Thinking of upgrading your sound system? Taking your audio to the next level?
Studio monitors are regarded as one of, if not the most, important tools for any studio – whether it is home or pro. Such an essential piece of equipment can’t be purchased without some serious research beforehand, especially when the price tags can easily reach up to several thousand dollars for some of the top models.
There are monitors for every budget, intended use, and personal style. Maybe you are looking to upgrade your computer speakers, or you want to create a home studio for the first time, or maybe you are a pro looking to set up a second location. Whatever the reason is, there will be a perfect monitor for your requirements.
With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially for those first time buyers. That is why we have created and compiled a buyer’s guide to the Best Studio Monitors 2017. After spending hours researching online and testing dozens of monitors for a range of key factors, we have shortlisted the Top 10 Studio Monitors for 2017 for your reference.
Best Studio Monitors 2017
These monitors may not be suited for everyone’s taste or budget, but what we do know for certain is that these models are the best of all the monitors we tried and they have made it onto our list of the Top Ten Best Studio Monitors 2017.
|KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Studio Monitors|
|5” Aramid Glass Composite Cone||1" Soft Dome||45 Hz - 35 kHz|
|JBL LSR305 Studio Monitor||5" Long-Throw||1" Damped Woven Composite Neodymium||43 Hz - 24 kHz|
|Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitor|
|5" Cone||1" Dome||54 Hz - 30 kHz|
|M-Audio AV42 Studio Monitors||4”||1” Diameter, Silk-Cone||75 Hz - 20 kHz|
|Mackie CR Series CR3 Studio Monitors||3” Polypropylene-Coated||0.75” Ferrofluid-Cooled Silk Dome||80 Hz - 20 kHz|
|PreSonus Eris E4.5 Studio Monitors||4.5” Kevlar||1” Low-Mass, Silk-Dome||70 Hz - 20 kHz|
|Mackie CR4 LTD Limited Edition Studio Monitors||4” Polypropylene-Coated||75” Ferrofluid-Cooled Silk-Dome||70 Hz - 20 kHz|
|M-Audio Studiophile AV40 Studio Monitors||4” Polypropylene-Coated||1” Ferrofluid-Cooled Silk-Dome||75 Hz - 20 kHz|
|Samson MediaOne BT3 Studio Monitors||3” Copolymer||1” Silk-Dome||80 Hz - 27 kHz|
|Alesis M1 Active 320 Studio Monito||3” Polypropylene Cone||1” Silk-Dome||80 Hz - 20 kHz|
1. – KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 – The Best Studio Monitors 2017
If you are a professional in the industry, chances are you will already know the name KRK pretty well. For those who don’t, or are just starting out, KRK is one of the most respected brands in the business, and although definitely not the cheapest, it’s a name synonymous with quality, reliability, and trust.
The sound quality of this monitor system is what makes it one of KRK’s best-selling products. The ROKIT waveguide is designed to ensure detailed imaging in the listening position, and it’s 1” soft-dome tweeter creates crystal clear highs that other studio monitors just do not reach. The front-firing bass port reduces boundary coupling to allow flexible positioning in the room, while the engineered surface reduces diffraction distortion. There are also multiple input connections, which ensure that the KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor will easily integrate into any system configuration.
It’s the most expensive Studio Monitor on our list, but it’s also our number one on the Best Studio Monitors 2017 list for a reason. So what exactly makes the KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor such a great choice for both home and pro? Let’s take a look at some of the Rokit 5’s key features and specs
The speaker comes with a 1” Soft-dome tweeter which provides pristine clarity and extended response up to 35 kHz.
- High-frequency adjustment tailors the system to personal taste.
- Low-frequency adjustment tailors the monitors to taste and adjusts for room acoustics.
- Front firing port — low-frequency extension while reducing boundary coupling.
- Radiused edges reduce distortion from diffraction.
- Low-resonance enclosure for minimized distortion and colorization
- Multiple audio input connectors (XLR, ¼”, RCA) for universal connectivity in any studio environment.
- Proprietary waveguide optimized for superior imaging.
- Factory installed foam pad provides isolation between the speaker and surface.
The sound these studio monitors deliver is truly amazing, its no surprise why these speakers are the favourite option for producers.
- Bi-amped, class A/B amplifier offering large headroom and low distortion.
- Peak SPL: 106dB.
