Best Studio Monitors – (Under 1000, 500, 300)

best studio monitorsThis is one of the most important pieces of home studio equipment, lets take a look at the best studio monitors.

For many reasons like play back and mix down,  but besides that it’s important to know exactly how each piece of musical equipment sounds.

Because if it sounds like whats coming thru the speaker, than chances are the recording will sound the same.  Before we get to the best studio monitors, lets talk about why they are so important.

Speakers are designed to be flat in frequency.  Because of that, you get an accurate reproduction of the sounds of the equipment.

The components of the speakers specialize in reproducing specific frequency ranges.  They use a device called a crossover network.

What that does is sort of direct the audio traffic, meaning if low-end is coming through it will send it to the sufferer and same goes for high-end and mid-range.

  • Tweeters – (1 kHz to 20 kHz) reproduces high frequencies.
  • Mid-Range – (800 Hz to 3 kHz) reproduces frequencies in between the tweeter and woofer.
  • Woofers – (30 Hz to 100 Hz) reproduces the low frequencies and has the largest speaker

ACTIVE VS. PASSIVE

It’s important to know the difference between the two.  Basically, Active means powered and Passive means you need to supply power. Honestly, one is not better than the other.

But, it’s a matter of buying more stuff or just getting an all in one speaker.

If you’re just starting your studio and are on a budget we will stick with Active.  It’s pretty awesome that I can just switch it on from the back and connect 2 cables and we’re ready to go!

10 of the Best Studio Monitors

We’ve researched and used the following.  They range from under 1000, 500, 300, and 100.  But what we found were some of the most popular speakers were under 200.

That’s great news, as price has come down in the industry, you aren’t losing any quality.  So let’s begin…

1. Mackie CR Series CR3

These are a great professional full range speaker for many multimedia purposes.  Audio and video editing with the Mackie CR3 is awesome.  The tweeter and sub’s are so nice, you can hear things you wouldn’t normally hear before.

And editing late at night with the volume down is probably my favorite part, because you won’t lose that low sub or high tweeter sounds.  Its great, I can edit videos at my computer while my wife sleeps.

Besides being super affordable, check out some features:

  • 50 watts packs a punch and delivers clarity
  • (80 Hz – 20 kHz) Ultra-wide frequency range perfect for all multimedia
  • All wood cabinet
  • Control button right in front, volume and on/off switch
  • Includes cables and sound isolation to put speakers on.

Hands down these are an amazing pair for super cheap.

2. JBL LSR305 PAIR

The JBL 3-series LSR 305 speakers for an extremely affordable reference monitor. The will also work very well as a shelf speaker for your home audio. But what really makes the speakers interesting is the design.

They have taken from a really expensive technology and made it into affordable cheaper speakers.

You’ll notice the tweeter is set in this shell that even has bumps in front of it.  What this does creates an extremely wide center image that seems to follow you around the room!  Its called image control wave guide.

Here are some great features:

  • 2-way powered studio monitor
  • Selectable Input Sensitivity -EQ for the high and low-frequency, and volume control
  • 5″ long-throw woofer
  • Professional Balanced Inputs -XLR and 1/4″

This pair really packs big power with big sound. These are highly recommended by musical gurus all over.  They sound great and don’t take up a lot of space.

The technology that went into them is by far superior to others.

3. KRK RP5G3-NA

This is the KRK rocket 5 by generation 3.  It’s a powered five-inch studio monitor. The KRK rocket series has become very popular for delivering studio-quality sound at an incredibly affordable price.

Here a some awesome features:

  • Extended bass response
  • Clean and accurate
  • Reduced port turbulence
  • Total Power: 50 watts

This monitor features a 50-watt by amp design that offers maximum headroom and minimal distortion.  This allows you to get a clean sound at lower volumes.

The five-inch woofer is made from a combination of glass and aramid fibers to produce clear mid-range and tight low-end sounds.  The one inch soft dome tweeter is capable of producing sound up to 35 khz.

The speaker cabinet has several features that optimize the accuracy of what you’re hearing.

The radius edges reduce wave refraction and the front firing port helps to deliver extended low-frequency response, while minimizing boundary coupling from nearby services.  A factory-installed foam pad on the bottom to help isolate the speaker from your studio service.

On the back we have a set of high and low-frequency adjustments for tuning your room, a volume control, unbalanced RCA input, a balanced quarter-inch input and XLR input.

The KRK rocket 5 delivers a clear and balanced sound without the gimmicky Eq boosts found in other similarly priced monitors.

If you’re looking for an affordable powered studio monitor with professional features then check out the KRK Rokit 5

4. Alesis Elevate 5

The Alesis elevate 5 are compact yet powerful speakers.  That enable you to listen to mixes, masters and multimedia content with impressive clarity and a warm full sound.

Using technology adopted from Alesis award-winning monitor 1 and M1 monitors, these active speakers have an output 80 watts in total making them loud enough for almost all room environments without compromising the sound.

