More so that perhaps any other recording studio equipment…
Studio monitors are regarded as possibly the single most important tool for achieving great sound.
Which is why top studios will sometimes spend $10,000+ on the best that money can buy.
And while that may be unrealistic for home studios…
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend that much to get a great pair of monitors.
And to prove it to you, in today’s post I’ve compiled the following list of:
The 10 Best Studio Monitors for Home Recording.
The criteria for the list
When building this list, I decided to set 3 Key Guidelines to ensure a good mix of monitors:
- $2000 price cap – In my opinion, it’s the absolute max a home studio should have to spend on a quality pair of semi-pro monitors.
- One brand=One pick – To offer a variety of options, I limited the options to ONE top model per brand.
- Reputation is key – As we all know, “sound quality” is subjective. What one ear loves, another hates. And since every product description boasts an ultra-flat frequency response, with a tight bottom, focused mids, and detailed highs…the only fair way to judge them is by reputation.
More than any other factor, the monitors with the best long-standing reputations are the ones that made this list.
Now let’s begin. First up…
1. KRK Rokit 5 G3
When you browse online, at pictures of OTHER home studios…
One of the first things you notice is the monitors.
And VERY often…those distinct yellow dots of the KRK Rokit 5 G3 are exactly what you see.
And that’s because, at the “entry-level” price point, there is no other set of monitors….
- more popular
- more reviewed
- and more highly recommended
While most monitors in this price range receive far more complaints than praise…
The fact is, you could read reviews for days without finding a single bad word about the KRK’s. That is why, for beginner studios, they’re the obvious choice, and the only ones I recommend.
Two other good beginner’s options you can also check out are:
- JBL LSR305 – (Amazon/B&H/GuitarC/MusiciansF/Thomann)
- M Audio AV42 – (Amazon/B&H/GuitarC/MusiciansF/Thomann)
Up next, let’s move on to some pricier models. Starting with…
2. Yamaha HS8
Based on the original Yamaha NS-10’s from back in the 70’s…
The Yamaha HS8’s combine a classic sound, with some new technology.
Instantly recognizable for their signature white coned woofers, these monitors long ago solidified their iconic status.
Some of its notable features include:
- a unique mounting system – which minimizes vibration and improves performance
- extra large magnets – for a smoother response over a wider frequency range
As part of the popular mid-priced HS series, similar version of these monitors include:
- the HS5 – (5″ cone)
- the HS7 – (7″cone)
- the HS8S – (bigger 150W driver)
For monitors considered by many as “professional” quality, the Yamaha HS8’s are about as cheap as they come.
The only other monitors on this list comparable in BOTH quality and price, are…
3. Event 20/20 BAS
Also a reissue of an old classic, the Event 20/20BAS is based off the original Event 20/20bas released back in 1995.
To improve on the old design, Event employed many of the newer technologies used in making their flagship monitors: the Event Opal.
Compared to the original models, the new ones boast DOUBLE the power, with HALF the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD).
And that’s DAMN impressive.
Other notable features include:
- A front bass port – which is better suited for the smaller rooms of most home studios
- 250 W power – which is exceptionally high for monitors of this size
According to the Event website:
The very first pair of 20/20bas speakers were used by Francis Buckley to mix Quincy Jones’ Q’s Jook Joint album for which he won the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album.
For monitors at this price (or ANY price), that’s quite an accomplishment.
Next let’s move on to what I consider the most elegant looking monitors on the list…
4. Dynaudio BM5 mkIII
Chances are good you’ve heard of the Dynaudio Company before.
Established back in 1977, they are currently one of the most established brands in the field of studio monitors.
The sleek and sophisticated look of their monitors, in addition to their sound, make them one of the trendiest brands of today.
Among their most popular models, is the Dynaudio BM5 mkIII.