- Frequency response: 45 Hz – 35 kHz (+/- 2 dB)
- Lightweight, glass-aramid composite woofer delivers clear midrange and tight bass
- Dimensions: 9.7 x 11.2 x 7.4 inches
- Weight: 32.5 lbs (For 2 monitors)
2. – JBL LSR305 Professional Studio Monitor (Pair) – The Best for Sound Quality
The next monitor on the list is another at the higher end of the budget scale – The JBL LSR305. This Professional Studio Monitor has caused quite a lot of discussion between professionals in the industry, mainly due to its ability to provide insanely good sound quality…and its (arguably) rather ugly appearance.
While it might not be the most attractive (and we’ll come back to the design in a moment) the JBL LSR305 Professional Studio Monitor is the first to include JBL’s exciting new technology – the Image Control Waveguide. In conjunction with 3 Series high-performance transducers, the Image Control Waveguide lets you hear detail and depth in recordings in a way that you have never experienced before.
Unlike some of the other brands and models, JBL also put the LSR305 through a tough, 100-hour power test, in which the speaker is required to play continually at full output for 100 hours without failure. Thanks to this test, you know you’re investing in a monitor that is going deliver years of reliable performance.
Let’s have a look at some of the JBL LSR305 Professional Studio Monitor’s other features
- Image Control Waveguide, developed for JBL’s flagship M2 Master Reference Monitor and now included for the first time in an affordable reference monitor.
- Balanced XLR and ¼” TRS inputs with detected level control, HF and LF trim controls.
- Bi-amplified studio monitor with magnetically-shielded 5” low-frequency transducer.
- 1” Soft-dome high frequency transducer.
Thanks to the 5” long-throw woofer and 1” damped, woven composite neodymium tweeter, the JBL LSR305 Professional Studio Monitor delivers impressive, deep bass and smooth, high frequency response beyond the range of human hearing. Basically, using these monitors for the first time, we were blown away by the quality.
Class-D 41 watt RMS amplifier for LF, and 41 watt RMS amplifier for HF.
10 dB/+4 dB sensitivity switch ensures compatibility with a broad range of signal sources, allowing you to connect the 3 Series to high output professional gear without any danger of input overload.
- Dimensions: 22.5 x 12.5 x 17.3 inches
- Weight: 25.8 lbs (For 2 monitors)
Another pricey addition to the Best Studio Monitors 2017 list, the Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitor is a serious studio investment – this is for professionals who are looking to spend that extra bit of money in order to ensure that the sound is true to the original.
While many manufacturers seek to enhance the sound of their monitors to make them more impressive, Yamaha studio monitors are designed to deliver a concise sound image, high resolution, and flat response. The latest HS series features new transducers that achieve smooth response over a wide bandwidth and ensure the accuracy of signal reproduction throughout the audio spectrum.
Using Yamaha’s 100 years of piano design experience and common architectural design practise, the HS5 has a three-way mitered-joint which firmly anchors the corners of the exterior to improve the durability and eliminate unwanted resonance which can otherwise affect the overall sound.
Let’s take a closer, more detailed look at the features:
- Room control and high TRIM response controls
- XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals
- Output power: 70W (45W LF + 25W HF)
- Input sensitivity / impedance: -10dBu / 10k Ohms
- Input connectors (parallel): XLR3-31 type (balanced), PHONE (balanced)
We found played 10 different songs through these speakers and each time they delivered a crisp flawless sound.
- System type: 2-way bi-amp powered studio monitor
- Transducers: LF 5″ cone, HF 1″ dome
- 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor with 5″ cone woofer and 1″ dome tweeter
- 54 Hz – 30 kHz frequency response
- 45W LF plus 25W HF bi-amp system for high-performance 70W power amplification
- Frequency response (-10dB): 54 Hz – 30 kHz
- Crossover frequency: 2 kHz
- Dimensions: 7 x 9 x 12 inches
- Weight: 24 lbs (For 2 monitors)
4. – M-Audio AV42/20-Watt Compact Studio Monitor Speakers (Pair) – The Best Entry-Level Speakers
M-Audio is one of the most revered names in music computer interface and studio integration solutions, and they are arguably one of the best providers of affordable, quality studio monitors. The M-Audio AV42, the upgraded version of the AV40, has taken the popular design of its predecessor to the next level.
Weighing nearly half of the AV40, the new AV42 is produced using a special type of MDF, reinforced interior with a unique design to absorb vibration and minimize distortion. By removing the grill and utilizing flexible, ferrofluid-cooled silk-cones, the tweeters are able to take advantage of the OptImage IV’s intricate waveguides for superior imaging and detail.
