Best Studio Monitors 2023
Are you thinking about buying a shiny new set of monitors to power your production or DJ setup? A good set of monitors is one of the best investments you’ll ever make if you want to create better mixes and fine-tune all the elements in your tracks. They’re built specifically to deliver a clear, flat, uncolored sound so you can hear exactly what’s going on when you’re performing live or recording a set and need an idea of the end result.
Studio speakers and monitors come in all shapes and sizes and are all priced differently depending on the make and materials used. Naturally, you’re going to pay a lot more for a high-end branded speaker compared to a cheap pair off Amazon. Nevertheless, we’re here to help you choose the right ones for you and your space.
Before we run through the options, let’s quickly discuss what you need to consider when purchasing a good quality set of monitors.
How to Choose the Best Monitors
Like any big investment, it’s always good to have an idea of how much you’re willing to spend on a pair of speakers or monitors. Most will cost you upwards of $250 for a pair, and the better quality they are, the longer they’ll be likely to last. However, if you’re not flush with cash and only have a bit to spare, you can still buy a decent pair on a budget.
There are a few different sizing options available for studio speakers. Each set in this list is either 5 inches, 7 inches, or 8 inches. What you need to decide is which size would be the most suitable for your mixing space, i.e., will they be powerful enough to deliver the sound you need in the room you’re in? Or will they be too powerful and potentially disturb your neighbors below? Even though most musicians can easily get away with using a pair of 7-inch speakers in smaller rooms, you’ll want to consider going for something larger if you’re planning to play in a basement or garage.
One of the crucial things to note when buying speakers is whether they will be compatible with your current setup. Instead of ¼-inch inputs, some speakers only have XLR nowadays. Others may only work with RCA cables or a TRS input. You’ll need to figure out whether you need to convert any of your existing setup, or buy separate adaptors to ensure your setup or interface is compatible.
Our Top Picks
Adam Audio A7X
If you’ve got some serious money to spend, Adam Audio’s AX range is a no-brainer, but if you’re like most of us and haven’t got thousands to shell out on speakers, the A7X are a bit more reasonably priced but still deliver a powerful, weighty sound.
While they are modest in size, the bass response and mid-woofers are absolutely solid thanks to the 100w PWM amplifier. The X-ART tweeter is also clean, precise, and provides clarity and depth to the tones which producers and sound engineers say makes these speakers a pure delight to listen to.
In terms of compatibility, you’ll find a single XLR input on the back as well as an unbalanced RCA. An EQ panel allows you to also adjust the high, mid, and low to your liking and achieve the perfect sound and resonance for your space.
Summary: The A7X produces clean, precise tones, and provides an unparalleled level of clarity and depth, which producers and sound engineers say makes these speakers a pure delight to listen to.
Why We Recommend: The AX7 and AX series, in general, have won numerous rewards for being one of the most impressive monitors on the market. Regardless of their size, these bad boys produce an amazing sound and energy that even larger speakers struggle to compete with. While they aren’t quite top of the range for Adam’s, what you get for the price is fantastic and they will be more than suitable for most home studio spaces.
KRK Rokit 7 G4
The KRK Rokits are up to the 4th generation now, and the latest model is undeniably the smoothest and best yet. These babies have been built to produce an exceptionally accurate and punchy low-end with a front-facing port that moves the frequencies out nicely.
The brand new Class D amplifier distributes the audio more evenly and works up much less heat than its predecessors. The combination of this with the Kevlar drivers ensures pure transparency and reduces listening fatigue considerably.
Look on the back and you’ll find a classic DSP-driven EQ panel with a whopping 25 presets to ensure the sound is precise and fits your space accordingly. It’s these presets that make these monitors incredibly beginner-friendly and mean you don’t have to worry about tweaking the sound or messing anything up.
The Rokit range goes all the way up to 10 inches, with the smallest being the highly affordable ROKIT 5. Connections wise, you’ll find an XLR combo jack as well as a TRS. There is also a simple volume control.
