Purchasing a set of studio monitors for your home recording setup? That’s a huge step toward making better mixes.
They’re designed to deliver a flat and uncolored sound, so you can hear how the song really sounds.
I’m going to take you through some of the most popular monitors for home studio enthusiasts. They each come in a variety of sizes, with different features to suit your mixing space.
So keep reading if you want to find the perfect pair of speakers!
NOTE: It’s also super important to know about speaker placement, so check our guide:
Like any major purchase, you should make sure you have a budget in mind for what you’d like to spend on monitors.
Most monitors will cost you at least $250 to $300 a pair.
In a position where you’re buying a bunch of studio gear at once and have a budget for everything? I would prioritize monitors as one of your main purchases.
If you don’t have a ton to spend, don’t be too worried about it. There are a ton of great options that will fit anyone’s budget!
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure your monitors are compatible with your existing setup.
Some monitors have XLR inputs instead of ¼” inputs. Some include RCA cables and others don’t.
Check your interface to see what sort of output options you have. And figure out if you need a certain connection.
Or buy converter cables to integrate the monitors into your system.
Monitor Speaker Size
Before we begin, we need to discuss speaker size.
Monitors come in a few different sizes to suit different use cases. All of the monitor series in this article have a selection of roughly 5″, 7″, and 8″.
The main deciding factor for what size monitor you get should be based around your mixing room size and, of course, your budget.
Most people will be completely fine with a smaller set of speakers. They’re cheaper and work way better in smaller rooms.
If you’re working out of a regular sized room, 5″ speakers should work perfectly.
What if you’re in a larger room like a garage or a basement or you need a bit more volume? A larger speaker size might work better.
If your home studio is pretty sizable, consider 7″ or 8″ options.
Have you determined what size makes the most sense for your situation? Next, you’ll want to find what brand has the sound, features, and looks you want!
Yamaha HS Series
Based on the industry standard, NS10, the Yamaha HS Series has become a staple in the home studio. They’re affordable, and they offer fantastic quality.
These monitors come in sizes of 5″, 6.5″, and 8″.
They’re known for having a flat frequency response, especially in the mids. A lot of prosumer monitors hype up the low and top end, but not these.
You can expect very accurate and clean listening from these.
Feature-wise, these speakers accept an XLR or TRS balanced connection input. They also have some super handy room control features.
These controls consist of a low-mid cut or boost and a high trim or boost. That way, you can make sure the speakers sound perfect in your room.
These speakers sit right in the middle of cost, quality, and feature set. This is a great option for most people with a medium-size budget looking for the best sound.
The PreSonus Eris line is a relative newcomer to the studio monitor market. Much like PreSonus’s other offerings, they deliver exceptional quality at an affordable price.
The Eris series features a bit more diversity in speaker style.
They have some standard woofer/tweeter speakers. As well as more exotic dual speaker monitors.
Regardless what style you choose, remember the guidelines about speaker size still apply.
The most exciting thing about the PreSonus line is that they are the most affordable of the bunch. The 5″ model sits at around $125 for one speaker, with most other brands starting at $150+ for their 5″ offerings.
These monitors accept a signal from an XLR, TRS, or RCA output. That is great if you have a few different sources you’d like to plug into the speakers.
The Eris line has some of the best tone controls as well.
They have controls for lows, mids, and highs. But they also have a setting for adjusting the sound for the actual placement of the speakers.
This is an awesome feature for people working in an unideal room who may not be able to set up their speakers 100% perfectly.
If you’re looking for the most versatility and feature set for your buck, these are a great option.
Focal is a very well-known French company in the pro audio sphere. They make some of the best studio monitors on Earth, costing thousands of dollars.
The Alpha series is their foray into a more budget-friendly price range. If you’re looking for the best quality at a relatively affordable price, these are it.
The Alpha series can connect via an XLR or RCA unit, so you may need to get a converter if your interface has TRS outputs.
Focal is known for their tweeter designs, and they have brought that tech to this speaker as well. You can expect a super clean top end with no brittleness.
This set comes with a few more limited room settings as well. You can adjust the lows and highs a few decibels to dial the speakers in.
On a budget but want the best quality possible? And you have some decent treatment and won’t need a bunch of configuration tools?