This monitor has also been pretty popular with gamers, and when tested, the general consensus seems to be that you can’t really get a cheaper, better quality model for this purpose.
The M-Audio AV42/20-Watt Compact Studio Monitor was created with small home studios in mind, and is a particularly good choice from our list for entry-level buyers due to the range of excellent features listed below
- OptImage IV tweeter wave guides for superior imaging and detail
- RCA inputs for connecting gaming systems, DJ gear, mixers, and more
- Front-panel 1/8-inch stereo auxiliary input for connecting your laptop or desktop computer, MP3 player, or other audio sources
- Front-panel 1/8-inch headphone output
- Front-panel volume control
- Attractive black vinyl laminate finish
- Type: two-way desktop reference speaker
- The monitor also has rear-panel RCA inputs, making the AV42 compatible with all your gear. There is even a 1/8” auxiliary input for your tablet, computer, or mobile device
These speakers offer great sound which isn’t too far behind the KRK Rokits mentioned above.
- 20-watt per channel amplifier with Class A/B architecture
- Acoustically-inert MDF cabinet with bass reflex design for deep, rich sound
- Frequency response: 75 Hz – 20 kHz
- 4-inch polypropylene-coated woofers for tight, accurate bass
- 1-inch ferrofluid-cooled silk-cone tweeters for clear, pristine highs
- Low-frequency driver: 4″ diameter, polypropylene-coated, with high-temperature voice coil
- High-frequency driver: 1″ diameter, silk-cone tweeter
- Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 7.4 inches
- Weight: 15.2 lbs (For 2 monitors)
5. Mackie CR3 (Pair) – The Best for Home Use
Up next is one of the best value options on our Top Ten Studio Monitors 2017 list, the Mackie CR Series CR3 – 3″ Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors were designed to provide premium sound that won’t break the bank.
One of the best things about the Mackie CR3 is how home-use and beginner friendly they are. You can plug your smartphone directly into the front of the speakers and listen to your music, at an incredible quality, instantly. They also come with everything you need to get started. There’s nothing worse than getting new gear and not having the right stuff to connect with – but the Mackie CR Series CR3 comes with cables and isolation pads so you can get started straight away.
Featuring 50 watts of power and premium components, like a sound-enhancing high-frequency waveguide, Creative Reference monitors ensure pristine, accurate sound for any application. They come with a host of other features, including:
- Choose which side of your desk gets the volume knob with CR3’s convenient speaker placement switch.
- Convenient front panel volume knob with lit power-ring gives you on/off/volume control and power indication where you need it.
- Plug your smartphone or other source right into the front of the speakers and listen instantly.
- Front-facing headphone jack auto-defeats speaker output and provides tactile headphone volume control.
- Choice of inputs for simple connection to almost any audio source (1/4″, 1/8″, RCA).
- 1/8″ to stereo RCA cable to connect computer output to speakers.
- 50 watts of clean, articulate stereo sound.
- Ultra-wide frequency range, perfect for full-range multimedia (80 Hz – 20 kHz).
- Custom-tuned rear ports for smooth, even bass extension.
- Professional-grade components for optimized sonic performance.
- 3″ polypropylene-coated woofer.
- Smooth waveguide design delivers unmatched clarity and sound dispersion at all listening levels.
- Acoustic isolation pads minimize boomy bass build-up and provide up/down tilt control for more focused listening.
- Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.5 x 15.3 inches
- Weight: 12 lbs (For 2 monitors)
6. – PreSonus Eris E4.5 2-Way Powered Studio Monitors (Pair) – The Best Small Speakers
They say good things come in small packages, and that’s definitely the case with the PreSonus Eris E4.5 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor. Although they are very compact, don’t let their size fool you – these speakers deliver amazing sound quality for a reasonable price.
Although they’re not much to look at (they are only marginally better looking than No. 2 on our list – the, rather ugly, JBL LSR305 Professional Studio Monitor) these small, basic monitors are perfect for home studios, or as high-quality replacements for computer speakers.
Let’s have a look at some of their features and specs:
- Optimized, resonance-suppressing internal bracing
- Balanced ¼-inch TRS
- Unbalanced 1/8-inch TS
- 4.5-inch Kevlar® low-frequency transducer
- 1-inch (25 mm), ultra-low-mass, silk-dome, high-frequency transducer
- 1/8-inch stereo headphone output
- With three different types of audio inputs, one of the great things about the PreSonus Eris E4.5 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor is how easy it is to feed audio to from almost any source.
