Throwing a few options into the mix
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, a good pair of studio monitors is an essential tool for creating good quality mixes. You’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands on good quality instruments, interfaces and all sorts of equipment to create music, so it’s an absolute travesty when you see a studio setup without a decent set of monitor speakers. You put so much effort in to your recordings so playing them back through a pair of regular computer speakers will not give you an accurate representation of your music. Plus, you may think something sounds quite good and well rounded through your £2 speakers, when in actual fact, the bass is too high and the vocals are all over the place, but you don’t find that out until you decide to show your friends and family the final mix! You wouldn’t spend days on a song only to play it back through a pair of tin cups would you? So why would you not invest in a set of studio quality monitor speakers to give your music the best chance of being heard the way you want it to? It’s just madness.
With that in mind, you don’t have to break the bank to get a great quality set of studio monitors for your home or professional studio set up. Thankfully there are loads of great options out there for both professionals and home recording enthusiasts that take all budgets in to consideration. So we’ve compiled some of the best options available.
Here are 5 of the best monitor speakers for home and professional studio use that we think every producer and home recording enthusiast should consider.
Adam studio monitors, such as the Adam A7X series, are among the world’s best studio monitors owing to the combination of balance and versatility, precise bass response and the X-ART (Accelerating Ribbon Technology) tweeter which gives beautiful uncompressed highs and upper mids. In fact, the amazing studio monitor actually won the highly prestigious Sound On Sound award for Best Studio Monitors two years running (2011 & 2012). However, the higher price tag means that not every home studio enthusiast is able to afford a set. In response, the brand released the Adam F7 Monitor Speaker (pictured), which is a more budget friendly option for those who want high quality monitoring without having to commit to a larger financial investment. This monitor system brought the coveted Adam sound to more people offering an entry level system that would not look out of place in a professional studio. With the same dimensions as it’s higher priced brother, the F7 still features the Accelerating Ribbon Technology (ART) and offers highly detailed frequencies. You also have a 7” mid-woofer made from carbon and paper as well as a 37mm voice coil providing that all important mid range. You also get a great amount of control over your sound with 2 EQ’s enabling you to change high (>5kHz) and low (<300Hz) frequencies to your needs and an overall volume control. A brilliant set of studio monitors that won’t break the bank, but will still give you everything you need. You also get Adam’s 2 year warranty, which is a great bonus.
KRK Rokit RP6 G3 Monitor Speakers (Pair)
If you’re on a budget, you’ll likely want to take home 2 speakers in a package rather than buy them separately. However, due to the sheer amount of work and technology that goes into creating high quality studio monitors, buying two in a pack is not always possible unless you’re prepared to invest a little more. Thankfully, the likes of the KRK Rokit RP6 G3 Monitor Speakers are here to help. Not only are they great industry standard studio monitoring speakers, but this particular range can come as a pair. The Rokit G3 studio monitors deliver a sound that is almost impossible to achieve at this price bracket, and when you realise that an array of the key design elements found in KRK’s premium models are used in this setup, you’ll appreciate them even more. These speakers provide an honest and accurate representation of your sound thanks to the glass-aramid composite woofer and specifically designed 1″ silk dome tweeter that provides extended response up to 35kHz. You also get the awesome Waveguide technology, which is why these speakers are so sought after. This Proprietary Waveguide Technology has been designed to allow you to find the “sweet spot” and then be free to move around during your mixdowns without having to worry about losing the left or right side of a mix. The angled design of these speakers also significantly reduces diffraction – perfect for those who don’t want to have to sit still the whole time when mixing.
Focal Alpha 50 Monitor Speaker (Single)
When buying monitor speakers, recommendations from a trusted source should be on your checklist before purchasing a set. Well, luckily the Focal Alpha 50 Active Studio Monitor range has won the MusicTech Gold Award, which is a great endorsement indeed. These awesome speakers come as single units and feature a 50-watt speaker, packed with 30-watt/5-inch woofer as well as a 20-watt/1-inch tweeter delivering smooth bass and a great mid frequency. It also comes with an aluminium inverted dome tweeter which works in harmony with the woofer to provide a total frequency range of 40Hz up to 22kHz. Another great feature is the automatic standby mode, which engages after 30 mins of inactivity, meaning your energy bills are reduced and you don’t have to worry about turning them off when leaving the studio. For added versatility, the Focal Alpha 50 Active Studio Monitors give you the option to connect unbalanced and balanced sound sources at the same time and a switch which provides an extra +6dB of sensitivity.
Proving that low budget does not mean low quality, the Yamaha HS7 Active Reference Monitors clock in way under £200 and when you consider what you get for such a small price, there’s no wonder why these speakers are often seen in professional set ups. The HS range from Yamaha has been crafted in homage to the coveted Yamaha NS10 series of monitors, offering a lower priced option for those who want professional monitoring capabilities. With these speakers you get a clear unexaggerated sound that will not deliberately colour your sound or enhance any aspects of your track, providing a flat response you can trust. For the price, you might be surprised at just how great these speakers are, especially when you factor in the room control and high trim response features. These features help to compensate for room acoustics when the speakers are placed near walls or if the room requires certain ranges to be lifted or cut back – something that other lower budget speakers simply cannot provide. If you want a good looking speaker with an accurate response that offers superior sonic quality, all for a very low price, the HS7 Monitors are for you.
Alesis Elevate 5 MKII Monitors
Small? Yes, mighty? You bet! If you’re serious about mixing but you’re on the tightest of budgets then these cracking little monitors are your best bet. Offering a superb solution for home studios, video-editing, gaming and mobile devices. The expertly crafted cabinet and a combination of a 5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter deliver a detailed and pure sound that’s perfect for any home studio. At 40-watts each they’re non too shabby in the volume department and can deliver an exceptionally accurate signal. There’s even a bass boost switch for when you just want to kick back and listen to your beats.
For a full range of monitor speakers and studio equipment, visit the Dawsons website.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.