The use of headphones for long hours is not advisable at all and can lead to deafness and a host of other issues. A step up in your setup and an ideal way to hear and reference your work is a pair of active studio monitors. We have jotted down 5 affordable studio monitors for your home studio setup based on sound quality, brand reputation and price.
Studio monitors play a major role in any musician, producer or sound engineer’s workspace and workflow. They are meant to give you a flat frequency response, if they are placed right and the room is properly acoustically treated. With some research, you will find DIY methods to successfully diffuse the frequencies flying around in your bedroom or working space, to give you the truest possible sound from your monitors.
There are two types of studio monitors – Near-field and Far-field. And unless you are installing or building a legendary studio like Abbey Road or Yashraj Studios, you will mainly need to choose from a range of near-field active monitors. Passive studio monitors require separate amplification. Whereas, active monitors have amplification built into the back panel. Active monitors are the popular and way more convenient option to go for, especially for a home setup. The list below focuses on 5” active monitors only.
Developed as a successor to the popular and cult-famous NS range, Yamaha’s HS5 monitors are a benchmark of quality and a really good purchase at their price. Like the NS and the previous MSP series, the trademark clarity still persists where mid and high frequencies are concerned. And to add to that, there are small but vital tweakable settings on the back panel to reduce low frequency response and reduce or increase high frequency response, depending on the acoustical nature of your room.
Price for a pair (Approx.): $400
JBL 305p MKII
Bringing in technology and innovation from their flagship 7 series and M2 Master Reference Monitors, JBL brings us a very well-priced option with the 305p MKII monitors. With patented features such as Image Control Waveguide, JBL promises detailed and accurate stereo imaging even in a wide room. And then there’s the Slip Stream low-frequency port, which allows you to get a better judgement of low frequencies at low volumes as well, allowing you to judge your mixes more efficiently, giving you better results overall. All this combined with the slick futuristic look make it an excellent investment.
Price for a pair (Approx.): $350
KRK Rokit 5 G4
Controversial in the audio community, but consistent in its quality, the KRK Rokit 5 G4 is a great choice, especially for electronic or bass music aficionados, since it has a front-firing bass port which allows you to get a better judgement of the low frequencies in your mixes or music. Most other monitors have the bass port on the back, which can be a problem if your room is made of materials that enhance or accentuate low-end, like concrete, plastic, and glass, among others. This speaker has a digital screen on the back panel with settings to help you tune them more specifically to your room and setting. Drop that bass!
Price for a pair (Approx.): $360
PreSonus Eris E5 XT
Another great affordable option with a forward-facing bass port, the PreSonus Eris E5 XT is a sleek-looking crisp sounding box which offers deep lows, smooth highs, and along with its revolutionary EBM Waveguide technology, smartly disperses frequencies and can be fine-tuned to the room it is in, via the intuitive controls on the back panel.
The front-facing bass port, just like in the monitors above, is a great advantage in a home situation where you have less or no acoustic treatment. The build quality with the improved cabin design makes the Eris series get solid protection against radio frequency interference, extreme output current, and excessive heating due to long usage.
Price for a pair (Approx.): $300
Packed with features to help you achieve a good mix, Mackie’s MR524 delivers extreme clarity with plenty of output and responsive, dynamic lows. It’s also optimized for transient response, so it reproduces snare drums and other quick-transient sources with complete fidelity. It provides you with an adjustable acoustic space control and a separate control to either boost or cut high frequencies.
These controls allow you to fine-tune your frequency response to your room and speaker placement. And speaking of useful features, you also get flexible input connectivity with balanced XLR and TRS connectors, plus an old school analogue RCA input, letting you integrate your monitors into a variety of studio setups or other utilities like live usage or DJ monitoring.
Price for a pair (Approx.): $320
Within these multiple options, you have independent controls for cutting lower booming frequencies (boundary EQ) and / or even high frequencies on their respective back panels. This enables you to achieve cleaner and truer sound, since overtones caused by reflective materials in your environment, such as walls or windows, or even the positioning and proximity from them, can accentuate different frequencies and misguide your perception of what your mix actually sounds like.
It’s a practice to use a combination of headphones and studio monitors to cross-reference your mixes or production, and in doing that, you will be able to understand the setting you are looking for. Crank it up!
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All images from Amazon.