making corrective targeting of individual elements within the mix almost supernaturally easy. Low-end solidity and control are remarkable for a speaker of this size, too, and they never really seem to get fatiguing.
For those with limited desk space, or seeking a surgical secondary pair to their main ‘fun’ monitors, the iLoud MTM really is a truly incredible solution.
Read the full IK Multimedia iLoud MTM review
Best for clarity
The famous story about the old Yamaha NS10 studio monitors was that they were chosen not because they sounded great, but because they didn't. The theory is that if you could mix a track to sound good on them, you could be confident it would sound good anywhere. Of course, times have changed and even modern entry-level monitors will do a job, but the appeal of owning a piece of genuine studio history is strong.
The Yamaha HS5 series are reference speakers which are built solely with mixing and monitoring in mind. There's no Bluetooth or graphic EQ, and room correction is basic at best. For sheer accuracy, however, they're hard to beat at this price range. Get your mix right on these and it'll sound fantastic anywhere.
Read the full Yamaha HS5 review
Best budget monitors
From their famous Oxygen MIDI controllers, M-Track digital interfaces, and robust studio monitors, M-Audio is the go-to company for many budding producers looking for high-quality, affordable home studio products.
The BX3 and BX4 are the latest offerings from M-Audio and we feel they are a fantastic option if space is an issue. The compact 3.5” (BX3) and 4.5” (BX4) Kevlar LF drivers and 1” silk dome tweeter offer a surprisingly good bass response and precise high-end frequencies - especially considering the price.
For us, these are perfect for the beginner producer. They are simple to set up, look great, and, most importantly, sound phenomenal.
Read our full M-Audio BX3 and BX4 review
If you've looked at our top picks and not seen something that meets your needs don't worry, we've got loads more options for you. Whether you need speakers specifically for a small room, or a something with added stereo width, here are some more of our favorite studio monitors.
iLoud Precision 6s is the middle monitor in the IK Precision range. They have a great set of specs, with a wide frequency range and very little variation in colour across it, so the response is flat.
The speakers also take into account the room they sit in. They employ the ARC System of calibration via a piece of software called X-Monitor to auto-adjust to your room. You can also choose from a selection of preset frequency curves and the speakers will then raise or lower parts of the frequency range accordingly.
When we set them up before employing the ARC system, we were already impressed with their controlled response while playing some trusted mixes; they really do deliver extra sonic detail.
Post calibration we weren’t expecting to hear that much difference but the test revealed bass enhancements that we couldn’t initially detect – probably caused by their position on a desk and in a corner – which were then evened out in the adjustment process, resulting in a flatter and truer response.
We’d definitely recommend auditioning a set of Precisions – you will hear your music in a completely new light so they could revolutionise your mixing.
Read the full IK Multimedia iLoud Precision 6 review
Just like its predecessor, the Solo6, is handmade in France by a workforce intent on stuffing as much quality and tech into its 22mm thick cabinet as they can muster. The inverted dome Beryllium tweeter remains but its grille and baffle have been completely re-designed. The grille now follows the contours of the tweeter more closely to lessen its influence on the sound, which results in greater dispersion and a wider sweet spot.
The frequency response extends way up to 40kHz with no distortion, which means it’s possible to listen to mixes with extreme precision while suffering little fatigue. Around the back of the Solo6 you’ll find extensive EQ controls that enable it to sound at its best whatever the room.
The Solo6 excels in three areas. It’s incredibly honest, producing an unadulterated output that you can trust. That sound is also highly detailed, thanks mostly to the incredibly responsive, precise tweeter. Finally, there’s negligible distortion, which means we still felt fresh as a daisy even after working with them for hours; fatigue-free listening at its best.
A pair isn’t cheap, but they do offer the optimum balance between price and performance and they are sublime, top-drawer monitors that will be an asset to a small studio.
Read the full Focal ST6 Solo6 review
The ST6 Twin6 is a reboot of the venerable Twin6 Be, an evergreen studio monitor in Focal’s pro range.
Although it looks like a traditional 3-way monitor, with two woofers and a tweeter, it is in fact a less common 2.5-way system. Both woofers are the same size, and both handle bass, but only one of them reproduces the midrange before a high-frequency crossover point is reached. One of the advantages of a 2.5-way system is that the woofers are smaller, in this case just 6.5 inches, yet can still deliver significant bass.
Swapping our everyday 2-way monitors for a pair of 2.5-way Twin6s, the difference is immediately apparent. Placed horizontally, it’s the breadth of the soundstage that’s initially so striking; the stereo imaging is so much wider.