- Front-firing acoustic port for superior bass-frequency reproduction
- 100 dB maximum continuous SPL
- HF driver adjust (±6 dB, continuously variable)
- Midrange driver adjust (±6 dB, continuously variable)
- Acoustic space settings (flat, -2, -4 dB) for accurate mixing contour
- Highpass filter (Off, 80 Hz, 100 Hz)
- Dimensions: 10 x 15 x 10 inches
- Weight: 17 lbs (For 2 monitors)
Next up on our list of the Top Ten Best Studio Monitors 2017 is the Mackie CR4 LTD Limited Edition 4″ Creative Reference. This model is the next edition from our Number 5. on the list – the Mackie CR Series CR3
You might be wondering what the difference is and why the Mackie CR4 can command a price increase over its predecessor. The simple answer is…not much. The CR3 has 50 watts of power to drive a 3” polypropylene coated woofer and a 3/4″ ferrofluid cooled silk-dome tweeter, and the frequency range is given as 80 Hz – 20 kHz. In contrast, the CR4 has a 4” woofer and a slightly larger enclosure that lowers the bass to 70 Hz. In all other respects, these models are identical, which is why the cheaper model is higher on our list of the Best Studio Monitors 2017.
So why have we included the more expensive, but almost identical model here? Because for those who are serious about their sound, that extra inch on the woofer might make all the difference, and the 10 Hz in the low-frequency range is clearly audible, which makes it a slightly more balanced speaker. Personally, I also felt that the sound quality on the CR4 was smoother and more refined, but while both models are still great value-for-money monitors, I’d be reluctant to spend the extra cash on the CR4 for such a small difference in spec.
Here are the features of the Mackie CR4 LTD Limited Edition in detail:
This speaker packs a punch and comes with an endless list of features;
- Choose which side of your desk gets the volume knob with CR4’s convenient speaker placement switch
- Plug your smartphone or other source right into the front of the speakers and listen instantly
- A choice of inputs for simple connection to almost any audio source (1/4″, 1/8″, RCA)
- Smooth waveguide design delivers unmatched clarity and sound dispersion at all listening levels
- 1/8” to stereo RCA cable to connect computer output to speakers
- 1/8” to 1/8” cable to connect a smartphone or media player to front panel of speakers
- Speaker-to-speaker cable
- 4” polypropylene-coated woofer
- 0.75” ferrofluid-cooled silk-dome tweeter
- Convenient front panel volume knob with lit power-ring gives you on/off/volume control and power indication where you need it
- Front-facing headphone jack auto-defeats speaker output and provides tactile headphone volume control
- Custom-tuned rear ports for smooth, even bass extension
- All-wood cabinet provides a natural sonic character superior to low-grade plastic designs
- 50 watts of clean, articulate stereo sound
- Ultra-wide frequency range perfect for full-range multimedia (70 Hz – 20 kHz)
- Acoustic isolation pads minimize boomy bass build-up and provide up/down tilt control for more focused listening
- Dimensions: 17 x 9.4 x 11.6 inches
- Weight: 13.2 lbs (For 2 monitors)
8. – M-Audio Studiophile AV40 Studio Monitors (Pair) – The Best for Bass
The AV40 speakers use proprietary OptImage Wave Guide technology to deliver clarity and detail, with a precision-engineered crossover to ensure solid high and low-frequency sound. It might be double the weight of the newer model, and a little clunky to look at, but it still works perfectly for desktop mixing. They’re also powered, meaning that you get accurate, clear monitoring without a bulky power amp.
Let’s take a look at some of the M-Audio Studiophile AV40 Active Studio Monitor’s features in closer detail:
- Optimage III tweeter wave guides for superior imaging and detail
- Magnetic shielding for use near computer video monitors
- Front-panel volume control
- Ergonomic design with full back support
- Side facing speakers with headrest
- Wood cabinet with bass reflex port design for deep, rich sound
- Back-panel ¼” TRS balanced and RCA unbalanced inputs for connecting gaming systems, DJ gear, mixers, amplifiers, instruments, and more
- Front-panel 1/8” headphone output for connecting headphones
- Front-panel 1/8” stereo auxiliary input for connecting your laptop or desktop computer, MP3 player, or other audio sources
If you’re after bass then you can be sure these studio monitors won’t let you down, they really do pack a punch!
- 20-watt-per-channel amplifier with Class A/B architecture
- 4” polypropylene-coated woofers for tight, accurate bass
- 1” ferrofluid-cooled silk-cone tweeters for clear, pristine highs
- Dimensions: 8.75 x 6 x 7.25 inches
- Weight: 14 lbs (For 2 monitors)
Even if you are an absolute beginner, chances are you will probably already know the Samson brand – which is preferred by the biggest recording artists, performers, and audio professionals throughout the world.
