The 10 Best Active Studio Monitors

Updated March 28, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you're outfitting a professional recording studio or just trying to maximize the quality of your home stereo system, a pair of high-quality powered studio monitors can be indispensable. They tend toward a flat frequency response, allowing you to hear your favorite music as the artist intended, or to mix your own tunes to perfection. Our list contains options for every level of audiophile. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best active studio monitor on Amazon.

10. KRK Rokit6 RP6G3

The soft dome tweeter on the KRK Rokit6 RP6G3 provides tremendous clarity with an extended frequency response up to 35kHz. The speaker itself produces subtly articulated mids and clear lows with little distortion, thanks to its glass-aramid composite woofer.
  • waveguide imaging technology
  • rca inputs for universal setups
  • build quality is a disappointment
Brand KRK
Model RP6G3WNA
Weight 22.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

9. Mackie HR824mk2 2-Way

The Mackie HR824mk2 2-Way features passive radiators that avoid the sound velocity errors created by duct-based woofers redirecting rear low-end frequencies toward the front. It also boasts a zero-edge baffle for a more realistic sound.
  • 1-inch titanium dome
  • minimal distortion
  • not a very durable choice
Brand Mackie
Model HR824mk2
Weight 38.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. M-Audio AV42 20-Watt

The M-Audio AV42 20-Watt are on the smaller side, making them better for home studios or spaces where you need to get a lot of detail out of lower volumes. They feature a level control and 1/8-inch inputs and outputs on the front panel.
  • 4-inch polypropylene woofers
  • custom-tuned cabinet design
  • not ideal for professional use
Brand M-Audio
Model 103295
Weight 9.4 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. JBL 308P MkII

With Image Control Waveguide technology, the JBL 308P MkII allows you to hear detail and depth in recordings like never before. Also, the patented Slip Stream low frequency port design produces a deep bass response for very expressive lows.
  • excellent tonal balance
  • generous sweet spot
  • sound suffers when pushed
Brand JBL Professional
Model 308PMKII
Weight 21.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Yamaha HS8 High Trim

The Yamaha HS8 High Trim is a popular choice among home engineers. Its transducer achieves a smooth response over a wide bandwidth, and a 1-inch tweeter flutters nicely through a high frequency range. It comes with a sleek black or white exterior to meet your preference.
  • powerful bi-amp design
  • xlr and trs phone jack inputs
  • no built-in shielding
Brand Yamaha
Model HS8
Weight 28.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Focal Solo6 Be 6.5-Inch Powered

The Focal Solo6 Be 6.5-Inch Powered comes from a company known for producing gear for audiophiles, and its bass reaches all the way down to 40 Hz, giving you an impressive frequency response from a model that looks too small to be able to produce such high-quality audio.
  • composite sandwich style midwoofer
  • inverted dome tweeter
  • very expensive option
Brand Focal
Model Solo 6 Be
Weight 31.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Audioengine A5+ Premium Pair

The Audioengine A5+ Premium Pair in carbonized bamboo add a touch of visual class to complement the phenomenal frequency response from their Kevlar woofers and silk tweeters. Their 3.5mm auxiliary input and USB power supply make them great for pairing with mobile devices.
  • 50 watts per channel
  • also available in black or white
  • included cables are low-quality
Brand Audioengine
Weight 31.9 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Neumann KH 120

The Neumann KH 120 is designed for use as a near-field loudspeaker or as a rear loudspeaker in larger, multi-channel studio systems. A generous front panel port helps reduce bass compression and also makes it easier to mount in tight spaces.
  • robust metal grille protects woofer
  • aluminum cabinet dissipates heat
  • includes a quick-start guide
Brand Neumann
Model KH 120
Weight 18.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. PreSonus Eris E5 2-Way

The PreSonus Eris E5 2-Way features a comprehensive set of acoustic tuning controls that includes a two-part high-pass filter, variable mid-range and high frequency adjustments, and spacial decibel trims for matching the size and shape of your room.
  • 80-watt ab-class amplification
  • subsonic protection
  • particularly articulate when loud
Brand PreSonus
Model Eris E5
Weight 11.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Adam Audio A7X

