The difference between having a good pair of studio monitors that convey an accurate representation of what’s going on in your mix or not can make or break any song.
With a huge choice of options available it can be hard to know what the best pair of monitors to go with is with so many being used worldwide.
Whether you’re on the lookout to update gear in your recording studio or working on mixes with the intention to get your music in film & TV, we hope this article gives you some direction as to what studio monitor pair will best suit your needs.
In this article, we give you the 15 best music studio monitors to check out in 2020 with all the pros and cons, as well as some other great options to go with. Let’s get into it!
Before we dive into the reviews, what are studio monitors?
Studio monitors are loudspeakers specifically used for professional audio production such as recording studios and home studios, where precise music production is vital.
A studio monitor plays a significant role when recording, mixing and mastering. Whether you are in a home studio or top facility, you are going to see monitors in one form or another.
For more information on this, check out our article on The Best Cheap Studio Monitors For Home Recording.
Now for the main event!
Here is our review of 15 of the best studio monitors for 2021!
PRICE | £230
Primarily a player in the PA speaker market and known for large sonic installations, Tannoy is somewhat underrated for its range of active studio monitors.
Tannoy Gold 8’s boast a well-balanced tonality with warm rounded bass response, crisp clear mods, and a high end that comes through without overcompensating or being overbearing.
The monitors also feature additional offset facilities to get rid of any colouring and artificial characteristics coming from your room – so a more natural tone can be achieved.
PRICE | £110
They’re great for fans of bass making them a good choice for EDM, Hip-hop, and trap music. They also make a good listening experience in general for consumers but this is due to the enhancement of certain frequencies while other frequencies on the spectrum remain clean, giving a somewhat distorted perception of audio to those wanting clarity for their mixes.
With this being said, it’s no surprise Pioneer DM 40’s are big among aspiring music producers on a budget and DJs who find a somewhat less natural tone preferable. They’re a good option for budget-conscious audio fans or those looking for a pair of monitors to get them started.
PRICE | £49,000
Possibly the most expensive professional studio monitors in the world to date – sound like they are sponsored by Carling Black Label ha ha!
We know these monitors are ridiculously priced even for the average seasoned audio professional, but we couldn’t make a list of 15 incredibly monitors without mentioning these.
Used by multi-million dollar film studios, major-label mastering facilities and platinum-selling record producers at the height of the industry, these monitors are as professional as it gets.
Used primarily for mastering at the final stage of the production process, it’s no wonder the major labels such as Sony Music use the SE MF 2’s for reference. With big-budget productions going out to the masses it’s no surprise these companies want to use the best for mix checking prior to distribution.
Although these monitors are super impressive, this list is created with aspiring audio professionals to high/intermediate level professionals in mind. We want to keep it as real as possible, therefore we’re giving it a lower place in our list.
PRICE | £2,000
PMC stands for Professional Monitor Company, and professional is certainly what they are, to say the least. They build high-end audio systems for home cinemas and high-end music systems for consumers as well as professional-powered studio monitors. They know audio like the back of their hands and have a passion for striving for perfection.
The PMC Result 6 monitors are some of the best they offer, they’re not the lower end of what they offer or the most expensive but right in the middle where accessibility, quality, and practicality meet without compromise.
You can expect a clean honest tone with these passive speakers that represents audio almost as if it were coming straight from the source with no colouring or EQ boosting across the spectrum. They’re also super easy to set up and have mounts built-in to make things easier.
PRICE | £440
Available with two tunings, both for freestanding placement and the other to be used for placement within 50cm of your wall, these speakers are remarkable for the price.
These monitor speakers use their own sophisticated DSP technology (digital signal processing) which results in an extended low-frequency response of 10Hz.
Every aspect of these monitors is designed with high attention to detail and precision, from their clean audio presentation to their aesthetic sleek design, these speakers are a huge bargain for the price.
PRICE | £238 (pair)
10th on our list is JBL’s popular SLR305 monitor featuring their custom image control wave-guard that’s designed to accurately control the sound emitting from the horizontal and vertical planes making sure the audio at listening height/level is accurately represented.
Another nice feature of these speakers is that you can be sure of professional music production quality. Before each monitor goes to the aesthetic design stage of production, they undergo a 100-hour power test.
The speakers are set to full power and are expected to play continually without failures. This ensures high quality for the customer and brings any issues to light that need rectifying.
PRICE | £130 – £160 (single)
We like monitors that have unique qualities that make them stand out from the crowd. With Mackie, it was their acoustic space control that helped them win a place on our list.
Designed for flat response in multiple room environments, their HF filters, and acoustic space control features can be optimized for clarity and natural sound no matter what your room looks like.
They’re also equipped with acoustic sound absorption material to help eliminate artificial colouring of sound, although this won’t do the job alone and you’ll still need to acoustically treat your room for true natural tonality.