Summary: These babies have been built to produce an exceptionally accurate and punchy low-end with a front-facing port that moves the frequencies out nicely.
Why We Recommend: KRK Rokits continue to be one of the best-ranked beginner monitors out there. Not only do they give off a powerful and distinctive sound, but the range is so versatile that it doesn’t matter what kind of space you have – the 5”, 7”, or 10” will do the trick.
Kali Audio LP8 2nd Wave
The LP8s are Kali Audio’s “second wave” of monitors that have been 3 years in the making. These are a huge step up from the original models and Kali have added some noticeable improvements ranging from their look to their price to their overall performance.
In terms of core features like the bass reflex of the wood and the traditional waveguide technology, these are virtually the same as before. However, the biggest and most useful upgrade is the amplifier that is now a Class D. This adds an extra 2dB to the sensitivity of the input and reduces the noise signal by a whopping 13dB. As a result, you get this incredibly smooth-sounding bass and a dreamy high-frequency response from the tweeters, which also have improved membranes and structural fittings.
Summary: The biggest and most useful upgrade is the amplifier that is now a Class D. This adds an extra 2dB to the sensitivity of the input and reduces the noise signal by a whopping 13dB.
Why We Recommend: These improvements may seem small, but they make a hell of a lot of difference, which is why we could not help but add them to this list. On top of the seriously cool improved design, we also love the fact that Kali has made them more affordable this time around, making them well within most people’s budget.
IK Multimedia iLoud MTM
IK Multimedia’s iLoud monitors have been given a much-needed upgrade to the iLoud MTM studio monitors. The design of the mid tweeters is symmetrical and sits above a pair of high-performance 3.5-inch subwoofers with an additional 1-inch HD loaded back chamber tweeter to give a defined, super-accurate pointed sound. While this does make the field of dispersal much narrower, the tiltable stands correct this and reduce reflections to make the sound incredibly transparent – so much so that even more expensive speakers now struggle to compete with their smoothness and precision.
Setting these speakers up correctly is key to ensuring they serve the space and setup and that you get the most out of them. To make sure you can’t fail, they also include acoustic calibration technology plus a built-in ARC reference microphone. Just position the mic where you’re going to be standing or sitting the most, and the speakers will create their own sweet spot for listening after you’ve pushed the button. This is a brilliant feature that you won’t find with many other models, and it’s one of the main reasons why we love the iLoud MTMs.
Summary: Tiltable stands reduce reflections to make the sound incredibly transparent – so much so that even more expensive speakers now struggle to compete with their smoothness and precision.
Why We Recommend: Most people assume that the iLoud MTM monitors are your average media speakers that are only good if you want to listen to your iPhone or iPad devices. However, they offer much more than that when it comes to sound precision, and they will easily accommodate producers and DJs who need a reasonably-priced yet semi-powerful set up for a small space.
A little bit between the iLoud MTMs and a desk speaker is the BX4s. These monitors may be small but they sure do pack a decent punch. The sound is crystal clear, they look terrific, and are easy as pie to set up and customize to your room space.
Backed by 120 watts of power, the BX4s feature a two-way 4.5-inch cone that sits in an acoustic MDF cabinet. They provide a fantastically smooth bass response thanks to the Kevlar low-end drivers, and the tweeters produce a flurry of silky high frequencies with clear-cut stereo imaging that makes working with a computer-based setup or home studio a breeze.
On the back, you’ll find an RCA and 1/4 inch input to plug in devices via the aux, as well as a headphone socket. One speaker features the amp while the other acts as the passive speaker that attaches directly to the amp-powered one. This makes it very easy to get the cables organized and allows you to decide which side you would prefer the speaker to be on. You can also adjust the EQ settings on the back to ensure you get a perfectly balanced and precise sound for where you’re going to be listening the most.