These are magnificent monitors that excel at providing balance and clarity throughout their entire frequency range. Never artificial-sounding, boomy or harsh, we could listen to them all day without a hint of fatigue. Expensive, but we found build, materials and sound all AAA+ grade.
Read the full Focal ST6 Twin6 review
Eris is Presonus's most traditional speaker range and its latest update adds a distinctive EBM tweeter waveguide and elliptical boundary-modelled design that delivers both a wide horizontal and narrow vertical dispersion. The horizontal width is very obvious and we didn’t struggle to find a sweet spot – good news with larger monitors as you’re likely to be further away, and handy for group listening or tracking situations.
Extra controls around the back include input gain, mid-peak and high-shelf EQs, low-cut filter, and a room correction option which curtails frequencies below 800Hz and helps when the monitors are in corners or up close to walls.
The tonal balance of the E8XTs is pretty good and we didn’t initially feel the need to hit the EQ. However, having AB’d with some other monitors, the mids sounded a bit restrained, and a small boost from the mid-EQ (1kHz) sorted this.
The E8XT delivers the sort of scale one expects from slightly larger monitors and, coupled with the broad sweet spot and extended bass, they’re great for both tracking and mixing. Build quality is also excellent and they also offer incredible value.
Read the full Presonus Eris E8XT review
The SC2070 is a 2-way speaker that combines a 6.5” woofer with a new version of its AMT (Air Motion Transformer) ribbon tweeter. At 345mm high, it’s compact enough to be a near-field, but could easily handle mid-field or multichannel duties.
Like other Eve monitors and many competitor designs, the SC2070 incorporates onboard AD conversion and DSP, which then feeds into the Class D amps. The DSP handles all settings including soft start, EQ and volume, and all are accessed from the Smart-Knob. The flexible EQ includes high and low shelves and bell-shaped mid band.
The SC2070 build quality is excellent, and these monitors are also quite hefty for their size (9.4kg each). Sonically, they sound very open, and this has as much to do with the mid-range precision as it does with the higher frequencies.
These are excellent monitors, delivering a big, detailed, revealing sound. They’re quite expensive, but they should definitely be on your audition list.
Read the full Eve Audio SC2070 review
GoAux 3 and GoAux 4 are on-the-go speakers from KRK and each kit comprises a pair of monitors in a padded travel case with space for all the extras.
Each speaker has an adjustable stand, is Bluetooth capable, has built-in EQ (HF and LF), onboard headphone output and front-mounted standby switch/level control.
Like a number of compact monitors, each GoAux pair uses common amplification (Class D). One loudspeaker (the left) essentially has all the input connectivity, power, settings, amplifier, volume control and headphone output, and the other is a remote unit linked via a lead.
GoAux 4 includes automatic room correction (ARC). To get started, plug the included mic into the front of the left speaker, clipping it to you while you sit in your monitoring sweet spot and it then runs through a set of audio tests.
In our space, the difference was noticeable but not dramatic, but the outcome made sense, particularly having heard the peaks and troughs in the low-frequency tone cycle.
Overall KRK has done a good job with GoAux, delivering compact and portable monitors with a very workable sound.
Read the full KRK GoAux 3 and 4 review
The JBL One Series 104 is a compact monitor designed for portability and convenience. It features a rear-ported design to improve low frequency extension. Audio inputs, volume control and amp are all in one unit, and a cable then connects to the second speaker. RCA and 1/4” jack inputs can both be used together to connect two sources and a 1/8” input on the front overrides rear connectors.
We found these monitors to be very well made and durable. They come with a rubberised base, ideal for desktop positioning, although you might want to put them on a shelf or monitor stand for ear height. We did find the sweet spot pretty broad, both vertically and horizontally.
The 104 produces a surprising amount of welly, delivering lots of punch. There's no onboard compensation EQ but they worked well about 12 inches forward of the rear wall. The speaker tuning also delivers plenty of midrange, ideal for balancing critical lead instruments in a mix. Highs can be overpowering, but the frequency balance is good at both low and medium volume levels.
Despite a price increase since our original review, they are still competitive, and overall we found the One Series 104 to be a surprisingly good little monitor.
Read the full JBL One Series 104 review
One of the most affordable Adam monitors to date, the T5V is built around a 5-inch woofer and Adam’s U-ART (Unique Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter) tweeter. This Class-D powered two-way design with rear-ring bass reflex is the smaller of the new T Series designs.
Sonically, the top-end is very well tuned, while the HPS waveguide delivers a broad horizontal sweet spot. This contributes greatly to the overall imaging and separation, which is excellent. Although the cabinet is quite deep, front to back, the units feel compact.