The Adam Audio A7X boasts a 7-inch speaker with a 1.5-inch voice coil, which is driven by a powerful amplifier that produces amazing sound and pressure levels that are completely distortion-free. Its accelerating ribbon technology creates sharp, crystalline highs.
  • slanted corners reduce reflections
  • easy-to-access front panel switches
  • premium x-art tweeter
Brand Adam Audio
Model A7X
Weight 24.8 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

The Importance Of Quality Sound In Your Studio

Having high quality sound in the home studio can mean the difference between the success and failure of any musical venture. In the early stages of personal recording, sound quality was a nightmare. Old reel-to-reel tape recorders produced only low quality recordings, and each reel could only be used once. The home studio of the time usually consisted of a reel-to-reel recorder and as many reels as the artist could afford. Even in the quietest rooms with no added noise, the quality was poor.

Artists today have no such issue. Recording is all done digitally, with little room for error. Even acoustic music is patched through pickups before reaching the recording software. Many takes of the same piece can be recorded until the ideal performance is realized. High quality recordings can be created just about anywhere now. Unfortunately for recording artists, this is a bit of a double-edged sword. While it is easier than ever to create high quality recordings, anything other than perfect sound quality is quickly disregarded by listeners. Many years ago, listeners were used to recordings with poor sound quality and would not immediately dismiss an artists just because the recording was low quality.

A successful artist must pair this recording capability with an effective way to monitor changes in the sound they are creating. The capabilities of simple computer speakers are severely limited. These speakers do not have the same playback range as active studio monitors, and the end product will suffer if this is all the artist uses for reference. To achieve the highest quality sound, the best tools need to be used from start to finish.

How The Speaker Changed The Record Label

Thanks to the creation of the modern speaker, radio waves can be harnessed and delivered to homes across America. Big band crooners of the 1930s and 40s ushered in a new era in the music industry. Singers like Frank Sinatra enjoyed popularity with adolescent girls of the day. This movement sparked new thoughts in the minds of record companies; who until this point had catered mostly to adult audiences. For the first time in history, pop trends were being steered by children rather than adults. The large record companies took control of these trends to grow their bank accounts balances.

Rather than simply being sold a record they could listen to; these adolescents were now also being sold on the experience of the pop icons themselves. From the clothing the artist wore to the way they acted and styled their hair; even the types of songs they sang were chosen to increase the star's popularity with a younger audience. This process was directly influenced by the record label supporting the artist; and conveniently benefited the large record company more than anyone else. Artists were held to these conditions by their contracts. Should a musician not like the terms of the agreement, they had to either wait out the contract or suffer the consequences of breaking it.

As the record labels are set up to make the most money from complicated recording contracts, it stands to reason that this is still the current state of the popular music industry. The main focus of the mass culture is not in seeing the live performance of the recording artists; it is in the collection of a large library of records which can be played back on demand at any time.

Evolution of the Speaker

The first amplifying speakers were not actually speakers at all; they were horns. The horns were able to amplify sound waves created by the needles of record players; though not by much. As the needles dragged across the record's surface, minute variations caused the needle to vibrate. This needle would then vibrate a metal diaphragm; pulsing air into the lower end of the horn to create sound. The sound was then channeled through the horn, resonating and reverberating along its walls to amplify the sound to an acceptable level for normal use around the house.

This limited amplification was relatively short lived. In the 1920s, the first electrodynamic speaker was introduced. Electrodynamic speakers use an electromagnet and a diaphragm to create sound. The electromagnet senses electric signals; turning them into tiny movements. A copper wire surrounding the electromagnet moves in response to the magnet. These movements are then transferred to a cone diaphragm, which vibrates accordingly, expanding the sound as it travels outward.

To invent a seemingly simple speaker, one must understand sound waves, radio, electricity, physics, and chemistry. This is why it took until the 20th century to invent an object which now seems quite common. These speakers remain the standard to this day, though with many enhancements.

One such improvement is in the invention of flat panel speakers. Looking for ways to decrease the size of a speaker box, engineers thought up the flat panel speaker. It is made of a small electromagnetic exciter which vibrates a large rectangular membrane that acts as both diaphragm and resonator. This simple style choice can make a drastic difference in size. Inventors are still having difficulty vibrating the entire flat surface area while also allowing for good frequency response, which is why they have yet to see much success in the market.

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Last updated on March 28, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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