The Samson’s MediaOne BT3 Active Studio Monitors with Bluetooth are ideal for connecting to your smartphone, laptop, or tablet, making these one of the Top Ten Best Studio Monitors in 2017. Whether your reason for buying a monitor is to listen to music, watch videos, play games, or for producing tracks, the Samson BT3 provides accurate and dynamic audio.
They’re also one of the most stylish options on our list, featuring a sleek and modern design. Each rear-vented port enclosure is finished in a black satin vinyl covering, with matching metal grills for the woofers and tweeters.
These monitors produce 15 watts per channel RMS and 30 watts of full-range audio. The 1” silk-dome tweeters reduce unwanted noise and deliver natural-sounding high frequencies, while the 3” copolymer woofers control the low-frequency response.
Here are the Samson’s BT3 Active Studio Monitors with Bluetooth’s Key Features:
- Bluetooth connectivity to connect wireless music sources
- Back panel Bluetooth pairing button, RCA inputs, passive monitor terminals and AC power connector
- Passive crossover design for linear response from bottom to top
- Speaker cable included
- Front panel LED indicator, level control, headphone output and stereo input
- AV shielded for multimedia applications
- Sleek all-black satin vinyl finish
- Metal grills protect woofer and tweeter components
- 2-way active studio monitors with rear-vented, precision-tuned port enclosures (sold as a stereo pair)
- 15 watts per channel RMS, 30 watts per channel peak
- 3-inch copolymer woofers
- 1-inch silk-dome tweeters
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 6.6 x 7.8 inches
- Weight: 18 lbs
10. – Alesis M1 Active 320 (Pair) – Best monitors under 100 bucks
The final, and most inexpensive, monitor on our Top Ten Best Studio Monitors 2017 list is the Alesis M1 Active 320 USB Studio Monitor. This is the budget option for buyers who are looking to spend as little as possible, while still getting a product that delivers quality audio.
These compact studio monitors are great for home studio use, or as an alternative to computer speakers. They enable you to play audio from your computer and also record audio going into the speaker to your computer. Thanks to the USB, simply plug them straight into your computer – there are no drivers required.
The Monitor also features a Bass Boost switch, which helps to emphasize bass frequencies and works perfectly in spaces where you want to hear a deeper bass. Although, it should be said that due to their size (and probably the price) the bass is not the best.
The Alesis M1 Active 320 USB Monitor is also popular with people who need to travel frequently and have their equipment with them. Their compact size makes them a great travelling monitor.
The key features and specs of the monitors are:
- USB 1.1 audio interface
- 16-Bit / 44.1-48 kHz recording and playback
- TRS Headphone output
- Two 1/4″ phone jacks inputs
- Stereo 1/8″ TRS mini-jack input
- Stereo RCA inputs
- Pro-grade 1/4″ plugs and standard RCA jacks
- Works with iPad via Apple USB Adaptor
- 1/8″ TRS output to passive speaker
- Switchable power supply
- Magnetically shielded for placement near TV and computer monitors
The sound delivered from the monitors is quite surprising, it was a lot better than I thought it would be, they have a frequency Range of 80 Hz – 20 kHz which is decent.
- Dimensions: 10.6 x 14.5 x 8.7 inches
- Weight: 9.5 lbs (For 2 monitors)
Final words – Wrapping it up
Considering how many different brands and monitor options out there on the market, finding the perfect studio monitor isn’t always the easiest task. That’s where lists like this – the Top Ten Best Studio Monitors 2017 – come into play. This list was carefully compiled after hours of research and testing, keeping in mind all of the factors like budget, use, and style, that go into a customer choosing the best monitor.
We hope that this list helps you pick the best studio monitor for you, according to your budget, what you are hoping to use the monitor for, and the style.
We’ve included a model for everyone – from beginners to pros, from budget to not so budget, and every size and style. Remember that everyone’s needs are different, and choosing the perfect studio monitor really comes down to personal taste. Maybe you’ll decide that, even though you only have a small home studio, the Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor gives you the best sound. Or maybe you’re a professional who will decide that the small, travel-friendly Alesis M1 320 Active Monitors are perfect for being on the go.
Our list of the Top Ten Best Studio Monitors 2017 aims to guide and act as a reference for your monitor purchasing experience. If you think that we have missed any great monitors deserving a mention on our list, let us know.