Billie Eilish — one of the world’s most popular and successful musicians of the moment — is all the proof you need that you can make amazing music from your home. Of course, having an incredible voice definitely helps, but we digress. When it comes to mixing music to sound great, the buck truly stops with a good pair of studio monitors.
Unlike a normal pair of speakers, studio monitors strive to achieve what’s called neutral and flat EQ. This neutral sound quality provides the most accurate audio representation of what your music or audio actually sounds like before and after you begin processing and editing it. Without neutral representation, your music will have a tough time sounding good everywhere — home entertainment speakers, in a car, etc. It can’t be overstated: a pair of quality studio monitors are incredibly important to create quality audio that sounds good.
You don’t have to hundreds of dollars an hour to rent studio time. You can build your own studio at home. All you really need is a computer, an audio interface and a pair of studio monitors. Who knows, you could be the next Billie Eilish.
Here are our recommendations for the best studio monitors available right now.
1. Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor
Yamaha’s classic white cone has become indicative of great sound referencing. The Yamaha HS8 studio monitors are as professional sounding as it gets at this price range. Sure, for a home studio, over $350 per monitor may seem steep, but these studio monitors have a great design, wide frequency range and flat sound (a good thing for studio monitors). It provides an accurate depiction of the music you’re working on, so you can mix your audio to sound great.
Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor
2. KRK Classic 5 Professional Powered Studio Monitors
KRK monitors are popular among home studio musicians because they are decently priced, and even at the entry-level models, KRK produces neutral sound for great audio referencing. And if you notice the room you are mixing in is adding unwanted low or high frequencies, you can make adjustments on the back of the monitor to compensate. What you get for the price, you’ll feel like you’re robbing KRK.
KRK Classic 5 Professional Powered Studio Monitors
3. Adam Audio A7X 7 Inches Powered Studio Monitor
While these studio monitors have a hefty price tag, they also sport some of the most advanced technology within a pair of monitors. The X-ART tweeter for example can handle frequencies up to 50kHz — 30kHz beyond human hearing. And the front bass ports give you more flexibility on where you can place your monitors and help eliminate unwanted rattling from low frequencies. If you have the money, and you’re serious about your home studio, you can’t go wrong with these monitors.
4. PreSonus Eris E5
On the other end of the spectrum compared to the A7X are the PreSonus Eris E5s. These are far more affordable, but still provide handy features like acoustic tuning controls like what’s found on the KRK monitors and a front-firing bass port like on the A7X. These studio monitors have almost 12,000 reviews on Amazon and sport a 4.7-star rating ensuring that many home studio musicians trust these monitors with their mixes.
PreSonus Eris E5
5. Mackie CR3-X
These studio monitors can serve many purposes. With multiple inputs including RCAs, line-level inputs and passive speaker inputs, you can use these monitors to help you mix music, or serve as your speakers for your vinyl record player. With only three-inch cones and 50 watts of power, these aren’t the most powerful or bass capable of reference speakers, but over 1,200 people on Amazon consider these to be their speakers of choice and that certainly says something.
6. JBL Professional 306P MkII
The JBL MkIIs are a great choice for those who create music that pushes the boundaries at the top and bottom of the frequency range. After updating its HF and LF transducers, the newly designed MkIIs are able to produce more neutral highs and lows, so you get a better reference of your mix. Plus, these JBL speakers are rather affordable, too.
JBL Professional 306P MkII
7. Avantone Pro Active MixCube
BEST SUPPLEMENTAL STUDIO MONITORS
Sometimes when you mix in a studio with amazing equipment and a finely tuned room, you can get a false sense of what your music will sound like on lower-quality speakers. The Avantone Mix Cubes help eliminate that problem. These speakers give almost like another audio vantage point of your music, and really display what the high frequencies in your mix will sound like outside of the studio. Adding these to your home studio will give you a better picture of your mix, and a better-finished product.
Avantone Pro Active MixCube
8. Dynaudio LYD 5
The great-looking design will not only look great in any home studio but also level up your producing ability. These are on the higher-end price range for home studio monitors, but the results speak for themselves — neutral frequency response with the ability to adjust for speaker placement, sound balance and low frequencies. Serious musicians will appreciate the extra referencing clarity.