Notable features of these monitors include:
- soft high-frequency waveguide technology
- low, mid, and high frequency filters
- bass reflex cabinet with radius front edges
Check it out:
Next up is…
5. Mackie HR824 mkII
Traditionally known for their mixers…
The Mackie brand is no slouch when it comes to studio monitors either.
And the Mackie HR824 mkII is one of their most popular models.
One of the most unique features of these monitors is its “Acoustic Space Control” settings…
Which provides 3 separate settings to provide optimal bass performance according to the dimensions of your room.
This next pick is from brand NOT normally known for their monitors…
6. Neumann KH 120
Best known as makers of the finest microphones in the World…
The Neumann company, entered the studio monitor game back in 2010…
When they assumed the now retired Klein+Hummel line.
Their first release was the respectfully titled Neumann KH line, which featured the now popular, the Neumann KH 120.
Notable features of these monitors include:
- Mathematically Modeled Dispersion (MMD) waveguide
- Titanium fabric dome drivers
- Composite sandwich cone design
Check it out:
Also check out the KH120 D which features digital I/O and an internal DAC (Digital Audio Converter) for monitoring digital inputs.
Check it out:
Next up, we have…
7. Adam Audio A7X
ADAM Audio, one of the youngest companies on this list, was founded in Germany back in 1999.
Currently, the 3 lines of monitors they offer are:
- the high-end SX series
- the budget F series
- and the midrange AX series
No surprise, the AX series is most popular, and within it, the Adam Audio A7X is the most famous model of them all.
Known especially for its unique X-ART Tweeter, the A7X’s boast what may be the most hi-tech tweeters on this entire list.
Its specs are damn impressive, the most notable one being: the ability to reproduce frequencies all the way up to 50kHz.
That’s WELL beyond the limit of human hearing! What that means is…
WITHIN our hearing range, they provide an extremely flat frequency response.
Another nice feature is its FRONT bass ports, which allows for closer placement to the walls in smaller rooms.
Personally I find them ugly as hell, but looks aren’t the priority, are they? If SOUND is what you care about, I highly recommend them.
Next up is…
8. Genelec M040
More than any name on this list…
The Genelec name is the one synonymous with high-end studio monitors.
In fact, most of the models from their famous 8000 series are FAR too expensive for this list.
With their recent M series, Genelec has found a way to make themselves at least somewhat affordable to the average guy.
The most popular model of the series is the Genelec M040’s.
It’s notable features include:
- Downward facing bass port for use in smaller rooms
- Energy-friendly Class D amplifiers
- Intelligent Signal Sensing auto power-off
9. Focal Twin6 Be
Normally reserved ONLY for the most ULTRA-high end monitors…
The unique 3 way design of the Focal Twin6 Be is the primary feature that sets these monitors apart from the rest.
While most 3 way designs use a larger driver for the bass, and a smaller one for the mids, this model instead uses identical 6.5″ drivers for both.
As anyone who used them before would tell you, the extra 3rd cone makes one hell of difference in sound.
Now you would think…
That since these monitors are WAY pricier than the others on the list…that they would also be LESS popular.
Yet despite their cost, the Focal Twin6 Be’s appear to be among the most popular set of monitors in ANY category. If you can afford them, THESE are the ones I recommend most over ALL the others.
And for the last pick on the list…
10. Avantone Mix Cubes
A common problem when working on high-end monitors is…
A mix that sounds spectacular in the studio…
May not always translate well when played on lo-fi consumer speakers.
To solve this problem, the Auratone company invented a small set of monitors in 1958, known as the Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube…
Which simulated the less-than-ideal performance conditions of typical consumer speakers.
For decades to come, the Auratones held strong as the industry standards in secondary reference monitors.
Once they were discontinued, many copycats arose…
And the Avantone Mix Cubes, eventually became the new standard which we all use today.
As a supplement to ANY of the other monitors on this list, I highly recommend you grab yourself a pair of Mix Cubes as well.
Also check it out its closest competitor: the Behritone C50a – (Amazon)