Here are some features:

  • Affordable
  • 5″ low-frequency driver
  • 1″ silk dome tweeter
  • Headphone Jack
  • High-density wood cabinets with bass porting for smooth and deep low-end

The Elevate 5 is made from a high density wood to provide natural bass.  Each speaker is composed of a 40 watt power amp, 5 inch bass driver and a 1 inch silk dome tweeter.

Each cabinet also houses bass ports for a clear low-end and radial-edge baffles to reduce distortion.

On the back to the main right unit is a RCA or phono a 1/4 inch TRS jack input, which is perfect for many times of audio gear meaning you can get started right away.

There is also a power lead input a power switch.  An output to the other speaker that comes with a cable to do so.  Another feature we like is the a switch that boost the bass.

On next speaker there is simply a jack input to connect to the right side. Both speakers are magnetically shielded to minimize interference and maximize listening pleasure.

A nice feature is that has a 3.5 millimeter powered headphones socket right in the front.  This means that you can plug headphones right in and it will cut the sound to the set while you listen without disturbing others.

5. M-Audio Studiophile AV 40

M-Audio is known for having the best-selling gear, and there is plenty of good reasons.  Great design, great quality and yet are affordable.

I would recommend the M-audio for someone looking for entry-level or doesn’t need all that power.  Perfect for the DJ or solo musician who wants to hear back in high quality.

The m-audio AV 40 multimedia monitor speakers are newer versions.  These speakers are really good especially for their price, I would call them semi-pro that gives a powerful sound.

See some features:

  •  4″ polypropylene-coated woofers
  • 1″ ferrofluid-cooled silk dome tweeters
  • OptImage III tweeter wave guides – precision imaging
  • 20-watt-per-channel amplifier with Class A/B architecture
  • Magnetic shielding
  • Comes with all cables to connect with, phones, ipods, stereos and mixers.
  • Affordable

Comes in all wood cabinets with a sleek black finish that give a great professional look.  20 watts of power per channel for a total of 40.

The nice features are in the front, with a blue-lit light that glows when powered on via the power button.  There are two inputs, one is an aux, which you can connect your multimedia into and right next to it is a headphone jack.

The back has several ways to connect to, RCA, TRS and RCA.  Note, there are no XLR inputs.  These aren’t going to Thump as much as the others listed, but overall they are a great intro or perfect for a small set-up.

 

6. Yamaha Powered Studio Monitor

Definitely one of the most popular brands out there is the Yamaha.  They are well-known for making the iconic NS10, which can be seen in just about every famous recording workspace.

The HS series are a powered as opposed to the NS10 which were passive.  But yamaha has brought out a new range of models, HS5, HS7 and HS8.

Features included with the series:

  • 2-Way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor with 5″ cone woofer and 1″ dome tweeter
  • 54Hz-30kHz frequency response
  • 45W LF plus 25W HF bi-amp system for high-performance 70W power amplification
  • Room Control and High TRIM response controls
  • XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals

Check out the Series:

  1. HS5 – For Smaller Rooms  (5″ cone)

  2. HS7 – Like the HS5 but with more BASS (7″cone)

  3. HS8 – For Larger Rooms (150 watts)

 

7. BEHRINGER TRUTH B2031A

The Behringer Truth B2o31A  are the 5″ model 150 watt model.  Right off the bat the size of these and the cheap price attracted me.  Very affordable for a powered set that has real nice flat sound.

For mixing, they are great.  Depending on the size of your room or area the EQ can be adjusted using  compensation switches located on the back of the unit.

Highs, mids and low frequencies can be left at flat or switched a few decibels lower or higher.

This is great, sometimes you have a room that is to boomy or too much high-end, or the opposite in a different room.  Behringer really came up with something good here.

Also in the design you will notice there is no more “sweet spot”, you know your head right in between the pair.  Nope, they focused on creating a wave-guided system, so you can be free to sit in different spots and get the same mix as the person in the middle.

Check out some great features:

  •     Very Affordable
  •     150 watts Precision Class A/B amplifiers
  •     1″  silk dome tweeter for Ultra-high resolution sound reproduction
  •     8″ woofer made of Kevlar cone for ultimate bass response
  •     Wave Design “sweet spot

Conclusion

Here are the best studio monitors we like to use in our studio.  No doubt about it, studio monitors are the most important piece of equipment.  I hope this guide has helped you make a choice.  Feel free to contact us for more information and also let us know what you like.  We’d like to review those in the future.

Sources:

http://mackie.com/products/hrmk2-series

http://www.jblpro.com/www/products/recording-broadcast/3-series#.VtMJh9A5uec

http://www.krksys.com/krk-studio-monitor-speakers.html

http://www.alesis.com/products/browse/category/monitors

http://www.m-audio.com/products/browse/category/reference-monitors

http://www.music-group.com/Categories/Behringer/Loudspeaker-Systems/Studio-Monitors/B1030A/p/P0A0X

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/music-production/speakers/