The low mid range frequencies could be more prominent, but this certainly isn't a deal-breaker, and by setting the LF EQ to -2dB we achieved a much better result. Adam’s desire is to make the T5V your first Adam monitor, and judging by what we’ve heard here, it could easily make you a fan for life.
At the budget end of the spectrum, there are certain concessions that have to be made versus more advanced models. Often, this comes in a reduction of the available frequency range and, more often than not, it’s bass that suffers. The Alesis Elevate 5 MKII proves this point, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker; the Japanese firm has included a dedicated bass boost switch for those moments when you are listening for pleasure, rather than for reference.
When we tested these with reference listening in mind, we found that the 40 watts that the 5" driver and 1" high-frequency tweeter kicked out were more than adequate when mixing in a smaller room – but not so much when we expanded into a larger space. This will be no problem for the typical bedroom producer though, with the power on offer being more than enough for most.
Overall, the Elevate 5 set performs well across a range of listening situations, and would make a superb addition to any studio or gaming set-up.
Read the full Alesis Elevate 5 MkII review
Best studio monitors: Buying advice
What do I need to know about studio monitors?
Studio monitor speakers come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and types, so it’s worth exploring some of the options available to you when searching for the best studio monitors.
Do I need an amplifier for my studio monitors?
First up, you need to think about amplification. The electrical signals coming out of a home studio mixer or audio interface are fairly weak, which means monitors need the help of an amplifier. That amplifier can either be incorporated within the speaker itself - something you’ll find in active monitors - or used separately and externally, alongside passive speakers.
Does monitor speaker layout matter?
The layout of speakers themselves is crucial too. A classic two-way speaker employs one woofer, dedicated to producing low frequencies, and a tweeter that kicks out high-mid and high frequencies. The signals are separated by a crossover filter which splits the input into low and high bands. In monitor designs at the cheaper end of the spectrum, this crossover point sits at a crucial midrange area, so many higher-end monitors feature three-way (or even four-way) designs that employ more speaker drivers, aiming to keep those key midrange frequencies free of crossovers and so are clearer.
What size studio monitors do you need?
Size matters; as a general rule, the bigger the monitor, the more power it can output, and the more bass frequencies you can expect it to kick out. Your room’s size and how well acoustically treated it is will also determine the size of monitor it can handle: big, loud monitors can easily overload a small space.
Where should you place studio monitors in your room?
Listening distance is an important factor to consider too. Nearfield monitors are designed to be placed fairly close to the listener’s ears in a typical home studio. Midfield monitors, on the other hand, should be placed further away, at a further distance apart, in a bigger room.
Lastly, if you find yourself in a professional studio, you’ll usually find giant, full-range monitors, referred to as mains. Monitor sizes are based on the woofer diameter. For a nearfield monitor, this can range from three inches to eight inches. For most small to medium rooms, nearfields are more than adequate.
How do I connect my studio monitors to my computer or interface?
If you opt for active monitors, they usually feature jack, XLR, phono, digital and/or USB connections, which are designed to be hooked straight into your audio interface or computer. If your interface has balanced outputs, opt for your monitors’ balanced XLR or jack input to reduce unwanted noise.
When working with passive monitors, you’ll need to send your interface or computer output to a separate external amplifier and then connect that to your monitors. At the very least, active monitors also include a level control, while room-compensating EQ controls are also common.
How we choose the best studio monitors
Studio monitors should reveal everything about your music in as truthful a way as possible. They should therefore have a completely flat frequency response, that is not coloured or enhanced in any area, so what you hear being played is the actual mix in all its glory. You can then make correct mix decisions based on this true response (reduce volume levels, or EQ certain parts, for example). If your studio monitors don't have a flat frequency response and are, say, enhanced at the bass end, you will hear too much bass so reduce it while mixing and your mixed track will sound bass light on any other playback system.
The wider the quoted frequency response the better, as the speakers will deliver all the highs and lows you will expect from your music. While this can be tested electronically, another option is to test studio monitors with reference music – our own trusted mixes of music that we know very well – where we can tell if any areas of the frequency spectrum have been enhanced or reduced. Hearing every detail in a well known mix is the target for a great set of studio monitors.
During our playback tests we also test speaker design elements like bass ports which reduce low end distortion, and the rigidity of the cabinets which can help deliver tight transients or, if less well constructed, more flabby playback responses.
At this stage we also test for the stereo width of the monitors – how well spread the stereo signal is between left and right speaker – and also the 'sweet spot'. This is the ideal listening position to enjoy the best sound from the speakers and the better studio monitors feature design elements to increase the size of this sweet spot. This means you aren't so limited in your listening position or can have more than one person monitoring a mix at the same time.
Read more about how we test music making gear and services at MusicRadar.
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