Summary: The BX4s provide a fantastically smooth bass response thanks to the Kevlar low-end drivers, and the tweeters produce a flurry of silky high frequencies with clear-cut stereo imaging that makes working with a computer-based setup or home studio a breeze.
Why We Recommend: The BX3s are a great-sounding and inexpensive set of monitors that are great for positioning in small rooms and for those who are primarily looking to use them for music production. They are designed to be one of the best sets of DAW speakers on the market, which is why they also include Pro Tools as a free gift. Of course, if your room is more on the larger side, you can also purchase the BX4s with a 4.5” woofer.
Focal Solo6 Be
Focal’s studio monitoring range is awesome but undeniably expensive. While the Solo6s aren’t cheap, they are on the lower end of the scale and some of the most high-end 2-way speakers when it comes to quality and sound transparency.
Five octaves are covered by the Beryllium inverted dome tweeter and the mid and low-range frequencies are covered by the 6.5” woofer that’s sandwiched between foam and glass. This provides a fine-tuned mass and frequency response that’s difficult to match in many other brands of speakers. The lows, mids, and tweeters are also amplified by BASH technology which uses a Class AB power stage to drive the high frequencies.
You have a single XLR input with a sensitivity switch on the back, as well as two potentiometers for controlling and balancing the mid and low frequencies. This enables you to tweak it so it sounds great in a small to medium-sized room.
Summary: The lows, mids, and tweeters are also amplified by BASH technology which uses a Class AB power stage to drive the high frequencies.
Why We Recommend: These monitors are some of the best when it comes to transparency. The crystal clear and smooth top end balances the mids and creates a robust low frequency that you won’t find in any other speakers. As you can hear every tiny nuance, they are also perfect for mixing.
HEDD Audio Type 07 MK2
The Audio Type 07 MK2s are an excellent pair of professionally-built, handcrafted active monitors that feature some of the most impressive innovations you’ll ever come across.
There are three features alone that make these a killer pair of monitors. The first is a super powerful built-in DSP board, including a phase “Lineariser” allowing for a perfect impulse response and considerably improved reproduction spatially. The second is the state-of-the-art CoP technology that let you pick between an open or closed cabinet bass port to better control the capacity of the bass and the energy. And the third is the Phase Linear Sub-Satellite System which allows you to manage the alignment when using more than one speaker.
On top of these intriguing features, the Type 07 also has a 7-inch 2×100 watt dual-amp woofer with a frequency response of up to 40,000Hz. Connections wise you’ll find a digital AES input alongside with an analog XLR port. A desk filter allows you to adjust your placement accurately. You’ll also find controls on the back for sensitivity and a shelving filter.
Why We Recommend: We can hardly fault the Type 07s. They are certainly one of the best monitors on the market just for the controls and engineering precision. On top of this, the high-frequency response stays crystal clear even when the volume is being utterly abused. Plus, if the 07 are too small for your liking, you can also get the larger versions (Type 20 or Type 30) for a very reasonable price.
Every one of these monitors is a fantastic choice for a bedroom DJ or producer, but of course, budget tends to be the biggest constraint for most. This is why not all of these options will be suitable. If you’re one of these people who has a tight wallet, our recommendation would be to go for M-Audio due to their price and clean sound quality. However, if you have a bit more to splurge on speakers, the Rokits are another excellent, long-lasting choice when it comes to sound precision and clarity in the audio imaging.
A professional sound engineer would typically use multiple monitors to help them compare sounds and ensure their mix is clean and precise. You’re likely to find high-end speakers like Adams, Genelcs and even Yamaha in a professional studio space.
Yes, absolutely. Not only will adding a set of monitors to your setup help you to interpret your music better and help with recording and mixing in general, but it will also allow you to hear what needs to be smoothed out or adjusted when it comes to production and editing. A solid pair of studio monitors will be one of your best investments as a musician. You can take our word for it!