While many in recent years have chosen headphones for their increased convenience and portability, studio monitors have been the dominant way to monitor your audio for many years. Unfortunately, headphones simply cannot provide the luxurious auditory experience for which the high-end studio monitors are known.
Imagine you’ve been working on your track for weeks, and you love the way it sounds. However, you play it over the car radio and it sounds awful, or, even worse, it sounds terrible over the PA system in a nightclub. This situation is why it is essential to invest in a quality set of audio monitoring tools. This approach ensures that the problem with your music will never be the fault of the track, but rather the audio system on which it’s played.
An important distinction between speakers and studio monitors is that studio monitors favor accuracy over audio color. What that means is that while other speakers may focus on a specific aspect of the mix such as increased bass or treble response, studio monitors do not. As a result, the output may sound flat. This flat sound reflects the most accurate version of the track. Some people may not like this revealing sort of audio, but the truth is that the more accurate (albeit less fun) audio allows you to make far better decisions about the final product.
Things to Keep in Mind.
As opposed to a portable speaker that you would take to pool parties, professional studio monitors will tend to prioritize things such as frequency response and power delivery. Also, ports/connections replace wirelessness and portability in importance.
With all of this in mind, here are our top picks for the best studio monitors of 2021:
Best Overall: KRK Rokit 5
Common in many professional studios, the KRK Rokit 5 is the standard for professional audio in the domain of the producer. Its familiar yellow cones and sleek black metallic design look fantastic in many environments. In addition, it features kevlar tweeters and a room analyzer, which ensures that the speaker’s output is effective in a given environment and that no auditory dead spots are present. These monitors are fantastic for anything bass-heavy but should be avoided for more acoustic music production. Nevertheless, these are overall a spectacular set of audio monitors.
The price is also fantastic for a set of audio monitors with these given features. It costs about $239 per speaker. It is recommended for the average consumer to get at least two. You can find them on Amazon here:
Runner-Up: Yamaha HS5
The Yamaha HS5 is one of the most notable speakers at its given price point. As Music Radar says, “The familiar white cone delivers harsh truth on your recordings.” These speakers are not famous for sounding amazing. Instead, they sound the opposite. These hyper-accurate monitors are renowned for revealing every single slight imperfection within your audio. If you can make it sound good on these, it will sound good anywhere.
These are also reasonably priced at about $199.99 per speaker. But, again, for most setups, it is recommended that you get at least two monitors. Find them here:
Best Budget: PreSonus Eris E5
Priced at around $119.99 per speaker, these are an absolute steal for the price. These monitors feature a superb high-end frequency response and an overall clear audio, but also a somewhat underwhelming bass response. It is recommended you get either a pair of studio headphones or a subwoofer to go along with these to help manage that bass. One of the more unique features of this monitor is its ability to do 80-100 Hz low cuts allowing for audio monitoring at night without disturbing your neighbors.
Essentially, at this price point, these are about the best that you can get. You can purchase them from the link below:
Best Luxury: Yamaha HS8
The HS8s are essentially the older brother to the smaller HS5s. However, with their 8-inch woofers, their bass response is significantly improved when compared to the HS5s. This allows for much better monitoring of all the low ends of your track. While they are a bit bulky compared to their younger siblings, the HS8s power draw and overall frequency response are significantly improved. These are an excellent choice for nearly any home studio.
At $349.99 each, this power does not come cheap, but their performance makes them a phenomenal pick. You can get them here from Amazon:
Best Ultra Luxury: Neumann KH 310
These speakers are the Lamborghini of studio monitors. Their 3-way driver array makes incredibly clear mids the perfect tool for any application, primarily acoustic and vocal-heavy music. They also have 8.5-inch large subwoofers that provide a lush base that is amazing for electronic music. Furthermore, their iPad app allows for effortless room adjustment. So essentially, these are about the best that you can get as far as high-end monitors go.
This performance does come with a price. These speakers are approximately $2200 each. It is recommended as before that you get at least two. You can find them here on Amazon:
“Best Studio Monitors 2021: 12 Budget-Spanning Studio Speakers For Musicians And Producers”. MusicRadar, 2021, https://www.musicradar.com/news/the-best-studio-monitors-and-monitor-speakers.
“The Best Monitors For Music Production In 2021.”. Hyperbits, 2021, https://hyperbitsmusic.com/best-studio-monitors/.
Speckman, Dustin, and Dustin Speckman. “The 7 Best Studio Monitors [For Every Budget!] October 2021”. Musician On A Mission, 2021, https://www.musicianonamission.com/studio-monitors/.