These are an awesome choice.
KRK Rokit G4
KRK’s Rokit series has been around for a while. And they continually put out new versions, improving on previous designs.
The Rokit G4s are the latest in the line, and they’re truly impressive. With low end that’s beefy but not overwhelming and crystal clear highs, these speakers sound truly inspiring.
And these things are loaded with features.
KRK has developed a smartphone app to help you get the most out of your speakers. With it, you can easily make sure your speakers are angled correctly, check for wiring issues, and more.
What’s more, the speakers come with a handy graphical EQ.
You can use the app’s noise generator to play a sine sweep. So you can measure the frequency spectrum of the speakers in your room.
Then you can use the detailed EQ on the monitors to adjust for any peaks or dips.
In other words, KRK has made it super easy to tailor your speakers to the needs of your room.
I found my old Rokit G2s very useful for mixing at home. And two generations of improvements have only made them better and better.
So if you’ve got a moderate budget and want your monitors to be super customizable, KRK has you covered!
JBL 3 Series MkII
JBL is known for creating premium monitors for the pros.
And they have made a line of speakers that are affordable. Without sacrificing the quality their company is known for.
By including tech from their more expensive monitors, JBL ensures a truly stellar listening experience.
For example, the Image Control Waveguide widens the sweet spot. It ensures the mix sounds clean and accurate regardless of where you’re sitting.
I had the pleasure of demoing the 306s a couple of years ago.
I was in an untreated room a bit bigger than a tennis court. I paced the room.
It didn’t matter where I stopped or what direction I was facing. The music sounded wonderfully clear.
All that is to say the 3 Series is a terrific choice if you want pro sound at a modest price.
If you’ve got a higher budget, a pair of Genelecs might be the way to go.
If you’ve been in a major recording studio, there’s a good chance you’ve seen them. And you can also have them in your own home!!
Genelec is one of the leading creators of professional monitors, and for good reason.
They’ve kitted their speakers out with tons of proprietary audio solutions. So even their tiniest speakers sound powerful, wide, and accurate.
Genelec has also created the GLM kit, which you may want to get as well. This includes all the hardware and software you need to set your speakers up properly.
That being said, they aren’t cheap.
Their smallest 3″ speaker will run you $350. But despite their small size, they still sound amazing!
You could even get just one if you’re looking for a mono reference speaker.
If you’re on a tight budget, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to buy these.
Want some of the highest-end speakers out there and don’t mind spending extra? A pair of Genelecs will never steer you wrong.
ADAM Audio AX
Ready to invest in some serious muscle for your studio?
If you’ve got a larger setup, maybe even a project studio, you might want something a bit heftier. That’s where the ADAM Audio AX series comes in.
Ask any pro mixer who’s used their speakers: ADAM Audio really delivers. Not only do they sound good, they translate really well to other speaker systems.
Instead of a typical dome tweeter, the AX series uses folded ribbon tweeters.
Weird looking, right?
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of acoustical physics.
These folded ribbon tweeters are great at giving you a super detailed image of your mix. And with very little distortion.
They’re still very accurate at low levels, so make sure to listen at fairly low volume levels. That’ll keep your ears fresh longer, and help your mix translate better to other speakers.
Setting Up Your Speakers
Once you’ve got your speakers, you still have some work to do. You need to place them properly! Which is easier said than done.
But don’t worry, this video goes over everything you need to know about speaker placement:
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Some speaker providers, like Genelec and KRK, have tools to help you place them. But even if your speakers don’t, you can still find the perfect spot.
Before you purchase studio monitors…
Make sure you understand the fundamentals of acoustic treatment. Even a little treatment will go a long way in helping your new monitors shine.
You may also want to consider Sonarworks. Sonarworks counteracts any changes your speakers make to a sound’s frequency spectrum.
So if you want to make sure you’re hearing your mix accurately, check out both of these options!
Regardless of your budget, there are some solid speaker options for you. Here are the best studio monitors for home studios:
- Yamaha HS Series
- PreSonus Eris
- KRK Rokit G4
- JBL 3 Series MkII
- Genelec 8000
- ADAM Audio AX
Any of these would be terrific additions to your setup!
And don’t forget – it’s also super important to know about speaker placement, so check our guide: