10 Best Active Studio Monitors | May 2017

10 Best Active Studio Monitors
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 39 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
The M-Audio AV42 are on the smaller side, making them better suited for smaller 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 ins and outs on the front panel.
  • 4-inch polypropylene woofers
  • custom-tuned cabinet design
  • not ideal for professional use
Brand M-Audio
Model 103295
Weight 10.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
9
The Alesis Elevate 6 provide a flat frequency response that's ideal for mixing the components of complicated tracks into discreet, segmented frequency ranges. Too flat a response can be a danger, however, as your mixes won't sound as good on anyone else's speakers.
  • 75-watt crossover bi-amp
  • dual bass porting
  • trim controls have little effect
Brand Alesis
Model ELEVATE6
Weight 20.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
8
The PreSonus Eris E5 2-Way feature 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 to match the size and shape of your room.
  • 80-watt ab-class speakers
  • subsonic protection
  • detail drops off at lower volumes
Brand PreSonus
Model Eris E5
Weight 11.6 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
7
With Image Control Waveguide technology, the JBL LSR308 allow you to hear detail and depth in recordings like never before. Also, the patented Slip Stream low frequency port design produces deep bass response at all playback levels.
  • near-perfect tonal balance
  • high quality at an affordable price
  • may hiss when pushed
Brand JBL Professional
Model LSR308
Weight 20.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
6
The Audioengine A5+ Premium in carbonized solid bamboo add a touch of visual class to complement the speakers' Kevlar woofer's and silk tweeter's phenomenal frequency response. Their 3.5mm auxiliary input and USB power supply make them a great pairing with mobile devices.
  • 50 watts per channel
  • also available in black or white
  • included cables are low-quality
Brand Audioengine
Model A5PLUSN
Weight 27.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
5
The Yamaha HS8 are a popular choice among home studio engineers. Their transducers achieve a smooth response over a wide bandwidth, and 1-inch tweeters flutter nicely through a high frequency range. They come in a sleek black or white exterior for your preference.
  • powerful bi-amp design
  • xlr and trs phone jack inputs
  • low-resonance enclosure
Brand Yamaha
Model HS8
Weight 28.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
4
The Adam Audio A7X boast 7-inch speakers with 1.5-inch voice coils, all of which are driven by powerful amplifiers to produce amazing sound and pressure levels that are completely distortion-free. Their accelerating ribbon technology produces sharp, crystalline highs.
  • slanted corners reduce reflections
  • easy to access front panel switches
  • premium x-art tweeters
Brand Adam
Model A7X
Weight 24.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
3
The Mackie HR824mk2 8-inch 2-Way feature passive radiators that avoid the sound velocity errors created by duct-based woofers that redirect backside low-end frequencies toward the front of your speaker. They also boast zero-edge baffles for a more realistic picture.
  • 1-inch titanium domes
  • sweet zone is wide and even
  • high-precision transducers
Brand Mackie
Model HR824mk2
Weight 38.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
2
The soft dome tweeter on the KRK RP6G3 Rokit6 provides tremendous clarity with an extended frequency response up to 35kHz. The speakers produce subtly articulated mids and clear lows with minimal distortion thank to their glass-aramid composite woofers.
  • waveguide imaging technology
  • rca inputs for universal setups
  • 73 watts total of bi-amped power
Brand KRK
Model RP6G3WNA
Weight 22.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
1
The Neumann KH 120 are designed for use as near-field loudspeakers or as rear loudspeakers in larger multi-channel studio systems. Large front panel ports help reduce bass compression and also make them easier to mount into tight spaces.
  • robust metal grille protects woofer
  • aluminum cabinets dissipate heat
  • includes a quick start guide
Brand Neumann
Model KH 120
Weight 18.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

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 May 19, 2017 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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