PRICE | £110 (single)
You can probably recall seeing this classic brand of recording studio monitors around many times, even if you’re new to music production thanks to their iconic yellow cones. The KRK Rokit 5’s are one of the best generations the company has ever made when it comes to mixing due to their natural, accurate tone that comes from both the shape & size. Another benefit is the low distortion and massive headroom thanks to the built-in A/B class bi-amp.
The KRK Rokit 5 is a great option for the aspiring producer and makes a great entry-level monitor. This isn’t to say they aren’t capable of delivering results on high-end mixes for seasoned professionals and mix engineers. Their natural tone, versatility, and price all factors which have helped make KRK such a recognizable brand.
PRICE | £300 – £400 (pair)
These speakers were never designed to be standalone mixing monitors but more so to be used to accurately replicate the standard consumer speaker sound that music monitors are so often played on today.
They’re great for music mastering engineers or for referencing your mix to see how it will likely come across to the vast majority of the general public prior to mastering. As good as these speakers are for what they do, they are designed to portray a low to the mid-quality listening experience.
We and anyone in the professional recording industry strongly advise that you don’t use these as your sole pair of monitors.
PRICE | £130 (single)
The Yamaha HS5’s are reference monitors which are manufactured exclusively for both mixing and referencing. They’re super competitive for the price and if you get your mixdown sounding good on these you can be sure it’ll sound amazing on general consumer speakers.
There’s a popular story about the early Yamaha NS10 near field recording studio speakers that they were picked not on the grounds that they sounded incredible, but because they, in fact, didn’t for this very reason.
PRICE | £600 (single)
A great option for the many eco-friendly, environmentally conscious audio professionals of 2020. This monitor is comprised of fully recyclable wood-fibre reinforced plastic.
The material is fully mouldable enabling Genelic to avoid a catch-22 issue and create a speaker that is shaped for sonic perfection while eliminating any artificial colouring plastic can give off, keeping rich woody tones in the bass and keeping mids crystal clear.
The outstanding acoustic performance that comes from its eco-friendly material isn’t the only reason the Genelic m040 made it onto our list, it’s also down to what you get for your money.
The detail in these monitors is superb given they were designed for the home studio producer in mind.
PRICE | £650 (single)
The AX 77 is the most affordable set of these award-winning speakers on the market, making their highly renowned sound quality available to both intermediate producers and high-ranking audio professionals facing a tight budget.
Previously, Adam’s horizontally designed monitors were only available in their SX range, but the Adam AX77 has changed the game for diehard Adam audio fans that faced the issue of being both on a tight budget and situated in a room that was best-suited horizontal facing speakers.
PRICE | £1,300 (single)
The perfect studio monitor for the advanced audio professional.
These monitors are pricey but fully worth it providing they’re used in the right environment and with the right people to fully unlock their true potential.
Not only do they sound great but they also look it, with a marble-styled cone and high-quality wood veneer finish, these monitors will add class and credibility to your studio.
With both woofers having the ability to produce the low and mid-range spectrum, you can switch where the mid-range comes from with the flick of a switch located on the rear of the monitor. This can be set depending on whether your monitors are upright or placed on their side.
PRICE | £1,500 (single)
Praised mainly for their superb bass reproduction and honest representation of low-end frequency range, we feel these monitors don’t receive quite enough credit as they deserve for how true the tone across the entire spectrum really is.
Impressively, Hedd Audio is new to the studio monitor market place and it’s clear they stuck gold right off the bat with these machines. The high end is crisp but not harsh, and the mid-range is easy to navigate.
Another benefit of these speakers is they can be used with Hedd’s “Lineariser” plug-in within your DAW to help with the challenging issue of any linear phase.
PRICE | £400 – £600 (single)
Neumann is a company that is renowned for its high quality of microphones, so it’s no surprise they hit the mark with their referencing monitors too. This company sure knows what they’re doing when it comes to audio in many forms.
The KH120A is actually the first line of monitors this company brought out, but it’s our favourite due to its impressive frequency response of 52Hz – 21kHz and the fact it can be used near field or rear, making it super versatile.
So there we have it, the Neuman KH 120 A takes first place on our list but of course, your decision should be based on your budget, as you do tend to get what you pay for and genre, room, and other factors come into play.
We also recommend trying out the The X-ART Tweeter for a more dynamic range. It’s more efficient and can have lower distortion.
We hope this article has given some valuable insight into what monitors are best for your budget and room type and maybe even fed you some motivation to go get busy behind the mixing desk.
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Article is very well explained on active monitors, it really helps choosing the users to buy according to their budget and application to be precise
Thanks for commenting! It’s great to hear that you found this helpful 🙂
Good list… but how are the Presonus Sceptres not on it ???
The KRK 10-3 and Fluid Audio FX80 also worthy!
Hey Adrian, Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts! We work with independent writers within our community, and we trust their expert opinions. There are also so many great products out there, unfortunately we cannot include a review for them all!
Great article, and great selection of reviewed monitors. I’d love to see the DIY from parts express compared to these. Further the section about the Neumann, second paragraph ‘bought’ should be ‘brought’.